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The Diablo Bee - October 2021

Jacalyn M Kildare | Published on 10/7/2021

The Diablo Bee

October 2021

We know…..and the queen knows, too..…that we are nearing the end of the calendar year.  Compared to our hot spring and summer, the weather seems so cool!  A confession: I’m like the bees cuz I much prefer warm temps.  The good news: we still have a window of time to check our bees, provide food if needed, make sure the volume of bees match their hive boxes so they can keep the interior warm without expending too much energy and sacrificing too many bees to do so. For both the bees and the beekeeper, even in balmy California a lot can happen between October and February.


•          This month, we thank and express our deep appreciation for Ellen Walters.  Ellen is completing her 3-year term as VP Community Education.  What a run!  She joined the Board in January 2019, when life was ‘normal’ (we didn’t appreciate how normal that year was!).  In 2020, MDBA and Community Education were confronted by COVID.  The pandemic could have put an end to the Community Ed programs.  That didn’t happen.  Ellen found new ways to offer honeybee education, creating Zoom sessions and using WiFi to bring children and adult viewers into the bee yard.  Remote education allowed Community Ed to provide honeybee classes to schools otherwise shut out of our classes (San Francisco-area schools, for example).  Thanks to Ellen’s efforts, in 2022 Community Ed will offer two types of education:  in-person and via Zoom.  Beyond her work scheduling classes, coordinating volunteers, teaching in the classroom, at Science Fairs and Youth Ag Days, Ellen has been a steady presence and resource to volunteers.  This is why she was voted Volunteer of the Year in 2019.  Kudos, Ellen!  MDBA is grateful for all you’ve done to educate our communities and our children about these amazing honeybees.   
•          A huge THANK YOU!! goes to MDBA Board members Jaci Kildare and Pete Kritscher.  These two have shouldered the exhausting task of integrating a complex software database program into MDBA’s operational system.  Beginning in April, Pete & Jaci have been relentless in their work to wrestle the off-the-shelf software package into a form that works not only for MDBA’s unique profile as a beekeeping organization but specifically to benefit our members.  Once the website is up, you will be asked to go online and complete your unique membership profile.  You’ll access a members-only forum to ask questions and exchange ideas; look for a mentor within your neighborhood, sign up for special interest groups like non-traditional hives, bee photography, pollinator-friendly gardening, watch videos of past programs, and more.  SO EXCITING.  Stay tuned for more information at our October meeting.
•          Many thanks to the 2021 MDBA Board: Dermot Jones, Vice President; Roger Billeci, Member Education; Peter Schumacher, Membership; Lois Kail, Secretary; Mike Vigo, past president; Gary Lawrence, Ex Officio.  I am fortunate to serve with this group of dedicated and selfless individuals and excited that they, along with Jaci and Pete, will continue into 2022.  Add Jamie Frankenfield, Treasurer, and Veronica Falcinella, Community Education, and it’s guaranteed that 2022 will be another great year.  Did I mention Gerri Kobayashi?  She assists Roger by contacting prospective speakers, negotiating schedules, securing commitments for our monthly programs—she’s nothing short of amazing. The motivation?  It’s all about MDBA-- you, the members, are beneficiaries of this group’s work ethic and creativity.
•          NEWS!  The MDBA BBQ and raffle is set for April 7, 2022.  We’re already planning for the BEST.PARTY.EVER.  Calendar the event now—it’s on Thursday night at the Pavilion.  Your Board members bring the BBQ and you bring a dish to share.  Even better, this event is happening the week before MDBA’s April Bee Day, so you can buy lots of raffle tix and stock up on supplies and equipment you’ll need for your bees!
•          There’s still time to register for the California State Beekeepers Association convention.  Registration is open for the three-day meeting November 16-18 at the Santa Barbara Hilton.  You don’t have to be a CSBA member to attend.  Yes, it leans towards commercial beekeeping but good speakers, updates on honeybee research and presentations (updates on bee nutrition, viruses, etc) make the trip and the cost worthwhile.  For details, go online to the CSBA website.
It’s Fall in California:  As cooler temps slow the business of the colony and bee jackets suddenly aren’t so heat-producing, our soft California weather allows a few weeks to do a final check on the bees.  If you’re worried, don’t hesitate to reach out to beekeeping mentors, friends and/or MDBA Board members for advice. 
Hope to ‘see’ you at our Zoom meeting on the 14th, the last meeting of our Beekeeping year.
Jan Spieth


