• The PSBA Buzz

    Give BIG to PSBA Today – May 10th!

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    Hello fellow bee friends, keepers, and enthusiasts!

    Today is the day to make an impact! Today on Wednesday May 10, from 12:00 a.m. to 11:59:59 p.m., PSBA is participating in Seattle Foundation’s GiveBIG fundraising event! Your donation will go a long way in helping us educate local beekeepers and community members, and promote safe practices for the well-being of our pollinators and ecosystem.

    We hope you will support us HERE by making a donation today on May 10! Please also help our efforts by promoting the event to friends and family!

    Thank you all for your continued generosity and support!


    Puget Sound Beekeepers Association

    Randy Oliver in September

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    We received this notice from our beekeeping pals north of Seattle. Be sure to check it out!

    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: September 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)

    Field Day 2017 Was a Success

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    On Saturday June 3rd, PSBA hosted our annual field day for beekeepers and it was a huge success.  Much appreciation for our sponsors and many volunteers who made it possible through hard work and donations to make our day special.  We hope the many beekeepers who attended will apply and share their learnings with others.  We look forward to planning next year’s event (we already have a feature speaker committed!)

    Feedback from our event surveys was overwhelmingly positive:

    “This was awesome!”         “Thank you for a great day”        “Very good seminar”

    Here’s some pics from our day:


    Hive Calendar: May

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    Some pnumbers collage imageeople, including beekeepers, view swarming as a scary event. It really is a sign of a healthy colony.  As beekeepers it is our role to educate others on why bees swarm, and do what we can to minimize negative reactions to our beloved hobby.
    Keep a copy of our swarm list handy and share with your friends and neighbors in case help is needed in capturing a swarm.
    As a reproductive event, a healthy hive throws a swarm and a single colony becomes 2 colonies.  It is important to learn the signs of swarm preparation.  You can read more on our swarm management handout here in addition to the below.
    Conditions ripe for a swarm:
    Bees will swarm if the brood area becomes too crowded.  The brood nest is crowded when the bees run out of empty comb above the brood chamber to store nectar, and they resort to storing it in the brood nest (commonly called “backfilling”).  The result is a queen that has nowhere to lay eggs.
    Avoid  overcrowding by ensuring the brood area does not become congested.  Add second brood box and/or a honey super if an inspection indicates crowding in the brood area.  With too much honey and pollen in the brood nest there is no place for the queen to lay.  Help her out by replacing one or more honey frames with empty foundationless frames which give the colony more space to cluster near the queen. Also you can add a slatted rack which provides space for the bees to cluster under the brood nest.
    A space management technique suggested by Michael Bush is to remove one frame and insert two follower boards placed in frame positions 1 and 8 for 8-frame setup or 1 and 10 frames in a 10-frame setup.  The follower boards take up the space of one frame and the bees will cluster on them, which again places them near the brood.  A follower board is made by creating a ¾” top bar with a sheet of plywood or Masonite cut to the size of a frame and attached to the top bar
    If a hive has a bottom entrance foragers have to travel through the brood nest to store the nectar. Create a top entrance to minimize the congestion.  This can be done simply by placing the inner cover so the notch faces down.  If your inner covers do not have a notch, create one.
    Have you ever wondered how a honey bee egg becomes an adult bee?
    There are five stages called instars.  Newly laid eggs,  about the size of a small grain of rice,  are held upright in the cell with glue – homemade!  Creation of the first instar occurs when the house bees feed the egg royal jelly.  The larvae grow quickly through the 5 stages in six days and are then ready to pupate. They stand up in the cell and prepare to spin their cocoon.  House bees begin covering the cells with a mixture of beeswax and propolis.   (Enter the female varroa mite to parasitize the larvae.)  Twenty one days from the beginning the bee emerges as an adult worker; day 16 for a queen; and 24 days for a drone.
    If you installed a package of bees this year, the queen has been released by now and egg laying starts within a week.  Look for eggs in the center two or three frames.  If you don’t find any look at all the frames that have some comb built on them.  Eggs are almost the color of new wax so can be difficult to spot.
    If you are feeding sugar syrup continue to do so because the bees have little chance to build reserves.  If you don’t find any eggs take note of the buzzing sound a queenless hive makes and contact the business that sold you the bees.  They may offer a free replacement.  If you find the queen and another inspection reveals no eggs then she should be replaced.
    Bees foraging for pollen will found it in dandelions, pussy willow, flowering quince, tulip tree, and various fruit trees.  Nectar sources of interest in May are clover, blueberry and huckleberry, wild geranium, Hawthorne, and Black Locust.  Flowers don’t produce nectar until the pollen is mature so bees have contact with pollen for a long time. Pollen grains have a slight negative charge and bees have a slight positive charge so the thousands of multi-branched hairs on a bee easily collect the pollen.  The foragers clean most of the pollen out of their hair using their legs and carries the pollen home packed in their pollen baskets called corbiculae.  Pollen is the only source of protein, starch, fat, vitamins, and minerals in a colony’s diet.
    Bee Facts:
    Nectar in the honey stomach weighs 25-40 mg.
    Full load of nectar is 50-85% of body weight, around 30 mg of nectar
    *Bee Facts are from “The Beekeeper’s Handbook” by Samataro and Avitabile.

