Newsletter of the Los Angeles County Beekeepers Association
February 3, 2014, Volume XIV, Issue 2
Next Meeting: March 3, 2014
Doors Open 6:45 pm. Start 7:00 pm.
Mt. Olive Lutheran Church
La Crescenta, CA 91214
Topic for February Meeting: TBA
Minutes from the January Meeting: Attendance:82, 72 members, 10 guests
CONTENTS IN BRIEF
Presentation – none this month, catching up on Q&A
- Beekeeping 101 classes February’s class is scheduled for 2/16, 9am (March is 3/16)
- 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
- Financial report – account balance after the holiday dinner is over $20,000. More exact report planned for next month.
- President Jim Lindsay would like a bylaws committee to review our 1980s-era constitution/bylaws and recommend any improvements. Volunteers: Clyde Steese, Paul DuPont, Ercil Eschbach. Stacy will make sure everyone on the committee has a copy to review.
- CSBA 2014 Convention in Valencia – November 2014. Who do you want to hear speak? Let Bill Lewis know! So far he’s lined up:
- Thomas D. Seeley – research luncheon, talking about “survivor” bees
- Randy Oliver – pros/cons of ferals, etc. Practical application projects wish list includes:
- trial of pollen substitutes,
- trial of Apivar effects on nucs
- compare productivity/ease of use between Langstroth hives, top bar hives and long box hives.
- Bill moves we spend $1,500 to help ScientificBeekeeping.com follow through on that wish list.
- How much does he need? We don’t know, but he’s great at running trials on the cheap, and the more we give him, the more experiments he can do. He’s primarily funded by private donations.
- Bill chose the number out of thin air based on donations to other organizations.
- Randy welcomes input and collaboration – run trials in your own yards and let him know what you saw. (Make sure you include a control).
Vote passes, $1,500 to be donated to Randy
- City of Los Angeles Council Meeting voting on beekeeping legalization tomorrow (Tuesday, February 4, 9:30am at City Hall). There was a meeting with the Planning and Land Use Management Committee in December and they were in favor of the idea. If you want to contribute to the conversation, show up at City Hall. [Ed. – the council agreed unanimously to explore the idea further and they are expecting a report back within 60 days on viability from animal control and zoning departments about allowing beekeeping in residentially zoned properties.]
- Educating the educators – with the CSBA convention being local this year, we have a unique opportunity to teach our local teachers about bees. The work we do at the fair gives them maybe 5 minutes tops. Volunteers who go to specific classrooms are a drop in the bucket and it takes a huge amount of our time.
- If we host a seminar the Sunday before the CSBA convention, we can have our attending researchers contribute or attend so teachers have access to the latest scientific data.
- The CSBA board thinks this will help our efforts to educate the public about what’s going on with the bees – when you teach the kids, you’re teaching the entire public. But they can’t afford to fund it.
- Lenore has a connection that can get our program information to all the school districts in the County of Los Angeles.
- We need seed money for a 600-seat room
Motion for $1,500 to reserve the room, expecting to recoup costs with admission fees.
- What are interest levels like? Based on spontaneous requests we get for beekeepers to speak, we should be able to fill the seats
- The point of our club is education and research – is is why we do fundraisers
- Teachers are busy – will they come? Even at $20/person you may not get that many out there
- Getting our $1,500 back is not a concern. If we educate teachers, it’s was a good investment.
- It’s a great idea, but the new Common Core requirements have teachers scrambling for time and brain space as it is – this is a high pressure time
- If we don’t fill the seats with teachers, fill them with people from garden clubs, environmental groups, and even the general public (but adults only)
- Targeting teachers – offering continuing education credits would be a great incentive, but they’re hard to get. There are curriculums out there, though, that we could provide to them for free when they come
- Kodua says anything she has that would be of use in a classroom is ours for free to give to attendees. Hopefully, she and Kim Flottum will be done with their new run of educational posters by then.
