Newsletter of the Los Angeles County Beekeepers Association
May 2011 Volume X1, Issue 5
Next Meeting: June 6, 2011, 7:00 pm
Mt. Olive Lutheran Church, 3561 Foothill Boulevard, La Crescenta, CA 91214
Topic for June Meeting:
TBA, but Jim Lindsay is in charge!
Minutes from the May Meeting: Attendance:41, 39 members, 2 guests
Contents in Brief:
New Business - Q&A
- 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.
- June 12, 9am-noon - beekeeping 101 class about harvesting/extracting 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
- 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!
What are you seeing in your hives? Good brood? Honey? Pollen? Queen cells? Aggressiveness? If your colony is failing, requeen as soon as possible – if you let them go on the colony just gets smaller and smaller and it’s cheaper to replace a queen early than have to recover an entire colony later. Many larger beekeepers keep a “queen bank” where they have spare queens available for “emergencies”.
The recent package delivery Clyde picked up on April 19 were all in boxes by April 20. Each package was 3.5 lb with a queen. They were placed in a deep box with a feeder, 4 frames of drawn comb, the package feeder removed, and the queen hung. A day later they removed the package box from the super and inserted another 4 undrawn frames (don’t bother to checkerboard). By May 1 they were wall to wall bees with all frames drawn. Out of 100 packages, they lost 6 queens.
Russ’s experience was different – he lost 9 out of 20, and some colonies started making queen cells right away that first week.
El Rey says he’s had experiences that indicate getting first run queens results in poorly mated queens – later season queens wind up more productive/better mated. You have to balance your desire for an early start with the desire for a strongly mated/highly productive queen.
Finding good queens right now can be tricky. Some of the Hawaiian breeders have been so overrun with small hive beetle and varroa that they’ve burned their entire apiaries. Olivarez of Big Island Queens has been talking with Glenn Apiaries looking for help in coping with the situation. Southern bees (Georgia, etc.), sometimes referred to as “swamp bees”, can be feisty in comparison with the bees often seen from NoCal or Hawaii.
RAFFLE!! $50 Visa gift card donated to the club, $0.50/ticket.
Tropical bee forage – what’s best?
Try checking online – the internet would have better data than we do. You can buy various varietals from places like Hawaii that would give you a quick idea of which plants provide the best forage.
How can you tell if a queen is Africanized?
You can’t tell by size or color. Often, behavior will clue you in. Africanized queens often RUN like crazy when you open a hive. Also, you’ll notice Africanized workers before the queen – even a European queen mated with Africanized drones will lay more aggressive workers. In some cases an Africanized swarm will take over a hive completely, killing off the European queen, but you’ll still most likely notice the behavior of the workers before you even get close to a queen.
Many beekeepers find feral colonies not worth their time as they’re so likely to abscond – four hours spent on removal for a colony that takes off the next day is not worth it to many. [Ed: I know one of our members takes feral swarms and splits them aggressively when he requeens them so the bees will be more likely to accept a new queen and not abscond. You can also confine the bees in a hive box for several days with frames (drawn or undrawn) and a feeder to encourage them to build comb/lay brood to help prevent absconding. Obviously these techniques require more work than a basic scoop-and-drop capture.]
Is there a best time of day to inspect a hive?
Not really. During the day there are fewer bees as they’re out foraging, but they’re also more active. As long as the weather is above 60 degrees, and it’s not wet out, the pros and cons of various times of day kind of balance out.
How do you avoid getting stung?
Always suit up. It sounds like overkill sometimes, but it is the surest way to avoid getting stung. If you are experienced and really know your bees, you might get away with just using a smoker and maybe some white vinegar on your hands, but it’s still not as good as suiting up.
Do eucalyptus leaves calm bees better than other smoker fuel?
No one has noticed a difference between various smoker fuels in how the bees respond. It might be more palatable to the beekeepers, though…
How do you know if the bees are prepping to swarm?
The biggest indicator is the presence of queen cells. They usually start trying to rear more queens when they feel crowded – get rid of any queen excluders, give them more empty frames, make sure brood frames aren’t honey-bound (checkerboard them with empty frames to help encourage them to move the brood nest up – move honey frames on sides into higher boxes to make more room in the center of the brood nest for checkerboarding)
Deep frames or mediums for honey?
Mediums are easier to handle for extracted honey – the boxes are lighter. Deep frames cut up more exactly for comb honey so you can get more $$/frame with deep frames when making comb honey.
