Beekeeping in Washington


Beekeeping Facts and Information For Washington

Washington state law officially designates beekeepers as farmers. This distinction gives them the same tax breaks as farmers. Previously, beekeepers were considered services and not farmers. Beekeepers are dependent on the weather and other factors beyond their control. They deal in products such as honey and beeswax, and are therefore primarily dependent on market prices and the value of the products they sell. Here are some basic facts about beekeeping in Washington.

Beekeeping facts and information for Washington

Honey Bees Are Vegetarians

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The Washington Post reports that American honey bees aren’t on the endangered species list and are actually doing great. Despite the massive buzz about the Colony Collapse Disorder, the number of bee colonies is actually at an all-time high. This report comes on the heels of a major announcement on the topic. According to the National Agricultural Statistics Service, Washington state had 2.88 million honey bee colonies in 2017. That’s a drop of only one percent since 2007.

The bees’ diets are largely comprised of pollen and nectar, which they turn into honey. In the winter, bees depend on this sweet liquid as their only source of protein. Bees also produce food for their brood in glands on their heads. Think of flowers as a bee’s supermarket. It’s also easier for bees to make honey and other products from flowers without sacrificing the nutritional value of the pollen.

Bees have two stomachs: one for nutrition and the other for storage and processing. After taking nectar, the bee spits out the raw honey into a comb cell, where other worker bees fan it out to evaporate. The bees are vegetarians in Washington because they don’t want to eat humans. However, they can get defensive if they feel threatened. If threatened, they may sting humans or even kill them.

They Don’t Sting

In Washington, beekeepers are considered farmers. That means they are eligible for tax breaks. Before, beekeepers were classified as services. But as their business relies on weather and other factors out of their control, the state has recently passed legislation that officially classifies beekeepers as farmers. Beekeepers also get the same exemption from the B&O tax as farmers do. Those who make at least $10,000 in business are now eligible for the exemption.

In the state of Washington, beekeepers have suffered heavy overwintering losses for two consecutive years. In 2014 and 2015, Clark County reported a 47% loss rate, while backyarders have experienced losses of just over 48%. While the state has a relatively mild winter, fewer bees than usual have survived the winter, even if they were alive at the beginning of March. Beekeepers can determine what caused the colony to die by performing necropsies.

Another threat to beekeepers is Asian giant hornets, which can sting through beekeeping attire. Beekeepers should be cautious when approaching a hive because hornets are more dangerous than the local bees and wasps. A hornet’s stinger is longer than a honey bee’s. In addition, the venom from a hornet is much stronger than that of a honey bee.

They Store Nectar in Honeycomb Cells

Honeybees store nectar and pollen in honeycomb cells. Bees use these cells as a nursery, food store and hive. They lay eggs in honeycomb cells and hatch into white larvae. The larvae develop into adult bees, and the rows of larvae inside the honeycomb are called brood. Honeybees use the nectar and pollen in honeycomb to make honey.

The bees collect nectar from flowers and plants and convert it into sugars by breaking it down with enzymes in their stomachs. They then regurgitate the nectar into the honeycomb cells to produce wax, the base for honeycomb. The process is known as inversion, and the honeycomb is composed of six to eight pounds of honey. Honey is collected from the comb during a heavy flow of nectar and is then stored in honeycomb cells.

The queen and workers leave the hive for a mating flight. The queen has about five to forty drones, which store the sperm for later use. When the queen returns to the hive, she mates with the drones in the air and begins to lay eggs. Honeybees lay thousands of eggs during their lifetimes. Each egg is stored in a different honeycomb cell.

Beekeeping in Washington produces honey in the months between June and August. However, the season depends on your area. Washington bees produce honey from June to August, Colorado bees produce honey from April to October, and southern beekeeping colonies are active in spring, summer, and fall. During winter, bees stop making honey. But if you are able to locate an ideal location, you can enjoy the benefits of beekeeping in Washington.

