CATCH THE BUZZ: All Around The Beeyard

CATCH THE BUZZ October 4, 2019


all around the beeyard.jpg

Have  you figured out a way to fix it, move it, make it, shake it, show it, know it, record it, get to it, or anything else that has made what you do with bees easier, faster, smarter, better, cheaper, or just plain more fun? You can’t buy these in a catalog, they are the GREAT ideas that everyday beekeepers see, do, make, discover, uncover that makes what they do more fun, cheaper, easier or faster.

We’ll bet you have one of those ideas, tricks or tips or maybe 2 or 3 or 10. Share them with the world with a short write up, a photo or two or a drawing or two and we’ll share them with our thousands of readers. Everyone that gets picked every month gets a free 1 year subscription, and the best one each month gets a $100 prize.

Send your tips and tricks and best ideas, along with a short write up and a photo or 2 or 3 to kim@beeculture, with BEEYARD in the subject line, and we’ll share them with the world. Hurry, somebody somewhere needs and wants that best idea you have, and you can give them a hand. And thanks.

MSU Economist's Research on Colony Collapse Disorder Published in National Journal By Montana State University October 4, 2019

The work of a Montana State University professor examining the economic impacts of colony collapse disorder among commercial honeybees was published in the Journal of the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists last month.

Randy Rucker, a professor in the Department of Agricultural Economics and Economics in the MSU College of Agriculture, began looking into colony collapse disorder several years ago with colleagues from North Carolina State University and Oregon State University, for the purpose of estimating its economic impacts. The onset of the disorder was an unexpected shock to commercial beekeeping and pollination markets that first received national attention in the winter of 2006-07 when mortality rates were estimated to be almost 30%.

Colony collapse disorder is still a poorly understood phenomenon, wrote Rucker and his co-authors in the paper's introduction. Since its onset, along with other pollinator health issues such as the Varrona mite, which feeds on developing bees, it has caused significant concern among beekeepers and the public.

"With colony collapse disorder, a beekeeper goes out and virtually all the worker bees are gone," said Rucker. "Twenty thousand, 30,000, 40,000 worker bees, just gone. There are very few dead worker bees on the ground near the colony, and the queen, the brood and all the food are still there. But the bees are just gone."

With so little known about what causes colony collapse disorder, Rucker and his team set out to identify its economic ripple effects by examining trends in four categories: number of commercial honeybee colonies nationwide, honey production, prices of queens and packaged bees and pollination fees charged by commercial beekeepers to growers. The team found some surprising results.

Bee population is known to fall during the winter, said Rucker. Prior to the onset of colony collapse disorder, the average winter mortality rate was about 15%. Beekeepers have long known how to replace dead hives and are prepared to deal with losses, typically in one of two ways.

The first method of offsetting winter losses is called splitting, where a beekeeper takes half the bees in a healthy colony, moves them to a struggling colony and adds a newly fertilized queen, purchased for $18-25 and received through the mail. After about six weeks, there are once again two healthy hives.

The other way to increase colony numbers after winter losses is to simply buy a package of bees, also through the mail, which includes a fertilized queen and several thousand worker bees. Beekeepers place the bees in the dead hive and then watch as a healthy hive develops. Both methods are relatively easy and inexpensive for beekeepers—and have remained so after the onset of colony collapse disorder, the study found.

"Beekeepers know how to replace dead hives," said Rucker. "As winter mortality increased after CCD appeared and beekeepers worried about having enough hives to meet their pollination contracts in the spring, they responded by splitting more hives in mid- to late summer and would then end up with the number they needed."

Even with more hives split and more bees purchased, the prices of queens and packaged bees have not increased dramatically, the study found. From this result, the authors infer that "the supply of queens and packaged bees is sufficiently elastic that any increases in demand associated with CCD have not resulted in measurable increases in price."

The team found similar results when they examined trends in colony numbers and honey production. While there were pre-existing downward trends in both metrics before the onset of colony collapse disorder, the rate of decline has not increased, said Rucker. In fact, colony numbers in 2018 were higher than they had been over the last 20 years.

The sole instance of a pronounced negative impact came when the team studied trends in pollination fees for commercial crops. Even there, however, only one commercially important crop showed a significant increase in price: almonds.

"Almonds get pollinated in February or March, and it's really the only major crop that requires pollination during that time of year," said Rucker. With about a million acres of almonds in need of pollination each year, it takes about 70% of U.S. managed honeybee colonies to get the job done.

Pollination fees for almonds rose from roughly $70 to almost $160—adjusted for inflation—over the winters of 2004-05 and 2005-06, but Rucker and his co-authors noticed something unusual about the timing. Those increases happened before colony collapse disorder appeared on the scene over the winter of 2006-07.

"Almond pollination fees did go up substantially, but they went up before CCD hit," said Rucker. "You can't attribute those increases to colony collapse disorder."

