Skagit Valley Beekeepers Association

Newsletter for September 2022 


Fall is Here!
Join us for our September Meeting
(In-person or On-line)

Our meeting this month is on  Thursday, September 8th, at 7 PM at the Burlington Public Library. We will catch up on the stories from our booth at the Skagit Valley Fair, and share thoughts and advice on this critical month in the cycle of beekeeping, as we turn the corner into fall. Keep an eye out for a Zoom meeting link from Brad Raspet for those who want to attend and stay at home at the same time.


News from the Fair
Awards, Displays, and Tons of Fascinated Visitors 



Rob Johnson on the right, queen spotting with a few of the many young visitors to the SVBA booth at the Skagit County Fair



We had a superb turnout of thousands of curious visitors this year at our display and booth at the Skagit County Fair. Under the patient coordination and stewardship of Rob Johnson, our members pulled together a fresh set of displays and staged the first honey judging we have sponsored in many years. SVBA volunteers staffed the booth for the 4-day event, intriguing those who stopped by with information and insights into the art and science of beekeeping.

The observation hive was a focus of attention, and we had a cooperative queen who appeared frequently for viewers. Having given away all of the "I FOUND THE QUEEN" stickers to successful queen spotters, Rob noted that he will have to remember to stock up with even more next year.


And the Winners Are...


This was the first year of our reinstituted honey judging event at the Fair, spearheaded by our certified judge and SVBA Secretary Susan DeLawter. After an expert review of the submitted entries, the top ribbons and best-in-show accolades were awarded to Gretchen Taylor in the Open Honey Light Class, and Jon Moore in the Open Honey Amber Class, with other ribbons awarded to deserving entries.

We are hoping to inspire many more entries next year, and are thinking about sending a friendly challenge from the Skagit Valley Beekeepers to the Snohomish and Mt. Baker apiarists to see if they can match our quality - what do you think?



The 2022 Make Over:
A Refreshed SVBA Booth and Display


Thanks go out to Heather Oates, who took on the decorative make over of the SVBA display booth this year. She added her flair and many new features to fill out our corner of Building D with the help of the DeLawters. It was spectacular and caught the attention of even the mildly curious. Combining the traditional displays with new features, the SVBA looked spiffy.



Our 2022 display with its decorations, displays -  and volunteer Audrey Cecil behind our unique folk-art observation hive


We noted that the new, enormous, plastic-enclosed examples of Giant Northern Hornets were a big hit, and the topic of many conversations. We now have a few hundred more folks who can identify them if they show up in our part of the Northwest.

Many thanks to the volunteers who staffed the newly-decorated booth, including Brad Raspet (who opened the fair as he has done for years), Heather Oates, Scott Rhodes, Susan and Bret DeLawter, Eileen Butler, Gretchen Taylor, Kevin and Norma McDonald, Don Johnson, Les Scott, Alerd and Pat Johnson, and Steve and Audrey Cecil. And a tip of the beekeeping veil to Rob Johnson, who staffed the booth, scheduled the volunteers, and enthralled fairgoers throughout the Fair.

The observation colony was donated by Seth Smith and Bruce Bowen, and then raffled off to the booth volunteers. Steve Cecil and Eileen Butler ended up with the nuc, which they have installed in their bee yard and are looking forward to getting them through the winter - so that they can produce an award-winning honey entry at next year's Fair.



Featured Beekeeper
Les Scott of Les's Bees



Les and some of his stock of beekeeping equipment and tools


Les Scott is an accomplished and retired commercial fisherman who has plunged into beekeeping, first as a hobby and now as a business. His newfound business venture, Les's Bees, owes thanks -  in part -  to his association with the SVBA. It's a great story, so follow along.

Les had a longstanding fascination with the natural environment and the biological sciences, but traded an academic route for his talent and passion for fishing. He became involved in an International fishing venture and spent a great deal of time in Alaskan waters, passing through Bellingham on his way to and from the fishing grounds. He ended up with a home in Bellingham as a port of preference. 

Recalling that his grandfather was an avid beekeeper, he launched into it himself. Just a few years ago, he put out an ad to find some beekeeping equipment, and ended up with both the beekeeping kit and a generous, local mentor.

As he started to build up his beekeeping equipment early in the Covid era, he found that it was increasingly difficult to get affordable, prompt supplies from the big mail-order companies. He learned about a regional manufacturer - Beeline - through the SVBA and went down to Rochester, Washington to stock up for himself and some of his beekeeping friends. Chatting with the business manager in Rochester, the idea dawned on them that an outlet in Bellingham could be a great venture for both of them.



Stocked with a wide range of supplies and tools, Les is now operating out of a building on his property and offers convenient, quality, and competitively priced components for virtually every aspect of hobby and small-scale commercial beekeeping. He has a robust bee yard that keeps him occupied and a knack for marketing. In his front yard he has installed a serve-yourself honey outlet, crafted from a couple of brood supers. 

Les is a big supporter of the SVBA, and he's a big asset for our beekeeping community.



Trading Post


A place for hives is available, and land the owner is looking for an interested beekeeper - Jeff Johnson of Mount Vernon has a large property and is interested in hosting some bee colonies. If you are interested, contact Jeff Johnson, 1855 Burkland Rd., Mount Vernon ( and tel. 360-33-7116.

Another place for hives, another host looking for a willing beekeeper - Blenda Wright stopped by the booth at the Fair and asked if any beekeepers would like to put a colony on her property. If you are interested, contact Blenda at 218 Lilac Drive, Mount Vernon, 530-470-3850.

Les's Bees has a full line of beekeeping woodenware and supplies in Bellingham - For those who need to stock up, it is a good time to get in touch with SVBA member Les Scott, who has gone into business providing a wide range of beekeeping supplies. Check out at 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,



SVBA Membership

Renew or Join Now  


If you haven't already sprung at the chance, your 2022 SVBA membership dues are a doorway into our community. You can simply mail us your annual fee of just $12.00. It is a wonderful introduction to our beekeeping world with the many programs, events, advice, and connections that we offer. 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

Alvin Forar, Board

Heather Oates, Board
Seth Smith, Board