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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 3, 2014,  Volume XIV, Issue 3

 Next Meeting: April 7, 2014
 Doors Open  6:45 pm. Start 7:00 pm.
 Mt. Olive Lutheran Church
 La Crescenta, CA 91214


Topic for March Meeting: TBA 

Minutes from the February Meeting:  Attendance:43, 40 members, guests
[I know these numbers are wrong but that’s all that signed in…]

New Business
Presentation – none this month, catching up on Q&A


  • Beekeeping 101 classes March's class is scheduled for 3/16, 9am (April is 4/13)
  • 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 
    ( 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 


  • Bylaws – Ercil Eschbach is in the hospital – we need another volunteer to be on the committee. El Rey Ensch volunteered.  


  • Our president Jim Lindsay and Mayor Eric Garcetti will be collaborating on the beekeeping legalization issue. The city council is currently having staffers draft an ordinance for review. Garcetti apparently wants to talk to our membership about the possible ordinance before it goes to vote.

  • Our Beekeeping 101 class in February had 108 people in attendance, including 44 new members. (And Bill Lewis was out of town so Clyde Steese was in charge all by himself!) At least 90% of those at the class knew nothing about bees – they were more novice than any other class Clyde has ever taught, so it was good practice for getting back to absolute basics! The March 16 class will be about equipment – can we do a joint venture with Walt McBride and Keith Roberts– combine the sessions we’ve held separately in the past? Everyone agreed to this plan so March is expected to have multiple stations/instructors demonstrating/describing various elements of preparing equipment for the arrival of bees. 
  • The LA County Fair is implementing their new garden project, and as a result there will be no horses at the fair in 2014. They are operating on a $500,000 grant for the new gardens. 
  • El Rey presented a variety of articles issued in the past month – AgAlert articles featuring John Miller and Orin Johnson of the CSBA, articles on the legalization efforts in Los Angeles, the recent news about tobacco ringspot virus jumping from plants to bees (a CCD factor?) – see the website for links to these and more news items updated regularly.
- There are a few spare catalogs available on the back table – enjoy!
- The Honey Harvest Festival will be this June in Filmore. It will only be 1 day this year. We need volunteers to help educate people about bees. (Status of the train is uncertain at this point – they may be employing buses instead.) Volunteering is a really great learning experience in itself – after explaining things to that many people you will really have it down. It’s also a lot of fun – you can help out no matter how much you know (or don’t know!) about bees. Contact El Rey if you want to help out
  • At February’s meeting in Sacramento Bill/Clyde heard the Napa club decided to split into 4 sections. San Francisco’s club is equally big, and Stacy heard at the 2013 convention that the Delta Bee Club has about 500 members. The popularity of beekeeping is still growing. Just look at our meetings! We’re starting to burst at the seams. We may need a bigger venue soon, or a switch to theater style seating instead of tables. We are hoping to keep space rental ~$100/month or less. Community centers/libraries/fraternity halls/another church/etc. with room to hold more people. If you have any ideas/suggestions, let the officers know.
  • What are your bees doing?
- Swarming!!! The season is really of
f because of the weird weather. Swarming used to be April/May, now it’s all over due to the winter heat and lack of rain. Bill & Clyde’s hives are bursting at the seams – they’re adding more space this week in almonds. Their city hives are also crowded (but no swarm cells yet). They’ll be adding new foundation hoping these crowded hives will draw it out
- what’s in bloom – citrus, avocado, rosemary, hawthorne, banana trees, birds of paradise, clover, apricots… check the nectar flow time of day for the various plants. Some offer nectar in the morning, some in the afternoon. Even the best nectar plants (sage, eucalyptus, buckwheat) need water – sometimes they will bloom but have no nectar flow due to lack of
moisture. Also, just because something blooms doesn’t mean it contributes to the manufacture of honey.
- Pollination Partnership lists local bee friendly plants by zip code. It’s a good basic guide to what/when, but the recent weather has been skewing the results.
  • Keith’s avocado farmer needs more bees – 20-30 colonies. He does not spray while the trees are in bloom. If you have hives available, get in touch with Keith Roberts.
  • Hive architecture – I have all mediums with open bottoms and top bars only. Is this a good idea? Foundationless/Top bar setups are prone to burr comb. All mediums is a great idea for the maneuverability/weight issue. Lack of foundation/frames makes it harder to inspect your hives or rotate out old wax with accumulated chemical buildup. Klaus Koepfli warns – don’t extract anything from frames you’ve had in the hive while treating for mites. 
  • Ron Strong attended the Mason Valley Beekeepers Conference in Nevada. There are no state level regulations prohibiting bees, only Clark County has prohibitions, and only Sparks/Carson City has any beekeeping regulations. Their beekeepers have to contact farmers directly to find out about pesticide schedules – there is no county registration/notification system. They’re looking forward to the Pollination Protection labels coming soon to pesticide containers. Deformed wing virus (carried by varroa) can infect queens who then pass it on to larvae. Troy Bunch runs bees in Mason Valley and Fallon. Walt asks what they grow – primarily alfalfa, rabbitbrush, etc.
  • Pesticide spray issues
- Eva had them spray near her with no notification because she has fewer than 30 hives.
- Clyde indicates that the West Nile Virus sprays are not considered hazardous to bees, but the hive number limit applies to all sprays. - Keith says there are lots of problems and misconceptions out there about when they should be notifying you and when they don’t have to – your best bet is to form relationships with your local farmers to help educate them on the hazards of pesticide applications to the bees, inform them of best management practices, and don’t rely on County notifications. - El Rey asked Eric Mussen recently if there’s a good way of discouraging bees from certain bodies of water without poisoning them, and he was told “not really”. - Klaus points out that mix tanks aren’t usually cleaned out, so even if THIS spray is “safe” the last one may not have been. If they DO notify you about scheduled spraying, then what? Have a spare/backup yard available for a quick move, or at least close up your hives with travel screens (and water them if necessary). Clyde says a soaking wet burlap cover over the entrance is a good way to trap, hydrate, and cool the hive in such cases. - Aside from pesticide notification, registration with the county is also good for controlled burn notifications if your bees will be affected. - Klaus also recommends finding out where your local farmers are discarding their empty pesticide buckets – bees will sometimes forage them for water. 
  • Los Angeles Honey Company – Larry walker is with us tonight. They opened in 1957 at the current Fishburn location (the original company was founded in 1912, and Larry’s dad bought the name for $100). Larry’s dad Chase ran bees, up to about 800 hives at one point. He hired Elmer Micheler (a Master Beekeeper and member of the American Sioux Honey Association) and George Seeley to help him out. Beekeeping used to be a one-man operation with the slave labor of the kids in the family. The ability to hire help was, and is, rare. Norm Cary is one of the few Larry knows who’s managed to do it and succeed.
- Clyde asks what the prices for honey will be like this year. Larry says it’s too early to tell. Stocks are low locally, but it’s still available internationally. We really need about three stable years to buffer the stockpiles industry-wide.

