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This is the official website for the Los Angeles County Beekeepers Association, established in 1873. We are a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization.


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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, June 5, 2017. Meeting: 7PM. Open Board Meeting: 6PM.

LACBA Beekeeping Class 101:
 Class #5, Saturday, June 10, 2017, 9AM-Noon, hosted at The Valley Hive. See our Beekeeping Class 101 page for details & directions. BEE SUITS REQUIRED.

Check out our Facebook page for lots of info and updates on bees; and please remember to LIKE US: 



Students Turn Bee Keepers to Research Honey Bee Taste Receptors

Linfield University Biology Research     By Idavis    May 19, 2017

For three Linfield College science students, research was literally buzzing this spring.

Seniors Tyler Griffin, Alaire Hughey and Renee LaFountain, members of the Animal Behavior biology course, spent five weeks of the semester studying the behavior and ecology of honey bees with Chad Tillberg, associate professor of biology.

Covered from head-to-toe in white cotton bee suits and veils, they spent some afternoons working with hives on the outskirts of campus. This week, they used a smoker to calm the bees, then moved a few dozen to a plastic cooler where the cold slowed their movements even more. Then, using spray adhesive, the students lightly adhered bees to the tips of bamboo skewers for closer viewing.

“That’s the thing about field ecology,” says Tillberg. “It’s really high-tech.”

From there, they dip the bees’ feet in a wide range of varying sugar solutions, looking to see which sweeteners the bees can or cannot detect. They tested eight different sugars at six different concentrations for each sugar. Their goal was to see whether or not honey bees have taste receptors for different sugar types. They found that bees responded to the main sugar components of most floral nectars — fructose, glucose and sucrose — as well as maltose, a disaccharide of glucose. The bees did not respond to other sugars, nor to the artificial sweetener saccharin.

During these labs, students have had hands-on experience working with bee colonies and have become comfortable around the hives as well.

“It’s kind of weird to be in a swarm of buzzing bees,” said Hughey, describing the hypnotic sound. “I actually took a nap when we were waiting one day. I just lied down in my suit by the hive.”

Tillberg, who has kept bees at his home on and off for 10 years, hopes to have a honey harvest in August. With the prolonged cold weather this year, warm foraging days have been scarce and Tillberg has been feeding the bees a sugar solution.

“I’m interested to see what kind of year it’s going to be for bees because it’s been the wettest winter and spring in 75 years. I’m not even sure what normal is anymore,” said Tillberg. “There are a few things in flower now and producing pollen so they’re also out there looking, but they’re not quite in full summer-swing yet.”


Nicotine Enhances Bees’ Activity

Queen Mary University of London     May 16, 2017

Nicotine-laced nectar can speed up a bumblebee’s ability to learn flower colours, according to scientists at Queen Mary University of London (QMUL).   

The researchers used artificial flowers in a tightly-monitored flight arena in the laboratory to mimic how flowering plants use animals as pollen carriers and reward pollinators with sugars found in floral nectar.

30 bees were allowed to forage on two types of types of flowers – one which contained a sugar solution and was blue in colour. The second type of artificial flower was purple in colour and had different concentrations of nicotine. Another 30 were tested with the two flower colours having the opposite contents.

The experiment was repeated with the nicotine-laced flowers having three different concentrations of nicotine - two of which were found within the natural range and another that was much higher. Only the unnaturally high concentration of nicotine deterred the bees from foraging for nectar.

Do the drugs work?

The team sought to understand whether nicotine plays a role in the bees’ ability to learn flower colours. In a follow-up experiment, 60 bees had to choose between flowers that had a sugar solution and another that was laced with nicotine – differentiated by the colour of the flower.   

The bees learned about the flowers with reward (ones that contained the sugar solution) faster if it had been laced with nicotine, even at very low concentrations. The bees maintained a predisposition for the flower even after the reward had been removed, resulting in ‘addiction-like’ behaviour from the bee.

Professor Lars Chittka from QMUL’s School of Biological and Chemical Sciences, said: “Flowers typically reward pollinators ‘honestly’ with rewards such as sweet nectar, but nature’s trick box is endlessly resourceful: some plant species gain an unfair advantage over competing species by spiking their nectar with addictive substances, such as nicotine in tobacco flowers.

