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September 2015 - Volume 21 - Issue 9

President's Report

Franclyn Heinecke


Next Meeting:  August 31, 7:30 PM
Sign up for the bee booth and get your fair tickets!

WA State Fair, Honey Show and Bee Booth.
It's that time again!  After all of your hard work with your bees, now it's time to show off and maybe get a fair ribbon and some prize money.

Our own Bob Bennett coordinates the Honey Show.  To contact him directly for advice on an entry: or 253.826.2288

This is the link (pdf) to the honey show exhibit information.  It includes categories, how to submit your entry, judging criteria, and timelines.

The Pierce County Beekeepers Association has an information booth about bees at the fair.  Our booth is in the same building as the honey show -- The Agriculture Tent.  We get lots of visitors to the booth, and have gotten many club members and students from the fair.  If you plan to go to the fair, then you'll want to sign up to staff the bee booth for a few hours.  You get a free ticket for each shifts that lasts about 4 - 4.5 hours.  It's a fun time hanging out with other beekeepers, and talking with folks about our bees and how to care for them.  And, oh yeah, you get in to the fair for free.  Use can use that $12.50 per adult for food, rides, or whatever.

This is the link for the online booth sign-up sheet, or contact Alisa Shorey at who coordinates the booth and staffing.

October 5 general meeting -- Forage projects in the works!
Our new beekeeping class starts Oct 5

At our general meeting, we will welcome Mark Emrich, President of the Washington State Beekeepers Association and Laurie Pyne, President of the Olympia Beekeepers Association. They have been working for a few years with several jurisdictions in Thurston County to curb the use of neonics and have had terrific success. Their work has come together in an exciting county-wide Bee a Pollinator campaign. They'll update us on that important and exciting work.

In Pierce County, we're working get the word out about what our bees need -- flowers and a lot of them!  I've been meeting with several jurisdictions and have received lots of support for collaborative efforts. There are several projects in the works to get seeds into the ground early next spring.  I'll give an update at the October meeting.

Save the Date for our Annual Auction -- Nov 2

It is shaping up to be better than ever.  Contact Marge Pearson to make a donation:  Funds from our auction support the cost of our educational program, bringing in monthly speakers and providing for special workshops. It's a fun way to unwind after putting the bees to bed, talk with other beekeepers, get some cool stuff, and help the club raise funds to be able to provide that range of educational speakers and programs that we offer.

Fall Management Techniques

By John Thomas

By any measure, this has been an abnormal year for the Northwest and as beekeepers, we’ve had to adjust our schedules accordingly.

For me, planning my fall management strategy really started last March with adjustments to overwintering hives that were growing fast with early flows and warmer temperatures than normal. In Tacoma and Puyallup where I have apiaries, the main blackberry flow came on nearly three weeks sooner than usual and I was scrambling to make room and add boxes to stay ahead of my hives becoming honey bound.

That also meant that the main flow ended early too! I ended up pulling honey at a couple of different points in the summer, wishing I had a few more honey supers than I did, but was pretty much done harvesting by the last week of July. It’s normal for us to see a dearth after the flow, but this year in my area, the dearth started sooner and has lasted longer. I also added a couple of new NUC’s this year that thrived over the summer, and now we are in late August making preps for winter. My normal winter hive configuration is two deeps and one super for strong hives and two deeps if they are less, but mainly for overwintering stores, 70-80#’s of resources is commonly called out as the minimum. So, here are some of the key steps that I’ve been working on since early August and looking forward into somewhere in mid-October. . It will be interesting to see what kind of fall flow we get…will it come early too?

Dealing with the August Dearth: I had two goals: Make sure the hives didn’t dig too deep into their existing stores, and keep the queen from shutting down and keep laying for a high brood count into the fall. I want to have a good population of new and fat bee’s going into the fall. For me, starting in August, providing supplemental feeding using 1:1 and providing patties starting about mid-month helped me accomplish the goal. During hive inspections, I monitor the brood nest for the number of frames of capped brood and look for backfilling in the normal brood area of the frames. If I see too much backfilling then I’ll back off on how much 1:1 they are getting. Right now, a strong hive is getting a quart of 1:1 replaced about every 3-4 days. Hive strength and size is also part of the equation. After we see what kind of fall flow we get, I'll check my hive weights and switch to a 2:1 syrup to get them up to where I want them, if needed.

Mite Control:  There are lots of opinions on when and how to approach this. Sorting out different types of treatments from low impact and organic approaches using powdered sugar to more aggressive approaches with other treatments like Mite Away is part of your management plan and personal approach to beekeeping. The main thing to know is that if your mite count going into the fall is high, it’s going to significantly affect the overwintering ability of your hives. Research what kind of an approach you want to take and do some kind of mite count assessment to determine your need. Here is a good link to check out some techniques.

I have used a variety of approaches but have been successful using MAQS (MiteAway Quick Strips), but it is important to mix up your approach to inhibit mites building up a resistance to your treatment method. 

Wintering Resources:  It’s always a little nerve-racking to go into your first overwintering season with your hives. Do they have enough food? Can I do an inspection when it’s 50 degrees? How about 45 degree’s? How do I add a sugar block or a frame of honey? What should I do?