2022MDBA Board of Directors

Jan Pinkerton Spieth
Vice President
Dermot Jones
Lois Kail
Peter Schumacher
Member Education
Roger Billeci
Member Development
Peter Kritscher
Community Education
Veronica Falcinella
Jamie Frankenfield
Newsletter Editor
Jaci Kildare
Past President
Mike Vigo
Ex Officio
Gary Lawrence

In this Issue
  • Message from the President
  • MDBA General Meeting Announcement
  • Board of Directors and Contents
  • New Website Information
  • MemberEducation General Meeting details
  • October 16 Mini Bee Day -
  • Bee Savvy
  • Community Ed
  • All About Honey
  • Club Classifieds

Mount Diablo Beekeepers Association

New Website Information


Tuesday October 12

The new design of the website will be here next week! We are excited to be able to use software that is designed for clubs and associations. It gives us many ways to interact on our website and continue learning from each other.
• Our URL  remains the same
• You will receive an email from Mount Diablo Beekeepers Association once our new site is live giving you your temporary user name and password. 
• Please follow the directions on the email to log in as a member to the website.

•You need to update your profile by clicking on the "EDIT YOUR  MEMBER PROFILE" button located on the members home page view.
•You will be asked to enter additional member data. Please enter the information onto the form.

EXPLORE THE SITE!We are still going to be developing the site and adding new features over the next months. At our meeting on Thursday, Oct 14, we will look at some of the website and have a Q and A

MDBA General Meeting
on Zoom this Month

Thursday, October 14, 7:00 PM


Moderated by Roger Billeci

Panel and Q & A

 "What is normal inside and outside of the hive?


"Have you logged in to our new website?"

Guest speakers: Jaci Kildare and Pete Kritscher•Jaci Kildare and Pete Kritscher will be presenting some key features of our new web site! Followed by a Q & A.



• We will be announcing which members will be awarded Beekeeper of the Year and Volunteer of the Year. 

Please log in by 6:50 PM



Meeting ID: 872 0071 9409
Passcode: 350009
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Meeting ID: 872 0071 9409
Find your local number:
Saturday October 16,10am -12pm
Mini Bee Day/Regional Groups


This will be an in person Hive Dive
at Gary Lawrence's Apiary in Pleasant Hill.
253 Twinview Dr. Pleasant Hill

Registration is Required!
  • Please note attendance will be capped at 10 members (taking COVID-19 precautions due to recent developments with the Delta variant)
  • Email Roger Billeci at to reserve your space!
Member Education invites you to participate “live and in person” at Gary Lawrence’s home in a continuation of our Fall transitioning to Winter beekeeping forum on Saturday, October 16, at 10AM.
• Learn as we go through one of Gary’s hives (live!).
• Get to see the bees, their hive, and frames in person.
• Ask questions and interact with other MDBA members (not through a screen!).
Special focus will be on new (years 1 - 4) beekeepers getting started.  This mini bee day will be a continuation of last month’s event where Richard Grove covered a wide range of topics from dealing with Varroa mites, evaluating current pollen and nectar stores in the hive, and steps we need to be taking now to ensure our colonies are prepared for winter. Remember: there is no stupid question when it comes to beekeeping! It's a continual learning process.
A big thank you to Gary for his generosity in hosting the event again and opening his apiary and hives for the club!

