January 2023 - Volume 29 - Issue 1
Hello, Pierce County Beekeepers! I am so excited!! We had such a great turnout for the classes and meeting. I am so encouraged that we are on our way back to the great organization that I remember joining before Covid. The meeting presentation covered 5 different hive body configurations: Langstroth, Long Langstroth, Layens, Top Bar and AZ Hives. People were able to not just look but put their hands to them after the presentation with lots of questions asked and answered. Thanks to our presenters: Katie Marler, Deborah Langley-Boyer and Tina Medeiros. They did an exceptional job.
General Business Meeting
Old business covered:
The 1st Board meeting with the newly elected Board was held Jan 2, 2023. All are invited to join the next Board Meeting, February 2, 2023. Call Mary Dempsey 253-640-2625 for information if interested.
We will be ordering 4 packages of bees for the apiary and supplementing other losses with splits and swarms.
Apiary shed will be a priority to get painted.
Store room, Storage closet and Honey House have all been sorted, cleaned and organized.
Website will be switched from Wordpress to Wix for easier management.
New Business covered:
Need for Treasurer and Committee Chair and Committee volunteers.
The next meeting! February 6, 2023
The February meeting starts at 7pm. The beginner class starts at 6 pm in the Allmendinger building. For seasoned beekeepers, the sustainability class will also start at 6pm at the WOSSA building. We are now offering a group discussion for the OSU students facilitated by Betty Robertson OSU Journeyman.
To all the new beekeepers, Welcome! To all the returning members, Welcome back! To all the people who are, “thinking about it”... stick around. We can’t wait to get to know you!!!
- Mary Dempsey, PCBA President
D.F. Allmendinger Center
2606 W Pioneer Ave, Puyallup, WA 98371
February 6th, 2023
PCBA Monthly Meeting
6pm - Beginner Class, Sustainable Meeting, OSU Student Group
7pm - All Member Meeting
Guest Speaker: Mary Kline
Mary Kline is a registered Landscape Architect specializing in sustainable design and native plants. Mary’s projects include park, trail, and restoration design. Mary is an instructor for Landscapes for Living and has taught classes for Master Gardeners. Mary lives in Graham, WA and is a member of Pierce County Beekeepers Association.
February Meeting: Part One: Moving the sun’s energy up the food chain requires connection between soils, plants and insects. Restoring these links help bees to survive.
Buying Bees January 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
What the heck am I supposed to be doing now?
You may think that beekeeping activity in January is confined to catching up on bee-book reading, prepping equipment and leaving the bees alone, but there is lots more to do in the bee yard too. The biggest mistake beekeepers make in overwintering is not checking on their hives often enough in the winter and not doing anything when they find a problem because of the weather conditions. We tend to think, “ It’s too cold or rainy, I can’t open the hive. It will kill some bees”. But if you don’t fix the problem, all the bees are going to die anyway.
S0, there are lots of interesting things to do in a winter bee yard, sometimes in less-than-perfect conditions. So, make a plan. What information are you looking for? What surprises might you run into and what equipment will you need to address the issues? What do I have to do and in what order? Prepare your equipment in advance so you can get into a hive and out quickly. You may want to wear your bee jacket (or suit) on top of warm layers. I once cracked the top just barely enough to put on a sugar brick. I got nailed… by a LOT of bees that came pouring out! You may also want to have your smoker on the ready in case you need to open up the hive.
The 1st question you want to answer in the winter is: are the bees alive and well? The only way to know for sure is to choose a calm, windless day when the air temperature is at least in the mid-40s and get out to your apiary to check them out. If you see them doing cleansing flights, you have part of your answer right away. Even if they aren’t flying during your visit, evidence of bee poop gives you useful information.
That said, are the fronts of the hive only lightly spattered with bee poop? That’s normal. Or are the areas around the entrances covered with fecal stains? That’s not normal! If there’s snow on the ground, you may see thousands of brown spots all over it. That’s normal, and if the snow is fresh, it means the bees have very recently had the strength to fly out and relieve themselves, even if they aren’t out on the day you visit.
