Welcome to the Los Angeles County Beekeepers Association!
For over 130 years the Los Angeles County Beekeepers Association has been serving the Los Angeles Beekeeping Community. Our group membership is composed of commercial and small scale beekeepers, bee hobbyists, and bee enthusiasts. So whether you came upon our site by design or just 'happened' to find us - welcome! Our primary purpose is the care and welfare of the honeybee. We achieve this through education of ourselves and the general public, supporting honeybee research, and practicing responsible beekeeping in an urban environment.
"The bee is more honored than other animals, not because she labors, but because she labors for others." Saint John Chrysostom
Next LACBA Meeting: Monday, April 6, 2015. Open: 6:45P.M./Start: 7:00P.M. All are welcome!
Beekeeping Class 101: Our next class is Sunday, April 19, 2015 (9am-Noon) at Bill's Bees Bee Yard. Topic: What goes on inside a bee hive. You won't want to miss it!
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THE LATEST BUZZ:
Washington University in St. Louis By Diane Lutz March 25, 2015
Redistributed industrial metal is present at levels harmful to bees
Asked to name one way people have changed the environment, many people would probably say “global warming.” But that’s really just the start of it.
People burn fossil fuels, but they also mine and manufacture. It’s who we are: Homo fabricus: man the maker. And as a side effect of our ingenuity and craft we have taken many metals originally buried safely in Earth’s depths and strewn them about the surface.
Does it matter? Yehuda Ben-Shahar and Eirik Søvik, biologists at Washington University in St. Louis, together with colleagues from Andrew Barron’s lab at Macquarie University in Australia, have publishd a study of honey bees in the March 24 online issue of Biology Letters that suggests we answer this question too glibly.
The scientists looked at the effect of low levels of manganese, a common industrial pollutant, on the behavior of honey bees. At levels considered safe for human food, the metal seemed to addle bees: they advanced through age-related work assignments faster than normal, yet completed fewer foraging trips than their sisters who were not exposed to manganese.
“We’ve known for a long time that high doses of manganese kill neurons that produce dopamine, causing a Parkinsonian-like disease in people,” said Ben-Shahar. “In insects, as well, high levels of manganese kill dopaminergic neurons, reducing levels of dopamine in the brain.
“But in this study we were looking at low-level exposure and we saw the opposite effect. Instead of reducing dopamine levels, manganese increased them. Increases in dopamine and related neurotransmitters probably explain some of the abnormal behavior, ” Ben-Shahar said.
Paradoxically, a trace amount of manganese is essential for life. All living organisms rely on the chemical properties of this metal to drive reactions in cells and to mop up the toxic byproducts of cellular life in the presence of oxygen.
“We evolved in an environment where there was little manganese, and so we developed ways to pump it into our cells,” Ben-Shahar said. “But now environmental levels are quite different from those to which we are adapted and we don’t really know what that means for human health.”
“When we try to understand pathologies, we often look at extremes,” he added. “We tend to ignore more modulatory changes like this one and assume we don’t need to worry about them. But that may be a mistake. The bees, which vacuum up everything in the environment, might be serving as an early warning indicator of an environmental toxin.”
A gene named Malvolio
Ben-Shahar didn’t set out to discover the effect of manganese on bee behavior. Instead he was trying to study the link between responsiveness to sugar and the reward circuit in the brain. When a honey bee detects sugar, it reflexively extends its proboscis, a stereotyped behavior that can be experimentally manipulated and quantified.
The older the bee, the more responsive it is to sugar. In honey bee colonies tasks are divided according to age. For the first two to three weeks of adult life, bees typically take care of the brood in the hive. They then shift to foraging outside the hive for the remainder of their 5- to 7-week life.
In 1995 scientists screening for genes that affect sugar response in fruit flies discovered a gene that reduced it. They named it Malvolio, after a sour character in Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night who is accused of wanting to outlaw cakes and ale.
Malvolio was later shown to encode a protein that pumps manganese across cell membranes, Ben-Shahar said. In 2004 he published results that showed that age-related transitions in honey bees are associated with increased expression of the Malvolio gene and higher levels of manganese in brain cells.
Ben-Shahar wondered why manganese changed feeding behavior. At high doses it affects a dopaminergic pathway in the brain that is associated with motor control. This is why manganese toxicity causes Parkinsonian-like symptoms, such as tremor and rigidity in humans.
But another dopaminergic pathway reinforces behaviors such as eating or sex. What if low levels of manganese modulated feeding through this pathway, he wondered. Perhaps manganese offered a handle, a tool, to manipulate the reward circuit and to better understand how it works.
Making life rewarding
To make the connection between diet and behavior, he needed to be able to quantify tiny amounts of neurotransmitters (chemicals that transmit signals between neurons) in bee brains. He contacted co-author Andrew Barron of Macquarie University. Eirik Søvik, the first author on the paper, was then a doctoral student in Barron’s lab and is now a postdoctoral research associate in Ben-Shahar’s lab.
The two labs collaborated to study levels of these molecules in the brains of fruit flies and honey bees fed differing levels of manganese. They also tracked the bees by attaching radio-frequency tags to them when they were a day old (and “still soft, fluffy, and unable to sting you,” said Søvik).
In both honey bees and fruit flies, exposure to manganese at levels considered safe for humans increased brain levels of dopamine and octopamine (a neurotransmitter important in insects). At the higher exposures it also altered the behavior of the bees, which became foragers sooner than normal, but made relatively few foraging trips, perhaps because they got lost or tired.
