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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
November 2011 Volume XI, Issue 10

Next Meeting:   January 9, 2012,  7:00 pm
Mt. Olive Lutheran Church, 3561 Foothill Boulevard, La Crescenta, CA  91214


Topic for January Meeting:

CSBA convention recap

Minutes from the November Meeting: Attendance:50, 49 members, 1 guest

Contents in Brief:



CSBA Convention

Holiday Dinner

Beekeeping in Uganda

Overwintering issues


  • The CSBA Ladies Auxiliary still had luncheon spots open
  • North Hollywood Farmer’s Market on Saturdays is still looking for a honey vendor – call Doug Noland for contact information if you’re interested
  • American Bee Journal –subscription discount – grab a voucher from Stacy 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 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.

New Business:

LA County Fair – Thank you to all of our volunteers for making this year another success. Bill Lewis moves that we offer scholarships to 10 members to go to the CSBA convention, based on hours worked. Walt McBride seconds the motion, and the group passes the proposal. Additionally, Ercil Eschbach moves we donate funds to the same organizations as last year to the CSBA Right to Farm Fund, the CSBA Research Fund, and the UC Davis Laidlaw Research program). El Rey Ensch and Jim Lindsay second the motion, and the group passes it. (The BASC members marvel at how quickly we managed this portion of our meeting…)

Cameron TuckerHuell Howser’s camera man has expressed interest in filming the CSBA convention with us so that we and/or BASC can bring some of the presentations back to our members. Since many researchers present unpublished results at the convention, that may be a bit tricky – Russ Levine is going to look into the permissibility of it for us.

Holiday Dinner – Options researched so far include Mt. Olive’s hall where we have our meetings, Homegirl Café, and the Pickwick Gardens Banquet facilities.

Homegirl would do all the cooking and serve (carne asada, chicken fajitas, etc). Their space is about comparable to the hall at Mt. Olive, but with booth seating rather than tables. Homegirl would handle decorating. The cost would be about $2,800 Several members expressed concern about the Homegirl Café’s location in the downtown area.

Pickwick would be $650 just to rent the hall. They would allow Doug Noland of Outback Catering to bring the food (BBQ tri tip, grilled chicken, potatoes, veggies, salad, etc. for $2,538), though they require that they provide drinks. Their facilities offer several different sized halls.

Mt. Olive would offer us the room, but we would need to provide decorations and the cost for Doug to cater would be the same as anywhere else.

Ultimately, based on preferences for hall size, menu options, and comfort levels of the membership in general, Sue Potter moved we have the event at Pickwick, Ron Strong seconded, and the membership approved it with 1 opposed.

Vanishing of the BeesBill and Clyde recently manned a panel at The Montalban Theater for the Hollywood Farmer’s Market and Farmer’s Kitchen sponsored Food Day LA screening of the new film. They displayed info about beekeeping during the wine/hors d'oeuvres hour before the screening and then answered questions afterward. The film they thought was good, kind of depressing, but fair and accurate. It provides good publicity for the plight of our bees, and prominently featured our outgoing ABF President Dave Mendes, as well as Dave Hackenberg who is credited with being CCD’s “whistleblower”. The film is very different from “Queen of the Sun” but Bill and Clyde feel they’re equally good.

Editorials: – El Rey lets us know that the recent Eric Mussen newsletter echoed Clyde’s editorial last month: 

From Eric’s Newsletter:

“This information can be viewed and downloaded at: Or, simply put NSW Agriculture in your browser; use the link to Livestock, then the next link to honey bees. That leads to many more links, covering a wealth of information.

Of significant value to you at this time is the link to “General Public and Bees.” Are you aware that, not very long after many regulators opened the doors to local beekeeping, complaints about honey bees began increasing? Despite the desire to not interfere with Nature, and let honey bees do what they do, if there are too many “beehavers” (not beekeepers) who let their bees create problems like swarming and being pestiferous about water collection, those beekeeping prohibitions will be reinstituted.”

Uganda Beekeeping: – Neils Johnson claims that NO ONE knows less about bees than he does – and he wants your knowledge!

He’s involved in a project to help train beekeepers in the African country of Uganda. African Renewal Ministries is hoping to set up 10 sites with 200 hives each in and around the town of Rukungiri to provide support for orphans in the local communities. Plans are for each site to help support 100-200 orphans.

If you are interested, you can go to Africa with Neils – he’s aiming for a trip in early spring, or July 12-24, 2012 with The Church at Rocky Peak group from Chatsworth.