“Here we find that bees not only remember such flowers better, but even keep coming back for more when these flowers are demonstrably poorer options, as if they were truly hooked on these flowers.”

Complex learning

The research, published today (Tuesday 16 May) in the journal Scientific Reports, adds to the Chittka lab’s understanding of how bees – insects with a brain no bigger than a pinhead – can perform complex tasks.

Previously the lab has shown that bees can be trained to roll balls, effectively scoring a goal, and pull strings to obtain food. They have also shown, with researchers at Royal Holloway, University of London, that bumblebees that have been infected by parasites seek out flowers with nicotine in the nectar, likely to fight off the infection. The nicotine appears to slow the progression of disease in infected bees but has harmful effects when consumed by healthy bees.

The current research suggests that plants might manipulate pollinator behaviour for their own good, using psychoactive substances such as nicotine in the nectar.  

Psychoactive properties

Co-author Dr David Baracchi who is now based at the University of Toulouse in France said: “I am convinced that what we found with this study is just the tip of the iceberg. Plants may have hundreds of metabolites in their nectars and it is possible that many of them have to some degree similar psychoactive properties."
A potential concern is that nicotine acts on the same parts of the nervous system as neonicotenoids – popular pesticides that might make some flowers addictively attractive to bees – even though these substances are toxic for insects.  

Journal Reference:

D. Baracchi, A. Marples, A. J. Jenkins, A. R. Leitch, L. Chittka. Nicotine in floral nectar pharmacologically influences bumblebee learning of floral features. Scientific Reports, 2017; 7 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41598-017-01980-1

More information:

Nicotine in floral nectar pharmacologically influences bumblebee leaning of floral features’ by D. Baracchi et al is published in the journal Scientific Reports on Tuesday 16 May.


What Can Bees Teach Us About Business?

BBC Business News     May 8, 2018

Love Bees?  What have you learned from bees?


Bears Raiding Bee Colonies: They're Seeking the Brood

Bug Squad    By Kathy Keatley Garvey     May 18, 2017

A huge financial loss: this is an example of the damage a bear can do in the bee yard.(Photo courtesy of Jackie Park-Burris, Palo Cedro)Yes, bears raid honey bee colonies.

But it's primarily for the bee brood, not the honey.

The brood provides the protein, and the honey, the  carbohydrates. For beekeepers and commercial queen bee breeders, this can wreak havoc. Financial havoc.

The American Beekeeping Federation, headed by Gene Brandi of Los Gatos, recently asked Extension apiculturist emeritus Eric Mussen of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology to respond to a question about bees and bears.

Mussen, who retired in 2014 after 38 years of service (but he still remains active from his office in Briggs Hall), is from Minnesota, where the bears are and he isn't. He's managed to photograph a few bears, though, on family outings to Lake Tahoe.

We thought we'd share his response about bees and bears. Jackie Park-Burris of Palo Cedro, who owns Jackie Park-Burris Queens, kindly let us post some of her photos so our readers can see what bear damage looks like.  A past president of the California State Apiary Board and the California State Beekeepers' Association, she's a member of the noted Homer Park beekeeping family and has been involved with bees all of her life. She's been breeding Park Italian queens since 1994.

But back to Eric Mussen, the bee guru who has answered tons of questions during his 38-year academic career and who's now serving his sixth term as president of the Western Apicultural Society. (The society, founded in Davis, will gather \Sept. 5-8 in Davis for its 40th annual meeting, returning to its roots.)

"Bears eat both meat and plants (berries) etc. whenever they can find them," Mussen says. "Most people think that a bear has a sweet tooth, since it is attracted to beehives. While it is true that bears will eat some honey if it gains access to a hive, a closer look shows that it will eat all of what we call 'brood' first, and then eats a little honey."

Eric MussenMussen describes bee brood "as made up of bee eggs, larvae, and pupae."  Since the queen may be laying between 1000 and 2000 eggs a day, "quite a bit of brood can accumulate before the end of the 21-day period that it takes to complete development from egg to adult female worker bee (24 days for the drones)."

