top of page
Piece of Honeycomb

Cappings

Pierce County Beekeeping Association

Monthly Newsletter

March 2024 - Volume 30 - Issue 3

CHEERS to 30 YEARS OF PCBA NEWSLETTERS!

President's Corner

Happy March, Beekeepers!!

Spring is almost here and  boy am I looking forward to it!! Since all of my hives are not on my property and in "out- apiaries", it is a little more challenging to check on them. The weather hasn't helped much either. A few weeks ago the weather was in the 50's so I checked as many as I could. I didn't open them, I just watched the entrances to see what was happening. There were lots of bees bringing in pollen and I saw no deformed wing or K-wing, no lethargic bees or bees acting odd. I fully expected to find 100% of my hives as dead outs. To my surprise, I have 3 colonies doing great!!! My schedule in the last year was pretty insane so my hives were neglected and I became a bee- haver instead of a beekeeper. That is 100% on me and I probably should have just skipped having my own bees last year. I'm glad that bees are one of the coolest insects and that they survived in spite of me!!! So, congratulations if you have surviving hives going into spring!! But if you don't...

Sometimes life just happens and all we can do is enjoy the ride and let go of things that we have no control of. I want to encourage you if you lost hives this past year.  It is sad and discouraging but it happens to ALL of us, even the most experienced beekeepers. Even if you did everything right, stuff happens. The weather changes too fast for them to get back into cluster after an unusually warm day and they freeze, the queen fails or failed late and they didn't have time to replace her. Or worse yet, she got eaten on her way back from her maiden flight. A huge storm blows through and the covers get blown off the hives and you don't know it because they are in the out- apiaries. They starve to death even though there is food only one frame away or that darn bear got through the electric fence. The entrance got plugged and they couldn't get out or the raccoon managed to accidentally close the entrance trying to get in. My point is, in nature, there are no guarantees. The journey can painful but also exciting and fun. Like checking on them in February and seeing them brining in tons of pollen in 45 degree weather. Opening them up on the first over 60 degree day and finding so many bees that you think, "Oh crap! I have to split these guys now but I don't have my boxes ready"!! Finding the queen and she is big and beautiful and laying tons and you look at your notes and remember that she was a marked queen and now she's not?? That she was on your list to replace this year but you realize that they requeened themselves and just saved you 50 bucks. So, don't beat yourself up if you lost hives. Do your due diligence and try to figure out why and then fix it for this season. After that, rejoice with the wins that you do have and have a great season. 

Happy Beekeeping!

Mary

Some cool stuff we have had in the last few months!

Our first Beekeeper in a day class

A packed house for special speaker, Alex Wixstrum presenting, "Wasps in a Bee World"

IMG_1738.jpeg

Our 1st Workshop Day

Wax Melting

Checking out the apiary to see who survived!!

Teaching a new Beek how to extract honey.

IMG_1747.jpeg
IMG_1749.jpeg
IMG_1748.jpeg
IMG_1750.jpeg
IMG_1751.jpeg

Laying ground cloth in the teaching apiary so we don't have to cut the grass!! Thanks to Soleil Clerc, Jason Faber and Nate Chambers for helping out Kathleen Clerc!!! We appreciate you!!

Working with another non profit organization, Building Beyond the Walls, to provide community education about Native Pollinators.

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. 

IT DOES NOT AUTOMATICALLY RENEW YOUR MEMBERSHIP.

  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 president@pcbeekeepers.org

Thank you

Become a Member

2024 EVENTS & PROJECTS

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!!
 

HERE IS A LINK TO OUR 2024 CALENDAR OF EVENTS

Important dates in 2024

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 https://www.pcbeekeepers.org/events

Hive Host & Beekeeper List

We have many hosts, but we need more BEEKEEPERS! 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: https://www.pcbeekeepers.org/hive-host-and-beekeeper-list

Spring Fair

The Annual Spring Fair is less than a month away, April 11-14 and April 18-21. We need your help to man the booth. This is a fundraiser so the primary focus is selling honey. Come and join the fun, hang out with other beekeepers and Sell, Sell, Sell!!! The money we make goes towards educational speakers, some needed updating of old equipment and a few things on our wish list like equipment to video our classes and other beekeeping demo's. You can sign up by following this link to Signup Genius.

