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Piece of Honeycomb


Pierce County Beekeeping Association

Monthly Newsletter

January 2024 - Volume 30 - Issue 1


President's Corner

Happy New Year!!!

Well, the new year started off with a bang and a lot of us sick with the flu. I was so sad to miss the 1st meeting of 2024!!! The classes and meeting went off without any issues because of our wonderful members who jumped in and filled in. I so appreciate all of you and I am looking forward to February's meeting!

Last year was a whirlwind of just trying to rebuild and grow. We accomplished that with a lot of hard work, sweat and a few tears (mostly tears of joy). Everyone has worked so hard and it shows!! We are sad to see some of very special friends (SR and Natasha) leave but wish them all the best in their new adventure and we welcome the new friends we have made. Our board is growing with some awesome people taking key positions. There are still a few positions to fill. The next in my sights is a fundraising chair. If that comment made you stop for a second... lets talk!! There are lots of opportunities to get involved with many events planned for 2024. I am looking forward to serving with you and having a great years of bees!

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.

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 provide your Full Name, Address, Contact Information (email and phone number) & Notes/Information to Kathleen Clerc

Garden Committee

Garden Committee Meeting on Monday, February 5th from 5:30pm - 6:00pm @ Allmendinger Center
Join our newly formed Garden Committee and be a part of the development of the Native Pollinator Garden. We are getting ready for the WSU Master Gardener Sale in April. Please look in your garage, basement, storage shed, and chimney for 3", 4", 5.5" and 6" square pots and trays to match. Round pots will be taken only with matching trays to hold them in place.

  To join this committee, please provide your Full Name, Address, Contact Information (email and phone number) & Notes/Information to Kathleen Clerc 

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 provide your Full Name, Address, Contact Information (email and phone number) & Notes/Information to Kathleen Clerc

Donation & Fundraising Committee
Help us to be involved in our community in a big way! To join this list, please provide your Full Name, Address, Contact Information (email and phone number) & Notes/Information to Kathleen Clerc

Monthly Meeting Information

Monday, February 5th, 2024

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

Science & Biology of Honey Bees
Anatomy of the Hive/Colony Castes


Sign up for Classes on our Website

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

At this time, Beginner & Apprentice Levels are going to meet together through April.

Classes are January - November (no class in July)

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
By Kathleen Clerc

Well! One thing is for sure - it's COLD! 

Actions you can take in your Apiary during this time are few, but they do exist! I've made my rounds through my hives at home and at the club and am very happy to report that all of the hives are looking good so far! We worked really hard for that, but the worst isn't here yet, we haven't had any snow but we are on the cusp come February. I have to admit, I insulated the hives at the Apiary and I did not originally insulate the hives that I manage at home. I finally did so in early December and I immediately could tell that my bees were more comfortable. I'm sure glad I made that choice after the week we had in the 10's... I will insulate my own from now on.

As my first Mentor, Jason, taught me, it's best to start your observation (no matter what season it is) by observing what is going on at the entrance to your hive. Right now in Mid January in 15 degree weather, I'm not breaking into the hives, I'm looking for proof of life. The first and most obvious signs of which often come by seeing death, ironically enough. I know my hives are still active when I see that they are cleaning out the dead bees, pushing them out of the entrance. It's easy to spot when you make sure that the landing section of the bottom board is clean every time you leave it. I give each of them 1 good tap on the side with my ear to the wall. You can hear a thick wave of buzzing and then they calm right down again, so no harm is caused by the act. I recommend not sticking your ear over the top entrance hole while doing this... for obvious reasons, don't win yourself a Darwin Award! If you don't hear a response from your hive, either they are too weak and will most likely die soon in the next cold snap, or they are already gone...


It's good practice to sweep out the bottom boards, pull your entrance reducer (if you have one installed) and use your hive tool to gently sweep out whatever dead bees you can before reinstalling the reducer. This part is important. If you have a weak hive that has experienced a lot of death, those bees are piled at the bottom and are unable to be cleared by their sisters. Sometimes the pile of death completely blocks the bees from their bottom entrance. If you are of those that do not run a top entrance, then say goodbye to your hive. They are locked in and most likely wont make it.

