Member Spotlight – Camy N.

OBA Secretary

OBA Member – 4 years

A fun fact or quote: Our beekeeping motto is “Make more bees!”

Q: How long have you been a Beekeeper?

A:  We took a beekeeping apprenticeship course through OBA and became a member after that. We’ve been members for about four years. 

Q: Describe why you became a Beekeeper and your overall beekeeping strategy.

A: My husband first expressed interest in learning to keep bees and I had always been fascinated by them.

We didn’t see many bees on our flowers and in our garden and wanted to increase our pollinators

We’d heard about colony collapse and were worried about losing honey bees, so were motivated to make more bees.

Our beekeeping strategy is to give the bees as much opportunity to behave as naturally as possible. 

Q: What do you love most about bees & beekeeping?

A: I love watching my bees on my flowers, they bring the whole yard to life. When you don’t have bees, it seems like the garden is less active.

Q: What kind of hives do you use and how many do you keep?

A: We learned with a Langstroth in our OBA apprenticeship class and usually kept two out in the middle of the backyard. Our goal is to have three hives on our property. We have considered increasing the number of hives we would keep and working with friends and neighbors to host some of our beehives on their properties.  

Our hives didn’t make it this past winter for the first time, so we took the year off to learn about keeping bees in a horizontal hive (Layens), build swarm traps, build our new hives, and be ready to catch swarms next Spring.

Q: What is your biggest beekeeping challenge you have overcome and how did you overcome it?

A: I never really understood the Langstroth hive and the methods associated with it, like stacking the boxes and splitting the hive. Even hive checks felt invasive and unnecessary.

The horizontal hive makes perfect sense to me and feels way less invasive. I’m also happy I never have to pick it up.

Q: What are your biggest beekeeping accomplishments or successes?

A: We got both our hives through the winter for our first 3 years. We didn’t take any honey from the hives so bees went into winter with full frames. We made a foam core box to put over top of the hive to help control temperature and moisture which worked well for most of the hives.

Q: Describe your role with OBA and how members can connect with you to learn more (if the person is a board member or has a formal role with OBA).

A: I am the Secretary at OBA. I take notes at the OBA board and association meetings. I keep OBA organized and working towards shared goals. I can be reached for OBA related business at

Q: How have you benefited from being a member of OBA?

A: I love hearing about others’ experiences with beekeeping and learning from others. The OBA apprenticeship course was also very helpful.

Q: What do you like most about being a member of OBA?

A: I like feeling that I can use my time and skills to help support beekeepers in Olympia. The more beekeepers, the more bees! 

Q: What tips or advice do you have for new beekeepers?

A: Consider your goals for beekeeping when you get started and know that there are options for how you keep bees and opportunities to innovate your own way. I recommend learning & trying a couple different ways and choosing the one that makes the most sense to you. A couple questions I found key to finding my way as a beekeeper:

  • Is your priority to maximize honey production, make more bees, or prevent bee loss? 
  • To get new colonies, do you want to buy bees, catch swarms, or make queens? 

Association meeting minutes – Sept 11, 2023

23 people in attendance; 19 in person, 4 online

Welcome new members!

Updates from the Board

  • We had a quarterly board meeting in Aug- reviewed and checked-in on the 2023 OBA goals and brainstormed ways to improve mentorship benefits of the club
  • Sign up sheet for bee vanity license plates
  • Finances are in good shape: Savings $4,582.23 checking $4,812.81
  • Move to pay Nathan for use of his facilities for meetings, $125 per meeting, seconded and approved
  • Folks like the Hive Mind idea

Speaker: Ernie Schmidt – Master Beekeeper

Ernie believes the most important thing about being a beekeeper is keeping bees alive. Even though he is a Washington State Certified Beekeeper and well versed in conventional beekeeping, but he is not afraid to think outside the box. He will be sharing thoughts on topics such as “what is a successful keeper and how to be one” and “unorthodox way of controlling Varroa mites, but it works for me”.  Be sure to bring paper and pencil, you will likely be hearing things you want to write down. 

Board meeting minutes – August 5, 2023

Attendees: Nathan, David, and Camy in person; Catie and Gail on Zoom

Finances are in good shape

  • Spent some on brochures, canopy, and fold-up table; would like to purchase a table cover when they go on sale.
  • Equipment – sold off the majority of the hives, got a new uncapping tray
  • Education – increased the cost of the apprenticeship class to $50 a piece
  • Library – no new expenses


  • Currently 129 members
  • New membership really slows down in June/July – opportunity to market or engage more
    • IDEA: Purchase a new electric extractor for the members’ equipment library
  • Membership spotlight program started in April, scheduled through Dec, completed and staged through October
  • Catie wants to draft a welcome letter to send to new members
    • TO DO: Nathan will find out if there is a way to send an automated email to her when new members sign up
  • Catie wants to update the membership benefits area of the website, list “perks” like:
    • Education and social activities
    • Outreach and fundraising opportunities
    • Invitations to hive-side and field events
    • Convenience features like joining or renewing online, hybrid meetings
    • Opportunities to serve the association and the bees (support the mission, board positions)

Association meetings

  • Ways to improve
    • Get high quality speakers
    • Consider meeting every other month so that the board can really prepare for them and make them useful
    • Consider adding a HIVE MIND part of the meeting where members can ask questions of other members
    • Ways to improve the business meeting portion?
  • Nathan has attended the Armory meetings – will be able to accommodate our group if we get larger within the next year or so. We would have to budget for it if we move our meetings there.


