Skagit Valley Beekeepers Association

Brad Raspet, President

Elizabeth Pheonix-Agin, Vice President

Rob Johnson, Treasurer

Susan DeLawter, Secretary

Natalie Dougliss, Newsletter

Scott Rhodes, Board

Alvin Forar, Board

Seth Smith, Board
Happy May everyone!

Due to the Burlington Library still being closed, our next meeting will be held Thursday, June 10th at 7 pm on the Zoom Meeting app. Brad will email everyone the link with instructions.

May Newsletter

Swarms Galore 

It's that time of the year where swarms are starting to appear everywhere. Swarming is a natural cycle that bees go through when they are not managed. Swarming isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it may lead to higher mite counts and a loss of bees. 

How to Catch a Swarm

Catching swarms is unique in that not all swarms are the same. Where they land can pose an easy or challenging adventure. Usually, they land and form their cluster on a branch of a tree. With these, you just need to put a bee box (nut box/deep). Place whichever box under the cluster of bees and yank on the branch hard. This will cause the cluster of bees to fall in the box. If the queen lands elsewhere, the swarm could leave. After waiting an hour or so, you can move them. This gives them enough time to go into the box and settle down. 

More difficult swarms to get could land on the ground, on bushes, trucks, or trunks of trees. These odd places to land need time to think about how to fully catch the swarm. 
Supercedure Cells vs. Swarm Cells 
There are two different places honey bees can make queen cells; where they are located on frames can tell you what the worker bees are planning to do.
Supercedure Cells: Supercedure cells are located throughout the frame where brood is located. Supercedure cells occur when a queen is not fullfulling her role in the hive. This could mean she is ill, not laying her eggs well, or something went wrong with her. The worker bees know this and make multiple queen cells in hopes that one new virgin queen will supersede her to take over the hive. 
Swarm Cells: Swarm cells are located at the very bottom of the frames. There won't be any in the middle of the frames. Swarm cells occur when the hive hits capacity and the bees are about to swarm. When they do swarm, one of these queen cells will produce a queen for the bees left behind in the hive. 

It's important that we never squish or get rid of queen cells that already have larvae growing inside, whether they are for supercedure or swarm cells. Leave all the cells. All of these cells will eventually produce queens, and the strongest will take over the hive. If we squish all but one queen cell, we could be limiting out the strongest possible queen for the hive. 

Adding Foundation

 If you haven't yet already, you should add a second deep box to your single box. This allows you bee colony more room to grow, and to prevent swarming. If you have new foundation you'd like to use, put them second from on each sides of the outside frames. This will give the bees something to do as well as make a new wax frame to use. 

Last year I had a problem with adding new foundation to beehives. I had a excess amount of foundation I had to add and my bees were growing rapidly. I tried my best to incorporate new foundation in the with drawn comb frames. If its a rapid growing colony, you could put a full box of foundation on and they will draw it all out, but no promises! Sometimes, they won't even touch the foundation. Scattering them throughout the edges if the hive works the best. Melting some beeswax on the foundation, I've learned, helps get the bees motivated to pull out wax for comb. 

Be cautious about buying used frames with drawn comb. Unless you know the beekeeper, used comb could have diseases that would bring down colonies like foul brood. 
Other things to consider...
When you check your hives, make sure to keep checking their honey stores. Feeding too much may result in swarming, so make sure they are not plugged with honey, but at the same time not starving. Each beehive is different, so while one of your beehives is thriving the one next to it could be starving. Checking each one is important.

You can still treat for mites, but it won't be as effective as in early spring or late fall when there is less brood. Right now, the beehive is growing exponentially. That means mites will be growing as well. It wouldn't hurt to treat now, but you might still have a small mite count.
Newsletter Opening 
It has been a great privledge to serve as SVBA newsletter editor for a year in a half. I have enjoyed serving the club in this way! However, I would like to pass the torch to someone who would be willing to take over this position. If you are interested, please email me, my email is listed in the above contacts. The newsletter portion is open to all current members, and it is a great way to grow your understanding of bees and serve the club! I learned so much just by writing them monthly! 
2021 Dues  
This is just a friendly reminder that for those who would like to continue their membership with Skagit Valley Beekeepers, the annual fee of $12 is due. Please send checks/cash to the following address: