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Becoming an Urban Beekeeper 


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, February 2, 2015. Open: 6:45P.M./Start: 7:00P.M.  All are welcome!

Beekeeping Class 101:
  Our 2015 Beekeeping Class 101 begins February 15, 2015. Then as follows:  Feb. 15March 15April 19May 17June 14July 19Aug. 16Oct. 11. 

 Find the Los Angeles County Beekeepers Association on Facebook and LIKE us. 



Cancer Victory Receives Kings Royal Treatment

Auburn Journal   BY Gus Thomson   January 28, 2015

[Note: Bee-Girl, Sarah Red-Laird posted this inspirational story today on Facebook. If you were at the 2014 CSBA Convention, you may have met Justin. Thank you so much, Sarah, for sharing. Note from Sarah: "Justin is not only my bee conservation super twin, he is an amazing person, and a good friend who is real good at fixing busted windshield wipers during epic storms. And his story also goes to show that the relationship he has with the outdoors is mutually beneficial. While he was battling AGAINST cancer, he was also battling FOR something life giving and precious. Read on..."]

Placer Land Trust's Jason Wages honored by Kaiser Permanente, Sacramento Kings
Justin Wages (left), Placer Land Trust inspects the Aeolia Preserve on the edge of the American River Canyon with Jeff Ward, Stewardship Manager
More than 15,000 people watched and cheered Placer Land Trust’s land manager Justin Wages take the court at a Sacramento Kings game to be honored by Kaiser Permanente for his battle back from cancer.

Wages’ story was one of four highlighted by the Kings in partnership with Kaiser Permanente during Cancer Awareness Night.

The Jan. 16 event gave individuals and their supporters and caregivers an opportunity to tell their inspirational stories. For Wages, the night was even more a celebration because it came on the eve of the third anniversary of his last surgery to remove part of his lung, making him cancer-free.

Wages said the event was “incredible” in terms of the lives he could have an impact on by recounting his story. Kaiser Permanente showed a short video telling the story of Wages and his care team during the break after the first quarter. Then the group paraded on the court to thunderous applause.

Part of Wages’ role with the land trust is ensuring seeds are planted to promote future growth of oak woodlands. In fact, he was out with a youth group soon after the Kings game planting acorns on Land Trust overseen property.

Wages said Tuesday that he’s hoping his story will plant the seed of an idea in the minds of Kings fans to get screened for cancer.

“If just one person who was at the game goes in early and is checked out, rather than putting things off, and cancer is caught early, I’ll have made a difference,” Wages said.

Wages, 39, was working part-time at the Auburn-based land trust and attending Sierra College in 2009 when he was diagnosed with stage-four cancer.

“I had school, I had work, and I had cancer,” Wages said. “I couldn’t do all three. I didn’t have a choice about the cancer, so I chose work and Placer Land Trust became my rock.”

Wages underwent chemotherapy and five surgeries, all the while keeping up his work and spirits at the land trust.

“I’d be up at 5 a.m. scattering seeds at one of our preserves and I’d have to go behind a tree to throw up,” Wages said.

Co-workers marveled at his dedication. Placer Land Trust Assistant Director Jessica Daugherty recalled that in the middle of a drought, Wages showed his concern after wildflowers had been planted and there was a possibility they would dry up in the heat.

“Even though he was fresh out of surgery and totally sick, he hiked out there in the heat – with a chemo bag slung over his shoulder – so he could water the seeds,” Daugherty said.

For Wages, the work was his bedrock and his colleagues some of his greatest supporters through some tough times emotionally and physically....

Read the entire article at...


The Bee Solution to Winter

The New York Times - Environment   By C. Claiborne Ray   January 26, 2015

Q. Do bees hibernate, especially where temperatures are below freezing for extended periods? Why don’t they just freeze?

A. Many bees hibernate, though some, including honeybees, do not, said Scott McArt, a research scientist in the department of entomology at the Cornell University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

“Most bee species in northern climates overwinter in dormant stages,” Dr. McArt said. “For example, queen bumblebees will mate in the fall, then crawl into a crevice and overwinter alone, protected from the elements.”

The queens emerge in spring and found new colonies, which are productive through the summer, Dr. McArt said. Then, in the fall, new queens are produced by the colony to find a mate and continue the cycle.

“Honeybees are different,” Dr. McArt said. “The major reason they produce so much honey is so the entire colony can survive through the winter by feeding on it.”

The colony forms itself into a tightly packed ball, he said, “shivering” to produce heat and using the honey for fuel.

“The bees on the outside of the cluster act as insulators,” he said, “while the innermost bees generate the heat. They continually rotate their position, alternating roles as heat producer and recipient.”

Read at...


