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February 2021 Monthly News Letter

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Due to Covid 19 meetings location has changed

Next meeting:

Where: Your Home

 When: February 18, 2021 7:00 PM  


If you live in Longview or the surrounding area and already keep bees, intend to do so or are simply interested in this fascinating hobby, Cowlitz Beekeepers Association is the association for you. Even if you don’t keep bees, joining us will help support our cause, our community action and awareness and education programs. 


John Holmes VP CBA 


Breeding a better Honey Bee: the challenges for small scale beekeepers.

Handmade Proud:

Looking to buy new woodenware at reasonable prices?

• Bottom Boards

• Top Covers

• Inner Covers

• Hive Boxes and more…

Contact Jerry Herren

Ph. (360) 355-0051


Zoom video conferencing is celebrated for its ease of use, high quality video and audio, and collaboration facilities such as text chat and screen sharing. All you need is a computer or smartphone with speakers, a microphone, and a camera.


Attendees can join a Zoom meeting without signing into the app. Join us at our next meeting. Click the link I’ll send out before the next meeting.

I would like to see more of you join us. If you are nervous about trying it out, then shoot me an email and I will help you get started. Make sure you set up a calendar notification reminder. There are numerous YouTube video tutorials also. 

Hope I see you

You can view video of speakers we’ve had at:


There is also Honey bee disease information and recipes for how to's.

2021 Membership Dues

  1. click above link, fill out the form, and click on the submit button.

  2. Then send your check to the listed address or cash payments can be arranged.


Thank you for supporting Cowlitz Beekeepers Association

26th Annual Alabama Beekeeping Symposium

The Alabama Cooperative Extension System is pleased to announce the 26th Annual Alabama Beekeeping Symposium. This event will be held virtually (via Zoom) on Saturday, Feb. 6, from 8:30 AM -12:30 PM CST and will continue Sunday, Feb. 7, from 2:00-5:30 PM CST. We have many great speakers lined up! Dr. Raffaele Dall’Olio and Dr. Dan Wyns will give keynote presentations during the event. For only $20, you can learn new beekeeping techniques, the latest research on pests and diseases, ways to market your honey, and new products to make and sell to customers! You can find more information about the 26th Annual Alabama Beekeeping Symposium and the agenda on our website, and can register online here. Recorded sessions will be available for registrants to watch for two weeks after the live event.

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candyboard feeding.jpg

Out in the Beeyard 

by Bill Holmes 

The table above shows how my hive weights have changed since October. Surprisingly, they have remained flat. Bees fly strongly from each hive on warm clear days so I know they aren’t empty. I don’t have an explanation for this. The purple hive was a September cut out and I added 4 pounds of sugar on December 31st . Our queens began laying in January, probably just a few and those hatch at about the same rate as the winter bees are dying, keeping hive population stable. That continues into February as she begins increasing the amount of brood to a level that exceeds the older bee attrition and we start seeing an increase of population. By March there are many larval mouths to feed and the possibility of bad weather keeping foragers home may lead to starvation if honey stores are weak. March is the critical month for your hives survival and you should be checking stores regularly if they are unable to fly. If my hives were low on stored honey in February, I would feed solid sugar. In March, depending on the temperature, you can transition to 1:1 syrup. But day time temperatures should exceed 50 degrees first.


I haven’t done a frame removal inspection since a nice day on November 1. All I do in winter is weigh them, watch the entrance, and if I’m concerned, take the lid off and take a quick look inside. Sometime later this month I’ll do my first inspection. I’d like to do it at 60 but never below 57. One thing I need to be doing now is thinking about how to manage that spring build up and the swarming that comes with that. Normally that means splits, and there are many to choose from. John has written an article on the Demaree method which can be used to increase the number of hives you have, or to keep all the bees in one hive while making them think they already swarmed. Since I have all the hives I want that is appealing.


After listening to Randy Oliver at our December meeting I thought I would like to try out the Swedish sponge Oxalic acid treatment. I wouldn’t actually implement the treatment until mid-spring after doing mite counts but I wanted to be ready by purchasing all the ingredients and then soaking the sponges and checking the OA weight in each. He suggested 25 grams of OA per sponge as an effective dose, and after mixing glycering and OA and drip drying the sponge I had 30 grams which is pretty close. I’ll write more about this in the March newsletter.  Bill


Winter Feeding

There are several ways to feed sugar, but I prefer to use no-cook candy. Many beekeepers believe that fondant is easier for the bees to eat since it has been inverted to glucose and fructose, but I am not one of those. To make fondant you boil sugar in as little water as possible and keep a close watch on your candy thermometer. You take the syrup off the heat when it reaches 234°F and then knead it like bread with a paddle attachment on a mixer. Do not add an acid like lemon juice or cream of tartar which will produce hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF) which is toxic to bees. You can find directions and videos on the web.


