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Piece of Honeycomb


Pierce County Beekeeping Association

Monthly Newsletter

September 2023 - Volume 29 - Issue 9

President's Corner

Hi Beekeepers! 

     Time is really flying by!!!! The State Fair is going great! Thank you to all of our volunteers who have donated their time to help us connect with old and new members at the Fair!

We hosted The American Honey Princess,  Alison Hagar,  and it was great fun! Thank you to Sherri Thomas and her husband for hosting her in their home. She worked our booth, did a culinary demonstration and a meet and greet at the new bee house in Sillyville.

We are currently working with the director of the WSU campus to iron out the details of the pollinator gardens and will have and update soon. Thank you to those who have volunteered to be on that committee.

We had a class on how to extract honey and use of the honey house on Saturday, September 16th with an apiary day to follow. It was a great day!! See the pictures below.

We will be updating the website soon (after the fair) to include a list of projects page so that you will know where you can help like we discussed at the last meeting. Both Kathleen and I are grateful for all of your input.

Our next Board meeting will be Wednesday, October 25th at 6pm. All are welcome to join. If you would like to come, please contact me for location details 253-640-1615


November is just around the corner and that means elections for board positions. We have four elected board positions: President, Vice President, Treasurer and Secretary.


As many of you know, our Secretary, Natasha Balukoff, is excitedly waiting to leave for New Zealand. So, we are looking for someone to fill that position. The Secretrary is responsible for attending and submitting notes from Monthly Board Meetings as well as General Meetings, this is a voting seat on the Board. 

Due to personal reasons, Michael Konschuh, our Treasurer has stepped down. Kathleen Clerc is temporarily filling that position. The Treasurer position does not require much accounting experience but it does require a commitment to our Monthly Board Meetings. This is a voting seat on the Board.


If you are interested in being more involved with our Association and want to run for any of these positions, let us know (Mary: 253-640-1615) before the October meeting (Monday, October 2, 2023). Nominations will take place at the October 2nd meeting per our bylaws, held by our nominating committee.

- Mary Dempsey

Volunteer for our 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!!

Washington State Fair Booth

September 2nd - September 24th

Educational and fundraiser

Apiary Feeding Rotation

September 22nd - November 25th

We need help keeping the bees fed at the PCBA Apiary on the WSU Campus. They are working through their resources pretty quickly, so we need to be refreshing their 2:1 syrup at least once a week. We have supplies on site, but need commitment and help to keep up!

Honey House Scrub Down

Date TBD

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, hang instructions and photos on the walls, etc. o join this list, please provide your Full Name, Address, Contact Information (email and phone number) & Notes/Information to Kathleen Clerc

Garden Committee

Join our newly formed Garden Committee and be a part of the development of the Pollinator Garden led by Mary Kline and in partnership with WSU. To join this list, please provide your Full Name, Address, Contact Information (email and phone number) & Notes/Information to Kathleen Clerc First meeting will be on Monday, October 2nd at 5:30pm, Allmendinger Center. 

Hive Host & Beekeeper List

We would like to build 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. To join this list, 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, October 2, 2023

Classes at 6pm

General Meeting - Preparing for Winter at 7pm

WSU Puyallup Research & Extension Center

D.F. Allmendinger Center

2606 W Pioneer Ave, Puyallup, WA 98371

Apiary Day Information

We have 2 Apiary Days left until we wrap up classes for Winter. In off-season, we will be hosting workshops instead. 


Friday, October 6th - Contact Katie Marler -
Saturday, October 21st - Contact Kathleen Clerc -

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. Contact Kathleen Clerc with any questions. 

 WSU Puyallup Research & Extension Center

D.F. Allmendinger Center

2606 W Pioneer Ave, Puyallup, WA 98371


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.

map of allmindinger.jpg




A timely section on a Beekeeper's cycle in the Pacific Northwest
by Kathleen Clerc

Walking into winter in the Pacific Northwest, let alone in most cold climates around the world, is an intimidating endeavor for beekeepers. Even the very best of beekeepers, struggle to get through. Very few make it to March with the same number of hives that they entered into December with. Winter isn't the enemy, it's the environmental pressures and variables not only through the climate and moisture, but varroa among other pests, honey stores and humans

37.4% of [reported] managed hives did not survive Winter 2022

So what can we do to give our hives the best chance we can in Winter 2023? I've been spending a lot of time watching, listening and talking to beekeepers and am bringing to you my findings in hope that it will help you make an informed decision on what your "game plan" ultimately might look like. Remember, there are many different ways to reach the same result. So my words here on Winter, are not the ONLY WAY. Please use this as inspiration to do your own research and start your own conversations.  

