June 2023 - Volume 29 - Issue 6
Hello Pierce County Beekeepers!
State of the Association Address
It is so great to see the Association growing and expanding in our community outreach. It's a lot of fun talking to people about bees and educating them about all things bees!!!
Classes are going well with meeting attendance up, 45-70 people per meeting. Last month's Community Clusters we fun and informative. We are continuing to move forward with creating neighborhood mentors.
Nick Nagear was a fantastic guest speaker at the May meeting and we will be hosting another guest speaker, Daniel Najera, at the August 28th meeting. Remember we have 2 meetings in August and non in September because of the State Fair.
We have had more requests for presentations in schools which have been a great success.
The Point Defience Garden Festival was also very successful. "The Birds and the Bees" pollinator presentation partnered with the Audubon Society and is going on the road as we have been requested to present in other venues.
The teaching apiary is abuzz with lots of activity. Eight out of the ten hives have bees and we have the new addition of a Warre hive for educational purposes. We will also be adding a Long Langstroth in the near future. The apiary shed is organized with shelves and new steps!! We also have barrels of sugar to feed the bees when needed and we are slowly working on getting maintenance tools and treatment tools to have on site.
We have started the secondary apiary by building one hive stand to house the swarm captured on the 22nd. We will be adding comercial landscaping cloth to make maintenance easier. We will be installing it on Tuesday, June 27th. I know this is late notice but come and join us if you can. This apiary will eventually become our queen rearing apiary.
Kathleen will be doing a walk through with the campus administrator in preparation for the 2 pollinator gardens to be started. This year we will just prep the land and will plant next spring.
We have raised almost $6000 in the fundraisers that we have had so far. We could not have done it without the help of our fantastic volunteers!!
Swarm season hasn't been what we hoped for but we have gotten 3 swarms for the apiarys as well as a few for our members.
Sherri Thomas has retired as treasurer. She will now be able to volunteer in other ways. We welcome Mike Konschuh as our new treasurer. This is a temporary position per the By-laws.
There are still several volunteer opportunities coming up and we need your help! Some of the events will focus on education, fundraising and meeting and engaging with the community we serve. Others will be around apiary maintenance and improvement.
Thank you to everyone who has contributed time, energy and resources to help us grow and expand our Association.
- Mary Dempsey, PCBA President
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/ raffle tickets to just talking about bees. Come and join the fun!!
Pierce County Fair: Educational only
State Fair: Educational and fundraiser
NO MEETING IN JULY
JOIN US FOR A PICNIC!
The first driveway on the right BEFORE the D.F. Allmendinger Center's driveway
(There will be a sign!)
2606 W Pioneer Ave, Puyallup, WA 98371
Saturday, July 22nd, 2023
PCBA ANNUAL PICNIC
Join us for a social picnic and please bring some entrees and drinks! We will provide hotdogs and burgers (w/vegan options). It would be great to see you and have some time to hang out without class or a guided meeting. Can't wait to see you there!
Are you great at writing?
Do you love to share your knowledge of bees?
If you would like to volunteer to be a member of the Newsletter Team, contact Mary or Kathleen at firstname.lastname@example.org
Apiary Day Information
NO APIARY DAY - JULY 7TH
Apiary Days will be held May through October,
1st Friday as well as the 3rd Saturday of every month
Apiary Day is weather dependent. Please keep an eye on our Facebook Group to keep up with any updates on what is planned for the next upcoming, including estimated times and lesson plan.
D.F. Allmendinger Center
2606 W Pioneer Ave, Puyallup, WA 98371
Apiary Day with Resume on July 22nd @ 1:30pm
Please come prepared with full bee gear - suit and/or jacket with long baggy pants, closed toed shoes, a smoker and/or sugar spray, as well as water for yourself. You will be asked to sign a waiver and verify if you have bee allergies. If you have a bee allergy, please come prepared, suited "to the 9's" and have appropriate medications on hand in case of an emergency. We cannot guarantee to have said medications nor appropriate dosages for you, on site.
