Skagit Valley Beekeepers Association

October Newsletter

Brad Raspet, President

Elizabeth Pheonix-Agin, Vice President

Rob Johnson, Treasurer

Susan DeLawter, Secretary

Steve Cecil, Newsletter

Scott Rhodes, Board

Alvin Forar, Board

Seth Smith, Board

Fall is here, and its time to get ready for winter...

Our next meeting will be held at the Burlington Library on Thursday, October 14 at 7 PM. The Library is now open to the public, subject to current CDC masking guidelines.
The SVBA at the 2021 Skagit County Fair
The SVBA returned to the Skagit County Fair this summer, with our booth and team of volunteers sharing stories and information about beekeeping in our region. The Fair and our display were back "live and in person", including thousands of bees in an observation hive. The August SVBA meeting was held in Building D at the fairgrounds, coinciding with preparing the setup. The booth was staffed by a slew of SVBA members including:
  • Holly Bunnell
  • Don Strand
  • Bill Bruce
  • Gail Bruce
  • Susan DeLawter
  • Rob Johnson
  • Heather Oates
  • Brad Respet
  • Scott Rhodes
The winner of the 2021 Skagit County Fair Nuc was our Secretary, Susan DeLawter. Take good care of them.
Thanks to all who participated, and we hope that 2022 will be an even better Fair year.
A New Master Beekeeper in our Midst
Dawn Beck, a Bow beekeeper, obtained her certificate as a Master Beekeeper from the University of Montana program this year. Dawn has become a major beekeeping enthusiast since she began just a few years ago. Congratulations!
The University of Montana has an intensive on-line program that is part of their School of Extended & Lifelong Learning. The coursework is intended for serious beekeepers, and consists of Apprentice, Journeyman, and Master Level courses. Each level has courses to complete over a period of just a few weeks, but each of the course segments are spaced one-year apart. This structure allows the participants to absorb a full season of applied experience between the coursework levels. The program covers a lot of ground: bee health, pest and disease management, honey production, the business of beekeeping - including marketing. For more information about the program, look up  
Closer to home, the Washington State Beekeepers Association has a similar program, with information at

October Beekeeping Wisdom: Keep the Air Moving

Much of the discussion at the September SVBA meeting focused on preparing hives for winter, and making sure that there is adequate ventilation to prevent harmful moisture buildup that can spell doom for a colony. In addition to the damp Northwest winter air, bee clusters produce considerable moisture. 
There are many different techniques to balancing colony warmth, limiting condensation on cold surfaces, and allowing enough air flow to prevent moisture buildup.

A basic approach is to have a small notch in the rim of the inner cover, so that air can flow from the bottom opening to the top of the hive and then escape from under the telescoping top cover. Some beekeepers turn the inner cover around before winter so that the notched opening is at the rear of the hive. This should promote better ventilation, allowing air to flow up and across a greater proportion of the over-wintered frames. 
To control the amount of ventilation if top openings are too large initially, bees will often use propolis to close down the size of the opening and help manage the air flow and temperature loss.
Some members advocate using moisture boards or providing rigid insulation on top of the outer cover as part of their successful strategies to absorb or limit the amount of dripping condensation within their hives. Other beekeepers find that insulated bee wraps are effective in maintaining critical warmth in the face of cold winter winds - as long as there is enough ventilation to counterbalance the moisture barrier this creates.
Honey Prices
For September, Bee Culture Magazine reported average honey prices in the western region (California, Oregon, Nevada, Idaho, and Washington).
  • Wholesale prices (sold to distributors or stores in case lots) for a case of 24 1-lb. bottles was $144.00, or $6.00 per bottle, up about 6% from last year.
  • Retail shelf prices for glass or plastic 1-lb. bottles was $8.50 per bottle, up about 4% from last year.
We will be curious to see if these prices are consistent with what our members are getting in the Skagit Valley and beyond.
Trading Post
The newsletter can be a great place to list supplies and equipment that you may be interested in swapping, selling, or just plain giving to other interested members of the SVBA. If you have something you want to have posted in the newsletter, send a brief description, price, and contact information to your editor, This month's posting:
  • 15 used Bee Cozies - insulated hive wraps made by NOD Apiary Products and sold through Mann Lake ($38.95 each).  Asking price is $10 each. Contact Rob Johnson,
Ideas for the Newsletter
The participants at the September meeting of the SVBA at the Burlington Library discussed ideas for future issues of the newsletter. This was prompted by our rookie editor, Steve Cecil who has the challenging task of following in the footsteps of Natalie Dougliss.
Promising thoughts included:
  • Annual Calendar - A consistent box showing planned SVBA and related events for the coming year.
  • Featured Beekeeper - A brief profile of different beekeepers in the SVBA with a photo and a story about their recent beekeeping adventures.
  • Trading Post - A place to exchange beekeeping equipment and supplies.
  • Contributed short articles - Contributed thoughts and advice from our members (or others)
If you have some ideas or suggestions, please contact us at
SVBA Membership  
For those who wish to join, or who missed the opportunity to send in your 2021 membership dues of only $12.00/year, look us up at: