Public Invited to Beekeeping Workshop

Cal Poly Pomona Apiary.jpg

Cal Poly Pomona
Beekeeping Workshop
Saturday, November 9, 2019
9AM - 4PM

Cal Poly Pomona Apiary and Pollinator Garden
Cal Poly Pomona - Parking Lot M
3801
Pomona, CA 91768
View Map

Lecturer Mark Haag examines a frame that he selected from a beehive.

Lecturer Mark Haag examines a frame that he selected from a beehive.

The course of the year!

Expert instructors with decades of combined beekeeping experience provide an intimate hands-on workshop where you can handle bees and learn hive manipulation from the very best. Varroa mite testing will also be taught.

We will even extract a little honey!

The workshop is suitable for those interested in beekeeping from beginners to intermediate.
Lunch and learning materials provided. Don't have a bee suit.... borrow one of ours!!

For more information and questions contact - Mark Haag mjhaag@cpp.edu

This event sells out each session, Register Early!

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/cal-poly-pomona-fall-beekeeping-class-tickets-54654771894

Special Note:
Long time beekeeper, Bill Lewis (Owner of Bill’s Bees), past President of the California State Beekeepers Association and the Los Angeles County Beekeepers Association will be among the industry experts and training advisers at this exceptional Beekeeping Workshop.

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.)

A Gathering of Beekeepers: Follow That Buzz!

Bug Squad - Happenings in the Insect World    By Kathy Keatley Garvey   October 21, 2014

Follow that buzz! 

When the California State Beekeepers' Association, founded in 1889, meets Nov. 18-20 in Valencia for its 2014 convention, it will mark a milestone: 125 years of beekeeping. Not so coincidentally, the theme is "Celebrating 125 Years of California Beekeeping."

And to think that California's first honey bees are "fairly new" newcomers: they didn't arrive in the Golden State (San Jose area) until 1853.

The conference promises to be educational, informative, timely and fun. "We will hear about things going on in the world of beekeeping on the local, state, and national levels," said CSBA president Bill Lewis, who lives in the San Fernando Valley and maintains 650 colonies of bees (Bill's Bees) with his wife, Liane, and business partner, Clyde Steese.

Topics range from “Keeping Bees Safe in Almonds" and “Land Trusts Working with Beekeepers," to "Mead Making" and "Urban Beekeeping, Beginner to Advanced."

Among the hot topics: Entomologist Reed Johnson of The Ohio State University will speak on  “The Effects of Bee Safe Insecticide" on Wednesday, Nov. 19.

Biologist Thomas Seeley of Cornell University will speak on "Survivor Population of European Honey Bees Living Wild in New York State” at the research luncheon on Thursday, Nov. 20. He is also scheduled for two other talks, "Honeybee Democracy" (the title of one of his books) and "The Bee Hive as a Honey Factory," both on Nov. 20. In addition, speakers will address such topics as forage, land management, queen health, genetic diversity, and pests and diseases.

One of the featured presentations will be the richly illustrated documentary, "Almond Odyssey," a look at California's almond pollination season, the world's largest managed pollination event. The state's 900,000 acres of almonds draw beekeepers and their bees from all over the country.

The gathering of beekeepers will include multiple generations of family-owned commercial beekeeping operations, bee hobbyists, and those hoping to start their very first bee hive, Lewis says. They're there to learn the latest about beekeeping from world-renowned researchers and industry authorities. 

The University of California, Davis, is expected to be well represented. Amina Harris, director of theHoney and Pollination Center, UC Davis, will speak Wednesday, Nov. 19 on  “Honey Wheel” and “California Master Beekeeper." Extension apiculturist (retired) Eric Mussen of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology serves as the organization's current apiculturist and parliamentarian (as well as a frequent speaker). He will introduce the new Extension apiculturist Elina Lastro Nino in a Nov. 20th presentation titled "California Extension Apiculturist--Passing the Torch." (For a complete list of sessions and speaker biographies and to register for the conferene,  access the CSBA website.) 
 
CSBA's mission is to support and promote commercial beekeepers and pollination services in California's agricultural farmlands. Each year funds raised at the CSBA convention go to research. Researchers attend the conference and provide updates. They are in "the front lines of the bee health battle," Lewis noted.  

The conference (as well as membership in CSBA) is open to all interested persons.

  

 

Read at

 

Honeybees Stung by Drought from CNBC

California Department of Food & Agriculture   By Mark Koba    October 22, 2014

There’s very little in California’s agriculture industry that’s been left untouched by the ongoing drought, and bees are no exception.

Besides making honey, bees are crucial to pollinating about one-third of all U.S. crops.

