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Piece of Honeycomb


Pierce County Beekeeping Association

Monthly Newsletter

February 2024 - Volume 30 - Issue 2


President's Corner

Happy February, Beekeepers!!

March is almost here and April is just around the corner!!! The Spring Fair is coming up in April and is only 54 days away. We had our first Beekeeper in a Day class that was a great success and we will be offering that quarterly. We are adding an Apprentice Class on the 1st Monday of the month for those who have finished the Beginner classes and we are working on a adding a Journeyman's class in the future as well. Our Wax melting workshops are coming up soon and you can sign up on the website for that. I'm really excited for our next meeting and our special guest speaker who will change your perspective on wasps. Make sure you scroll down to the monthly meeting section for more information. 

I appreciate that you have stuck with me, Kathleen and the Board as we have navigated this crazy, fun and busy world of Pierce County Beekeepers!!

The best is yet to come!!!


Become a Member of PCBA!

It has been an amazing year and we have so much more to come! Over the year we have gathered over 550 members of our Facebook Group and over 650 Newsletter Subscribers! We are elated and honored to have had such a successful reach. Now, please be reminded that we are a Non-Profit 501c3. Membership makes a massive impact to our ability to continue full steam ahead and offer classes and programs that you all value, in fact it's the only way... We are asking all of you that are participating on our social platforms and subscribing to please sign up for membership in 2024 and help us continue to grow our resources and programs.

*** When we changed website hosts last year, everyone who became a member was considered a "New" member as far as the computer was concerned. The New Member choice does not automatically renew every year. We have just learned that anyone who signed up last year will need to join again on your expiration date. 


  Many people have expired memberships.  If you got an email that told you to renew and then on the website it said that you had already purchased the membership and then wouldn't let you renew, that was a computer glitch that is now fixed. 

Please check your records to find the date you joined or renewed last year and rejoin if your membership is expired by date. The automatic renewal is working for some.

If you are unsure of your status you can email

Thank you

Become a Member


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!!


Important dates in 2024
Wax Melting Workshop #1 will be on February 24th at 11:00am - Meet at the Club Apiary 

Wax Melting & Forming Workshop #2 will be on March 23rd at 11:00am - Meet at the Club Apiary

Install Ground Cloth in Club Apiary on March 16th at Noon - Meet at the Club Apiary

Honey House Scrub Down and Painting on April 20th 9:00am - Meet at the Honey House

Spring Fair on April 11th-14th & again on April 18th -21st - Will need Volunteers - Puyallup Fair Grounds
WSU Master Gardener Sale in late April - Official Date TBD
Silent auction - May 6th, 2024 - Allmendinger Center

Picnic in July - July 20th - Allmendinger Center

Pierce County Fair - Aug 8th - Aug 11th - Puyallup Fair Grounds

Washington State Fair - August 30th - Sept 22nd - Will need Volunteers - Puyallup Fair Grounds

Elections in November on Nov 4th - Allmendinger Center

Holiday Party on December 2nd - Allmendinger Center 

Honey House Scrub Down

April 20th, 2024 @ 9am

Our Honey House is ready for a facelift! Come help us give the Honey House a Deep Scrub inside and outside, sand down the counters & repaint them as well as decorate. To join this list, please RSVP at

Hive Host & Beekeeper List

We have been building a list of those who have properties in which they are aiming to host hives on, as well as beekeepers who would like to service hives on host properties. With Spring coming, it is time to sign up! To join this list and be matched with a potential host or beekeeper, please sign up here:

Monthly Meeting Information

Monday, March 4th, 2024

Beginner, Intermediate & Sustainable Classes @ 6pm
General Meeting @ 7pm



Wasps in a Bee World

Alex Wikstrom

Alex Wikstrom, a student of entomology focusing on Hymenopteran behaviors, and a Stinging Insects Control Specialist, leads the field with unique control methods for these pesky critters that are so important to life on our planet.

Alex will talk about Wasps and the importance of them in our agriculture, ecology, and economics. It will also correlate with how wasps interfere with beekeeping practices and how we can mitigate the problem."

WSU Puyallup Research & Extension Center

D.F. Allmendinger Center

2606 W Pioneer Ave, Puyallup, WA 98371

Apiary Day & Workshop Information

Apiary Days will begin in April and run through October

February 24th @ 11am - Wax Melting Workshop - Meet at Club Apiary

March 23rd @ 11am - Wax Melting & Forming Workshop - Meet at Club Apiary

 WSU Puyallup Research & Extension Center

D.F. Allmendinger Center

2606 W Pioneer Ave, Puyallup, WA 98371


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. Contact Kathleen Clerc with any questions. 

Beekeeping Class Information

Classes are available to PCBA Members only - Become a Member
Sign up for Classes on our Website

 WSU Puyallup Research & Extension Center

D.F. Allmendinger Center

2606 W Pioneer Ave, Puyallup, WA 98371

Classes are January - November (no class in July, September, December)

Please keep an eye on our Facebook Group & your email to keep up with any updates on what is planned for the next upcoming, including estimated times and lesson plan. 
Contact Katie Marler with any questions. 

What the heck should I be doing now?
A timely article about Beekeeping in the Pacific Northwest

How are your bees? – February/March

By: Greg Willging


    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.  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.



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.

Beekeeping Articles & Topics of Interest
EPA Issues Advisory on Pesticides Used to Control Varroa Mites in Beehives - 1/8/2024 - Environmental Protection Agency
Honeybee Cluster - Not Insulation but Stressful Heat Sink - 11/20/2023 - Derek Mitchell

Ask a Washington Beekeeper - WASBA
WASBA’s ongoing project “Ask a Washington Beekeeper” has two episodes in the books. The first, in October, featured Jeff Ott and Bri Price, whose presentation about preparing for winter reached about two dozen interested beekeepers via both Facebook Live and Zoom. WASBA board member Dawn Beck graciously shared her presentation about the honeybees’ fat bodies and how these relate to honeybee health. In both cases, the presenters fielded questions from the audience with questions ranging from combining hives to winter survival rates. “Ask a Washington Beekeeper” is a collaboration between WASBA and GRuB and is designed to reach beekeepers who may be in outlying areas without access to a mentor or a beekeeping club. Our goal is to provide information, education and mentoring to as many people as possible, including veterans who are interested in beekeeping. An educated beekeeper is a better beekeeper and is better for the beekeeping community.
After a break for the holiday, “Ask a Washington Beekeeper” will resume on January 18th with WASBA president Alan Woods sharing his knowledge about integrated pest management. Future programs include information about packaged bees vs. nucs, a panel discussion, and information about the nectar flow. Programs are each month on the third Thursday starting at 6:30pm. Check it out and tell your friends – here’s the link: We’ll see you there!


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Now is the time of year to get your bees ordered. Some of the suppliers have a deadline of February 1, 2024. Pick up is 
usually in April. 
Follow the link to our resources page.


Buy Local

Advertisers - place your ad here for just $25 per year

Contact for details and sign up

Robbins Honey Farm

Harvard Robbins

Brick and Mortar Store

7910 148th St. SW, Lakewood, WA

253-588-7033, 253-370-0842

Beekeeping supplies, bees, honey

5 frame nucs


Dolce Bella Bees

Alisa Shorey 



253-683-0789/ 253-380-2327

Bee packages and queens


The Woodland Hearth 

Mary Dempsey

Hyperlocal and Creamed Honey

Soap and other home and body products


 Dr. D’s bees

Dennis Carlson

Local Honey


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