July 2022

I’ve never been so happy and grateful for the lovely Linden trees. A wet Spring, lasting up until July finally gave way to gorgeous summer sun just in time for the Linden trees to bloom across NE Portland. This is a major source of nectar for inner NE bees. Last year, the trees bloomed just as the 115-degree weather hit for a week which quickly dried up the trees, leaving my primary hive to begin eating its stores mid-summer. This year the supers are bursting with lots of time left to fill their brood chambers. Meanwhile, other hives 2 miles away are barely filling supers, unaware of the bounty nearby. I love this cyclical pace to beekeeping – there are years that give and years that take and every year is a little bit different.

PUB is hoping to reinstate some sort of honey tasting or in-person social event to close out the year and we hope to see you there!

June 2022

OK, by now I was pretty sure we’d be on the verge of complaining about how hot it was getting outside, but that sure isn’t happening. In Portland, everything is blooming as it should, but this summer will probably go on record as feeling very short. About this time, I’m always reminded of how the bees are already starting the glide into winter – they’re noticing the days getting shorter – all while we’re gearing up for peak summer fun.

Besides Bee Days, many in PUB have missed opportunities to hang out with each other and swap stories and questions. PUB decided to hold a Meet and Greet evening in mid-June to try to capture some of the feeling of meetings in the “before times”. We didn’t count it as a monthly meeting (because people are super attached to their monthly zoom meetings) but it was nice to get together and it’s likely we’ll make these events part of our new normal.

Our June meeting was full of interesting information. After an overview of plants in bloom, Brian Fackler taught us how to use an Epi Pen (on an orange!) and provided useful medical information and tips for beekeepers who work in remote areas. Our meeting featured Dr. Dewey Caron talking about all things Queens. It was a great meeting, with a good turnout and lots of interesting discussion and questions. PUB is wishing all of you a wonderful summer!

January 2022

It’s hard to believe another year has passed! Hopefully your bees are healthy and tucked up nicely for the winter. PUB is seeing significant changes to its Board of Directors this year. A number of positions were open to include President and Vice President and some folks shifted to different positions. PUB is very grateful for the work Cheryl Wright put into PUB these past two years as President. She shepherded us through the transition to online and continued to keep our disparate community connected. Mandy Shaw is also moving on – as past President and current Treasurer she has been a strong driver of PUB – bringing wonderful speakers, working with Cheryl to set up our new apiary at Green Anchors and so many other things behind the scenes. Ian Horvath, a Portland-based beekeeper has agreed to step into the position of President and Jana Patterson will bring Board experience to the position of VP. We look forward to a new year of bee education and community engagement with them at the helm!

Unfortunately, we decided not to have our in-person honey tasting this year. It just felts like the virus hadn’t quite settled down enough to have it and of course we’re deep in Omicron now. Hopefully next year things will move towards a new normal. Our November speaker was Bill Hesbach, a master beekeeper from Cheshire, Connecticut who spoke with us about winter insulation. He theorizes insulated hives better mimic the natural conditions found in tree hives and recommends R7-R10 insulation on the top and sides without ventilation. While our conditions here in the PNW are certainly different than in Connecticut, the theories and science behind it are very compelling. We’ll see you back on-screen in January!

October 2021

After this long, dry summer, it’s nice to see bees still finding sources of pollen and nectar. While inspecting my hive the other day I saw a bee packed full with a bright orange pollen; and thanks to a mid-summer pruning and consistent watering, I eked out a second bloom on my lavender, which the girls are loving! 

On the other hand, I have another hive that is not doing particularly well. During my last inspection, I went in to add Hopguard 3 and saw mostly spotty brood and random larvae. The bees were incredibly defensive (as are all my hives these days, even the usually sweet ones!) so I buttoned it up quickly. But as I thought on it for the rest of the week, I contemplated my options. I’ll go back in this weekend to dig into the bottom box and see how she is laying down there – maybe I’ll reduce to one brood box and continue to feed syrup and pollen. Maybe I’ll need to hunt down a new queen.  As I write this, I’m also thinking about my bee mentor who has a hive which has killed 6 queens this season! They are a grumpy bunch and his options are narrowing quickly.  All this to say – it’s the joy and frustration of being a beekeeper and these situations highlight how much creativity is required.  

