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This is the official website for the Los Angeles County Beekeepers Association established in 1873.




Newsletter of the Los Angeles County Beekeepers Association
June 2, 2014 Volume XIV, Issue 6
Next Meeting: July 7, 2014                       
Doors open 6:45 pm, Start 7:00
Mt. Olive Lutheran Church
3561 Foothill Boulevard
La Crescenta, CA  91214



Topic for July Meeting: Treating for Varroa
Minutes from the June Meeting: Attendance: 63, 56 members, 7 guests
Contents in Brief:
-Old Business
-New Business
-Presentation – Varroa Testing w/ Dave Williams

  • Beekeeping 101 classes June’s class is scheduled for June 22, 9am (next is July 20)
  • 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
  • Buzzings – if you’re not getting a copy, let Stacy McKenna know ( 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
  • AGdayLA – It was a great success, despite being held on the hottest days so far this year. In two days we saw about 1,200 kids. Thanks for all the help! (We’re missing one of the aprons which belong to the organizers – please get it back to Mary Landau so she can stay in their good graces!) 
  • Bylaws and constitution review – several minor changes have been noted for correction by the committee. The largest is that we need to split Secretary/Treasurer into two jobs to better reflect how our group is actually doing things, and clarify issues about executive committee meetings. When a finalized draft is ready, it will be presented to the membership. 
  • Walt McBride has the queen mating boxes from last month’s auction – if you bought one, you can pick them up tonight. 
  • 2014 California Honey Harvest Festival – Bennett’s Honey Farm and the Fillmore & Western Railway Company are teaming up again this year to throw a weekend bash all about beekeeping and honey, with some tasty BBQ competition thrown in for good measure! Saturday, June 14th, 9am-5pm, the day before Father’s Day. El Rey still needs more volunteers to act as docents on the trains (run at 10am1pm, and 3pm). Booth setup could likely also use some help, though we’ve got several volunteers to man it throughout the day. Let El Rey Ensch at (818) 480-2228 know if you’re available to help out! 
  • Overwintering – how much should you leave on your hives?– Walt advises leaving more than you think you should when in a new location because you don’t have a feel for the spot yet. Klaus leaves at least a full deep - ~60 lbs of honey. For early spring supering, honey frames can be rotated down to keep the brood box well supplied if needed. Uncapped frames of honey are fine – they make it easier for bees to feed! If you’ve got two deeps of brood the boxes above will rarely see brood and thus honey frames can be expected to stay “clean” even without queen excluders. El Rey points out much of this is discussed in a recent ABJ article – the key is that honey is healthier for bees than sugar. Clyde reminds people to make sure they include pollen frames as well, or extra pollen feed. Klaus says his girls only take pollen feed when they need it – they find that keeping a big reservoir of dry feed in a scavenger-protected drum makes it easy for the girls to find/access when they need (the patties give worse results in his opinion). Electric fencing works to keep the raccoons and skunks away. 
  • LACBA website - Eva reports on average over 2,000 unique hits per month. She’s posted 57 articles this month. Cool recent posts include:
Thomas Seeley will be speaking at the upcoming CSBA convention
Marla Spivak’s “State of the Bees” talk (~1hr)
Randy Oliver’s assessment of the recent Harvard study on neonics
White House discussing feeding bees
Waggle dance research from U of Sussex is key for land trusts and location of apiaries
Bees protecting humanity
Why bees are better than schools of fish at avoiding collision
Eva’s looking at setting up a Facebook page to mirror this information for people who prefer to read on FB. The page wouldn’t be discussion oriented, but a place to distribute info. It will add only a single click to her workload every time she posts something once it’s set up. Incorporating FB “share” links on our website will also make it easier for people to share the information we provide. 
