Swarm Hotline: 360.515.1068
Olympia Beekeepers Association
June 12th, 2017
Chinook Middle School
Meeting called to order at 7:08pm.
Mechele made the announcement that the Beeline did not go before the meeting. Secretary’s minutes from the May meeting were recorded as written, no corrections.
Treasurer’s report David Bruun: Savings account $4,570.20, Checking account $3754.87 and cash on hand was $17.84
Membership Chair Duane McBride- As of the meeting we have 190 paid members which is still the highest membership OBA has had.
Vice President Tim Weible: Mentioned that he is working on getting a new education program started with the OBA. Also he talked about the new canopies that he bought for the club use.
Mechele made an all call for anybody that has OBA equipment to bring it to the meeting or return it to Mechele.
Secretary Shelby- none to report
Mentorship Roger and Kitty- Told the club that we could use more mentors.
Swarm List- Gail: Gail reported that only 4 swarm calls were made.
Library- Ernie mentioned that if you have a book out from the library to be sure to return it.
Fair update- Paul stated that OBA members have 49 days to get their honey jars ready for judging at the fair. Jars are due to the fair on August 1st. August 2nd the fair starts. There is a sign up sheet for time slots on the white board.
Past President Laurie Pyne- There are pollinator signs available for sale. The small signs are $15 and the large are $20.
Glen talked about the Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics (STEAM) event at East Olympia Elementary. There are 50 to 60 booths and kids can stay as long or as short as they would like to at each booth. They have the observation hive there for a visual aid. Also Glen mentioned that those people who ordered native pollinator posters they are in.
The native pollinator group is having a special speaker on Prairie Pollinators.
Observation Hive- There are currently 2 observation hives, they are able to put the hives on a lazy susan to allow it to spin around easily. The contact information of how to borrow the observation hive is on the website.
Governor Mansion: Laurie reported that they are alive and they plan on checking them this week. One hive is producing and growing faster than the other one.
Airport- No one present for report
Paul also mentioned that 17 Cedar Creek inmates have graduated from the Apprenticeship Beekeeping Class. They are currently working on starting a program at McNeil Island. He has an idea to raise queens out there and teach the inmates how to produce queens. Laurie mentioned that they have to take into consideration what type of forage is out there for the bees. Neither the hives nor the queens would be within the prison itself.
Duane and Mechele will be starting an Apprenticeship Program at the Shelton Correctional Facility.
Mechele asked that any new people at the meeting to please stand, 8 new people were in attendance.
Also, if you ordered a bee gym they are in and you can see Phil for pick up.
Old Business: None to report
We are still in need of items for the baskets for the state fair. There is one adult and one youth basket. Items can be anything bee related. Laurie has made these baskets in the past.
The July and August OBA meeting will be held at the Good Shepherd Church across from the Olympia High School.
The Hands on Children Museum is in need of volunteers from June 26th to June 30th from 9 am to 12 pm with a presentation on bees.
Mechele talked about accepting nominations for Beekeeper of the Year and Mark Savage Lifetime Achievement Award.
Gail spoke to club in regards to the difference between the two awards. The Beekeeper of the Year award is someone over this year that has been active in the club.
The Mark Savage Award is someone who has contributed through the membership in many ways and spent a significant amount of time working for the club.
Dewey Caron had books for sale at the break.
Mechele introduced Annie to club. Annie is our new intern who is working on her Master’s Program at Evergreen in Strategic Analysis and Planning. She talked to the club about what she plans on doing to help the club. She will be conducting surveys and interviews to gather data to help develop the club 2 year strategic plan first and then on a 5 year plan.
Mechele thanked everyone who attended the open session the past week to help with new ideas going forward.
After the break Dewey Caron will be talking about the Honey bee losses and over winterization.
Ron talked to the club in regards to the Grays Harbor fair and is in need of volunteers to help staff the booth. The fair runs from August 9th to the 13th.
8:00 Dewey Caron spoke in regards to Data from the over winterization and what your plan is going to be.
Meeting was adjourned at 9:15 pm.
Treating Your Bees with Natural Sources of Oxalic Acid
I have treated my colonies that needed treatment with shredded Thyme leaves with satisfactory results. When using shredded Thyme herb plant leaves it is the thymol in the plant oils that affects the mites in the hive. There has been some recent encouraging reports of success in treating bee colonies for Varroa mites with oxalic acid from shredded rhubarb leaves. I have not tried the shedding Rhubarb leaves treatment yet, but have plans to try it with my next required treatment.
Many plants we grow and eat contain varying levels of naturally occurring oxalic acid. The highest levels of the oxalic acid is found in Rhubarb leaves. Similar high levels can be found in the plants Lamb’s Quarter and Sorrel. The levels of the acid in the Rhubarb leaves is too high for safe human consumption. It is however safe to handle and process the leaves under normal conditions. The second highest levels of oxalic acid is found in the older leaves of chard, spinach, and beet greens. If you have ever bit into older leaves of chard, spinach or beet greens, you would have found a sharp bitter taste on the tongue. That is the heighten level of the acid. However, that level in older vegetable greens is not at the toxic level to humans as Rhubarb.