"Bears have a pretty good sense of smell, so they can smell a beehive if they get downwind of a nearby colony," Mussen points out. "If the colony is living in a tree, often the bear literally tears the tree apart to get to the bees.  Unfortunately, they will claw and dig into a man-made beehive, as well.  They leave the covers scattered all over; the hive boxes scattered and often broken; the combs pulled out, broken, and strewn about in the apiary; and the combs that had brood in them will have the comb eaten out.  The colony will not survive and there may be very little undamaged equipment to salvage."

"To a small-scale beekeeper," Mussen says, "the financial loss is not too severe.  However, losing the colony, that requires so much effort to keep healthy these days, is quite a blow.  For commercial operators, who may not revisit the apiary for a couple weeks, it can mean a very substantial economic loss."

"The correct type of well-maintained bear fence usually is very effective at keeping bears away from the hives.  However, that holds true only for situations in which the bear has not had previous positive experiences ripping apart man-made beehives.  In that case, the bear expects a substantial reward for barging through the stinging fence and getting into the hives."

What to do? "Most beekeepers have no desire to kill bears, but they do desire to keep their colonies alive," Mussen says. "Often, attempts are made to capture the offending bear, tag it, and move it away far enough that it should not return.  Some of the wildlife specialists marvel in how far away a bear can be taken away and still return. Bears that cannot stay away from apiaries, or away from people's houses, or away from trash containers, etc., sometimes have to be eliminated.  It is best to have this done by agency personnel, but sometimes in remote areas the beekeepers get deprivation permits and kill the bear themselves.  In Northern California, the beekeeper has to notify the wildlife people of the kill, and the carcass has to be inspected to be certain that specific, black market body parts have not been removed from the bear.  The carcass then is buried in a landfill, or once in a while used in institutional food."

Occasionally Bug Squad hears of bears raiding honey bee hives in rural Solano County. We remember a story about a beekeeper/queen breeder in Mix Canyon, Vacaville, who was losing his hives to a "wild animal." The loss? Reportedly about $30,000. He set up a stealth camera and....photographed a 300-pound black bear. 

"Bears have a pretty good sense of smell," as Mussen says, and the result can be "a very substantial economic loss."

This is what bear damage to a hive looks like. This photo was provided by Jackie Park-Burris of Palo Cedro, who owns Jackie Park-Burris Queens. (Photo courtesy of Jackie Park-Burris.)

A bear scattered frames all over this bee yard, as it went for the brood and then the honey. (Photo courtesy of Jackie Park-Burris, Palo Cedro.)

A bear wreaked havoc in this bee yard. (Photo courtesy of Jackie Park-Burris, Palo Cedro.)

 This image of a bear snagging fish was taken at Lake Tahoe by Eric Mussen, Extension apiculturist emeritus, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. He's been answering questions about bears and bees for more than three decades.


Glory Bee: Beekeeping 101 Guide

Glory Bee  

So you’d like to become a beekeeper? We’ve put together a series of lessons to help get you started keeping bees.

The tradition of keeping bees, teaching beekeeping and enjoying the late summer honey harvest is both a family tradition and an important part of our company. We invite you to share in this tradition – let us help you get started with your first hive, some essential beekeeping toolsprotective clothing, or additional beekeeping resources.

In addition, this Beekeeping Calendar gives a great overview of what is happening in the hive at all times of the year.


Lesson 1: The History of Beekeeping

Lesson 2: The Anatomy of a Bee

Lesson 3: The Brood Rearing Process

Lesson 4: Queen, Worker and Drone Behavior

Lesson 5: Races of Bees


Lesson 6: Nectar and Pollen Plants of the Pacific Northwest

Lesson 7: Beekeeping Equipment and Hive Assembly

Lesson 8: Selecting the Apiary Site

Lesson 9: Packaged Bees and How To Care For Them

Lesson 10: How to Manage Bees


Lesson 11: Swarming: Causes and Control

Lesson 12: How to Hive A Swarm

Lesson 13: Extracting the Honey Crop

Lesson 14: Wintering the Hive

Lesson 15: Colony Treatment for Bee Disease and Mite Control