Meeting Minutes January 2022



JANUARY 24, 2022

We have departed from the Blando’s horse arena. We met in a commercial building at 2001 Commercial St., SE. It was a tight fit.

President Rich Farrier opened the meeting at 7:02. It was good to be back together discussing bees since we haven’t met since October. He thanked Robert for arranging the use of the meeting space for this meeting. We will continue to look for a larger suitable space which will not be so expensive that we all have to sell off our first born children to fund the space.

We passed around a sign-up sheet for nucs. We also passed around coupons for a discount for the American Bee Journal (ABJ).

In the October issue of ABJ, Dewey Caron’s article was about mentoring in which he highlighted Todd Bartlem’s mentoring of Elaine Timm, both of whom are members of the WVBA.

The Treasure Valley Beekeepers Association in Idaho, has a fun scavenger hunt for their website. The purpose is to encourage their new members to explore the varied resources available on the site. Dewey Caron recommended this as an option for new members.

There was some talk about self-pollinating almonds and would they replace the need for honey bee pollination. It was also pointed out that walnut orchards and filbert orchards are being planted to replace almond orchards because almonds require so much water to be productive.

Questions: 1. Next topic was oxalic acid dribble in December. Watch the temperature. If it is too cold, ie lower 40s, the bees will be clustered so tightly that the O.A. will not be distributed evenly through the bees. Here’s an oxalic acid fact sheet from Dadant Beekeeping Supplies.

2. How far should I keep my hives from blueberry fields? Blueberry pollen is not easy for honey bees to reach and it is not that nutritious. Plus some fields are sprayed with fungicides which causes problems for the bees. Commercial beekeepers’ bees come out of blueberry pollination not as healthy as when they went in to the point that some commercial beekeepers are choosing to not pollinate blueberries anymore. There wasn’t a consensus as to a specific distance from the fields. We did agree to keep them as far away as possible and to make a concerted effort to plant other more bee friendly forage close by. Both the Oregon State Beekeepers Association website and the Oregon Bee Project has lists of plants which are bee-loved.

We then had a short pizza break!

Terry Holm, who recently received training to become part of the OSU “Dead-out Detectives” group, (OSU Bee Lab simply has too many requests for help diagnosing why colonies died), was our first speaker in our educational segment of the meeting. She displayed her “detective kit”. It contained:

  • Nitrile gloves

  • Toothpicks

  • Tweezers

  • Flashlight

  • Magnifying glass

  • AFB & EFB test kits

Carolyn Breece, who taught the dead-out detectives group (Terry’s group) emphasized:

  • being empathetic for the beekeeper

  • do not speculate too soon

  • get a full history from the beekeeper including their management plan

  • Do not jump to conclusions

  • Talk through the clues and why they DID NOT die (such as “they didn’t starve because you can see that they were in contact with the honey frames)

  • Look for signs of starvation

  • Rule out AFB (See this info. Regarding AFB from the Honey Bee Health Coalition.)

  • Rule out EFT (See this info. Regarding EFB from the Bee Informed Partnership.)

  • Rule out Chalkbrood

  • Rule out Sacbrood

  • Look for Varroa guanine (urine crystals) in the bottom of cells

  • Start pulling pupae from capped cells to see what there is to see.

  • Mostly diagnosing is a matter of elimination

  • When you have access to a computer look up the symptoms on the website “BeeMD”

Terry’s talk was very helpful.

Then Anna went through deadout frames from 3 different beekeepers. We saw Varroa guanine on some frames. It just brought home to all of us that Varroa is becoming more persistent. It takes multiple treatments because of mite migration from collapsing colonies. After September 1, test for Varroa every 3 weeks rather than once per month. Anna has a “no tolerance” policy for mites which translates into multiple treatments.

Sometimes life leaves us with no margin to care for our bees so they might not survive. At such times, we just have to pluck up our courage and continue.

Finally, there might not be any clear reason why a colony is dead and gone. At such times, we assemble clues, eliminate obvious problems, and give more than one possibility and perhaps a combination of possibilities. Sometime definite diagnoses requires a laboratory and microscope.

Rich talked about breeding for Varroa resistant bees. There is a project in Hawaii, of which George Hansen is a participant, which is working on breeding Varroa resistant bees.

We finished with a raffle and adjourned the meeting at 9:06.

Respectfully submitted,

Anna Ashby Secretary, WVBA

February 12, 2022

Figure 1: Side view of frame showing Varroa mite quanine in cells.