Newsletter of the Los Angeles County Beekeepers Association
May 7, 2012 Volume XII, Issue 5
Next Meeting: June 4, 2012, 7:00 pm
Mt. Olive Lutheran Church, 3561 Foothill Boulevard, La Crescenta, CA 91214
Topic for June Meeting:
Minutes from the May Meeting: Attendance: 61, 60 members, 1guests
Contents in Brief:
Jerry Hayes – Sustainable Beekeeping, CSBA 2011 Convention video
- Beekeeping 101 classes are scheduled 9am first Sunday of the month from April-October (except September) at Bill’s yard located at 12640 N Little Tujunga Road, Lake View Terrace – free for members
- 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 (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.
- If you want to be listed on our website for honey sales or bee removals, contact Eva Andrews at email@example.com
- AGdayLA will be held on May 17th starting around 8:30am this year at the Big Red Barn at the Pomona Fairplex. Funding has been cut so it’s been chopped down to only a single day. 3-4 of our members usually volunteer. If you’d like to help out (lunch is included), contact Clyde Steese.
- Laura Rockwell’s 4-frame manual extractor will be available for sale at the June 4 meeting.
- June 9-10 the Southern California Honey Festival is debuting in Fillmore, CA. Bennett’s Honey Farm is organizing the event, and they plan to use the park downtown in combination with the railroad lines that run past their place. There will be honey sales, booths (including one by LACBA), live music, food, and historic railroad rides so folk can tour local orchards/farms/Bennett’s. Free admission, educational train ride on historic and “Hollywood” trains is $10-$20.
- http://bennetthoney.com/BHF-Events.html http://fwry.com/SpecialEvents/CAHoneyFestival.html
- June 18-24th is National Pollinator Week. Boeing is doing an exhibit at Santa Susana Field Laboratory and invited LACBA to have an 8’x10’ booth at no charge. Is anyone available on 6/23? The club will provide banners, brochures, etc. The Jensens volunteered!
- 9 a.m. – 12 p.m.; RSVP: firstname.lastname@example.org The 2,800-acre former federal government field lab is located in the beautiful Simi Hills and played a significant role in the historical research of rocket propulsion development and energy research. What most people do not know is that the SSFL property also serves as key habitat for a variety of native fauna and flora. As the site moves forward in its efforts to restore the areas once used for development of these technologies, a special focus has been placed on developing and preserving diverse native habitats for the wildlife. Enhancing pollinator habitats plays a key role in this restoration effort. (from http://angeles.sierraclub.org/sfvg/JUNE%202012%20e-VEV.pdf )
- Kodua’s photography is starting to show up in Bee Culture’s Almond Odyssey series – make sure you get a chance to see it! (photos are not online)
- Ron Strong found some adorable bee-shaped wooden whirligig lawn ornaments for $40 up north a way – if you want one, he’ll pick one up for you.
- April showers mean we may actually get a decent honey harvest this year. Keep your fingers crossed.
- Rattlesnakes are very populous this spring thanks to the warm weather. BE CAREFUL – they can also wind up coiled under your hives for warmth, and if your hive stand is too low to give a good line of sight, you may not see them until it’s too late. Remember, size does matter – little rattlers can be just as dangerous as the adults as they are less likely to deliver a “dry” bite, and they are more likely to strike out of fear.
- Some friends from Munich brought Clyde pictures of their “farmer’s market” – permanent buildings manned every day to sell wares from local producers like the town beekeepers. He even brought a sample of their beeswax soap to pass around. Now if only our farmer’s markets were so convenient…
- NOW is the time to start supering your hives if you haven’t already. The chaparral is in nectar flow. The sage started slow but the recent rains are helping. They’re also resulting in an early buckwheat flow. We may see a nectar flow through June. But it’s fickle – Clyde’s sage just this past week was showing no signs of nectar flow – sage likes the water and temperatures JUST RIGHT. Come July we might get enough flow from the toyon, sumac, and elderberry to keep things going.
- Requeening feral colonies – Eric Mussen indicates that requeening Africanized colonies has a high failure rate. Your best chance at success is to break them down into 2-frame nucs plus some honey/pollen and empty frames in a nuc box. This technique sees an 85% success rate with European queens, but even then they will frequently supersede her within a brood cycle or two. [Ed – evidence that bees are racist? We already knew they were fickle and routinely don’t do things “by the book”]
- For those interested, Bill Lewis is spending his time at today’s meeting squashing up bees according to Randy Oliver’s instructions to look for Nosema. Check in with him over at the microscope to get a peek at how it’s done.