  Bee Savvy       by Pete Kritscher

What do you do when you have a weak hive going into the fall?   
          I think the consensus opinion of long-time beekeepers is combine your bees with another hive or shrink your boxes to a Nuc or single deep and requeen with a mated queen ASAP.  You can of course do nothing and let nature take its course.  
          If you have multiple hives you know which ones are weak and which are strong.  But some of us have only one hive and can’t see the difference.  What steps can you take this time of year to strengthen a hive to help it make it through the winter?  I have tried every year to figure this out.  There are a couple of things that I have learned that may help or at least may give you some things to think about.   Like everyone else my results are not always good but at least I know that I tried.  If you have over 3% mites now you may be out of luck. Treat for the mites if that’s your thing.
           Going into cold weather I am doing a couple of things.  I consolidate hives as much as possible.  Usually that involves taking the hive down to one deep or if it is strong a deep and a medium box.  In order to do this I take off any honey supers even if they have something in them.  See Figure 1. 
The hive on the right is set up for winter. What I hope for is a single deep full (at least 6 to 8 frames) of bees and brood and a medium box full of honey with perhaps some brood in the middle.  No queen excluder.  Over winter the bees will work up into the honey and in January you may find the bottom super completely empty.  The bees will find it easier to control the environment in a much smaller space in the winter.   
            If I have a weak hive (only 2 to 4 frames of bees and few resources) I like to move the frames with brood into a nuc along with a couple of frames of pollen and honey.  If they need to stay in the deep super I may use follower boards to try to keep the bees in a smaller area to conserve warmth.  Then I feed 2:1 syrup to fill the box and a pollen patty to make sure that they start the winter with lots of resources.    If you are treatment free then at this point you can feed with syrup and hope for the best. 
           I treat so here is my suggestion for those that treat.  If I get them down to a single brood box I mark the frames as treated and I will add a treatment like Apivar to kill the mites.  Formic Pro would be good but the queen may delay laying eggs and that’s not good this time of year.  Many use oxalic acid to treat for mites when the brood levels are low and the mites are all phoretic.   Then I feed with sugar syrup until there is a lot of extra syrup stored on the frames. 
This is where note taking comes in real handy.  You need to be able to go back and see what worked for you.  If you do please share it with me.
           See you on the new website coming soon!
If you agree or disagree with me reach out to me when you log in and let’s start a chat.  We all benefit from the discussion.

Peter Kritscher
VP Member Development
Community Education
I am so grateful to the following beekeeper educators who climbed a steep learning curve and remained dedicated to sharing about Honeybees in the community in the time of Covid:
Kim Williams,
Jesse Chavez,
Valerie Schmidt,
Peter Shumaker,
Jan Spieth,
Gerri Kobayashi,
Jennie White,
Ellen Walters.
The efforts of these 8 volunteers raised $1675 for MDBA and connected with nearly 1000 interested children and adults.
Statistics are dry, but important.  What I’m not able to convey here is the deep joy and satisfaction that comes from volunteering in this way.  This is my last newsletter article. as my role as VP Community Education has ended after 3 years.  I’m delighted to continue on the committee, as I SO appreciate and enjoy its members - some new and some who’ve been there from the beginning as we developed educational programs for all ages and information management systems to ease issues of coordination and accountability.
Our focus in the next few months is to reach out to those of you who’ve said you’d like to volunteer to help MDBA as community educators.  We’re working on curriculum and detailed descriptions of what’s involved in each type of program we do:  Community Fairs, Classrooms and other child-focused events, Science Fairs, and programs for adults.  
If you’re curious and hadn’t indicated on your membership application that you’d like to volunteer,  please do so in 2022! Check out the Community Education pages on the website, and/or connect with me or Veronica Falcinella, our new VP of Community Education with any questions you may have.
Pictures from Last month Community Ed:

 GreenBrook Cub Scouts
Ellen Walters
VP Community Education
All About Honey

Honey: the thick, golden liquid produced by bees has been prized throughout the centuries and the world over. Known for its distinct sweetness, honey continues to be a staple in cooking and in home treatments for sore throat and skin complaints.
Honey is a thick, golden liquid produced by bees, a result of insects extracting sugary secretions (nectar) from flowering plants.

History of Honey
Bees have produced honey for millions of years. Regarding beekeeping, or apiculture, sources and opinions vary as to when humans first started gathering honey by “keeping” bees. Ancient Egyptians began beekeeping around 2500 BC, though other sources indicate the practice started even earlier in China. And long before any actual beekeeping was practiced, humans gathered, or foraged, wild honey. In Spain’s Cueva de la Araña (Cave of the Spider), a cave painting dating from 9000 BC depicts a figure bravely climbing towards a hive, basket in hand, while bees buzz around. Though methods for collecting honey have evolved since then, one thing remains certain: honey’s popularity as an all-natural sweetener and an effective health salve.

