October 2020 minutes

Willamette Valley Beekeepers Association

October 26, 2020

The meeting was once again held at Jim and Debbie Blando’s horse arena. Thank you for the use of your space.

President Rich Farrier had a last minute change of plans so Secretary Anna Ashby opened the meeting about 7:05.

News 1. The Oregon State Beekeepers’ Association fall conference just finished the first weekend of their virtual conference. All the speakers thus far have been excellent. There are still 2 Wednesday evenings (Nov. 4 & 11) and one Saturday (Nov.14) left in the conference. You may still register to watch/listen to the remaining programs. Each year the ORSBA holds a live and a silent auction which raise funds for the OSU Honey Bee Research Lab. This year the auction has moved on-line which is open to everyone for bidding. You do not need to be registered for the conference to bid. Here is the link to the on-line auction. Get out and raise money for bee research.

News 2: The Washington State Department of Agriculture found and eliminated an Asian Giant Hornet Nest. Dewey Caron circulated photos of the crew wearing their giant hornet proof suits going into action to eliminate the nest. The suits looked remarkably like space suits.

Speaker Dr. Dewey Caron then talked about the AFB/EFB task force that the Metro area bee clubs had formed in response to a finding of AFB in a purchased nuc this spring. Since the state of Oregon no longer has a bee inspector the consensus of opinion was that training local bee club members to identify and educate fellow beekeepers was a good solution. Dewey had a sign-up sheet for anybody interested in the training to help form a Yamhill/Marion/Polk County task force.

This time of year the most prevalent honey bee malady has to do with Varroa mites and the viruses that they vector. This condition is known as Parasitic Mite Syndrome (PMS). There are colonies that were booming all summer that are now dead. Dewey walked us through diagnosing the problem with some sample frames. Signs of the early stages of PMS are spotty brood pattern, insufficient numbers of adult bees for the amount of brood, scattered brood that should have emerged but did not, possibly signs of robbing which would be ragged uncapped honey cells with tiny white flakes of wax caught in lower cells. As the bees’ health deteriorates there will be bald brood which is brood that died as a pupae, but they are dead and the nurse bees have uncapped the cells. (We should never see pupae unless we break open cells. So seeing them is a red flag warning that something is amiss.) Finally, there might be signs of bees with deformed wings which is a common virus vectored by Varroa mites, and when the frame is tipped so the bottom of the cell is seen mite guanine is present in many cells.

The solution to PMS is to not let Varroa infestation rates climb so that the virus load stays low. It is easier to keep mite numbers low than it is to attempt to lower the infestation rate.

Helen Hilman showed frames from a deadout that she brought in. She went on vacation in July/August so placed Apivar strips in all her colonies. When she returned home mite numbers had exploded and one colony has since died. We concluded that no vacations are allowed for beekeepers except in the months of November and January.

Dewey then asked Cheryl Wright, president of the Portland Urban Beekeepers to explain the frames in a deadout Nuc from her apiary. (Cheryl also drove Dewey to the meeting. We send a big thank you to Cheryl for that help.) She had a nuc that dwindled before her eyes. It was between 2 healthy colonies and she didn’t notice the issue until it was too late. She passed around frames and explained what we were seeing.

Then Steve Gomes from the Tualatin Valley Beekeeper Association came in with 2 honey supers that he got from another beekeeper that had been sitting in storage all summer. One super was full of wax moths. The other super was full of sap beetles which look similar to small hive beetles. (Steve had killed both pests with Para-Moth before bringing them.) It was very helpful to see this and to be reminded again that beekeeping activities need to be done in a timely fashion or there are serious consequences. We send a big thank you to Steve for driving all the way from Beaverton to help us learn more about diagnosing honey bee colony problems.

Finally, Dewey suggested that all beekeepers assemble a diagnostic kit containing: forceps, a box of tooth picks, Nitrile gloves, magnifying glass, sample jar, AFB/EFB diagnostic kits, Holst milk test –test tubes, and alcohol wash mite test equipment.


Meeting adjourned.

Respectfully submitted,

Anna Ashby, Secretary WVBA

November 1, 2020