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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

March 2011 Volume X1, Issue 3

Next Meeting:  April 4, 2011, 7:00 pm

                                   Mt. Olive Lutheran Church, 3561 Foothill Boulevard, La Crescenta, CA  91214

Much of the notes for this meeting were emailed as announcements immediately following the meeting

Topic for April  Meeting


Minutes from the March Meeting: Attendance: 39, 37 members, 2 guests

Contents in Brief:


Upcoming events

Beekeeping 101 – building woodenware


  • American Bee Journal –group discount coupons for 2011 – contact Stacy McKenna Seip to get a 25% off voucher
  • Bee Culture subscription discounts – simply contact them via phone and let them know which group you’re with to get a discounted subscription
  • Buzzings – if you’re not getting a copy, let Stacy McKenna Seip know ( so we can update your information
  • Membership Dues - As of March 15, anyone ho has not renewed their membership in the past year will be dropped off my email list. If you are uncertain, drop me a line and I'll let you know when we last got your dues.
  • Credit card processing for beekeepers - Our member Rick Henley's company has a (really convenient and pretty darn cheap!) service that lets you process credit cards using your smart phone. I've included his description of the service as an attachment. More info and sign up at
  • American Bee Journal - member Kodua Galieti's photography is on the cover, not to mention a press release on page 223... right next to pics of Clyde Steese receiving his Distinguished Service award at the state convention this past November.
  • Pollen traps - Ben Jeffries is looking for some spare pollen traps to borrow - he's got some feral colonies he's trying to slow down brood rearing on. If you've got one or two you'd be willing to lend him temporarily, let him or me know.
  • Queens - Ben Jeffries is getting some in on the 15th and can't use them all. He's willing to sell the spares for $20/ea. Give him a call or contact me and I can put you in touch with him.
  • Name tags - thank you SO MUCH to Walt McBride and Keith Roberts for making sure EVERYONE has one! Please pick your name tag up at the meetings and keep it with you (try the glove compartment) so you have it at future meetings. New members should have a name tag available at the meeting following their signup [if I'm on the ball. My son has informed me he wants one, too...]
  • Membership directory - I'm getting the data processed for the 2011 directory this month. To get your photo included in the directory, email or mail me a copy of your photo. If you want us to know when to wish you a happy birthday, make sure I have your birthday (month and day, year is not necessary).  If you DO NOT want your name, address, phone, or email listed, PLEASE contact me and let me know which info to keep confidential.
  • Shirts and hats - Clyde still has some of our logo-adorned shirts and hats for sale. $5/hat, $6/shirt. Available at our meetings, or get in touch with Clyde if you just can't wait!

Upcoming Events:

  • March 27, 9am-noon - beekeeping 101 class "In the Hive" 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
  • April 1 - Russ Levine and Clyde Steese are driving north to pick up a couple hundred packages of bees from Koehnen. If you want to get in on that order, contact Russ at for pricing and arrangements. They'll have the bees back in town on April 2 so you need to be ready to pick them up.

New Business:

Harry Vanderpool presented at the Western Apicultural Society’s convention in September 2010 on Nuc Management. One of the key take-aways Clyde got out of the article was the concept of the difference between Bad Bee Behavior and Bad Beekeeper Behavior. Most of the time if the bees are doing something “naughty”, it’s because the beekeeper isn’t doing a very good job caring for/managing his hives. The three key elements to good colony care is management, preparation, and timing.

BEEKEEPING 101 – Building Woodenware, Walt McBride

Most hive components come cheaper unassembled. Sadly, they don’t come with assembly instructions. If you buy them in person, take the extra time to dry-fit them on the counter at the shop where you buy them – this helps guarantee that when you get them home, none of them will be drastically ill-milled or warped. You want to make sure that they sit flush with a flat surface, with no gaps on bottom or top edges.

All boxes/frames are not milled the same. The parts will not be interchangeable from one manufacturer to another. Different millers design their frame ends/tabs differently, and space their corner joints differently.

Walt recommends buying boxes with a 7/8” deep rabbet for the frame support so you can modify it. The deeper rabbet allows you to add in a ¼” strip of wood that can be easily removed/replaced when/if scraping off of burr comb, etc. eventually mars or damages the edge. You can also add in metal frame guides or edges – make sure you keep the nails out of the way of surfaces that will be frequently scraped free of comb/propolis. If you are using a 9-frame or 8-frame guide, Walt recommends them only in boxes used solely for honey storage. A standard 10-frames per box is better for brood rearing. Ultimately you should have ¼”-3/8” clearance between the top of the frames and the top of the box. If you don’t have this clearance, the bees will glue the frames to the lid with propolis, or you’ll squash a significant number of bees when closing the hive.

