Skagit Valley Beekeepers Association

Newsletter for February 2023


Join Us for Our February Meeting
This month's speaker is Chris Looney
Washington State Department of Agriculture

Please join us at our meeting February meeting, either in person or online.

It will be held on  Thursday, February 9, at 7 PM at the Burlington Public Library. This month features a talk and discussion on solving a pesty problem for many beekeepers. For those who want to attend and still stay at home, we will send a Zoom link by e-mail a few days ahead of the meeting. We now have coffee and snacks at the library meeting, but for those watching from home, you will need to grab your own refreshments...



Membership: Now's the Time
And now you can renew or join online!
Our annual membership cycle began in January, so now is the perfect time to catch up on your dues or join the SVBA. Membership supports our many activities, meetings, and special programs - including the education and outreach that we provide through our courses, speakers, and annual County Fair participation. Just look at our website at
The annual dues are only $12 (or $13 using our online payment system). The dues support the many programs and benefits that the Skagit Valley Beekeepers Association offer and opens the door to a community of other beekeepers. The membership form and payment instructions are found at:
 The online payment option is located at:


Presentation Preview
Chris Looney and SHB's
Chris Looney is an entomologist with a PhD in Environmental Science and now manages the Entomology Lab of the Washington State Department of Agriculture in Olympia. He is leader of the initial responses to the discovery of the northern giant hornet in our region, among his many other roles as a researcher and communicator.
His expertise includes the practical science about the small hive beetle (SHB) -  a major pest that can damage and even devastate bee colonies.  The small hive beetle (Aethina tumida) seems to have originated in sub-Saharan Africa, but has made its way out to North America and other locations. If they multiply and infest a hive in great numbers, they can damage cappings and comb, and spoil the enclosed honey.



Scale of the problem: a small hive beetle next to a bee
credit: Linda's Bees


The good news? There are several relatively easy ways to manage these pests if they appear, including traps that use non-toxic oils, and biological controls.
Chris has offered to include interested members in a research project identifying the extent of the SHB through trapping and other methods including a simple questionnaire. It will be important to establish baseline levels early in the season, before the agricultural hives shipped to California and may be carrying SHB begin returning back to our area in March.



Looking Ahead:

Speakers, Auction, Courses, and Nucs



March Silent Auction/Potluck
It's the real deal: annual SVBA celebration and fundraiser


Start planning for your contributions, food-wise and auction-wise for our annual pre-spring event. The silent auction and potluck dinner is an opportunity to raise funds for the SVBA while catching up with the other members. This year's event will be on March 8th from 6 PM to 8:30 PM at the Sedro-Woolley Senior Center. Plan ahead now to contribute items for the auction, and dig into the recipe file for some inspired cooking.



March Beginner Beekeeping Course
Four evenings of information and inspiration


Our experienced teaching squad from the Skagit Valley Beekeepers Association (SVBA) will be using a curriculum developed by the Washington State Beekeepers Association for this course that covers all the fundamentals of beekeeping. It's a great introduction for those just thinking about starting, and a helpful refresher for those with several years of beekeeping behind them.

  • When: 6 to 8:30 PM every Monday evening, 4 weeks (March 6,13,20,and 27). 
  • Where: Burlington Public Library, 820 E Washington Ave.
  • Sign up: contact Rob Johnson, to reserve your spot
  • Tuition: $50 (which includes annual membership in the SVBA)


April Speaker
Ruthie Danielsen and our April Meeting


We have rescheduled the speaker program and our April meeting will feature Ruthie Danielson, an award-winning beekeeper who will be coming over from our neighbors at the Mt. Baker Beekeepers Association. Watch this space for details on the topic in the April newsletter, and set aside the evening (April 13th). 


April 15th Queen Rearing Class
A Saturday session with Les Smith in a bee yard



Laying Queen, paper construction by Andy Goulding


Les Smith is going to show and demonstrate how to raise queens, teaching how to add this dimension to your beekeeping skills. This will be free to members of the SVBA. Details regarding the time and place will be announced - watch the newsletter and website for updates.


Seth Smith's Nucs this Spring
Seth plans to have nucs for sale to SVBA members


Beekeeping wizard and former SVBA President has let us know that he will prepare nucs to sell to SVBA members, sourced from the substantial commercial operation in which he is engaged. For details on availability and costs, contact Seth at 360-770-0481 or email 



Hey, We're on Facebook Now


The SVBA is expanding its media presence, and we now have both a Facebook page and group. Check it out at
Participate through this link:

Thanks to Les Scott for taking the initiative to get this started, in addition to his ongoing stewardship of our web page.



Leadership Update
Brett DeLawter, new President for the SVBA


At our January meeting, Brett DeLawter stepped forward and was elected President of the SVBA.  With his wife (and SVBA Secretary Susan DeLawter), Brett has been involved in beekeeping from the time they lived in Idaho a few years ago, and is now acclimated to our region and a different set of beekeeping challenges. Brett is looking forward to contributing to the continued success of the SVBA community. If you don't know him already, come and meet Brett at one of our upcoming monthly meetings or annual auction/potluck next month.

We also have a spelling correction from last month: our new Board member is Gail Buce.



Monthly Tips
February, gearing for Spring


February is the time to help the hives make the transition to warmer weather ahead. Key tips drawn from Brad Raspet's checklist include:

  • Register your apiary and hives with the state.
  • Check hive for damage and record weight in pounds (you can use a bathroom scale if it can handle a lot of weight).
  • Feed honey, bee candy or raw sugar (honey reserves may run out quickly).
  • Check the bottom board, to make sure the entrance is not blocked.
  • Check hives for activity, sounds, too many dead bees at entrance, or other issues.


Another Tip: Don't Do This


Shake testing for varroa mites is a quick and easy way to determine how your hives are doing using a special measure testing cup. Instructions that come with the testing kit indicate that you can use alcohol or powdered sugar to separate mites from bees. The idea of the sugar is that it is not harmful to the bees. But Susan DeLawter ran across research demonstrating that sugar-covered bees perish anyway, after you return them to hive. The conclusion:  just use the alcohol, rather than messing with the sugar.



Trading Post


Les's Bees has a full line of beekeeping woodenware and supplies in Bellingham -  SVBA member Les Scott continues to serve our region and membership as a retail supplier and distributor. Check out or contact 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,




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

Steve Cecil, Newsletter

Gail Buce, Board
Don Johnson, Board

Heather Oates, Board


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

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