Newsletter of the Los Angeles County Beekeepers Association
January 9, 2012 Volume XII, Issue 1
Next Meeting: February 6, 2012, 7:00 pm
Mt. Olive Lutheran Church, 3561 Foothill Boulevard, La Crescenta, CA 91214
Dues for 2012 membership are now due. Many of you paid at the banquet – thank you! If you have not paid 2012 dues by February 15, you will be removed from the mailing lists. To find out when you last paid dues, you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org or at the meetings.
Also, I will be printing up a membership directory after February 15. If you do not wish your information to be included, please let me know. If you have a digital photo I can include in the directory, please send me a copy. Directories should be available at the March meeting.
Topic for February Meeting:
Apiary inspector – zombie flies
Minutes from the January Meeting: Attendance:58, 57 members, 1 guest
Contents in Brief:
ABJ articles of interest – El Rey
- Clyde is sick today – many thanks to Bill for filling in
- Beekeeping 101 classes start 9am Sunday February 19, 2012 at Bill’s yard located at 12640 N Little Tujunga Road, Lake View Terrace – free for members, first class is all about required equipment and no bee suit required (subsequent classes will require suits)
- American Bee Journal –subscription discount – grab a voucher from Stacy contact them at 1-888-922-1293 and tell them you’re a LACBA member to get a 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.
Almond Growers convention – CSBA had a display at the California Almond Conference this past December, set up with help from Bill Lewis, Clyde Steese, and Kodua Galieti. Carlen Jupe up at the CSBA sent LACBA a formal thank you letter for the help. The booth was well received by the almond board and was asked to come again next year. Everyone who went spent a LOT of time interacting with almond growers who were very interested in learning more about the beekeeping side of things. Bill notes that there is MUCH more money at the almond convention than the beekeepers conventions. Someone asked if there is any backlash from almonds being recently taken off label for neonics, and none of our members heard anything like that while there.
2011 CSBA Convention – over 20 of our members attended this year, here are some of their highlights:
Bill Lewis – he goes to all of the talks if he can, especially those about research. This year he was most interested in the new miticide Hop Guard by Mann Lake. It’s best used at low brood seasons. It works by contact only, effects no kill under the caps, requires an applicator’s permit (section 18 exemption pesticide). He also saw several of the breakout sessions for small scale beekeepers – his favorite was Randy Oliver’s, including pictures of pests/predators. Randy is great at explaining the nuances.
Russ Levine – he taped the sessions with Cameron Tucker and they have about 30 hours of video currently being rendered on computer. They will be making clips available starting in February. The most interesting thing he learned was that sedentary hives need different treatment than pollinating hives. For instance, use 2-3 deeps for brood before honey supers to give them room to prevent swarming (pollinating hives are often only one or two supers tall).
Doug Fieri – This was his second convention. He went to the research committee meeting discussing which projects to fund. They discussed 9 proposals, funded 3 (at $23K, $13K, and $9K) including a European trip to gather germplasm (sperm) to increase the gene pool (Sue Cobey), propolis in the hive in natural settings (Marla Spivak), and a project by Eric Mussen at UCDavis to replicate how almond pollinating hives are treated to document effects so they can offer more focused advice to commercial beekeepers.
Doug also helped out with the filming and interviews, and there was way more fascinating info than he could ever remember.
Kent Potter – everyone was so friendly! The commercial guys say they treat with whatever they can (the market usually only has one or two things available at any time) because of all the trouble we’ve had, but it feels like there is a shift toward longer term solutions.
Timothy Potter – small scale beekeepers and the selection of apiary locations: Look for adequate forage, water, distance from other beekeepers (~1 mile). Watch out for legality issues, property offsets, chemical exposure, accessibility (consider seasonal effects like flood and snow conditions), security from theft/vandalism, visibility from public/traffic, local pests like ants/skunks/bears. Keep your apiary CLEAN and be courteous to your neighbors.
Jonathan Potter – the break out sessions were great. The mite control info was good. Hearing about beekeeping successes without treatment was encouraging and he’s looking forward to more research.