Let's talk about the two things that need to be happening RIGHT NOW.

Here's the deal, we are in a nectar dearth (except for the few areas with a knotweed flow) right now. You are most likely already feeling that pressure. Your bees are eating through the honey they gathered during the summer, boxes are getting lighter, bees are getting sassier, yellow jackets are arriving on the doorsteps of your hives. This time, right here, right now, is a pivotal moment in time, and your bees need you. 

What makes this moment so important is 1 of 2 things - the hive itself needs sufficient fat, minerals, pollen and honey to lay ENOUGH winter bees to keep the hive fed and brood warm through the winter. Throw a full pollen patty into your hives to stimulate the laying of winter bees and if you haven't already, start or switch over to 2:1 syrup (recipe)/get your candy boards (recipe) going. Since this is robbing season, be sure to have your entrance reducers on (flipped with the entrance UPWARD so that any dead bees do not block the entrance), and I would recommend removing your entrance feeders (they signal easy access for robbers) and instead opt for internal or enclosed hive top feeders that minimize spills and drips. Close upper entrances during a dearth to make it easier for bees to defend their hive.


The reason we switch to the 2:1 sugar ratio in Fall is to help our bees process. With the temperature dropping, this allows them to spend less energy processing their sugar/nectar into honey, because there is less water to dehydrate. I like to add Honeybee Healthy, and Apple Cider Vinegar to my syrup to support the gut biome of my bees. Just as in humans, the gut biome of bees is essential to their overall ability to fight disease. I found this article if you are interested in learning more about the microbiome of honeybees and why that is important. Gut Microbiota Structure differs between Honeybees in Winter and Summer.

Also, here is a PNW Specific Article "Feeding Fall Colonies" written by the esteemed Dewey Caron.

2 of 2 - Varroa Destructor. Your bees are out looking for any and every ounce of usable sugar source to store for winter. They are robbing hives that are unhealthy, who have disease and mites. They are bringing those issues right on home. Your mite treatments need to be aggressive Your bees won't survive with a mite load growing over the winter. These days, most of us don't lose our bees to the cold, we are losing them to the mites and starvation (which actually is effected by your mite load). There are people who have bees that starved with a full deep of honey on top last winter. Those bees did not have enough healthy numbers to both keep the brood warm as well as feed themselves. I'd be curious to ask each of those people what their treatment approach was in the fall before entering winter.  

Apistan Strips

Active Ingredient: Fluvalinate

Recommended Dosage: One strip for every five frames

Must be finished before the end of October, as it requires entry into the hives.

Apistan strips are a chemical method used to kill Varroa mites in honeybee hives. The active ingredient, 10% fluvalinate, works to disrupt the nervous system of the mites but has low toxicity to honeybees.

To use the Apistan strips, we recommend hanging one strip per five frames of bees. In the video, the upper and lower boxes each hold ten frames, so we added two strips to each. It is very important to use the full dose during treatment to avoid building up resistance to Apistan in the mite population.


Active Ingredient: Thymol

Recommended Dosage: Two treatments of one foil pack every two weeks

Must be finished before the end of October, as it requires entry into the hives.

Apiguard is a thymol-based treatment for Varroa mites, which is a component of botanical thyme oil. A full dose of Apiguard consists of one foil pack added to a hive for two weeks, which is then replaced with a second foil pack for an additional two weeks. In the video, you can see the Dadant Rim Spacer Kit set up that gives the bees plenty of room to access the treatment.

Mite Away Quick Strips

Active Ingredient: Formic acid

Recommended Dosage: One strip in the brood box for 10 days

Must be finished before the end of October, as it requires entry into the hives.

Mite Away Quick Strips are a formic acid treatment for Varroa mites designed to kill the mites under the brood cap where they reproduce. Therefore, it is important to place the strips at the top of the box with the brood in your hive.

