Newsletter of the Los Angeles County Beekeepers Association
April 2011 Volume X1, Issue 4
Next Meeting: May 2, 2011, 7:00 pm
Mt. Olive Lutheran Church, 3561 Foothill Boulevard, La Crescenta, CA 91214
Topic for May Meeting:
Minutes from the April Meeting: Attendance: 40, 39 members, 1 guests
Contents in Brief:
- American Bee Journal –group discount coupons for 2011 – contact Stacy McKenna Seip to get a 25% off voucher
- Bee Culture subscription discounts – simply contact them via phone and let them know which group you’re with to get a discounted subscription
- Buzzings – if you’re not getting a copy, let Stacy McKenna Seip know (firstname.lastname@example.org) so we can update your information
- Don’t forget to grab your nametag and keep it in your glove compartment or such so you have it handy for meetings.
- Joel’s got an order in with Koehnen so if you want in on that order for packages/bees let him know [Ed – he should have picked them up by now]
- Grape vines and tomato plants from other members available in the back if anyone wants them
- Bill was gifted with some honey from Japan for those who want to try it – 8 varietals
- Russ is working with an environmental science teacher he met at the fair – the gentleman is having a 4-frame observation hive installed on a permanent basis at the school and is developing a curriculum
- April 13-14, Pomona Fairgrounds, Ag Day LA - as always, we need volunteers. Come help teach LA County fourth graders about bees! Contact Karl Walker (email@example.com) or Mary Landau (firstname.lastname@example.org) for more info
- tthttp://www.agdayla.com/ (hey look, there's Clyde front and center!)
- April 17, 9am-noon - beekeeping 101 class about things that’ll kill your bees at Bill Lewis' yard, bring your bee suit!!! Free for all members, membership sign-ups available at the meeting.
- 12640 Little Tujunga Canyon Road, Lake View Terrace, CA 91342
- Class schedule for the year attached
Swarm Season – Dave Williams brought in some queen cells for show and tell purposes. Presence of queen cells in your hive this time of year means they’re most likely prepping to swarm. Giving them plenty of space (make sure the brood chamber isn’t honey bound) and killing off queen cells can help minimize swarming. If you want to catch swarms, there’s both queen pheremones and lemongrass oil available for lures. Set up a box with some frames, empty comb if you’ve got it, and the lure to attracted passing swarms. If you’re looking to collect swarms, let Clyde know and he’ll pass on referrals to you as he won’t keep any feral colonies himself.
CSBA Apiary Commission – If you own 50 colonies or more, you are eligible to vote on the new apiary commission to decide how to spend the research money raised through registration fees for migratory beekeepers. Please note this money is note accessible by the state government – the commission was set up by beekeepers to be funded by beekeepers to benefit our industry through funding research. Since the agricultural industry has a $17.9B impact from bees/pollination, the research is crucial to help keep our bees healthy and in the fields.
Do we really want to spend all that money on research? Why are we pouring resources into research when we can’t even find land to put our bees to do what we already know they need – easily available diverse forage? We should be pushing more money into changing policy about using federal and state land for apiaries. If you have received a refusal to use state/federal land for your hives, get it in writing (email or letter) and send a copy to the CSBA – they are working on this issue and need hard data.
Mite Away Quick Strips – they’ve been federally approved as of February and they’re gearing up production. The product is formic-acid based, safe to use during honey flow, and kills off up to 95% of the mites. No public release date has been announced, but they will be making them available as state registrations are acquired [Ed – now registered in CA] and production can meet market demand..
Bee Culture’s Perfect Package Installation – They recommend dumping the bees in and hanging the queen. Clyde suggests hanging the queen and leaving the entire package in the box with four drawn frames (w/ honey if possible) and a gallon feeder – don’t bother shaking them out/up. Klaus paints/dips his package in sugar water , turns them over and dumps them in. Everyone has different results, even with the same technique, an failures happen for a variety of reasons and in a variety of ways. “Perfect” is optimistic. Try a couple different methods until you find one you like.
Almond Pollination – There was a shortage of quality hives, but an adequate number of bees overall. Weather was satisfactory, the nectar flow was good. Some migratory beekeepers lost thousands of colonies again, but they were scheduled to have their colonies in by Feb 1 and the bloom/nectar flow didn’t start until Feb 19th, so they were pretty stressed. El Rey held off on placing his hives until 5 days before the bloom started, and didn’t have to feed his at all. Contracts were good, running about $125-$180 for good hives. In some cases, contracts refuse to pay until the crop harvest comes in – the better deals are 50% when hives installed with the remaining 50% on hive removal. The size of the farm affects how fast you’ll see your money. Most growers have insurance that requires 2 hives per acre, at 8 frames per hive, to insure adequate pollinator coverage in case the year is bad for flying days cutting down on opportunity for pollination. Strong colonies have more foragers so get more pollination done per day. (4) 4-frame hives does not equal (2) 8-frame hives – you have many more foragers with the 8-frame colonies, hence the growers paying better for fewer but larger hives.
