Newsletter of the Los Angeles County Beekeepers Association
June 2011 Volume X1, Issue 6
Next Meeting: July 11, 2011, 7:00 pm
Mt. Olive Lutheran Church, 3561 Foothill Boulevard, La Crescenta, CA 91214
Topic for July Meeting:
Gardening for Bees by Stacy McKenna Seip
Minutes from the May Meeting: Attendance: 28, 23 members, 5 guests (I know these numbers are low – are you people not signing in?)
Contents in Brief:
New Business - Q&A
Queen breeding – Jim Lindsay
- American Bee Journal –subscription discount – 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 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.
- July 10, 9am-noon - beekeeping 101 class about Pest Management & Hive Health 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
- July meeting is JULY 11 because of Independence Day
- BASC is gearing up for the LA Co Fair by hosting a honey contest again this summer – but this time with more concrete RULES and CRITERIA. Stay tuned for times/date to enter your honey for fame and prizes!
LA Daily News Article on Backwards Beekeepers After the article ran, Clyde notified the author and invited them to our meetings as well. Clyde advises AGAINST giving uneducated, newbie beekeepers a feral swarm/hive unless you are willing to mentor them heavily after they acquire it. He and Bill have gotten repeated calls from people who obtained bees from the Backward Beekeepers and then got inadequate advice or support on how to handle the increasingly defensive hives after they were placed. If you’re a newbie, he advises against taking feral colonies (even if they’re free) because of the steep learning curve and potential problems involved with raising the more defensive Africanized strains. You can’t predict for certain if a swarm will wind up being defensive and troublesome after they get some brood built up…
Should you have a hive get “hot” (even European colonies can get overtaken by local Africanized strains, or requeen without you noticing and mate with more aggressive strains in the area) a half pound of dry ice placed in an empty medium box on top of a hive taped shut to keep in the gas will make quick work of the bees (they suffocate in the CO2 given off as the dry ice sublimates) and leave nothing undesirable in the comb/honey/frames.
Raffle prize redistribution – The Mitchells recently won a free queen from Bill and Clyde during a raffle. Sadly, Don’s poor health means they will not be using it in the foreseeable future, so they asked that the award be passed on to Emily Potter. While everyone (including the Mitchells) acknowledge the queen will most likely wind up being used by Timothy or Jonathan, the Potter family was very flattered and graciously accepted the generosity.
Queen of the Sun – the club has been asked to help support the screening of a new bee documentary, “Queen of the Sun” by having a table set up for the 7pm June 19th showing in Santa Monica, and participating in a Q&A after the screening. While attendance was fairly small we had many people, even from other shows, coming up to chat with us. The film was scheduled for both the Fallbrook Laemmle theater in West Hills and the Santa Monica Laemmle theater from June 17th through June 23rd, as well as the Long Beach Laemmle’s from June 17th – 19th. (Ed: You did go and see it, didn’t you?) If you didn’t catch it on the big screen, try and keep it in mind for when it hits video/Netflix – it was a very well balanced and interesting perspective on the issues beekeepers face worldwide.
LA County Fair – we’re starting the planning for this now. Check your calendars – the fair runs Saturday September 3rd through Sunday October 2nd and is open Thursdays through Mondays. This is our big fundraiser for the year, which helps pay for things like educational outreach and sending folk to the state convention. We need volunteers! Even if you don’t think you know much about bees, you can help out selling honey and answering the most basic of question for visitors who come by to see the observation hive. (Ed: I learned more my first year volunteering at the fair than I had reading up on the topic for the previous 7 months, not to mention getting to know my fellow beekeepers better!) Anyone who volunteers for 30 hours or more will be sponsored to go to the state convention November 15th -17th.
How’s the honey flow? – the almond boardsays pollination this year went well. Folk in the orange groves are seeing 40% of last year’s honey production OR LESS. Norm Carey, the Pendells, Gene Brandi, Max Egman – they all say their honey production is very low. Bennett is getting next to nothing. Norm’s feeding his bees, but is hopoing for some decent sage crop out of Castaic. Sadly, we’re told Castaic is in the middle of doing some scheduled controlled burns, so that idea might go bust. The buckwheat is out, but it’s dry – little to no nectar.
Orange is selling wholesale for $1.80-$1.85/lb where it’s usually about $1.50. Sage may hit $1.90-$2.10. Bill and Clyde bought 9 barrels of 2010 orange honey off a beekeeper they happened to meet while out driving – it was already crystallized, but their stock for the farmer’s markets was running too low to pass it up. Many beekeepers are relying on wildflower this year to keep stocks full. Lavender and Almond honeys can get up to $10/lb at the market because of they’re so unusual. There will be no cut comb honey at the fair this year – there just hasn’t been enough production for a decent harvest of it.
The weather adversely impacted the blooms this year – our severe temperature fluctuations really hurt bloom set and nectar flow. Additionally, last year was a good flow, and some crops will bloom one year and rest the next.
On the other hand, Keith Roberts says the avocados did really well for honey production this year – his Topanga yard needs harvesting and his biggest problem is finding enough time to do it. Clyde very generously offered to “help”. ;)
RAFFLE!! Pollen trap, $0.50/ticket.