The Rhythm of the Summer
There are few things as satisfying to a beekeeper as the reassuring but furious activity outside a hive on a hot summer day. As the colony establishes itself, each day brings a new, heightened level of excitement. Inside the hive some very important changes are taking place, as the brood nest increases.
None of this happens in a vacuum. External factors have a huge impact on the activity within the hive and on its eventual survival. One of the more important of these is the “honey flow”.
What is the Honey Flow?
In simple terms, the honey flow is a sweet spot in time, if you’ll excuse the pun. It is the time when bees have ready access to abundant resources, allowing them to dramatically accelerate the creation of honey within the hive. So, the honey flow is less about honey actually flowing and more about bees having the opportunity to collect nectar to support them creating their honey.
Let’s make that a little more formal:
The honey flow occurs when one or more abundant sources of nectar are available, along with suitable weather, allowing bees to forage for that nectar.
When Does the Honey Flow Occur?
Suitable flying weather is clearly related to the time of year and, indeed, the summer is most supportive of the honey flow. But it is not always summer. Spring can be an excellent time for a honey flow too as many flowers bloom.
What affects honey flow?
There are many variables affecting when the honey flow occurs. The two basic requirements are access to nectar and suitable weather.
There are various reasons why the weather might not be accommodating, beyond merely the temperature. For example, spring often brings windy conditions not conducive to the honey flow. So, the weather element of the honey flow is variable.
The other factor – ready access to nectar – can be a little more predictable, based on the types of flowers in the local environment and their flowering schedules. This is one aspect that need not be left purely to nature and the beekeeper has the potential to influence this significantly, with a little planning.
When should I expect a heavy flow of honey?
Beekeepers will see an ebb and flow through the warmer months and there may be multiple times where bees are able to create honey in abundance.
Of course, nature is complex and there are complicated interactions between weather patterns and the blooming of flowers. In general, though, a seasoned beekeeper will be able to tell, with reasonable accuracy, when the honey flow might occur in their location.
How to Spot the Honey Flow
Since the honey flow can be triggered by the blooming of flowers within miles of the hive, it is not as simple as checking local flowers to determine whether the honey flow has arrived. The only precise way to be aware of the honey flow is to check the behavior of your bees. The most obvious sign is the level of activity and the number of bees out foraging. Bees will come back to the hive fully loaded with nectar, while other bees are leaving to gather still more. The resultant image is one that is heartwarming to the beekeeper – hundreds of bees flowing in and out of the hive. It truly is a sight to behold.
Associated with all this activity will be a rapid increase in the amount of honey stored. While the prudent beekeeper will avoid disturbing bees too much, it is important to be aware of the potential for swarming. During the honey flow, it’s possible for a single hive to gain 5 lbs. or more of honey – in a single day! In short, if bees can make honey through access to nectar and accommodating weather – they will take it!
What Beekeepers Can Do to Help
The honey flow isn’t just a time for beekeepers to smile. It is also a time to be very observant. The honey flow represents a rapid increase in the space bees need in the hive. At a rate of several pounds of new honey per day, a hive with limited space can quickly lead to a colony with thoughts of swarming. If the colony swarms, it will essentially split in two, with one half leaving the colony for a new home.
An alert beekeeper is aware at all times of the space available in the hive. Expanding the hive by adding boxes is a key decision the beekeeper will make, offering bees more space for the extra honey and thus reducing the chances of swarming.
Aside from a visual check, the weight of the hive will be an important indicator. An increasing number of beekeepers weigh their hives using monitors and the honey flow is associated with a dramatic increase in weight.
In a more proactive sense, beekeepers can plant flowers intentionally chosen to bloom in a staggered manner throughout the seasons. Doing this doesn’t just have the potential to bring weeks of color to your garden, but makes for an extended honey flow, as bees move from one type of flower to another for their nectar fix!
