2016 President’s Message

The year is quickly winding down with the rapid approach of Christmas right on the heels of our first significant snowfall. Our bees are tucked in and it will be interesting to see what this year’s overwintering will reveal in the spring. Our next “meeting” is our annual holiday potluck and is this coming Monday, December 12th at 7:00 pm. We will NOT be conducting beginning beekeeping classes that evening. Bring a dish to share, a plate and silverware and a wrapped gift suitable (under $20) for the white elephant gift exchange. Please keep in mind that we have some children that participate each year, so if your gift is not suitable for a child, please indicate. The club will provide turkey, ham and beverages. If you’re interested in observing the fine art of honey judging, bring a jar for Bob Smith who will be demonstrating the process.

If you’d like to purchase a “These Plants Feed Bees” sign for Christmas gift giving, I will have the large and small signs available on Monday evening. What a super thoughtful gift for the pollinator lover in your life!!

I’d like to thank the OBA board and chairperson of our association for another incredible year. They all put in such a significant amount of time and work that benefits the club, our community, beekeeping and our bees. A special thanks to Kathy Miles for making sure we have refreshments at every meeting and taking the time to haul everything in and out each meeting evening. We so very much appreciate you!!!

In 2016 we continued our relationship with the Sustainability in Prisons Project folks, offering beekeeping instruction to inmates at Cedar Creek Corrections Center. Their programs have been generating a lot of buzz nationwide and other prisons are interested in implementing similar educational programs. We also continued our relationship with the Port of Olympia and the Olympia Regional Airport with hives there. The Airbee team includes Roy Manicke, Frank Scolaro, James Martin and Bruce Longmire and they have done an outstanding job managing the airport hives. This year, we were able to harvest some honey and the Port’s share was donated to SafePlace in Olympia for their annual fundraising auction. A brief presentation on the project was given at the November 14th Port Commission meeting where the team was also introduced. This fall, the team worked with Dr. Danny Najera of Green River College, (and a frequent fabulous presenter to our association) to install a sensor on one of the hives at the airport to collect humidity, temperature and weight data over the winter. We’re very excited to be working with Danny!

In February we participated in our first-ever All-Agriculture Day in cooperation with the Washington State Beekeepers Association at the Capitol. Several associations were represented, including the OBA. A honey tasting was set up, great connections were made and the day thoroughly enjoyed along with other agriculture groups and organizations that were participating. We were also thrilled to witness Governor Jay Inslee signing HB 2478 on March 29th. This bill, which will help create bee forage pilot projects will also help landowners learn how to successfully replace noxious weeds with good bee forage.

We also installed two hives of bees at the Governor’s Mansion on the Capitol Grounds in Olympia. This exciting project allowed us to bring pollinator awareness to the grounds staff, who received a special educational presentation as well as to guests, staff and visitors to the Capitol and the mansion. I was thrilled to be able to give a brief talk on the hive installation and bees during Ed Hume and Trudi Inslee’s annual organic garden planting event at the mansion. We are looking forward to this continued collaboration in the coming year. Abundant thanks to the Mansion Bee Team that includes Duane McBride, Jeff Coleman and Mark Emrich. This story became national media news and we hope it becomes a model for other state governor’s to follow suit.

The association was also well-represented at multiple community outreach events including our first “Adult Swim-The Science of Eats” and a honey tasting at the Hands On Children’s Museum in Olympia as well as participating in their kid’s camp and other museum events. We also participated in the Nisqually Watershed Festival for the second year. We had a booth at the Thurston County Conservation District’s annual native plant sale event, brought pollinators to the Master Gardener’s Children’s Program at DirtWorks (their demonstration garden), did presentations for Kiwanis, Lions and Rotary groups, participated in Yelm Cinema’s Earth Week event, another program at the WET Science Center and even landed an interview to talk “bees” with Dick Pust on KXXO’s “It’s Your Community”.

Bert Lewis is maintaining the club’s hives at our apiary in association with the Olympia Kiwanis Garden. Thank you, Bert, for all your hard work managing the hives at that location! The Kiwanis folks that run the garden (all the produce grown is donated to the local food bank) are thrilled to have the fuzzy pollinators around and we’re looking forward to the coming year with them. Huge thanks to Dixon Fellows for maintaining our observation hive bees and to Maren Anderson who helped with observation hives, too, for multiple events. Can’t do it without you guys.

Mechele Linehan took on the herculean task of package bee ordering and, once again, did a yeoman’s job of managing the details so that the club could provide a resource for folks seeking bees. Thank you, Mechele, for this and all the hard work you do for the club!

Nathan Allan took on developing the new website and we’re thrilled to have him manage the updating and evolution of our site to make it a real resource for our members and the public. Thank you, Nathan!!

Paul Longwell, now a Thurston County Fair Board member, did a remarkable job with the bee booth at the fair this year. The pollinator garden that he and his wife Penny installed is growing beautifully and is a gorgeous and important reminder of what we can do to create gardens for bees and other pollinators. Thank you Paul and Penny!! The club also received a special certificate of appreciation for the OBA’s year’s of service to the Thurston County Fair this year and we were deeply honored.

