Washington State Beekeepers Association

Keeping the Bee in Business

Ramblings from the President – April 2020

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Crazy times we’re living in.  I’ve always wondered what it must be like inside of a hive that is infected with varroa mite.  Varroa, being a parasite, latches onto a bee and feeds on their fat reserves.  The females then lay eggs in the brood cells and the juvenile varroa mite feeds on the developing bee larva, causing a number of developmental issues.  Not only that, but varroa also transmits a number of nasty viruses that also infect the bees. 

Living in this Covid-19 pandemic is giving me a little idea of what an infected hive must be like.  We live in a hive, our city, and some of our hive mates have been infected. Left unchecked, Covid-19, like a varroa can multiply quickly and overcome the defenses of the hive. 

Unfortunately for bees, they cannot self-isolate because it’s not in their genetic makeup. If they could self-isolate, any bee with a varroa could simply leave the hive taking their varroa mite with them, and not return until they dropped their mite.  We can self-isolate and in Washington, our Governor has mandated a closure of all non-essential businesses which means that most of us are at home.  However, our beekeepers are essential so I’m sure that many of you are out there risking your health in order to provide the pollination services that we all need in order to eat.  Next time you see a commercial beekeeper, be sure to thank him/her for all of their hard work and sacrifice.

On another note, I’m wondering what we are going to do about package day?  Right now we are in lock down until May 4th.  Package day for us is on April 18 this year so I’m wondering what we can do to get bees?  I’m assuming that the suppliers will have to set up pick up times so that people are staggered in shifts with not too many people at pickup all at once.  Please be extra patient this year so that everything can run smoothly.

I teach a class each year on how to hive your bees from a package.  I usually get 30-50 people who come to watch what to do with their packages prior to them picking them up.  This year I was going to hold it at EWU but the campus is shut down and we can’t gather in groups anyway – a dilemma that will need to be solved.  Cross your fingers that things will change by the 18th but don’t count on it.

Finally, this has given us as WASBA an extra incentive to get our remote educational classes up and running.  As you may remember, we mentioned previously that we were going to have presenters who could give presentations remotely so that local clubs could have fresh blood for their education programs.  I’ve been using ZOOM for business meetings and it works great.  As the host, I can share my computer screen, see my colleagues, they can see me, and we can chat like we are in the same room.  WASBA is going to get this service and we can then set up “meetings” for clubs with their guest speakers.  This is critically important now since we can’t get together for our monthly club meetings, and it will be a continuing support going forward.  This information will be sent out to all of the club Presidents shortly, so keep an eye out.

Stay safe, stay healthy.