Living on the Virginia Peninsula means that, as a beekeeper, you will be subject to flyover insecticide spraying by Air Force C-130 aircraft during the summer months. This is a mosquito abatement procedure, but the insecticide used is toxic to honey bees as well as the intended mosquitos. The CBA will try to keep you informed of the location and occurrence of these flights by email announcements to club members. If you are a new beekeeper, you may wonder what kind of protection is necessary or practical for your beehives.
It usuallys takes the Air Force three days to cover the Peninsula area. Their schedule has _generally_ been the following:
First day - Hampton, Buckroe, Fox Hill, Poquoson, Langley and southern Newport Newport News
Second day - Southern York County and Mid Newport News
Third day - Northern York County, Northern Newport News and Fort Eustis
But the Air Force is not able to determine exact boundaries of counties and cities as they fly along at 150 feet, and the bottom line for beekeepers is that protection must be taken for all three days, to keep your hives safe.
The current best thinking from experienced club members is that it not really practical to keep your bees locked up in their hives for the whole three-day time period. They will need a lot of water inside the hive if you decide to try this.
Instead, there are now two recommended protections. One is basic while the other requires some fabricating skills.
The first and best method of protection is to fabricate a misting wand. Water is sprayed over the hive and accomplishes three objectives. First is that many of the bees will remain in the colony as bees don't like to fly in rainy weather. Second is that the hive is cooled which is necessary with a crowded colony. Third is that the water mist will prevent the pesticide spray from contacting the hive as well as diluting and washing the spray away from the colony. The following links to plans are for a misting wand that will protect one or two colonies that were submitted by Andy Westrich of Hampton and Maywood Wilson of York County. Click on either name to get instructions on how to make these items.
Dale Williams has used a similar system but installed spray heads in lengths of pipe which he connects together to protect a string of colonies.
The second, simplest but less effective method is to cover or tent your hives with a white cover to keep the chemicals off the hive. White or light covers will limit the heat build up on the hive but any cover is better than none. Since the spraying _generally_ occurs between 6:30 and 8 pm at night, when the winds have died down, most of your field bees should be back at the hive, although some will be lost.
The following pictures show how some members have rigged these coverings.