April 2023 - Volume 29 - Issue 4
Hello Pierce County Beekeepers!
I want to start by saying thank you to everyone who helps to make this association what it is today. We couldn't do it without you.
Even though it was cold and rainy most days, the Spring Fair was a great success! I had so much fun meeting and getting to know members I didn't know as well as all of the people who stopped by the booth at the fair. We talked to over 1000 people about all things pollinators, bees and beekeeping, and we sold over 250 jars of honey. We have more events planned and I'm really looking forward to the rest of the summer and all of the opportunities we will have for community service and education.
Thank you for all of your support.
- Mary Dempsey, PCBA President
To all the new beekeepers, Welcome to the colony! To all the returning members, thanks for bee-ing here! To all the people who are, “thinking about it”... stick around. We can’t wait to get to know you!!!
Join us for the next meeting!
D.F. Allmendinger Center
2606 W Pioneer Ave, Puyallup, WA 98371
Monday, May 1, 2023
We have a few fun things happening at this meeting. Firstly, there will be no classes, as we are honored to be joined by presenter, Dr. Nick Naeger. His presentation will start at 6pm. Dr. Naeger will share with us, his work on using fungi to help bees. This includes efforts to make better bee feeds using wood-decay fungi, and separately, the development of a fungal biocontrol agent to kill Varroa mites. Secondly, our annual silent auction will begin at 7pm, in which we ask you to bring a dessert!
Starting at 6pm
“Using Fungi to Help Bees”
Presentation by Dr. Nick Naeger, Assistant Professor of Entomology at WSU
Starting at 7:30pm
Annual Silent Auction
Please bring a dessert to share and enjoy during this time.
Volunteer sign up opportunities
Members, we need you! Pierce County Beekeepers Association couldn’t happen without you, our volunteers! Please sign up to help with the upcoming events. It is a great time to get to know other members and educate the community about the bees and what our organization is all about. Some of these events are fundraisers where we will be selling honey.
From brand new beekeeper to experienced beekeeper, you have a place at our table! You pick your comfort level, from selling the honey to just talking about bees. Come and join the fun!!
We will be having booths at:
Master Gardener's Plant sale - April 29th and 30th
The Pierce County Fair - August 10th through 13th
The WA State Fair - September 2nd through 25th
What the Heck should I be doing now?
A timely article on a Beekeeper's life cycle and what we should be doing with our bees this month.
Spring is almost here in the PNW. Hopefully, you are making progress getting your apiary ready for the next bee season. What happens when you open up that hive and fine mold? What next you ask? Read on.
Ich! Mold in my hive!
by Rusty Burlew
Honey Bee Suite
Mold often results from a small or weak colony that cannot keep the hive dry enough to control it. Mold is a result, not the cause, of colony weakness.
Mold seems to be the topic of the week, but that is not surprising. This is the time of year when you open a hive that overwintered with little interference from you. What you find there are not gleaming combs of honey and pollen, but empty cells rimmed with white, green, blue, or yellow mold. At least it looks like mold and smells like mold. And you are right—it is mold.
Beginning beekeepers often respond by separating mold and bees as quickly as possible, treating everything with bleach, or kicking themselves for being incompetent. If all the bees are dead, mold is often fingered as the cause, as in “Mold grew everywhere in my hive and killed my bees!”
Mold in hives is natural
But wait; let’s back up. Molds (or moulds, which seem more sinister) are tiny fungi that live on plant and animal material. They thrive in humid conditions and reproduce by forming spores—great clouds of spores. These light-as-air particles are everywhere, just waiting for the right conditions so they can sprout.
Bee hives provide the perfect place for mold growth, supplying all the things molds like best: debris from plants and animals, a moist environment, and darkness. Millions of spores are waiting in the crannies and crevices of the hive with napkins tucked under their chins, knives and forks at the ready. They know the feast is coming.
Larger colonies have less mold
An active colony of bees has no problem keeping mold growth at bay. The bees clean and polish brood cells, remove dead bees, rotate stores of pollen, and remove invaders. But during the winter, the colony energy is spent in a cluster. The main interest is survival—eating and keeping warm. Housekeeping is put on hold.
A mold spore in a winter hive thinks it died and went to heaven.
As the winter progresses, the cluster becomes smaller and the bees move up through the boxes, eating their way through the honey stores and leaving empty, unattended combs behind. The mold gleefully takes over.
To make matters worse, a layer of debris accumulates on the bottom board or screen—vast helpings of dead bees, mites, bits and pieces of comb, feces, drips of honey. The mold is beside itself with happiness and joy. It reproduces like crazy. A mold spore in a winter hive thinks it died and went to heaven.
A growing colony will remove mold from your hive
But as spring approaches and the colony begins to expand, the now active bees begin regular housekeeping duties. The dead are hauled out, the cells are polished, and all that mold disappears in a flash. The bees know what to do.
On the other hand, if your colony died, it died of something else and then the mold took over. Excessive mold is the result of colony death, not the cause of it. I’ve seen beekeepers discard everything in sight just because of mold, which is silly and wasteful. Mold is a natural part of the entire beekeeping process.
Don’t apply your mold standards to bee hives
The problem with mold is that we, as pampered humans, apply our own standards to the bee hive. In our own lives, we go to extremes, even buying food laced with calcium propionate, sodium benzoate, and potassium sorbate so little furries don’t start on our dinner before we do.
These chemicals are usually acidic substances that delay mold growth. Most mold doesn’t do well in acidic conditions, which is why honey (very acidic) is slow to grow mold. It also explains why a little vinegar or lemon juice in sugar syrup can delay mold for a while.
Use bleach as a last resort
If you can’t stand the mold and simply must do something with those combs before you give them back to the bees, put them in a warm and dry environment for a few days with plenty of space between them. This will stop the active growth phase. Some people like to spray with bleach. Bleach is okay but if the combs don’t dry out quickly, the mold will just grow back. Sunlight discourages mold growth as well, but be careful not to melt your combs.
I recommend just leaving moldy frames with the bees. If you check those frames after the colony has a chance to work on them, you won’t be able to tell them apart from any other frames. Applying your own standards of housekeeping to bees will make you crazy and give your bees the last laugh.
Honey Bee Suite
How to Stay Friends with Your Neighbors
By Kathleen Clerc
I remember the day I brought my bee hive boxes home. It was 2020, I had quit my CIO job in Senior Health Care (I think the singes of burnout lasted through 2022!). I had sat down with myself and said, if I was to do one hobby, one thing for me, what would it be? I never had thought of beekeeping before, but had always loved bees. It's safe to say, I dove right in. I had time off of work, 6 months, why not? I said. I pre-ordered from Hive5 Bees, and went to Robbins Honey Farm for my equipment. I was so excited to bring home my new hive boxes, to set them up, paint them, prune them and just revel in the joy that I was finally bringing bees home soon.
I live in South Tacoma, right in the city, a close neighbor on every side. One in particular is the kind of neighbor that... it's good to keep on his good side, if you know what I mean... and he is particularly interested and attentive to what his neighbor friends are up to. I happen to share my fence line with him. So of course, it didn't take long to have my neighbor poke his head over the fence "Howdy neighbor? Whatchya doin over there?". It was then that I realized - I didn't really think about my neighbor at all... nor considered the proximity to his property... (I'm an impulsive woman, what can I say?).
Luckily, my neighbor was quite enthusiastic about the idea, but we have had many hand shake agreements and boundaries negotiated between us at different times as things have come up. As many of you know, you have conversations about what is going on on each others properties when you live in close proximity like I do. Because simply, we have a more direct impact on each other.
My neighbor loves RoundUp. He doesn't really seem to get the idea that it's not a good idea, at any time. That first year was... interesting. He thought at first, if it wasn't too close to the fence he'd be good... Then he says, well he'll just spray at night... not much better. Then he says, well how about I spray before your bees get here? Well that one stopped me. I knew the answer was no, but also, how far could I really push this RoundUp party animal to forget his set ways, a retired older man who doesn't want to spend his entire season bent over picking weeds, the way I had been every year. At that time, I told him that in the end I cannot control what he does on his property, but I'd give him honey any time he asked, and let him and his family come over to work them with me anytime I was in them. I told him, all of this would be good, but in the end, the RoundUp would kill my bees.
Fast forward to this year, my third year as a beekeeper. My neighbor and I have grown a lot in our understanding of each other and the symbiotic relationship required. He likes my bees, he likes what they do for his garden. He likes to tell his friends he's got bees on the other side of the fence, because they are always fascinated. He doesn't like when they chase him during a yard work day in a dearth (although I must say, watching him run and squeal had me laughing for days), but it doesn't happen that often. And he likes to watch his dog chase them and try to catch the "flying jalapeno raisins" as he likes to call them. They are spicy treats when she gets one!
So, I wanted to share with you, how I made this work. How did I convince my pesticide loving, stuck in his ways, retired military, nosey neighbor, to be my teammate rather than enemy? Here are some of the tools I used to help him still get what he wanted - while getting what I wanted too.
I did my research. Did you know that ROCK SALT, or rather, any type of salt (sans de-icer) will permanently kill weeds for a number of years? I didn't either. You know, it's a lot cheaper than buying RoundUp every month - and has a far greater impact. I noticed that most of his weeds were to just keep his gravel driveway clear, he has raised garden beds. I shared this with him and he came home with massive bags of salt. I was an appreciative neighbor and gave him some incentive by offering to pay him for a few of the bags. It worked.
I negotiated a spot along the fence that worked for both of us. He has a large RV parked along the fence, and I have a small bee yard on the other side of it. I positioned it in a way that influenced the bees to travel up, rather than out and up. I also faced the entry away from his house.
I checked in with him often and communicated when I was going in to the bees. This may or may not have started after he was chased by them... man I still laugh at the memory of his flailing, he was quite the dancer that day!
I educated him. I let him come to the hives and work them with me. It melted much of his hesitation. Now he loves seeing them and working them. He didn't realize that bees aren't out to get ya. If you act even and cool, so will they.
This is a BIG ONE. I provided my own source of water and BAITED MY BEES to the source, FROM THE VERY START. You can do this by spreading lemongrass oil on the outside of whatever you have chosen as the water source. Make sure to give the bees something to float on (I used wine corks and they worked like a charm), or else they will decide your water source sucks and they'll go bother your neighbors pools, hummingbird feeders, etc. They love chlorine and dirty water, it is the strangest thing. Last year I ended up digging dug out a pond, no kidding. I have a 1400gal goldfish pond now for my bees! Dirty water, on demand! My neighbor also decided to bait bees to his property, in a spot that he chose, so they they didn't focus on his hummingbird feeders, he directed them to where he wanted them. Now he has bee and bird feeders!
I keep my apiary clean. My first year was a yellow jacket disaster, so last year I improved my set up by laying landscaping cloth underneath the hive stands, and I swept out everything that had fallen, dead bees and all, often. This helps to keep the pests away and is absolutely one of the biggest impact projects I've incorporated.
I made sure to always listen to him. None of his feelings or concerns are ever "invalid". Are they sometimes uneducated opinions? Yes. Am I gaining anything by being sassy or correcting him all of the time? No. I listened, even when I knew better, even when I didn't want to. I would let it sit for a day, I wouldn't push him or talk back. We would rest the conversation, and research during that time. Then approach him the next day with options that I felt would benefit us both. They did!
I hope this helps you :) Happy Beekeeping! Good Luck with your Neighbors!
Member Suggested Resources & Articles
If you have suggestions for the newsletter, please send to Kathleen email@example.com
DNA Research finds low genetic diversity in U.S. Honey Bees [READ]
AFB Vaccine for Honey Bees with Dr. Keith Delaplane (Spotify) [LISTEN]
The Drayton Hive with Author Andrew Bax (Spotify) [LISTEN]
Women in Beekeeping's Past with Nina Bagley (Spotify) [LISTEN]
WA State Pollinator Health Task Force [LEARN MORE]
Buying Bees 2023
Robbins Honey Farm
7910 148th St. SW, Lakewood, WA
253-588-7033, 253-370-0842/ firstname.lastname@example.org
Beekeeping supplies, bees, honey
$165 per Nuc
Dolce Bella Bees
7415 276th Street East, Graham 98338
253-380-2327 Andy 253-683-0789/ 253-380-2327
Bee Packages will be available for pick up on April 16 and 17th starting at 9 AM
$150.00 per package For Italians, 190.00 for a Carniolan, 195.00 for Saskatraz Bees.
Queens are available for all breeds mentioned above.
We only provide packages not nucs.
Orders must be placed by April 1, 2023.
Mountain Rain Bee Products
12305 28th St. Ct. E, Edgewood, WA 98372
253-826-3103, cell: 253-330-4689/ email@example.com
Locally raised nucs and queens
5 frame NUC: $175.00
10 frame: $225
20 frame: $325
Miller Compound Honey Bees & Agriculture, LLC
WA bred & raised queens & bees, VSH, Carniolan, Hybrids.
Local pickup only, no shipping.
$235. Each. Overwintered Spring nucs are 5 deep frames, late summer reared queen.
Early summer nucs will have a newly mated queen that was reared inside the nuc without disruption. ( nuc itself was overwintered)
"I do not have PayPal anymore , so if you want to send me a check for a couple bucks for deposit or you can or just wait until they become available for first come first serve."
My address for deposit is:
29506 8th Ave S
Roy, WA. 98580
Check made to Lauri Miller
Be SURE to include your order details, full name and contact info!!
Hive 5 Bees
Pick up in Rochester, WA/ hive5bees.com
Mostly Carniolan, Some Italian: 5 frame NUCs
1-4 nucs: $179.95
5-9 nucs: $174:95
LLC: Dustin Leishman
Roy, Washington: firstname.lastname@example.org / 253-262-9922
Carniolan 5 frame NUC: $180
Offers 10% off for military
Pierce County Beekeepers Association
General Meeting Minutes
Place your ad here for just $25 per year
Contact Mary Dempsey or Kathleen Clerc for details and sign up
Robbins Honey Farm
Brick and Mortar Store
7910 148th St. SW, Lakewood, WA
Beekeeping supplies, bees, honey
5 frame nucs
Dolce Bella Bees
Bee packages and queens
The Woodland Hearth
Hyperlocal and Creamed Honey
Soap and other home and body products
Dr. D’s bees
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