May 8th, 2017 OBA Meeting Minutes

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.

Old Business:

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.

Officers Report:

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.

How Varroa Mites Build Up Immunity to Commercial Miticides.

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)

Capitol Honey Bee Project Update

In spring of 2016, two honey bee hives were installed on the grounds of the Governor’s mansion in Olympia. Both hives began collecting pollen and nectar from local blossoms, carrying it back to their new “homes.” As the Olympia Beekeepers Association project team continued to check on their progress, one of the hives demonstrated signs of a problem with its queen.

For a honey bee colony to thrive, the queen must lay at least 1,000 eggs per day during the spring and summer months. The queen was not producing enough eggs and hive failure was inevitable without intervention.

New queen

Introducing a new queen to a bee colony can be tricky. The existing bees are used to their original queen’s pheromone, or signature scent. If the existing bees do not accept the new queen, she will be killed and the colony will collapse. Despite using techniques to ensure the new queen’s success, it took multiple trials to get the failing hive back on track.

Both hives continued to bring in nectar and create honey throughout the summer months, the bees’ winter survival food. The team was hopeful that the bees had built up their population enough to make it through the winter. Both colonies had also been treated for varroa mites - an external parasite that attacks honey bees. Monitoring for the hives showed the treatment had been successful.

Monitoring and results

In late December, an opportunity to peek into the hives to observe activity level and food supply presented itself. In the mansion hives, plenty of honey was observed but sadly, no sign of bee life.  

Beekeepers monitor hives to troubleshoot and intervene when conditions require assistance to ensure the bees’ survival. These hives were carefully monitored and supported since their installation. A single cause of failure could not be identified.

The cause was likely a combination of factors, such as: difficulty finding suitable plants for foraging (particularly when conditions get hot and dry and food sources are limited); pesticide or herbicide exposure or nectar, pollen or water that had been contaminated with pesticides; or some other unknown factor.

Hive survival trends

Many other beekeepers are observing similar fates to their hives. While the colony loss numbers for 2016-17 are still forthcoming, beekeepers across the United States lost 44 percent of their colonies in 2015-16. The Olympia Beekeepers Association losses were at 48 percent in the same time frame.

Honey bee colony loss is no longer just a beekeeper’s problem. Washington State has a vibrant and vital agricultural economy. Honey bee and pollinator losses, should they continue at these high levels, will have an impact on our agricultural economy. This impact could potentially affect the cost and variety of food that is produced.

What’s next

Two new honey bee colonies were installed at the Governor’s Mansion on April 21. Working in collaboration with the Governor and Mrs. Inslee and the Department of Enterprise Services, the Olympia Beekeepers Association will monitor the hives throughout the coming months. The public is encouraged to support a healthy environment to help the bees thrive.

Honey bees are interested in pollen and nectar, and not people. You are not likely to get stung by a honey bee unless you step on it, threaten its home or swat at it. Honey bees forage for their food as they look for flowers and weeds (like dandelion and clover) within a four-mile radius from their hive location.

What you can do

People who live on or manage property near the Capitol Campus can avoid spraying nearby plants with pesticide or herbicide. Doing so can be problematic because one honey bee can sip the nectar of a hundred flowers on a single foraging trip, carrying a toxic load back to its hive. Considering there are tens of thousands of bees in each hive, this can produce both long and short-term toxicity and destroy the entire colony. Pesticide exposure can also kill bees outright.

You can choose to be bee-friendly by planting things like various herbs and flowers, growing fruit trees and berries, letting the dandelions and clover grow in your lawn, naturalizing with native plants, and replacing noxious weeds with plants suitable for bees. Their survival in the long-term is a problem we all need to have a hand in turning around.

March, 2017 – Meeting Minutes

Secretary’s Report Olympia Beekeepers Association Meeting March 13, 2017

Meeting called to order at 7:05 p.m.

Treasurers report: 13.08 cash, $4,569.25 in savings, and $3,205.36 in checking. Minutes from February meeting approved.

A few members report they are still not getting club emails.  Nathan suggests subscribing through website, and to check spam folders as well.

Old Business:   

Hands on Children Museum is hoping to have us there over spring break, and beyond.  If weather is nice, bring observation hive.  Set up table with outreach materials.  Interact with kids and their families.  Need volunteers - 2 offered at meeting, will probably need more!  

Another reminder about upcoming event sponsored by WSU.  Held in Seattle at the Moore Theater on March 29th, for more information and registration details go to http://bees.wsu.edu/seattle/.  Paul Stamets and Louie Schwartzberger will be speaking on "Mushrooms and the Mycology of Consciousness: Helping Bees, Trees, People and Planet."  Ticket sales go to honeybee research, $25 plus tax/fees.  Also, Portland Beekeepers are bringing Michael Fields for a talk this Saturday the 18th.

Paul, Mechele, and Laurie went to the inaugural beekeeping summit sponsored by the Sustainability in Prisons Project.  (Besides beekeeping, they also have programs involving native butterflies, frogs, and the prairies.)  Great program we are proud to support.

New Business:

Package bees now for sale for club members.  Packages will be arriving on April 19th, and pickup will be on April 20th.  Now is the time to get the hive ready!

If you'd like to see how a package install works, will be installing 2 packages in hives at the pickup location at around 3pm.  Order your packages by the end of the month!

Elections will take place at next month's meeting.  All positions up for election, including President.  Laurie will be taking next year off - thank you for all you've done for the club the last few years!  Treasurer and Membership Chair are willing to serve again next year, Secretary position open.  Mark Emrich nominated from the floor for president.

Chair reports:

Membership Chair Duane McBride - we currently have about 156 paid members, dozen more tonight.

Mentor Chairs Roger and Kitty - Could still use a few more mentors - the list they have is from 2013.

Education Chair Bob Smith - Handed out certificates for our new apprentice beekeepers.  Congratulations everyone!  Also, if anyone else would be interested in teaching the beginner class, he would be happy to hand it over.  We were also pleased to present Bob Smith with honorary Master Beekeeper certification from The WA State Master Beekeepers.

Native Pollinator Glenn - Native Pollinators group meets the last Monday in April at Traditions Cafe, 7pm.  No program yet for this month.  He brought mason bee cocoons for sale, and will also be selling them at Eastside Urban Farm and Garden.

Misc:  Dixon reminding us all to start getting those honey jars ready now for the county fair.  You'll need 3 queenline jars.  

Walter brought a pollen trap for show and tell that he built.  Good weekend project for any woodworkers out there.

The sustainability group that has been meeting at the same time as the apprentice class is wondering about how they should organize.  Part of OBA, their own group?  

If you would like to be on the swarm list, let us know.  Phone number is 360-515-1068.  When you're available, your approximate location, and how high you're willing to go.  

Break, then Charles Schaffer speaker.  He discussed packages and where they come from, mite treatment, etc.

Meeting adjourned at 9:00 pm.