    March 29th: Mushrooms and the Mycology of Consciousness

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    Heads up WSU presents Paul Stamets on March 29thto this community event (additional details on our event calendar):

    The  Washington State University Bee Program (bees.wsu.edu) is bringing Paul Stamets and Louie Schwartzberg to Seattle to provide education and awareness about mycelium, honey bees and solutions to problems that have an impact on our food supply. We will be hosting an event in Seattle on March 29, at the Moore Theatre, featuring cutting edge research and innovative alternative methods for not only helping the honey bee, but people and the planet as well. Both Paul and Louie are well known TEDtalk speakers, as well as experts in their fields.


    Time Sensitive: Submit Comments on Draft Food Labeling Guidelines Impacting Honey Labeling

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    Why should you care about this?  If you sell honey you will need to ensure your honey is labeled properly after the deadlines in 2018 or 2019. Your commentary on FDA food labeling can influence labeling requirements if submitted prior to March 6th 2017.


    1. Please review the FDA’s draft food labeling guidelines relating to added sugars and submit your comments by March 6th, 2017 here-> https://www.regulations.gov/document?D=FDA-2016-D-4414-0002 
    2. Submit comments: click the “Comment Now”  blue button in top right corner of browser window at the link provided.

    Need more info before you submit comments?

    Below are some basics of the proposed regulation, and, you can read UC Davis Apiary Lab’s position  on the matter here , which offers some suggested language for your comment. UC Davis also  highlights some exemptions for small businesses (although the PSBA editor was unable to locate this exemption detail in the original documents- it may be there, just couldn’t find it).

    The below bullets are excerpts and highlights from the FDA Q&A and Labeling Guidance documents. While, PSBA encourages you to read them yourself, they are lengthy, so we’ve pulled out some highlights for you if you like to get into the details.