There may be lots of dead bees visible outside, particularly if you have a lot of snow on the ground. Bees that fly out on a mild day after a snowfall may become disoriented and fly into the snow and die there. While this is sad, it is not cause for alarm.
Look at any dead bees close to the entrance. If there are a lot of them without their heads, you may have a problem with shrews.
Look around for any signs of other mammals, large and small, that might be pestering your bees.
If your bees aren’t visible outside, how can you tell if they are OK without opening up the hive and disturbing them? The easiest way is to try and listen for them. They make sounds that we can hear as they move around and use their wings to control their indoor environment. In cool weather, they may be tightly clustered and not making much noise. Some people have good luck using a stethoscope to hear it. But even without one, if you can get your ear flat against the box, you may hear the sounds. If you hear absolutely nothing, you might try sharply rapping on the hive with your knuckle. That may produce a cranky roar in response. Just don’t keep repeating this as it is disturbing and it may cause some bees to leave the cluster to investigate and then fail to make it back before they become too chilled to move. Of course, if you have insulation on the hive, you can’t listen to the hive without removing some of it.
If you have a shavings-filled quilt box on the hive, you can take the cover off and push your fingers down through the shavings – you will feel the warmth of the bees. Even if you haven’t seen or heard your bees, continue with your bee-work. You may get confirmation the hive is fine.
Take off the mouse guard from the front entrance. Use a hooked hive tool to pull the entrance reducer free. It may need a hard yank – so be sure to have your free hand braced against the hive to avoid tipping it over. Be prepared to give the entrance a puff of smoke if you disturb the bees. In winter, the morgue bees don’t risk carrying out the dead, they just stack them up near the entrance, awaiting a warmer day. During long periods of cold weather, a lot of bees will die naturally in the hive. Eventually, their bodies may block the front entrance completely, leading to poor environmental quality inside. Your job is to do the morgue bees’ chores and save them the effort of hauling the dead away. Use a long, flat, wood stick, or a metal rod with a crook on the end, to gently sweep out all the dead bees, not only from the entrance area but along the sides and back corners of the hive. You may pull out a shocking number of corpses. Strong hives can lose a lot of bees and still be OK. Do as much clearing as you can before guard bees come down to investigate. Further work after that just results in injuring the curious ones. It’s best to collect the dead bees as they come out of the hive rather than let them fall on the ground near the hive entrance. Scoop them into a box. Leaving a lot of bee bodies near the entrance could attract pests like shrews and skunks, which may then continue to pester your bees. You can then carry the dead bees back home to study, or take them a little away from the hive and scatter them for the chickadees to feast on. Replace the entrance reducer (small notch facing upwards to keep the opening above any more dead bees) and reinstall the mouse guard. Then, clear wet leaves, snow or other debris from the hive entrance to maintain good ventilation.
Next, if you have a sticky board, check your Varroa numbers? If you were diligent about treating last fall, the levels should be nearly nil, even over a week or more. If you find your varroa levels are unsatisfactory, you can always try a one-dose oxalic acid vaporization treatment to bring them down. It won’t be quite as effective as doing it earlier during the natural brood pause, but still far better than doing nothing. The neat thing about using a mite monitoring board in winter is that it reveals more than just the Varroa levels. For instance, the stripes of debris on the board (and the number of them) tell you where the bees are clustered. The fine brown dust is from the countless little piercings of the capped honey stores above. Over time, the stripes will change position as the bee cluster moves to fresh areas of honey. And as the colony grows back to full strength, the number of the stripes will keep increasing. Also look for things like mouse poop. That would tell you someone else is in your hive.
The next step is to assess the weight of the hive, either by weighing it with a game scale or just lifting the back end to see how heavy it is. In January, it should still feel pretty heavy compared to its fall weight because in early winter the bees don’t use up a lot of honey. But the bees will soon be ramping up their consumption of stores (both bee bread and honey) as they start the brood build-up after mid-winter.
