Skagit Valley Beekeepers Association

Newsletter for April 2023
Join Us for Our April Meeting
This month's speaker is Ruthie Danielson
Please join us at our April meeting. We hope you can make it in person, but an online option will be available, too. Just watch your e-mails for an invitation.
The session will be held on  Thursday, April 13, at 7 PM at the Burlington Public Library. This month features a talk with fascinating facts and a status update on the Northern Giant Hornet. It will also be a great opportunity to catch up with other beekeepers and get some tips and news about the spring season in our region.

Presentation Topic
The Northern Giant Hornet
Our monthly meeting on April 13th will feature beekeeper Ruthie Danielson. She will be making an illustrated presentation on the Northern Giant Hornet (NGH). President of the Mt. Baker Beekeeping Association, She was named Washington State Beekeeper of the year in 2021.

Photo source: Washington State Department of Agriculture
In 2020 she was the NGH coordinator working with the state for the Mt. Baker Beekeepers and was the first person to capture an NGH worker in her bottle trap. She also purchased NGH nest "zero" from the private property owner where it was found; she donated it to scientists and the Smithsonian Museum in Washington D.C., where the nest is currently on display.   
The presentation will cover the hornet’s entry into the North American continent in 2019 to the present through her "up close and personal experiences". The presentation covers known behaviors of the queen, drones, and workers as well as details of the four nests that were discovered in Whatcom County.  Ruthie will also be bringing a number of pinned/bottled hornets from nest zero and one comb from nest two for you to see.   

April 15th Queen Rearing Class
A Saturday session with Seth Smith
You are invited to a field visit and class on queen rearing. Join Seth Smith at noon on April 15th at 19145 Burkland Rd. in Mt. Vernon. He is going to show and demonstrate this fascinating aspect of beekeeping. This will be free to members of the SVBA - another great benefit of joining. 

Featured Beekeeper
Gail Buce, new SVBA Board Member
Deciding to plunge into beekeeping about 10 years ago, Gail Buce started out as a joint venture with her husband, Bill. She began simply by walking into the Coastal Farm & Ranch Store, buying a bunch of equipment, adding bees, and doing some background reading. 
Luckily, she quickly found her way to the SVBA, which she describes as "the most important thing, ever!" She credits much of her success to the initial information and subsequent mentoring she has received over the years. A decade of experience later, Gail is now working on her master beekeeping certificate from the University of Montana.

She really enjoys the process of transforming their harvests into products, and the satisfaction of branding and marketing them as Alabama Hill Soap and Honey. This is just one dimension of their mini-farm on a third of an acre in the Alabama Hill neighborhood of Bellingham, where she and Bill also raise goats and chickens along with their vegetable garden right in the city.

They are now maintaining 25 colonies scattered among 4 bee yards in Bow, Bellingham, and other parts of Whatcom County. You can find her honey and soaps at various places including vendor shows, her front yard sales center (a bench with products available to passerbys and a pay-box) and at the SVBA auction. Thanks for your contribution to the event, Gail and Bill.
What does she find is most enjoyable about beekeeping? "Appreciating mother nature at her finest, including honey straight from the hive", she says.

Our March Potluck
Sales and Tales, Friends and Trends
The annual March potluck and silent auction event was a success, with even more participants than last year. The food was plentiful and the fundraising generous.

A broad selection of auction items that were snapped up. Top bidders bought items ranging from beekeeping equipment and products from around the region (and the world), and some choice fishing equipment at a terrific price. Seth Smith even donated and raffled off a number of seedlings that he has planted and nursed. They are part of his endeavor to boost the next generation of bee-friendly trees for Skagit Valley, while diversifying his business.

Seth was also the event speaker, and shared his observations on beekeeping, past, present and future. He has many vantage points as commercial beekeeper, educator, and mentor to others for many years. He stressed the critical need for all beekeepers to be knowledgeable and effective at controlling the pests and diseases that can afflict bees to avoid spreading damage and risks. Uninformed enthusiasts don't actually help, which of course is why the SVBA is such a valuable resource, and why Seth's contributions are so beneficial.

Monthly Tips
April: bringing May flowers?
So far, this spring has started out far better than last year, so a more typical checklist of tips may be in order. Brad Raspet's checklist for April includes:
Early April
  • Clean the entrance, bottom boards, and remove guards/reducers on occupied hives.
  • Consider reversing brood supers or rearranging frames.
  • Begin feeding syrup at a ratio of 1: 1, sugar; avoid opening hives for any prolonged time (it's still cold!).
  • Prepare bee yards and empty supers for new bees or nucs (1 deep box,) and install reducers .
  •  Move overwintering nucs to deeps.
  •  Remove all 66%+ capped drone comb in deeps to reduce mite loads.
  • Consider providing pollen patties during brood build up.
  • Medicate as appropriate: HBH syrup drench or Nosevit syrup drench for Nosema.
  • Start your new hives and nucs if you have gotten them.
Late April
  • Start adding honey supers to those colonies that are not being fed.

Trading Post
Need some nucs? Seth Smith will be preparing 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 

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,
Membership: Renew or Join Us!
It's easy and the benefits are terrific
Yesterday was the perfect time to catch up on your annual dues for all of 2023, or join the SVBA. But today will work, too. 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 our community of helpful beekeepers. The membership form and payment instructions are found at:
The online payment option is located at:

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