    CFR 21 Food and Drug Administration Subchapter B Food for Human Consumption

    FDA Labeling Guidance information here and here


    • On May 20, 2016, the FDA announced the new Nutrition Facts label for packaged foods to reflect new scientific information, including the link between diet and chronic diseases such as obesity and heart disease. The new label will make it easier for consumers to make better informed food choices. FDA published the final rules in the Federal Register on May 27, 2016.  The two final rules published On May 27, 2016  related to the Nutrition and Supplement Facts labels:
    1. One final rule is entitled “Food Labeling: Revision of the Nutrition and Supplement Facts Labels” (81 FR 33742, “the Nutrition Facts label final rule”) and
    2. The other final rule is entitled “Food Labeling: Serving Sizes of Foods That Can Reasonably Be Consumed At One Eating Occasion; Dual-Column Labeling; Updating, Modifying, and Establishing Certain Reference Amounts Customarily Consumed
    • New labeling will be required on or after July 26, 2018 (and July 26, 2019 for manufacturers with less than $10 million in annual food sales). Certain foods must bear a nutrition label that meets new nutrition labeling requirements in 21 CFR 101.9 and 21 CFR 101.36
    • New labeling must declare the gram (g) amount of “added sugars” in a serving of a product, establishing a Daily Reference Value (DRV) for added sugars, and requiring the percent Daily Value (DV) declaration for added sugars. (See guidance documents for complete requirements)
    • Honey is being declared an added sugar and thus subject to the new labeling requirements:  The definition of added sugars includes sugars that are either added during the processing of foods, or are packaged as such, and include sugars (free, mono- and disaccharides), sugars from syrups *and honey*, and sugars from concentrated fruit or vegetable juices that are in excess of what would be expected from the same volume of 100 percent fruit or vegetable juice of the same type. The definition excludes fruit or vegetable juice concentrated from 100 percent fruit juice that is sold to consumers (e.g. frozen 100 percent fruit juice concentrate) as well as some sugars found in fruit and vegetable juices, jellies, jams, preserves, and fruit spreads.  For industry and those interested in the more technical version of the definition, please consult page 33980 of the Nutrition Facts Label Final Rule.




    January Meeting: Beekeeper Science Fair

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    Join us for the first PSBA meeting of 2017!    Please note the location for this meeting is at Center for Urban Horticulture, NOT at Graham Visitor Center. Details on our Event Calendar.

    We’ll begin with an introduction to the Washington State Master Beekeepers Certification.  Tracy Klein will start you off with the first lesson in the apprentice level, and be available later to tell you how you can continue your education and become and Apprentice Beekeeper!

    Following the lesson there will be a short break, and then we’ll begin the 2017 PSBA Beekeeper’s Science Fair:


    6:30 – Pre-meeting lesson

    7:00 – PSBA Announcements and Science Fair

    Science Fair Booths:

    Danny Najera – Hive Monitoring and Hive Data  Our ability to help better beekeeping depends upon collecting data and beekeeper participation. Come learn what PSBA is doing for in-hive monitoring and how you can help.

    Kit Hiatt – Volunteering with PSBA  Learn about volunteer opportunities and sign up to help PSBA achieve our mission!  Sign up to help with apiary work parties, honey sales events, learning events (like field day!), swarm catching, speaking opportunities and more.  Sign up and get involved with PSBA!

    Tracy Klein – Winter Hive Management Learn tips and tricks for winter hive management and keeping your bees healthy over winter

    Kathy Cox – Master Beekeeping Certification and PSBA Classes Come talk to Kathy and learn how you can become a certified Master Beekeeper!  Kathy will tell you about the program, and how you can reach your apprentice level, simply by attending our meetings, or attending the beginning beekeeping class.

    Nancy Beckett – Honey Vendor and PSBA swag Come get some of our delicious club honey! Buy a PSBA T-shirt and other goodies

    Bruce Becker- Langstroth hive equipment and Tools  Learn about the equipment and tools of the beekeeper.  Come see demonstrations and ask questions about what is needed to provide a safe home for your bees.

    Bee Package Vendors will be on hand if you are needing to order bees this year

    And more…

    Hive Calendar: September

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    numbers collage imageSeptember tasks are a continuation of August tasks.  

    • Feeding a syrup ratio of 2 parts sugar to 1 part water should continue until late September if the hive doesn’t meet the target weight (for our region) of 60 pounds  of honey. Remember only use white sugar, not brown sugar as that could poison the   A simple way to estimate is tilting the hive from the back of the bottom box.  It should be noticeably heavy.  If temperatures drop below 50 degrees it is best to use dry forms of feed: fondant, sugar cakes, or simply a zip lock back with  granulated sugar (cut a couple slits in the zip-lock).  An estimate can also be made by counting the number of honey frames.  A western frame weights 3-3.5 pounds and a deep approximately 7-8 pounds.
    • Maintain entrance reducers to prevent yellow jacket attacks.  Reducers also prevent mice from entering.
    • Monitor mite population using the sugar shake method or audit mite drops on a sticky mat.  If count is high treat using the method of your choice which could be oxalic, . . . 