[Interjections from the floor – non-treatment is tricky due to Africanization, especially given the Darwinian beekeeping trend and issues of herd immunity – we are at the mercy of our neighbors with regard to communicable infections, whether in the city or in the almonds.]
Lenore Strong – this was her 3rd convention. The more I go, the more questions I have. Sue Cobey’s presentation about stock importation from Slovania was fascinating – “gypsy wagon” apiary setups in particular. Semen may last 100 years if stored properly, but we can raise several generations in one season. The newly imported genetics are apparently very docile.
Southeastern American beekeeping – bees are trucked from Florida to California every year. Every state in between has different rules. There are 7% income tax charges in CA, costs for fuel, the difficulty of finding truckers capable and willing to handle bees, costs for sugar, labor, etc. “The Dictionary is the only place Success precedes Work” – it’s not easy being migratory
Border weigh stations – there is only 1 person in the entire state authorized to identify pests during inspections (it’s often done by blackberry). Whatever pests get missed and brought into the state will affect us, like the recently reported parasitic fly. Delays in ID due to timing issues, bees dying due to dehydration, loads having nets cut off so they can’t be resealed, truckers too afraid of their loads to tend them – these are all problems aggravated by lack of state funding and understaffing. The almond board wants to support employing more inspectors and misting stations for the health of their pollinators.
A recent ABJ article postulates issues possibly coming form an infected queen breeding operation. If we pooled information tracking where queens were purchased and what our apiary results were with those queens, we might be able to help the scientific and commercial community out tracking things like this down.
Stacy McKenna – this was also my third convention. The biggest difference this year was the breakout sessions for small scale beekeepers which I think are fantastic – I heard nothing but glowing reviews (I stayed in the main room for the research and commercial issues since so many others were covering the small scale talks). While it was heartening seeing them have to open a wall to have enough space for the crowd in the breakout sessions, it also made me somewhat nervous. One of the big advantages for me as a small scale beekeeper at these conventions has been exposure to the issues encountered by the commercial guys. My first year it took us newbies all three days to figure out WHY commercial guys put themselves through so much just for that pollination contract – why were we hearing so much about almonds when it’s so expensive to maintain a hive suitable for them? Why didn’t they just stay home and live off honey crops? (Answer: modern development results in forage deserts – there’s literally not enough mixed forage to support apiaries year round near many of the migratory guys’ yards.) The insights we learned the first two years really affected how I view beekeeping and where I put my efforts in helping the beekeeping community as a whole. It’s very common and easy for new beekeepers to demonize commercial beekeepers for the level of stress they put on their bees – the commercial guys acknowledge how mush stress there is, and they hate it too. Sadly, most new beekeepers don’t temper it with understanding of issues like costs for transportation, the impact of seemingly unrelated things like air quality regulations (diesel trucks now need to meet new reg’s meaning new trucks need to be purchased), what kinds of insurance are required, what limitations growers are under because of their insurance and legal issues, not to mention weather and crop prices. I think it’s important that we not segregate ourselves to the point where we breed antipathy. It’s important for us small guys to try and learn what our commercial guys are dealing with, and support them in research and new methods that will benefit everyone (like eating citrus with seeds in it…). I encourage all of us to continue to learn about the many conditions under which beekeeping is practiced, learn the constraints and possible solutions for as many configurations as possible. Like Lenore’s proposed data collection project, we can work together with the commercial and scientific community to make life better for all our bees, but only if we know what EVERYONE’s problems are.
Doug Fieri interjects with a reminder that at the convention it was estimated there are 300 beekeepers with more than 500 hives, and over 4,000 small scale apiaries with fewer than 50. There are a LOT of us. We need to find a way to add our voice. Bill Lewis adds that many big guys fear the voice of the small guys heavily influencing business practices without understanding all of the business aspects. The CSBA board discusses it routinely (that and import issues come up all the time).
Eva Andrews – this was her third time as well. The first 2 were confusing and this year it came together for her. Africanized bees – many small scale folk don’t want to acknowledge them as an issue, and even Eva tended to diminish their impact until the experts at the convention addressed it. She really appreciates that those commercial guys fund all this research. Finding out what life is like for those who move with their bees was fascinating – especially how many folk don’t understand the need for bees in our food production system.