He could also use any old equipment you might have lying around, particularly veils/suits! While most African beekeepers use top bar hives because of their ease of manufacture, few have protective gear of any kind.

But mostly, he wants your knowledge, your insight, your warnings and recommendations about keeping bees. If you are interested in helping the project in any way, please contact Neils at: 310-600-5881

Website issues: – Jim Lindsay has been hosting the site at home. In the next week the site will be moved over to a new hosting company. With the new year, the site will be getting a facelift and some content upgrades, thanks to Eva Andrews. Based on member experiences in other groups, the website will NOT have a chat or forum function set up – we highly recommend BeeSource for that kind of interaction.

Election of officers: – Ercil Eschbach moves to nominate all existing officers to remain in their positions. The officers agree. The motion is seconded, and the election passes. Bill Lewis does warn that we need to be trying to groom people to move into those spots before the current members burn out [and I point out he wants Clyde freed up to help him out at the state level…]

Overwintering issues

One of the BASC members recently brought something into a meeting for show and tell. They had left a queen excluder on a hive when they combined two boxes. The drones trying to get from one box to another (to get outside and such) soon clogged the queen excluder to the point where there was little space for ANY bees to get through. When you combine hives, make sure you don’t inadvertently leave an excluder where you may trap drones. Generally speaking, this is a good time of year to remove your queen excluders COMPLETELY so the bees can go where they need to as the weather chills.

Lost a queen – what to do now? This time of year they won’t breed well due to a lack of drones, but Kona and Olivarez are still selling mated queens to requeen with if you can afford it.

Pollen patties – how do you place it? Keep in mind that pollen patties provide protein, and are generally used to help rear more brood. One pound of patty will result in roughly 1 solid frame of brood (both sides), or about 6,000 bees. Does your hive have enough honey stored to keep up with the level of protein you’re providing? If not, you’ll need to feed sugar as well. As to how to place the patty, put it above the brood next, lay it on top of the frames, between the boxes. Leave it in the middle, not to one side – this time of year they prefer to stay in the middle to conserve heat, so keep the food where the bees are. If you’re already feeding patties, will they starve if you quit? Check your pollen stores in the combs – if there’s pollen stored there in good quantities, they should be fine. If not, then keep feeding them.

What should my hive look like? You should probably have 1 deep box full of brood, and cull any empty boxes. If your boxes are still full of brood and/or honey go ahead and leave them on.

What if there’s no honey in the hive? Then you need to feed your bees. Sugar water is the easiest method for the bees. Apply using any of the following:

  • Inverted buckets with tiny holes on the lids for hives with top entrances,
  • entrance feeders,
  • in-hive feeders (be careful to leave these in the bottom box – don’t want to accidentally dump a full feeder while moving supers),
  • Ziplock baggies on the top bars (Keith Roberts warns this requires Zen-like skill with a razor blade to get open without deluging the hive!).

Check your bees at least weekly to make sure they have enough. Broken bags of sugar can be a risk – make sure your sugar is well packaged when purchased.

Mites over winter –Keith has had trouble with Apiguard (thymol) applied at 79 degrees – when placed over the brood nest, he’s had queens abscond. This is an issue you typically see with MAQS (formic acid) rather than thymol – Bill and Clyde apply on the top bars to one side of the box, and have been able to apply weekly with no trouble.

How often should you check on the bees in the winter? When they’re clustered in the center during the cold, it’s hard to tell how they’re doing. When it’s warm enough to check, if your cluster is the size of a paper plate at the top bars, they’re doing well. Check for holes/cracks in the hive to prevent robbing scenarios.

Why do you find dead bees in front of the hive? During spring most bees die in the field but when they’re holed up for the winter, the dead are simply swept out the front door so it looks like more are dying. There could also be pesticide exposure issues if it’s a large quantity very suddenly, or possibly increased mite/infection issues.

Don’t open your hive if it’s colder than 65 out – capped brood deforms if dropped below 97 for more than 7 minutes.

Try to check anywhere from weekly to monthly, based on food needs, mite treatments, what weather allows, and whether you plant o go to almonds.

If you have multiple hives you can “equalize” hives by moving full frames from a strong hive into a weak hive and emptier frames into the stronger hive. Don’t split the brood cluster, though. Put empty frames to the outside – now is not the time to be drawing comb or filling new brood frames.

When do we know winter’s over? Your frames start to fill up! Get those boxes on to keep them in plenty of space so they don’t get crowded and swarm.