From The President

I recently attended the “Bees of Summer” conference hosted by the Mid Colum- bia Beekeepers Association in the Tri-Cities. They had some great speakers and I learned a lot of things that I didn’t know. The conference on Saturday was followed by a hands on demonstration at their Apiary on Sunday.

Steve Page from Barrington Farms Apiary in Georgia presented on how to split hives and make your own queens. His talk on Saturday was followed up with a hands on demonstration of the practice on Sunday. Any of my hives that have survived the winter have always needed to be split. What I’ve done is simply taken frames from the hive and split them evenly between 2 hives making sure that there was a frame of eggs in both
hives so that whichever hive didn’t get the queen, would make a new queen with a fertilized egg.

Steve’s method was somewhat similar but much more efficient. He will split his hives to make 3-5 nucs. He makes sure that each nuc has some newly hatched larva. He takes a razor blade and cuts into the lower 1/3 of the larval cell and pushes the wax down. This allows the workers to build a queen cell that is much larger and oriented like a supercedure cell rather than the smaller queen cell that you see if you simply let them build a new queen from an egg in a worker cell. Since these nucs are made well before the nectar flow, the hives grow rapidly and can produce excess honey. Steve’s philosophy is that IF we are going to lose 30-40% of our hives over winter, then we need to make sure that we have that many in excess going into winter.

Another interesting topic that was discussed by several presenters was breeding bees for your area and for varroa resistance. Randy Oliver, Steve Page, Aaron Brink, and myself were pretty much all in agreement that we should stop bringing in package bees and start breeding bees that are local to our area. If you think about it, most of the package bees that we bring in, have been queened from the biggest queen breeders which are in Hawaii. What are the chances that a queen, bred for generations in Hawaii, is going to do well in Washington? Personally, I haven’t purchased a package of bees in almost 5 years. My apiary is from a couple of Caucasian nucs I purchased 4 years ago, some swarms that I caught, and hives that I’ve split.

Randy Oliver advocated completely shutting down the importation of packages into local areas. If we did that, what we would see would be a massive die off of the bee population in our area with probably 95+% of the hives lost. However, if we took the remaining hives and propagated them, we would have bees that are hardy for our area and varroa resistant. A scientific study of feral honey bees in upstate New York showed a similar result. The feral hives were tolerant of the local climate and did not have the varroa problem associated with managed hives derived from imported packages. Lots of other interesting information that I don’t have room to report on here so I strongly encourage you to attend these local conferences.

There will be another conference later this year hosted by the Northwest District Beekeepers Association. This conference will be held at the Snohomish PUD Auditorium on September 21st. The speaker lineup for this conference looks really exciting and I would encourage all of you who can, to attend. As the President of the Washington State Beekeepers Association, I would like to encourage all of our local clubs to hold conferences. Keeping bees in Spokane is very different from keeping them in the Tri-Cities or Vancouver or Seattle. These local conferences are vital to get- ting out local knowledge about beekeeping and to providing support to keepers in your area. If there is anything that our state organization can do to help your local club, just let us
know.

The next WASBA conference will be hosted by the Mid Columbia Beekeepers Association in the Tri-Cities in October of 2020 and by the Northwest District Beekeepers Association in 2021 then back in Spokane in 2022.

As always, if you want to reach me, just drop me a line at

kevin.r.oldenburg@gmail.com

Cheers, Kevin

Comments

  1. karen jewell says:

    we have a bee hive and would like to know how to call to re locate the hive rather than killing the bees.
    Birch bay washington, thanks

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