How do you prevent brood in honey without using queen excluders?
Queens can only lay so fast. If your hive is 6 boxes high (even mediums), most queens can’t lay fast enough to put brood in anything higher than 3 boxes, leaving your top three boxes entirely for honey, so a queen excluder is just another unnecessary bit of equipment you AND the bees have to work around.
What’s the quickest way to draw comb?
Feed LOTS of sugar to encourage wax production and comb building (1:1 ratio by weight). Put new foundation on NOW during good nectar flow to encourage them to build. Bill and Clyde feed with the following mix: “(25) 50 lb. bags of cane sugar with (233 gallons of water)1750 lbs water resulting in 3000 lbs. syrup(a plastic tote). That is about 3 cups water to 1 lb. sugar. I used 7.5 lbs./ 1 gallon water as the conversion factor.”
Mite Away Quick Strips – who’s got them?
They’re available through Man Lake. Large quantities require a grower’s permit, but small quantities can be ordered by anyone. The effective ingredient is formic acid, you can use them during honey flow, and it kills varroa even in the capped cells.
Pollen Traps – Clyde Steese
Why trap pollen? Money. Pollen gets $15/8oz. Bill and Clyde sold 700 pounds of pollen last year.
How does it affect the hive? It doesn’t really. If the hive feels like it’s not getting enough pollen, workers mature faster so they can go out to forage for more, so the bees still wind up with enough pollen for their needs, and the humans wind up with the excess they forage. Ben Jeffries had a MEAN hive he used for pollen harvesting before he killed them off. Africanized bees are focused on brood rearing so they collect LOTS of pollen.
There are several styles of pollen trap. There are several varieties of front mounted pollen trap. They are easy to put on and maintain, but not easy to use with pallets as they usually hang down below the front of the hive. They often also include a bypass option on the front door so you can allow the bees free entry. One of the biggest flaws of front mounted traps is they often have a small collection drawer so they need frequent emptying.
A commonly used trap is the Sundance-style bottom entrance trap. The rear drawer means it’s still not well suited to a pallet situation, though the bigger/deeper trap drawer means less work for the beekeeper. It does require a spacer be used with it. Also, the boxes have to sit exactly flush with the spacer/trap or the bees will “cheat’ and bypass it entirely. They do also have a free entry door bypass. They unfortunately cost about $80 each.
A bottom entrance side-drawer option fixes the biggest problem with the Sundance design. Mann Lake also makes one. As the Mann Lake schematic demonstrates, the “reversible” drawers on these designs still require more work than many beekeepers might want to think about when dealing with palletized hives. Clyde built himself some based on these designs, but with a drawer that can be put in from either side, and still does not allow for short circuiting. He also beveled the drawer fronts to help shed rain/dew. They cost him about $17 in materials but they do take some significant amounts of time to make. Beeline Apiaries had one listed in the May 2011 Bee Culture for only $40, but I have no idea if they require reversing a plate like the Mann/Sundance versions.
What about top entrance traps? Clyde’s never used one, not even the $60 trap he bought from Dadant – in fact, it might wind up June’s raffle prize…
Processing pollen – why keep it in the fridge/freezer? It helps prevent wax moth attacks, prevents accumulation of moisture (the pollen is hydrophilic), it can kill off any potential bugs, heat and dehydration can denature or reduce the efficacy of the pollen. Bill and Clyde run theirs through a sieve to remove large debris, drop it into a 5 gallon bucket or bag, and then freeze. You can also winnow with a fan to remove finer debris.
How do you eat pollen? With a spoon, in a smoothie, on ice cream, in oatmeal, on toast with honey. Flavor can be blah, so mixing it in with tastier foods is helpful.
If you want to build your own, Clyde used 1x10 lumber ripped down to the needed dimensions for drawers/interior parts, Mann Lake cones, exterior grade 9-ply plywood for durability, mesh ordered from Mann Lake. You can get “oops” paint from most hardware stores to get it cheaper – just make sure it’s exterior grade. Bill and Clyde use one coat primer and two coats of semi-gloss paint. El Rey talked to a professional painter who says at this point latex is roughly comparable to oils as far as quality, but advised using oil primer and a latex paint, which has been working well for El Rey. Catalogs will carry what they label Beehive Paint if you want to pay more for a fancy label.
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.