• The PSBA Buzz

    PSBA Offers Seeds for Bees

    Posted on:

    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!)



    January Meeting: Beekeeper Science Fair

    Posted on:

    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

    Posted on:

    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

    Posted on:

    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

    Posted on:

    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

    Posted on:

    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

    Posted on:

    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

    Posted on:

    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

    Posted on:


    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!



    June Monthly Meeting Reminder – Tuesday 6/28/16

    Posted on:

    DSC_0515This month’s meeting will feature a crowd favorite presenter, Thom Lee. He will be presenting on “Plants, Plant Propagation, and the Role of Pollination”.

    Come learn about various pollination strategies including bees along with some of Thom’s favorite bee plants for the region.  Gardeners and beekeepers alike should enjoy this presentation – bring a friend!

    As usual we’ll have our pre-meeting lesson starting at 6:30 followed by announcements at 7pm.  After a short break and refreshments the main presentation starts at 7:30.  All meetings are free and open to the public.

    More info about this and future meetings on our website.


    Hive Calendar: June

    Posted on:

    numbers collage image

    Bees need water!  Encourage your bees to drink at home rather than the neighbors swimming pool or water feature.  For example,  set up  a water feeder designed for chickens.  Place a few pebbles in the tray so the bees have a place to light.  Other options would include floating a piece of cork in a pail of fresh water; birdbath that fills automatically when the water is low; set an outside faucet to drip sloooowly.
    Bees often build brace comb, sometimes called ladder comb, making it difficult to inspect hives.  Scrape away bits of comb on top of frames and from the 2 long sides of the boxes each time you inspect.  In the winter or very early spring clean all the hive components of the unnecessary comb.
    At this reading you may be still feeding 1:1 syrup because stretches of bad weather can compromise the bees’ foraging.  To insure that feeding is no longer necessary watch for fermented syrup and replace it.   After doing this 2 or 3 times you have confirmed that syrup is no longer needed.
    Mite population has already begun to build and a popular way to reduce their numbers is drone brood trapping.  Mites prefer drone brood because they take a couple days longer to mature than the working bees and thus provides the mites two more days to mature.  A healthy colony will use 10-15% of their brood comb space to raise drones.  Remove a frame of drones from the brood nest and replace it with a frame that is foundationless.  The challenge is to find a frame with very little worker brood that can be removed and possibly used somewhere else.  The bees will draw drone comb in the foundationless frame and lay drone eggs.  When most of the cells have been capped, about 18 -21 days, freeze the frame and add a new foundationless frame in its place.  In 2 or 3 months your mite population will be low.
    To get an idea of the mite population insert a sticky board beneath the screened bottom board.  Sticky boards can be ordered from suppliers or you can make your own from old election campaign signs.  Spread petroleum jelly thickly on the board so when they drop they can’t move.  Out of the total mite population about 20% are not in brood cells so this technique will give you some idea of the total population in the hive.   Doing this several times a season will give you an idea of the population increase.  In Danny Najera’s talk at the May monthly PSBA meeting, he explained that a mite riding on a foraging bee can hop off to light on a bloom and wait for the next visitor. That bee may reside in a different hive. Additionally, based on his mite study in our geographical area, August 28th is THE latest date by which we need to complete pre-winter mite management measures. “DO SOMETHING!  MAQS, Hopguard, Oxalic, Powdered Sugar, Drone removal, or Queen sequestering.” Mark your calendar!
    Bee Facts from “The Beekeeper’s Handbook” by Sammatro and Avitabile
    • Daily death rate in a colony of 50,000 bees is 500
    • A bee gorged with 30 mg. Of honey honey can fly about 34 miles before running out of fuel.
  • Subscribe to our Buzz Blog Email

    * = required field
  • Quick Links