  • Last apprenticeship class complete, went really well
  • TO-DO: Nathan got a WASBA 1-day class curriculum and other materials that he will add to the Google drive
  • Journeyman class – want to figure out some of the logistics of it by the end of year with the goal of the class happening next year (we provide the space and instructor)
  • Apprenticeship class happens twice per year (Fall/Winter and Spring/Summer)


  • IDEA: Hive Mind standing agenda item at association meetings
  • Consider mentorship network based on where you live – assign mentors to regions
  • IDEA: Get the Imagine Olympia grant and use some of it to pay mentors for their time, or offer them free membership in the club
  • Club Apiary would make for a good education and mentorship opportunities
  • IDEA: Ask a subject matter expert to talk about how to be a mentor at a team meeting, or offer as onboarding to be a mentor – people would have more confidence how to mentor and that their beekeeping knowledge is enough.


  • Nathan thinks getting functionality to check out a book online is not going to happen
  • Are there ways to get more use of the library?


  • IDEA: Get rid of hand crank extractors and stock electric extractors and capping trays


  • We have volunteers for staffing the steamboat island farmer’s market if they can sell their honey – Aug 19th is the last one of the season
    • TO-DO: David will reach out to see if we can have a table there again
  • David will continue to do the Beeline newsletter and is open to content
  • Consider improvements to the Beeline – short and sweet email that drives traffic to the website
    • Next meeting date/time with Zoom and speaker
    • What’s the season for bees?
    • Member Spotlight

Member Spotlight – Nathan Allan

Nathan Allan

Nathan Alan

OBA President

OBA Member – 10 years 

Q: How long have you been a Beekeeper?

A:  I’ve been a member for about 10 years. I became a member right after I took a Beekeeping Apprenticeship Course. I remember I got bees the very first year I was a member.

Q: Describe why you became a Beekeeper and your overall beekeeping strategy.

A: I wanted a hobby that I could do with my kids at the Inn. I thought beekeeping was interesting, fun, and maybe I could make a little money. I liked the idea of having another feather in a cap. At the time I became a beekeeper my oldest child was six and youngest was two. My oldest child Lauren took the apprenticeship class with me. The course was a little advanced for her and that made me think that maybe there could be a Beekeepers course developed for kids. She liked the snacks and learned a lot.

Q: What do you love most about bees & beekeeping?

A: I love the club and the social aspect of beekeeping. I’m not the best beekeeper but I love the club and I’m putting all my efforts there for now.

Q: What kind of hives do you use and how many do you keep?

A: I keep Langstroth eight frame hives and run two brood boxes and supers or mediums. However,  after taking class from Gail I will probably transition and just do all mediums. I have three active hives. I like to always have at least two. I’ve had as many as six. I have some good success with overwintering.

Q: What is your biggest beekeeping challenge you have overcome and how did you overcome it?

A: Time is my biggest challenge and I haven’t yet overcome it. I have so many ideas and not enough time to implement them all.

Q: What are your biggest beekeeping accomplishments or successes?

A: I had a nuc in my second year of beekeeping that kept growing, and growing. I wasn’t sure what I was doing, but I just kept adding boxes. I had four, five, six honey supers on top. There was about 150 pounds of honey or some ridiculous amount from that hive. I had to use a ladder to get them off – and they were so bloody heavy. It made me feel accomplished.

I also felt accomplished when I successfully overwintered my hives. There are so many factors to consider in overwintering here in the Pacific Northwest. For example, wasps and yellow jackets are big threats that we should talk about more.

Q: Describe your role with OBA and how members can connect with you to learn more.

A: Currently, I’m the President of OBA and it is a little like herding cats. I feel like OBA is in a good place. It is a volunteer organization and requires volunteering to make it all work. Members can always call me or email me. 

Q: How have you benefited from being a member of OBA?

A: The biggest benefit for me has been the learning from the knowledge that the other members have. There are incredibly good speakers that OBA brings to the club meetings. I love to hear about what others are doing with bees and I definitely love the social networking that OBA offers.

Q: What do you like most about being a member of OBA?

A: I love the social aspect. There are all different sorts of people and so much diversity in Thurston County. I meet so many new people with all kinds of knowledge and experience to share.

Q: What tips or advice do you have for new beekeepers?

A: OBA has mentors – work with them. Remember that mentors are volunteers. If you are interested in mentoring or being mentored, connect with the OBA Mentorship Representative.

I recommend educating yourself before you get bees. Take a beekeeping class from OBA. You’ll have more success overwintering and keeping bees if you take a class and work with others. 

If you have time and want to help, consider mentoring others, attending a meeting to share knowledge, staffing an event where OBA is conducting outreach to the public or reaching out to members to see if anyone needs a hand.

2023 Thurston County Fair – Volunteers for Bee Booth

  • Sign up and volunteer!
  • You do not need to be an expert beekeeper. You are welcome to bring your kids to help too.
  • Volunteers get admission covered by the Association.
  • July 26-30
  • Shifts vary from day to day but are typically 3 to 4 hours long. Specific shifts are noted on the sign up form.
  • To see current sign ups please open this spreadsheet. You will be able to see the places we do not have volunteers.