Bees For Sale!

Bill's Bees Bees for Sale.jpg

Get your 2019 Honey Bees from a local beekeepers. The following LACBA sponsor members have honey bees for sale. Place your order NOW - so you’re not bee-less come bee season!!!

Bills Bees: https://billsbees.com/collections/bees

Holly Hawk: Tel: 626-807-0572

Lea Johnson: email: leajohnson@yahoo.com

Pierco: https://www.pierco.com/

The Valley Hive: https://www.thevalleyhive.com/bees-for-sale.html

Commercial Beekeepers - The Unsung Heroes of the Nut Business

(Every year about this time, Bill's Bees takes part in the greatest pollination event in the universe - almond pollination. In 2015, Tracy Samuelson featured Bill's Bees in her piece for Marketplace, (it's reposted below in its entirety). Enjoy!)

By Tracey Samuelson, Featured on Marketplace, March 2, 2015 (Click here for Radio Interview) 17:15

An employee of Bill’s Bees prepares hives for transportation to almond groves. Credit: Tracey Samuelson/Marketplace

"Commercial Beekeepers - The Unsung Heroes of the Nut Business" 

"Bill Lewis is waiting for the sun to set, the time of day when his bees crawl back inside the short white boxes that house their colonies. As the sky turns pink behind the San Gabriel mountains, on the outskirts of Los Angeles, Lewis climbs into the seat of a forklift and starts moving the hives onto the back of a flatbed truck. These bees are on the move.

  The best time to transport bees is after dusk, when they return to their hives for the night. Credit: Tracey Samuelson/Marketplace

Bill Lewis of Bill’s Bees loads several hundred hives onto trucks in Lake View Terrace, CA., in order to drive them a couple hours north to pollinate almond trees for a few weeks. Credit: Tracey Samuelson/Marketplace "As soon as you get on the freeway and there’s air flowing past the entrances, all the bees run back inside,” says Lewis, of any stragglers.

Lewis, who runs Bill’s Bees, is taking about 700 of his hives on a road trip to the California’s Central Valley, where he’ll unload them across acres of almond orchards, working until 1 or 2 a.m. under the light of full moon.

All across the country, more than a million-and-a-half colonies are making a similar journey – traveling hundreds or even thousands of miles to pollinate California’s almonds. Farmers rent hives for few weeks because in order for almond trees to produce nuts, bees need to move pollen from one tree to another. 

No bees, no almonds.

“This pollination season there will be [some] 800,000 acres of almonds that need to be pollinated,” says Eric Mussen, a honey bee specialist at the University of California Davis. He says more than 100 different kinds of crops need these rent-a-bees, but almonds are significant for the number of acres that require pollination all at the same time. About 85 percent of the commercial bees in United States – which Mussen calls “bees on wheels” – travel to California for almonds.

The state supplies roughly 80 percent of the world’s almonds, worth $6.4 billion during the 2013-2014 season, according to the Almond Board of California.

“It’s a matter of numbers,” he says. “You’re trying to provide enough bees to be moving the pollen around between the varieties and whatnot. It’s just a huge, huge number of bees. The only way we can get a huge number of bees in one place at one time is to bring them in on trucks.”

In fact, bees are such an important part of the almond business that Paramount Farms, one of the biggest almond growers in the world, has decided they need to be in the bee business, too. The company just bought one of the largest beekeepers in the United States, based in Florida.

“Bees are so essential for the process of growing almonds,” says Joe MacIlvane, Paramount’s president. “If we don’t have a reliable supply of good strong colonies, we simply won’t be a viable almond grower, so that’s our primary motivation for getting into the business.”

Renting bees is about 10 to 15 percent of Paramount’s production costs, but the motivation to keep their own bees isn’t simply economic.

“Many bee keepers are individual or family business and many people are getting on in years and we don’t see a lot of young people coming into the business,” says MacIlvane.

Additionally, bee populations are struggling. A significant number having been dying each year for the past decade or so, thanks to a mix of factors, from pesticides to lost habitat for feeding. Sometimes it’s difficult to know exactly what’s killing them.