- Aim at teachers already running gardening and similar after school programs first
- If getting our money back is not an issue, why not offer it for free? People don’t value things when they’re free – even making it $20 means people will prioritize it and be more interested in attending.
- If it works out well, maybe we could offer DVDs of the content to teachers afterwards, depending on the rights granted by the speakers.
- We should reprint Stacy’s article to give out, as well.
Call the question – motion passes. $1,500 to reserve the room for Lenore’s teacher education program.
- How to Reduce Bee Poisoning from Pesticides is available online, newly revised in September 2013. Look up anything you’re concerned about.
- Help in diagnosing hive problems – check with the Bee Informed Partnership- Tech Transfer Team project.
- Fill out online surveys about your own bees to help with a nationwide research project
- Purchase a kit to sample for analysis – mites, nosema, etc. (not free, but effective)
- Tech Transfer Teams take the latest research and techniques out to the field and train beekeepers how to implement in their own hives
- They’re doing work on pollen research – pesticide analyses
- Bill Lewis had the opportunity to attend HoneyLove’s Advanced Beek Meeting on January 26th, where Ruth Askren spoke. She collects feral hives and keeps them without treatments of any kind. He didn’t hear what she does about “hot” colonies. She feels the bees are hybridizing and are workable. This worries Bill a bit because he knows they can be dangerous – it feels somewhat irresponsible to not teach people what to do in those cases.
Ruth’s business model is managing hives on other people’s private properties and she’s making a living at it. More power to her as long as those bees don’t endanger the neighbors.
Bill highly recommends attending their meetings/mentoring sessions in thousand Oaks if you want to hear what they have to say about beekeeping. They are all planning to be at the City of Los Angeles council meeting regarding the beekeeping vote.
Klaus mentions that if you’re keeping bees on urban lots, you should be keeping a minimum of $1M liability insurance
- Bees are already swarming this year, the weather is crazy. In irrigated areas they’re already making honey. Peaches are blooming 3 weeks early, almonds are already on.
- There are a variety of spare beekeeping catalogs available in the back of the room – enjoy
- Almond update – they expected shortages of bees, but the drought has incentivized many farmers to bulldoze low-producing fields. Unexpectedly, we have a glut of bees. Many beekeepers are showing up and only have room for half their hives. If you don’t already have a contract, don’t wait until the last minute expecting good prices. They expect that the North Valley may bloom before the South Valley again this year (an unusual occurrence).
- Apivar – El Rey has had good results with it on an anecdotal level – he did not keep a control sample in his yard to compare against. This year he treated in early to mid September and all the treated hives survived. The active ingredient Amitraz has been used by beeks illicitly in past years in the form of Taktic, but that has other chemicals in it while Apivar is more pure, so it’s easier on the bees.
Questions from the Floor
- Our guest journalism student from USC asks – does people keeping bees in their back yard help the environment?
El Rey – yes, it helps because it keeps more genetics out there. Our problem is the Africanized honey bees – they’re extremely defensive of their hives. They’re from a region where there are lots of predators and they have developed an extreme response. They attack by the hundreds instead of the dozens. Their toxin is the same, but the volume with that many stings is dangerous. The hybridization does not calm them – the aggression is a dominant gene.
Should we be allowed to keep them in urban areas? It’s dicey in the South West where Africanization is so prevalent.
Bill Lewis – one of the best articles on this was written by Stacy. The bees are great for back yard gardens, but they do nothing for commercial crops or commercial bee populations. I don’t know of any urban beekeepers trying to keep enough bees to do commercial work. Urban bees are not solving our agricultural problem. Based on genetics - it’s irresponsible to keep unknown genetics in your yard. Buy queens from commercial breeders with known docile strains.
- My hive left – should I keep the frames of food?
Yes – unless your colony had foulbrood
- My wife keeps feeding them sugar when there’s honey in the hive. Is she crazy?
It’s definitely expensive. If they’re bringing in honey, back off on the sugar water. When they don’t consume it fast enough it just ferments and that’s no good for anyone.
