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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, October 6, 2014. Open: 6:45P.M./Start: 7:00P.M.  All are welcome!
NOTE: We will not have a meeting in September. We'll be volunteering in the Bee Booth at the LA County Fair. (We're located behind the Big Red Barn). Buzz by - Say Hi!  

Next Beekeeping Class 101:  Sunday, October 12, 2014 (Tentative date) When the date is solid we'll post it on this site. Time: 9:00am-noon.  Location:  Bill's Bees Bee Yard. Topic: Keeping your bees healthy. BEE SUITS REQUIRED. Come, learn responsible beekeeping for an urban environment. Everyone welcome!.   

We're now on Facebook. Check our our official Los Angeles County Beekeeping Association page on Facebook and 'LIKE' us. We hope you enjoy the posts: 



IBRA: The Bee World Project 

IBRA's The Bee World Project 

The International Bee Research Association (IBRA) was established in 1949 for the advancement of beekeeping science. It is unique and has the largest database of scientific information on bees and bee related interests in the world.

IBRA is internationally recognised as the world’s single source and foremost provider of information on bees. Its database and information services, including journals, teaching aides and publications, embrace not only familiar domesticated bee species managed by man for their beneficial products but also countless other bee species. All bees are integral members of the living environment, and as such play vital roles in the balance and maintenance of the world’s renewable natural resources and security of the world’s food supplies.

Bees, as the world’s most prolific plant pollinators, play a central role in the evolution, diversity, survival and success of the world’s flora upon which so many organisms rely. The world’s bees together constitute one major factor in assuring the future of the Earth’s vegetation and as such have a critical part to play in humankind’s endeavours to achieve sustainable development.

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Why Aren't We Growing More Willows as an Abundant Source of Pollen for Bees?

Crops for Energy  By Kevin Lindegaard    September 12, 2014

Willows are sometimes called the Easter Tree as they come into bloom early in spring. Male varieties can be particularly showy and produce prolific displays of golden catkins. They aren’t just nice to look at – they provide a lifeline to foraging bees by providing an abundant source of pollen and nectar when there aren’t many alternatives. This essential ecosystem service has so far been under exploited in commercial food production but could be a major fringe benefit of growing short rotation coppice (SRC) willow as an energy crop.

The valuable contribution that different willow species provide is widely recognised by bee keepers. Frank Greenaway a bee keeper in Carmarthenshire has planted willows to help his bees through the late winter lean period. He explained why a plentiful supply of early pollen is so important:

“The adult bees feed a mixture of pollen and nectar to their grubs. It is the protein content of the pollen that they need to grow from egg to adult bee, nectar only gives them energy.   Adult bees eat a lot of nectar to enable them to keep warm and fly but actually eat very little pollen as all their growing is complete.   When a colony gets going in the spring the queen starts laying eggs like mad and the demand is for pollen to feed the grubs – this can be in February or even earlier in mild years – it is usually the availability of fresh pollen (and the odd day above 12 degrees C to allow them to collect it) that is the controlling factor. A healthy hive normally has some reserves of honey even at the end of winter but they never seem to have enough pollen”.

In the face of the decline in pollinator populations (there has been a 54% fall in honeybee hive numbers in England between 1985 and 2005), it’s high time that this potential was recognised and utilised by the wider farming and horticulture industries. Early pollen derived protein from willow could be key to building up insect population numbers and influence the level of pollination in both food crops and wild plant populations later in the season.   Currently around 20% of UK cropland is covered by insect pollinated crops (such as apples, plums, pears and oilseed rape) and the value of pollination to UK agriculture has been estimated at £400 million.

It’s possible that SRC willow could be planted in conjunction with food crops and provide essential pollination services. A quick trawl of the web indicates that the source is plentiful and quality of protein in the pollen is good – very good. Various online sources suggest that willows can yield 1,500 pounds of pollen per acre (1.68 tonnes per hectare). This sounds like an awful lot but is not as fanciful as you might imagine. A mature stand of SRC may have around 400 or more catkins per stool and based on a stocking rate of 15,000 plants per hectare that’s 6 million catkins. Each of these catkins would have to produce just 0.28 grams of pollen. To put that into context that’s a lot less than a tenth of a teaspoon of sugar.