    A thorough inspection of the hive is appropriate now.  

    The queen’s egg laying is slowing down but the broodiest needs to expand to have enough young bees to over-winter successfully.  It is still possible to requeen if you think the queen is not productive.  Long-lived nurse bees will begin brood rearing in earnest in February. Reposition frames so that brood frames with honey arches are in the middle of the lowest 1 or 2 boxes and honey frames on either side of the brood.  

    • Too much space is a liability.  To condense the population remove frames/boxes that the bees are not using.
    • Frames that have nectar but not honey do not need to be discarded.  If a nectar flow continues the bees will continue to remove moisture from it and generate wax to cap it.
    • If there is an excess of pollen replace the frame with a frame of empty drawn comb.  Pollen isn’t really needed until spring brood rearing begins.
    • Empty brood combs should not be moved to the honey supers because of detritus in the bottom of the brood cells.
    • A small hive that is healthy can be compressed into a nuc or single box or merged with another hive using the newspaper technique.
    • Check for mites by using the sugar shake method and/or count mite drops on a sticky mat during a 48 hour period.

     Other tasks

    • Remove the queen excluder 
    • Ensure that the hive is tilted forward a few degrees so that condensation from the bees inside the hive does not drip on the cluster and so rain does not collect on the bottom board.  In late September consider feeding Fumidil-B for nosema apis and ceranae by adding it to the syrup you are feeding.  
    • A small upper entrance helps to vent moisture and heat from the hive.  A small notch in the inner cover with the notch facing up will do the trick – but keep this closed (pull outer cover back towards rear of hive) if robbing is occurring.
    • Wax Moth Control!  Store empty bee boxes with or without drawn comb in an area with a free flow of light and air throughout the stack to prevent wax moths from settling in. Read more about wax moth and controlling it here – else risk losing your valuable comb.  Storage areas for comb could be in front of garage or shed windows or in a dry area of a carport. Freezing frames just 24 hours has been shown to kill wax moth larvae,  so has heating them (less than 115 degrees for a short amount of time) see link above for more details on controlling wax moth. IMPORTANT!  If using chemical methods to prevent wax moth do not use naphthalene containing products – it will contaminate wax and kill bees plus you’ll have to trash any contaminated equipment.
    • A screened bottom board does not need to be blocked in our climate.  The openness will contribute to ventilating the hive.
    • In the northwest hives do not need to be wrapped or insulated.

     Storing Honey

    • Replace your wet frames of extracted honey in an empty super and return it to the hive to be cleaned by the bees.  To avoid robbing problems lock any entrances so yellow jackets and wasps cannot enter.
    • Extracted combs should not be stored wet because any remaining honey will crystallize in the cells, providing the “seeds” the will hasten the granulation next year’s crop.
    • Cull combs that are distorted, broken, or other wise not good.
    • Removing as much honey as possible from the cut wax cappings and then melt the wax cappings down.
    • Make sure honey containers are tightly closed.  Honey, which contains various amounts of fructose, can absorb moisture in a moderately humid area such as a basement.
    • If your honey should ferment, do not feed it to the bees because the alcohol content could poison them.
    • Store your honey above 57 degrees to avoid the granulation of the honey.  To prevent granulation during long term storage, honey may be kept in the freezer.

    Bee facts from”The Beekeepers Handbook” by Sammataro and Avitabile

    • Swarming workers carry 36 mg. honey per day – has been reported.

    Volunteers Needed – Washington State Fair

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    statefairEach year the Pierce County Beekeepers Association organizes a booth at the Washington State Fair as a way to engage and educate the public on the importance of honey bees to our agricultural crops.  Local associations usually help by supplying volunteers for the duration of the fair, this year it runs September 2-25th.

    Volunteers get a free pass to the fair and free parking, so if you have interest in checking out the fair this is a way to go!    If you have interest in volunteering at the Washington State Fair, please contact Andy Matelich at 253-683-0789 or andymatelich@hotmail.com for scheduling times. Most shifts are about 4 hrs.


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