PUB’s September meeting featured Dr. Dewey Caron who spoke about defensive and Africanized bees (and how to tell the difference). While there are parts of Washington and Oregon in which they’ve been found, we’re fortunate to be largely out of their geographical zone (for now!).  Enjoy the cooler evenings and we’ll see you at the OSBA conference!  

September 2021

I can’t believe we’re heading into Fall – it feels like just yesterday we were amazed and relieved to be finally transitioning to 2021. PUB is excited to be back in its apiary for member work parties, and our manager has great plans for the next few months.  For its August meeting, PUB hosted Dr. Sam Ramsey who gave us an informative and entertaining talk on a new mite which beekeepers need to be aware of: Tropilaelaps mercedesae aka Tropi mite.  This mite has not yet reached the US, but it’s really just a matter of time until it has. First identified in SE Asia, it’s officially now beyond Asia and spreading even faster than Varroa spread. Unfortunately, the mite has a more robust genetic code, they are incredibly fast movers, their feeding causes more damage to larvae than Varroa and they reproduce significantly faster, too.  Are you nervous yet? Thankfully, scientists like Dr. Ramsey are already working to establish treatment options and focusing on education to increase awareness and identification.  

Due to the Delta variant, we’ve decided to hold off on committing to our December in-person honey tasting – hopefully things will settle down in the next few months and we can put it back on the calendar. Til then, we enjoy mingling at the apiary and feel fortunate that events like the Oregon State Fair could happen once again.  

August 2021

You can imagine my surprise recently, sitting at about 6,500 feet up on the side of Mt. Saint Helens, to turn my head towards a clump of flowers next to me and see a lovely bee buzzing around its blooms. Impressive I thought, to come all this way up, as there weren’t many options for it up there. Then a few moments later, a hummingbird did some flybys past my head and I couldn’t fathom why a hummingbird would be so far up, though I was wearing a deep pink t-shirt. But all that seemed reasonable compared to seeing three different pollinators (a wasp which landed on my finger, some kind of bumblebee, and another bee) at the very top of the mountain, 8,360 ft up with only pumice and rock in sight. The bumblebee appeared to float on the drafts the way a bird might do, except that its wings were beating feverishly and it hovered in place for several minutes, almost like it was enjoying it (I know, a bit anthropomorphic). I did some research when I was back at sea level, and learned bees can fly quite well up to 13,000 feet and even higher on occasions. Still, it was quite a treat to see and only further exemplified their remarkable qualities. 

In July, PUB hosted Chris Corich as its speaker and he presented a fantastic talk on log hives. He explained his process for making them, different techniques he uses, how he monitors for mites and provides food. It was accompanied by outstanding photography and resources for finding more information. Be sure to check out the video of his talk, if you missed it.  

PUB will continue to meet virtually on Zoom through November 2021, and we will host our annual honey tasting in person at the Friends of Multnomah community center on Stark St. December 1, 2021. We think that Zoom has been a successful and popular alternative to in-person meetings as our recording analytics show that we are getting more than 100 views after posting the link online, as well as emailing to each member. In 2022 we are looking for new board members/officers and have put the call out for those interested in president, vice president and treasurer. We continue to closely monitor our hives as we head into fall, and in the Portland area we’re well into dearth, but we have a plan for both feeding and mite management. Enjoy the last of summer! 

July 2021

Being that we’re past Solstice and Independence Day, we’re officially deep into summer. I’m always taken aback a bit when I see a graph of the life cycle of a summer hive and realize that as we humans are gearing up for our peak summer activity, the bees are beginning their slow glide into Fall. It takes some attention to recognize their cycles are not quite in sync with ours. Our days leading into June have been a mixed bag of cool, warm, hot and rain. As always, we’re hoping for wonderful weather to compliment blackberry blossoms and (selfishly for myself) linden tree bloom which are in abundance in my neighborhood.  

Our June meeting featured Dr. Ramesh Sagili, who talked about Varroa management. Our club has committed to continue Zoom meetings through the rest of this year but we’re going to start work parties at our club apiary towards the end of July.  The socialization will be so welcome! We’re also looking forward to getting a detailed read-out of our Honeybee Survey results from Dr. Dewey Canon. Initial readouts were that our hive losses were fairly consistent with last year’s results.  PUB wishes you all a fun-filled summer and may your honey supers be filled early this year.  

June 2021

Hard to believe we’re halfway through the year and already into peak bee season! The Portland metro area is popping with color and lush green leaves and wonderful floral scents. Wisteria and rosemary are in full bloom, the horse chestnuts are coming as we say goodbye to pears and apple blossoms. Last year, I planted an area of my apiary with Botanical Interests brand of a pollinator flower seed mix.  It is trying to come back this year, though I noticed it is currently dominated by a fast-spreading euphorbia. Poppies and borage are also making the scene and hopefully won’t get too crowded out. Might be time for some “weeding”. 

The best of the swarm season is closing and as of this writing PUB has collected 77 swarm reports, up for grabs for our 184 registered users. Our May meeting featured Max Kuhn who spoke to us about brood breaks for varroa mite management. Max has 15 years of beekeeping experience, is a master level student in the Oregon Master Beekeeper Program and developed a unique method to cage the queen on a frame, probably familiar to most Oregon clubs. The system is a form of hive brood break, which uses a queen excluder screen to restrict the queen to one frame.  The queen continues to lay on this frame.  After 9 days, when all the other brood in the hive has hatched, her eggs/brood is the only game in town and the mites are drawn to that frame which is later removed. He has provided most clubs with instructions on this technique and it’s more one tool in our toolbox for effective alternative for mite control.   

May 2021

It’s official, the bee season has begun…multiple attempts to procure an extra inner hive cover the other day were met with “out of stock” and “check back next week.” By now, many of us have received our new bees. But as I write this, it has not yet happened and I am counting down the days to when I pick up my packages. Having lost my hives over the winter, I miss the bees. I miss doing spring checks and watching for swarm cells. I miss watching them react to the warm sunny mornings and looking at the different colors of pollen coming in. It’s a wonderful feeling, really. I see it as an affirmation of what beekeeping means to me and the value I place in being a steward of their species. Until then, I’ll watch others do their inspections and tidy my shed and clean my equipment for their new tenants, grateful for the space that will be created when the boxes and supers go back to work. 

Our April meeting featured Dr. Dewey Caron who reviewed Spring management – splits, swarms, feeding – all the classics. So many good reminders and new ideas, he is such a rich source of experience and knowledge. We’ve decided to keep our meetings directed to more experienced beekeepers and it’s worked out well. Our online Beekeeping 101 class is a great way to serve new beekeepers but keeping more advanced beekeepers engaged via our monthly meetings has remained a priority. One great side benefit of Zoom meetings is the dialogue that happens amongst members in the chat box – don’t you think? It’s added an unexpected dimension to the meetings for folks to pose questions, links to more resources, explanations of something the speaker said, even jokes. Just one more way for us to connect and share!

April 2021

Who isn’t loving these warmer days? We’re happily watching our bees zip back and forth from parts known and unknown or we’re anticipating the arrival of our bees (or both!). Either way, the Spring is a harbinger of finer days to come. 

PUB was fortunate to hear from its own Mandy Shaw at our March meeting. Many of you know Mandy as the creator and producer of the podcast Beekeeper Confidential and she gave us an overview of swarm catching – showed informative videos and provided stories and lots of tips and tricks for success in both collecting and baiting swarms. 

For a few months now, PUB has been surveying its members regarding whether members would like to reconvene in person or continue our meetings on Zoom, after the pandemic. We’ve heard from about half our membership and so far the votes are 2:1 in favor of remaining on Zoom. It seems the convenience of participating in a meeting while in our pajamas is too good to pass up!  PUB is now looking at ways to augment those with in-person social events, which we all know is an important part of our community development. PUB is hoping to start work parties at its apiary in June and we’re considering hosting quarterly gatherings at local pubs for informal sharing and mingling. 

Many thanks to our members who developed and created a virtual Bee Buddy system on our web page. Now potential mentors and mentees are able to connect through our website and find another beekeeper to pair up with, learn from, and teach. If you’re a beekeeper in the Portland area, join in!