But the drought, heading into a fourth year, is threatening honey production and the ability of beekeepers to make a living in a state that was once the top honey producer in the country.

“My honey production is down about 20 percent from the drought,” said Bill Lewis, president of the California Beekeepers Association.

Lewis, who manages around 50 billion bees in Southern California, explained that the lack of rain has reduced plants that provide food for the bees and the nectar they turn into honey.

Lewis said he’s had to feed his bees much less nutritional food such as sugar water that’s threatening the health of the bees and slowing the generation of honey.

“It doesn’t have the minerals that real food from plants have,” he said. “It’s like putting them on Twinkies.”

Lewis added that feeding the bees this way costs him more but it’s a cost he can’t pass on to consumers.

“Imports of honey keep me from raising my prices,” he said. “It’s a real challenge, financially.”

Commodity Cutbacks

In 2003, California was the top honey producer in the U.S., but it has since fallen behind North Dakota, Montana, South Dakota and Florida. And according to the Department of Agriculture, California’s honey crop fell from 27.5 million pounds in 2010 to about 10.9 million pounds in 2013, or less than 5 percent of the country’s yearly $317 million crop.

But beyond honey production is bees’ crucial role in the pollination of numerous crops, like plums, strawberries, melons, lemons, broccoli and almonds.

“It’s hard to overstate the importance of bees to our industry,” said Bob Curtis, associate director of agricultural affairs at the Almond Board of California. “The drought has decreased forage for bees within California, and ensuring a variety of forage is a long-term challenge.”

Leading Production States

State
Pounds Produced
Dollar Value of Production
North Dakota 33,120,000 $67,565,000
Montana 14,946,000 $31,088,000
South Dakota 14,840,000 $30,570,000
Florida 13,420,000 $27,377,000
California 10,890,000 $22,869,000
Source: US Department of Agriculture

 

Pollination also is a revenue source for beekeepers, but a lack of irrigation water has left many fields empty. An estimated 420,000 acres of farmland went unplanted this year—about 5 percent of the total in the state. That means that fewer farmers are renting hives and beekeepers have less income.

“I’ve had to raise my prices to farmers who do rent, which hasn’t been easy,” said the California Beekeepers Association’s Lewis.

“If we don’t get any water, there will be more cutbacks on commodities,” said Eric Mussen, a professor of entomology at the University of California, Davis. “And that will affect bees, honey production and pollination of crops going forward.”

Call for help

As bad as the situation in California is—80 percent of the state is in extreme or exceptional drought—the Almond Board’s Curtis said the lack of rainfall has not prevented almond growers from getting sufficient bee pollination so far.

But the drought is just one hazard making honeybees suffer. Beehive losses worldwide have increased over the years due to pesticides, parasites and colony collapse disorder, by which adult bees disappear from colonies due to various causes.

However, for Lewis, the drought is enough of a crisis to make a plea for help, even if it means using more water.

“It’s devastating,” Lewis said. “What people can do here is plant flowers wherever there’s dirt. The bees need them.”

Link to story 

Read at: http://plantingseedsblog.cdfa.ca.gov/wordpress/?p=7061

CSBA The President's Word - August 2014

The President's Word     - August 2014
 
Fellow Beekeepers, 


For those of you who have not already set aside the week of Nov. 17-21, 2014 to attend the CSBA Annual Convention, please do so today!

This year's 125th Annual Convention will be hosted by the Hyatt in Valencia, CA just north of Los Angeles with easy access to the I-5 freeway and very close to the Magic Mountain Theme Park and more for those familiar with the area. Please see the full-page ad at the bottom of this issue!

We are expecting a large turn-out of attendees from all over CA and around the country. There should be plenty of interest to both those making their living keeping bees as well as a large contingent of urban beekeepers, especially from the over 1,000 members of bee associations in Los Angeles and vicinity. I encourage all attendees to spend the extra dollars to stay at the Hyatt. Avoid the hassle of the morning commute; share a room to get the cost down. I am interested in booking as many rooms as possible since our group earns 1 complimentary room for every 50 rooms booked. These complimentary rooms are used to house some of our speakers, which saves the CSBA the cost of these rooms. We are bringing in many speakers that will need these rooms so please book your room today! Convention information is being added daily to the CSBA website so check back often to get the latest updates on the program. There will be links to most of our speaker biographies. 

Our September 4th CSBA board meeting is fast approaching. I encourage any CSBA member to attend these board meetings and get involved in supporting your organization. The CSBA Board of Directors is a core group of individuals that give up time out of their busy daily schedules to make the decisions that will better the beekeeping industry in CA. New blood is always welcome and encouraged. It is most important to share the burden in advancing the interests of CA beekeepers and beyond. 

