Newsletter of the Los Angeles County Beekeepers Association
May 6, 2013 Volume XIII, Issue 5
Next Meeting: June 3, 2013 Doors Open 7:00 pm. Start 7:30
Mt. Olive Lutheran Church, 3561 Foothill Boulevard, La Crescenta, CA 91214
Minutes from the May Meeting: Attendance: 52, 45, members, 7 guests
Contents in Brief:
Some handy equipment Walt/Keith
• Beekeeping 101 classes 3rd Sunday of the month 9am-noon at Bill’s yard. Suits required. April’s class had 60 people, May’s is scheduled for 5/19
• 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 (email@example.com) 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 firstname.lastname@example.org
• AGdayLA – From 8:30-1:30 (lunch included) on Thursday May 16 at the Pomona Fairplex Big Red Barn – help teach about 700 3rd and 4th graders about agriculture and its importance in our daily lives, from food to textiles. If you’re interested in helping out, please contact Karl Walker or Mary Landau.
• Second Annual Honey Harvest Festival & BBQ Contest in Fillmore, Sat/Sun June 15 & 16. It’s Father’s Day weekend – treat him to some tasty food, music, and perhaps even a train ride to learn about the local impact of bees on agriculture. Contact us or Bennett’s Honey Farm to volunteer on the train or to register a booth for the event
• AB 996 – the new bill for direct sales regulations has farmer’s market vendors trying to change the current limiting designation of “honey” to the more inclusive “bee products”. Existing legislation
expires January 2014. The CSBA lobbyist is working on the issue to try and expand the legal spectrum of bee product sales available to beekeepers.
Questions from the Floor:
• Good label company for honey labels?
Try OnlineLabels.com and just look for something that fits your containers – most small scale folk print their own.
• Recipes for propolis?
On the left side of our website there’s a link to the Apitherapy News – they should have something.
• How do you make beeswax products like candles and lip balm?
This could be an entire weekend of classes and discussion. Check Dadant (publishers of ABJ), AI Root Candles (who publish Bee Culture), and Mann Lake for books specifically focused on beeswax products. You can also check your local library for those titles. For materials, locals have found candlewic.com (careful – no K!) or General Wax and Candle in North Hollywood to be good sources.
• Feeding in the hive results in ants – how do I get rid of them?
Ah, the true beekeeper’s lament. Many beekeepers use bee stands and put grease on the legs to prevent ants from climbing up them. Be sure to plug hollow legs or they’ll go up the inside! Many folk use cans at the base of their stand legs, and then fill the cans with oil to make a moat (use a screen to keep bees from drowning, but don’t make the screen a bridge for the ants…) If you spray pesticide for the ants, be very careful about the bees – it can drift and harm your girls Diatomaceous earth around the base of your stand legs can help keep ants off them. Cinnamon is reputed to work when applied like diatomaceous earth, but it gets mixed reviews Orange oil – much like what you’d find in Dissolve-It, can keep them at bay Most of the organic options require frequent reapplication
• How do I transfer a feral hive into a hive box?
Cut comb to fit in the frames (keep the top edge up!), use string/rubber bands/wires to keep comb in frames, put frames in the box. Find an experienced beekeeper to help you out for your first time.
• Mite traps – how long should I keep them in the hive?
A screened bottom board can be left on permanently around here or you can swap for a solid board in winter, but they are of dubious efficacy with eliminating mites. Many beekeepers find heavy mite populations in feral open-air hives, so you’re better off with something like a sticky board that actually captures/traps the mites.
• My bee water supply is 10’ in front of the hive – is that too close?
Anything within 100’ is good, but bees seem to prefer to enjoy “foraging” for their water by flying. Try placing buckets at various points on the property and see which spot they like best – use water
hyacinths or a floating object like straw/cork to prevent the bees from drowning, and use mosquito fish to prevent mosquitoes (call Bill Lewis, vector control, or your local water garden supplier for them). [Ed: my local squirrels/raccoons/cats wouldn’t leave my water hyacinths and mosquito fish alone, so I eventually resorted to a large flower pot tray/bird bath with some rocks piled on one side to offer standing places, and refill it daily as part of my morning routine. Small solar powered garden fountains can also be a good option.]
• How do you prevent birds from eating your bees??
The birds are HUNGRY this year. Try adding some bird feed in another part of the yard, far from the hive. You could also try hanging old CDs to deter the birds.
• Anyone harvesting honey yet?
Folk in Beverly Hills locations harvested 150lb in 1 month – the Virginia Box Trees gave a great harvest this year. The Topanga sage is good, the Santa Clarita sage is crap this season. The coastal areas are doing better than the inland – it all comes down to water.
• Do we need to inspect all boxes when we open a hive? (Is husband or wife right?)
Solomon-esque solution – assign half the hives to wife, half to husband, and everyone manage them as preferred, and see how it works out.
• A swarm left the queen and about 2-1/2 frames of bees, and lots of honey. Do I need more bees?
Put them in a nuc box so they have less space to manage, and see if they increase.
• Apitherapy – who’s got experience?
Eugene Covalshi has extensive background with it and is happy to talk with folk about it.
• How do you move hives?
