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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, March 7, 2016. Open: 6:45P.M./Start: 7:00P.M.  All are welcome! 

Beekeeping Class 101:
  First class of 2016 is Sunday, February 21, 9AM-Noon, at Bill's Bees Bee Yard. Topic: Introduction to Beekeeping Equipment, Locating a Hive, Rules and Regulations in LA County. Learn responsible beekeeping for an urban environment. All are Welcome! 

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



USDA Research Identifies Factors Causing Premature Commercial Honey Bee Queen Failure

USDA ARS News Service   By Kim Kaplan  February 10, 2016

This honey bee queen (blue dot) has valuable genes so a wing has been clipped to prevent her from flying away. Photo by Garrett Dodds.BELTSVILLE, Md., Feb. 10, 2016—Temperature extremes during shipping and elevated pathogen levels may be contributing to honey bee queens failing faster today than in the past, according to a study just published by U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists in the scientific journal PLOS One.

“Either stress individually or in combination could be part of the reason beekeepers have reported having to replace queens about every six months in recent years when queens have generally lasted one to two years,” explained entomologist Jeff Pettis with the Bee Research Laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, who led the study. The Bee Research Laboratory is part of USDA’s Agricultural Research Service.

Queens only mate in the first few weeks of life. Then they use the stored semen to fertilize eggs laid throughout their life. Queen failure occurs when the queen dies or when the queen does not produce enough viable eggs to maintain the adult worker population in the colony. Replacing queens cost about $15 each, a significant cost per colony for beekeepers.

Commercial beekeepers usually order their replacement queens already mated, and the queens are shipped to apiaries from March through October. Researchers questioned whether temperature extremes during shipping could damage the sperm a queen has stored in her body. During simulated shipping in the lab, inseminated queens exposed to 104° F (40° C) for 1-2 hours or to 41° F (5° C) for 1-4 hours had sperm viability drop to 20 percent from about 90 percent.

In real-world testing, queens, along with thermometers that recorded the temperature every 10 minutes, were shipped from California, Georgia and Hawaii to the Beltsville lab by either U.S. Postal Service Priority Mail or United Parcel Service Next Day Delivery in July and September. Researchers found that as many as 20 percent of the shipments experienced temperature spikes that approached extremes of 105.8° F and 46.4° F for more than 2 hours at a time. Those exposed to extreme high or low temperatures during shipping had sperm viability reduced by 50 percent.

“The good news is with fairly simple improvements in packaging and shipping conditions, we could have a significant impact on improving queens and, in turn, improving colony survival,” Pettis said.

Assessments of the queens sent in by beekeepers for this study found that almost all of them had a high incidence of deformed wing virus; Nosema ceranae was the next most commonly found pathogen.

Beekeepers had also been asked to rate the performance of each colony from which a queen came as either in good or poor health. A clear link was found between colonies rated as better performing and queens with higher sperm viability. Poorer performing colonies strongly correlated to queens with lower sperm viability.

“We saw wide variation in both pathogen levels and sperm viability in the queens that were sent in to us, and sometimes between queens from the same apiary in July and September, so there is still more research to do. But getting queens back to lasting two years may well be one of the links in getting our beekeeping industry back to a sustainable level,” Pettis said.

The Agricultural Research Service (ARS) is the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s chief scientific in-house research agency. The Agency’s job is finding solutions to agricultural problems that affect Americans every day from field to table. ARS conducts research to develop and transfer solutions to agricultural problems of high national priority and provide information access and dissemination to ensure high-quality, safe food, and other agricultural products; assess the nutritional needs of Americans; sustain a competitive agricultural economy; enhance the natural resource base and the environment and provide economic opportunities for rural citizens, communities, and society as a whole.


Help Researchers Find Out Where Zombie Bees Are!!!

LACBA Newsie Bits  By Stacy McKenna   February 12, 2016

Help researchers find out where ZomBees are happening with the ZomBee Watch citizen science project. Brian Brown of the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, one of the discoverers of the ZomBee and the parasitic fly that causes them, is one of the researchers and this project was named one of Discover magazine's Top Ten citizen science projects of the year. 

(If you prefer spiders, snails, lizards, squirrels, or other forms of local wildlife, NHM has a variety of citizen science projects you can help out with!)


