Skagit Valley Beekeepers Association

Newsletter for December 2021
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

SVBA Holiday Celebration (and Meeting) on December 9th

Please join us for our informal in-person holiday celebration at the Burlington Library on Thursday, December 9th at 7 PM. This will be a potluck event, so please bring some food/holiday refreshments to share, along with your favorite 2021 beekeeping stories. The celebration will be consistent with current Burlington Library guidelines for small gatherings during the pandemic. 
We are also experimenting with staging "hybrid" meetings that will allow folks to plug-in on-line and participate virtually. Keep an eye out for an e-mail from Brad Raspet if that option will be available for the December 9th event.
New SVBA Officers
We are welcoming both new and returning members to the SVBA leadership team this month. Dawn Beck, beekeeper from Bow, is our new Vice President. Long-time SVBA member Steve LeBlanc is now a Board member, joining Al Forar and Seth Smith. President Brad Raspet, Treasurer Rob Johnson, and Secretary Susan DeLawter have all agreed to continue their roles, keeping the SVBA fires burning (or at least the smokers smoking).
Featured Beekeeper: Brad Raspet
Brad Raspet brings his enthusiasm and organization skills to the SVBA as its President, sharing his ideas and the outcomes of his entrepreneurial experiments as the beekeeper behind Bingaling Bees. He runs his enterprise from a residential neighborhood in Mt. Vernon - but don't look for his 20-plus colonies there. Brad is a foothill guy, having located helpful host properties, up where the variety of nectar sources are more plentiful than on most of the agricultural flats. 
Brad began beekeeping just ten years ago - and he looked before he leapt into it. While he was still working as a firefighter and EMT in Renton, he began with a class taught by a WSU entomologist. Then he signed up for the Bill Markus-led SVBA beginner's course. The hands-on approach hooked him when, "I got a chance to put on a bee suit and get stung". He joined the club, started with 4 hives, and has expanded from there.
Brad Raspet in the field, and his products spread out under the banner of Bingaling Bees.
Beekeeping turned out to be the gateway into the many dimensions of bee enterprising that he continues to explore. 
Brad first began experimenting with side products to his bottled honey, beginning with honey-themed soaps. He took a soap making class, and then tested and analyzed volunteer responses to different aromas to come up with the formula he produces today. He added lip balm and candles to his product line after studying the craft and techniques required. He buffed up his marketing skills, creating a website and a pre-Covid presence at Mt. Vernon's Farmer's Market. Keeping track of the business end, he finds that his revenue from the side products is much larger than from honey sales.
He pays attention to the details, and it shows. Brad found that simple glass jars best highlight the clarity and color of his honey, and arranged his labelling to catch the eye without obscuring the contents. His website has animations, calendar-based accounts of his beekeeping year, and links to stories and educational videos that are fun to watch.
We asked him about his biggest surprise since becoming a beekeeper. He told us that his initial concept of beekeeping was that it was keeping "wild bugs in a box" and thought that it would be a relatively simple hobby. However, he quickly grasped that honey bees are highly vulnerable, domesticated insects that require an extensive program of informed care to survive and prosper.
For more on Brad and Bingaling, look up
Winter Opportunities:
Classes and Courses
The winter down-time is a good season for lining up courses and classes to expand your beekeeping skills.

The SVBA has typically held an excellent 4-session course for Beginning Beekeeping each Monday evening in March; Seth Smith is going to help organize this year's version, which has been held at the Skagit Valley Public Utility District offices in the past. The course has involved a number of SVBA leaders and experts over the years, including Bill Markus, Rob Johnson and Brad Raspet. Look forward to further information in this Newsletter and on the SVBA website. For those looking for more advanced options, consider the Washington State Beekeepers Association sequence of programs leading to certification as a Master Beekeeper. Look it up at
In-Person Meetings and Zoom Options
The in-person format for monthly meetings is very important to a number of members. Based on the results of our informal poll last month, about half of the respondents are satisfied with in-person meetings, while the others like the potential option of "hybrid meetings". While the meeting would be conducted live and in-person with everyone who wishes to come, other folks could join on-line if we broadcast the sessions on Zoom. We plan to experiment with opening up a Zoom doorway into our in-person meetings next year, and then check back to see what people think.
Winter Mite Treatment: A Holiday Tradition?
A number of beekeepers at the November meeting commented that they always apply a winter treatment of vaporized oxalic acid between Christmas and the New Year. It seems like a good tradition to pair with fixing leftovers or watching football.
As a resource for its members, the SVBA has two vaporizer units that members can borrow to use on their hives. Members can contact our Equipment Coordinator, Diane Dong for more information and to make arrangements to borrow the equipment. She can be reached at or at (360) 391-9876.
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
At our November meeting, Les from Les's Bees described his new venture after being frustrated with delays and high prices from the large suppliers for the 2021 season. So, he set up this new stocked outlet just up the road for area beekeepers.

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 for the New Year, which is the kick-off for your 2022 SVBA membership. You can mark the holiday by sending in your annual renewal fee of just $12.00. For those who wish to join, take the timely opportunity to sign up and send in your membership dues - a tremendous deal for the many programs, events, education, advice and connections that we offer. The form and instructions are found at: