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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, July 3, 2017. Meeting: 7PM. Open Board Meeting: 6PM.

LACBA Beekeeping Class 101:
 Class #6, Saturday, July 8, 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: 



Nation's Beekeepers Lost 33 Percent of Bees in 2016-17

May 26, 2017

Nation's Beekeepers Lost
33 Percent of Bees in 2016-17

Annual losses improved over last year;
winter losses lowest in survey history

Beekeepers across the United States lost 33 percent of their honey bee colonies during the year spanning April 2016 to April 2017, according to the latest preliminary results of an annual nationwide survey. Rates of both winter loss and summer loss--and consequently, total annual losses--improved compared with last year.

Total annual losses were the lowest since 2011-12, when the survey recorded less than 29 percent of colonies lost throughout the year. Winter losses were the lowest recorded since the survey began in 2006-07.

The survey, which asks both commercial and small-scale beekeepers to track the survival rates of their honey bee colonies, is conducted each year by the nonprofit Bee Informed Partnership in collaboration with the Apiary Inspectors of America. Survey results for this year and all previous years are publicly available on the Bee Informed website.

"While it is encouraging that losses are lower than in the past, I would stop short of calling this 'good' news," said Dennis vanEngelsdorp, an assistant professor of entomology at the University of Maryland and project director for the Bee Informed Partnership. "Colony loss of more than 30 percent over the entire year is high. It's hard to imagine any other agricultural sector being able to stay in business with such consistently high losses."

Beekeepers who responded to the survey lost a total of 33.2 percent of their colonies over the course of the year. This marks a decrease of 7.3 percentage points over the previous study year (2015-16), when loss rates were found to be 40.5 percent. Winter loss rates decreased from 26.9 percent in the previous winter to 21.1 percent this past winter, while summer loss rates decreased from 23.6 percent to 18.1 percent.

The researchers noted that many factors are contributing to colony losses, with parasites and diseases at the top of the list. Poor nutrition and pesticide exposure are also taking a toll, especially among commercial beekeepers. These stressors are likely to synergize with each other to compound the problem, the researchers said.

"This is a complex problem," said Kelly Kulhanek, a graduate student in the UMD Department of Entomology who helped with the survey. "Lower losses are a great start, but it's important to remember that 33 percent is still much higher than beekeepers deem acceptable. There is still much work to do."

The number one culprit remains the varroa mite, a lethal parasite that can easily spread between colonies. Mite levels in colonies are of particular concern in late summer, when bees are rearing longer-lived winter bees.

In the fall months of 2016, mite levels across the country were noticeably lower in most beekeeping operations compared with past years, according to the researchers. This is likely due to increased vigilance on the part of beekeepers, a greater availability of mite control products and environmental conditions that favored the use of timely and effective mite control measures. For example, some mite control products contain essential oils that break down at high temperatures, but many parts of the country experienced relatively mild temperatures in the spring and early summer of 2016.

This is the 11th year of the winter loss survey, and the seventh year to include summer and annual losses. More than 4,900 beekeepers from all 50 states and the District of Columbia responded to this year's survey. All told, these beekeepers manage about 13 percent of the nation's estimated 2.78 million honey bee colonies.

The survey is part of a larger research effort to understand why honey bee colonies are in such poor health, and what can be done to manage the situation. Some crops, such as almonds, depend entirely on honey bees for pollination. Honey bees pollinate an estimated $15 billion worth of crops in the U.S. annually.

"Bees are good indicators of the health of the landscape as a whole," said Nathalie Steinhauer, a graduate student in the UMD Department of Entomology who leads the data collection efforts for the annual survey. "Honey bees are strongly affected by the quality of their environment, including flower diversity, contaminants and pests. To keep healthy bees, you need a good environment and you need your neighbors to keep healthy bees. Honey bee health is a community matter."

This summary chart shows the results of an 11-year annual survey that tracks honey bee
colony losses in the United States, spanning 2006-2017. Credit: University of Maryland/BeeInformed Partnership


Preliminary: 2016-2017 State Total and Average Losses

Bee Informed Partnership   Published May 26, 2017

The Bee Informed Partnership has released preliminary state losses for 2016-2017. If there are fewer than 5 respondents in a state, we will not release those numbers to preserve confidentiality. These tables represent Annual loss, Winter Loss and Summer Loss. We also report Total Loss and Average Loss.

For further details regarding the difference between Total and Average loss, please read on. The Bee Informed Partnership traditionally reports total loss, or a weighted loss rate. Total loss treats each colony the same or more simply stated, “One colony one vote.” This means that the total loss rate is more representative of commercial beekeeper loss as they manage a large majority of the colonies in the survey. The average loss rate, which we no longer report in our preliminary summary, is an unweighted rate where we calculate the loss rate for each responding beekeeper and average these rates. So average loss, more simply stated is, “One beekeeper, one vote.” As there are many more backyard beekeepers than commercial beekeepers, average loss rates are more influenced by these smaller beekeepers.

The Figure provide a heat map of Annual Total losses by state and in the tables below, N represents the number of beekeepers from that state answering those survey questions.

2016-2017 Total Annual Loss by State

2016-2017 Annual Loss by State or Territory:


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?

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