CSBA: The President's Word - January 2014


The President's Word
I am honored to have been given the opportunity to serve CSBA as President. I would like to thank John Miller and his support team for a job well done! His 2013 convention attracted record numbers of attendees, sponsors, and vendors.
During John's presidency, he made bee forage a high priority. He was instrumental in the Nov. 6th meeting to 'To Explore Developing Partnerships for Bee Forage'. The day brought together beekeepers, CA state and federal agencies, academia, NGO's and public and private land holders for the first time to share ideas, concerns and the path forward for gaining better access to forage lands. Thank you to Dr. Gabriele Ludwig, Environmental Affairs, Almond Board of CA, for facilitating the meeting and to Ria deGrassi, Director, Federal Policy, CA Farm Bureau and their organizations for doing the heavy lifting in making this historic meeting possible. There is much work to be done in the coming year.
As I sit at the CSBA Bee Booth here at the 2013 Almond Board Conference, I am most impressed by the scale of this event. The trade show fills the Sacramento Convention Hall the size of 3 football fields. I am amazed that without us, bee people, none of this would exist. Maybe, if the bee industry was concentrated in a single state, and not spread out all over the country, it would be easier to coordinate a more focused effort on bee-related issues. I had a chance to speak with Joe MacIlvaine, President of Paramount Farming Co., who encouraged me to revisit the CSBA effort to establish a CA Apiary Commission that could collect per hive assessments from beekeepers all over the country at almond pollination time.  Monies would be used for bee research and to support other industry wide activities such as working to obtain access to more lands for bee forage. He also reiterated Paramount's offer to match donations to bee research from their pollination beekeepers and he wondered why more of their beekeepers did not take advantage of this offer. 
Locally, in Los Angeles, there have been two recent meetings addressing urban beekeeping. My local neighborhood council is in support of allowing beekeepers to keep bees on residential-zoned properties. Most recently, at the LA Planning and Land Use Committee Meeting, a motion was passed to allow beekeeping in R1 zones. The local group HoneyLove has been the driving force behind getting beekeeping legalized in the city. Fortunately, we will have an opportunity to work with the city planning office that will do the actual writing of the ordinance and should be able to require keeping of only European genetics in managed colonies. We have already submitted a list of "Best Management Practices" for keeping bees in the urban environment to the city planning office.  
Personally, I feel like I am in the middle of a battle to keep my colonies alive and strong for the rapidly approaching almond pollination season. So far, we are maintaining.  Colonies treated early for mites are booming and we have been able to make up new colonies (thank goodness for banked queens) to replace colonies that are crashing, most likely because we held off on mite treatment to eke out the last of our alfalfa harvest. Most of those too we have been able to salvage and pull back from the brink. I hope all of you are doing a better job keeping your bees healthy. Best wishes for a successful pollination season!

Bill Lewis, CSBA President