- Start thinking about the fair – September is closer than you think! It runs Wednesday through Sunday, 8am-9pm and we staff the booth with volunteers from both LACBA and BASC. Last year we raised about $30K which we use to help send people to the state convention, take videos like the one showing tonight, etc.
We had quite the selection this week – all prizes are donated, so the group spends no money on this endeavor. Thanks to all for helping support our group’s works through this fundraiser!
Umbrella (the big kind!)
Brand new smoker
Collapsible insulated bag
[Ed: my apologies for not being able to name the winners – at over 250 members and 60 at any given meeting, there are officially too many of us for me to keep up without giant name tags!]
Next month there will be a suit to raffle off – don’t miss it!
Sustainable Beekeeping – Jerry Hayes, CSBA 2011 Convention – video provided by Russ Levine
[Ed: At the time of filming, Jerry Hayes worked for the FL State Department of Agriculture as State Apiarist. He writes The Classroom Questions for ABJ, and he was more recently named Monsanto's Beeologics Commercial Lead working with RNAi for control of honey bee pests, parasites and diseases.]
- Sustainable beekeeping – I’m not sure what exactly that means, but we all want to keep our bees alive. There is a laundry list of “what if”s now – it’s harder than it used to be. If it were easy, everyone would be doing it!
- Our bees are under siege from invasive things:
- Varroa. It looks to be about 80-90% of the problem. Just look at their size – a varroa mite on a bee is comparable to a rat on a human. They cause wounds, vectoring of illness, drain essential bodily fluids from the bees.
- Chemicals – pesticides from agriculture/pollination are everywhere. WE eat well because of them, but the bees don’t.
- Beekeeper chemicals – it’s not how I started out in this business, but now it’s a default that we add chemicals to our hives. We jumped right in on the bandwagon. Many chemical companies started introducing solutions based on chemicals that had expired patents to boost profits. Mostly it just doesn’t work well because it affects the bees as well as the mites. But most importantly, people FOLLOW THE LABEL DIRECTIONS – you guys are the smartest dumb people in the world. You like to make things… And everything winds up in the wax. Bees are environmental samplers and bring back EVERYTHING. Your bees are being exposed to much more than just what you apply.
- GMO crops – good or bad? Fewer pesticides are required, but new potential issues are cropping up. Monoculture is bad for bees generally speaking
- Bee bread – you want it clean and diverse. Pollen substitutes – none of them are nutritionally complete. They are better than nothing but not enough. A recent lab test revealed much of the pollen patty was being removed as trash in January in Florida hives.
- Migratory beekeeping – it’s an amazing thing. Stressful? Oh yeah. But what other insect tolerates anything remotely like it?
- Large scale apiaries/management – it’s just as unnatural as monoculture in crops fields. The bees can’t spread out as far as they would in nature. It’s an elementary school type sharing of pathogens – but bees are TOUGH.
- CCD – the queen – the engine of the hive (if not leader) – what’s it doing to her?
- Africanized honey bee (AHB) introgression in local feral populations
- Nucs are the best insurance ever – always keep some nucs on hand!
- So, what do we do?!?!
- Nothing – less coddling leads to stronger bees. Nursing them through merely prolongs the agony. “Trying to breed bees resistant to Varroa is like trying to breed sheep resistant to wolves.” Focus on location, location, location – diverse forage, no chemicals is optimal, but not feasible for most of us.
- Integrated Pest Management (IPM) – it’s an imperfect system, but addresses pathogens with less chemical impact. Screened bottom boards allow fledgling mites to fall out, forcing them to at least experience a delay as they crawl back to the hive (despite common knowledge about them being inert after falling out, displaced mites remain mobile and hostile, as demonstrated by the bunch that crawled across his office floor and onto his pant leg after they’d been brought in from a hive inspection)
- Small Hive Beetle (SHB) traps can double as varroa traps. SHB themselves pick up on bee stress pheremones so know which hives to hit first.
- Comb is a chemical sponge – like hair samples it can convey what they’ve been exposed to over long time frames. Make sure you rotate out your comb.
- Treatments like apivar, apiguard, powdered sugar (1C per brood box, sprinkle down past top bars every 3-4 days – is it really effective? Most of us are frankly too lazy to use it effectively. Is it a decent supplemental food for the bees? No better than it is for us.)
- Better nutrition – it’s critical to brood development. Chemicals affect the production of bee bread and a balanced diet (much like ours) is varied in color.
Questions/comments from the floor:
When buying pollen patties, ask what the pollen content is – may are less than 4%!
Are pollination contracts unhealthy for bees? It’s only a month per location… Yes, but that could represent an entire hive population of field workers during high foraging season – most bees in spring only live 4-6 weeks, so an entire generation of bees could see nothing but the pollination crop as a food source.