If you think your hive may be light, you can feed them to make sure they won’t run short. You should plan on feeding loose sugar, fondant and home-made sugar bricks. In most cases, you will need to have a feeding shim or deep rim inner cover on the hive to make space for the extra feed. In cold weather, opening the hive does have some cost to the bees both because of the disturbance and the sudden loss of warmth in the hive. But if the bees are in danger of running out of food, the cost is balanced out.
Give the bees some smoke through the upper entrance. Remove the cover and any top insulation. Use your hive tool to loosen the inner cover or the quilt box above the top of the feeding shim. Tilt the cover or the quilt box up enough to expose the top of the frames. Apply a bit more smoke if the bees are looking restive as you don’t want them to leave the hive in such cold weather. Gently set the brick or patty down in the center, or right over where the bees are. If you allow the patty to settle slowly down, the bees will scoot safely away. Then quickly close the hive back up again. Check back in a week or two to monitor consumption and re-supply, if needed. Once you start feeding you sometimes encourage them to move upwards prematurely, leaving some stores behind. So, if you begin to provide supplemental feed, you must keep it up until the bees can forage again.
And lastly, finish up your winter bee day by checking that all the bricks or ratchet straps are still securing the hive tops. When you get home, cozy up, get back to those bee books, prepping equipment and ordering any supplies you might need for spring. Then, keep in mind that swarm season will be here soon and to deal with that, you’re going to need a plan and places to hive some new colonies so start assembling/ cleaning up your hives and woodenware.
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]
Board Meeting Minutes
Tuesday, January 2nd, 2023
Meeting Time: 6:47 pm to 8:30 pm
Those in attendance include: Mary Dempsey, Kathleen Clerc, Sherri Thomas, Katie Marler, SR Balukoff, and Natasha Balukoff
~ Meeting opened at 6:47 pm by Mary Dempsey, seconded by Kathleen Clerc
~ No minutes from the last meeting to be read or accepted.
Board Meeting Frequency:
~ Mary suggested that the Board Meeting be held monthly. Kathleen agreed and stated there is much work to do to get the club caught up from the period of closure from Covid. When asked, the whole board was in agreement. The meetings will be held monthly. The next date discussed and agreed upon is February 2nd, 2023 at 6 pm. It was also decided to announce the board meeting times and dates at the general meetings and encourage member participation.
~ It was also discussed that the board meetings should be announced clearly at the monthly meeting and members should be encouraged to attend.
~ Report: Sherri explained that due to file corruption she could not give a detailed report but work on getting that together for the next meeting. She stated that the club’s account balance is $15,000 and that our costs have been down during Covid but so has our revenue. This is especially since we didn't have the fundraiser at the fair this year. However, we are doing ok and all our bills were all paid. Since the board doesn't have an updated report, the board agreed to talk about the budget next month and try for approval in March or April.
~ Banking Statements: Sherri said that it would help if the banking statements were itemized with more description details. Right now it is hard to track every item and she has to match up things with dollar amounts after the fact. Kathleen said she gets an itemized email from Paypal on any payments that go through there. She said she would email them to Sherri. Kathleen also brought up the fact that we have Square and that they are very detailed in their itemization and that perhaps we could find a way to use them more. We are currently paying Square $38.50 / month as a Point of Sale (POS). If we use them, we could do away with Stripe as an online POS and streamline the whole process. We could, in fact, use that for people to pay their membership fees instead of stacks of paper that have to be inputted later. Everyone agreed that that would be a good idea and Kathleen said he could check in to that.
~ Membership Renewal and fees: It was brought up that there seemed to be a problem with people getting membership renewal notices. They are not receiving them. It could be due to a problem of trying to manage things through Covid and that people were put on a ‘forever’ list. Mary said this needs to be fixed and would require further checking. Kathleen agreed to get her an updated membership list for cross referencing. For clarity, membership renewals are due on the 1st of October.
~ The Website: We pay about $350 dollars per year to use Wordpress Software on our website hosted by Dreamhost (server). The board would like to switch over to Wix (software) which is easier to use. We need to figure out the renewal date for the contract so that we can cancel and, if applicable, get some money back.