Done well, the beekeeper – and bees – can enjoy and extended and beautiful series of honey flows.
Nectar Flows in the Western Pacific Northwest
You will be quite surprised at how many plants produce a surplus of nectar and pollen for the bees. For this section we will be focusing on the Pacific Northwest region. For your local region, it is best to research what types of nectar and pollen plants your bees will be visiting and if there is enough to sustain the hive. Remember a bee can travel up to 6 miles to find nectar but they can be more efficient if the plants are nearby.
There are great differences in honeys depending on what type of plants the bees visit. The color and flavors of the honey will vary tremendously from light amber to dark, and mild to strong flavors. Successful beekeepers learn to manage their bees so as to harvest only the best grades of honey. Some plants that bees visit will cause a lower grade of honey to be produced with inferior flavor.
There are many factors that determine the nectar flow of a plant. Soil types, irrigation practice, quantity of rainfall, elevation, temperature and wind all have huge impacts on how much nectar a plant will give off. The more nectar there is from a plant means more honey to the bee, so finding good plants that have a surplus of nectar is important.
MAIN HONEY PLANTS IN THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST SORTED BY MONTH
* Indicates best surplus sources of nectar
Mustard - March, pollen
Oregon Grape - April, pollen and nectar
Cotton Wood - April, pollen
Willow - April, pollen and nectar is warm
Cherry Tree - April, nectar and mainly pollen
*Maple Large Leaf - April-May, pollen and surplus nectar
Deciduous Fruit Trees - April-May, mainly pollen
*Poison Oak - May, nectar surplus
Madrene - May, nectar
Manzanita - May, pollen and nectar
*Vine Maple - May, surplus
Cabbage - May, pollen and nectar
Crimson Clover - May, pollen and nectar
*Snowberry (Buckbrush) - May-June, surplus
*Cascara - May-June, nectar
Hairy Vetch - May-June, surplus nectar
Raspberry - June, surplus
Thistle - June, nectar and pollen
*Blackberry - June-July, nectar and pollen
White Clover - June-July, pollen and nectar
Dill (oil) - July, pollen and nectar
Fire Weed - July-August, no pollen and variable nectar
HONEY PLANTS IN EASTERN PACIFIC NORTHWEST
Dandelion - Spring, pollen and nectar
*Alfalfa - June-August, pollen and nectar
Red Clover - June-August, pollen and nectar
*White Clover - June-August, pollen and nectar
Mint - August-September, pollen and nectar
*Sage - September, pollen and nectar
Blackberry & Raspberry Pollination Information
Rubus is a large genus of flowering plants from the Rosaceae family, subfamily Rosoideae, of which there are believed to be hundreds if not thousands of species as well as hybrid species created both in nature and artificially. Most of these plants have woody stems with prickles, spines, bristles and gland-tipped hairs which are often referred to as brambles. Bramble fruit are generally separated into two groups, raspberries (Rubus idaeus L), and cultivated blackberries (Rubus subgenus Eubatus).
Cultivated blackberries come in a number of different varieties which vary in growth characteristics, fruit size and shape and include but are not limited to varieties such as blackberries, boysenberries, youngberries and loganberries. On the other hand, most commercial raspberry varieties are of European origin but some have been developed from hybridisation with native North American varieties (Rubus strigosus).
Raspberry and blackberry cultivars range from completely self-fruitful to completely self-unfruitful with most erect blackberries being fruitful yet prostrate growing cultivars often requiring cross-pollination. Because rubus berries are made up of an aggregate of druplets (each druplet only forms after its pistal has received pollen) yield and fruit quality can be significantly improved from honey bee pollination. Nectar is secreted in large amounts from blackberries and raspberry flowers and both nectars have a high sugar content that attracts an abundance of pollinating insects, especially the honey bee. For both raspberry and blackberry fruit size, shape and number are good measures of the degree of pollination. Numerous studies have shown increases in yield and fruit quality when bees are brought into a berry crop during flowering.
