Skagit Valley Beekeepers Association

Seth Smith, President 

Bessie Robar, President (shadowing)

Elizabeth Pheonix-Agin, Vice President

Rob Johnson, Treasurer

Natalie Dougliss, Secretary & Newsletter

Scott Rhodes, Board

Alvin Forar, Board

Brad Raspet, Board
Hi everyone! Hoping everyone's bees are doing great!

Due to the Burlington Library still being closed, our next meeting will be held Thursday, July 9th at 7 pm on the Zoom Meeting app. Brad will email everyone who is apart of the club later in the week to give more details. 

July Newsletter

Rapid Changes in the Beehive

This is my second year of beekeeping and I can already tell that each year is vastly different than the year before or the year to come. I am seeing changes within my colonies each month (such as food storage and temperament). It seems as if every time I look under the lid the colony is completely different than the time before. I've come to realize that this is a good thing. Continually be observant and take note of how each hive is acting. Watching and listening to your bees' temperament and noise level can depict if all is well or if there is something wrong. If they are unusually loud and are very agitated, it could mean that they don't have a queen. If they are are slow and lethargic, they are probably hungry. If they are quiet and keeping to their own business in the hive, they are probably fine. These are just general conclusions that I've learned and was taught over the past year, but watching for changes and being in your beehives every week or so will get your more and more familiar with each beehive. 

June and July are stand still moments for the beekeeper. Other than trying to get them out of the trees (that has been a real struggle this year) it is a month of just waiting for the honey flow to start. I put two supers on a week ago on what I believe to be my two strongest hives, and I have yet to see honey in it. This will be an interesting year, especially since the weather we have been having is not good bee foraging weather. 

Still be on the lookout for swarms, they have been crazy this year! I have put out my little white nuc boxes in my yard in hopes that if my bees do swarm (they have multiple times) that they might fill that vacancy. So far, I have been unsuccessful, but I am told that it does work! Also remember to treat the swarms that you catch. If you have been treating and maintaining the varroa population and you bring in someone else's swarm that is loaded with mites, your bees will probably suffer the consequences of that and the spread of mites will be great. Treat your swarms. 

Mite Treatments 

Like I mentioned in the last newsletter, if you plan on not harvesting a honey crop for yourself this year, you should be treating your bees. If you do plan on trying to harvest a honey crop, you should treat your bees IMMEDIATELY after harvesting. Whatever you decide to treat with (Apigard, Apivar, or others) please be mindful and follow the prescription faithfully. If it says treat every 10 days, treat every 10 days. Do not wait until after then to treat, because your treatment will then not work.  

A beekeeper should always know the mite levels in their hives. This is important because unlike letting Mother Nature take course, the bees are dependent upon you to keep them healthy and mite-free. Once in a while you might end up with sickly bees, and in that case, they will not survive. Generally speaking, you are the only thing in the bees' life to help them stay mite-free. You can generally get a good reading of how many mites are present in a colony by doing a mite wash. Take a few frames of bees (make sure the queen is not on those frames) and scoop up a jar of about 300 bees. Then pour isopropyl alcohol in the jar and let it stand for about 3 minutes. This will instantly kill the bees in the jar, but like Seth has said, you sacrifice 300 bees for determining mite counts instead of loosing your whole colony to mites in the winter. Slowly dump the bees and alcohol out and leave a little alcohol left at the bottom. If you have mites you should see small red pepper flakes sitting on the bottom of the jar. Those red pepper flakes are mites. Count the number of mites you have. If you have more than 15 mites then you have a large infection rate. This is the most accurate way to measure how many mites your colony possesses. 

Asian Hornet: Update

There have been no new reports of the Asian Hornet in Washington since the finding of one last month. 
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. 

Blackberry Flow 

The blackberry flow provides a lot of our bees' nector. The first blackberry blooms are over with, and the second wave of flowers is just starting to make its way up river. Depending on the year (temperature and climate wise) there might be a third wave of flowers. I would be anxious to hear if anyone's bees had made honey yet. 
If you made splits as late as April/May, it might be a good idea to keep feeding them. Now that we have entered summer we need to start feeding a 2:1 ratio of sugar to water after your honey has been pulled. 
If you think about it, the bee is such a complex little creature. It looks so simple and it's not. If you've ever wanted to learn more about bee nutrition I found a very informative article on how protein, carbohydrates, and minerals are needed for the bee to thrive. If you would like to read it, click the link below.

Think Winter Bees
Although summer has just began, beekeepers should start thinking about their winter bees. As the summer comes to its peak and the leaves start changing color once again, the queen will start making winter bees that will last all throughout the cold season. That is why it is so important to treat for mites and be on top of bee health now and immediately after you pull those honey stores. As soon as you pull those honey stores you should be feeding a 2:1  sugar to water ratio to replenish the bee's hard work. This sugar water will prep them going into the fall and winter and will build the lost stores. Your winter bees are everything!!! It's important to start thinking about them now because they are important for winter survival. 

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