Willamette Valley Beekeepers Association
General Meeting Minutes
February 25, 2019
The meeting was opened at 7:05 by President, Richard Farrier. He handed around discount coupons for subscriptions to American Bee Journal. The discounted price for bee club members is $23.50 per year whereas; the original subscription price is $28.00 per year.
News item 1. “Wonders of the Hive” is a one day bee event in Hood River, Sunday, May 19th. This day-long event features several well-known speakers; Dr. Ramesh Sagili, Dr. Michael Burgett, Dr. Dewey Caron, Carolyn Breece, and Ellen Topitzhofer. See this website for complete details: https://bg-bees.com/wonders-of-the-hive/
News item 2. “Bee-free, vegan honey made from organic sweet potatoes is now a thing.” This nectar, produced by LA based L’vash Organics, is being marketed as organic honey. See Bee Culture’s Catch the Buzz for more information: https://www.beeculture.com/catch-the-buzz-you-can-now-buy-organic-vegan-honey-made-from-sweet-potatoes-and-yes-its-as-dumb-as-it-sounds/
News item 3. A group of students at University of Alberta have developed genetically engineered e-coli bacteria to feed to honey bees to fight off the fungal infection of Nosema ceranae. See Bee Culture’s Catch the Buzz for more information: https://www.beeculture.com/catch-the-buzz-students-create-probiotic-to-help-honeybees-fight-deadly-fungus/
News item 4. “Varroa destructor Feeds Primarily on Honey Bee fat Body Tissue and not Hemolymph”, is the title of a recently published research paper in Proceedings of the National Academy of Science of the United State of America. Honey bees’ fat bodies function like a human’s liver. Impairment of the fat bodies has been linked to diminished immune function, reduced pesticide tolerance, and shortened life span to name just a few of its functions. It is worth the effort to read the original paper which is linked here: https://www.pnas.org/content/116/5/1792 . It should motivate each of us to not ignore problems with Varroa in our colonies.
News item 5. Sad news is that Fred Mann, a long-time, enthusiastic member of the WVBA passed away at age 84, on February 9th. Rich read a tribute to him. It will be printed in full in the next issue of the Oregon State Beekeepers Assn, newsletter, “The Bee-Line.”
News item 6. The club will be putting together a bulk nuc order from Hansen’s Foothills Honey. The price will be a bit lower than $120. These will be 5-frame nucs that will available late, because nucs that are made up later in the season have a stronger better mated queen which in the long run leads to stronger and healthier colonies. There will be complete details including the need for paying up front at the meeting March 25th.
News item 7. Bee Field Day will most likely be the last Saturday of April, the 27th, at Coffman Farms out of Rickreall. Complete details will be forth coming at the next meeting.
News item 8. WEATHER CLOSURE INFORMATION: https://www.flashalert.net/id/ChemeketaCC .This is the link directly to Flash Alert for weather closures.
Member Abby Rollins brought in a hive body from a recent dead out. Rich donned his detective hat to walk us through a hive autopsy. The colony was flying until the first cold snap in February. They still had honey and a candy board that they had just starting eating. Rich determined that the brood patch was small, about the size of a softball. A cluster this small was unable to keep the brood warm. A colony this time of year should be about 4-5 frames wide. However, winter cluster size is dependent on genetics, so that can vary. Also, it appeared that the queen was weak and had not initiated much egg laying.
We were cautioned to watch colony feed stores this time of year, since the queens should be increasing production so there is a lot of brood to feed. If we have a few bad days of weather, the bees can quickly eat through their stores.
A question was asked on the timing of feeding protein patties. Feeding protein patties encourages brood production which in turns leads to earlier swarming impulses. However, if one is interested in making a colony split, extra feeding would lead to a larger population earlier. Other than that, there should be enough natural pollen to meet bees’ needs.
Currently blooming are pussy willows and early maples. It is also time to put of Yellowjacket pheromone traps, if you have a hate relationship going with yellowjackets. Here is a link to the OSU extension publication, https://catalog.extension.oregonstate.edu/em9211 , Protecting Honey Bees from Yellowjackets. Keep in mind that yellowjackets are valuable insect predators and eat way more than just honey bees.
Another question was asked about why to house swarms in a small box such as a nuc box. Swarms are primed to draw lots of comb and they do a beautiful job of it. Just keep stacking nuc boxes up for them to draw comb.
Having a nuc or two around solves a host of beekeeping problems from laying workers to weak, underperforming colonies, nucs provide the solution, though they are a challenge to overwinter. They need wind breaks and protection from moisture. Here is a link to another OSU extension publication, https://catalog.extension.oregonstate.edu/sites/catalog/files/project/pdf/pnw682_2.pdf.
We then had a presentation by Anna Ashby on Alternative Bee Hives which proved to be quite interesting. She covered everything from Top-Bar to Warre hives. Time will tell if any club members decide to break from Langstroth hives to something else. The take home message was that whatever hive design enables the beekeeper to enjoy keeping bees and keeping the bees healthy that would be the right hive design for them.
The next club meeting is Monday, March 25th.
Meeting Adjourned at 9:00.
February 27, 2019