Dry fit your boxes before you glue them together. If the box assembly requires any futzing, mark across the corner finger joints in such a way that it’s easy to figure out which part goes where if parts get shuffled during assembly. Make sure you don’t assemble your box with the handholds inside! Any standard wood glue will do. Use a steel acid brush to coat contact surfaces of the finger joints (these brushes are easiest to clean/use again). Keep a pot of warm water handy to wipe off excess glue. After assembled with glue, it takes 48 nails for a standard deep box – sink one nail through each finger into the adjoining panel. Mae sure to use nails with standard heads, not finishing nails. Walt uses 8D galvanized 21/2” nails. Hot dip nails are thicker and will cause more splitting of the wood. You can also use screws or staples. Check for square as you assemble, and use clamps if needed. If you are going to add cleats to your box, make sure you place them so they fit with your lid, or plan to modify your lid to accommodate the cleats.

Frames – some people have noticed more burr come on plastic frames than on wooden frames. If you’re using wooden frames get solid bottom frames for wax foundation, or grooved bottoms for plastic foundation. The top wedge bar used to hold in foundation can be easily set using 5/8” tacks and a pair of pliers – just set and pinch.

Assembling the frames – start with setting the grommets in the ends if your foundation will include wiring. Grommets prevent the wire from digging into the wood and thereby loosening. Loose wire means loose foundation and a mess in your extractor. Obviously, cut comb or crush/strain methods aren’t really concerned with tight wiring.

Once the grommets are set into both ends, assemble the frame by brushing glue onto all contact surfaces. Once you’ve got them together with glue, use 10 nails per frame (only one per corner will allow twisting deformations) – Walt prefers 3D for the bottom corners, and 4D for the top corners, because of size and cost. The nailing pattern in top corners should be two down from the top, plus a third in from the side into the top – this prevents you from popping the top bar off completely if they’ve glued the frame in using burr comb or propolis. Make sure your nails don’t come through diagonally and poke through in places where you’re likely to catch on them with fingers while working your hive. Staples work, too (1-1/8”) just follow the same pattern. Jigs can help immensely with high volume assembly.

Wiring frames – wire boards are hard to find anymore but you can find plans online at  [Ed: If you want to see one, let me know and I can send out a call to our membership – I know several members have them handy to bring to meetings for show and tell] Plastic foundation doesn’t need wiring. Be careful about wax foundation – bees will “clean it out” of the hive if you put it in without sufficient nectar flow to encourage them to build it out. Walt uses 18 ga electrogalvanized nails and wire around 24 gauge (he thinks). Set a nail at the start of the wiring pattern, and another near the end of the pattern. The number of holes/frame varies based on the depth of the frame, so make sure you count your back and forth pattern correctly. Thread the wire through the holes. Fasten it with the nail at the end of the run, and then start applying tension back to the start/spool. Once you’ve taken out all the slack, fasten the starting end and cut the wire.

Installing foundation – once your frame is wired, fit the top of the foundation in the top bar, and set the wedge using your tacks and pliers. Using your wiring jig, set the frame foundation down/wire up on a spacer just high enough to keep the foundation in contact with the wires without crushing it. Apply 1.5 amps of current through the wire for roughly 3 sec/wire to melt the wire into the foundation. [Apex Electronics on San Fernando Road will carry appropriate transformers.] Similar techniques can be used to heat and remove wire later if you want to use the comb for cut comb.

Always use 10 frames per box when installing fresh foundation. Only drop them to 8 or 9 frames per box after the comb has been drawn out in a 10 frame setup – this prevents inconsistent comb construction.

Long term storage of frames – pull all wires and wax, drop the frame in a lye bath for 3-4 minutes, resquare the frames if they have deformed, and then store dry.

Plastic foundation – Walt highly recommends getting your plastic foundation pre-waxed. Sometimes you will need to add another brushed-on coating of wax to encourage the bees to draw comb. All forms of plastic frame seem to work well when there’s a good nectar flow. Bill and Clyde use plastic for honey (stability in the extractor, scrape-ability/steam cleanable, requires recoat after cleaning) and wood/wax foundation for brood.

Lids – Using an inner cover with a telescoping cover makes it easier to remove the lid – the inner cover helps prevent the bees from gluing the lid to the box. Walt uses mostly migratory lids as they’re easier to get open, and our mild weather doesn’t necessitate the more weather-proof telescoping lids. A bee escape on the inner lid between boxes will allow bees to only move one direction, making harvesting honey supers much easier.

Bottoms – Walt nails his to his boxes.

Paint – all outside faces and edges where bottoms/boxes/lids touch should be painted. Anything the bees don’t touch should be painted. Walt paints a few inches farther in on his bottom than just the landing board to help with light bounce into the hive, and prevent water intrusion. Use a good quality paint. Walt gets good results with Behr using 1 coat of primer, and 2 or more coats of exterior grade semi-gloss (usually white). Hard edges are where your paint will fail first. Varnish can help seal plywood edges. Linseed oil seeps – you have to use oil based paint if you use linseed oil. Dipping your pieces in a vat of a mixture of gum rosin and paraffin melted to 200 degrees can also work, but it’s hard to do efficiently in a back-yard sized operation.