To use Mite Away Quick Strips, place one treatment on top of the brood box for 10 days. At the end of the treatment period, remove and safely discard the strip.

Oxalic Acid Dribble or Vapor
Active Ingredient: Oxalic acid
Recommended Dosage: One treatment every 4-5 days

Dribble must be finished before the end of October, as it requires entry into the hives.
Vapor you can commit to through the end of Fall, as it does not require entering the hives.

Oxalic Acid Vaporization is an ideal Fall/Winter treatment for honey bee colonies infested with the Varroa destructor ( mite. Varroa destructor decimates apiaries and threatens the food supply worldwide. OAV is most effective in a broodless colony when phoretic mites otherwise shelter in the capped cells of developing worker bees . Beekeepers employ different homespun regimens to resolve an infestation and treat their colonies a few times for a few weeks and hope for the best. OAV is proven to kill mites with minimal impact to a colony’s bee population, but many beekeepers have no systematic application schedule or definitive treatment endpoint. I personally use the Vaporizer, not the Wand, as the wand has more potential complications with possible burning of frames and more disruption to the bees because you are inserting the wand into the entrance. I drill a small hole into the back of my bottom deep, top center, and insert my vaporizer, and do the treatment without having to handle my hive. Be sure to clear out that hole every time before inserting the vaporizer, as the bees will propolize it. 

OA Dribble/Vapor Guide

OA Vapor Wand / OA Vaporizer


So, now that we have the two foremost important actions that need to be handled immediately, shared with you. Let's open the next can 'o worms, shall we? Configuration of your hives, and getting ready to switch to cold, high winds. Smarter, not harder - I feel that Portland, OR based, Beeandbloom, did a great job in their article, which I have shared with you below, no need to reinvent the wheel.

Remove unnecessary space
Overwintering your bees in the smallest space possible by pulling off empty boxes (or top bars) will prevent heat diffusion, keeping the bees from expending unnecessary energy warming their cluster. This will also limit the space available to mice and other small critters looking for a warm place to crash.

Make sure the honey is in the right spot
We don’t recommend interfering with comb arrangement often, because the bees usually organize their brood nest and food stores exactly the way they need them. That said, sometimes things go sideways and might need some rearranging. In Langstroth and Warré hives, honey frames should be on either side and on top of the cluster. In a TBH, the honey bars should be to one side of the cluster. The idea is that the cluster should be able to move together in one direction to eat through the stores. You don’t want half of the cluster moving in one direction and the other half moving in the other!

Remove your queen excluders
If excluders are left in the hive, you run the risk of the queen being left behind as the cluster moves up in the honey stores. This will kill your queen (and your colony).

Combine weak colonies. If you wind up with two colonies that are too small to overwinter, consider combining them. Overwintering one hive is better than losing both! You can also combine a weaker colony with a strong one, but be sure that the colony isn’t weak due to mite overload or disease - you’d just be weakening your strong colony. Also, be sure that the stronger colony has enough food stores to take on the extra bodies - you don’t want to bolster a weak colony at the expense of a strong one. 
Pest Prevention

Entrance reducers and mouse guards should go on in the latter half of summer - right when populations are beginning to decline and honey stores are growing. Smaller entrances will keep out yellow jackets and thieving neighbors in the fall, and mice looking for a warm place to live in the winter. If your colony is weak, it’s good to close up the entrance as much as possible to give them the least amount of space to defend. It’s important to remember to check in on your hive entrances in the winter; dead bees may need to be cleared out periodically to allow bees to exit for cleansing flights when weather permits. 

Wet Bees are Dead Bees 

The need for extra insulation will vary by location. Portland [Washington] winters are more mild than Minnesota winters, but much colder than in San Diego. It’s a good idea to consult with beekeepers in your area to see what works best, but we will cover some general techniques.

Make sure your hive is water tight. Examine the roof and box sides, plugging up any cracks or holes that might let moisture or excessive cold air into the hive. If you’re using screened bottom boards, be sure to close them up or swap them out for solid boards.