Majors use forklifts and semis. It’s highly recommended you use a headlamp (with a RED filter) to move bees at night when they’re all inside. Use smoke or cold water spray to get bearded bees inside. An entrance screen helps provide better ventilation (you can buy them online or make your own). Cleats on the box make them easier to lift. You may want to tape/nail your lids down – having one slide off during movement is… unfortunate. They make what they call a Hive Lifter/Carrier (available at Dadant, Mann Lake, or Bushy Mountain – or Walt made his own) to make lifting even a HEAVY hive doable by a 2-person crew – don’t forget to attach/strap your bottom board to the
boxes. Hot conditions may require a screened lid to help keep the girls cool and easy to water during the trip.
• What is bee candy and how do you make it?
Essentially, fondant. Or fondant with pollen. Do a quick internet search for countless recipes from cooking sites, and add in pollen if desired.
* Quick note from the VP – if you’re going to research via YouTube, please, PLEASE, PLEASE try to restrict your videos to areas that are local or climatically similar to our own. If you try to take
beekeeping lessons from someone in Maine, things are going to go awry. [Ed: We specify distinctions between Russian, Italian and African strains of apis mellifera because their drastically different
environments result in widely different behaviors and require differing management considerations.]
• Feed syrup – is it 2:1 by volume or weight?
They’re close enough that it’s not really important which way you do it. [Ed: with only one hive, I feed by filling a pitcher half full of sugar, filling with boiling water to about ¾ full to dissolve, then add ice cubes to cool the syrup to comfortable temps for the bees, and them pour that into my in-hive feeder. Larger guys are doing it by the barrel or more, and they do it roughly by weight, using power tools to
mix the stuff.]
• My hive is on a property with 87 fruit trees. The honey is great, but what kind is it?
Try “Best of [Cityname]” or “Mixed floral” or “Orchard”
• Should I be checkerboarding brood into a new box?
This can confuse your bees or make it harder to keep the brood warm – usually you just need to add a new box, unless they’ve become honey-bound. Add new boxes when you see “icing on the cake” wax on the top bars – droplets of white, not burr comb.
• When do I not need to feed?
When the frames are full of honey, they’re doing fine, don’t bother to feed.
• Glove recommendations?
The yellow plastic ones are good against stings but very sweaty – wash after use.
Canvas allows a lot of stings. Leather avoids stings and are usually better ventilated than the
yellow plastic options. Leah Johnson double-layers latex and canvas, and has no problems with stings.
• Queen superceding – I have empty queen cells but no eggs in my hive.
What do I do?
If a queen dies unexpectedly, the workers have about a 5 day window to convert some of the remaining eggs/larvae to queen cells and raise themselves a new one. Because of how long it takes to raise/mate the queen, you may get an entire month without brood. (Silver lining – this helps break mite breeding cycles.) Bill Lewis says “queenless” colonies often have an empty space in the brood area because they have a virgin queen and are waiting for her to lay. Virgins are FAST, so look carefully. Requeening often results in the colony killing the purchased queen so you may want to wait another week to see if the virgin starts laying [Ed: I had this happen my first year out – I didn’t add supers fast enough, they swarmed/superceded, and when Bill came out to inspect for me the new queen had just started laying. I had no brood for roughly a month. My new locally mated queen/colony WAS more temperamental than the pedigreed one, and was ultimately replaced the next year.]
• Raising queens – where do I learn how?
Sadly, Sue Cobey is no longer at UCDavis so her classes are no longer conveniently available. But our President Jim Lindsay did take her class and has done some artificial insemination work. It’s expensive to start up, so be prepared. [Ed: standard queen raising techniques are discouraged locally because of the Africanization in the local drone population.]
Thanks to all the members who donate prizes and purchase tickets!
Chocolate Almond Mud Pie – homemade with back-yard eggs, still warm! won by Merriane Bouchard
Honey pot – won by Jeremy Jensen
2 dozen fresh organic back-yard eggs – won by Jeff Jensen and Larry Maston
We now have a gallery of photos from the Beekeeping 101 classes. Let Eva know if you have photos you want to contribute. We’ve had over 10,000 unique visitors so far. Eva gets frequent compliments on our site being one of the best out there for beekeepers.
Handy Equipment – Walt McBride and Keith Roberts
Swarm Capture tool – frame holder
Walt introduced us to a homemade contraption he uses to help collect bees during swarm captures. He starts with a telescoping rod (like used for pool cleaning) and then attaches pipe clamps to act as frame holders on the far end. Place a fully drawn (and preferably full of warm/live/viable brood, but honey will do) frame to the end of the pole, hold the frame next to/in the swarm, and when the frame is full of bees, put the frame in the box and replace with another full but bee-less frame and repeat until all of the swarm is in the box. You can also attach a bucket to the end of the pole instead if you want to just drop the swarm into the bucket and then into a box. Either way, BE CAREFUL – long poles are tough to manipulate, especially on a ladder. Think a toddler with a kitchen broom – it’s easy to knock them into things and dump the bees all over.
Hive lifter – demonstrated earlier during the Q&A. Walt’s homemade version was sturdy enough for Keith/Walt to lift Pres. Jim Lindsay while he was sitting on some empty hive boxes.
Hive stands – Keith brought his in, and Stacy brought pictures of hers (an old end table/nightstand) – anything that’ll get them up off the ground can help minimize problems with skunks, ants, mice, etc. It can be made of just about anything: wood, metal, pallets, masonry, whatever, but narrower legs make ant prevention easiest. Bonus – the hive is a bit taller so during short-hive months, it’s a little less bending over to work them.