Newsletter for December 2023
Happy Holidays !!
Join us for the December Meeting
Thursday, December 14
Central Skagit Valley Library in Sedro Woolley
Our monthly meeting is on Thursday, December 14th at 7 PM. We will be meeting at the Central Skagit Valley Library in Sedro Woolley once again. The address is 110 W State Street.
The cookie exchange can help set you up for the season. The idea is to bring a big bunch of cookies or other favorite holidayish treats to share, and pick a mix to take back home in exchange - after sampling what looks most tempting to you. 

Here's what's up this month...
  • Bee chat - Come early if you can for our informal "bee chat" with a few refreshments to which everyone is invited beginning at 6:30 PM.
  • Bee talk - Brett DeLawter is going to share tips on protecting bees from cold winter winds like those that are now sweeping through the Valley with the arrival of another atmospheric river. We might see if he has advice on flood prevention, too.
  • Cookie consumption - Enjoy, but save some to take home.
  • 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.

It's Time to Renew (or Join)
Your membership counts
The New Year brings a new year for the SVBA, and it's time to renew (or sign up anew) for your membership. The benefits are many, and the resources keep our activities and programs flowing.

The annual dues are only $12 (or $13 using our online payment system). The membership form and payment instructions are found at:
The online payment option is located at:
Here's an idea - bring your dues to the holiday meeting, and drop them off with some cookies, too.

Breaking the Wind
December 14th at the SVBA Meeting
Brett DeLawter will have a few tips and slides about techniques to protect hives from fierce winds, while allowing for the critically important air circulation needed to keep moisture from building up in your colonies. Like everything else in beekeeping, it's a balancing act.

Mite Fighting: Knowledge Helps
January 11th at the SVBA Meeting
Presentation and Discussion by Ramesh Sagili, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Apiculture, Oregon State University
Professor Sagili is an entomologist, award-winning teacher, and a research leader specifically focused on bees and beekeeping at OSU. He is going to dig into varroa mites and provide perspectives on research and evolving strategies to control them. He is an accomplished academic and engaging speaker. For more information about him, try this link:
Mark this one down - this is going to be very interesting!
Jim Kohl, successful backyard beekeeper
Jim Kohl is a relative newcomer to beekeeping who has gained solid success and enjoyment from his backyard beeyard in just four years. 

An enthusiastic volunteer and SVBA Board member, he helped staff our award-winning booth at the Skagit County Fair this year and was there to accept the Governor's Ribbon. But that's just a small part of his service orientation. It turns out that Jim once served as a nursing department head and nursing executive in the U.S. Navy. He has a doctorate in nursing practice and has taught nursing at BYU. A leader in his faith community, Jim's particular focus includes working with singles in the Mt. Vernon area. 

Jim got started with beekeeping just before Covid and worked through a sequence of beekeeping programs at the beginner, apprentice, and journeyman levels with courses offered in Snohomish. SVBA Board Member Seth Smith helped him introduce nucs to his new supers, and he managed to gather about 20 pounds of honey in his first year. He had 4 active colonies this year, with 2 robust hives producing 200 pounds of the honey that he bottled and shares with family and friends.

About beekeeping, Jim finds that the more he learns, the more questions he has. When he searches chat rooms for tips, nearly always he finds two very different opinions on any topic. He has ambitions of becoming a master beekeeper to help solve some of the puzzles. Based on his success as a practicing apiarist, Jim is already well on his way.

Fending Off Pests
Highlights from Seth Smith's talk
Seth Smith brought the perspective of a commercial beekeeper with the extraordinary range of animals and insects that seek out honey, bees, and hives. His stories of the damage that they can cause and economic loss were dramatic. Here are a few takeaways:

  • Rodent condos - Mouse and rat traps work great, particularly if you drill a hole and place the bait directly below the trigger. Grouping them in extended boxes with many compartments makes them easy to install and service. You can even try out different baits at the same time - a "rat smorgasbord", as Seth puts it.
  • Corners count - Seth and Bruce Bowen string charged wires on posts to fend off four-legged intruders. However, a determined beast can push through the sting and pull the fencing down. The key is to install strong corner posts to keep the fencing and circuit intact.
  • When alarms backfire - Bears aren't stupid. Seth showed a mechanism that some folks install to guard their beeyards. It detects motion and then emits an ear-splitting sound with the intent of frightening off raiders. But he pointed out that the screaming sound reaches for miles, effectively telling all the bears in the area exactly where they can find a trove of hives. Try something else, he said.

SVBA Leadership for 2024
The slate of candidates for officer positions all joined the SVBA leadership for the coming year by unanimous consent of our members at the November meeting. They will be working with the continuing Board members and other volunteers that help with our many programs and events. Here they are:
  • President - Brett DeLawter
  • Treasurer - Domie Bourgeois
  • Secretary - Brenda Crossley
  • SVBA Board Member - Chris Zimmerman
Special thanks go out to the former officers who have kept all of this going, and who now will have a bit more time on their hands...including for other activities they contribute to the SVBA...Rob Johnson who has kept the books, finances, dues and membership in great shape for several years, and Susan DeLawter who has kept the records intact and ready to hand along.
SVBA Facebook Access
New access procedure
We are now a "private group" on Facebook, where we maintain a page and opportunity to exchange information. With open access, we were getting inappropriate posts. Now anyone accessing the page will be prompted to request permission to join our Facebook group. We will monitor the requests so that appropriate access is granted, and then you will be "in".

Monthly Tips
December: Crossing the winter divide
It's full-on winter, but there are always things to do for your colonies and equipment. Here is a December checklist drawn from Brad Raspet's monthly schedule of activities:
  • Check hives for damage, keep the entrance unblocked, and fend off any pests.
  • Check the hive weight to measure honey supplies; add bee patties or sugar if warranted.
  • If you use an oxalic acid vaporizer, now is a good time for a treatment. Follow the instructions - temperatures should be above 37 degrees, and best if above 50 degrees.
  • Start thinking about next year, and obtaining the new gear you will need.

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,
Skagit Valley Beekeepers Association

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