Skagit Valley Beekeepers Association

Newsletter for May 2022 

May Flowers and Bees:
Join Us at the May SVBA Meeting

It was an unusually cold April, but May is more promising. Come and share how your bees are faring, and get some tips for the months ahead at our next SVBA meeting on Thursday, May 12th at the Burlington Public Library. For those attending in person, we will follow the practices required by the Library, which they keep current on their website. But we hope to also provide an on-line stay-at-home option through the multi-media juggling by Brad Raspet - he will post an internet invitation with the meeting link attached.
Thanks to Seth Smith:
Queens and Nucs
Commercial beekeeper, board member and former SVBA president Seth Smith came through once again for members in need of Spring replacements for lost colonies. Seth spread the word through the SVBA e-mail network that he would try and make some available at a reasonable price. After breeding the queens, he produced and packaged nearly 1,000 nucs for the commercial market until he ran out of the boxes he prefers. Seth found a way to get a few more boxes shipped at the last minute, loaded them up, and came through for us locally who were lucky enough to snag them.

A completely unscientific and informal survey conducted by your editor suggests that lots of replacements were needed this year. Some think that last summer's "heat dome" and record temperatures were to blame, combined with some strange timing for the cold weather this winter. What was your experience?
Featured Beekeeper:
Dawn Beck
Dawn started beekeeping when she moved from Seattle to the Skagit, resettling in Bow. She is enjoying being part of the Skagit Valley beekeeping community, and stepped forward this year to become the Vice President of the SVBA. Having taken part in the Puget Sound Beekeepers Association where she now teaches a beginner's course, she is relieved to find herself among more experienced, larger scale beekeepers in our neck of the woods.
Beekeeping started as an ambition when Dawn was still living in Seattle seven years ago. She was raising chickens and shared urban farming stories with a friend there who was keeping bees in the city. She decided that bees must be substantially more interesting than chickens, and so set her sights on rural beekeeping when she moved.
Dawn the Swarm Catcher and her bee yard/garden
She began with the book learning side of beekeeping, reading and taking a community college course. From that academic start, the applied side of beekeeping has been both challenging and rewarding. She was very excited when she got her first nuc settled into a hive, only to find that they were a "mite bomb" that only survived for a month. Since then, she has been learning and applying new tricks, successfully tending up to 6 colonies - and with ambitions of expanding.
Enthusiastic and fascinated, she seems to relish every dimension of beekeeping.

She is looking forward to learning how to raise queens. Dawn is working with a queen-rearing group of the Mt. Baker beekeepers to learn how to accomplish it herself, so that she can grow her own future colonies. She became a Master Beekeeper through the University of Montana program several years ago, and has enrolled in Cornell University's program which is a combination of on-line classes and hands-on experiences. One of her ambitions is to share what she is learning and teach intermediate beekeepers, filling in a gap that many would appreciate.
Dawn's side-loaded hive
Thinking back on her own experience so far, Dawn has learned that beekeepers need to have tough skin - just when you think you've figured out how to manage everything, something new comes along, and the hard work disappears with a failed colony. But each step brings new adventures, which we hope she will keep sharing with the rest of us.
Did You Hear the One About... 
Delta Airlines Misplacing Millions of Bees?

The New York Times published a sad story last week that is a window into the world of bee shipping.
It was a story about a commercial beekeeper in California, Sarah MaElrea, and a related misadventure using Delta Airlines a few weeks ago. She is a major supplier of bees to Alaska, serving the relatively small and specialized agricultural community there including about 300 beekeepers. 
Normally, she successfully ships hundreds of crates of bees on linked flights from Sacramento to Seattle to Anchorage. This time, however, Delta bumped the shipment from the first leg, and sent the bees to Atlanta with the idea of forwarding them later to Anchorage on a once-daily, direct flight from that airport. 
But then apparently some bees got loose, so the Delta staff bumped the shipment again, and dumped the 200 crates with their 800 pounds of bees onto the tarmac to wait another day. Realizing that the bees would never make it, Susan plugged into the network of beekeepers, and offered the packages to anyone who could salvage them. About two dozen beekeepers drove out to the airport, alerted by the Metro Atlanta Beekeepers Association. But instead of paying attention to "this side up", Delta's staff had placed the crates upside down on the pavement during a hot day, so the bees couldn't access the canned syrup. Millions of bees were lost. 
Delta's spokesman has apologized. As for Sarah MaElrea, she is going to try trucking her shipments to Seattle and placing them directly on planes the next time. An opportunity for Alaska Airlines?
Be an SVBA Board Member
The Executive Search is On
One of our three board members has decided to move on from his position in the organization, leaving an opening that you might help fill. If you are interested in helping the association by nominating yourself (or another) willing member, get in touch with Brad Raspet, SVBA President, The duties are light, but this is an opportunity to help with occasional official tasks and work with the other association officers as we find new routes for education, engagement, and fun for our beekeeping community.
Trading Post
Free frames with plastic foundation and telescoping covers - Scott Rhodes has 35 deep frames of unused plastic foundation and 3 used, telescoping covers for anyone who is interesting. You can contact Scott on his phone at (360) 421-6545
Les's Bees has a full line of beekeeping woodenware and supplies in Bellingham - For those gearing up for the summer season, it is a good time to get in touch with SVBA member Les Scott, who has gone into business providing an alternative to the large mail-order suppliers. 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 now due, and you may have gotten a friendly reminder. It's easy, 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 with the many programs, events, education, advice and connections that we offer through our web page, Facebook, and this newsletter. 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
Seth Smith, Board