February 2023 - Volume 29 - Issue 2
Things are really getting exciting!!! We had a great turnout for the Monthly General Meeting and Classes. Over 70 people!! Our Guest speaker, Mary Kline, did a great job and will be returning at the April meeting for part 2. There are so many things happening, it's hard to keep up. The bees are ordered and will arrive in April and we have designated plots of land at WSU Extension Campus for planting pollinator plants. We are possibly going to the Spring Fair and doing an educational presentation at the Pierce County Fair. We have Dr. Nick Najear as a special speaker in May along with our Annual Silent Auction Fundraiser. March's meeting topic is on Swarming and will be presented by Greg Willging and myself. The website seems to be running smoothly and continues to be tweaked and added to.
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!!!
Mary Dempsey, PCBA President
Join us for the next meeting!
D.F. Allmendinger Center
2606 W Pioneer Ave, Puyallup, WA 98371
March 6th, 2023
PCBA Monthly Meeting
6pm - Beginner Class, Sustainable Meeting, OSU Student Group
7pm - All Member Meeting
Presenters: Greg Willgig and Mary Dempsey
Hive Management and Swarm Capture
Greg loves the bees and beekeeping. As a member of our Association, he has been active as the Apiary Manager, taught classes and mentored many beekeepers over the years. He is always generous with his time and knowledge. He enjoys going out to retrieve swarms and educate the community. He has been a successful beekeeper for 9 years and manages between 30-50 hives in 7 different apiaries depending on the year.
Mary loves the bees and enjoys just sitting and watching them be busy. She has managed the Honey House and the Swarm list for 2 years and is the current President. She has mentored many new beekeepers and helps to educate the community about bees and beekeeping. She has 12 hives in 4 different apiaries.
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.
How are your bees? – February/March
By: Greg Willging
Before diving into this month’s “What the heck am I supposed to be doing now, I would ask, "Have you read the January and December Newsletter installments"? If you haven't and you could use a refresher, please take the time to do so now. The archived versions can be found at: https://www.pcbeekeepers.org/newsletter. Hopefully, even if you currently don’t have any hives or you are an experienced beekeeper (or somewhere inbetween), you will find some tidbits of information that you might find of interest.
For me, I believe February & March are the most critical time of the entire overwintering period. The queen has begun to slowly build her summer bee workforce and the older winter bees are nearing the end of their lives. Food stores in many cases are dwindling and there are possibly 4 more months before any nectar/pollen is available in any volume, depending on the early Spring season. This is the time to be super vigilant in making sure your colonies still have food resources and moisture in the hive is under control.
I currently have 7 small out yards (our hives are hosted at our home and on other folks’ properties) in about a 15-mile radius of where I live in Bonney Lake. To be quite honest with you, 2022 was a tough beekeeping year for me. With the cold/wet spring and then the hot dry summer, some of my hives struggled to reach their potential while the bees in all of the local locations struggled to find abundant nectar forage. The net result is that I lost some very healthy hives in late December. So, here are some things to think about doing now.
Pre spring activities – To be prepared, I like to be at least 42 days ahead of the first Spring bloom for my area which is Broadleaf Maple. Currently, I’m going out to each hive and cleaning out the reduced lower entrance of any dead bees. Next, I gauge the hive’s relative weight by standing behind the hive and slightly lifting/tipping each hive up about half an inch or less using the backside of the bottom board. In my hive configuration, I use quilt boxes with an emergency sugar box on each hive. Next, it is very easy for me to lift the telescoping lid to check the quilt box for moisture. I expect, with a healthy hive, there will be some moisture on the top layer of the quilt box shavings. I’m also checking that the moisture has not completely soaked through. If it has, I replace the shavings. For my configuration, this can be done without exposing the bees to the outside conditions. If it is warm enough, I will slightly lift the quilt box up to inspect the sugar box and sugar is added as necessary. If I don’t find any moisture in the quilt box, then that’s a very good indicator there is a chance the bees are dead.