Does Honey Expire?
Technically no, honey does not expire. So long as the liquid is stored in an airtight jar and kept away from excess moisture, honey remains safe to eat for decades (or longer). In fact, ancient Egyptian archaeological sites have yielded jars of honey dating thousands of years old…and the honey was still perfectly preserved. The reason for honey’s infinite shelf life lies in its biological makeup: with a high sugar content and low water content, honey is also antibacterial and has a low pH.
However, just because honey can last forever if stored correctly, doesn’t mean the liquid won’t undergo some changes. Honey can change colors and texture, going from clear to smoky, from smooth to granular. These changes are completely harmless unless the honey has been contaminated by bacteria, and/ or exposed to moisture. How to tell if honey has gone bad? A sour, instead of a sweet taste, is the classic sign.

Types of Honey
It may be easy to assume there’s only one type of honey, being that it is a golden liquid made by bees, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, there are over 300 types of honey in the US alone! This all comes down to what flowers bees take their nectar from, which affects the flavor and color of honey produced. For example, buckwheat nectar has a malty, molasses like taste and is nearly black in color, while the extremely popular clover honey is very light in color and has a sweet, mild taste.

Uses and Health Benefits of Honey
Besides its use as a salve for sore throat during colds, honey is also effective at treating burns, wounds, ulcers, herpes, psoriasis, etc. as it enhances healing. A study has also shown honey as being effective in stopping the growth of cancer cells, due to the antioxidants within the liquid. Honey is also a great sugar alternative as it is low glycemic, meaning it won’t spike blood sugar, unlike regular sugar.
Contributed by Dermot Jones

Diablo Bee Classified

Deluxe 6/3 Frame Side Crank Extractor. Mounted on plywood. Used once. $300

Call Jim Hammill
Call 925-930-8577 to view
Located in south Walnut Creek

Liquidating a long-time beekeeping endeavor in Concord. 
For Sale: 8-frame and 10-frame Langstroth-style hive boxes and assorted equipment. 
Call Viktor Yusupov
415 706 1843

Cappings Requested
If you have unwanted cappings I will melt and clean them for the beeswax.
AND: Bee Suit Repairs
Please contact Lois Kail or 925.356.2602

The MDBA honey extractors (electric)
$20 for 1st day and $5 for days 2-5
$20 per day thereafter
For Concord area contact Lois Kail  925.356.2602
For Walnut Creek area contact Jaci Kildare at 925.708.1650

To Submit Articles or Classified Ads
Have you got something to share about bees?
Contact MDBA newsletter editor at
Deadline for submission is the 25th of each month

Announcements listed in the Diablo Bee are for the benefit of the members of the MDBA.  

Hive Box Dipping Service
Dermot Jones 
Hive dipping is an alternative to painting for wood preservation.  This process is quick, does not require space for drying, and should last much longer than paint or stain. Even better, it can sterilize equipment - including killing AFB spores, and is a recommended method for dealing  with disease risk. I have been researching this alternative technique for a few years now and this year (2021) decided to take the plunge and have a tank made. The tank is stainless, and will be  filled with a mixture of 2:1 paraffin to micro crystalline wax.  The wax is heated to 160 °  Celsius (302 °  Fahrenheit), and the boxes are  submerged for 10 minutes. The water within the boxes boils out, and it is replaced with wax. The boxes are ready to go as soon as they are dry and should last for decades.
Go to Jones Family Honey website to make an appointment.
Call 510.882.3612


If you are thinking about getting into Beekeeping or have been a Beekeeper for years and are thinking about insuring your equipment or need liability coverage, we offer a policy designed for you. Here are some of the benefits:
 Planning on selling honey at a farmer’s market? Most will require you to have liability coverage.
 Do your neighbor’s or others have concerns about the safety of your bees? The liability on this policy provides coverage for any harm your bees do including bee stings
 If a theft, vandalism or similar damage occurs to your bee boxes or other equipment you would be covered there too.
This policy costs at little at $310 per year for all these benefit and many more not listed If you would like to learn more, get a personalized quote please contact my office: or 925-866-2929 or 510-548-2929
Thanks Steve Bauer, State Farm Agent