I sometimes use the Mountain Camp method which is the easiest of the winter-feeding methods. First, never feed bees sugar with additives. Brown sugar contains molasses, powdered sugar often contains cornstarch, and commercial fondant may contain flavorings and/or colorings. You should only feed with either refined beet or granulated cane sugar which are both pure sucrose and are safe and nutritionally equivalent.


The mountain camp system is fast and easy, but since I can’t put 10 pounds of sugar on the hive in one shot, I don’t use it too often.


Take a piece of newspaper and lay it over the top bars, add a feeder/spacer rim, dump dry granulated sugar on top of the paper. Moisture from the bees’ respiration condenses on the sugar and makes it palatable for the bees. Some people spritz the sugar with a little water.


To make a No-Cook Candy Board I first build a spacer/rim board a little less than 3” tall. Then I attach ½” hardware cloth leaving about a ¼” space on the bottom so it gives the bees plenty of room to move around underneath. Then I mix 10 pounds of sugar with 2 cups of water. I find it easier to stir if I make two 5-pound mixes and a Kitchenaide mixer makes it very simple. I don’t add anything else, just water and sugar. Next, cover the ½” screen with newspaper and put a block or something to leave a sugar free zone for bee access. I Use whatever I can find in the kitchen and place at the front.  Dump the mixture onto the newspaper and smooth it out using the spoon or your hand, working it around the block and packing tightly.


Remove the block and cut out the newspaper that was under it. Then let it sit on the counter for 24 hours and it will harden up nicely.


Notice at right that I drilled a small hole in front to serve as an upper entrance. But other times I use the inner cover to provide that opening, it just depends on which system provides the best access for that hive.


As mentioned in last months’ newsletter I sometimes use a combination feeder/quilt board when I don’t think they need 10 pounds of sugar.

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Suggested Activities for Beekeepers in the Coastal range from Washington, Oregon and Northern California...


The queen is starting to lay and hungry brood will deplete honey stores faster than in December and January. If you need to get a visual of your bees, you can risk a quick peek if it is over 50-degrees, calm, and not raining. But don’t remove any frames and don’t let this interruption last longer than 15 seconds. Wait to remove frames until it’s over 58 degrees. But, if you suspect a problem don’t wait, check it out!

  • Keep the hive entrances clear. Brush away any dead bees to ensure adequate ventilation and egress.

  • Check hive weight frequently. They can run out of food rapidly. If hives are getting light you may need to start feeding. Don’t give them liquid yet, use solid sugar.

Cowlitz Beekeepers Association

Monthly Meeting

January 21, 2021

  • Meeting came to order at 7:00 p.m.

  • 29 participants

  • Nuc sales: Cell group leaders are contacting their groups to see who are interested in purchasing nucs this year. In order to order nucs you must be a current member of the club.

  • Membership renewals begin this month. To sign up go to the newsletter link to fill out the form and then you can mail your $24.00 fee to the address listed on the link.

  • Guest Speaker - Carolyn Breece of OSU Honey Bee Lab. She talked on 'Honey Bee Pests and Diseases'. She also let us know about the Honeybee Foulbrood Test Kit. If you have questions you can contact her at

  • Worth mentioning: Dewey Caron publications. A Field Guide to Honeybees and Their Maladies is something you can carry out to the bee yard. $39 on Amazon, $12 at Penn State Extension. The Complete Bee Handbook was published in 2020 and is available on Amazon.

  • Meeting adjourned at 8:37 p.m.

  • Minutes taken by Zenobia Scott, Secretary



All beekeepers, backyard or for a business, need to register their hives each year. All money collected helps fund research projects with the Washington State University and other entities. Registration is due by April 1 each year. Your current registration expires December 31.


RCW 15.60.250 Liability for acts or omissions.


A person who owns or operates an apiary, is a registered apiarist under RCW 15.60.021, and conforms to all applicable city, town, or county ordinances regarding beekeeping, is not liable for any civil damages for acts or omissions in connection with the keeping and maintaining of bees, bee equipment, queen breeding equipment, apiaries, and appliances, unless such acts or omissions constitute gross negligence or willful misconduct.


George W. Demaree (1832–1915) of Kentucky published his method of swarm control In the American Bee Journal in 1892. Demaree’s method has been modified and adjusted over the decades which has expanded its use to include queen rearing, queen replacement, and production of nucleus hives. The unique benefit of the method is the colony’s workforce can remain intact resulting in no interruption of brood or honey production.


The disadvantages of the method include:

  • It is labor intensive, requiring heavy lifting.

  • Not suited for commercial use.

  • Not suited for beginner beekeepers.

  • The queen must be located.

  • It is critical to remove all queen cells at the start and after one week to be successful.

  • Drawn frames of empty comb are required.


The process:

1. Inspection of the colony: It needs to have eight or more frames of brood. Ideally it should have no queen cells. If sealed queen cells are present the method should not be performed. The hive may have already swarmed.