Einstein's Bee Proof

Ethnobeeology    February 12, 2016

Einstein's Bee Proof. 

Einstein wrote "If we look at...a flower which sends its sweet smell to the pollinating bees...we can see that we all dance to a mysterious tune" (quoted in William Hermanns' book 'Einstein and the Poet: In Search of the Cosmic Man' 1983). Einstein also wrote "It is evident, therefore, that the dependence of the individual upon society is a fact of nature.......just as in the case of ants and bees" (from his essay "Why Socialism" in the 'Monthly Review' (May 1949). The "If the bee disappears from the surface of the earth, man would have no more than four years to live. No more bees, no more pollination ... no more men" quote has been misattributed to Einstein - so far no proof exists that he wrote or made this prediction.

Harvard scientist and author Edward O. Wilson once wrote, "People need insects to survive, but insects do not need us. If all humankind were to disappear tomorrow, it is unlikely that a single insect species would go extinct.....but if insects were to vanish, the terrestrail environment would collapse into chaos." The Creation: An Appeal to Save Life on Earth pages 33-34. 2006. Wilson and others have written about what would happen with the loss of insects, which are the majority of terrestrial biomass in many areas.


Beehive Thefts Add to Pressures at Bloom Time

California Farm Bureau Federation - Ag Alert    By Christine Sousa    February 10, 2016

Just as honeybees are being moved into orchards to pollinate the state's almond crop, thieves are stealing commercial beehives from roadside and bee yard locations, disrupting operations for beekeepers and almond growers whose trees are days away from bloom.

Kevin Sprague, whose family operates Sprague Apiaries in Yuba City, discovered early last week that 280 of his beehives were missing, as they were about to be moved into nearby almond orchards in Arbuckle. He estimated the loss at $100,000, which includes both pollination income and the overall value of the hives.

"The hives (marked with the company name, address and phone number) were stolen from two different locations along Highway 20, just east of Sutter," said Sprague, a third-generation apiarist. "The hives were visible from the highway and had been there all winter, so they (thieves) certainly had lots of time to plan. They came with two or three trucks and a couple of forklifts. They were organized."

Worried that he might be short of beehives for his almond grower client, Sprague said the company will check with other beekeepers to purchase any extra hives that do not yet have a home in the almonds. He said his concern is that a shortage of bees may be enticing thieves to steal hives.

"The bees are scarcer this year and this has driven up price, and then thieves try and make a quick dollar," Sprague said. "I've heard that they'll steal the hives, put them in the farmer's orchards and come and get the money. They will abandon the bees in the orchards; they just take the money and run."

The California State Beekeepers Association reported that during the week of Jan. 25, about 240 beehives owned by C.F. Koehnen & Sons of Glenn County were allegedly stolen from two bee yards, both located north of Colusa. The hives, lids, frames and pallets are branded with "42-14."

During the same week, Riverside County beekeeper James Wickerd of Happie Bee Co. reported that 210 of his beehives were stolen in Kern County. The boxes contain Wickerd's name, address and phone number, and the brand CA0330333H.

"The hives could be seen along the I-5 freeway. They came in with forklifts and took about 210 hives, valued at $50,000 plus," Wickerd said. "They can put them on pollination right now for $150 or more a hive, and then there is the value of the hive and the (honey) production losses for the year."

Wickerd added that the losses include "all of the work that has been put into them to keep them alive with feeding and medication and pollen to get them in the shape that they are in."

Sprague expressed the same concern, noting the investment of money plus thousands of hours devoted to building and caring for the hives: "We work on the hives all year to get ready for spring. It will take me the whole year to recuperate what we lost."

Christi Heintz, executive director of Project Apis m., a Paso Robles-based organization that focuses on enhancing honeybee health, said beekeepers have worked very hard ever since the end of last year's pollination season, splitting colonies, increasing colony numbers and spending millions of dollars on supplemental feed to have sufficient, strong colonies available for the 2016 pollination season.

Beekeepers from California and across the U.S. have already moved about 1.8 million honeybee colonies into the state to pollinate the almond crop. Bee colony supplies are usually tight at this time of year, and observers said the added pressures of drought, lack of forage, and impacts from pests and diseases have made the difference in supplies even more pronounced.