“Lazy” queen – what to do? – Queen is present, but there are very few eggs being laid/little brood. What are the options when there’s no new queens to be bought?
- let the colony go ahead and raise a new one (locally there is a chance of winding up with Africanized genes and a more aggressive colony)
- make sure they’re getting enough sun to feel the shift in the weather
- feed a thin syrup to mimic nectar flow and prompt heavier laying
- add workers/nurse bees from other hives to bolster the brood heating capabilities of the colony
- kill the queen and combine the workers with another colony
- new brood comb – each generation of brood leaves a layer of cocoon in the cell, so the queens will stop laying if the cells get too small/tight
- How do we keep queens overwinter to make sure we have enough for the following spring? In a good warm season, split your colonies into nucs (each with their own queen) and keep those over winter so you have spares to supplement your main hives if one of the other queens fails
RAFFLE! – Karl Walker took home the spoils of our 50/50 raffle, pocketing $34. Next month’s raffle will be for a $50 Visa gift card
Miticides - El Rey Ensch - First, we had to deal with tracheal mites. For the most part, the bees adapted and we only rarely see them as an issue.
Then the varroa mite came along (imported from the Asian bee populations), and the European bees have NOT adapted. For about 5 years Fluvalinate (Apistan) worked for us. Then we moved on to Coumaphos, which was a harsher treatment, but only worked for about 3 years. The mites were becoming resistant to what we were treating them with, much like bacteria having been showing resistance to over-utilized antibiotics in humans. Then there was a gap phase where we had no officially accepted method of treatment, so beekeepers turned to whatever they could find – formic acid, Amitraz (Taktic - off-label use not approved for bees/honey here, though marketed as Apivar in Europe and Australia), thymol (Apiguard). Now we’ve got Mite Away Quick Strips coming out – formic acid in a time release honey-safe form. Mann Lake is also working on another product called Hop Guard, a derivative of hops.
Treatment is usually in 7-day intervals during the spring, and again after the honey season around August and continuing through fall. Feed and treatment during the fall helps the colony to lay stronger, healthier “winter bees” that can mean a stronger colony come spring.
Synthetic chemicals like most of the early miticides or other herb/fungi/pesticides found foraging can build up in the wax over time in sublethal doses and even interact with each other in synergistic fashion, adversely affecting the health of the bees. The varroa puncture the bees, further weakening them by creating easy access for viral infection
The stresses of this mite we believe have been contributing to the ongoing issue of Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD).
Naturally occurring chemicals like formic acid and thymol are harder for the mites to become resistant to. Unfortunately for us here in the heat, the chemicals are best used in cooler conditions, where temps are lower than 90 degrees.
There is no guaranteed treatment system or schedule. Beekeepers are constantly experimenting and changing things to see if they can find a better method.
[Ed – check out Randy Oliver’s Miticide 2011 article in the February 2011 American Bee Journal for more info. scientificbeekeeping.com/miticides-2011/ His site usage exceeded bandwidth this month, so you may need to Google the page and bring up the “Cached” version off Google’s server.]
My favorite quote:
There is a strong trend among recreational and sideline beekeepers away from synthetic miticides, motivated largely by the desire to engage in “chemical free” beekeeping. However, you cannot truly call yourself a “beekeeper” if your bees keep dying on you! There is a big difference between “natural” beekeeping and simple colony neglect. I suggest that all beekeepers familiarize themselves with the pros and cons of the available miticides, should the need arise to save a colony from an ugly death.
Bee Class 2011
Free to Los Angeles County Beekeepers Association members. Join at the class, one of our regular meetings, or visit our web site www.losangelescountybeekeepers.com.
For non-members, join LACBA for $10.(annual dues).
Goal: Walk you through a season with a series of once a month classes.
Schedule of Classes:
Class # 1: Sun., Feb. 20 , 9a-noon Basic but Important Information ( no bee suits required)
Class #2: Mon., March 7, 7-9p, Building boxes, frames, etc.
Class # 3: Sun., March 27, 9a-noon, Inside the Bee Hive
Class #4: Sun., April 17, 9a-noon, Hive Management
Class #5: Sun., May 1, 9a-noon, 1st Lessons in Pest Management
Class #6: Sun., June 12, 9a-noon, Harvesting and Extracting
Class #7: Sun., July 10, 9a-noon, More Lessons in Pest Management & Hive Health
Class #8: Sun., Aug. ?, 9a-noon, Keeping Bees Alive Through the Dearth
September, Los Angeles County Fair, Using our knowledge to educate others
Class #9: Oct. ?, TBD
All classes(except Class #2) will be at Bill Lewis’ home:
12640 Little Tujunga Canyon Road, Lake View Terrace, CA 91342, c. 818-312-1691
Google Map the address and follow the posted cardboard signs
Class #2: will be held at our regular meeting location:
Mt. Olive Lutheran Church, 3561 Foothill Blvd., La Crescenta, CA
Arrive 15 minutes early to check-in so we can get started at 9a. There is water in the river that must be crossed. If it rains really hard, there may be a change of venue.
Thanks in advance to other club members who can make time to participate and share their knowledge with the newbees.