“We had a large problem last year with bees dying in the orchard because of something that was going on during bloom,” says Bill Lewis. He thinks a pesticide or fungicide may have been to blame.

This year, Lewis and his bee broker are being pickier about the farms they’re working with, vetting them more carefully because those lost bees had big economic consequences – about $300,000 in lost income for Lewis."

Featured in: Marketplace for Monday March 2, 2015 (Click here for Radio Interview

Beekeeping - What You Need to Start Keeping Bees!

Bill's Bees     By Bill Lewis     February 4, 2018

In March and April you’ll be picking up your bees (hope you’ve got your bee order in, they’re going fast!). Below are some things to consider and plan for before you pick up your bees.

Location, Location, Location:

A location in the open, preferably with a southern or easterly exposure, for maximum sunshine throughout the day.

Away from animals and children, not along a foot path, or where there is direct traffic. 

Protected by a barrier (approx. 2 feet from - and facing a hill or wall) from wind, streets, etc. This will also force the bees to fly up and over cars, people, etc., thus causing them to be less of a nuisance and helping them to stay alive.

Ease of access (you don’t want to be lifting heavy supers of honey up and down stairs or across rocky fields).

What the bees will need:

A safe, natural habitat with a source for nectar and pollen. A typical honey bee colony forages more than 80,000 square yards to find plants and flowers with sufficient nectar (honey) the bees' source for energy and pollen (essential in brood rearing) the bees' source of carbohydrates. 

A nearby source of fresh water (within ¼ mile) so they don’t use the neighbor’s swimming pool. This can be a tank or barrel of water with rocks or floating boards or cork for the bees to land on. 

A safe, comfortable, home to live in. 

We suggest you buy a couple of good beekeeping books and read them all the way through, twice.

Book Suggestions:

Beekeeper’s Handbook 

Keeping Bees in Towns & Cities

How to Keep Bees & Sell Honey

Beekeeping for Dummies

Basic Essentials List for Beginning Beekeepers:

The Hive - Langstroth (from the bottom up):

Hive Stand - This is a platform to keep the hive off the ground. It improves circulation, reduces dampness in the hive, and helps keep ants, bugs, leaves, and debris from getting into the hive. It can be made of anything solid enough to support the weight of a full beehive. Wooden hive stands are available for sale but bricks, concrete blocks, pallets, and found lumber are just as good. It’s helpful to place the legs of the stand in cans filled with used motor oil to deter ants from climbing up the legs and into the hive. The stand should be strong enough to support one hive or a number of colonies. What is important to remember is that the hive needs to be at least 6 inches off the ground.

Bottom Board - Is placed on top of the hive stand and is the floor of the hive. Bees use it as a landing board and a place to take off from. 

Entrance Reducer - Is basically a stick of wood used to reduce the size of the entrance to the hive. It helps deter robbing.

Hive Boxes/Supers - Come in three sizes: deep, medium and shallow. Traditionally, 2 deep boxes have been used as brood chambers with 3 or 4 or more boxes (medium or shallow) on top as needed for honey storage. Many beekeepers use all medium boxes throughout the hive. This helps reduce the weight of each box for lifting. If you have back problems or are concerned about heavy lifting, you could even use shallow boxes all throughout the hive. So, 6 boxes as a minimum for deep and medium. More if you wanted to use only shallow boxes. You will only need two boxes to start out, adding boxes as needed for extra room and honey storage.

Frames and Foundation - For each box you have for your hive, you will need 10 frames that fit that box. Frames can be wooden with beeswax foundation or all plastic with a light coating of beeswax. The bees don't care and will use both equally well. Foundation is intended to give the bees a head start on their comb building and helps minimize cross comb building that makes it difficult to remove and inspect. You can buy all beeswax foundation or plastic foundation with a thin coat of beeswax applied to it. Alternatively, you can provide empty frames and let the bees build their comb from scratch but that can be a bit tricky and it takes the bees longer to get established. 