The shredded leaf treatment works with the bee’s dislike for anything foreign in their hive. The colony will drag smaller pieces through the hive and out the entrance. After shredding leaves, either with your hands or chopping them up with a knife, remove any stems and large pieces too big or tough for the bees to chew up. Spread a couple of handfuls out over the top of the frames in the top box and close up the hive. Any pieces too big to carry or drag out are chewed up and torn apart in their attempt to remove them. Moisture and oils from the plant containing oxalic acid is spread throughout the hive during the cleaning out process. It is very important to remember that with natural sources of Varroa mite treatments we aren’t trying to kill the mites. We are trying to apply a level of irritate to the mites that makes them drop off and not have a high level of adverse affect on the bee’s health. The concept of natural treatments is to help the colony manage a tolerable level of mite population themselves. I treat using natural treatments for low and moderate levels of mites. Natural treatments for the most part are to help keep a healthy colony healthy. That is why a natural keeper must always be vigilant in monitoring mite levels. If you discover a colony with an out of control, critical level of mites as in a “Varroa Mite Bomb” this is serious. You will lose this colony if you do not do intensive care treatment- now! This is not the time to debate commercial or natural treating or what is healthy or not or even what your personal feelings are. You have no time and nothing to lose using a commercial treatment product- they are going to die if you don’t. In the area of fighting the Varroa mite, don’t think of yourself as just a beekeeper, think of yourself as a mite manager. Again as I have stated in past columns, a sliding bottom board screen floor under your hive is the foundation of successful mite treatments. A keeper must know if they need to treat or if a treatment method is working. A SBB is an important tool for monitoring the need and effect of any treatment method. Even if you use commercial miticide treatments SBB monitoring is invaluable for confirmation of treatment success. Every year I hear the same thing from keepers, “I treated my hives for mites and they died anyway.” I know I don’t let up on the virtues the SBB, but with something insidious and deadly as Vaorra mites you have to be able to closely monitor,(at any time) the level of the threat and treatment results.
“It’s all about the bees”- Ernie
Olympia Beekeepers Association
May 8th, 2017
Chinook Middle School
Meeting called to order at 7:06 pm.
Treasurer’s report: Savings account $4570.16, Checking account $4347.39 and cash on hand is $14.33.
Secretaries minutes from the April meeting were recorded as written, no corrections made. Mechele asked for new members in the audience to stand. We had one new couple to the meeting tonight.
Past President Laurie Pyne made an announcement about passing around a sheet to collect data about the over-winterization colony loss of Olympia beekeeper members. This information will be used for Dewey Caron’s study on the total loss of overwintered bees for Washington State and our region. This data will be presented by Dewey Caron at the June meeting. Members can also record their losses electronically which is all used for the research.
Mechele presented the idea of circulating an online and paper survey to get member input on what they would like to see during meetings. If any member has suggestions that they would like to see on the survey to please bring that idea to the board members at the head table.
Membership Chair Duane McBride: Reported there to be 212 paid members the highest number that Olympia Beekeepers Association has had.
Past President Laurie Pyne: Duane, Jeff and Laurie attended the Governors organic planting event that was held on May 8th. She mentioned that the DES was being proactive in minimizing the use of herbicides and pesticides. On Olympia Beekeepers Association Facebook page there was a thank you letter/card that allowed members to sign to show the appreciation to DES for helping take the steps to help the pollinators.
Swarm List - Gail: She received one call on Sunday May 7th, 2017 about a swarm 50 feet up in a tree. We need members on the swarm call list. If you are already on the list please re-enter your information as we will be updating the call list to make sure we have all correct information.
Vice President Tim Weible: Nothing to report at this time.
Airport Hive- Frank updated us that the airport has 4 hives total. 2 packaged hives are laying really well. One of the hives was in the process of swarming as there were 7 to 8 swarm cells. They took one frame out of the hive that had 3 to 5 swarm cells on it and did a walk about split which could lead to 4.5 hives at the airport.
Observation hive report: 2 colonies of bees were donated by the club to start the observation hive and they installed nicely. 1 package had queen cells that they spilt with and they will also use these for resources in displays that they have upcoming such as the STEM.
Library update: Ernie is looking to find or get more books that would be of interest to members and increase the supply that the club has on hand. Laurie mentioned that Mann Lake sometimes will donate books that people are interested in. She suggested writing a letter to them and see if that is something that they would be willing to do.
Website update: Nathan let the members know that if you are interested in writing articles to have them published on the website to get a hold of him and he will show you how make this happen. He also shared that Madison Elementary School is having a plant sale on Saturday May 13th so come on down and purchase some plants to help your bees.
Mentorship - Roger: Roger made the announcement that 4 people want/need mentors. If any members are willing to be mentors for any of 4 new mentees people to please contact Roger.