If you put a little thought into your hive configuration in September, it makes these questions a lot easier to deal with next January if you need to make some adjustments. I was told by a pretty smart beekeeper that a hive doesn’t starve to death in the middle of January. They starve in the last week of February when the food runs out for everyone!  If I have a hive that I can’t lift when I grab the finger hold on the bottom box with one hand, I know I’ve got close to 100# in the hive. If I can lift the box a couple of inches with effort, it’s still in pretty good shape. If I can lift it easily, then I need to take some action. Keep in mind though, that my technique is a sliding scale…if your weaker or stronger, then your perception of “hive-weight” will be a little different. 

To sleep better at night, a lot of beeks will add some kind of sugar supplement to their hive as a backup. Just remember, if the average temps are under something close to 55 degree’s (+/-), your bees will ignore liquid sugar water and you need to consider some alternatives. You can google: Mountain Camp method, fondant and/or sugar block recipes and talk to your mentor or others. All have advantages and some disadvantages, you just have to sort out what will work best for you. 

Should I insulate my hives for winter? Some do, some don’t, I have, but don’t anymore….

For this year anyway, I’m not…there is this giant El Nino that is going to be the strongest since 1955 and (they) say, that it will be a mild and dryer winter in the northwest. The thing you need to consider is how your hive configuration and ventilation during winter will manage moisture in the hive. If you are seeing any kind of mold on the inner cover, inside your boxes, or the inside of the outer cover, it’s a ventilation issue you need to address now, as it will only get worse when the rains and cold weather come. I have some hives that the entrance is on the small side of the landing board and others on the larger side making the entrance a little bigger.  I also have hives with top entrances, spacer bars and screened inner covers with insulated outer covers that I am experimenting with. They all work if the weather cooperates, so you just want to pay a little attention to this…I’ll take a quick peek on a nice day in November through January and February…I’m looking for three things: Hive Weight, mold or moisture on the lid or inner covers and how hard they are working the sugar blocks that I added in October.

One last thing….your bees will die of their version of old age as the winter progresses. The queen will lay in little patches of new brood that will emerge in due course. I take a 24” ¼ inch dowel and “sweep” out the lower entrance of dead bodies…if they get too deep, they can affect your ventilation (and moisture control) of the hive. It’s too cold for the bees to fly and so they won’t deal with them like they do in summer. It’s all they can do to take a cleansing flight or two on the rare days that it’s warm enough. 

PS…don’t forget to reduce your entrances before the first frost (or sooner) to keep the critters out….

Your fall management plan can vary a lot. Talk to your mentor if you have one, or try to make the winter meetings and bring your questions….there will be plenty of folks that can help give you good information on how to be successful overwintering your girls and help you with your management plan…remember, ALL beekeeping is local!

"Probably the best article I've seen about the use of neonics," Franclyn.



Minutes from the General Meetings and the Board Meetings can be found here.

Apiary / Swarm

Apiary Report

The bees are looking great bring in lots of pollen and storing lots of honey are high for winter I Am still feeding them so that they have a lot of food going into winter. The overwinter hives are doing great also.

Queen Rearing

The queens that I reared this year have been great so far going to plan on the same offer to the members next year.

Swarm Reports

No swarms to report

Jeff Jones


Reminder the auction is in November.  Hopefully everyone will bring something to contribute. Volunteers are needed to help with the set up of the auction. 

If anyone has any suggestions for future speakers in 2016, please send an email to Marge Pearson

Need volunteer to help with coffee at the general meetings. 

Thank you as usual..... Marge

September 2015 Membership Report 

Active Members: 233 
Comp & Other Bee Clubs:
Additional Records: 98 
August Meeting Attendance: 100 

Due July: Bob Hartman, Bob Snyder, Andrew Meyers, Anneliese Simons

Due August:  Kristine Statler, 
Irine Hauzinger, Diana Whitaker, Thomas Hickman, Mary Dempsey, Brian Predmore, Vicki Biggs

Due September: Robert Matthews

Due October: Patrick Cain, Angie Clausen, Franclyn Heinecke, Carrie Little, James Martinson, Lincoln Mettler, Steve Pederson, Robert Pietila, Laurin Preston, Allison Shinkle, John Thomas, Sam Moth, Marc Olsen, Theresa Knutsen, Andrew King, Troy Wagner, John Hayes, Sean Woods, Nina King-Madlem, Rebecca Shjerven, Jack Gingrich

New Members: Stephen Poorer, Diane Rasch, Deborah Bessette, Vivian Peng, Tracy Johnson, Kathy Timmons, Mark Holden, Haviland Griffin, Lindsay Sturn, Kerry Kreher, Brian McCarty, Robert Osborn, Alan Altman

Upcoming Events

No Apprentice class in August.
No Apiary Field Day before the October General Meeting.
 August 31st
  • 6:15pm - Journeyman Meeting
  • 7:30pm -  PCBA meeting to sign up and get your tickets to staff the bee booth at the WA State Fair; general discussion on feeding your hives and getting them ready for winter.
No PCBA general meeting in September -- members should sign up to help staff the bee booth at the Fair.

September 11th - 27th - Washington State Fair

September 21st
  • 6:00pm - PCBA Board Meeting
October 5th
  • 6:15pm - New Apprentice Class
  • 6:15pm - Journeyman Meeting
  • 7:30pm - PCBA general meeting 
View complete event information here.
Copyright © 2015 Pierce County Beekeepers Association, All rights reserved.

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