Top Cover: The top cover can be as simple as a flat sheet of plywood. We prefer the top covers made with laminated pieces to make a flat board and extra cross bracing to help hold the board flat for years. Plywood tends to warp over time. You can also use a telescoping cover, but they require an additional inner cover. 

Paint - All parts of your hive that are exposed to the weather should be painted with (2 coats) of a non-toxic paint. Do not paint the inside of the hive or the entrance reducer. Most hives are painted white to reflect the sun, but you can use any light colors. Painting your hives different colors may help reduce drift between the colonies. If your hive will not be in your own bee yard, you may want to paint your name and phone number on the side of the hive.

Tools & Supplies:

bee brushBee Brush - A beekeeper needs a brush to gently move the bees from an area of observation when looking for a queen and when harvesting frames of honey. Use a brush that has long, soft, flexible, yellow bristles. Don’t use a dark, stiff brush with animal hair, or a paint brush.

duct tapeDuct Tape - You’ll have lots of uses for duct tape, might want to keep it handy.                                                                                                                                                   


Hive Tool - A hive tool is the most useful piece of beekeeping equipment. It can be used to pry up the inner cover, pry apart frames, scrape and clean hive parts, scrape wax and propolis out of the hive, nail the lid shut, pull nails, and scrape bee stingers off skin. The hive tool has two parts: the wedge or blade and the handle. Hive tools are often fitted with brightly-colored, plastic-coated handles which helps the beekeeper locate the hive tool while working.

FeederFeeder - You may want to have a feeder with sugar syrup to give your new bees a boost in their new home. Its the helping hand they need to get started building comb.

SmokerSmoker - Examining a hive is much easier when you use a smoker. Use it to puff smoke into the entrance before opening the hive and to blow smoke over the frames once the hive is opened. This helps the beekeeper to manage the bees. Cool smoke helps to settle the bees. Smoking the bees initiates a feeding response causing preparation to possibly leave the hive due to a fire. The smoke also masks the alarm pheromone released by the colony’s guard bees when the hive is opened and manipulated. Smoke must be used carefully. Too much can drive bees from the hive. A smoker is basically a metal can with a bellows and a spout attached to it. We prefer to use a smoker with a wire cage around it. A large smoker is best as it keeps the smoke going longer. It can be difficult to keep a smoker lit (especially for new beekeepers). Practice lighting and maintaining the smoker. Burlap, rotted wood shavings, pine needles, eucalyptus, cardboard, and cotton rags are good smoker fuels.

Protective Clothing:

Bee suitBee Suit - For the best protection, full bee suits are recommended. But whether or not a suit is used, a beekeeper's clothing should be white or light in color (bees generally do not like dark colors and will attack dark objects). Avoid woolen and knit material. You will want to wear clothing both that will protect you and you don’t mind getting stained (bees produce waste that shows up as yellowish marks on your clothing). You’ll want to close off all potential to getting stung by wearing high top boots or tucking your pants into your socks and securing your cuffs with rubber bands or duct tape.

Bee Gloves - Long, leather, ventilated gloves with elastic on the sleeves help protect the hands and arms from stings.

Hat and Veil - Even the most experienced beekeepers wear a hat and veil to protect their head, face, and eyes from bee stings. Wire veils keep bees farther away from the face than those made of cloth. Black veiling is generally easier to see through. Make sure the veil extends down below and away from your neck.

That’s it!

Once you have all you need, expenses can be kept to a minimum. With the right care, equipment, tools, and clothing will last a long time. If your hive becomes overcrowded, just add another box or two. Or, you may find you’ll want to split your hive – then you’ll have two! If honey is overflowing, just add another box or two. And, great! – You’ll have lots of yummy honey!!

A note on protective clothing: There was a time when we could safely visit our bees wearing little protective clothing. With the arrival of Africanized honey bees into the Southern states, we've come to realize the potential danger of an aggressive hive and have learned to exercise caution when approaching our bees. A once gentle hive could be invaded and taken over by a small aggressive swarm in a few days. These bees are unpredictable and vigorously defend their hives. Protective clothing such as a bee suit, veil and gloves will help keep stings to a minimum in the bee yard if worn correctly. As beekeepers, it is our responsibility to help curtail the danger to our bees, ourselves, and others. At Bill's Bees, we practice responsible beekeeping for an urban environment.