Dead-outs – I break the hive down to visually inspect for what may have potentially caused the loss. If there are no obvious signs of pathogen or brood disease, I will harvest any honey. Next, I remove all frames with comb and scrape, torch/burnish the inside of the boxes, clean all of the woodenware with bleach and rinse with water. I then reassemble the hive and put it back in place in preparation for spring. The empty hive can be used for splits, new package/NUC bees or as a swarm trap. I have better luck with leaving a partially empty hive.
Mites – I treat based on mite counts at least twice a month May thru November. December thru March if a warm day presents itself, I will do a prophylactic Oxalic Acid sublimation or dribble treatment. This helps to ensure that the bees will be relatively mite free when early Spring brood rearing begins. In my case since I use screened bottom boards, I can use the mite drop count on the (IPM) Integrated Pest Management board to make a determination if the hive is now relatively mite free and ready for spring buildup. If not, I will perform another mite treatment when the weather permits. I have used this approach for the past few years without any detrimental impacts to the bee’s health.
Tracheal mites - In the past couple of years I have been hearing that there is a possible resurgence. What are Tracheal mites? Check out this link.
One possible Spring treatment control is to use a grease patty: The recipe below, I believe, came from Old Sol Apiaries. The recipe has been edited.
GREASE PATTY RECIPE
Another (IPM) Integrated Pest Management approach.
These patties can be kept on your colonies on the top bars above the brood nest year-round. Don’t use essential oils in the recipe when you have honey supers on your bees.
1 cup Crisco (Higher melting temperature)
2 cups white cane sugar
1 Tablespoon of honey (preferably use your own as you should know if it’s not contaminated)
15 drops lemongrass oil
15 drops wintergreen oil
¼ to ½ tsp. mineral salts (optional), chopped in a blender.
Mix well and make into 2” patties.
Other pre-Spring activities to be done now - Currently I use this time to stock up on any additional wooden-ware, including deep and medium boxes, brood/honey frames/foundation, and feeders I might need for Spring buildup. For me, March is the time of the year to add pollen subs, above the brood nest, to the hives. When the daytime temperatures have warmed up to around 60 degrees, 1:1 liquid sugar water is also added. I do both of these things to hopefully accelerate the colonies build up prior to the early Spring Broadleaf Maple bloom. I also take this time to evaluate my apiary hive management successes and losses for possible hive configuration changes. Additionally, I start scouting for possible new hosting locations while driving around to all of the existing hosting sites to assess any possible changes to the landscape.
Also, take the time to attend the monthly PCBA general meeting and the sustainability group meetings. Both offer a wonderful opportunity to interact with other local Beeks and exchange ideas.
The Sugar is HERE!!!
Big thanks to Cookie and Greg Willging who picked up and transferred to containers in the Honey House!!!
Brown and Haley in Tacoma, who makes Almond Roca, donates sugar that is left over from cleaning their equipment every year to feed the bees. In the past it was picked up by individuals right from the factory and was in a 1:1 sugar/ water solution. This year it is in granular sugar form. It is not for human consumption but has been tested to be ok with the bees. There are limited quantities and so will be sold on a 1st come, first serve basis. You can bring your own container (up to a 5 gal bucket) and fill it for $3.00 or purchase a pre-filled 5 gallon bucket with a lid for $10.00 ($7 for bucket and lid and $3.00 for the sugar). Larger quantities may be available. It has been offered free in the past but this year, volunteers had to pick it up and transport it to the apiary and then load it into containers. The cost is minimal and will just cover the cost of buckets and resources used to pick it up and then store it in the apiary shed. Pick up will be at the Club Apiary and dates are TBD.
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
Member Suggested Resources & Articles
If you have suggestions for the newsletter, please send to Kathleen
Beekeeping Today Podcast (Spotify) [LISTEN]
The Hive Jive Podcast (Spotify) [LISTEN]
WA State Pollinator Health Task Force [LEARN MORE]
"First Honeybee Vaccine" 2023 [LEARN MORE]
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