It's time again for the
 Annual Silent Auction

The Silent Auction happens every May at the General Meeting. This year it will be May 6, 2024

We will also have a Dessert Social. Please bring a dessert to share. We are not planning on having other foods.

This is a fundraiser and a really fun evening! So start saving your cash and be prepared to use it.

We are also asking for donations of lightly used items to auction off. They do not need to be bee related and

as with everything we do for PCBA, we can't be successful without volunteers. Please consider volunteering to canvas local businesses for donations. Please contact Mary Dempsey at 253-640-1615 if you can help in this area. 

IMG_1773.jpeg
IMG_1775.jpeg
IMG_1774.jpeg

Pictures from last years auction.

News for the Garden Committee 

The Garden Committee will have a booth at the Pierce County Master Gardener Foundation Sale April 27th and 28th, selling Native Plants for Pollinators.  Set up is Friday, April 26th, and tear down is Sunday April 28 afternoon.  Please volunteer for a time slot on Sign Up Genius to help us out. The sale is a fund raiser only, we will not have public outreach or education on honeybees.

 

We have the use of a pop-up tent, weights, and one table.  I still need up to (3) 8' banquet tables which can get wet, and shelving under the tables.

 

Kathleen and Mary met with the WSU Campus Director to discuss the Pollinator Garden Project. The number of volunteer hours needed per month (about 30-40) can not be sustained by PCBA with all of the bee oriented programs that also need volunteer help. It would also potentially change the focus of the association away from bees and towards gardening. It was suggested that we could work with the Master Gardner Program as volunteers to support the project while they run it. After much discussion and looking at alternative solutions regarding the Pollinator Garden Project, it was decided to put it on hold for now. We will revisit this after looking into all of the obstacles and options in more detail and contacting the Master Gardner Association to see if they are interested in taking over the project. Thank you all for your interest and patience.

 

Monthly Meeting Information

Monday, April 1st, 2024

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

We will be having a panel discussion. Bring all of  your questions!!

WSU Puyallup Research & Extension Center

D.F. Allmendinger Center

2606 W Pioneer Ave, Puyallup, WA 98371

Apiary Day & Workshop Information

Apiary Days are weather dependent will begin in April and run through October
 


 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 vp@pcbeekeepers.org 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 education@pcbeekeepers.org with any questions. 

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

First of all, if you are one of the lucky keepers that have made it this far with hives that survived - Congratulations! What a feat! March is the last month where hives really "make it or break it". You can think you made it through but any experienced PNW keeper will tell you "Wait until March is over".

If you did not make it to March - I want you to know... we have all been there. Please don't give up! Beekeeping is challenging and take practice. What is important is to find out WHY you didn't make it and plan a stronger approach for this upcoming season.


With that, all of us have a hive or two, or more that did not make it to March. What's really important to do is spend the time to analyze the frames, observe the signs and try to come to a conclusion of what happened in the hive that caused to to not make it so that you can come up with a plan for next year to "do better" or take comfort in knowing it wasn't you. In my personal Apiary, I have 7 out of 9 hives surviving. The 2 that did not - had their reasons. One of them was able to get into their quilt box and for whatever reason a vast majority of them decided to do so. Therefore not enough bees were left to keep the hive warm. It was a sad loss, and I would honestly call that beekeeper error. They should have never of been able to get into the top box. The second hive that passed away was one of my best queens, a survivor... until she wasn't. I believe that hive passed because the entrance wasn't cleared and they got locked in :( that is also beekeeper error.

In the Club Apiary, I was actually really shocked to have 3 hives that had queen failure. I could tell that this was the reason because there were very little bees in the hives, no signs of starvation (no bees died deep in their cells with their butts sticking out) there was no sign of brood. It was like opening an empty hive with a tiny little clump huddled together in a corner. This means to me that there were not enough bees being laid, either the queen didn't mate enough to lay enough winter bees or enough to start again and build her brood for Spring. Maybe she was squished, or passed away at some point in another manner. So the bees just kind of... fizzled out. The biggest way to tell however - was the presence of capped as well as gnawed open queen cells. The bees tried to replace the queens, and some didn't hatch. Others did hatch but no virgin queen is doing a mating flight in winter, or if she tried, she didn't make it home.  

