Newsletter of the Los Angeles County Beekeepers Association
August 12, 2013 Volume XIII, Issue 8
Next Meeting: October 7, 2013
Doors Open 6:45 pm. Start 7:00
Mt. Olive Lutheran Church, 3561 Foothill Boulevard, La Crescenta, CA 91214
Topic for October Meeting: Why do they DO that?! An exploration of commercial beekeeping - Stacy McKenna
Minutes from the August Meeting: Attendance: 65, 57 members, 8 guests
CONTENTS IN BRIEF
Frank Lindsay - Beekeeping in New Zealand
. Beekeeping 101 classes 3rd Sunday of the month 9am-noon at Bill’s yard. Suits required. October’s is scheduled for 10/20
. There is a wax melter available - contact Bill/Clyde for details.
. Bee questions – if you have one, write it on a card at the back of the room when you get to meeting, and we’ll do our best to answer them all during our meeting.
. American Bee Journal –subscription discount – grab a voucher from Stacy or contact them at 1-888-922-1293 and tell them you’re a LACBA member to get 25% off
. Bee Culture subscription discounts – simply contact them at 1-800-289-7668 and let them know you’re a LACBA member to get a discounted subscription
. Buzzings – if you’re not getting a copy, let Stacy McKenna know (email@example.com) 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.
. If you want to be listed on our website for honey sales or bee removals, contact Eva Andrews at firstname.lastname@example.org
- No meeting next month, because of the LA COUNTY FAIR, which runs from August 30 to September 29. About 70% of our volunteer spots have been filled, but we still need people to help set up on 8/25. If you haven’t gotten a notice from Volunteerspot.com to sign up, contact Cyndi. The fair is open F-M the first weekend, and then W-Su for the rest of the month.
- Reader’s Digest September issue had an article titled “Your Amazing Body” including the use of honey as a cough suppressant and sleep aid. They focused on the use of buckwheat honey. They mean the midwestern grain buckwheat, not our local native buckwheat – they’re completely different flowers.
- TIME Magazine’s August 13, 2013 cover is about “A World Without Bees”
- Jim Lindsay recently did an interview with Canyon News
- John Miller is featured in the new film “More than Honey” showing at various Laemmle theaters
- Bees have been reported as a way to sniff out landmines – primarily being used in Croatia but DARPA’s also been working on it since 1999.
- CSBA convention November 19-21 in Lake Tahoe.
- John Miller is looking for help prioritizing sideliner talks – what do YOU want to hear about?
- John’s setting the bar HIGH this year for Bill to follow – he’s lined up great speakers, including a judge who’s been working on developing beekeeping legislation for municipalities, George Hansen (president of ABF), Jerry Hayes (Monsanto and ABJ, formerly FL Ag), Randy Oliver (scientificbeekeeping.com, ABJ), Gene Brandi (Project Apis m. scientific advisor, former NHB chairman, former ABF board member, CSBA board member and former legislative chairman), Dr. Eric Mussen (UCDavis), Dr. Frank Eischen (USDA ARS Texas), etc.
- Win $4K cash in a raffle to raise $60K for research – tickets are $50/ea
- CSBA Board Meeting 9/13 in Valencia (site of 2014 convention). Arrivals/Departures through Burbank Airport on Thursday/Friday may need shuttle service to/from the hotel – volunteers? Let Bill know. All members of CSBA are invited and welcome to attend the board meetings, but please RSVP so we can provide enough lunch for everyone.
Thanks to all the members who donate prizes and purchase tickets!
Cookie cutters – won by the Jensens
Wine – won by Rich Hoefke
Skep-shaped glass beverage dispenser – donated by Klaus Hoepfli, won by one of our guests
Frank Lindsay – Beekeeping in New Zealand
Clive Segil Googled beekeeping in New Zealand before his recent vacation, and the name he kept seeing was Frank’s. He got in touch with Frank and arranged to meet with him during his vacation. Frank is well known down under, and publishes regularly. He’s also of Scottish heritage and may quite likely be in some way related to our own president, Jim Lindsay.
[Frank wowed us with a gorgeous PowerPoint presentation, particularly his pictures of local flora. Sadly his thumb drive does not play nicely with our local computers – both Bill and I have had issues accessing it, so I’m going to see if I can get him to dropbox it for me so we can have access to his slides. Meanwhile, we’ll have to make do with what I managed to scribble down! – Ed]
New Zealand has 4,500 beekeepers, and 21 of them have more than 3,000 hives. The country’s gross production could feed CA for a total of 5 days. The climate is subtropical in the north, and snowy in the south. We still experience some significant volcanic movement.
There have been bees on the islands since 1839 when they were imported by missionaries. The Maori were the first commercial beekeepers in NZ, but they were pretty much wiped out by AFB. Many of the beekeepers are members of their local organizations – the Wellington club has over 300 members, teaches classes, supports mentorship. The Auckland club recently celebrated their 60th anniversary.
NZ beekeepers treat AFB by burning everything infested. We also struggle with varroa mite, wax moth, and nosema. We have NO EFB (and would love to keep it that way, thankyouverymuch).
The famous Manuka honey is very jelly-ish – it shreds the comb if you don’t use a “pricker”
In winter we keep fairly large populations. It’s 80-90% humidity in winter, so good ventilation is essential, but we keep small openings. We run 3 deep brood boxes, with 4 small supers of honey in the coastal regions. We keep 12-16 hives per apiary, palletized.