“Manganese is not the number one dangerous thing out there in the environment,” Ben-Shahar said. “Nor do we know if it affects our brains the same way it does those of insects. Nobody has done the studies. But even if it has no impact on us, it clearly affects bees, and we depend on bees for most of the fruits and vegetable in our diets.”
BBC News By Zoe Kleinman March 24, 2015
A tiny new tracker designed to monitor bee behaviour is being tested by ecologists at Kew Gardens in London.
It is made from off-the-shelf technology and is based on equipment used to track pallets in warehouses, said its creator Dr Mark O'Neill.
Readers, used to pick up a signal from the kit, are connected to Raspberry Pi computers, which log the readings.
The device has a reach of up to 2.5m (8.2ft). Previously used models were restricted to 1cm (0.4in).
The tracker consists of a standard RFID (radio frequency identification) chip and a specially designed aerial, which Dr O'Neill has created to be thinner and lighter than other models used to track small insects, allowing him to boost the range.
The engineer, who is technical director at the Newcastle-based tech firm Tumbling Dice, is currently trying to patent the invention.
"The first stage was to make very raw pre-production tags using components I could easily buy", he said.
"I want to make optimised aerial components which would be a lot smaller."
"I've made about 50 so far. I've soldered them all on my desk - it feels like surgery."
The average "forage time" for a worker bee is around 20 minutes, suggesting they have a forage range of around 1km (0.6 miles) , Dr O'Neill explained.
The idea is to have readers dotted around a hive and flower patch in order to track the signals as the bees move around freely in the wild.
The tiny trackers, which are just 8mm (0.3in) high and 4.8mm (1.9in) wide, are stuck to the bees with superglue in a process which takes five to 10 minutes. The bees are chilled first to make them more docile.
"They make a hell of a noise," acknowledged Dr O'Neill.
He told the BBC he hoped that the trackers - which weigh less than a bee and are attached at their centre of gravity so as not to affect their flight - would remain attached for their three-month expected lifespan.
They have only been fitted to worker bees, which do not mate.
"If an animal ate one, I guess it would have a tracker in its stomach," Dr O'Neill said.
"But the attrition rate for field worker bees is very low. Most die of old age - they are very competent, and good at getting out of the way."
Dr Sarah Barlow, a restoration ecologist from Kew Gardens, was involved in testing the as-yet unnamed trackers.
"These tags are a big step forward in radio technology and no one has a decent medium to long range tag yet that is suitable for flying on small insects," she said.
"This new technology will open up possibilities for scientists to track bees in the landscape.
"This piece of the puzzle, of bee behaviour, is absolutely vital if we are to understand better why our bees are struggling and how we can reverse their decline."
World Organic News By Mary MacGregor Reid March 22, 2015
Honeybees navigate according to a map-like spatial memory
Using radar scientists tracked the flight paths of displaced bees – the bees are captured leaving the hive or a feeder they are familiar with and are released in unexpected sites in their general territory. Behavioural routines are recorded:
1) Straight flights in which they fly the course that they were on when they were captured on a foraging flight or that they learned from directions given from bee dances (those are called recruited bees).
2) Slow search flights where they fly with frequent direction changes in order to get their bearings.
3) Straight rapid flights to the hive or the feeder even from unexpected places in their territory where they have no visual connection to either hive or feeder.
“Two essential criteria of a map-like spatial memory are met by these results: bees can set course at any arbitrary location in their familiar area, and they can choose between at least two goals. This finding suggests a rich, map-like organization of spatial memory in navigating honey bees.”
Menzel, R. et al (2004) Proceedings of the National Academy of Science of the United States of America (website)
Diagram showing homing flights via the feeder (Fs) to the hive (H)
It is commonly accepted that bees use the sun as a reference point in both communication (waggle dance) and navigation, and that this is an innate understanding. Attempts to model this have apparently been unsuccessful.
Karl Von Frisch received the Nobel Prize for discovering one of the most difficult to fathom complexities of honeybee behaviour; their ability to ‘talk’ to each other abstractly through the Figure 8 Dance of the honeybee. The direction the bee moves in relation to the hive indicates direction pf pollen source. If it moves vertically upwards the direction to the source is directly towards the sun. The duration of the waggle signifies the distance. A waggle dance consists of one to 100 or more circuits, each of which consists of two phases: the waggle phase and the return phase. A worker bee’s waggle dance involves running through a small figure-eight pattern: a waggle followed by a turn to the right to circle back to the starting point (return phase), another waggle run, followed by a turn and circle to the left, and so on in a regular alternation between right and left turns after waggle runs. Waggle-dancing bees produce and release two alkanes that also seem to act as additional communication.
Unusual fact: Apparently honeybees cannot see white, hence the colour of beekeeping suits.
WGNtv.com By Associated Press March 22, 2015
ST. GEORGE, Utah (AP) — A bee attack during a baseball game in St. George forced players and spectators to flee and sent one man to the hospital.
St. George Fire Capt. Robert Hooper says the man was stung between 200 and 300 times late Friday morning at Elk’s Field.
But he told the Deseret News the man didn’t exhibit any signs of a severe reaction, and was alert and talking to emergency responders. His name wasn’t immediately released.
Several other people were treated for stings at the scene.
Lone Peak High School baseball coach Matt Bezzant told The Spectrum newspaper of St. George that the bees came from a dugout and players were chased by as many as 70 bees at one point.
Fire crews doused the dugout area with a chemical foam to combat the bees.
Read at and View News Coverage: http://wgntv.com/2015/03/22/man-stung-100s-of-times-in-bee-attack-at-baseball-game/