In this cold of weather, I would not check food, the 10's are just too cold for that. But later this month (this week even) we will see temps rocket back up to the mid 50's. Check those resources. How are they looking? Do you need to add more fondant, dry sugar, whatever it may be? If so, do it! I made sure to top off all of the hives before this cold snap, but I absolutely will check again after this snap ends. I see beekeepers on social media reporting their bees going through multiple cups of sugar per hive in a week! 

Let's talk about that for a minute. It may be cold right now but we all can agree that this has been a warm winter. Our winters here in the PNW are generally not the coldest and it can cause some confusion in the hives on when or whether they truly shut down brood laying. I'm seeing beekeepers on social and in discussions sharing that when they are cleaning dead outs, they are finding all stages of brood in December. That is pretty surprising and not the norm for December. They should be on a brood break which is part of the reason we say to do a OAV Mite Knockdown in December. In theory, none of the mites can be hiding in cells with brood, which makes it the best time to shake those nasty critters off with massive impact. The warmer temperatures also mean the bees are generally more active and eating more, making them resource hungry and potentially starving if not robbing other hives close to them. These factors combined put the hives at a greater risk not only to starve if their resources are not replenished in some manner, but also to carry a mite load that could kill them by March.

My sympathy goes out to those who have lost any hives at this point through winter. We have all felt that pain. You can leave the hive until it gets a bit warmer before cleaning it up, or you could take it apart and store it now, that is up to you. If you do take it apart, look for the cause of death. I know that in my first year, I confused mite poop with dried sugar granules in the cells. So I blamed the cold snap for the death of my hive, thinking I had treated enough, mites couldn't have been the problem! And that dry sugar had fallen into all of the cells. But those white granules in the cells, are poop from the varroa mite. Cold didn't kill the bees. The lack of bees in the colony due to disease and mite infestation made them unprepared to survive cold. 

It's a good idea to do some research on where to purchase bees and to start placing your orders. Although there is more cold to come in February, Spring is just around the corner and bees sell out fast. We have a list of companies at the bottom of this newsletter that are great to purchase from. This is the time to plan how many hives you would like to run come spring, what type of bees, and research your treatment plan. You need to be thinking about how you plan to improve your practice, whether you are new or experienced, improving is always always the goal.

I went with Saskatraz bees in 2023 and I really liked them in comparison to the Carniolans which I ran the last 2 years. I have to say though, the best queen I had this year was from Harvard Robbins, what a beautiful, hardworking Carnie. She laid the most glorious wall to wall frames of brood. She was the hive that was attacked by the bear (which the queen miraculously survived) and unfortunately she just didn't recover as strong, the hive culled her. They went through a brood break while requeening, late in the season. They are doing ok, but it isn't what it could have been.
My 2 Saskatraz hives did not get the memo to shut down - at all. They are incredibly strong hives that went into winter with 2 full deep boxes of brood and a full deep of honey with a super on top. I do not recommend that setup whatsoever, that is not how you want to go in, seriously don't copy me, but damn those hives just don't stop and even today they are just bursting (for now). I live in a very urban setting and didn't have the space to break the hives into 4 (I have 9 as it stands, so 13 is way too much for where I live), so I decided to let them roll. I've spoken to a few others that share this sentiment and frustration about Saskatraz. They definitely produced more brood than honey and this lack of shutting down creates issues in keeping them over winter. I'm lucky so far but I have to pay special attention to when they move up in their boxes, potentially need to remove the bottom box at some point because of heat distribution and really hover on how much food they have because they could easily eat through resources and starve. It's not ideal, but I'm not going to say that I'm not impressed. 
I hear from others that Caucasians are the best suited for the PNW, I have yet to run them but intend to next time I buy.

Whatever you choose, remember to enjoy it. We are citizen scientists! Find what works best for you :) 
Spring is coming - I can't WAIT!

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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