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.

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.

Randy Oliver – Northwest District Beekeepers Association

The Northwest District Beekeepers Association is proud to announce that Randy Oliver of scientificbeekeeping.com will be speaking in Everett, WA on Saturday September 9th 2017. Randy is a commercial beekeeper in California, a careful researcher, and the author of a monthly column in American Bee Journal.  It has been a long standing goal of NWDBA to bring Randy Oliver here for a speaking engagement and to make it available to as many beekeepers as possible. Doors will open at 12:30 PM and the talk will run from 1-5 PM, with a couple of intermissions.  We have a limit of 300 seats and anticipate selling out, so please buy your tickets early.

The topics to be covered will be "Reading the combs to understand colony conditions over the season" and also Randy's recent research on varroa mite management including the most current information on his experiments using oxalic acid applied dissolved in glycerin.  Definitely bring your note pads and an extra pen in case you run out of ink!

Location: Everett PUD Auditorium, 2320 California St, Everett, WA 98201

Date and Time: Sept 9th, 2017.  Doors open at 12:30PM and the talk runs from 1PM - 5PM

Price: $25 (tickets are available through www.brownpapertickets.com by searching for Randy Oliver)

Tickets for Non NWDBA members go on sale April 15th