Work is being done to make almond orchards a safer place for bees. Your Board of Directors is working hard to communicate with almond growers and Pest Control Advisors (PCA's) to mitigate bee health problems that occurred last season during almond pollination and to avoid the same problems this coming pollination season. There will be a panel at the CSBA convention with representatives from the almond Industry, PCA's, and beekeepers affected by bee kills last year in almonds. The goal - finding a safer path for bees in almond pollination in 2015. 

There are important meetings to attend to. Your CSBA President is planning to attend a follow-up meeting to the high level meeting held in Washington D.C. last March that resulted in a memorandum from President Obama in support of Honey Bee Health and Forage support systems. This USDA Forage and Nutrition Summit will also be in Washington D.C. in October. I believe Day 1 of the summit is open to the public. Day 2 will focus on working groups and will be limited to invited participants. This meeting will be followed by the 14th Annual North American Pollinator Protection Campaign (NAPPC) Conference. I expect a number of attendees at both these meetings will be in attendance at our CSBA Convention in November. I hope to get those attendees to regurgitate information gleaned from these meetings. 

I have heard news of good honey harvests in the Dakotas and the Mid-West. I hope this translates to lots of $ being spent on auction items at the CSBA Convention in support of raising $ for bee research. 

Sincerely,
Bill Lewis, CSBA President

Bill Lewis Featured on the Hallmark Channel: Home and Family Show

Hallmark Channel: Home & Family Show    July 15, 2014

Bill Lewis of Bill's Bees will be 'talking about bees' on the Hallmark Channel's Home & Family Show Tuesday, July 15, 2014 at 10am9c. The show will be replayed Wednesday, July 16, 2014 at noon. 

President of the California Beekeepers Association Bill Lewis is buzzing about town today with information on how to save honey bees and why we as humans are so dependent on them for our food supply. The bees not only pollinate the plant-based foods we eat, but also pollinate the foods animals eat, which in turn provides us with meat, dairy, and more. It's all about preserving the food chain. Learn more about how parasites, drought, and pesticides impact the bee population and how we can help by planting flowers. Plus, find out how to raise a honey bee colony in your very own backyard.

http://www.hallmarkchannel.com/homeandfamily/episodes/2202
http://www.billsbees.com/

CBSA The President's Word April, 2014

Greetings!

There has been a whirlwind of activity since my last report in February.

CSBA contributed funds to send the "Bee Girl" Sarah Red-Laird (an awesome ambassador for bees) and myself to participate with a display and 5 bee activity tables at Pheasant Fest in Milwaukee, WI. It was an excellent opportunity to collaborate with the Pheasants Forever group and Pete Berthelson on promoting forage for bees and other wildlife. All of the postcards colored by youth and mailed to US Secretary of Ag, Tom Vilsack, must have influenced the decision to spend $3M to encourage Midwest farmers' conservation efforts and plantings for bee forage. ABF American Honey Queen Executive Director Anna Kettlewell was instrumental in recruiting the WI Honey Producers Association including President Derald Kettlewellpast President Tim Fulton, the current WI Honey Queen and past Honey Princess and a plethora of other volunteers to staff the activity tables.

I had the opportunity to meet with legislators at the Farm Bureau-hosted legislative reception and work with Platinum Advisors representative Holly Fraumeni on Assembly Bill 2185 introduced by Assembly member Susan Eggman that will hopefully encourage public land owners to consider honey bees in future land use plans.

Ag Day at the Capital was another opportunity to connect with legislators and a photo op with CA Secretary of Ag, Karen Ross, an active supporter of bees. Much appreciation goes to Carlen Jupe for coordinating and in the staffing of our booth by Eric Mussen, Kathy Keatley Garvey, Bill Cervenka and the Sacramento Area Beekeepers Association's Marti Ikehara, and of course, Haagen-Dazs for donating the ice cream. Read Kathy's entire blog here. 