  • What dissolves beeswax?
Rubbing alcohol, lacquer thinner (many disapproved of this for toxicity reasons), orange oil (find at OSH, Home Depot, etc.), on concrete you can use steam/hot water or lye. Make sure you mop up spilled honey RIGHT AWAY on concrete or it will pit the concrete over time. Melted beeswax can clog drains over time – turpentine can help with that.
  • For re-waxing plastic frames – how hot does it need to be to kill AFB?
DON’T – just chuck them: wooden frames you can burn (but not in LA Co – bag and landfill), plastic you should bag tightly to landfill. Boxes can be scorched to sterilize, so just toss the frames. Use a propane torch to scorch the inside surfaces – but most canisters won’t burn properly when turned upsidedown so set up a workspace that allows easy access. If you’re very dedicated to maintaining the woodenware, you can boil them in lye for 20 mins at 220 deg, but most people don’t have the equipment/desire to run such an event.
  • Wax moth got to our hives – what do we do?
Scrape the residue out of frames/grooves, re-wire the frames, add new foundation. It is lots of work, but the frames are reusable if you’re bored and want something to do.
  • We’ve had 2 swarms of our own bees but the hives have plenty of room. How do we prevent it?
The hives have plenty of room because they’ve already swarmed. Look for empty swarm cells on the bottom of the frames (supercedures are in the middle of frames – wherever they can find suitable eggs/larvae). Once you have swarm cells, you’ve reached the point of no return. Do splits with a purchased queen if you can get one and kill the swarm cells. Traps are not a reliable way to catch swarms. Killing queen cells might help, but it’s not reliable. Should we order queens first? Yes – much of beekeeping is anticipation. If you have to split w/ no queen available, let them raise their own and replace her with known genetics as soon as commercial queens are available. Walt offers that a single hive is really a tough way to go – try to have a second as well so you have resources to draw upon in case one hive starts going screwy.
  • Has anyone heard of quarantining bees for Africanization?
Nevada does in the southern parts – there’s no moving them without inspection and morphometric analysis. Clyde says in the 2000s several counties in TX had the same policy, no moving bees for pollination contracts. Klaus says most people don’t need to tell if they’re Africanized scientifically – just kick the hive! Keith pops the lid, uses minimal smoke, and waves his hand slowly over the top of the hive. Africanized colonies will ping his hand. Paul DuPont recommends a dark cloth waved near the entrance to see if the hive attacks it. Bees can remain “hot” for hours after – test with caution Kevin Heydman says if they are prone to attack, just kill them. Their removal service can have days where every colony is docile, and then others where every colony gets put down. It all depends on the day.
  • What if you catch aggressive bees in a trap? Can you requeen?
If they don’t kill her immediately. Realistically you have to split them down to about 2 frames (a frame of bees and a frame of honey) to get them to accept a new queen. Any drone in the colony are already spreading those highly defensive/aggressive genes – just KILL THEM Catching swarms – they look fine when you first get them, but as soon as there’s brood, they get defensive and extreme. One idea is to keep them in an entirely separate yard from the Europeans, and after a week is up you know if they’re worth keeping. If you’ve got a big enough container, you can drown them in a dip tank. You can also suffocate them with dry ice by duct taping the entrance and seams. If you happen to have a welder’s CO2 tank handy, you can use that to suffocate them, too. Or plain old soapy water and a screened entrance will do the job as well.

RAFFLE!!! I completely forgot to bring the tickets this month, so we skipped it – sorry! – SM
BUT – Doug Miller brought a lovely bottle of wine with hand-embroidered dishtowel so be sure to have your dollars ready for raffle tickets in April!