Education chair Bob Smith: Bob talked to the club about entering honey at the Thurston County Fair. The honey judging will take place August 1st at roughly 10 am at the Thurston County Fair if any members would like to learn how to judge honey. In order to enter honey, a member must use 3 one pound queen line jars. Honey is judged by the jar it is in, the content and lids. Honey for judging must not contain any air bubbles, no foam, no honey on the lid and lastly all honey must be filled the same amount in each jar. Bob gave the example of blue ribbon honey that was a more dark honey and it received a blue ribbon for 3rd place, even though presentation was not good. Gail received Grand Champion last year at the Thurston County Fair. Members asked to have the rules and regulations for the honey judging to be published on the website for easy access. Louis Matej would love to see some honey entered into the Puyallup Fair by local members of the Olympia Club.
Member Carter: Brought up his usage of tetracycline. He has been using it for 50 years on his bees as a way to inhibit the growth of tracheal mites. It is now being taken off the market and he is coming for help from local beekeepers to know where he can find it. Members suggested Mann Lake and or a large animal vet. Bob Smith mentioned that fact that the critters or bees that carry the tetracycline it doesn’t work which makes them immune to the medication.
Pollinators Study Group: Will meet the 4th Monday at 7 pm where they will be attending the Garden Success and Pollinators workshop.
Dixon was asked to speak in regard to the mead judging at the Puyallup and Thurston County Fair. He asked to bring more mead to the festivities. The more mead you bring the better.
Paul was not present for his report.
Fair baskets are going to be given out to the winners of the honey baking contest at the fair. If you would like to donate items for the baskets bring anything bee related. There is one youth basket and one adult basket.
Mechele mentioned they may want to repaint the inside of the bee building where the booth is located at the Thurston County Fair. We first have to figure out if we can paint and when we can paint. We will be looking for volunteers, or kids organizations or members who just love to paint to help with the project.
Break at 7:47 pm. Refreshments provided and raffle tickets sold.
Speaker after the break was Phil and he talked to the group about The Bee Gym. This particular item helps with varroa mites on the bees. It is a yellow plastic square that has tab on one end of it that bees will walk over and rub on the tab to help reduce the mites. You place the larger bee gyms on the screen bottom or bottom boards and let the bees have free range in the hive. There are also mini bee gyms that can be placed within frames as well. Each Bee Gym covers a hive for up to one year. Phil wrapped up his topic at 8:40 pm.
Mechele let members know that June’s meeting will be held at Chinook Middle School and our Speaker would be Dewey Caron.
Meeting was adjourned at 8:42 pm.
Why would I, as an Alternative beekeeping advocate, write about the use of commercial miticides? First and foremost for me personally, the most important thing is keeping bees alive.
Everyone’s bees. Also, I consider myself an intellectual Alternative keeper, in that, I wouldn’t “take anything off the table” in my pursuit to keep bees alive. Though I don’t use miticides- I will do everything I can to help keepers who do. Varroa mites have the ability to continuously built up resistance to commercial treatment products. Each new mite control product that comes on the market has a useful life of less then 10 years. It is not defects in the products. The products are effective when first introduced. The Varroa mite has developed a method of quickly building up an immunity to each new product. What exactly is happening that makes it possible for the mite to build up resistance so quickly with every new product? It’s predictable, it’s coming, it is going happening. Producing another form of miticide produces another population of immune mites. Developing new miticides doesn’t solve the resistance problem. What is the process that breeds populations of super mites that build up an immunity to each new product introduced by the beekeeper? Once we find the mechanics of the immunity build up process, we can develop methods of management that prevent that process. If we as beekeepers can “short circuit” the mechanics of the immunity process it would enhance the effect and efficiency of any treatment to control Varroa mites.
In treated hives, over 40% of the mites that fall to the bottom board are still alive. 1. They received what is referred to as a sub-lethal dose of miticide. The mites got enough of a dose to temporarily incapacitate them but not kill them. This segment of the mite population recover on the floor of a solid bottom board hive, reattach to bees approaching near them, and return back up into the colony. Mites receiving and surviving sub-lethal doses of a miticide, returning back into the hive and breeding generation after generation build up an immunity to that miticide.
One way of “short circuiting” the immunity process is using screen bottom boards. SBB’s are literally and figuratively the foundation of a hive as part of a Integrated Pest Management program. Screen bottom boards must be constructed correctly and used correctly to provide the most benefit as an enhancement to treatments and the prevention of mite immunity buildup. Most treatments work best in an enclosed hive so a SBB with a sliding board under the screen is more desired then an open screen floor. The 40% of mites still alive after receiving a sub-lethal doses of miticide fall through the screen, are unable to reattach to a bee, and die on the sliding board under the screen. Mites looking to reattach to a bee can sense bees within 1 inch away. It is important to construct SBB’s with the sliding board an inch and a half or more below the screen. Live mites that fall to the sliding board beyond “sensing” distance will wander aimlessly on the board for a short time looking for a bee, then sit and die waiting for a bee. Sticky boards can be used on SBB’s with sliding boards closer then one and a half inch to the screen during treatments. The sliding board SSB is also a valuable tool to the beekeeper for easily monitoring mite populations and observing the need for and efficiency of treatments.
1. Chapleau, J.P. Experimentation of an Anti-Varroa Screened Bottom Board in Context of Developing an Integrated Pest Management Strategy for Varroa Infested Honeybees in the Province of Quebec (2002)