  • Los Angeles City Beekeeping Issues – the right hand column on our website has a section called “Urban Beekeeping” detailing the history, proposed guidelines, etc. for those interested in where we’re at legally in the City of Los Angeles. Bill Lewis reminds us the Planning department is currently developing proposed regulations for keeping bees in non-ag zones. Keeping up to date with HoneyLove will likely be the best way to get current data as they’re very plugged into the political system and status updates on that front. 
  • Los Angeles County Fair – Clyde Steese and Cyndi Caldera are our fearless leaders! Clyde took a walk while he was at AGdayLA – all the arenas and stables are gone. They’re putting in a massive demonstration garden/farm. Part of the barn will at some point be turned into greenhouse. The blacksmith and such from last year will be back.
We’d like to move into the Farm Bureau building but need Farm Bureau and County Ag Commissioner approval first. The unofficial feeling is “no problem” but there is no official approval yet, so we’ll probably be in the same space again this year. Mary Landau will try contacting her associates at the County Ag to see what kind of input she can get from them.
Lenore proposes some additional things we could do to improve our exhibit:
  1. Bee friendly garden plots out front – can we bring in potted plants to drop into those raised beds so we can show what healthy bee friendly plants on our planting lists look like?
  2. The building is tiny – let’s move some of our data OUT into the yard on easels – articles and information that people can take their time reading and perusing. 1 side could be kid-oriented, the other more adult-oriented.
  3. Fundraising for bee-friendly organization – Sadly, Clyde emphasizes that our contract with the fair BARELY allows us to sell our honey, and explicitly prohibits soliciting funds for any other groups. We can give info when asked, but we can not suggest/solicit/promote other groups on their behalf. Most vendors pay for the privilege of being there – we are one of the few who get paid for our presence. We can mention other organizations in a “Other Organization That Help Bees” sort of poster
  •  Fundraising possibilities – HoneyLove recently did a huge event which attracted 300 people at $75/ea. Perhaps we should look into doing something similar? We are not an official tax-legal non-profit organization. We need to rectify that first – hence the revisions to the bylaws. 
Varroa Screening – Dave Williams
  1. First, you need a WIDE funnel as big at the top as you can get. Cut the bottom to fit conveniently into a wide mouth mason jar. [Having a partner for this process is also indescribably helpful for keeping bees IN the jars! – Ed]
  2. Check your selected brood frame to make sure it does NOT include your queen!!! Brush about 1C of bees off the brood frame into the funnel/jar.
  3. Fill the jar with isopropyl alcohol (the cheap stuff) and put a lid on it. Shake the bees in the alcohol vigorously for about 2 minutes.
  4. Replace the solid lid with a circle of 1/8” hardware mesh (hot dip galvanized lasts best) so you can pour the alcohol (and mites) out while leaving the bees in the jar.
  5. Set up another jar with a coffee filter above it – pour alcohol (and mites) through the coffee filter. Mites will be left behind on the coffee filter. If you have 5 or more, treat your hive! Filtered alcohol can be reused in the next test.
During the May class Bill did a comparison of the powdered sugar shake and the alcohol wash for detecting mites, and the alcohol definitely turned up higher results, even in the same hive.
Dave likes to use the formic acid pads. He uses a half dose, though – only one pad (not one package = 2 pads) cut in half. He places his pads above the brood area, with an empty super above for fume space. He treats for 30 days – replacing the strip every 10 days (this regimen is somewhat easier on the queens than the package directions, especially in our heat). Package instruction have resulted in up to 60% queen kills, but our beekeepers have seen none when treatments are cut in half for longer periods. They typically see 1-2 mites/test a month or two after treatments. Since the formic acid does not damage the honey, you can still harvest during/after treatment. You DO need to use rubber gloves/tongs/tools to handle it. Have a strong knife and hard surface to cut the pads on. Stand cross wind to avoid inhalation of fumes/blowback. DON’T use pads that have changed color – they have a limited shelf life. You can freeze them to preserve them, but they will affect anything ELSE in the freezer with their odor.
Bill and Clyde have already started treating some of their hives this sumer.