Pesticides – El Rey
There are three levels of pesticide certification:
- Grower’s permit – non-restricted chemicals, small quantities of miticides
- Private Applicator’s permit – restricted chemicals, large quantities of miticides, requires logs/paperwork
- Commercial Applicator’s permit – pest control companies
If you need enough pesticide/miticide for your hives to warrant a grower’s permit, get in touch with Erin over at the LA County Agricultural Commission/Weights and Measures Pest Regulation – their Pesticide Safety Manual is $10 and comes with your license, and it’s very worth it for the information it contains.
Wax moths – hobbyists have access to PDB Crystals (Para Dichloro Benzene) where pros have access to aluminum phosphide (requires a respirator and an applicator’s permit)
Book Recommendation – Thomas Seeley’s “Honeybee Democracy”
Seeley did a decade of research on swarms. Keith Roberts has been absolutely fascinated by the observations and information about how bees function within the colony, what factors affect their behavior and how they respond to them.
Wax on fabric – use some denatured alcohol and terrycloth to get it out.
Epi pens – see your local MD and tell them you’re a hobbyist beekeeper. They should have no problem giving you a prescription for an epi-pen. It needs to be renewed every 18 months. Do NO use them if you have high blood pressure, and it’s not advised that other people use your pen. Epinephrine inhalers (like Primatine) can be used as well – they’re approved in Europe for dealing with apitoxin, but not here in the US. Many of our allergic beekeepers take Benadryl or Claritin preventively before they head out to the hives.
THANK YOU to Bill and Clyde for all they do for our club – from beekeeping classes to queen banking to helping run the fair, they really do go above and beyond for the benefit of the beekeeping community. Walt also spends a huge amount of time teaching and mentoring and helping out fellow local beekeepers. It is because of the generosity of these folks that many of us are keeping bees at all. – Ben Jeffries
Birds vs bees – how do you keep the birds from predating your bees? Try hanging up CDs in the local trees.
Queens – Jim Lindsay
Jim recently took Sue Cobey’s class on queen breeding.
Who here has raised queens? Recently, around here, not many because of the Africanized influence. Queens fly about 2 miles to breed, usually, so guaranteeing drone stock is very difficult.
What do we want in our queens? Gentleness, docility, productivity, mite resistance, hygiene, even laying patterns. When we start isolating those traits, the tricky part becomes avoiding inbreeding, especially with artificial insemination. It takes a lot of drones to properly mate a queen – out of the 100 drones Jim worked with in class, only 7 had viable semen/sperm. Commercial breeders want 100,000 drones in their mating yards if not more. Drone selection is critical to good queen breeding, so smaller apiaries have a hard time finding decent drone sources for their queens. Locally, Africanized drones tend to be more aggressive and successful in breeding flights than the European drones.
Jim also spent time at Tom Glenn’s operation. Tom culls drone populations by weight, pads on the claws, all sorts of criteria before he’ll even bother to use the sperm. He culls his queens the same way. His bees are all artificially inseminated, and constantly confined to keep bloodlines reliably marked. He tosses undesirable bees out by the dozens finding the few he deems worthy to work with. You have ot be willing to cull a lot of chaff to get good stock, especially when going to the trouble of artificially inseminating.
How to raise queens:
Grafting – this is taking the newly hatched larvae out of the comb where it was laid and putting it into a queen cell (this is tricky!)
Put queen cells into a breeder frame
Put royal jelly into queen cells WITHOUT drowning the larvae (also tricky!)
Put the breeding frame into a hive full of workers (no queen) to tend them
Move capped queen cells into their own nucs (with workers) to prevent hatching queens from killing each other
June’s Bee Culture included an article with a horizontal frame of queen cells placed on top of the (queenless) hive box. .
Jim raises about 25 new queens every year. Insemination is a tough sell, so he does it more “naturally”. This means about 5 or 6 of his queens wind up too “hot” and have to be eliminated. Obviously, the waiting period required to determine if the queens are worth keeping makes it not a viable resale kind of thing, but it does mean he is less dependent on commercial breeders to keep his hives stocked with queens. This is important given recent quarantines against Australian queens and health issues in Hawaiian apiaries that are cutting into availability.
We are going to have to learn how to cope with the Africanized strains. They are getting better adapted to our colder climates (they’ve been found in New England Utah, etc.) and are now comfortable all the way up to the 32nd parallel. One trick suggested is that if an apiary gets too cranky pop ALL the lids on ALL the boxes at one time, give them about 10 minutes to settle down, and then do your inspections as usual. If only one hive is open they’ll set to robbing but if they’re ALL open everyone “stays home” to defend their own stores/brood. Even if you have only 1 or 2 hives this can help – just give them a few minutes to adjust to the box being open before you start working.
Really, how much worse could they get if we’re all actively working on breeding in our own apiaries. Keith and Walt already use exclusively feral colonies, and while yes there are some too hot to handle, they are the exception. Raising our own and culling the most aggressive might be one of the best ways of keeping our feral populations manageably docile.
RAFFLE – The Johnsons won the pollen trap!
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
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.