Skagit Valley Beekeepers January  News Letter
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Skagit Valley Beekeepers 
 Seth Smith,  President              770-0481                            Rob Johnson,  Board                        770-6170 Diane Dong,  Vice President     391-9876                            Steven LeBlanc,  Board                   202-2266 Robert Niles, Secretary                        Bruce Bowen,  Board                      422-5106  Scott Rhodes,  Treasurer          856-2652                            Robert Preinesberger, Editor            610-8091
The next Skagit Beekeepers meeting, will be held on Thursday, January 12th at the Skagit Farmers Building at1833 Park Ln., Burlington Wa.
Meeting topic to be determined

Happy New Year!

 Out with the old and in with the new.  Hopefully not extreme consumerism, but thoughts, ideas and plans.  Picking yourself up and dusting yourself off,  learning from your mistakes and building on your successes. Moving forward and being more proficient bee keepers.
My biggest failure this year is that I killed my bees.  They were looking good this spring and summer,  good numbers and lots of pollen, but in October they crashed.  I pulled the top supers,  full of honey,  off of both hives.  I checked the outside frames of the brood box, treated for mites and in a month they were both gone.  When I deconstructed the dead hives the middle frames didn't have any honey and it appeared that I had starved them.  The yellow jackets knew that the hives were weak and even through entrance reducers, were able to decimate the weakest hive, then move on the other hive and kill it as well.  My might treatment was late and I should have been more diligent checking to make sure they had enough food.  You know what happens when you assume,  make sure you look.  

Tales from the hive

My next tale is also a tale of success and failure,  this time,  processing bees wax!  I am a dumb guy,  I want to do something so I do it.  I don't research, I don't see any reason something can't be done, I just do it,  over and over again!  I do the same thing over and over, expecting a different result every time, which I believe is the definition of insanity.
 I assumed that if I melted my waxy, honey goo ball, ( in a double boiler, so that it wouldn't be on direct heat) the honey and wax would separate.  It gets hot, releasing the wax from honey and they separate to their respective densities.  I boiled and I cooled and got a more gooey, more combined mixture than what I started with.  I microwaved the mixture until it was practically as thin as water (be careful, hot wax will put you in intensive care at harbor view) and still no separation.  It was at this time I heard a little voice in the back of my head...You Tube it moron!  So I did.  
  I found a wonderful clip, of  a nice lady,  that showed me the error in my ways.  First off, rinse out your wax with cold water.  It seems counter intuitive, but the cold water will dissolve the honey and harden the wax.  I used a stainless colander,  some smaller bits rinsed out, but most stayed in.  After rinsing out all of the comb and letting it drain for a bit,  put it in a pot, added water until it was just below the level of the wax and boiled it.  I brought it to a boil and let it simmer on low for a half an hour, until you stir it and its all melted and smooth, then remove it and let it cool.  Once it is cool, the solid wax puck will float on the water and he dirt and debris will be on the bottom of the wax.  I used a knife, but a vegetable peeler, or cheese knife would work well, to scrape dirt and bits from the bottom and sides of the puck.
   You can keep processing the puck and remelting it as many times as you like, to clean it.  I found if you use a big pan, you get a thin puck of wax that is full of dirt and bee bits.  If you use a smaller pan in relation, you get a thicker puck and the gunk is more confined, to the bottom portion of the puck. I also boiled the original mix that had been boiled and microwaved,  I couldn't rinse it but just by boiling the mixture with water, the wax still came out.  I also reprocessed the shavings with the dirt and gunk, and got most of the wax out of that.  It was amazing how the wax separated to a brilliant yellow color even though a lot of it was very darkly stained wax.


  All of that work and I processed about a pound of usable wax.  It was a fun project, which next time, should go much smoother.  Remember,  hot wax is serious business, be careful handling.  Also, it will clog your sink and it is hard to clean off pans and utensils.  Check out your local Good Will or thrift store, to get pots and utensils used specifically for this purpose.
 You Tube!  I hate to say it, I tried to fight it, I didn't want to do it.  Technology is out there and its pretty cool.  You tube and the internet are great places to find answers to questions you have and its one of the best tools you can have in your tool box.  Start thinking about what you want to do with your bees, questions you have and You Tube it!

Things to do this month

  •    If you want to treat for mites with an oxalic acid drizzle, now is the time to do it.  There is no brood right now and the drizzle will have the biggest impact on the mites.  The package directions are 35g (one package) oxalic acid to a one liter, one to one sugar syrup solution.  Mix the oxalic acid in the hot syrup mix to dissolve it.  Drizzle 50 ml of the solution maximum, over each colony.   I would intuitively think to  apply the solution when its at room or body temperature.  Its cold out and if it were me, I don't think I would like a cold syrup, acid solution, drizzled on me. Follow the directions on the package.
  • Make sure your hive is ventilated.  If your hives are insulated and closed up tight,  condensation will occur.  Make sure your hive is tilted toward the entrance so any condensation build up will drain.  Also, crack your lid a little bit, away from the prevailing wind, so that it can keep condensation from building up.
  • Swap out bottom boards.  Get rid of dead bees and do some hive, house keeping.
  • Feed.  You can do it mountain man method, with news paper on your top bars and  granulated sugar on top.  You can do sugar patties and pollen patties,  or go with brushing sugar over drawn comb and place it as close to the bee ball as possible.  If they need it, feed your bees.
  • Wind breaks. Its cold out and if your hives are exposed and getting battered by the cold wind,  put something up to break it.  Your bees will thank you for it.
  • Bee orders will be coming soon.  Bruce and Seth will have bees coming in, in two rounds.  The first nucs will be coming from Eastern Washington and the next  will be local.  Also, Belville Bees will be offering packages of bees.  All of this should be starting around the beginning of April and going through the end of the month and possibly into May.   Start thinking about where you want to place them and how many colonies you want to try to handle this year and get your orders in.
  •   If you are thinking about ordering bees,  think about what you are going to need for bee equipment.  You don't want to need something at just the right moment and realize you don't have it.  Plan ahead and lets get ready to go!



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Skagit Valley Beekeepers · 2926 Schattig Ln · Oak Harbor, WA 98277 · USA

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