The bottom line, he said, is that while there have been changes in the commercial pollinator markets, few can be directly linked to colony collapse disorder or any other recent pollinator health concerns. This is good news for beekeepers and consumers alike, he added.

"When we started this project, we expected to find huge effects, but we found very small ones," said Rucker. "The only effects we found on consumers, for example, is that they probably pay about 10 cents more for a $7, one-pound can of almonds at the grocery store."

The reason the disorder's impacts are so small, said Rucker, is directly linked to the fact that most beekeepers know that bees and honeybee colonies are going to die over the course of the year, and they have developed methods of dealing with those fluctuations. As a result, they have been able to react quickly to disruptions like CCD. But there are still a lot of unknowns about the disorder, and the paper focused on the particular overlap of colony collapse disorder and economics.

"The bottom line is that beekeepers are savvy [businesspeople]," he said. "Our research provides reason for optimism about the future ability of commercial beekeepers to adapt to environmental or biological shocks to their operations and to pollination markets. It says nothing, however, about non-managed pollinators. Data on those pollinators' populations are sparse, and the impacts of maladies like CCD on their populations are not well understood. There is definitely much more work to be done to grasp the effects of CCD and other threats to bee health."

HONEYLAND - New Award Winning Film on Wild Beekeeper Opens in Los Angeles

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The most awarded film of this year's Sundance Film Festival, HONEYLAND is a visually stunning documentary about one of Europe's last bee hunters, who follows an ancient golden rule, "take half, leave half for the bees." Through Haditze's story, the film explores sustainability and the delicate balance between humankind and nature. 

The film opens in theaters in New York and Los Angeles starting Friday, July 26th and will expand to more theaters throughout the summer.
We would love for the LA beekeeping community to join us at the theater next week.

Opens Friday, August 26th.
*Filmmakers will be at Q&As in NY on 7/26 & 7/27

Quad Theater (34 West 13th Street, New York, NY)
Laemmle's Royal Theatre (11523 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles)


Read more:


Join Kim And Jim In The Beeyard, And On The Front Porch Of The A. I. Root Homestead On June 18th At Noon EST (9 AM PDT)

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Check out the next LIVE KIM&JIM Show, on June 18, 2018. Kim and Jim are first going to take a look at the 4 bee hives on the A. I. Root Company property, right next to A. I. Root’s Home. There are 2 overwintered colonies, and 2 were installed as packages this spring. What’s up with the old and the new this spring? We’ll find out. Then, they’ll take a look at the new polystyrene hive just installed this spring to begin looking at thermal efficiency in a beehive. A new hive, with a new package will be the center of attention for a bit.

Then, because it’s Pollination Week, KIM&JIM will take a breather after all that work, and sip a cool one on the A. I. Root’s front porch and talk about all of the historical figures that have come and gone from that porch over the years, sort of a sneak preview of THE HISTORY OF AMERICAN BEEKEEPING event coming your way in October. And, because it’s pollination weeks, they’ll discuss a bit about the pollinator gardens, that they will visit later this summer, and about some of the activities going on around this most important subject.

KIM&JIM. Tune in, Tuesday, June 18, 2018 from noon to 1 PM. Look at bees, look at beehives. Sip a cool one on A. I. Root’s front porch. What better way to spend the first week of summer.

Please Register for Kim & Jim Visit the hives at A. I. Root’s home. on Jun 18, 2019 12:00 PM EDT (9:00 AM PDT) at:…/8037399612017492493

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.


Flame in the Bee Yard: Relighting a Smoker the Easy Way

Bee Informed Partnership By: Dan Aurell May 16, 2019

The Scenario

We’ve all experienced a smoker going out just when we need it. Sometimes we may simply forget to pump the bellows for too long while we are getting some other things ready; sometimes we may make the mistake of stuffing the fire chamber too tightly with fuel before the fire has a good chance to catch. At other times our smoker may go out during travel between bee yards. Any of these scenarios sound familiar?

The Traditional Method

So, when your smoker goes out for the umpteenth time, what do you typically do? You could re-open the smoker, dig in there, take out some fuel, burn your fingers in the process of making room for a flame, light the fuel from the bottom and cross your fingers so it stays lit this time? Let me save you the embarrassment, there is a lazy way to re-light it!

A smoker holds up after numerous external lightings

A smoker holds up after numerous external lightings

The Tried and True Easy (Lazy) Method

First, if you do not already own a propane blow torch, it is well-worth your time, energy and money (~$40) to procure yourself one. Once you have a propane blow torch, you can simply blast the flame at the outside of the metal smoker while pumping the bellows, and voilà! The heat transfer through the metal will re-light most smoker fuels. Don’t be afraid to heat the metal red-hot: smokers are seemingly built to withstand such high heat for long periods of time. For example, commercial beekeepers will keep their smoker lit for a long time while loading a semi truckload of bees or working colonies in a big bee yard. If you are concerned about wear and tear, I can report that after a year of relighting my smoker with a torch, the metal on one part of the fire chamber is a little bumpy, but otherwise totally fine.


