The February meeting was called to order by President Richard Ferrier at 7:06 PM.
Announcements: Richard announced the following volunteer opportunities for WVBA
March 18 “Speedy Saturday” 10am to 4pm at Silverton Grange
Asking for a few beekeepers to answer questions. This venue includes vendors, etc. and is not a very big affair but the bonus is they give out free garden seed. If you are participating in the OSU Beekeepers program, this would be a great opportunity to earn some volunteer hours. Mona Kanner said she will be there. Please call Richard if you are interested.
April 29 and 30 “Ag Fest” Salem Fairgrounds
At the March meeting WVBA will set up a small committee to oversee the volunteers and the booth. The shift will include 4 people per shift with at least a couple of shifts per day. There will be a sign-up sheet in March.
Richard also announced that Foothills Honey (Hansen’s) has nucs for sale. If WVBA can get 100 nucs ordered, they can be sold for $100.00. No pick-up date has been figured out as of yet.
Richard also announced that Michael Thiele will be speaking at Portland Urban Beekeepers on Saturday March 18 from 9am to 4pm at 5830 NE Alameda St Portland, OR 97213.
WVBA passed the hat for donations for our speaker fees. If more money is donated then WVBA needs for the speaker fees, leftovers will be donated to OSU Bee lab.
Richard introduced our speaker, Ross Conrad. He discussed “Natural Beekeeping in the Age of Neonicotinoids”. He had copies of his book, “Natural Beekeeping: Organic Approaches to Modern Apiculture” 2nd edition for sale before and after the meeting. His discussion was informative and thoughtful with loads of information for all aspects of beekeeping, stating that what works for him, may be a bit different from your experience, as many factors affect beekeeping.
Bee stress was an area he focused on in particular, stating that if bees are stressed they can not sustain themselves without human intervention. He discussed all of the hive pests with suggestions about how to keep them under wraps, to maintain a healthy hive.
He kept going back to these important issues. Since Varroa mite is such a virulent pest, one of the best ways to help control them is hive splits in the spring as this disrupts their lifecycle. He encouraged folks to use screened bottom boards and get rid of old comb in the deep boxes every few years. He is also a supporter of good genetics in the bees themselves, as some VHS bees can detect mites that are in the cells, however some of these bees tend to be a bit more aggressive. He discussed the treatments he uses that are quite successful (recipes are in his book).
Ross Conrad said that he doesn’t monitor for pests but he does keep his eye out for the signs, such as deformed wings on the bees as this is a big indicator that something is amiss in the hive. That is when he will treat the hive with his non-invasive “bee tea”.
He touched upon the pesticide industry and stated that we as beekeepers could be doing more to push our state legislatures to ban chemicals that hurt bees and the plants that they eat, as it affects the nutrition the bees are actually getting from their pollen. All states should have a pollination protection plan, and the top of the list should include Neonicotinoids. Some pollinators are already being lost, for example, the rusty patch bumblebee has all but disappeared since 2015. Weather and climate change are also factors that aid or hinder the bees, as well as the shifting of the seasons. Monocultures are also a threat, so we as beekeepers should encourage farmers to plant a patch of wildflowers in the middle of their crops. All of these could help eliminate stress on our bees, which in turn will make our bees healthier.
Ross Conrad took questions from the audience for about half an hour.
Richard indicated that sixty nucs had been signed up for and he would follow up to get the price at this order level. He offered to pick up the nucs and will arrange for a pickup time in the Salem area. Those who signed up will be contacted with payment information.
There being no further business to come before the club, the meeting was adjourned at 9:10 PM.
Shelley Gowell, Secretary