- What’s your opinion on shifting brood position in the hive?
Don’t do it until it’s warm enough for the brood to not get chilled.
- I have a healthy hive – should I feed them pollen patties? When?
Sure, if you want to. Whenever there is not enough pollen coming in from local sources, it can be beneficial. But be prepared – there will be a boom of brood in response so you need to make sure there’s enough space and nectar/sugar water for them as well.
- Are there queens available anywhere?
Try the breeders in HI and Northern California
- Of 4 hives, one is weak. Should I combine it with a strong hive?
Yes, if you’re SURE there is no queen in it. Use the newspaper trick and transfer with brood. Make sure you check for illness to prevent cross-contamination.
- What’s the process to clear out cross-comb?
Chase the bees out of the box into the lower boxes. Install a queen excluder between the lower boxes and the cross-comb box. Once the cross-comb is empty of brood, you can cut it out/harvest any honey. If the cross-comb had only honey in it, you can use the box to feed a colony. Place a piece of plywood with a small feeder hole between the cross-comb box and the lower boxes, and once the box is empty of honey, feel free to harvest the wax.
- What’s the best time to requeen?
When you have one available to requeen with.
- If you use Apivar in September, when should you use MAQS?
Do an alcohol wash first to check and make sure you actually need to treat. Start testing in July, treat only when your mite count is up to 3 or more (based on ~300 bees, 1 cup) MAQS will affect your honey, but we’re willing to sacrifice honey to save the bees. When using MAQS make sure you have spare queens available – many reports show losses of queens up to 20%.
- How many strips of mite treatment should I use?
Read the product instructions. Typically, 1 strip/5 frames of bees. Jerry Hayes’ column addressed this in the recent ABJ.
- If I use Apivar can I use the honey?
- Checker boarding to prevent swarming – how would I do it on a 3-medium hive, and when?
Checker boarding means alternating full and empty combs in the brood area. It has to be warm enough for the brood to not get chilled – tricky when you’re moving frames of brood out. Typically, you can make space by pulling the honey frames off the outside and into higher boxes, and then spread the frames out some to allow room for more empty frames in the brood area. Put empty/undrawn foundation near the center of the brood area so they’re more likely to draw it out.
- I have a strong hive – should I worry about swarming?
If it is warm or the hive is very crowded, yes.
- When should reducers be removed and supers replaced?
Is there a good nectar flow on? Open and expand the hive. Is there a dearth on? Close things down. If the bees are “frosting” the tops of the frames with white wax flakes, or it’s 7/10 full, add another box.
- BeeQuick – does it contaminate honey?
No, but don’t pour it directly on the frames or get it in your eyes (our beeks speak from experience…).
- What’s the best way to repopulate a dead out that has drawn comb?
First, check for disease contamination. If a random swarm takes over the hive, requeen it with a docile queen. Otherwise, buy a package. Wax is precious to the bees – it takes a lot of energy to make, so reuse it if at all possible. [Ed. But keep in mind that wax is also a sponge that accumulates toxins – it is recommended that wax be rotated out after about 3 years to prevent pesticide buildup.]
- What’s a good pollen patty recipe?
Search at BeeSource for recipes. If you have good success, tell us about it! Keith has tried some and his bees hated it. Generally, they need:
Corn syrup/sugar water to bind it all together
Is it economical to make rather than buy? Pollen is the expensive part. Clyde burnt out his wife’s kitchen mixer – they use a Milwuakee ½” drill with a masonry mixing paddle on it now, or many beeks use a cement mixer.
- Should I use pheromones to attract bees to my hive?
You can, but lemongrass is cheaper and just as effective.
- Is it better to put the feeder far from the hive?
No –you could induce a robbing frenzy.
Thanks to all the members who donate prizes and purchase tickets!
Clyde’s Bayer Bee Care Hat – went to one of our newbees
Lenore’s Pomegranate Jelly – went to Leah Johnson