Newsletter for August 2023
Join Us at the Fair
Tuesday, August 8
Meeting in Building D at 7 PM
The Skagit County Fair is the focus of SVBA activities this month. We will have a brief special session at 7 PM. This is just before the Fair officially opens the next day. Join us at our booth in Building D at the Skagit County Fairgrounds in Mount Vernon.
See the details below for more information on all that is happening at the Fair.

Bees at the Skagit County Fair
The County Fair is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate beekeeping through the SVBA booth and programs that we will sponsor during the entire Fair, which runs form August 9th to the 12th this year.

The SVBA Booth
Making it a great experience
Rob Johnson is organizing the staffing by our members throughout the event. To see if they need some more help, contact him. He is trying to organize Fair passes for the booth volunteers, and you can check in with him ahead of the Fair if you come to the Tuesday meeting in Building D.
The Great Skagit Honey Event
How, when and where to submit

SVBA Equipment for Member Use
The SVBA owns some beekeeping equipment that it provides for the use of its members at no cost on a first-come, first-serve basis through our Equipment Coordinator. Contact Diane Tait-Dong (360-391-9876 or if you would like to borrow any of the equipment. She is looking to hand the coordination role a new volunteer, so if you are interested, see our invitation below.  
SVBA extractors available
We have 2 hand-cranked 4-frame extractors with stands. The stands can be detached so that the extractor can be easily transported.
Attacking Varroa Mites?
SVBA vaporizers available
We have 2 oxalic vaporizer units for varroa mite treatment. This is the type that needs to be connected to a 12-volt battery. For cost and convenience, some beekeepers use the smaller motorcycle/motorboat types. We checked online, and see that places like Cabelas and Walmart sell these for less than $30, and some models can be recharged with an adaptor that costs about an additional $30. Follow the instructions when applying oxalic acid: some breathing and eye protection are important.
Can You Help?
Volunteer Equipment Coordinator
We need a member to step up and be the equipment coordinator, taking over from Diane Tait-Dong (thanks, Diane!). It's easy - you just need to have a place to store it, field requests, and manage the sign-up process. Get in touch with President Brett DeLawter or one of the other SVBA officers if you could help us all out.

The July SVBA potluck picnic
The July picnic in the park had great food and lots of opportunities for new and long-time beekeepers to share tips and tales of their experiences. We learned ...
  • How many years a new beekeeper has been thinking about launching into beekeeping, and finally feels ready after taking the SVBA introductory course this spring
  • Why Italian bees are easier to keep, and where to get them
  • Why Russian bees are easier to keep, and where to get them
  • How to make that incredible cole slaw
It's an annual event, so if you didn't make it, plan on coming next year.

Bad New on Colony Loss Rates
It's been tough all over
Dawn Beck opened our eyes to an interesting website that - among other things - assembles an extensive poll each year measuring colony loss rates among managed honeybees throughout the country. The site ( is maintained by the non-profit organization Bee Informed Partnership that sponsors data-based research accomplished with the assistance of beekeepers. They have been assembling detailed evaluations of colony loss rates for 15 years. 
The rates are a measure of colony mortality rather than the overall number of bee colonies at any time, because beekeepers can replace lost colonies. But it is a good indicator of the effort, expense, and lost productivity that beekeepers experience when they lose colonies. It's also an interesting benchmark to consider when pondering our Skagit Valley experiences.
The input came from over 3,000 beekeepers managing more than 300,000 colonies. They included backyard keepers, side-businesses, and commercial operations.
Colony loss rates were exceptionally high last winter in comparison to the preceding 14 years of survey results. The survey estimated that 37.4 percent of these colonies were lost over the winter. This is nearly 10 percent higher than the average year - and very close to the worst winter recorded to date. The rest of the year was no bee picnic, either. Overall, 48.2 percent of bee colony loss rates were recorded for the year from April 1, 2022 to April 1, 2023. Yikes.
So when you think you're having problems getting your colonies to thrive, it's not just you. But your involvement with the SVBA and the information you get here can help you beat the odds, and pull these averages up.

Monthly Tips
August: Honey harvest for most of us
Around here, most beekeepers harvest and extract their honey during this month. Traditionally, sometime during August, the honey being consumed by the bees within the hives exceeds the honey they are adding. But that's not always the case; the extended summer last year lasted into the fall, and the honey harvesting was still going on until October. 
Here are some August tips drawn from Brad Raspet's checklist:
  • Harvest the capped honey and remove the supers
  • Extract and bottle the honey
  • Stack the emptied honey supers back on top of the hives (above the inner cover and under the top cover) for a few days, until the bees clean out the cells and pull the residue down into their hives
  • After harvesting, treat for varroa mites
  • Reinsert sliding bottom boards
  • Get those honey supers stored for next year
  • Last chance for re-queening of colonies

Trading Post
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,
Membership: Renew or Join Us!
Use our online sign-up, or just send or bring a check
Please join (or rejoin!) the SVBA. Dues get you an annual membership and 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 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
Jim Kohl, Board

Heather Oates, Board
Seth Smith, Board