Elina L. Niño, University of California, Davis, Extension apiculturist, noted in her latest university newsletter on apiculture that "the reports of failing colonies before the winter even started are numerous. This, combined with the much needed rainfall in California, might be driving the price of hive rental up to $200."

Wickerd said he has additional hives available to cover the contract with his almond grower client but added that, like other beekeepers, he will look at high-tech ways to protect his bees in the future.

"We're going to have to electronically protect them. If we have something that is high-tech that is connected to the satellite that can tell where the bees are, if the location of the bees changes, we can go find them," Wickerd said. "We're going to go to satellite, where it can be traced from a computer and at a long distance."

Sutter County Sheriff's Office Lt. Dan Buttler agreed beekeepers would benefit from implementing newer technology, such as use of global positioning systems or trail cameras, to protect their valuable bees and trace bees that are stolen.

"You can get lower-end GPS devices that are motion sensitive, and they can put those on the box. It would alert them that these boxes are being moved, so we could pick them off in transit," Buttler said. "Obviously, locked gates are always a good thing, surveillance is a good thing, and high-tech is a good thing."

Other tips for preventing bee theft:

  • Beekeepers should locate bees out of sight and off of the road, and mark hives, lids and frames with identifying information so that recovered bees can be traced back to the owner.
  • Almond growers and others paying for pollination services should verify that colonies out in the orchard or field match up with the contract they have with their beekeeper.

CSBA offers up to $10,000 for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of persons responsible for stealing bees and/or beekeeping equipment; learn more at

(Christine Souza is an assistant editor of Ag Alert. She may be contacted at

Permission for use is granted, however, credit must be made to the California Farm Bureau Federation when reprinting this item.


Agriculture Detector K-9 On Duty!

California Ag Today     By Charmayne Helfey    February 5, 2016

California Ag Today’s associate broadcaster Charmayne Hefley recently asked Soya, a mixed-breed agriculture detector K-9 (canine) with big responsibilities, and Samantha Tomlinson, Soya’s handler with the Fresno County Ag Commissioner’s office, what type of dog Soya is.

Samantha Tomlinson, Soya and Charmayne Hefley

(Pictured: Samantha Tomlinson, Soya and Charmayne Hefley)

ST:      We don’t know exactly what she is for sure, but we’re thinking about getting her DNA-tested someday. We’re thinking she’s a lab-border-collie.CAT:   How long have you and Soya been together?

ST:      We have been matched up since mid-July when we went through the training program in Georgia through the National Detector Dog Training Center.

CAT:   What is Soya able to do for the Ag Commissioner’s office?

ST:      Soya smells out parcels for potential plant material and she alerts us [to suspicious ones] by scratching. We check to see if [the material] has been properly certified and if it’s good to go.

CAT:   What are some of her recent detections?

ST:      She can detect a number of things. She was initially trained on five scents: mango, stone fruit, apple, guava, and citrus. From there, through scent association, she’s been able to find a number of additional agricultural materials, including avocados, blueberries, nuts, soil, cut flowers; anything that is plant material, Soya can find.

CAT:   What region does Soya cover?

ST:      Right now we’ve been covering only Fresno County because we still are in what we call the “acclimation phase,” as she’s still new. We’ve been working at FedEx and UPS, but we’ll broaden our horizons eventually and we’ll be in the post office, GSO, OnTrac, any service that ships parcels.”

CAT:   How important is it for the agricultural industry to have dogs like Soya working for it?

ST:      Well Soya and I are considered a “first line of defense” for California’s multi-billion dollar ag industry. She is in the facilities checking boxes sent from potentially quarantined areas from within the state and from outside the state for materials that may contain any pests or diseases that could prove detrimental to California agriculture.

CAT:   People may not know when they’re shipping certain items—certain plant materials—from one county to the next that the destination county may have a quarantine in place. How do people properly ship plant material?

ST:      Every county is actually different. If you are thinking of shipping some of your backyard fruits to your nephew or grandson, I would contact your local ag commissioner and make sure there are not any quarantines in place for both the county you’re shipping from and the county you’re shipping to. In these facilities, we look for boxes to be properly labeled with the growing origin and we inspect thye contents inside. Depending on what is inside, where it’s grown and where it’s going, we act accordingly.