They Produce Honey

Pollination efforts by honeybees in Washington contribute to the $3 billion economy of the state. Washington beekeepers generally harvest their honey at the end of summer. Beekeeping in Washington includes caring for the bees and cleaning the hives after the winter. Then, they inspect the food supply and administer a sugar solution to the bees. In some cases, they may even move hives from farm to farm.

Commercial beekeeping has been around for centuries. It’s a popular hobby in the Pacific Northwest. In the late 1800s, S.B. Parsons was commissioned by the US government to ship ten hives to northern Italy. Sadly, only two queens made the journey. Beekeeping in Washington spread to the west coast during the 1860s, with the help of John Harbison. Harbison was originally from Pennsylvania and expanded beekeeping across the United States.

The state of Washington officially designates beekeepers as farmers. Before, beekeeping was considered a service. But with tax exemptions for agriculture, beekeepers are now regarded as farmers. As a result, beekeepers can enjoy the same benefits as other farmers. Beekeeping in Washington is important because pollination helps grow crops and maintain the food supply. A farmer’s income is directly affected by market prices and weather.

They Aren’t Threatened by Pesticides

Several experienced beekeepers testified before the Washington Senate this week, citing the declining threat from pesticides. These include varroa mite, which is the primary cause of hive mortality in recent years. Newer pesticides are safer, and bans on neonics are likely to do more harm than good. Listed below are some of the reasons why Washington should not ban pesticides, and what you can do to protect your bees from the harmful effects of pesticides.

Many beekeepers complain that the government benefits are unfair and don’t cover their losses. In contrast, ranchers receive government assistance for losses caused by pesticide applications. Beekeepers may be eligible for the same benefits as ranchers. Pesticides also cause beekeepers to lose pollination services. So, beekeepers are not threatened by pesticides in Washington, but they’re hampered by political and economic issues.

Pesticides can be particularly harmful for honey bees. These chemicals are absorbed by pollen, and some can be passed into honey from bees’ honey. Some pesticides are systemic, and they can get into pollen in higher quantities than previously thought. Detecting the presence of these chemicals is very difficult, and it’s time-consuming and expensive. Beekeepers should monitor their bees for any evidence of pesticide use.

Cost of Beekeeping

In Washington, beekeepers are considered farmers under the state’s tax laws. The reason is that beekeepers are highly dependent on weather conditions and other factors outside their control. Beekeepers have argued for years that they should be considered farmers, so they can claim the same tax breaks as farmers. Furthermore, the state has extended the sales tax exemption for beekeepers to pollinator services, meaning they are now eligible for the same B&O tax breaks as wheat farmers.

The cost of beekeeping in Washington varies depending on the number of hives you want to register. Some states offer free registration for one to five hives, while others charge $10 per colony and $20 for six to forty hives. Once registered, beekeepers receive a certificate of registration. Some states require you to renew your registration every year, while others require it every few years. Beekeepers in Washington are required to register their hives yearly. However, this registration fee is small compared to the state’s other requirements.

Aside from the initial investment, new beekeepers will have to face an additional set of expenses. For the first year, the bees are likely to produce less honey than you’d like, as they need to produce wax and raise young bees. During the winter, you’ll have to store honey for future use. It’s essential to be patient with your new colony! After all, you’ll be able to reap the benefits in the long run.

FAQs

Beekeeping In Washington State

Beekeeping is a popular activity in Washington State. Residents can engage in beekeeping to support pollination, honey production, and ecosystem health. However, it’s essential to familiarize yourself with local regulations before starting.

Beekeeping Laws in Washington State

Washington State has regulations governing beekeeping practices. These laws cover topics such as hive registration, distance from property lines, and colony health inspections. Make sure to research and adhere to these laws to ensure responsible beekeeping.

Can You Do Beekeeping In Your Backyard?

Yes, you can keep bees in your backyard, but it’s important to follow local zoning regulations. Many urban and suburban areas have guidelines regarding hive placement, distances from property lines, and hive visibility. Check with your local authorities before setting up beehives.