Well pollinated blackberry fruit.
Blackberry (Rubus sp.) flowers are usually white with four petals. The stigma are surrounded by 50 to 100 anthers. Nectar is produced in a cup at the base of the petals. They start producing nectar as soon as the flowers open and continue until after the petals have fallen. There are a large number of varieties of blackberry with different degrees of self fertility. It has been suggested that several different cultivars should be planted to ensure cross pollination. Certainly, if planting blackberries, advice should be sought as to whether the variety being considered needs cross pollination. They probably all benefit from bee visits to spread pollen to the stigma. As an example of this, the cultivar Thornless Evergreen is self-fertile but honey bee pollination results in better yields. The stigma are receptive for the first three days the flowers are open. Honey bees visit blackberries to collect both pollen and nectar. The flowers are usually attractive to bees and beekeepers can at times collect a honey crop from wild and cultivated blackberries.
Because blackberries are very attractive, there may be sufficient insects visiting flowers without introducing beehives. However, for commercial production the low risk approach is to introduce beehives unless it has been shown that they are not needed. It has been suggested two hives per hectare are sufficient for pollination. Because the flowers are usually very attractive to bees, they can be introduced at the start of flowering.
Raspberry (Rubus sp.) flowers have five petals and a ring of anthers. The flowers have many ovules, each with its own stigma. The fertilised ovules are called drupelets. The flowers are partially self-fertile. They will produce some fruit when caged to exclude bees, but will produce more and much larger berries if bees have access to the flowers.
The stigmas are receptive before pollen is liberated by the anthers. Because of this, the first pollen to reach the stigma is likely to be from other flowers on the same or other plants. Once the anthers start to release pollen, it may be transferred directly to the stigma and thus self-pollination will occur. The flowers can still set seed 4 days after they open. When pollen was applied each day for 4 days after the flowers opened, the seed number increased after each pollen application. This suggests that not all the stigma may be receptive on the first day. The degree of pollination affects not only the number of fruit but also the fruit size and shape. There is usually an increase in berry size with increasing number of drupelets. Increasing pollination will also decrease the number of malformed fruit. It has been suggested that some crosses between different varieties may result in larger drupelet size.
The flowers produce relatively large amounts of nectar. They have been reported to produce an average of 17 microlitres per day, which is between two and 10 times the amount reported to be produced by apples. Because of this, raspberry flowers are usually very attractive to bees. Honey bees will also collect small loads of pollen from the flowers. Pollen is not particularly attractive to bees and they will discard it at times. The attractiveness of the crop will usually mean that fewer colonies will need to be introduced. It is suggested in the literature that between 0.5 and 2.5 hives should be introduced per hectare. Because the flowers produce relatively large amounts of nectar, bees may need to visit fewer flowers to collect nectar and may not spread evenly through a field. If an uneven distribution of bees is noted, more hives should be introduced and spread around the crop.
Additional pollination information
Additional fact sheets and web links about the pollination of this crop are listed below. Please be aware that some of the information was developed overseas, and environmental and seasonal variations may occur.
Rubus pollination fact sheet, The Pollination Program (Agrifutures Australia and Hort Innovation)
Raspberry pollination, United States Department of Agriculture
Poor pollination in raspberries, University of California
Member Suggested Resources & Articles
If you have suggestions for the newsletter, please send to Kathleen email@example.com
Keep Pesticides off your Property! Join the Pierce County Owner Maintained Program [READ]
Bananas for Bees with Katharina Davitt (Spotify) [LISTEN]
Extended Release Oxalic Acid Treatments by Randy Oliver [READ]
Reproductive quality of honey bee males affects their age of flight attempt [READ]
NEW WA STATE LEGISTATIVE ACTION [READ]
WA State Pollinator Health Task Force [LEARN MORE]
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