~ Insurance: Sherri explained that we pay about $1700 / year for insurance. Most of the Club’s insurance is for liability. There was a discussion on what measures we were using to mitigate that liability. Kathleen stated that she set up the payment for membership in such a way that you had to agree to the waiver before you could complete your payment for the membership. Katie then suggested we have a sign in on apiary days that also served as a waiver and understanding that working with bees comes with certain risks. The board thought that sounded like a good idea.
~ Advertising: There was a question asked by Mary about how much per year advertisers paid for their adverts in our newsletter and on our website. Sherri replied that it was $25 / year. There was then a discussion about who has paid for their advert for the year. Sherri said she could check on that.
Communications & Social Media:
~ Kathleen mentioned that she no longer has the time to mediate or admin the social media accounts. So in a brief conversation it was decided that SR would help out on the social media accounts. A meeting was scheduled on January 13th, 2023 for SR to meet with Kathleen to get him up to speed about the accounts and what is needed of him. The club has Facebook and Instagram accounts.
~ The apiary has 10 hives but there are maybe 2 alive. There was no information on anyone being out there very recently.
~ Spring Replacement: There was a discussion about purchasing bees to replace the hives that didn't make it. The first suggestion was maybe 6 nucs but Katie mentioned leaving space for learning experiences, such as splits and caring for swarms. Mary mentioned that we would need bees for things that decimate hives like queen rearing and the observation hive for the fair. SR said he and Natasha would be happy to go on swarm calls and put those swarms in the learning apiary. The Board eventually agreed to purchase 4 nucs this Spring. The Board discussed a budget of around $1,000 to purchase the bees and some needed beekeeping equipment.
~ Painting Building: It has been discussed that the shed in the learning apiary needs painting. The Board decided to plan on buying paint to complete this task. The Board decided to budget about $250 for the paint and supplies.
~ Apiary Days & Summer: Mary stated that she would like to pick 1 day a month for recurring apiary days so people could plan on that instead of having changing days. It would probably be less confusing for members. Some suggestions were made for possible days such as the 2nd or 3rd Saturday of the month. Nothing was decided yet. It was suggested that the board could put out a survey of the members to find out which days would work better for the most people. Mary suggested that Katie, as the education chairperson, could use SurveyMonkey to make one and then they could send it out with the email list.
~ Mary brought up her hope to find members who were OSU students to volunteer for apiary days with beginning members. She has a list of students and would like to mention it in an upcoming meeting or reach out to them.
~ Katie & Kathleen had concerns that the bees needed more attention than just apiary education days. It was suggested that a sign up sheet could be made for people interested in doing so and that a schedule could be made from that.
~ Kathleen mentioned that there is no current way of recording what was done in the teaching apiary and no way to track that. She put out the idea of a log for the hives to be made up and put in the shed so members could record their activities and members coming in after would know what was already done.
~ The membership numbers were discussed and it was asked if Kathleen had an updated list. Kathleen did have a list but had forgotten it and could email it to Mary. Mary said that we need an updated, current list for possibly having a drawing each month for a small door prize. Current (paid) membership would be a prerequisite for being able to enter for the door prize. The rest of the board members agreed this would be a fun idea and would pull in new possible members.
~ WASBA: Mary was contacted by the president of the WASBA so he could discuss the new ideas and projects they had going on. He wanted to ascertain whether or not the PCBA would be interested in joining them. If our club wanted to join it would cost $1 per member per year. The WASBA plans on having speakers available and activities to offer clubs. They plan to have a booth at the fair. He informed Mary that they & WSU are planning on having a curriculum of their own and student beekeepers like OSU. Sherri mentioned that our relationship with OSU costs us money and time and doesn't benefit the club directly. Mary said that we may want to consider it then when they have a clearer picture of what their certification program looks like. The Board is awaiting more information to make a decision on this.
(these were ideas from past meeting minutes)
~ Bob Stump Award: There was some clarification needed on this as this was something Mary found in old minutes from board meetings in the past. Sherri went on to explain that it was an award that was given out on a needed basis (not yearly) of recognition of someone who made a significant contribution or difference to the club or beekeeping in general. The board decided to continue this tradition.
