• The PSBA Buzz

    PSBA Offers Seeds for Bees

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    seedpacketPSBA is interested in helping everyone to keep bees healthy. One way to do this, and is relatively easy to do (even for non-beekeepers) is to plant flowers for bees to forage!

    You can get started in planting for bees by getting your hands on PSBA’s new Seeds for Bees packets.

    Read more about our Seeds for Bees packets, how to get them, and how to get started in planting some yummy food for bees and other pollinators here.

    PSBA seed packets are free (but donations welcome!)



    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.


    PSBA Kid’s Day is Saturday August 20th

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    psba-kids-day-poster-2016-8x11_origWe hope to see you there… either as a participant or a volunteer this Saturday at PSBA’s Kid’s Day.  There will be fun activities and honey tasting and sales.

    The festivities are from 10-1 but volunteers need to be there by 9a.m. or earlier if you can manage it (sign up to volunteer here and you’ll get more details)

    Activities for participants (and which volunteers are needed to run) will include:

    • Arts and crafts
    • Bee Anatomy Game
    • Flower Facts
    • Pollination Simulation
    • Waggle Dance
    • Scavenger Hunt (plant identification)
    • Hive demo/ inspection at the enclosure

    If you have questions about the event or volunteering, please email Lauren at lenglund@pugetsoundbees.org


    August PSBA Meeting is on Tuesday August 23rd

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    Please join us on Tuesday as we welcome Elina L. Niño, Ph.D., Extension Apiculturist in the Department of Entomology and Nematology  University of California, Davis.  Meeting details on our calendar.

    Dr. Niño will be speaking about what her lab is doing to support both bees and beekeepers. Her extension and outreach program engages variety of stakeholders from beekeepers to general public, and her lab is studies variety of topics from honey bee queen mating to Varroa mite management.

    If you haven’t signed up for the UC Davis Apiculture Newsletter, we highly suggest it.  Details on how to subscribe are within the newsletters here: http://elninobeelab.ucdavis.edu/apiculture_newsletter.html



    PSBA Volunteers Needed

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    psba table

    Please consider helping out this Saturday and/or Sunday at the West Seattle Summerfest street fair.

    PSBA will have a booth and we’ll be sampling and selling honey, funds from which enable our educational programs.

    There are lots of people who are strolling through this fair which is an official part of Seafair. There will be many kids there who have questions and want to ask about bees. We could use your help – just additional people power – no experience necessary!

    Information can be found on our event calendar where you can register to volunteer.

    Hours are the same for both Saturday and Sunday.

    Our booth is Number 74… We have an excellent location right in front of Easy Street Records in the center of the action!

    And remember, volunteering this weekend assures that you qualify for honey extractor rental in 2016!  We hope to see you there!

    Kit Hiatt

    PSBA Volunteer Coordinator


    Hive Calendar: July & August

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    numbers collage image

    July is here and bee colonies are in full production.  The queen is laying as many as 2,000 eggs daily. Foragers are bringing in pollen which is one of the richest and purest of foods consisting of up to 35% protein.  It is the best food for developing larvae and young adults.  Nectar is stored and the enzyme invertase is added by the bees to begin the ripening process which will ultimately change nectar to honey as the bees fan off the moisture content with their wings.  Young workers receive the nectar and pollen for storage and feed the larva and resulting brood.  Newly hatched drones begin orientation flights which lead to mating flights.

     August is the recommended month to extract honey so plan ahead but be sure to leave enough for the bees! (common new beekeeper mistake is to take too much honey!)   A hive needs approximately 60 pounds of honey to carry itself through the Pacific Northwest winters.  To estimate the honey stores, figure a full medium honey frame weighs approximately 6 pounds and a deep frame weighs about 8 pounds.  Research the methods of harvesting honey.  If you prefer to use an extractor, reserve one via the PSBA web site under the header Resources.

     Your summer tasks of periodic hive inspections include many observations and actions.  If you haven’t already done so create a hive visit chart to make a record of each visit.  Here are some suggestions for content. 

    Date of visit _______  Hive identifier _________________ Weather ________________


    1)   Queen’s laying pattern

    2)   Presence of larvae and eggs

    3)   Presence of queen cells

    4)   Presence of queen

    5)   Quantity of honey frames

    6)   Quantity of brood frames

    7)   Presence of stored pollen

    8)   Presence of deformed wing

    9)   Other signs of varroa presence

    10)  Temperament of colony



    1)   added brood box

    2)   changed layout of boxes

    3)   added honey super

    4)   added excluder

    5)   requeened

    6)   split hive

    7)   added feeder

    8)   treated for varroa



    Extractor Rentals – New Rental Process

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    PSBA offers honey extractor rentals which is a great thing for our beekeeping community- this equipment can be expensive and is typically needed only 1-2 times a year.  PSBA offers one electric 12 frame extractor if you have a large harvest, or there are 2 smaller 4 frame extractors if you only have a box or two to harvest. (If you have less than 10 frames to extract, you may want to consider uncapping/draining your frames via good ‘ol gravity. Or, maybe you rally a bunch of your beekeeping pals and have an extracting party using the large extractor.  (There’s also word on the street that PSBA may host another extraction event this season -details TBD – watch for updates!)

    But let’s get back to the extractor rental policy…

    If you are planning to rent an extractor from PSBA this season, please be aware of a few changes to our rental policy, effective immediately.

    What’s the same this year:

    • All rental fees and deposits remain the same as last year: $20/week for 4 frame extractor, $50/week for the 12 frame.
    • All renters must be members of PSBA to be qualified to rent the extractor
    • All renters must adhere to our rental policy – and cleaning procedures for extractors- else you could forfeit your deposit


    What’s new this year:

    In addition to being a member of PSBA, renters need to complete 1 qualifying volunteer event prior to scheduling the rental.  Rental pickups/drop offs will occur on Fridays this year.

    Why this change requiring volunteering?   PSBA is 100% volunteer run. PSBA needs more volunteers.  While we always appreciate monetary donations and all our current volunteers…we still struggle to register enough (and varied) volunteers to do all the things we need (or want) to do.

    • Example:  July 9th booth event in West Seattle – a 2 day event- has only 2 volunteers scheduled to help currently. (These are the same two volunteers who’ve worked multiple events this year already). It takes a minimum of 8 volunteers to run a booth for 2 days without overburdening any individual.  At this and other events PSBA sells honey to raise $ which pays for things like meeting event space and speakers, and we engage the community to educate them about honey bees. So, it is vital to our mission as an organization to attend these types of events.

    Demand for PSBA assets and offerings is high (which drives further need for volunteer effort – like managing the extractor).  In addition, there is desire from PSBA leadership to foster a sharing community within PSBA – sharing the work of running the org, in addition to sharing our knowledge and assets (like extractors).

    Please review our extractor page for more details on renting an extractor and qualifying volunteer opportunities. Please review our event calendar and register to volunteer today – it’s fun!



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