Newsletter for February 2024
Join us for the February Meeting
Thursday, February 8
Central Skagit Valley Library in Sedro-Woolley
Our monthly meeting is on Thursday, February 8th at 7 PM. We will be meeting at the Central Skagit Valley Library in Sedro-Woolley, 110 W State Street.
Here's what's up this month...
  • Bee talk- Dawn Beck is going to wrap up her presentation on "Fat Bees", and David Schiefelbein from Elite Honey and Bees will fill us in on how a package of bees is made.
  • Bee chat - Come early if you can for our informal "bee chat" beginning at 6:30 PM with a few refreshments to which everyone is invited.
  • Zoom option - If you can't come, but want to participate, you can join us by Zoom. An e-mail with the link will be sent to members before the meeting.

Fat Bees and Bees in a Box
Presentations and Discussion by Dawn Beck and David Schiefelbein: February 8th at the SVBA Meeting
SVBA VP Dawn Beck is going to complete her comments on fat bodies in bees - a hidden but critical part of bee anatomy that has been her latest research topic.
David Schiefelbein is the entrepreneur behind Elite Honey and Bee and is a bee merchant, mentor and writer. He will talk about how bee packages are made with interesting insights for those of us scrambling to replace our deadouts this spring. For more about David and his enterprise, check this out:

Online Beginner Beekeeping Course
SVBA's Annual Class
Saturday and Sunday, February 17th and 18th
8 AM to Noon
(Registration deadline is February 15th)

Join us for two consecutive online classes on a Saturday and Sunday morning, learning from the experienced members of the Skagit Valley Beekeepers Association (SVBA). This is a custom curriculum developed by course instructor Dawn Beck.  

This course will equip beginners with what you need to get started and be successful in your first year. But it is also a great course for more experienced beekeepers, covering a broad spectrum of topics and providing an opportunity to have your questions answered.

This class will provide the information necessary for the exams offered separately by the Washington State Beekeepers Association (WASBA) to become certified at both the Beginning and Apprentice Beekeeping levels.

Tuition: $65
You can register, pay on line, and get the link to the course by clicking here or by visiting our website at

Last Chance to Participate
Major WSU Research Project
Briana Price of WSU is looking for beekeepers with 8 or more hives in their beeyard to participate in the APHIS Annual Honey Bee Survey. Briana sent us this message:
"The Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) conducts a yearly survey to document which bee diseases, parasites, or pests of honeybees are present and/or likely absent in the U.S...
Myself, a person from APHIS, or a person from the WSU Bee Program would travel to your apiary, collect samples, and submit them." 
Interested? Contact Briana by Friday, February 16th at her email For more infomation about the program, use this link:

SVBA Annual Potluck and Auction Event
March 14th from 6 to 8 PM; auction set up at 5 PM
Sedro-Woolley Senior Center
Next month's March meeting is replaced by our annual potluck dinner and auction event.  It's all about food, fun, and funds.
The event is from 6 PM to 8PM. But we will be setting up the display tables beginning at 5 PM, so come early to bring the items that you will be contributing to this year's trove of bee-related and non-bee goods (or services).
The SVBA provides a main dish, but we look forward to your contributions to all of the accompaniments to complete our late winter feast. 

The Ins and Outs of Deadouts
Thursday, April 11th at our monthly meeting
Dewey Caron will be our guest speaker in April, and will discuss the problems and mechanisms that create deadouts in honeybee colonies. Many of us are opening up our hives to find that some didn't survive another strange winter in the Skagit Valley, and he can provide a scientific perspective.

An entomologist affiliated with Oregon State University, he has published several important books and guides, including The Complete Bee Handbook.

This giant paper bee lantern was spotted hovering over the winter parade that is part of Mt. Vernon's Illuminight Winter Walk. It turns out to be a creation of artist Richelle Potter, who is also the event organizer.
Dues News
SVBA: Join or Rejoin
Annual membership dues are for a calendar year, but there is still plenty of time to renew, join or rejoin your SVBA membership. Annual dues are only $12 (or $13 using our online payment system). It's a high value investment and supports the wide range of programs and events that we offer. The membership form and payment instructions are found on our website or by clicking HERE.

The online payment option can be accessed by clicking HERE.

Varroa Mite Strategies
Takeaways from Ramesh Sagili
Tackling mites was the topic of January's featured speaker, Associate Apiculture Professor Ramesh Sagili from OSU.

In short, he emphasized that there are no magic wands that will make these pests go away. But we are getting smarter about them through research, evolving treatment strategies, and emerging treatment products. Here are a few takeaways:
  • They are in capped brood cells, too - More than 50% of the mites in a colony are in the capped brood cells during brood rearing season; formic acid treatments can reach these mites better than other treatments during that season, according to Dr. Sagili.
  • Use combinations of products - He advocates using different products during the year, corresponding to different points in the lifecycle of varroa mites. He discussed an example: Use Apivar/Amitraz (spring,) formic acid on pads (summer/fall) and oxalic dribble in the winter. 
  • Monitor, monitor, monitor - You won't know what's needed or what's working if you don't monitor mite levels regularly.
  • New products just coming out - Recently approved treatments include Amiflex, which is an Amitraz flash treatment oozed onto top bars, and VarroxSan, which are oxalic acid slow-release strips.

Monthly Tips
February tasks
January brought record low temperatures hovering near zero with high winds, and then record-breaking highs over 60 degrees. Go figure. Here is this month's activity checklist drawn from Brad Raspet's schedule of beetending tasks.
  • Register your apiary and hives with the state
  • Check the hives for damage
  • Weigh and record colony weight in pounds (that bathroom scale should help)
  • Feed honey, bee candy, or raw sugar
  • Check the bottom board, to make sure the entrance is not blocked 
  • Order bee packages or nucs if you know you will need them

Trading Post
Need some mentoring? Advice-rich mentoring is available to member beekeepers through the SVBA's network of experienced, helpful volunteers. There are a number of individuals you can contact, organized geographically to cover various part of the Skagit Valley region. For more information, use this link to our website page on the topic:

Les's Bees always has a range of beekeeping supplies in not-too-far-away Bellingham, and owner Les Scott might even arrange to drop off on-line purchases for SVBA members at our meetings if you arrange it in advanceGo to Or you can 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,
Skagit Valley Beekeepers Association

Brett DeLawter
, President
Dawn Beck, Vice President
Domie Bourgeois, Treasurer
Brenda Crossley Secretary
Steve Cecil, Newsletter

Don Johnson, Board
Jim Kohl, Board

Heather Oates, Board
Seth Smith, Board
Chris Zimmerman, Board