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June 2015 - Volume 21 - Issue 6

June Update

By Franclyn Heinecke
NOTE:  We have a regular meeting on June 1st, with Peter Borst Loring speaking to us. About Varroa mites – the bug that won’t go away!  

There is no regular meeting the first weekend in JULY.  Instead, we have the Sue Cobey queen-rearing workshop on July 25th.  
Online registration is now open!

Blackberry flow is on!  It’s a few weeks early this year, as all forage has been.  Make sure you provide lots of room for your bees to raise brood and store food.  Blackberry provides to largest amount of nectar, and its pollen and nectar is some of the most nutritious for bees – packed full of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and other good things.  Make sure your bees have space to store it for themselves, and for your honey!

Don’t use chemicals in your hives while you have honey super on.  To control Varroa, you can use drone comb, but make sure you get those frames out after they’re capped and before drones start to emerge.

Colony losses were reported to be very high this past year.  The national Bee Informed Partnership (BIP) reports 40 percent loss (YIKES!) in WA State:

That website also includes lots of data bout controlling Varroa mites:

If you’re not signed up to report to the BIP, please consider doing so. The more people who report, the better information we get for managing bees in this region and state. Here’s the sign-up page:

June 20 is our BEE FESTIVAL at the Proctor Farmers’ Market.  There will be a free showing of the film More Than Honey at the Blue Mouse Theater (27th & Proctor in North Tacoma) at noon.  Please plan to be there, help at the bee booth, and see the movie.  If this event is successful, we will think about taking it to other farmer markets in the area next year.

Gov. Inslee has proclaimed June 15 – 21 as Pollinator Week in Washington, at our request!  Perfect timing for our Bee Festival!  We’ll have a treasure hunt, face painting, demo hives, see bomb making materials, and lots of fund things to see and do.  Please plan to be part of it!

In The Bee Garden


In Praise of the Tupelo Honey Tree

Nyssa sylvatica flowers
For many beekeepers, the first time we heard the song 'Tupelo Honey' by Van Morrison or watched the Peter Fonda movie 'Ulee's Gold', we dreamed of someday having a Tupelo Honey tree of our own. 

Pure Tupelo Honey is produced from White Ogeechee Tupelo trees (Nyssa ogeche), also called White Tupelo, which grow along the Ogeechee River, the Apalachicola, and the Chattahoochee River Basins of northwest Florida. In Florida, beekeepers keep beehives along river swamps on floating platforms during tupelo bloom to produce certified tupelo honey, which commands a high price on the market because of its light, mild-tasting flavor. White Tupelo is the only honey that will not granulate. These river valleys are the only place in the world where Tupelo Honey is produced commercially. Bees forage in the nectar-rich swamps from April through May. 

Pierce County beekeepers can now grow their own Tupelo trees by planting a close relative of the White Tupelo, called the Black Gum Tupelo (Nyssa sylvatica), aka Black Tupelo or Blackgum. Its greenish-white spring flower clusters, though very small and largely hidden by foliage, are highly attractive to pollinators and a rich source of nectar for bees. In his new book Garden Plants for Honey Bees, Peter Lindtner rates Black Gum Tupelo highly as a 4 out of 5 star nectar source. Black Gum Tupelo is also of immense wildlife value; some 90 species of birds consume its fruit. It flowers May to June when leaves are half grown. Excellent as an ornamental shade tree for lawns, street tree, or in the woodland or rain garden, it prefers moist acidic soil. As one would expect with a genus name Nyssa meaning Greek water nymph, Nyssa species are highly tolerant of wet soils and flooding, but any soil will do. 

Vassey Nursery in Puyallup is now offering two varieties of Black Gum Tupelo trees that can grow in any Pierce County garden: 'Tupelo Tower' and 'Wildfire'.

Nyssa sylvatica 'Tupelo Tower' is a very upright narrow columnar tree only reaching 10 feet wide, perfect for tight places in the bee garden. To 30-40'H. Fantastic fall color with leaves in brilliant yellows, oranges, reds and scarlet. Black fruits are devoured by birds when they ripen in early fall. Full sun to part shade.

Nyssa sylvatica 'Wildfire' is an exciting new Blackgum with emerging shiny wildfire orange-red new foliage. It prefers moist soil. Broadly pyramid to oval shape to 30-40'H and 15-25'W. The dark grey to black bark has an alligator-like appearance. Fall color is yellow-orange to purplish.

Vassey Nursery is a great source for unique trees and currently has both varieties in stock for $29.99. Tupelo's are hard to find in nurseries because they are notoriously difficult to transplant when grown in a traditional nursery setting. Vassey has pot grown trees raised from seed that will transplant well.

Plant a Tupelo today. It will have you singing its praises too!

'Ulee's Gold' is available from the King County Library  
Song Tupelo Honey by Van Morrison on YouTube
                                By Becky Sundstrom
'Wildfire' Tupelo
'Tupelo Tower'

Varroa Test Kit

The UMN Bee Squad is excited to roll out this test kit, making it easier for beekeepers to monitor varroa mite levels in their colonies. Everything you need to perform a powered sugar roll test is in one convenient tub! 