Insulation Quilt Boxes are a good idea for any climate
The idea is pretty simple: you place a shallow box with a breathable bottom (i.e. canvas, burlap) filled with dry, organic material on top of the colony. These are standard on Warré hives, but I’ve seen them modified for Langstroth and Top Bar Hives, as well. These insulation boxes will keep heat in the hive and draw excess moisture out, both very important for winter months. [How to build a quilt box]

Think twice before wrapping your hives in beecozy or foam insulation, because it can be dangerous if done incorrectly. Wrapping often causes a build-up of moisture in the hive, which can freeze and kill the colony. A soggy hive environment is also at higher risk for mold. Instead, consider constructing a wooden “hive cozy” with dead space between the outer shell and the boxes. This would provide an added layer of insulation while maintaining breathability. Roofing tiles placed on top of the hive is an easy addition that can help soak up and retain heat on sunny days. 

Provide a windbreak.
If your hives are in a particularly windy location, a wind buffer will go a long way for temperature regulation and preventing the hives from being knocked over. Stacked hay bales make an excellent temporary wall. 

Move them inside a 3-sided structure
Beekeepers in harsh climates will sometimes move their hives into a shed or garage for the winter. If you go this route, make sure to move them after foraging is done for the season, so that foragers don’t get stuck at their original location. Be sure that they get moved out into the open with an open entrance so they can do cleansing flights on the warmest days. Placing the hives in three-sided structures (like a horse run-in) can provide extra shelter without the need to move them back and forth. 

What have we been up to this month?
Pierce County Fair and Puyallup State Fair

Fun at the Honey House and in the Apiary
We had a "How to Extract Honey Class" with an apiary day to follow.  It was great fun!!! 

Honey house class1.jpg

Honey House Rental

Bring your boxes and buckets!

The Honey House is available for rent.

Reserve your time on the website.

We also have an extractor that is available for rent that you can take home for 72 hours.


You must be a member to use the Honey House 

Thoughts from our Members

Ask 5 beekeepers a question....

That’s A Wrap
by Tina Tyler

Beginning of August and we are done.

The honeybee plentiful forage is gone. Honey harvest frames are pulled and honey is being extracted. 

It just never seems to work for me to put extracted or thawed honey frames in my hive(s) because robbing starts immediately. That was devastating for the weak hive.

Instead, as far away as I can, I set up a robbing and clean-up center that includes extractor and buckets. These extracted frames are drippy and messy. After the honeybees lick up the last drop, I freeze the frames for a minimum of 48 hours to kill any organism that might be there.

Then, in a ventilated shed, I stack frames in hive bodies, starting with a great fitting bottom.  I add Paradichlorbenzone moth crystals on a paper plate. There are two kinds of commonly sold moth products. It is very important to air all equipment for two weeks prior to re-using. These moth crystals dissolve in the air, so I suggest you routinely check the paper plate of them, placed on the top hive body, to verify they are on the job all winter. As a novice, I brought the frames inside my basement . Wax moth damage is disgusting! Having the moths in the house is gross.

Beekeepers use torches to sterilize woodenware. They are not hard to use and do double duty in the kitchen to brulee’ your custard. I digress. Anyway, lightly flame over all surfaces that the bee accesses, after scraping away all debris and wax. Check the equipment for any needed repair. That’s a wrap.

How clean is your bee suit and gloves? I hand wash the veil in hot water and borax or oxi-clean and soak. I dry on a broomstick. The gloves and uniform go into the hot water wash cycle in the machine. I air dry. The goatskin gloves are then conditioned with a beeswax leather conditioner.

Metal tools get cleaned with alcohol, soap, water and boiling water.

How is the smoker? Brush it out and check that all upper ventilation holes and funnel are not blocked. I cleared mine with a flexible bamboo stick.

You have probably already washed out the liquid feeders. It is so great to have all the supplies fresh and ready for spring! Good job.


Washington State Beekeeping Conference 
October 7-8, 2023

wqsba conference.jpg

Come and join us in Olympia!!!

Member Suggested Resources & Articles

If you have suggestions for the newsletter, please send to Kathleen


WA State Pollinator Health Task Force [LEARN MORE]
Raising Resilient Bees with Eric and Joy McEwen [LISTEN]

US Honeybees suffer second deadliest season on record [LEARN MORE]

New study uses video to show honey bees switch feeding mechanisms as resource conditions vary [LEARN MORE]

Australia has officially given up on eradicating the Varroa mite. Now what? [LEARN MORE]

General Meeting Minutes 



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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