With Pollinator Declines, Millions at Risk for Malnutrition

EurekAlert     University of Vermont    January 26, 2015

Bees allow farms to thrive. But new research from UVM and Harvard scientists shows how bees and other pollinators may be crucial to human health too. The study in PLOS ONE presents the first-ever empirical test of how declining pollinators may increase risk of nutrient deficiencies -- with worrisome connections to diseases like measles and malaria, so prevalent in the developing world.A new study shows that more than half the people in some developing countries could become newly at risk for malnutrition if crop-pollinating animals -- like bees -- continue to decline.

Despite popular reports that pollinators are crucial for human nutritional health, no scientific studies have actually tested this claim -- until now. The new research by scientists at the University of Vermont and Harvard University has, for the first time, connected what people actually eat in four developing countries to the pollination requirements of the crops that provide their food and nutrients.

"The take-home is: pollinator declines can really matter to human health, with quite scary numbers for vitamin A deficiencies, for example," says UVM scientist Taylor Ricketts who co-led the new study, "which can lead to blindness and increase death rates for some diseases, including malaria."

It's not just plummeting populations of bees. Scientists around the world have observed a worrisome decline of many pollinator species, threatening the world's food supply. Recent studies have shown that these pollinators are responsible for up to forty percent of the world's supply of nutrients.

The new research takes the next step. It shows that in some populations -- like parts of Mozambique that the team studied, where many children and mothers are barely able to meet their needs for micronutrients, especially vitamin A -- the disappearance of pollinators could push as many as 56 percent of people over the edge into malnutrition.

The study, "Do Pollinators Contribute to Nutritional Health?" was led by Alicia Ellis and Taylor Ricketts at UVM's Gund Institute for Ecological Economics and Samuel Myers at the Harvard School of Public Health. It appears in the Jan. 9 issue of the journal PLOS ONE.

The "hidden hunger" associated with vitamin and mineral deficiencies is estimated to harm more than 1 in 4 people around the globe, the scientists note, contributing to increased risk of many diseases, reduced IQ and diminished work productivity. "Continued declines of pollinator populations could have drastic consequences for global public health," the team writes.

"This is the first study that quantifies the potential human health impacts of animal pollinator declines," says Myers. Earlier studies have shown links between pollinators and crop yields -- and between crop yields and the availability of food and nutrients. "But to evaluate whether pollinator declines will really affect human nutrition, you need to know what people are eating," Myers explains. So the new study examined the full pathway from pollinators through to detailed survey data about people's daily diets in parts of Zambia, Mozambique, Uganda and Bangladesh.

"How much mango? How much fish?" says Ricketts. "And from that kind of data we can find out if they get enough vitamin A, calcium, folate, iron and zinc." Then the scientists were able to examine the likely impact a future without pollinators would have on these diets.

And for parts of the developing world, that future could well include "an increase in neural tube defects from folate deficiency or an increase in blindness and infectious diseases from vitamin A deficiency," Myers says, "because we have transformed our landscapes in ways that don't support animal pollinators anymore."

"We find really alarming effects in some countries for some nutrients and little to no effect elsewhere," Ricketts says. On the bleak end of the spectrum, the team projected little difference in Bangladesh, since so many people there are already malnourished. And, at the other end of the spectrum, Zambia should be relatively insulated from this risk. That's because -- though the scientists project reductions in the intake of vitamin A with pollinator declines in Zambia -- "there is so much vitamin A in the diet already that it didn't push very many people below the threshold," Myers explains.

This new study fits into an emerging field of research exploring how the very rapid transformation of Earth's natural systems affects human health. The big picture? "Ecosystem damage can damage human health," Ricketts says, "so conservation can be thought of as an investment in public health."

Read at...


Bees Were the Original 3-D Printers

re/   By Nellie Bowles    January 24, 2015


Autodesk, which makes 3-D modeling software and has been hosting residencies for more than 100 artists over the last three years, opened its first ever art show last night.

Set on the waterfront Embarcadero neighborhood in San Francisco, the Autodesk office at Pier 9 (their main one is downtown) is largely a workshop, packed with enormous 3-D printers and water jet slicers, and the coveted residency program (which lets artists loose with the machines) has been largely a quiet phenomenon.

So last night, around 60 artists stood proudly next to their pieces for the residency program’s first show, which sold out its two-day run in minutes, much to the surprise of organizer Noah Weinstein, who said he had no idea so many people wanted to see this work, and that he’d be finding a bigger space.

A taco truck had pulled up next to the office, and inside people drank margaritas. The only music came from a radiation wind chime by the artist JoeJoe Martin — made with Geiger-Muller tubes and a Rasberry Pi computer, wind chimes played when the piece encountered Beta and Gamma radiation. The revelry mixed with mysterious large-scale machinery gave the space a Santa’s workshop energy.

Jennifer Robin Berry, 38, Sausalito, biologist

Piece: “The Virgin Queen and the Almond” made of beeswax, honey, stainless steel, laser-cut acrylic, electronics, CAM software.