Initially, they will be selling the kit on the UMN Saint Paul campus and at Nature's Nectar in Stillwater, MN. Within a month, it will also be available online, and they'll ship you your mite kit anywhere in the nation.

Here are the details:

What is in the kit?  
  • a tub for both collecting the bee sample and for displaying mites for final mite count.
  • a scoop with a 100ml mark to help you collect 300 bees (standard sample size) 
  •  a jar with a mesh screen for separating the bees from the mites
  • 1lb of powdered sugar for the test
  • a bottle for water to dissolve the sugar in order to see the mites clearly
  • brochure with instructions
The Varroa Mite Testing Kit is $20.00. Proceeds will support MiteCheck, a beekeeper citizen science project.

Initially, the Bee Squad can only accept cash and checks (made out to the U of MN).  When online ordering is available (in June 2015) they will offer the option of paying by credit card.

Documentary Update

The full program about bees and climate change will be out this summer.  A documentary film producer from NYC came to WA earlier this year to interview beekeepers and film them.  See a teaser on the episode here.

Classified Ads

Bee hives for sale. Various stages. Some with new queens, 1 and 2 brood boxes. All are bred from feral local stock 1st to 3rd & 4th generation. All healthy. Used hives & other equipment also for sale. Call for prices or information.
JIM McCAIG (253)222-5173

Used electric reversible 4 frame extractor for sale. Contact Celeste for price and more information (253)720-4007



Minutes from the May General Meeting and the April Regular Board Meeting can be found here.

Treasurer's Report

There were two main items that stood out for the month of April: 1) honey sales from the spring fair and 2) speaker costs for our guest speaker.

This year we generated 50% more income from the Spring Fair over last year. We ended up with about $680 in net income as compared to $400 last year. We purchased 300 jars in preparation for the fair at a cost of $1,375 which is about $4.58 per jar. During the fair we sold 163 jars (last year we sold 115) for $10 each generating $1630 in revenue. The profit from the 163 jars is about $883. However, the fair booth costs us $200 so, in the end, our net income was $683 from the Spring fair. The remaining $137 jars will be available to club members at $5 each.

The guest speaker ended up costing about $570 which included speaking fees, travel, and lodging costs. We had budgeted for a number of these types of speaking events and they seem to be well received by the membership. Thanks to Marge Peterson for all her work coordinating all the logistics.

Apiary - Swarms

The apiary is doing well we did have one colony die of colony collapse disorder. I have put honey supers on the over wintered hives the blackberry honey flow is starting now. 
As I talked about at the apiary day on Saturday, the 23nd, your new packages of bees should be at least 6 to 7 frames of bees by now. I have been hearing that the queens from California are not very good this year I will have some queens from our over winter hives later in the year please come see me about queens.

Also, I need a volunteer to help cut the grass at the apiary.
Swarms are very busy still thanks again for all the members that have gone out to get swarms keep up the good work if your not on the swarm list please see me so we can get you on the list 
Thanks Jeff Jones 


The PCBA library is ready to welcome you.  Our library is kept on a rolling cart, which I will have out for use between the new beekeeper's class and the meeting, and for a short period after the meeting.  Look for it in the front right corner of the room. Check out is very simple and there are plenty of useful texts on all sorts of subjects related to our interest. Materials include books, magazines and videos, and are available for a one month period with an additional month's renewal.  I am also interested in titles you would like to see in the library, so let me know if there is something you are trying to find, and we may be able to add it. Come by and browse - I can promise there will be something worth checking out. 

June 2015  Membership Report

Active Members: 228 
Comp & Other Bee Clubs: 6 
Additional Records: 98 
May meeting attendance: 127 
Due March: Vernon Craig, Sheryl Craig, Louis Matej, Hilda Steinhauer, Ernest Stephenson, Gary Thompson, Perry Bartram 

Due April: Timothy Burbank, Karen Kelly, Keith Kusler, Roger McClatchie, Swvin Nova, Lenah Raykovitz, Glenn Sellars 

Due May: Terry Carsen, Alisa Shorey 

Due June: Robert Bennett, Michael DeAngelo, Gary Moore, Brian Spindor, Michael Necessary, Mario Tallungan, Pete Flink, Marco Zumba, Ken Meitzler, Marilyn Lindberg, Betty Schoder, 

New Member(s): Verena Schumacher, John McIlhenney, Walter Motz, John Stevens, Faith Smith, Mike Leskajan, William Archer, Michelle Pate, Phillip Friend, Edgar Crockett, Kim Ingram
Renew online HERE!

Upcoming Events

June 1st
  • 6:15pm - 7:15pm - Apiary Field Day
  • 6:15pm -  Journeymen Group (No Beginning Beekeeping Class)
  • 7:30pm - General Meeting: Presentation of certificates & Q&A Session
June 13th
  • 11am - Apiary Field Day
June 15th
  • 6pm - Executive Board Meeting
June 20th July 18th
  • 11am - Apiary Field Day
July 20th
  • 6pm - Executive Board Meeting
July 25th
View complete event information here.
Copyright © 2015 Pierce County Beekeepers Association, All rights reserved.

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