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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, May 4, 2015. Open: 6:45P.M./Start: 7:00P.M.  All are welcome!

Beekeeping Class 101:
  Our next class is Sunday, May 17, 2015 (9am-Noon) at Bill's Bees Bee Yard. Topic: Hive Management. You won't want to miss it! 

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Ability to Identify "Killer" Bees a Boon to the Honey Bee Industry

Science Daily   Source: University of Sydney   April 21, 2015

Summary: A genetic test that can prevent the entry of 'killer' bees into Australia and their spread around the world has been created by researchers. "A number of countries have export conditions aimed at preventing any possible introduction of killer bees. Now our test will provide them with certainty and allow the safe import of bees without this biosecurity risk," a researcher said.

Dr. Nadine Chapman, from the University of Sydney's School of Biological Sciences has developed a genetic test that can identify killer bees. Credit: University of Sydney

A genetic test that can prevent the entry of 'killer' bees into Australia and their spread around the world has been created by researchers at the University of Sydney and their collaborators at York University in Canada.

"Having a tool that can identify desirable and undesirable bee subspecies will be of value to breeding and conservation programs throughout the world. Pollination of crops by honeybees adds many billions of dollars to the world economy, so any strategy that can prevent losses is an important contribution to food security," said Dr Nadine Chapman from the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Sydney.

She is lead author of an article on the research published in Molecular Ecology Resources today.

"A number of countries have export conditions aimed at preventing any possible introduction of killer bees. Now our test will provide them with certainty and allow the safe import of bees without this biosecurity risk," Dr Chapman said.

The news is of critical importance to Australia, which produces an estimated $4 to $6 billion of farm and garden crops that rely on honeybee pollination.

Australia faces the paradoxical problem of needing to import bees resistant to a pest that threatens to devastate Australia's bee population but being unable to do so while the risk of introducing 'killer' bees still exists.

Before publication the work won Dr Chapman a CSIRO Biosecurity Flagship Award.

The looming threat to Australian honeybees comes from the Varroa mite, present in all bee-keeping countries except Australia. It devastates colonies by sucking bees' blood and spreading blood-borne diseases.

School of Biological Sciences' researchers, working with the United States Department of Agriculture, have previously found that no Australian honeybees have resistance to the mite and it could destroy bee stocks within a couple of years.

"The answer is to import Varroa-resistant bee semen and queen bees so we can breed resistance into our bee stocks as a form of 'inoculation' that could protect our bees," said Dr Chapman.

"Until now this option has been restricted because Australian beekeepers are only able to import bees from the small number of countries that are free of 'killer bees', which originated in Africa.

"As the name implies, killer bees, (as Africanised bees are commonly called), are highly aggressive and are considered unacceptable for beekeeping. It is assumed that they would replace our current honeybee populations in the key beekeeping regions."

Dr Chapman worked with Professor Ben Oldroyd from the School of Biological Sciences and with researchers at York University in Canada, the US Department of Agriculture and the Agricultural Research Council in South Africa.

The researchers developed a test that identifies how much of three main ancestral lineages -- Eastern European, Western European and African -- are present. To lower the risk of killer bees coming to Australia, those with high African ancestry will be denied entry.

"Using this test Australia will be able to import honeybees, including Varroa resistant bees, from countries where killer bees are present, including the United States," Dr Champman said.

Associate Professor Amro Zayed, a researcher from York University said, "Our genetic test is highly accurate, which is considerably better than the old tests that have a high tendency to misclassify hybrid bees."

Dr Chapman is now working on making the genetic test more affordable and plans to work with the United States Department of Agriculture to develop a protocol for the importation of Varroa-resistant bees.

Australia's bee importation regulations are currently being reviewed by the Department of Agriculture.

Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of SydneyNote: Materials may be edited for content and length.

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Pollen Deprived Bees Don't Make Good Dancers

The New York Times   By Sindya N. Bhanoo   April 20, 2015

Worker bees without access to adequate pollen early in life turn out to be poor foragers, and dancers, as adults.

The bees’ so-called waggle dance, a figure-eight movement, is used to tell other members of the colony how far and in what direction to fly to find flowers. If the pollen-deprived bees went out to forage, they often did not return, said Heather Mattila, a biologist at Wellesley College..

Dr. Mattila and Hailey Scofield, an undergraduate student, raised one group of bees with limited access to pollen and another with adequate pollen. They combined the bees in one hive and observed them. Their study was published this month in PLOS One.

“Pollen-stressed workers were less likely to waggle dance, and if they danced, the information they conveyed was less precise,” Dr. Mattila said.

Outside the lab, bees encounter pollen stress regularly. At the beginning of spring, for instance, cold weather makes it difficult to search for pollen, and flowers have not fully bloomed.

Poor foraging and waggle dancing could add to the decline in honeybees, and threaten crops like apples and almonds that depend on the insects for pollination, Dr. Mattila said.

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Buzz Over Bee Health: New Pesticide Studies Rev Up Controversy

NPR All Things Considered    By Allison Aubrey April 22, 2015


A honeybee forages for nectar and pollen from an oilseed rape flower. Albin Andersson/Nature

It's been about a decade since beekeepers and scientists began documenting a decline in honeybee populations and other important pollinators.

Even if you're not a lover of bees or honey, you should know that bees are critically important to our food supply. They help pollinate billions of dollars of crops each year, from apples and carrots to blueberries and almonds.

So if bees are threatened, ultimately, the production of these crops will be threatened, too.

Scientists have shown that a range of factors — from climate change to viruses to loss of habitat — are contributing to the global decline in bee health.

And two new studies published in the journal Nature add to the evidence that overuse of neonicotinoid pesticides may also be contributing to the decline of bees.

Neonics — as they're known for short — have become among the most widely used insecticides in the world. The pesticide is coated onto the seeds that farmers plant to grow their crops. These pre-treated seeds are used extensively in corn, soy and canola crops. In fact, it's estimated that treated seeds are used in more than 95 percent of the U.S. corn crop.

Part of the appeal for farmers is that neonics are simple to use. Farmers plant the seeds in the spring. "The neonicotinoid [which is water soluble] is then absorbed as the plant grows ... and protects the tissues," explains scientist Nigel Raine, who authored a News & Views piece that accompanies the new Nature studies.

This is effective at protecting farmers' crops from pests. But it may be risky for the bees, because "you get [neonicotinoid] residues in the nectar and pollen, even when the plant is flowering months later, potentially," Raine says.

And this means that when bees come to feed on the nectar of these flowering crops, they can be exposed to the pesticide.

Now, neonicotinoids, as the name suggests, are derived from nicotine and act as a poison to the nervous system. There's been a theory that bees might actually be repelled by it, and avoid plants grown from treated seed. But one of the new studies published Wednesday suggests this is not the case.

Researchers in the U.K. conducted a lab experiment to see which kind of food sources bees are drawn to. They offered bees a choice between a plain, sugary solution and one laced with neonics. They found the bees preferred the pesticide solution.

"I think it's a surprising result," Raine says, "because the data suggest that they can't taste the [pesticides], but they are still preferring them."

It's possible that they're getting a little buzz from the neonics, similar to the way a human may get a buzz from nicotine.

And the upshot is that bees could be opting for the food source that may harm them.

In a second study published in Nature, researcher Maj Rundlof and colleagues document the negative effects on the growth and reproduction of commercial bumble-bee colonies feeding on flowering canola plants that were grown from seeds coated with neonicotinoids.

The study also documents a negative affect on populations of wild bees — both in seed-treated fields and in adjacent meadows.

Interestingly, the researchers did not observe a negative effect on honeybee colonies.

Scientists for Bayer CropScience, a leading producer of neonics, wrote in a statement emailed to The Salt that the research "demonstrates yet again there is no effect of neonicotinoids on honeybee colonies in realistic field conditions, consistent with previous published field studies." The statement goes on to question the methodology and the "overall robustness" of the data on wild bees.

But given the accumulating body of evidence on the potential risk of neonics, there's a growing movement to restrict their use.

The European Union already has a temporary, partial ban in place restricting the use of some neonics.

And the Ontario government in Canada has proposed a regulation aimed at reducing the number of acres planted with neonic-treated corn and soybean seed by 80 percent by 2017. The proposal, which is currently open for a public comment period, would take effect in July.

In the U.S., the Environmental Protection Agency announced earlier this month that it is unlikely to approve new neonicotinoid pesticide uses.

"I definitely think we are overusing neonicotinoids," Christian Krupke, an associate professor in the department of entomology at Purdue University, tells us.

"We're simply using too many of these compounds, in such an indiscriminate way," he says. He points to a recent EPA review that concludes that using neonic-coated seeds offers little, if any, economic benefit to soybean farmers' economic bottom lines. In other words, some farmers are using pesticide-treated seeds they don't need.

And around the globe, there's concern that this may be undermining the health of bees.


Related article: 

The New York Times  By Michael Wines April 22, 2015

Research Suggests Pesticide Is Alluring and Harmful to Bees

Research by European scientists raised fresh questions on Wednesday about the impact on bees of neonicotinoids, a ubiquitous and controversial class of pesticides whose future use was restricted this month by the Environmental Protection Agency...