Here’s a list of suppliers:

Los Angeles Honey Company 
Dadant & Sons 
Mann Lake Ltd. 
Walter T. Kelley Co.
The Valley Hive

We primarily work with the Langstroth hive but you can also use the Top Bar Hive or the Warre Hive. We'll be happy to share our experience with these two styles of hives, as well. 

For many years, Bill's Bees held the Los Angeles County Beekeepers Association Beekeeping Class 101 at our apiary in Little Tujunga Canyon. The class grew from under 20 newbees in 2010 to nearly 200 in 2016. Since we no longer have our location in Little Tujunga Canyon, the Los Angeles County Beekeepers Association Beekeeping Class 101 is being held at The Valley Hive. You can fine information about the classes on the Los Angeles County Beekeepers Association Beekeeping Class 101 website and LACBA Facebook page.

Reminder - Get your bees now. You don't want to be bee-less come bee season. Bill's Bees Sells Bees in Complete Hives - Medium Box SpecialDeep BoxPackagesNucs, and Italian Queens. Our bees have known gentle genetics and are great for commercial and backyard beekeeping. 

Happy bee-ing!

Thank you, 
Bill Lewis
Bill's Bees

http://billsbees.com/
https://billsbees.com/blogs/news-2018/beekeeping-what-you-need-to-start-keeping-bees
https://billsbees.com/collections/bees
https://www.facebook.com/BillsBeesHoney/
/ 
/beekeeping-classes-losangeles/ 
https://www.facebook.com/losangelesbeekeeping

(Bill Lewis, owner of Bill's Bees, is a current member and former president of the California State Beekeepers Association and the Los Angeles County Beekeepers Association. Bill has been keeping bees for nearly 40 years.)

Bill's Bees Package Bees Available for Pick Up (Schedule)

Bill's Bees Spring 2016 Honey Bee Availability! Package Bees - Nucleus Colonies - A Complete Hive VSH-Italian Queen Bees

WE DO NOT SHIP OUR BEES! - PICK UP ONLY - It is important that you schedule your pick up date and time with Bill's Bees at billsbees@wildblue.net or by phone: (818) 312-1691. (Please note: There is a $25 restocking fee for packages, nucs and complete hives not picked up or canceled orders.)
 
Package Bees - Available for Saturday Pick Up only. Pick up dates for packages: Saturday, May 14, 21, or 28.

Nucleus Colonies - Available for
Saturday Pick up only May 28- June 25.

A Complete Hive - Available for
Saturday Pick up only May 28- June 25.
We are sold out of 5 frame Nucs on deep frames but we can still do 6 frame Nucs on medium frames -- 4 frames with brood in all stages from eggs to hatching and 2 frames with honey and pollen.

 

Who Is Clyde Steese?

Bill's Bees Buzz   By Bill Lewis   September 22, 2015

Where’s Clyde? It’s hot, dry, the sun’s beating down out here in the apiary; I’ve got hours to go before I call it a day. Every few minutes I look up expecting to see Clyde. Clyde Steese is my business partner and co-owner of Bill’s Bees. But, Clyde's not here!

Clyde’s at the fair! At the fair! And I’m here, in the hot, dry sun with the bees!!! Come September, Clyde goes to the fair. Clyde’s been volunteering at the LA County Fair Bee Booth for 19 years, but since he took over the chairmanship of the Bee Booth, seven years ago, Clyde disappears from the apiary and heads off for five weeks of intense honey bee overload. It’s a monumental task to design, set up, and organize the Bee Booth. Once the fair opens, Clyde devotes all his time, energy, and resources to educating thousands of school children, teachers, parents, and fair goers about honey bees, the important role bees play in our lives, the problems facing bees today, and what can be done to help the bees.