How To Become A Beekeeper In Washington State

To become a beekeeper in Washington State, follow these steps:

  1. Research: Learn about beekeeping techniques, equipment, and safety measures.
  2. Training: Attend workshops, classes, or online courses to gain hands-on knowledge.
  3. Obtain Equipment: Purchase or build beehives, protective gear, and necessary tools.
  4. Obtain Bees: Purchase honeybee colonies or acquire them through reputable sources.
  5. Registration: Check if your state or county requires hive registration or permits.
  6. Hive Setup: Set up your beehives in a suitable location following regulations.
  7. Ongoing Care: Regularly inspect and maintain your hives, ensuring colony health.

How Beekeeping Works

Beekeeping involves providing a suitable environment for honeybees to thrive and produce honey. Beekeepers manage beehives, ensuring the bees have access to food, proper ventilation, and protection from pests and diseases. Beekeepers harvest honey and other hive products while supporting pollination efforts.

Should I Be A Beekeeper?

Beekeeping can be rewarding, but it requires dedication, time, and ongoing learning. Consider your interest, available resources, and commitment level before starting. Research local regulations, educate yourself about beekeeping, and assess if it aligns with your lifestyle.

Common Bees In Washington State

Several bee species are found in Washington State, including honeybees, bumblebees, and native solitary bees. These bees play a crucial role in pollination, supporting both agricultural and natural ecosystems.

Why Beekeeping Is Important

Beekeeping contributes to pollination, which is vital for many crops and plants. It helps increase food production, supports biodiversity, and ensures the health of ecosystems. Beekeeping also provides honey and other hive products.

Is Beekeeping Allowed In My City?

Whether beekeeping is allowed in your city depends on local regulations. Check with your city’s zoning department to understand any restrictions or requirements for keeping beehives in your area.

When Was Beekeeping Invented?

Beekeeping has ancient origins, dating back thousands of years. Early civilizations practiced beekeeping for honey and other hive products. The exact date of its invention is not known, but it has been an integral part of human history.

Where Can I Buy Bees In Washington State?

You can purchase honeybee colonies from reputable suppliers, local beekeeping associations, or beekeepers in Washington State. It’s essential to obtain healthy and disease-free bees from trusted sources.

What Types of Honey Bees Are Found in Washington State?

In Washington State, the most common type of honey bee is the European honey bee (Apis mellifera). This species is widely used in beekeeping for honey production and pollination.

How Do I Protect My Bees from Pests and Diseases?

To protect your bees from pests and diseases, follow good management practices. Regular hive inspections, proper sanitation, integrated pest management, and timely treatments can help maintain colony health.

What Are the Benefits of Pollination from Beekeeping?

Pollination by bees enhances crop yields, improves fruit quality, and supports ecosystem health. Beekeepers play a vital role in supporting agriculture and preserving biodiversity through their pollination services.

Can I Keep Bees for Honey Production Only?

Yes, many beekeepers keep bees primarily for honey production. However, it’s important to remember that bees also contribute to pollination and ecosystem health. Responsible beekeeping considers the well-being of the bees and their role in the environment.

Are There Different Types of Beehives for Beekeeping?

Yes, there are various types of beehives used in beekeeping, including Langstroth, top-bar, and Warre hives. Each type has its advantages and considerations, so choose the one that aligns with your goals and preferences.

How Do I Harvest Honey from Beehives?

Harvesting honey involves carefully removing frames of capped honey from the beehive. After extraction, the honeycomb cells are uncapped, and the honey is spun out using a honey extractor. The extracted honey is then filtered and stored for consumption.

What Safety Measures Should I Follow While Beekeeping?

Beekeeping involves working with stinging insects, so safety is crucial. Wear protective clothing, use smoke to calm bees, and approach hives calmly and confidently. Educate yourself about bee behavior and proper handling techniques to minimize risks.

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