Newsletter for October 2022
Join us for our October Meeting
(In-person or On-line)
Our meeting this month is on Thursday, October 13th, at 7 PM at the Burlington Public Library. We
will be sharing information and advice about preparing hives for the
winter, and other tips and tales. 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.
Thanks to Brad Raspet !
Raspet has let the membership know that he will be wrapping up his
tenure as the SVBA President at the end of this year. He will be
handing off the lead role for an association for which he has been a
superb and timely steward, including maintaining and building new
energy across the challenging hurdle of the Covid era.
has been a beekeeping mentor, advisor, and educator who helped bring us
into the age of virtual meetings. He has linked longstanding members
and club traditions to the newbies among us, always with an amazing
energy and enthusiasm.
He underlines in his message to us
that he won't be disappearing, and looks forward to helping with the
transitions for the existing and new leadership. This includes looking
forward to 2023 as an advisor, helping us grow and adapt to the
evolving world of beekeeping.
Leadership Roles in the SVBA
Brad has noted, in addition to the president's role, there are a number
of positions and volunteer opportunities to fill. One of the key ideas
is to distribute some of the tasks that Brad has been accomplishing to
keep the SVBA current with the contemporary communication and meeting
management. He cites the following slots and responsibilities to be
- President –
Organizes and runs SVBA meetings per protocol, arranges speakers for
meetings, and supports club functions. Maintains current membership
list for each year and email addresses so that meeting notices and
other communications go out to members on a regular basis.
- Web Page Administrator –
Updates web page events and posts newsletters to the web page monthly.
Must also pay for annual host and domain fees by credit card on file
that are then reimbursed by the club. Requires some learning of the
software Komposer and a lot of copy and paste.
- Zoom Meeting coordinator –
Needs to obtain or use a Zoom account with the costs reimbursed by
the SVBA. Needs to provide technical support at the meetings
including bringing a cell phone (for club speaker) and laptop, and
provide for a Zoom meeting assistance to facilitate connections for
participants at home. Arranging for and setting up a projector is also
required if the speaker is remote.
- Reserve Meeting Location Coordinator –
Needs to reserve the Burlington Library meeting room via reservation
web page six months in advance of SVBA meetings (except months we have
a silent auction or barbecue or the fair). Needs to update the
reservations on first of each month.
- Beginning Beekeeper Instructor –
Become familiar with the lesson plans, reserve room for four Monday
evenings in March, and share your knowledge about beekeeping with the
beginners and assist the other instructors each year.
Isabelle Biren and MichaŽl Gourreau
Rucher de la Combe de Savoie (Savoy Valley Apiary)
note: We had the opportunity to spend the month of September in a
corner of France, in a small village near the Isere River where it
leads up into the high Alps. The local climates are surprisingly
similar to the Skagit Valley, with its range of marshy riverways,
foothills, and high mountain country.
there, we were curious about the local beekeeping. We fortunately met
two prominent and thoroughly engaging beekeepers who have an amazing
enterprise in the adjacent town. They agreed to be featured as our
beekeepers of the month and provided a wonderful international
perspective for us to share with the SVBA members. Here are our notes
from the tour they gave us in the rural town of St-Pierre-d'Albigny as
we discussed their operation and experiences.)
Michael and Isabelle in front of their shop and apiary in France
Gourreau's family roots are in this mountainous region, which has a
rich tradition of beekeeping - including a close family
member/beekeeper. But for MichaŽl, this is his second career. He was
formerly a member of France's elite Alpine infantry force that is
trained to operate in steep mountain terrain. Ready for a change, he
then enlisted in an educational program for those shifting their
careers that focused entirely on the practices, science, and business
After completing the program, he launched
his ambitious enterprise, teaming up with Isabelle Biren as his
business partner. They bought and assembled hundreds of hives and all
of the accompanying equipment, borrowing space from a nearby grapevine
nursery. They then moved their operations to a building they acquired
at a prominent crossroads. They have since fitted out a portion of it
with a sparkling retail store, decorating the exterior with murals by a
Michael in the bottling room and its automatic filling apparatus
set out clusters of hives at distinctively different locations,
targeting specific plants or environments. This included finding places
from the low valleys to high alpine meadows. Among these, they now
maintain the highest bee yard in France at an altitude of 7,500 feet,
on the wildflower slopes around a mountaineering hut.
relative to our seasonal cycles, their honey flow is normally finished
by early summer when they bring the full frames back to their operating
base. They cold-extract and bottle 12 different varieties with a
process that avoids any filtration. Some of the honeys are named for
the bee yard location, and some are named for the predominant plant
sources, which include chestnut and linden trees which are plentiful
and native to the region.
Isabelle in the stock room
only about 450 hives, they also assemble and market an amazing range of
other products - soaps, pollen, propolis and honey-based cakes and
candies. Their mead is distinctive and far better to this
editor's taste than any others we have tried. To make it, they
enlisted the expertise of an expert local wine maker. He helped them
craft a unique approach to each step in creating a mash, drawing off
the liquid, and fermentation.
The Rucher de la Combe de
Savoie is among very few beekeepers producing and selling royal jelly
in France. Apparently 98% of the French market is currently supplied by
Asian sources. They adhere to the stringent standards of a national
association of royal jelly producers governing refrigeration, sources,
and even the unique numbering of every jar identifying the producer.
like us, varroa mite management absorbs much of their attention. They
have an interesting approach using a special plastic cage that isolates
the queen within a brood super and prevents egg-laying for 4 weeks.
This clears the way for an effective dose of treatment without any
larvae in the colony, at which point the queen is let out of her cage.
If you are curious about them, you might look them up at their website https://rucher-combedesavoie.fr
Les's Bees has a full line of beekeeping woodenware and supplies in Bellingham
member Les Scott has gone into business providing a wide range of
beekeeping supplies. We featured Les and his operation in the September
newsletter. Check out at leszbees.com
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, email@example.com.
Join Now...or Renew
a great time to join the SVBA, or get caught up on your 2022 dues
before the year ends. Your $12 annual dues support the many programs
and benefits that the Skagit Valley Beekeepers Assocation provides -
just look at our website at http://skagitvalleybeekeepers.org
. Think about the return on your investment and what just $1/month brings
building and maintaining such a key part of our regional agriculture
and ecology! The membership form and payment instructions are found at:
Brad Raspet, President
360-708-9424, firstname.lastname@example.orgDawn Beck, Vice President
206-719-3666, email@example.comRob Johnson, Treasurer
Susan DeLawter, Secretary
818-259-9059, firstname.lastname@example.orgSteve Cecil, Newsletter
617-719-7870, email@example.comAlvin Forar, Board
360-435-3316, firstname.lastname@example.orgHeather Oates
360-391-7357, email@example.comSeth Smith, Board