Skagit Valley Beekeepers Association

Newsletter for January 2022 

Happy New (Beekeeping) Year

Brad Raspet, President

Dawn Beck, Vice President
Rob Johnson, Treasurer
Susan DeLawter, Secretary

Steve Cecil, Newsletter

Steve LeBlanc, Board
Alvin Forar, Board
Seth Smith, Board

Looking Ahead
Next Meeting: January 13th

As we turn the corner into the New Year, we are looking forward to a new cycle of beekeeping adventures to share among our members. We will begin with our next SVBA meeting on January 13th at the Burlington Public Library. As appropriate during this pandemic era, we will follow the practices required by the Library, which they keep current on their website. We may also be able to make the meeting available through a remote Zoom connection - keep an eye out for an invitation through your e-mail if we can accomplish this trick.
Holiday Party 2021:
Our Hybrid Get Together
We held our first "hybrid" holiday event at our meeting last month, with both in-person and on-line participants passing around cheers and chat. For those who couldn't make it, put a note on your calendar and don't pass up next year's annual celebration.
When the Weather Outside is Frightful
Cold Temperatures and Bees
Soon after bouts of intense rain and Skagit Valley flooding, temperatures have plunged as snow accumulated atop hives. Combined with some high winds, the weather tests over-wintering colonies, particularly under-populated colonies without enough shivering bees to keep the hives adequately warm. Skagit Valley winters are mild compared to many other regions, and insulation is not as vital to beekeeping as elsewhere. Here, uninsulated hives may survive without a problem. But insulation is nevertheless an important insurance factor, particularly when a winter has prolonged cold streaks.
Beekeepers, as always, have many different strategies that they advocate and deploy. 
Most strategies focus on the top of the hive because the heat (and the bees) collect there when it is cold. Among the simplest is cutting and placing rigid foam building insulation on top of the colonies from sheets found at a building supply outlet. Others install quilt boards or empty honey supers screened from the bees, under the top cover. They fill them with cedar wood shavings or other material that also absorbs moisture. You can also buy or make "wintering inner covers" that include a layer of insulation under the top cover and serve as a spacer for top bar feeding with fondant sugar.
Some folks fashion wraps to cover the sides, or use pre-made versions. Old-style beekeepers have used roofing felt fastened to the brood supers with thumbtacks, while others have adapted with Tyvek or solid foam insulation strapped to the sides. Various suppliers will ship winter hive wraps; you might get in touch with Rob Johnson, our treasurer, who had some available for sale last fall that he was not planning to use.

Featured Beekeeper: Susan DeLawter
Susan DeLawter with some of her honey, and many of her bees.

Susan DeLawter became interested in beekeeping while living in Idaho, before moving to our neck of the woods. She began by asking a beekeeping neighbor if she could join him and observe the process of opening his hives. Equipped with a too-loose-fitting hood, she immediately received five bee stings as she peered into the colonies. Rather than being deterred as he expected, she was fascinated and asked her friend to be her beekeeping mentor for a year. She then launched her own hives successfully, even winning a blue ribbon for her honey at a regional event.
After moving here, she kicked off her Washington adventures by obtaining two colonies from SVBA-member Seth Smith. She successfully split a colony and recovered a swarm, so that she is now a 4-colony hobbyist. She admits that she and her husband are honey addicts, but she distributes the surplus honey to friends, family members, and a following of honey fans. She notes that folks looking for allergy relief from her local honey prefer honey collected during the same timing as their symptoms - spring honey for spring allergies, summer honey for summer allergies. Makes sense.
Susan's colonies aren't drifters: the distinct colors help bees to home in on the correct hive.
Susan battles mites with vaporized oxalic acid, including an end-of-year application. She shares this inside tip for all of the SVBA members: having bored 1/4" holes in the back of the hives for the ProVap applicators, she puzzled about how to plug them until the next application. She came up with the perfect answer - golf tees. 
The hardest thing about beekeeping for her is ... beekeeping. She notes, "Taking all the information I get, and then trying to whittle that down to my own microclimate and application, for me at times is like me chasing a giraffe with a butterfly net.  Challenging and fun!!"
Susan is also the Secretary of the SVBA, and is keeping our records straight.
A favorite source of information for many beekeepers comes up frequently in conversations among Skagit Valley beekeepers, and it is worth looking it up if you aren't already in the know. The site is the window into the research, practices, and advice of Randy Oliver, a prominent beekeeper and biologist based in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains in northern California. He has lectured nationally and internationally - and locally for the Mt. Baker Beekeepers Association. He has authored many articles in the American Bee Journal and his site is filled with links to articles and resources at every level. 
This site includes a menu of Basic Beekeeping designed for novice beekeepers, who can be quickly overwhelmed by the volume of technical information that seems to follow every Google inquiry about even a simple beekeeping question these days.
Trading Post
  • New beekeeping woodenware, clothing and supplies. High quality Beeline Industries and Premier foundation products in stock, in Bellingham, all at the best prices. Check it out at or contact Les directly by e-mail, call, or text: 360-303-0396
SVBA member Les Scott has opened this new venture providing in-stock beekeeping items to compete in price, quality, and convenience with the mail-order suppliers.

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  
It's time the New Year, and time to send in your 2022 SVBA membership. Don't delay, simply mail us your annual renewal fee of just $12.00. For those who wish to join, it's the same price, and a wonderful introduction to our beekeeping community and the many programs, events, education, advice and connections that we offer. What a great chance to subscribe to this monthly newsletter that will be sent directly to your e-mail address. The membership form and payment instructions are found at: