October 2020

Where did the year go?! It’s hard to believe it traveled at the same pace as last year and the year before. In such a chaotic year, it’s nice to contemplate the simplicity of the bees; their daily lives guided by the movement of the sun and the drum of the rain, all of which come and go. For many people, bee stewardship is a meditative and peaceful part of their lives and in winter we must let our thoughts go to spring where we can start again in a fresh new year. Fall, too, is marked by new blooms which herald the transition into cooler weather – sunflowers, asters, sedums are all coming into their time as are fall crops such as broccoli, squash and radishes. 

There is ongoing chatter about mites (is there ever NOT chatter about mites?) and that they may be particularly bad this year. Several PUB members treated their hives, only to still encounter high mite loads. This may require extra attention this winter to ensure survival and it will be interesting to see how PUB colonies fare come spring 2021. 

We were fortunate to have Dr. Andony Melathopoulos of the Oregon Bee Project at OSU join us for our October meeting. He gave us a preview of his talk at the OSBA conference, on native bees. His focus was on the relationship between native bees and honeybees and whether honeybees have a negative effect on native bees. One of these areas is forage competition, and whether honeybees crowd out native bees from flowers they would typically visit. Studies are still ongoing, but one of the ways people can support native bee populations is by having a variety of flower forms because different bees frequent different shaped flowers. The Oregon Bee Project website is full of great information and highlights ways to get involved in the preservation of native species – check it out! 

September 2020

The Portland area rolled into September with high heat and no rain in sight.  These were likely the last weeks of dry weather before we start to see Fall rains arrive. These can be busy times for beekeepers, readying their hives for the deep Fall and Winter. Our last monthly meeting was full of practical advice! Mandy Shaw, who has served PUB since 2016 provided helpful reminders to the group on how to best prepare. This is a critical time for the developing nurse bees, who will go on to raise our winter bees, who will in turn, raise our spring bees! Three important factors at this time are mite management, providing nutritional support in the form of syrup and pollen patties and equalizing hives for colony strength. At the same meeting we also hosted Ben Sallmann of the Bee Informed Partnership. He shared details on the life cycle of the Varroa mite which we all know to be quite a formidable foe. He recommended spanning mite treatments across a couple of weeks so the treatment kills phoretic mites as well as the ones that hatch out in the following days and weeks with new bees. The Partnership conducts extensive research on mite testing and found alcohol wash tests resulted in 95% of the mites being accounted for. With a sugar roll, only 60% of the mites were dislodged, a discrepancy which could have a significant effect on your treatment decisions. With regard to treatment, Partnership research showed Apivar works better in Spring and will not be very effective on high mite loads. For thymol, two smaller treatments are more effective than one long one. It might kill some open brood, but it’s ok, the queen will fill it out. Formic acid works well for high mite loads but can kill brood/queen in hot weather. Oxalic acid is very effective on high mite loads and is particularly effective in winter. Sallmann recommended a dose of 35g oxalic crystals in 1L of 1:1 sugar syrup and with 5ml dripped in between the frames, as a one time treatment. His recommendation for OA vaporization was that the smoke should be billowing out and under-dosing is a common problem. Vaporization is also best in late Fall through Spring, several days apart. Now get out there and prep those hives!

Swarm Report 2020

Response to Portland’s Proposed Beekeeping Ordinance

The city of Portland is proposing changes to the beekeeping laws. We received a detailed outline of the changes proposed, and as a club, we rebutted. There will be public hearings sometime in March 2020.

In response to the proposed changes we sent out a survey to PUB members. Below are links to PDF documents of the survey results and the rebuttal to the proposed changes. The city has acknowledged receipt of our rebuttal, and we would like our members and the general public to have access to it as well.

Apiary Move

The club apiary is on the move. We have thoroughly enjoyed the partnership we’ve had with Zenger farm since the very founding of this club. Unfortunately, with a number of break-ins and burglaries over the past few years it’s just not a secure place for our bees anymore. It is with great sadness we must say goodbye to our Zenger hosts and move the apiary to a new location. Our last day at Zenger will be Dec 19, 2019. Below is the text of the announcement sent to the board members, which explains the situation.

To our 2019 and 2020 Board Members,

As many of you may or may not know, the PUB apiary shed was broken into, again. Thank goodness that the bees were not disturbed this time. Not too much is missing, all of our smoker lighters were taken, possibly some bee suits. Someone attempted to burn some frames and a few foundations were broken. A police report was filed and Zenger was notified. Because a lock was broken and a structure was entered it is called “Burglary”. The officer who came to file the report felt that because we were so close to the Spring Water Trail, this was most likely a crime of opportunity. He also shared that these types of crimes are becoming more frequent, and that with the location of our shed and apiary, we are very likely to be known and targeted repeatedly. Unfortunately, Zenger representatives were contacted on Sunday, but never followed up with us. Zenger lack of engagement has been an ongoing problem.

With this in mind Cheryl and Mandy began to look for an alternate apiary site. Another CSA farm was contacted, but it was too small to support our numbers. There were not any true farms outside of Sauvie Island that could support our needs, and we felt that at this time, Sauvie Island was a little too far to drive. Mandy reached out to one of the PUB founders, Tim Wessels, and he offered to take our apiary into his. He is located in north Portland, right next to Cathedral Park, by the St. Johns Bridge. Both Mandy and Cheryl went out to look at the site, and it does seem ideal. Not only is the spot beautiful, but the apiary and grounds are well maintained, there are structures for the club to meet under in case of rain, and there are two well-kept sheds. There is also plenty of forage for the bees. The name of the area that the apiary is located is Green Anchors.  Mandy and Cheryl think that this will be a very positive move for PUB, and we would like any feedback, both in support as well as in opposition. We really want to hear what you think.

We are on a quick turn-around as right now the weather and time of year are ideal for moving the bees, so if we don’t hear from you in a few days, we will assume that you have no strongly opposing views or concerns.

Thank you for your support, and we look forward to hearing any feedback.

Green Anchors is located at 8940 N Bradford St, Portland, OR 97203

January 2019 – Club Updates

Thank you to everyone that attended our January meeting! Though the meeting space was tight, I think that if our bees could have seen us they would have have enjoyed seeing us beekeepers crammed together in harmonious learning.

Like swarming bees, we are looking for a new place for PUB to call “home.” Our previous two meetings were held at the Lucky Labrador on SE Hawthorne, but alas it was too crowded. Our February meeting will be held at the Lucky Labrador’s NW PDX location at 1945 NW Quimby which has space for 100. In the meantime, we will continue to search.

A new year brings new guidelines for Oregon beekeepers. Cheryl Wright, our club treasurer and student in the OSU Master Beekeeper program explained the new best practices, which can be downloaded for free here. These guidelines were developed to aid cities throughout Oregon to have a better understanding of the benefits of residential beekeeping and that honey bees can be kept in a nuisance free manner. The comprehensive booklet also serves as a common sense guide for how to keep our bees in ways that won’t upset or bother our neighbors. Additionally, the Oregon State Beekeepers Association has designated persons to aid in conflict resolution should the need arise.

We discussed our finances for 2018, which showed that the club had lower revenues but also lower expenses for the year. Your membership dollars are important for the ongoing operations of the club: business registration, taxes, rent, apiary expenses, website/hosting fees and our PO Box for example. We intend to give quarterly updates moving forward as requested by our members who participated in the member survey which can be accessed here.

Glen Andresen from Bridgetown Bees shared trivia and his What’s in Bloom report for January. Glen has been a staple for PUB meetings for years and if you are like me, you appreciate the plant knowledge that he contributes!

Our new board of directors was voted in and here are the results: President – Mandy Shaw, Vice President – Simone Miller, Education Director – Rebekah Golden, Communications Director – Forrest Stotts, Treasurer/Secretary – Cheryl Wright, Librarian – Lauren Smith, and Member at Large – Emma Egstad.

