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Pierce County Beekeeping Association Board Meeting Minutes

Wednesday, December 13th, 2023

Meeting Time: 6:59 pm to 8:54 pm


Those in attendance include: Mary Dempsey, Katie Marler, Jillian Selcer, SR Balukoff, Natasha Balukoff

Attending via Zoom: Kathleen Clerc


~ Meeting opened at 6:59 pm by Jillian, seconded by Katie


Minutes from last meeting: 

Mary brought up the minutes from the last meeting. There was a question about the meeting that happened with WSU and WASBA. The results of that meeting are that we are continuing our relationship with WSU as it is, and that WASBA will not be putting hives on the WSU extension property. Key Peninsula beekeeping club is continuing forward with their plans for an apiary on S. Canyon Road in Puyallup.


Katie motioned to approve the meeting minutes, seconded by Jillian. Motion carried.


Apiary report:

Kathleen delivered an apiary report. The club apiary bees are looking very good and healthy for this time of year. There was some yellowjacket predation on one of the hives, but they may have just been cleaning up dead bees discarded by their sisters. Kathleen will be doing one more VOA treatment to see how we're doing on mite numbers, but so far things are looking great.


Part of the fence around the apiary needs to be repaired.


The honey house exterior walls appear to have been swept by WSU.


Mary says we need to do an inventory on all equipment so we can do some budgeting on the apiary. She'll be working with Fawn to put together a budget for apiary maintenance. Katie says we may be able to do this as a workshop.


There was some discussion about having a first workshop in January, probably on wax filtering. (Scraping ancient frames that really should be pulled from service and melting down and filtering the wax.) Kathleen will be doing the inventory on Dec. 29th at 11:00am. It was decided that the first club workshop will be scraping and doing a first-pass filtering of wax. The second

workshop may be more filtering or making candles. Kathleen and Katie will come up with a plan for workshops.


Mary asked Kathleen and Katie to work together putting together an apiary calendar, so that we can have a mostly set-in-stone schedule so club members can rely on and sign up to do some of the apiary work. Kathleen and Katie are also looking into moving to HiveTracks for

managing apiary logs and data. The plan for the apiary right now is to stick with 2 apiary days per month: Friday and Saturday alternating every 2 weeks.


Holiday party follow-up:

At least 45 people came to the holiday party-- more than double last year! Total cost to the club budget was $335, so only slightly above budget. It was agreed that because of the generosity of the club members bringing so many dishes to share (as well as white-elephant gifts), this was a great deal for the money it cost the club.


Education plan:

Katie will be teaching the intermediate class next year. She will be working with Eli Ocheltree with SnoKing Beekeepers on taking the journeyman class. WASBA is making a special consideration for 2 people in our club at the Journeyman level, approving them to go ahead and teach the apprentice level class. (They are providing slides and curriculum, which simplifies our preparation considerably. WASBA curriculum material is still pretty rough, but definitely better than starting from scratch on our own curriculum.)


WSU is working through a technical problem with meeting space-- we will either be able to split the current meeting space (isolating audio), or WSU will provide us with an additional meeting space to teach the intermediate class.


The beginner class will continue in the current space and follow our established curriculum from last year. It will be taught by Chris Camper this year.


Mary will be facilitating the sustainability group meetings, with the plan being to mostly run it as a show-and-tell kind of group discussion on different specific topics each week.


More on the intermediate class: Katie will be putting together a schedule for that, following the WASBA program, with some months having no classes based on other events happening at the time. The months with conflicting events that will entail no classes will include April (silent auction), July (club picnic), September (State fair), December (holiday party). However, we will probably have 2 meetings/classes in August. When we have special speakers, this year we will be having them start at 7:00pm instead of skipping classes that week. This is to ensure that we have enough class sessions to get through the curriculum.


Mary wants to start making some educational videos. We have some equipment (specialized microphones, etc.) to start experimenting with creating videos. We will probably be starting with some simple videos (eg. "How to light a smoker." and the like.) Other topics might include "Doing a hive inspection", "Doing OA treatments", etc. Mary's vision is that we are less interested in just filming the in-person classes and publishing that, and more that we want something specifically designed for viewing on the web. We still think that the in-person meetings and contact are of highest importance because of the community we've built and want to sustain. The idea is that the videos we create should be supplemental to that, and mostly designed for students who had to miss a class in a given month to catch up on the material discussed in person.