A typical honey bee colony consisting of around 20,000 bees collects around 57 kg of pollen per year.  If we assume a pollen yield from male SRC willow catkins of 1.68 tonnes/year, a 1 hectare plantation could potentially provide enough pollen to support almost 30 colonies, that’s 600,000 honey bees!

The quality of the protein seems to vary between species. The American pussy willow (Salix discolor) has a crude protein content of 21.9% whilst the crack willow (Salix fragilis) is 14.8 – 15.1%. Anything above 20% is considered a good pollen source. Research suggests that bumblebees reared on high quality pollen result in larger workers that are more efficient at nectar collection, can fly in cooler temperatures, can collect from deeper flowers and may be less prone to predation.


As there are around 350 species of willows worldwide and countless hybrid combinations the odds of being able to actively select for increased pollen yield and quality are high. The UK SRC willow breeding programme has created crosses involving around 55 species of Salix, many of which have a large displays of male catkins. Until now the selection has been based on biomass yield rather than gender, pollen yield and crude protein content. As a result most of the varieties available are females that flower in Jan-Feb. However, the selection criteria could be expanded to look for male genotypes that provide a wealth of pollen at crucial times of the year – a few weeks in advance of key food crops grown in the UK.

The table below shows the time when different willow species and cultivars come into flower in the UK. Many of these varieties have already been used in breeding and have produced male genotypes with abundant pollen.

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LA County Fair - Bee Booth: Bee-Friendly Native Plants

“Insects are the little things that run the world.” E.0. Wilson, Harvard Entomologist 

Stop by the Bee Booth at the LA County Fair for a look at some of the beautiful native plants honey bees love. Learn how you can invite honey bees to your garden by planting bee-friendly native plants.

We thank The Theodore Payne Foundation (located in Sun Valley, CA) for the native plants on display.

For more information on planting for pollinators visit:  

For information on the LA County Fair - Bee Booth visit:


Syngenta asks US EPA to Raise Tolerance Level for Thiamethoxam

Agro News         September 10, 2014

Syngenta has petitioned U.S. EPA to increase the legal tolerance for a neonicotinoid pesticide (thiamethoxam) residue in several crops. The petition would apply to alfalfa, barley, corn and wheat, both the crop itself and the straw and stover left over after cultivation. Syngenta is seeking to increase the levels from as low as 1.5 times for stover from sweet corn to as much as 400 times for hay from wheat.

Syngenta is seeking to change the tolerance levels because the company wants to use thiamethoxam as a leaf spray -- rather than just a seed treatment -- to treat late- to midseason insect pests, said Ann Bryan, a spokeswoman for the company.

Seed treatments are systemic, meaning the insecticide travels through the entire plant, including the pollen. But foliar treatments are more likely to stick to the leaf, where risk to pollinators decreases.

"Growers depend on neonicotinoids and other crop protection products to increase crop productivity," said Bryan in an email. "Syngenta is committed to biodiversity, including thriving pollinators."

Scientists say neonicotinoids can suppress bees' immune systems, making them more vulnerable to viruses and bacteria. The Fish and Wildlife Service agreed to phase out neonicotinoids on wildlife refuges nationwide starting in January 2016.

The increased residues could become a problem if farmers are spraying thiamethoxam at a time when alfalfa is blooming, said Reed Johnson, a bee toxicologist and an associate professor of entomology at Ohio State University. But most commercial growers cut alfalfa before it makes flowers and pollen.

Switching from a systemic pesticide to a leaf spray can be a relatively good thing for bees, said Johnson, but if the spray drifts to other flowers nearby, pollinators could be exposed anyway.

EPA is accepting comments on the proposed changes, as well as amended tolerances for several other pesticides, until Oct. 6.

Beekeeping In Shennongjia Nature Reserve in central China's Hubei Province

Bee Craft B-Kids Club    Photos: Xindhua Landov        September 11, 2014

Beekeeping the hard way - you must BEE able to cope with heights!

This fearless Chinese beekeeper perches precariously among his bee hives on a mountain slope in the mountains of Shennongjia Nature Reserve in central China’s Hubei province - and this is his apiary. To work his bees, the beekeeper has to stand on top of one hive to get to the one above.

Beekeeping has been carried out in China since the second century and China currently produces half of the world's supply of honey.

Photos: Xindhua Landov

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