~ Scholarship Award: Sherri explained that this scholarship was open for youths 12 to 18 years of age who applied in a specific time period. The club would decide on a winner. The winner would then be provided with 5 classes of beginning beekeeping at no cost and once they met the learning criteria the winner was given everything, including the bees, that they would need to begin beekeeping. This was advertised to the schools and the application period was in the Spring. This was not awarded yearly. It had been discontinued due to a lack of interest. After a short discussion the board thought it would be good to consider trying this again. There were suggestions made to try advertising with public and homeschool programs.
~ PCBA Logo: Apparently the club had once had discussions on having a new logo made up. Sherri said it was decided on and they had paid for a new design. No one was sure who may have it or know where it may be. Kathleen suggested that Larry Golden may know and that she would reach out to him.
~ Door Prizes: Mary asked what kind of prizes the club used to offer for the door prize drawings. Sherri said it had a $10 cap and would be things like a new hive tool, jar of honey, and coffee cards. As specified earlier it was open to current members at the meetings. The board agreed unanimously to bring this back.
~ Picnic: There was clarification needed on the different events the club has done in the past pre-Covid. Sherri explained that the Picnic is in July. We typically used to have 2 meetings in August (due to the fair) and no meeting in September because of people volunteering for the fair booth. In December there was a Holiday party instead of a meeting. In the Spring the club used to hold an Annual Spring Silent Auction
~ Annual Spring Raffle (Silent Auction):In the past the club held this event at a meeting instead of having a speaker. There were items placed for viewing and the club sold tickets for $5 each or $20 for 5. The tickets were placed in baskets next to the item you wanted and then each item had a drawing. Members must be present to win. At the end, all the tickets that weren’t drawn, were dumped into a “second chance” drawing for random things that were left from the auction. When asked what kind of things were offered as prizes, Sherri said that it was beekeeping equipment, and other random donated things. One item in the past that was particularly popular was a candy bar bouquet. People who donated to the auction got one ticket for their donation.
Still Vacant Chair Positions:
~ There are 4 positions that still need filling for the PCBA Board. These positions are:
Treasurer- Sherri would like to step down.
It was decided that we should actively search for volunteers to fill these positions. Hopefully, by advertising the board meetings, members that are interested and come would be keen to volunteer.
~ Classes: Betty is currently teaching the beginner classes. Mary suggested asking her to teach a questions and answer class because of her knowledge and experience. Katie Marler could then take over the beginner class as our education chair. Andy is teaching the sustainability class and it is going very well. It was suggested by Katie that we may want to consider recording video sessions of the classes for members to watch again or later. They could be made available on a members only page with a code. Mary said that there would have to be a plan on how we could get that done as we don’t have the equipment. Kathleen brought up the fact that classes are open to paid members and it will be easier for members to pay their fees if we used Square POS and it would help towards our goal of going paperless.
~ Speakers: Mary said she had someone set to speak at at least 2 meetings.
~ State Conference: The State Beekeeping conference should be advertised at meetings to encourage members to go. It’s over a weekend in the fall in Centralia.
~ Workshop Classes: It was suggested that it may be a good fundraiser to offer a day of workshops. Something that had maybe 5 stations, attendees could do 2 or 3 in the morning, then 1 hour for lunch, and then maybe 1 more in the afternoon. We could also consider a special speaker for the afternoon session. It could be a Saturday event. We could charge like $75 / person for the day, plus fees for workshops that have a make and take option. Mary said we could check with The Fruitland Grange to see what they would charge to let us use their building. It might be more cost effective than the WSU campus where we pay $350 for each event. We could have some volunteers put together a lunch. It was suggested we could advertise the Workshop day at the fair but others felt that with the small-ish group that workshops work for members should get first pick before the public. We could brainstorm ideas for workshops at a meeting and we could get ideas from what other clubs are doing. The workshop day could be held in November when the bees slow down. If the event is really popular we could hold another in early spring.
~ Motion to adjourn the meeting by Kathleen, seconded by Natasha. Meeting closed at 8:30 pm.
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