Dave has found in his hive started queen cells and some opened nearly-fully-developed pupae indicating mite infestation and the intention of the colony to swarm away from the parasites.
Everyone should be testing within the next 2 weeks.
The mite population curve echoes the bee population curve – as bees start to decline for winter the mites are peaking. It’s best to treat before those two lines cross. August is way too late. The first treatment is to knock down the mite population. The fall treatment is to kill off mites before the wintering.
Alternate your chemicals/treatment methods. Don’t think about the costs – they’re all cheaper than replacing dead bees! This is killing a little bug on a bigger bug – it’s tricky. Every product may add a sublethal effect to the hive because wax absorbs chemicals, and they could act symbiotically. Rotate your comb out every three years or so to prevent buildup of toxins. El Rey saw good results with only one treatment of Amitraz this past year, but plans to do two treatment events this year. The mites have been adapting to the chemicals found in Check Mite/Apistan, so you may want to use other/newer options for better results.
  • The USDA is trying to breed a “super bee” that strongly resists the varroa mite 
  • One of our members has been inducted into the Phi Kappa Phi honor society, an honor offered to those in the top 10% of their graduate studies classes – congratulations, Stacy! (see link pg. 2) [If it weren’t for you guys, I wouldn’t have known about this article! – Ed] 
  • Did you have a bad day working bees? This Delaware truck driver had it worse… his overturned load of bees sent 3 to the hospital. The good news was the police actually had a plan in place! 
Not yet – try it and let us know!!! 
  • Does anyone have a refractometer I can borrow to test my honey?
A generous volunteer raised their hand 
  • When moving hives – how do I prevent bees from going back to the old location?
The rule of thumb is 3’ or 2 miles. Either move it slowly and gradually so they can adjust, or move it far away and then bring it back a few days later so they reorient completely. 
  • I’m using a nuc to attract swarms, but the foundation is warped – is there a solution?
Any wax left in an empty hive will warp or melt – you need bees to regulate the temperatures to keep wax solid. Your best bet is to keep it in a shady spot. Additionally, bare foundation doesn’t work anywhere near as well as drawn comb for attracting bees – but as with all generalizations, the bees don’t read the books, so it might work. Drawn comb does mean less work for them to start off. Attractants like lemongrass or queen pheromone will increase your success dramatically. 
  • What are the best queens?
The ones that continue to lay/breed… Russians and Carniolans don’t like the heat. Carniolans have more stable population curves compared to the Italians that fluctuate heavily, growing huge in the spring. Beekeepers have had good experiences with Park-BurrisBuzz’s Bees, and Pendell queens – all Italians. 
  • How do you tame a hot hive?
  1. Split it into small nucs – no more than 2-3 frames of bees per hive. Kill the queen if you can find her.
  2. Come back in 2-3 days and kill off any queen cells (and the queen if you missed her the first time – the nuc with the queen will need at least one round of queen cells knocked down before trying to requeen)
  3. Come back in another 2-3 days and requeen with known commercial stock. 
  • Are essential oils useful?
Wintergreen and tea tree oil seem to work better than fumagillin for nosema. It’s not as hard on bees as fumagillin, but use the stuff sparingly.  It can also help with requeening as it shifts the scent of the hive. 
  • Is there anyone who can hold my hand through a first year of keeping bees?

Yes, yes there is...
Keith, our VP, takes advantage of his ability to hog the soap box and announces a new venture:
Save The Buzz will be opening a venue in Chatsworth in the next couple of months. The facility will be located at 9963 Baden and will offer beekeeping supplies, services, education, mentorship, and extraction facilities for local beekeepers. Oh, and honey. ;) 
Thanks to everyone for their donations and the purchase of raffle tickets! Proceeds go to help fund our club in its education efforts!
Swarm trap – Bill Rathfelder
Snow globe/music box – Bruce Evans
Music Box – Jon Reese
Music Box – Pedro Colin
Wine – Erika Decker
Wine – Jon Reese

Copyright © 2014 Los Angeles County Beekeepers Association, All rights reserved.