Did your hive die of mites? This more often looks like "starvation" where many bees have their little butts pointing out of the cells and they don't have many bees in the hive because most had perished of the diseases the mites gave them. They weren't able to stay warm and feed, and chilled to death in their cells. 98% of the time, when people say their hives died of starvation with food still on the hives - that's mites, not truly starvation. Treatments need to be taken seriously in my opinion.

With a few 68 degree days I know I wasn't the only one to open the hives and see which of them really made it through winter! My biggest focus was getting the bees more DRY food to make it through the next few cold weeks! Some of them really needed it! As we are going into another string of 50 degree days, I didn't feel it necessary or advantageous to do a full deep dive into each of my hives, I trust that they know what they are doing. Less focusing on looking at each frame, unless seeing activity that made me feel otherwise. I chose to let them do their own thing (for the most part). I did however open my most active hives to run quick inspections as even though its early, some queens are laying with a passion. I had to add a box in the club apiary to one hive whose entire bottom box was full of robbed honey and collected pollen and the top box was packed full of brood. Adding a box will hopefully prevent the hive from an early swarm. It is still a bit too cold to add a box in my opinion, but I decided to take the risk because of the size of the colony. I felt that they were strong enough to stay warm despite adding a box. Something else that I did was add a big long slice of banana (with the rind) to all of the hives on Saturday, when I glanced today (Monday) every single hive had eaten that banana down to the rind! More on the banana topic below.

For those that are getting ready to invite bees into their Apiaries for the first time or are replacing their dead outs with new nucs and packages - Or those that are just opening their hives and prepping for Spring - it's already time to start thinking about your treatments. First of all, make sure you have your bees ordered already (if applicable)! I would check on the date that you "should be" receiving your bees, and start immediately planning right now on how you are going to treat them for varroa mite upon installation. I applied an OA dribble to my hives and to the club's hives upon installation in 2023 and thought that it worked well. You will probably hear from the sellers that the bees come pre-treated, but honestly I'd still treat them again, just to be sure... That's just me though! I'm just like that. 2023 bees came up from California very heavily infested with varroa, it was a hard start for the bees.

So what in the heck am I talking about, bananas? Am I bananas?.... Well yes, but there is still a point to what I am telling you! This is my first year using bananas and I really feel that it made a large impact to my bees health. 
PODCAST HERE - Start at about 18 minutes

Katharina Davitt did a Thesis Paper on finding cheap alternative ways to supplement and feed bees, regardless of country or budget. She found that people in Africa feed their bees bananas with some seriously surprising benefits! The nutritional benefits of the bananas stimulate the queens to start laying. The bees the queen lays benefit from more minerals and micronutrients, essentially she's laying healthier bees. Katharina ran many studies and also has cited studies held all around the world in many different countries, all come back with the same conclusion. "[Adding bananas to the hive] increases brood by 10-20%". This also means that there are only a few select times that you should be applying banana, at the end of fall when the queen is laying her winter bees, and at the beginning of spring, to help with spring buildup. We have keepers in our club that gave bananas to their weakest hive in the yard, and that hive was the strongest coming out of winter! I encourage you to listen to the podcast. And no! You aren't going to get attacked by bees for having bananas in your bee yard! My bees love the bananas!

So in short my lovely friends - Assess, Clean Dead  outs, Feed and make a plan to Treat - That's where we are at!

Dry food for now, it's not quite time for liquid feed, that will come in April. 

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: https://www.facebook.com/AskAWABeekeeper. We’ll see you there!

 

PCBA Wax Workshop.png

Register here. Space is limited to 25 participants.

IT'S TIME TO BUY YOUR BEES!
Now is the time of year to get your bees ordered. Some of the suppliers have a deadline of April 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 president@pcbeekeepers.org 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

 robbinslh@aol.com

Beekeeping supplies, bees, honey

5 frame nucs

 

Dolce Bella Bees

Alisa Shorey 

253-380-2327

 Andy 

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

Thewoodlandhearth.com

253-640-1615


 Dr. D’s bees

Dennis Carlson

Local Honey

253-335-5663

bottom of page