2. Set the hive to the side leaving the bottom board on the original hive stand.

3. Place a new brood box on bottom board, fill with frames of empty drawn comb, remove center two frames and set aside.

4. Going back to the hive locate the queen and transfer her and two frames of sealed brood to the center of the new brood box. Place a queen excluder on top.

5. Two supers, filled with frames having foundation or drawn comb, are placed above the queen excluder.

6. The original brood box is placed on top of the supers. Frames are moved to the center, placing the drawn comb frames set aside earlier on the outer edges of the box. It is critical to remove or destroy all queen cells that exist. Inner cover and lid are installed. If drone brood is present, an upper entrance will be needed or they will be trapped by the queen excluder.

7. After a week the upper box must be checked again for new queen cell which need to be removed or destroyed.


The results:

The queen and foragers are separated from the brood and nurse bees, creating an “artificial swarm” that preventing an actual swarm. The queen now has plenty of open comb to lay, allowing the size of the colony to grow. In 25 days, all brood will have hatched out of the combs above the excluder and bees will be emerging below the excluder. Resulting in sustained, continuous succession of young bees. The top box containing empty brood comb can then be removed and used to expand the colony’s brood nest area by placing it under the queen excluder. Another option is to perform a second Demaree to the colony if needed.


Early Spring Trees for the Bees

by John Holmes

Hygienic honey bees are more resistant to Varroa

Some honey bee colonies have been able to survive the mite without any treatment, thus showing resistance ability to Varroa destructor. By analyzing their behavior, researchers discovered that some bees can detect the parasite in the cells where it is present. These bees—called hygienic—open the contaminated cells to clean them, sacrificing the developing pupae but controlling the spread of the parasite and preserving the colony. But how can they detect the parasite hidden in the cells?


To answer this question, researchers analyzed and compared both infested and non-infested cells. They were able to identify six specific molecules in the infested cells that had never been identified in honey bees. They synthesized these molecules and carried out several behavioral tests in order to know if the mixture of these molecules could trigger hygienic behavior in the bees.


The team began by comparing the behavior of bees faced with parasitized cells to those faced with cells that had been injected with a compound. In both cases, they observed a positive response from the bees—cleaning the cells. The results show that the most hygienic colonies have a strong reaction towards brood cells containing the compounds.


The discovery of the compound of molecules specific to Varroa destructor-infested brood cells opens new perspectives for beekeepers in the fight against this pest. This would enable them to identify and select the colonies that might be more resistant to the parasite by studying their reaction to the compound of molecules. INRAE and the University of Otago have filed a patent on these molecules and their applications. Research is currently underway to develop reliable tests that can be used by beekeepers to select Varroa destructorresistant colonies.


More information: Fanny Mondet et al. Chemical detection triggers honey bee defense against a destructive parasitic threat, Nature Chemical Biology (2021).

DOI: 10.1038/s41589-020-00720-3

Study: Global Bee Populations on Decline

A new study confirms mounting evidence bee populations are on the decline in Nebraska and across the globe. Researchers scoured an international network of databases, from universities, museums and government agencies, filled with more than three centuries of data. They found there have been zero sightings for nearly a quarter of all known bee species in more than 30 years.


Eduardo Zattara, biologist at the Institute for Research on Biodiversity and the Environment, and the report's co-author, said that's a problem in part because bees are critical for food production. Climate change, loss of pollinator habitat to human development, and the growing use of neonicotinoid insecticides are primary drivers of declining bee numbers. Neonicotinoid manufacturers have argued honeybee populations are on the rise globally and have conducted studies showing no harm to colonies when their product is used correctly.


Zattara said honeybees have become the poster child of bee conservation efforts, which he believes is misguided. He said once farmers figure out the right levels of chemical insecticides, honeybees are likely to do just fine, and their populations can be restored with enough investment. "The problem is that it's all the other bees," Zattara observed. "There's 20,000 species of bees. If you put all of the focus on the honeybee, you're going to be missing the other ones. The other ones are actually providing a lot of support for what honeybees cannot do."


Zattara pointed to a Twitter post he came across comparing bird and bee biodiversity to illustrate the challenge facing conservationists. Zattara said honeybees are like the chickens of the insect world. Preventing the loss of diverse bird species will not happen by raising more chickens.


2021 Nuc Purchase Program

This year we will again buy nucs from Foothills Honey Company in Colton, Oregon. These are 5 frame nucs. The cost is $136 per nuc to club members only. Members were contacted by cell group leaders about their interest in purchasing nucs, but that was just a survey not an order.


There is more information about the nucs and ordering information at:


Fill out the form and send a check to the address shown at the bottom of the form. If you don’t do checks then contact me and we can arrange a cash purchase. Nucs can be ordered now while payment may be made any time before March 19, 2021.

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