The Bee Booth is a major highlight of the fair and the only fundraiser of the year for the Los Angeles County Beekeepers Association. Profits from honey sales are used to support all our club’s educational activities throughout the year and enables the LACBA to send member representatives to the California State Beekeepers Convention. Clyde is forever grateful to his wife, Jan, for the time she puts in at the fair, and truly appreciates the enormous contribution by LACBA member, Cyndi Caldera, who organizes and manages the hundreds of volunteer hours needed to staff the booth. He gives heartfelt thanks to all the fellow beekeepers who volunteer. It's truly an effort of many worker bees working together.

Before the Bees! Clyde grew up on a 150 acre farm in New Bedford, PA, the oldest of 6 siblings.  Clyde was blessed with the gift of hard farm work where he learned to care for the livestock, developed teamwork, and understood that safety should always be at the forefront. Instilled with a strong work ethic, Clyde was always busy. He was a member of the Boy Scouts of America and Future Farmers of America. By the time he was 17, Clyde was smitten, and in 1966, married his high school sweetheart, Janice Cook. Jan's the love of his life and this October they'll celebrate 46 years of marriage.

Clyde’s service to country: Clyde served in the US Air Force during the Vietnam War from 1965-1969. He was assigned to the 3rd US Marine Corps K-9 Scout Dog Program. A high percentage of the best handlers come from farms where they handled hunting dogs and farm stock. Clyde’s high intelligence, character and physical ability as well as his experience growing up on a farm made him an excellent Scout Dog Handler. 

Clyde served 3 tours in Vietnam, fighting in the battles of Hanoi, Da Nang, and Dung Ha. He received the Bronze Star for bravery and was awarded the Purple Heart for injuries during the Da Nang Tet Offensive. Clyde was honorably discharged in 1969, and is a lifetime member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

Moving On! After the war, Jan and Clyde headed for California. Clyde attended San Francisco State and graduated with a BA in Science. They moved to Southern California and settled in Sunland. Clyde and Jan still reside in the same house where they raised their two boys, Gary & Carl. They have two grandsons, Bret and Sean. Gary and Sean, along with nephew, LeRoy, are emerging beekeepers with Bill’s Bees. 

Clyde mastered the craft of leather smithing. Take a look the next time you get a chance to see the 1985 western, 'Pale Rider.' Clyde crafted all Clint Eastwood's leather work for the film. He's also carved many leather pieces for the John Wayne family. He later went to work for the City of Burbank, and retired in 2008, after nearly twenty-five years of service.

How the bees found Clyde! About 20 years ago, a swarm of bees took up residence in an orange tree in Clyde’s backyard. He didn’t have any luck getting someone to come take the bees away or to help him remove them for a reasonable price. So, Clyde caught the bees in a cardboard box. Jan says the next night Clyde came home with a hive. (Surprise!) When she asked, “Why?” Clyde very quietly replied, “It’s something I’ve always wanted to do.” And that was that! Jan says that all the years they’ve been married he never once mentioned he wanted to keep bees. Clyde soon had six more hives. 

Being retired really fired Clyde's passion for beekeeping. Before he knew it, Clyde amassed over 25 hives and his bee yard outgrew his back yard. Jan rolls her eyes and might seem a little annoyed by all this beesness, but I think she secretly feeds the frenzy. When Jan worked for the Burbank Library, she brought home all the new books on bees before they hit the shelves. Clyde consumed them. 

Clyde is another one of those who has really been sucked in by the bees and is addicted to beekeeping. He showed up at the Los Angeles County Beekeepers Association one night eager for information. I was President of the club at the time and we became fast friends. Clyde continued to grow in his knowledge of beekeeping and a few yeares later, he was voted in as President. Clyde served two terms as President of the Los Angeles Beekeepers Association.

