Skagit Valley Beekeepers Association

Newsletter for February 2022 

Join us for the Next Meeting
February 10th

We are looking forward to our next SVBA meeting on February 10th at the Burlington Public Library. For those attending in person, we will follow the practices required by the Library, which they keep current on their website. But hope to provide an on-line option for folks to join us, through the multi-media juggling by Brad Raspet - keep an eye out for an invitation with the meeting link attached. The January meeting had 11 in-person attendees and 7 members tapping in on Zoom from home.
This Month's Guest Speaker
Dr. Jennifer Short
We look forward to hearing from Dr. Jennifer Short at our February meeting. She is known as the founder of Camano Island Sanctuary Farms, which includes an education center and active apiculture enterprise. That's where she bottles and produces honey and other health and wellness products - including her terrific beeswax balm.
Jennifer was formerly a veterinarian for two decades of large herd animals and a dairy farmer, before changing directions and joining us in Puget Sound. With the shift in focus, she now has the title of "chief bee wrangler". Among her many bee-related responsibilities, she is the Area 1A Director of the Washington State Beekeepers Association, covering Whatcom, Skagit, and Snohomish counties. 
A human information processor, Jennifer is known for her ability to condense the voluminous science of contemporary beekeeping into practical information focused on the typical challenges that most beekeepers face. She teaches classes ranging from a "Bee Bootcamp" to "Advanced Beekeeping and Integrated Pest Management". She will be adding her regional wisdom gained by her own experience herding those bees over on Camano Island.
Featured Beekeeper
Bill Markus
Bill is well known among long-time members of the Skagit Valley beekeeping community. For many, he helped launch their early forays into beekeeping through his role as an instructor and organizer of the SVBA's introductory course. He also played a key role in reviving the SVBA when he took on the role of president a number of years ago. 
Bill Markus and his hives
Bill's fascination with bees began when he was very young, staying with his beekeeping grandparents in Maple Falls, which is near Mt. Baker. One day, his grandmother saw that one of her hives had swarmed. She handed a spoon and big cooking pot to Bill, and told him to bang it hard to attract the bees. Sure enough, a big swarm descended into the yard and was captured by his grandmother, who caught them in an empty super to start a new colony. He says he was hooked from then on.
(By the way, for skeptics about pan banging, this might actually work. Check out this video on YouTube of a beekeeper who seems to pull this off by banging on a crowbar with his hive tool at
After his family moved to Conway, he began helping a neighbor with his half-dozen hives. For his eighth-grade graduation gift, his parents awarded him with his own hive. He promptly caught a swarm from his neighbor's colonies, poured it into his new hive - and Bill has been a beekeeper ever since. He keeps 3 colonies going now, enough to supply family and friends with annual doses of honey.
He stepped forward to become the SVBA president when meetings were drawing just five or six folks and the instructional course perhaps just four. He organized meetings and programs that attracted new participants and volunteers. Bill then studied up, received his journeyman's certificate, and launched into teaching the SVBA classes. He did this for nearly a decade, drawing classes that ranged in size of 30, 40, or even more sometimes.
Bill notes that, in his lifetime of beekeeping, the arrival of varroa mites have been the game-changer. The beekeeper must spend a substantial amount of time just attempting to keep bees alive and healthy.
What surprises him most about beekeeping these days? "The price of bees!", he says. But the good news is that there are a lot of young beekeepers chasing after the supply, willing to pay the toll to become involved. Of course, they will need the help and advice of folks like Bill to keep those bees alive and productive.
Covid and Courses
The SVBA may restart its WASBA-certified beginning beekeeping class, which traditionally consisted of 4 2-hour sessions in early Spring using great facilities at the Skagit Valley PUD building in Mt. Vernon. However, the recent pandemic conditions may not make it reasonable to pursue it this year. Bill Markus and Brad Raspet have been conferring on this, so keep an eye out for a final decision on this.
For those that have already completed a certified beginning beekeeping class, you might still be able to get in on the on-line apprentice course being sponsored by the Mt. Baker Beekeeping Association. You will need to decide quickly - registration is still open but closes on February 20th. Take a look at
Trading Post
  • New beekeeping woodenware, clothing and supplies. High quality Beeline Industries and Premier foundation products in stock, in Bellingham, all at the best prices. Check it out at or contact member Les Scott directly by e-mail, call, or text:     360-303-0396
If you have supplies and equipment that you may be interested in swapping, selling, or just plain giving to other interested members of the SVBA, send a brief description, price, and contact information to your editor,

SVBA Membership
Renew or Join Now  
If you haven't already sprung at the chance in January, it is time to send in your 2022 SVBA membership dues. It's easy, simply mail us your annual renewal fee of just $12.00. For those who wish to join, it's the same price, and a wonderful introduction to our beekeeping community with the many programs, events, education, advice and connections that we offer - and this monthly newsletter sent directly to your e-mail address. The membership form and payment instructions are found at:

Brad Raspet, President

Dawn Beck, Vice President
Rob Johnson, Treasurer
Susan DeLawter, Secretary

Steve Cecil, Newsletter

Steve LeBlanc, Board
Alvin Forar, Board
Seth Smith, Board