Skagit Valley Beekeepers Association

Hello everyone! I hope you all are staying safe and healthy. I'm looking forward to the day we can all meet again in person.

Due to the Burlington Library still being closed, our next meeting will be held Thursday, June 11th at 7 pm on the Zoom Meeting app. Brad will email everyone who is apart of the club later in the week as to more details about that. 

June Newsletter

Bee Starvation:
Recognizing the signs

Bee starvation usually happens when a bee colony finds no nectar while foraging to feed itself and its brood.  
Bee starvation is very common among beekeepers this time of year. Especially this year! I cannot stress enough to check on your bees weekly during this dearth. If you can, check more than weekly.  Brad recommends getting into your hive every 10-14 days during the growing season (March through October). Even though you see bee flight and activity around your hive does not mean it is all fine and well inside the hive. I've lost a couple of mine to starvation just these past two weeks, and I'm currently on round 5 of feeding them. Make your bees a priority! Sugar water is cheap insurance to ensure your bees thrive during this dearth. Especially since the weather has not been good, the bees haven't been out to forage, and can easily starve. 
You can mix a sugar-water ratio of 1:1 right now (1 cup of sugar to 1 cup of water). I would recommend feeding your bees until they don't take the feed anymore, or feed them up until the blackberries and until you know they have a nectar source coming in. Worker bees use sugar water/nectar to not only feed themselves, but to convert those resources to royal jelly in which they feed the queen and larvae brood.
If you examine your bees from the outside and notice that they are lethargic and non-active, they are probably very hungry. They might even discard their larvae and you might find piles of dead bees on the bottom board. Continually check your bees in case they need resources they are relying on you to provide them. Some of these resources include boosting colonies with extra brood frames, needing queens, or sugar water. 

Mite Treatments 

This is a picture I took last summer. If you look closely, you can see a red oval on the left side on the back of the bee right underneath the wing. This is a varroa mite. If you do not plan on producing honey this year for your personal gain, treat your bees as soon as possible. Apigard (gel) or Apivar (strips) are a perfect option right now.  If you do plan on putting supers on, make sure you treat your bees with vapor or the products above right after you pull your honey supers off of your beehives. DO NOT TREAT YOUR BEEHIVES WHILE YOU HAVE YOUR HONEY SUPERS ON. This will contaminate the honey and be harmful to the people consuming it. 
Mites are a parasite that live on bees and transfer dangerous strands of viruses and diseases. Maintaining mites throughout the year is critical to the health of your beehives. Alcohol washes can be used to determine on average how many mites are in your colony. Scoop up some worker bees (make sure you don't have the queen) and add alcohol to the jar. Shake for a few minutes. This will kill the bees, but you will have a mite count. 

Asian Hornet: Update

At the end of May, a dead, queen Asian hornet was found in Custer, WA. The autopsy confirmed that is was a mated queen. This is the first confirmed case in 2020. When working your bees, take precaution and watch around you. Be observant when you are outside and contact the USDA if you spot something. 
Although we beekeepers cannot physically remove and trap this Asian Hornet, we can spread the word to our neighbors and friends on what these bugs look like. There have been many people killing other pollinators, such as the bumblebee, and sending them into the USDA. Let's help educate people on the pollinator world. 
If you have a Facebook account, Washington USDA has a member page you can ask to join called "Asian Giant Hornet Watch". There is some handy information on that page such as how to set traps, how beekeepers in Asia are handling this hornet and so on. 

Prepraing for Summer 

If you are preparing for a summer honey flow, you should make sure your equipment is all in order. The blackberries can bloom fast, so preparing for it ahead of time is a good idea. Make sure you have honey supers and drawn honey frames. Monitor your hives weekly so that you know how much honey is coming in. If you have to order anything, now is a good time to order it. I was told to tell all of you that if you are ordering from Mann Lake, they are a bit behind. Have patience with them. If you need something super fast, I recently ordered from Glory Bee and it was here within a few days. 
This is also a reminder that swarm season is still here. Watch your hives if they become honey bound. This can cause the bees to swarm as well. 
Fun Project!
As many of you know, we are a bee club. This means that although we specialize in honeybees, we also try and talk about other bees such as wasps, hornets, and others. As people call us to do hornet removals or swarm catches, we would love any of you to take pictures and send them to the club email! We would like to consolidate pictures and put a few on the association's website or try and distribute them to all of you or even share them in the newsletters. You can email your pictures at This will be a great opportunity to take pictures and to share them with the club! Something fun to do during the time of uncertainty. 

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Skagit Valley Beekeepers 2926 Schattig Ln Oak Harbor, WA 98277 USA

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