Manuka blossoms are a very open flower – 3 days after a rain they are useless, so we’ve had no manuka honey for the past three years because the weather has been uncooperative.
We often supplement feed with dry sugar feeders – Miller feeders. Hive tops are often split board construction. We use mesh bottom boards to help combat varroa.
In September (spring) we flip our #1 and #2 deeps. In October we make splits/nucs resulting in hives of about 8 frame of brood and 14 of bees. In true beekeeper fashion, we often make nucs out of old realtor signs – just the right size and durable! we do not use queen excluders so we can promote growth, but formic acid treatments work better with small brood chambers. We stack our hives so tall we often have to inspect by standing on the truck.
We’ve been battling varroa for about 10 years now and we’re starting to see resistance. This is our last year using Apistan strips – we’re going organic. We’re using drone brood removal, splits, and formic acid flash treatment (liquid dripped onto paper towels to vaporize in 24 hours) every month with the honey supers on. We use foundationless frames and cut out drone brood (it makes great chicken feed!). We do formic acid flash treatments weekly for 3 weeks in February (summer). The formic acid is applied via drench gun to paper towels on a front slide board – the sudden bee activity in response to the fumes helps dislodge mites, and getting the concentration right allows for mite kills in the brood cells. [According to scientificbeekeeping.com, the use of liquid formic acid is not legal in the US, hence Randy not detailing for us how to do this technique. - ed] During winter we use an oxalic acid dribble and June/July/August we use an oxalic acid fumigation (according to Randy’s dosing recommendations). We also use FGMO (food grade mineral oil) – honey, mineral oil, wax, thymol mixture. Also in the rotation is Apiguard – half strength. The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) recommends using Best Management Practices to control varroa. All of the treatments listed above are legal in NZ.
Bees need pollen of >20% protein to reproduce, so sources of pollen are crucial. The eucalyptus is currently blooming in NZ, but the pollen is of poor quality. The trees in the western region are good, those in the east are fairly poor. We tend to plant new in January/February/March – herbs, mint, sage, etc.
New threats to the bees:
Nosema Ceranae is new
EFB is in Australia
SHB are in Australia
Yellow brood often indicates a viral infection
We are working on projects involving the sounds of beehives with Jerry Bromenshenk of U of Montana. [He was also instrumental in the development of tech to use bees for land mine hunting – see links above.] Using voice recognition software, the hope is to find ways to identify Africanized honey bees, queenless hives, mite levels, etc. Recent testing had the software indicating many of our hives were Africanized despite NZ not having AHB. Oops – the software needs recalibration to the sounds of NZ strains of bees, apparently.
Are you using formic acid with the honey supers on? Yes!
Do you see queen losses with the formic acid flash treatments? No – the Canadians worked out the numbers and it’s been working great.
What is your formic acid application method? 20 ml on a sheet of paper towel slid into the bottom of the hive via a bottom board.
What about grapefruit leaves? The smoke can drop some mites – if you have them, no reason not to use it.
Our hives often have 2 queens or sometimes 3 in them if the population is big enough. They are often mother/daughter pairings. The old queen gets superceded and about 10% of the time she’s not killed off, so you wind up with 2 queens.
We usually place multiple frames of drawn comb in a hive at once. We’ll checkerboard drawn comb with fresh foundation to encourage drawing of new comb.
We usually stock our hives with unhatched queens cells to replace queens, not hatched and mated queens. [NZ has no issues with local mating like we do here in SoCal] We usually just use a tin foil queen cell protector. We use whatever works and is cheap!
Are there stingless bees in NZ? There is a small native population – about 7 species, and 32 varieties, but NONE of them are stingless! Half of our bee population was wiped out with the introduction of varroa, so managed honeybees are our big pollinators now.
Come visit us! We have no bears, no snakes, etc. Clive says the country is gorgeous – there are no indigenous mammals/dinosaurs/major predators. [Well, unless you count the bats and marine mammals. But still – much less death than Australia!]
Questions from the Floor
- My bees are not really increasing. Am I doing something wrong?
Low pollen will limit brood production. But realistically in this climate, March-May is the increase time of year – by now they’re starting to level off or even decrease to prep for winter.
- Do we have mason bees locally?
Absolutely! Bill and Clyde see them in their apiaries. Clyde has crawled around on the ground watching them – they’re fascinating! They’re not big pollinators, though – they have a short season. People have also been experimenting with Blue Orchard bees
- Excess wax – how do I clean it?
Use a wax melter. You can use a solar wax melter or electric (Bill and Clyde have one for sale for $225)
- Pollen patties – one of my hives eats it, the other won’t. What’s up?
It’s only an issue if there’s no pollen in the hive. If they’re not eating and there’s no pollen stores, then there may be another problem like nosema, mitees, etc., especially if the population is declining. Check the brood caps – if they are flat or sunken, there is a brood problem. If you have shotgun brood, you need a new queen.
- What are the crawling worm things I’m seeing in my hive?
It’s likely either small hive beetle (SHB) larvae, or wax moth larvae. Keith is seeing LOTS of SHB, including the larvae, in Chatsworth. There are SB traps out there that work fairly well. SHB prefer moist soil under the hives for the larvae to pupate in – try to keep the ground near your hives dry. But ultimately, the beetles do fly, so there’s only so much you can do.
SHB traps – Keith asks if the club would find a large club purchase to hand out to hobbyists a useful service. Many smaller beekeepers loved the idea. Keith is going to look into pricing. As a start, LA Honey carries Beetle Blasters for about $6.50 ea.