The Olympia Beekeepers Association Information

The Olympia Beekeepers Association congratulates Ernie Schmidt and Tim Weible who received their Master Beekeepers certification on December 29, 2018 from the Washington Master Beekeepers. They also have been voted to the board of the Washington Master Beekeepers and are the only Certified Master Beekeepers in the Olympia Beekeepers Association.

We hope to see you at the February 11, 2019 meeting in the Chinook Middle School Cafeteria, 4301 6th Ave. NE, Lacey, WA 98516. 

The on going Apprentice Class runs from 6-7 PM, in the cafeteria

The Sustainability Group runs from 6-7 PM, in the library

The General Meeting runs from 7-9 PM in the cafeteria

Olympia Beekeepers Association’s Accelerated Apprentice Beekeeping Course.

What:                          Accelerated Apprentice Beekeeping
Date:                           March 19, 2019
Time:                           6:30 – 8:30 p.m.
Night of the week:    Tuesday (6 consecutive)
Cost OBA Member:   $10.00
Cost non-Member:    $35.00 (includes first year OBA dues)
Class Size:                   35 Students (filling up fast)
Pre-register Contact: shelbyalbert@rocketmail.com
Instructor:                   Master Beekeeper Tim Weible
Where:                         Chinook Middle School Library
Address:                       4301 6th Ave. NE, Lacey, WA 98516

This course is also taught under the auspices of the Washington Master Beekeepers. Tests and study materials can be downloaded from the Washington Master Beekeepers website.  This course will include field trips or bee cruises.

Reminder, New this year:

Membership dues are due in January.

Observation Hive (OH) Connections

The OBA Observation Hives (OH) can hold two Langstroth frames in a secured glass case. Primarily used at club events as a conversation starter and educational tool, it is also available to club members looking to connect others to bee culture.  The summer fairs are a high impact for OBA outreach.  During the fair days (Thurston Co. 8/2-8/6, Grays Harbor Co. 8/9-8/13) the bees are enjoyed by people all day.  The bees - however accommodating - will be relieved when there are reconnected to their home colony after a 12+ hour shift.  The more bee frames volunteered the more we minimize the colony separation.  We encourage club members to get involved populating the OH with their own bees; as it is somewhat rewarding to watch the ladies work revealing some of their BEEhavior that is usually hidden in the box.

Alex and Maren (OH coordinators) can be contacted by interested OBA members.

  • Home Phone # (360) 264-4483
  • Email : marmanderson@gmail.com

 

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.

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