For nearly ten years, side by side, Clyde and I have worked the bees together. Sometimes we begin our days early in the morning when it’s cool, checking our hives, making sure the bees are healthy and not starving, that they’re producing honey and pollen, and that the queen is going about her business of making more bees. Some days are long, hot, and dry, like today. Sometimes our days begin at dusk when we load our bees onto trucks and drive through the night so they’re ready to off load early in the morning for almond pollination 'the grandest pollination event in the universe'. 

For the past five years, Bill's Bees has hosted theLos Angeles Beekeepers Association Beekeeping Class 101. This year we had over 100 newbees up on the mountain top of Bill's Bees Bee Farm to learn about beekeeping. We teach responsible beekeeping for an urban environment adhering to Best Management Practices for the benefit of all: humans, animals, beekeepers, and bees.  

Helping others! Clyde has lived his life working hard, staying busy, and helping others. He is always thinking of how he can help others without thinking of what he can get back. Clyde’s enthusiasm towards bees is infectious and he has inspired many young hobby beekeepers. He has gone so far as to give away enough equipment and plenty of time to get many people started with beekeeping.

School of Hard Knocks (or Bee Stings)!  Since a boy, Clyde has believed in the rule of Safety First! But, as any experienced beekeeper knows, you never know what to expect with bees. Clyde's certainly been through the beekeeper's school of hard knocks. Have you ever been stung so many times through your bee suit because sweat was sticking your suit to your skin that you had a reaction to the venom?  Clyde has. Last summer, I rushed him to the emergency room because of an adverse reaction to too many stings. He figured that somehow the bees were getting into his bee suit. He also knew we needed to get the job done that day and didn’t say anything about it. Finally, he says, “I’ve had enough." After several hours in the hospital and numerous steroid injections he was released. The doctor determined that he was not allergic, but just reacted to too many stings. Later, we discovered a tiny hole in his veil. Clyde was back out in the bee yard the next day. 

Clyde is a member of the American Beekeeping Federation and the California State Beekeepers Association. He serves on the California State Certified Farmers Market Advisory Committee. Clyde’s love of travel takes him around the world meeting beekeeperstwenty-five years of service.

Clyde boasts of over 70 candles on his last birthday cake (that’s because he looks twenty years younger). He told me whenever he thinks of retiring he can’t imagine what his days would be like without the buzzing of the bees. Clyde celebrates the dignity of work and the humility of service. He's spent his life working in service for others, be it human, animal, or bee. I am proud to call him my business partner and my friend. Bill's Bees' honors Clyde’s dedication at the fair, and enjoys sharing our time, energy, and enthusiasm to further the understanding of bees and appreciation of the art of beekeeping. 

Where’s Clyde in “Bill’s Bees?” We tossed around changing the name of our company but nothing seemed to fit. We figured ‘Bill’s Bees’ has worked so far; we’d let beekeepers and worker bees work, and not fiddle with what works!

As for Bill, I'm heading over to Liane's Laboratory; curious to see what my brilliant wife is brewing up with the oils and spices of nature's garden and our honey bee gifts of the hive.

Enjoy,

Bill 
Bill's Bees 

Read at: http://billsbees.com/blogs/news/53957509-who-is-clyde-steese

Bill's Bees: 10,000 Bees Beard With Rhett & Link on Good Mythical Morning

"A guy named Bill put 10,000 Bees on my face."

Rhett & Link, hosts of Good Mystical Morning, the daily morning comedy talk show, head off to Bill's Bees Bee Yard to see if they'd be good candidates as beekeepers.

"Two crazy guys came to visit one day and wanted me to put bees on their face,” says Bill Lewis of Bill’s Bees. “Okay!!!” Bill's Bees does most anything to help the bees!

Also on board was Rob McFarland of HoneyLove http://www.HoneyLove.org.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MU1eoXYN2Rc&feature=youtu.be

Commercial Bees, the Unsung Heros of the Nut Business

  Marketplace   By Tracey Samuelson   March 2, 2015

 Featured in: Marketplace for Monday March 2, 2015 (Click for Link to Radio Interview)

Bill Lewis is waiting for the sun to set, the time of day when his bees crawl back inside the short white boxes that house their colonies. As the sky turns pink behind the San Gabriel mountains, on the outskirts of Los Angeles, Lewis climbs into the seat of a forklift and starts moving the hives onto the back of a flatbed truck. These bees are on the move.