“When I came here, I didn’t know how to use the 3D printer, but I knew about bees, and I thought — Bees are 3-D printers. Bees were the original 3-D printers.

“So I spent most of my semester experimenting with the bees and trying to get them to participate and collaborate. I created light boxes, cut the comb, stacked it, and they attached it in places, cut it in others, built passages and reinforced the structure.”


Visit more artwork of Jennifer Robin Berry...


More Beekeepers Sour on Profession as Winter Die-Offs Continue

 The Wall Street Journal   By Tennille Tracy  January 23, 2015

Rising Cost of Doing Business Takes Toll on Industry that Pollinates $15 Billion of Crops 

Orin Johnson, a second-generation beekeeper in California, has started to consider a life without his 500 colonies of honey bees.

At 67, he doesn’t work as fast as he once did, and yet his bees require greater amounts of time and money to maintain. A near constant barrage of threats, from pesticides to parasites, wiped out more than half of Mr. Johnson’s colonies last year.

“The costs are just getting out of hand,” he said. “I’m getting tired of it.”

Plenty of Mr. Johnson’s colleagues are in the same boat. Increasing numbers of beekeepers, who are generally in their 50s and 60s, are considering early retirement or are being forced out of business as honey bees continue to die at alarming rates.

For nearly a decade, beekeepers have been losing roughly 30% of their bees each winter, above the 19% depletion rate they say is sustainable, according to the Bee Informed Partnership, a group funded by the Agriculture Department to study bee health. While beekeepers can replenish their colonies by splitting and repopulating healthy hives, it is hard for them to recoup the costs of doing so.

“We’re not worried about the bees going extinct,” said Dennis vanEngelsdorp, a bee researcher at the University of Maryland. “We’re worried about the beekeepers going extinct.”

The government doesn’t track employment statistics on commercial beekeepers, but the White House cited particular concern over the fate of professional beekeepers when it created a task force in June to address bee deaths.

Tim Tucker, president of the American Beekeeping Federation and a beekeeper in Kansas, said the number of professional beekeepers on its membership roster has fallen by at least half in the last two decades.

A dwindling supply of beekeepers is troubling for U.S. agriculture. Honey bees pollinate more than $15 billion of crops each year, including almonds, apples and cherries, and are responsible for pollinating one-third of the American diet. Without enough beekeepers, U.S. crop production could slow, forcing consumers to pay more for their food or rely more heavily on imported items.

Almond growers, who rely almost exclusively on honey bees for pollination, have seen the price of bee rentals increase 30% since 2006. Paramount Farms in California, one of the country’s largest almond growers, has started to look for beekeeping operations it can own independently to ensure a steady supply of pollinators as times get tougher for beekeepers.

The honey bee crisis dates back to at least 2006, when beekeepers first reported a troubling phenomenon known as colony collapse disorder. Adult bees were simply vanishing from their hives, leaving behind the younger bees, the queen and the honey.

There are now about 2.5 million honey-producing colonies, according to the Agriculture Department. That is about flat from 15 years ago, but masks the fact that the total number of large commercial beekeepers has fallen by at least several hundred, while the number of small hobbyists has grown, Mr. Tucker said. The colony total is down from 6 million in the 1940s.

There are signs this winter will bring more hefty losses, Mr. Tucker said. He lost nearly 40% of his colonies between September and November.

It is still unclear what is killing the bees. Scientists blame a combination of parasites, pesticides and poor nutrition, among other factors, but haven’t determined a single cause.

The Varroa mite, a blood-sucking parasite that weakens bees and brings diseases into the hive, is a common culprit. At the Department of Agriculture’s bee laboratory in Beltsville, Md., scientists routinely dissect and inspect dead bees, sent to them by beekeepers nationwide, looking for signs of the mite.

“If we could remove the Varroa mite from the equation, we’d be back at a sustainable level of loss,” said Jay Evans, a research entomologist at the Agriculture Department.

With so many potential threats to their bees, veteran beekeepers say their job has gotten increasingly expensive and complex.

The annual cost of maintaining a hive has quadrupled in the last 15 years, Mr. Tucker said. It now costs about $230,000 a year for a professional beekeeper running a modest 2,000 hives. Expensive items include mite treatments and protein supplements that support the bees’ diet as natural forage options dwindle.

Jim Doan, a third-generation beekeeper in New York state, was forced to sell his 112-acre farm in 2013, after losing most of his bees several years in a row. He tried to bounce back, buying new hives and diligently trying to ward off pests and disease, but nothing worked. Mr. Doan blames pesticides for the death of his bees. “I love the bee business, but I don’t see a future in the bee business,” he said.

For now, beekeepers say they are being kept afloat by high honey prices, which reached a record $2.12 a pound in 2013, according to the most recent government data, and the lucrative pollination fees they receive from farmers.

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