Thanks, also, to Bob Smith and Mary Haynes for continuing to provide quality education in our apprentice beekeeping classes. Learning about beekeeping is the number one reason folks come to our club, so we are very honored to have Bob lead the education department and share his vast knowledge (and enthusiasm about bees!) with attendees in the class.

Thanks, also, to Gail Booth for spearheading our swarm team. She makes sure that the swarm hotline is answered and takes of her time to connect with a team member to retrieve swarms. This can take multiple calls and we could not do it without her. You rock, Gail!

If you took on organizing an outreach event (Phil Yarosz and Perry Holtsberry!!) or participated in an outreach event, or built something and donated it or just donated something we needed, or found a way to do something better (beautiful library cart Ernie!!) please know how much you are appreciated! And, if I’ve forgotten anyone, I sincerely apologize. Please let me know and I will headline you in the next news letter after removing the egg on my face!! Board members and chairpersons, prepare to be acknowledged at the Christmas party!

We will continue to work on evolving our governance and association as well as on local and county issues pertaining to pollinators and pollinator habitat through our relationships with the County Commissioners, the Port of Olympia, the Voluntary Stewardship Program, the Thurston Economic Development Council and others and are looking forward to a new year of beekeeping, education and other fun activities this year!

Most importantly, heartfelt and huge thanks to each and every member of the Olympia Beekeepers Association. You are what makes all this happen and each of you contributes on so many levels to the overarching success and evolution of the club just by being there. From all of us at the OBA we extend our warmest wishes to you and yours for a joyous holiday season and a happy, prosperous and healthy New Year!!

Laurie

 

Native Pollinators Study Group

Where? Traditions Cafe, 5th and Water St, downtown Olympia
When? Monday Oct 24, 7 pm

Pollinators play a significant role in successful crop production.

Research suggests that native pollinators are responsible for a larger percentage of crop success than had long been supposed.

Modern agricultural practices can disrupt native pollinator reproduction. Eli Bloom, a WSU PhD candidate, has been researching pollinator abundance on local organic farms, as well as practical solutions open to organic agriculture. Tonight Eli will present his preliminary results to our program.

Join us 4th Monday most months at Traditions, 7 p.m.

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Does a Multi-hive Style Apiary Make for a Tired Beekeeper?

Does incorporating Alternative style Top Bar and Warre hives into a Langstroth hive apiary make one a better beekeeper? It does make for a lot more work! 3 different hardware styles, none of the parts are interchangeable. The reason and purpose why the 3 hives were developed are different with 3 different management styles. But- keeping a multi-style hive apiary can’t help but hone a keeper’s skills. Working with the bees under different conditions, using different methods of management in different hives does make one a more aware, skilled, and tired keeper. Keeping bees in 3 different style hives at the same time can be used as a measurement of skill but may also be used as a measurement of sanity :-). One important fact I learned is that each hive style was developed with different reasons, purposes and expectations in mind. Each requires a different management style. Learning the technical side of managing 3 different styles will expand a keeper’s knowledge and patience. The bees in Alternative hives are given more “free rein” to do what they want. Managing bees under those conditions does require a bit of patience. My often used description of this “free rein” management style is- “Bees don’t read the instructions” Briefly, here are descriptions of the 3 hives of a multi-hive style apiary.

Rev. Lorenzo Lorraine Langstroth developed the Langstroth hive in 1852. He saw honey as a resource and the honey bee colonies as little natural industrialized societies that, with the proper habitat or “factory”, could produce a large amount of products for humans. He saw the bee colony as an industrial factory and the apiary as an industrial complex. His hive and management focused on a maximum production concept. This hive has different size boxes and frames and can be managed by the frame and box.

Abbe’ Emile Warre developed his hive and management in the early 1900's attempting to incorporate a happy medium of the bee’s natural world and mankind’s desire for products from the hive. Emile called his hive The People’s Hive and it is managed vertically and although it can be managed by a bar at a time it is easier to work the hive by the box. Of these 3 hives it requires the least management and hive products are less then the Langstroth.

The Top Bar hive has the “deepest” past with versions of it being mentioned as far back as ancient Egypt. During an era of skeps, clay tubes, and hollow logs, versions of top bar styles began to appear as methods of managing hives without struggling with fixed combs. Credit for the present day Kenyan Top Bar hive seems to go to Dr. Maurice Smith of Canada who developed today’s sloped sided version of the hive in the early 1970's. This hive is managed horizontally, in a single box, and by a single bar at a time. As with the Warre, produces less hive products then the Langstroth.
The most important thing I learned that is the most valuable for me to realize and the greatest benefit to the bees. “One can not assume that the health of a colony can be guaranteed based solely on the style of hive they are kept in.” Choosing any particular style of hive didn’t grant me a freedom from management as in “hands free”. Each hive style presents a different style of management. Alternative hives may require less management but it is less management in relation to maximizing hive production. For many reasons in today’s beekeeping, all hive styles require a vigilant management for colony health.

It’s all about the bees

Ernie