Katie has been working on the 1-day "everything you need to know" class (it will be about 4 hours long). It's based on the curriculum she presented in the PCBA beginners’ class last year. This class will have some breaks to give people a rest as they drink from the firehose. This class will take place in the WOSSA building. Katie is also working on a 1-hour "So you're interested in beekeeping" intro class that can be used when presenting to outside organizations.


Update on schools and events: SR and Natasha did many presentations to a lot of very young students over the last year (kindergarten to first grades of elementary school). They have been working on boxes of equipment with various items/props in it as well as a google drive folder with digital assets that can be printed for these kinds of presentations, and links to places where consumables can be bought (like gel bracelets). This will also include some suggestions on rough agendas of things to talk about and how to coordinate with teachers and facilitators. Sherri Thomas is also interested in helping out with the school class events. Since SR and Natasha will be moving away next year, other volunteers will be needed to teach at these events. We recommend that at least 2 presenters work together for each of these presentations to the children. Kathleen volunteered.


Mary will be giving a presentation at “Building behind the walls”, a non-profit organization.


Discussion about special speakers for PCBA meetings:

In brainstorming who we might seek to give interesting presentations at club meetings, the following were suggested:

  • Alex Wixum will be coming to talk about wasps at some point.

  • Katie suggested we get Bri Price (WSU beekeeping coordinator) to come speak to us.

  • Kathleen suggested Jeff Ott from the "Beekeeping Today" podcast may be willing to do a zoom-style talk.

  • Katie suggested Megan Milbrath from Michigan State who talked about Bee pests/pathology

  • (how to maximize wax use from dead-outs without spreading disease to your hives.)

  • Kathleen also suggested Brett from WASBA who is doing a hive in a hollowed-out tree (with removable frames somehow to keep it legal), to potentially talk about that project.

  • Katie is interested in a presentation on going treatment free (what it takes to do it successfully and how to raise mite-resistant bees).

  • Kathleen suggests we get someone to talk about non-honeybee pollinators (maybe someone from WSU's entomology department?)

  • Kathleen suggests Derek Miller talk about the study he ran about stress behavior forcing clustering (ie. perhaps we should be insulating!)


Update on the queen rearing class for the sustainability group: Mary wants to see if we can get the sustainability group to take a class from a person at the WASBA conference who did a presentation on queen rearing and who offers classes. This seems like a good solution given we don’t have a lot of expertise on this in the club membership at the present time.


Calendar update:

Last year we did the following events:

  • Silent auction - May 6th, 2024

  • Spring fair April 11-14 & 18-21

  • Picnic in july - July 20th

  • Pierce county fair - Aug 8th - Aug 11th

  • Master gardener

  • Sustainability expo

  • Point defiance garden gala

  • State fair and set-up - August 30th - Sept 22nd

  • 2 meetings in August - Aug 5th and Aug 26th

  • Elections in November - Nov 4th

  • Holiday party in December - Dec 2nd


This year we  need to do these events around the club apiary:

  • Put down ground cloth in teaching apiary

  • Honey house clean-up


It was also suggested we do:

  • Tacoma farmer's market (weekly booth to sell club honey) Mary is looking into this, and it does entail more volunteer hours

  • Harvest pierce county spring workshop (suggested by Katie)

  • Workshops in January and February around wax processing


There was a discussion about which events we want to do. The general consensus is we want to do all the events we did last year, as well as (if we can) the new suggested events, but we need to get these on the calendar and start recruiting volunteers earlier in order to ensure we have enough people to make it all happen, including people who can take charge and manage some of these events.


Kathleen says we need to bring a cash box to meetings for people who want to renew their club membership in person (we are getting requests for this), as well as brochures and other information people want to take to share.


Katie motioned to move the January general club meeting to the 8th to avoid the New Year’s holiday. Natasha seconded. Motion carried. The general meeting will be at the usual time and place on January 8th. The topic will be different types of hives and different types of equipment. (Mary will coordinate getting the equipment and hives there.)


Workshop scheduling:

  • The first workshop (wax melting workshop #1) will be on January 13th at 11:00am.

  • The second workshop (wax melting workshop #2) will be on February 24th at 11:00am.

  • Honey house clean-up and painting will be done on April 20th 9:00am.


The date of the next board meeting will be decided via group text message among the board members, then announced to the general club membership.


Tash motioned to close the meeting, Jillian seconded. Meeting adjourned at 8:54pm.

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