Read more: 


It's Earth Day! Let's Join Together and Save the Honey Bee!

Huffington Post  By Margie Alt   April 22, 2015 

Forty-five years ago, the first Earth Day spawned great progress for our air, water and natural areas. The day activated millions of Americans, brought together political leaders of all stripes, and led to the passage of the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act, and other bedrock environmental laws. Today, the annual day of action for the environment still inspires more than 1 billion people across the globe.

This Earth Day while celebrating our big accomplishments, we also need to think about something small: the honeybee. Though less than an inch long, the tiny honeybee has major implications for our food supply. In addition to providing us with honey and aiding the beauty of our gardens, honeybees are responsible for pollinating an estimated 71 percent of the world's most widely consumed food crops, including almonds, squash, apples, avocados and more.

Image: FlickrUnfortunately, despite decades of environmental progress, today our food supply and our gardens are in trouble. Bees are dying by the millions. U.S. bee populations have reached historic lows, and we're losing nearly a third of our bee colonies each year -- a rate that more than triples what was once considered normal.

Scientists point to a complex web of factors, including climate change and habitat destruction, to explain the massive collapse of bee colonies here and across the world. But a certain class of insecticides has emerged as a clear culprit. Sharing the same chemical properties as nicotine, neonicotinoids are neurotoxins that can kill bees directly. In addition, these chemicals can disorient them and make it harder for them to get back to their hives. And they can create long-term health and reproductive problems for bee populations.

Image: Waugsberg / Wikimedia Creative CommonsMore than 30 lab studies have shown that these pesticides are a danger to bees. Yet nearly three-quarters of U.S. farms are doused with neonics each year, and up to half of garden plants currently sold in retailers Walmart, Home Depot, and Lowes have been pre-treated with the harmful chemicals.

Slowly, that's beginning to change. The state of Oregon just enacted a limited ban on four types of neonics. Major garden-supply retailers Lowes recently announced it will phase out the use of neonics in its pesticides and garden plants. And earlier this month, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency took a modest step forward when it announced it would likely ban new uses of the pesticide.

But more must be done. And Earth Day is a perfect day for action.To reverse today's alarming honeybee decline, let's all call for governments and corporations to ban neonics. And if you're planting a garden this spring, you also can help save the bees in your in own backyard. Don't use pesticides or plants and seeds treated with them. And whether your garden spans a flower box or your entire yard, include plants that bees love, such as native wildflowers, flowering herbs, and berries.

This Earth Day, let's certainly celebrate our big accomplishments. But don't forget to think of the little honeybee too. Support efforts to ban neonics, plant a bee-friendly garden, and protect honeybees for the summer and years to come so that on future Earth Days, along with celebrating the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act we can celebrate the revival of the honeybees.

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Honey Bee Brain Flies a Drone

IFLScience   By Janet Fang   April 20, 2015

Photo Credit: The Green Brain ProjectBy digitally reconstructing the complete brain of the European honeybee, Apis mellifera, researchers with the Green Brain Project hope to one day create an autonomous flying robot that thinks, senses, and acts like the sophisticated pollinator.

"Bees and all other insects are miracles of engineering which we are nowhere near equaling," University of Sheffield’s James Marshall tells BBC. "If we could even recreate a fraction of their abilities in a robot system then we would have made a tremendous advance." The honeybee has surprisingly advanced cognitive behaviors, despite how simple and small their brains are compared to that of vertebrates. They can do so much with so little.

So far, the team—comprised of researchers from the Universities of Sheffield and Sussex—have recreated the parts of the bee’s brain that allows them to see and smell. Not only will this help us better understand both bee brains and human brains alike, but the team have also managed to upload their computer simulation (complete with thousands of virtual neurons) to an unmanned aerial vehicle. 

To see if their bee brain simulation can actually pilot an aircraft, they plugged their simulation into a quadcopter drone and allowed it to fly down a corridor. It ended up doing so without even running into anything, explains, and another time, it was able recognize the checkerboard pattern on the wall and use it to help navigate. This video from last November is the first demo of the quadcopter using its bee vision to navigate: 

Several teams around the world are working on bee-inspired robots. Harvard researchers, for example, have a designed a RoboBee that might help pollinate fields of crops—something that might become necessary if populations of honeybees continue to dwindle. One day, perhaps different teams could come together, placing simulated bee brains inside of bee bots. 

With UAVs expected to perform various dangerous missions—ranging from search-and-rescue to monitoring nuclear power plants to wildfire surveillance—it’s going to be increasingly important to control them effectively. 

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