Even when they couldn’t sign releases on the floor (unpublished results), experts wanted to be interviewed and get the word out about what they know. We have a responsibility to get the word out on what to plant or not plant for bees, how to care for them, and do what little things we can to help the big guys out with keeping bees healthier and easier
Sue Potter – when stung extensively, head for the hospital for Benadryl, etc. BUT you need to make sure you get at least 3-5 days of dialysis to clear the secondary toxins that result from the anti-venom treatment. Even if you look fine and are cleared to be released the first day, the processing your body does with the meds typically administered in such cases generates enough toxins to kill you a week later.
Ron Strong – the best tip he picked up during the convention was to locate your bees away from horses. They hate horse sweat, so putting them where they’ll be in close contact with horses regularly is a bad idea.
Some discussion from the floor – bits and pieces:
Vanishing of the Bees – someone asked how the film was. Bill says it’s a pretty good film, but kind of makes commercial guys out to be the bad guys. It discusses the research in Europe that led to the elimination of Gaucho (imidacloprid) and how that’s improved conditions. They also discuss the issue of Australian imports.
Zombie fly – articles may be getting published/coming out now because of the imminent almond pollination season. The data suggests they came from South Dakota to start with.
Africanized Bees – the CSBA policy on Africanized bees is DO NOT keep aggressive colonies – exterminate them. Anthony Lindheimer says that of his 10 hives in a yard, one went Africanized – the gardener couldn’t even mow near them. The behavior difference was unreal and sudden. Sometimes suffocating a colony with dry ice is the way to go. Sometimes, if they’re small/docile enough, you can split them to requeen (splitting into small clusters in separate hives makes them more likely to accept a new queen).
Several lucky participants walked away with:
- Coffee mug from the almond convention
- Pomegranate jelly
- Emergency light
February there will be an enameled belt buckle up for raffle!
ABJ articles of interest - El Rey
First, a clarification for those new to this talk of conventions. LACBA is a local organization. CSBA is our statewide organization. Every year LACBA raises funds to help pay for members to go to the convention held at the state level.
Larry Conner “The Traveling Beekeeper – Setting Up 2-1/2 Hives” (scroll down to read January’s segment)
Help keep your apiary strong. Having only one hive is risky – if something goes wrong, you have few resources to help correct it. Having two hives makes it easier – you can supplement a week hive with frames from a stronger one, or even offer brood to enable requeening. Having 2 hives and a spare nuc makes it even easier – if the nuc starts outgrowing it’s space, you have spare nurse/field bees to supply a struggling full hive. If one of your full hives fails completely, you’ve already got a nuc standing by. Check out the link for more details, or a copy of the printed copy (try LA Honey) for even more info.
Don Jackson “How I Saved My Bees” (this one isn’t published online – try finding a paper copy)
Rough wintering conditions in MN left things weak in all 14 yards. Was it pesticides, illness? 240 hives dropped to 111 colonies with lots of messy hives. He hoped to split in the spring, but there wouldn’t be enough to sell any. Instead his count dropped even further, to 45. Nosema apis was a worry, but he took samples in April to check (most infections occur in winter). The dysentery was bad in most of the hives. Turned out, nosema ceranae is an issue – you can have a dead colony in two weeks, and the strain is infectious year round. Where did it come from? Was one of his bee suppliers sending him contaminated queens? Bees avoided fumagillin applications in the spring when natural forage options were available. What should he try next – drenching? Maybe some Nosevit? After the fumagillin, it took less than 3 weeks for the colonies to turn around. They missed the honey flow but they were ALIVE. The second battery of samples showed NO nosema at all. It’s not certain nosema is the definitive cause of death, but eliminating the stress of nosema helped the bees cope with whatever other stressors they’ve got in their hives.
[Ed: see related scientifically oriented trial data at http://scientificbeekeeping.com/nosema-drench-treatment-trial/ ]
El Rey thinks using these two articles alone could GREATLY improve your chances of keeping healthy hives as a newbie beekeeper