Almond pollination has come and gone. There were strange dynamics in almonds. The shortage of water resulted in some growers making the decision to pull out older trees reducing the need for bees. There were enough colonies to go around and there was perfect pollination weather again during bloom. I think almond growers can expect another close to record harvest. Unfortunately, some beekeepers, including myself, got sucker punched and lost large numbers of bees to what we are still uncertain. 50% of our colonies were affected. They all went into almonds at about equal strength with low mite loads. Towards the end of bloom, we experienced massive amounts of dead bees around the hives and it continued for several weeks after the bees were moved on to avocado orchards. I have always felt pretty safe in almonds but when an 8-10 framer that we expect to double in strength goes backwards to a 6, something is wrong. There were reports that a few growers may have been tank-mixing fungicide with insect growth regulators (IGRs) for a "free ride" to save labor cost. There were also reports that pesticides were being sprayed on alfalfa fields to control weevils within flying distance. Could the impact on bees have been avoided by releasing bees 7-10 days sooner without much impact on almond production? Some beekeepers may opt to stay home next season without some kind of guarantees that this will not happen again. Whatever is going on is making the costs to beekeepers skyrocket and this cost has to somehow be recouped.

Subsequent meetings with EPA representatives gave no indication that labeling language on fungicides and IGR labels or other chemicals including adjuvants would be changed to make them more protective of bees any time soon or even before the 2015 almond bloom.

CDFA was concerned enough to devote a whole day of their board's time to listen to beekeeper concerns in early April. Beekeepers gave some excellent presentations that focused on the need for more clean forage, the need for more help to defeat our # 1 pest  - Varroa, and help to improve pesticide labeling to be more protective of bees. The Almond Board of CA is equally concerned and hopefully can convince more growers to give bees a break and delay the spraying of anything in the future until after the bees are gone. A meeting has been scheduled with CDPR later this month to address this situation as well. Hopefully, something positive comes out of all of this.

I really hope everybody gets a decent honey crop out of the oranges!

Sincerely,
Bill Lewis, CSBA President

 

CSBA President Bill Lewis to speak at HoneyLove: Sunday, March 30, 2014

CSBA President Bill Lewis will be speaking at the next HoneyLove Advanced Beekeeping Meeting on March 30:  TOPICS:
1. Catching a swarm and evaluating behavior
2. Gentle/aggressive bees & how to tell the difference
3. Re-queening an aggressive colony

https://www.facebook.com/events/1446717112230838/?ref=5

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/

CSBA The President's Word - February 2014

The President's Word
 
I hope everyone is as fortunate as myself to have rented all my bees to almond growers.  I delivered my bees last week to the orchards leaving only one wimpy colony at home.  I got to work with my bees yesterday in the orchards.  At most locations, tips of the trees were barely starting to bloom.  At one location, near Lerdo and I-5, there must have been close to 30% bloom and the orchard was alive with the buzz. That sound still amazes me and it is fun to have lunch sitting between the almond rows in the dirt.  This is going to be one unusual year with almond bloom coming early, lack of water (I am envious of those in Northern CA who recently got several inches of rain).  I have seen some big older orchards being ripped out, but also plenty of new orchards put in as well.  I am optimistic that the demand for our bees will remain strong despite what appears may be a slight dip in demand this season.
 

I am fortunate to have good help at home to keep everything running while I jet off to Milwaukee, WI to attend the "National Pheasant Fest" and to support wildlife and honey bee forage.  I have met so many interesting people through bees and this event promises to be another one of those.  I connected with Anna Kettlewell who is Director of the American Honey Queen Program (1999 American Honey Queen) and she took the ball and lined up at least 12 volunteers, including the current WI Honey Queen and the President of the WI Beekeepers Association, to help staff the bee table over the 3-day show in the Wildlife Pollinator section of the Youth Village at Pheasant Fest.  Mike Laforge, current manager of the Dadant store in Watertown, WI chipped in to loan a large carload of beekeeping equipment to be used for the display.  I am hoping to develop more fruitful relationships with Pheasants Forever (nationwide organization) and others in our pursuit of more bee forage. 

In March, I will meet with legislators at the CA Farm Bureau in Sacramento. I am also continuing to line up interesting speakers for our convention next November, which seems like a long way off, but there is much to do. 

Let's make the best of our strange and unusual CA weather. 

Bill Lewis, CSBA President

California Drought Hurts Honey Bees

KMJNOW News Talk Radio         1/22/14

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Bill Lewis, the President of the California Beekeepers Association is worried about the lack of forage for honey bees this year.  

He says there will be lots of almond pollen for bees to feed on in the coming weeks.  But after mid March he fears there will not be a lot other blooming plants for the bees to feed upon.  

Lewis says the reason is simple, the ongoing drought in our state. Lewis believes the lack of forage is more of a concern than even a new virus that the USDA just recently information about.  

Without a good food source, Lewis says, bee colonies will have a tougher time with fighting virus outbreaks.  Millions of bees are used each year to pollinate the almond and other crops.

http://www.kmjnow.com/01/22/14/Cal-Drought-Impacts-Honey-Bees/landing.html?blockID=735083&feedID=806