Volunteers who generously donate their time, talents, and resources keep PUB alive as an organization. If you are interested in volunteering or becoming more active in the club, please contact any of us!

October 2018 Member Meeting

It is hard to believe that the bee season is winding down and the window of opportunities to work with our bees is closing. Knowing what to look for and when to take action can be tricky, but fortunately we have great resources available to us including Dr. Dewey Caron who presented his October apairy plan and his talk on FAT WINTER BEES.  His presentation is included below.

Glen Andresen kicked off our meeting with the monthly pollen and nectar report complete with some much enjoyed Oregon triva!

I also shared a recent experience that I had involving a cut out of a feral colony that had what I suspected was small hive beetle. With the help from the OSU Bee Lab, we were able to positively identify them as SHB. You can read more about small hive beetles here. If you suspect that you have a colony with SHB, you can contact the bee lab for positive identification. They are extremely responsive and helpful! The current statement on SHB in Oregon is:

“Current climatic conditions may not be ideal for SHB overwintering, pupation, or establishment in most of Oregon, but future changes in climate, such as frequent mild winters, could aid in their establishment. Early detection and control of SHB will help keep or delay this pest from successfully establishing in Oregon. Use caution when purchasing package bees, established colonies, or queens from locations where SHB is well established. Also, monitor your colonies for small hive beetles during summer and fall if you regularly transport your bees across state lines for pollination, especially to California for almond pollination.”

Thank you to all who attended – I look forward to seeing you again in November!

September 2018 Member Meeting

With summer beekeeping coming to a close, now is a critical time for our colonies as we help transition them into fall. This month’s member meeting was not only well attended by our regulars, we also welcomed several “newbees” to the group. Thank you to everyone who was able to attend!

Glen Andresen of Bridgetown Bees kicked off the evenings program with his pollen and nectar report. Surprisingly, there is a lot in bloom (just not many trees)!

Dr. Dewey Caron gave an informative talk about what is happening in our bee colonies this month: brooding down, and raising fat winter bees. If your colonies are light, now is the time to feed! Pollen supplements will help September nurse bees raise fat winter bees. Now is also the time for mite counts! You can participate in the Mite-a-Thon by submitting your mite counts Sept 8 – 15 to mitecheck.com. The data collected gives a snapshot of mite infestations in a specific time frame. The mite-a-thon is open to anyone and their mites (ew!).

Linda Zahl shared her new found love for native bees and gave an introduction to the Oregon Bee Atlas training! Portland Urban Beekeepers is working to arrange a Bee Atlas training for our members – stay tuned for updates!

Emily Parker from Bee & Bloom gave a very impressive talk about bees around the world. Her presentation was loaded with captivating imagery, and bee facts that we usually don’t hear about!

Enjoy your September, and we’ll see you again in October!

August 2018 Member Meeting

Thank you to all who attended the meeting last night! We had a full line up of interesting presentations – here’s a recap:

I was excited to share the story of how PUB was selected to participate in a FaceBook Adventures campaign that highlighted some of the eclectic clubs that Portland has to offer. You can watch the video here. You will be happy to know that our bees were on their best beehavior for the director & production team and we had a wonderful time representing our club.

Glen Andresen from Bridgetown Bees gave his monthly Pollen & Nectar report which always includes important and timely information for us beekeepers!

Emma Egstad, our member at large and co-owner of Bee & Bloom shared tips on Honey & Wax Processing and included interesting points on the history & science of honey and wax.

Robert Leger shared the second portion of his yellow jacket series, this time focusing on yellow jacket nest abatement. Yellow jackets can have a tremendous and negative impact on the honey bee population. Knowing how to approach and destroy a yellow jacket nest can save vulnerable hives from being invaded.

Dewey Caron had several show-and-tell items to share and gave very practical advice on how we can address varroa mites now, before our bees head into fall and winter. He also mentioned the following resources:

OSU Extension Service recommendations for protecting honey bees from yellow jackets.

Tools for Varroa Management

 

We look forward to seeing you next month!