 

“As soon as you get on the freeway and there’s air flowing past the entrances, all the bees run back inside,” says Lewis, of any stragglers.

Lewis, who runs Bill’s Bees, is taking about 700 of his hives on a road trip to the California’s Central Valley, where he’ll unload them across acres of almond orchards, working until 1 or 2 a.m. under the light of full moon.

All across the country, more than a million-and-a-half colonies are making a similar journey – traveling hundreds or even thousands of miles to pollinate California’s almonds. Farmers rent hives for few weeks because in order for almond trees to produce nuts, bees need to move pollen from one tree to another.

No bees, no almonds.

“This pollination season there will be [some] 800,000 acres of almonds that need to be pollinated,” says Eric Mussen, a honey bee specialist at the University of California Davis. He says more than 100 different kinds of crops need these rent-a-bees, but almonds are significant for the number of acres that require pollination all at the same time. About 85 percent of the commercial bees in United States – which Mussen calls “bees on wheels” – travel to California for almonds.

The state supplies roughly 80 percent of the world’s almonds, worth $6.4 billion during the 2013-2014 season, according to the Almond Board of California.

“It’s a matter of numbers,” he says. “You’re trying to provide enough bees to be moving the pollen around between the varieties and whatnot. It’s just a huge, huge number of bees. The only way we can get a huge number of bees in one place at one time is to bring them in on trucks.”

In fact, bees are such an important part of the almond business that Paramount Farms, one of the biggest almond growers in the world, has decided they need to be in the bee business, too. The company just bought one of the largest beekeepers in the United States, based in Florida.

“Bees are so essential for the process of growing almonds,” says Joe Joe MacIlvane, Paramount’s president. “If we don’t have a reliable supply of good strong colonies, we simply won’t be a viable almond grower, so that’s our primary motivation for getting into the business.”

Renting bees is about 10 to 15 percent of Paramount’s production costs, but the motivation to keep their own bees isn’t simply economic.

“Many bee keepers are individual or family business and many people are getting on in years and we don’t see a lot of young people coming into the business,” says MacIlvane.

Additionally, bee populations are struggling. A significant number having been dying each year for the past decade or so, thanks to a mix of factors, from pesticides to lost habitat for feeding. Sometimes it’s difficult to know exactly what’s killing them.

“We had a large problem last year with bees dying in the orchard because of something that was going on during bloom,” says Bill Lewis. He thinks a pesticide or fungicide may have been to blame.

This year, Lewis and his bee broker are being pickier about the farms they’re working with, vetting them more carefully because those lost bees had big economic consequences – about $300,000 in lost income for Lewis.

Bill's Bees Have Bees For Sale!!!

Package Bees and Nucleus Colonies

SAVE TIME - ORDER ONLINE! You can order your bees at: BillsBees.com and Pick-up at our Location: 12640 Little Tujunga Canyon Road, Lakeview Terrace, CA 91342

Package Bees ($100): 
3 pounds of bees in a screened cage with an Italian queen with gentle genetics. Available about the 1st Week in April. 

Nucleus Colony ($175): 5 Deep Frame or 6 Medium Frame Nucleus Colony. Available about the 1st Week in May. 

'Marked' Queens ($5): All our Nucs contain Italian queens with the same genetics as our packages. Queens can be 'marked' for an additional $5. Then, if you observe an unmarked queen you will know if your hive has swarmed. 

Complete Hive ($275): A Complete Hive is the Nucleus colony that includes a painted deep hive body, bottom board fastened to the box and lid plus 5 additional undrawn new frames to fill out the box. 

We will contact you near the latter part of March for a firm date of pick up for packages and the latter part of April for a pick-up date for nucs. 

If you do not wish to order online, you may place your order by contacting us at: billsbees@wildblue.net or (818) 312-1691.

The supply of honey bees we have for sale is limited, so we suggest you 'Buy Now' to avoid bee-ing disappointed. Thank you!

http://billsbees.com/

The Buzz on California Agriculture Day

Bug Squad - Happenings in the Insect World   By Kathy Keatley Garvey    3/19/14

The bees weren't all that buzzed at the 2014 California Agriculture Day, celebrated today (March 19) on the west lawn of the California State Capitol. 

The California State Beekeepers' Association (CSBA) and theSacramento Area Beekeepers' Association (SABA) staffed a beekeeping booth from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and filled it with honey straws,Häagen-Dazs premier ice cream and bee-related pamphlets from Project Apis m.  A bee observation hive, brought by Bill Cervenka Apiaries of Half Moon Bay, fronted the booth.

The bees buzzed all right, but the people--the general public lining for the ice cream donated by Häagen-Dazs--seemed to create the biggest buzz. They made a literal beeline for the strawberry and vanilla ice cream. Häagen-Dazs supports the University of California, Davis, through its bee garden and bee research (some 50 percent of its flavors require the pollination of bees).

By 11:35, the honey was all gone. "It vanished, just like our bees," quipped Bill Lewis, CSBA president.

Staffing the booth with him were Carlen Jupe, CSBA treasurer; Marti Ikehara of SABA, and Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology.

Among those stopping to chat with the beekeepers were California Secretary of Agriculture Karen Ross and Barbara Allen-Diaz, vice president of the UC Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR). The California Department of Food and Agriculture sponsors the annual event, this year focusing on "Celebration, Innovation and Education."

Bill Lewis, who makes his home at Lake View Terrace in the San Fernando Valley, maintains 650 colonies of bees with his wife, Liane, and business partner Clyde Steese. Their company, "Bill's Bees," offers pollination services, honey, pollen, beeswax, candles and handmade soap.

Their bees pollinate almonds, oranges, avocados and alfalfa. 

For Lewis, his interest in bees began at age 14 when he took up beekeeping in the Boy Scout program and earned his beekeeping badge.  That was in Wisconsin, north of Milwaukee, where he maintained several bee hives in his backyard. "I 'abandoned' them when I went off to college," he said.

After earning his master's degree in mechanical engineering at Purdue University, he settled in California to work in the aerospace industry. Ten years later he began a 10-year period of working at a horse-boarding stable.  "Horses don't much like bees," he commented. "It bothers the horses when they have to share the same water bowl."

How did he get back into beekeeping? "The bees found me," Lewis said. He began keeping bees in 1991, first as a hobby, and then as a business. "I'm a first-generation beekeeper."

"Our food supply is so dependent on bees," Lewis said. As visitors flowed by, some asked him what they could do to help the bees.  Plant bee friendly flowers, buy local honey, try not to use pesticides in your garden, and generally, provide a friendly place for bees.

His favorite variety of honey is black sage "but we're not getting to get much of it this year due to the lack of rain." His second favorite: orange blossom.

He also has almond honey, which he and Mussen describe as "bitter."  And, Lewis said, it gets more bitter with time."

Visit the Kathy Keatley Garvey Bug Squad blog at: http://ucanr.org/blogs/bugsquad/

2013 BEE Calendar by Kodua Galieti Features Bill's Bees

Bill's Bees featured in 2013 BEE Calendar created by award-winning photo-journalist, beekeeper, LACBA member, Kodua Galieti.

Bill's Bees is the month of July!

"Honey bees arrive in California by semi-truck beginning in October from as far away as Florida. They prepare for one of their most important pollination jobs of the year in February, which is the California almonds. The honey bees are anxious to fly and burst forth from their hives at first light of day to get their bearings and take care of "beesness." When there is a strong smell of nectar in the air, it almost seems like the honey bees explode out of the hive even before sunrise. This is especially visible when moving bees to oranges just as the bloom begins. The bees thrive in almonds and oranges. Well fed bees are happy healthy bees." - Bill Lewis & Clyde Steese, owners, Bill's Bees.

http://www.koduaphotography.com/2013_Calendar.html