Keep the flame away from the bellow and its air valve

Keep the flame away from the bellow and its air valve

Even though it is shielded by metal on most models, be aware that there is an air valve on the back side of the bellows that could be damaged by flame or heat. The same goes for fingers…

The Lazy Man is a Safe Man

You read that right – this lazy method has an upside beyond convenience. At times and places with an elevated wildfire risk, this method may be a safer way to play with fire in the bee yard. Since it doesn’t require you to pull out the contents of the smoker, which often are still smoldering a little and with a slight breeze can blow sparks across a dry field, you too can prevent wildfires!

LACBA Meeting: Monday, January 7, 2019

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Our first LACBA meeting of the new year will be held Monday, January 7, 2019.

Committee Meeting: 6:30pm / Membership Meeting: 7:00pm
Location: Mount Olive Lutheran Church (Shilling Hall)
3561 Foothill Blvd., La Crescenta, CA 91214

Meetings of the Los Angeles County Beekeepers Association are open to the public. All Are Welcome!

On the Agenda:

  • Learn about LACBA committees and how you can participate.

  • Beginning with the Committee Meeting, we will be discussing our upcoming Beekeeping Class 101: Class size, instructors, class fee, etc. BRING YOUR IDEAS!

  • An experienced beekeeper will share on how they got into beekeeping and what went on in their first two years of beekeeping. Specifically focusing on mistakes made, the trials, tribulations, problems.

  • Bill Lewis will present an informative tribute to photojournalist and bee photographer, Kodua Galieti, utilizing her extraordinary photographs to show what goes on inside a beehive and the various stages of honey bee development. Long time beekeepers and new-bees are sure to find the presentation fascinating.

  • We’re hoping all those who attended the CSBA Convention will share a short report on what you found most interesting, informative, entertaining - something you can share with the rest of us. Thank you!

  • Presentation of the 2018 Golden Hive Tool Award.

  • What Do You See Going On Inside and Outside Your Hive This Time Of Year???

  • What’s Blooming?

  • Q&A

  • Next month Wildflower Meadows to speak.

  • RAFFLE!!!! Bring something for the Raffle!

    Hope to see you at the meeting!

Discussion about changes for 2019 Beekeeping 101 Classes.  Your board of directors would like your suggestions as to changes to the 2019 Beekeeping 101 classes.  Come to the Committee Meeting @ 6:30pm on Monday January 7, 2018 to give your opinion.  This is your chance to participate in the discussion about the 2019 Beekeeping 101 classes.

Envisioning the Future of Beekeeping - A 3 Part Series

Pollinator Stewardship Council / Pollinator News                       August 3, 2018

Envisioning the Future of Beekeeping- a 3 part series 

Tammy Horn Potter, Kentucky State Apiarist, and Michele Colopy, Pollinator Stewardship Council collaborated on a series of articles discussing the future of beekeeping. The co-authors interviewed a dozen beekeepers across the US for the June, July, and August issues of the American Bee Journal.  You can read the three articles at:  Articles 1 & 2      Article 3  

To read the discussion, to continue the discussion, to participate in the discussion begun by these interviews, go to our Facebook page. Select the FORUM page on the left side of our Facebook page at   or at

How do you envision the future of beekeeping?

(The Los Angeles County Beekeepers Association is a proud supporter of the Pollinator Stewardship Council.)

Jerry Hayes, Classroom Columnist

July 10, 2018

Longtime Classroom writer Jerry Hayes retired from Monsanto on July 6th, 2018. He had joined the agrochemical company 6 years ago, shortly after the company acquired Beeologics, an Israeli company that was pioneering RNAi technology to immunize honey bees against specific viruses. While at Monsanto, Jerry strove to inform beekeepers about the dangers of varroa, emphasizing the impacts this destructive parasite has on colony health.

The move from chief apiary inspector of Florida to Monsanto was viewed with trepidation by some beekeepers, and created a “Swarm of Controversy” described in exquisite detail by Wired magazine in a longform article that should be required reading for any lover of his Classroom column. It contends that “before he was a villain, Jerry Hayes was a hero. He considered himself one of the good guys. Many people did. They sought his advice. …Since the early 1980s Hayes has written “The Classroom,” an advice column for the American Bee Journal, America’s oldest bee magazine. He is Dear Abby for beekeepers, counseling readers on everything from capturing swarms to making shoe polish from beeswax.” Hayes joined Monsanto, because he saw that they had pockets deep enough to really help honey bee health. While there, he learned the RNAi technology of Beeologics was much further behind than he expected. The field trials were failing, as it’s much easier to kill varroa in a Petri dish than in a colony. Instead of pouring all their research dollars into stopping a single virus—Israeli Acute Paralysis Virus—he helped the agrochemical company focus its efforts on addressing the vector of the viruses—varroa. He was a frequent speaker at conferences, helping beekeepers understand how difficult it is to kill “a fist sized bug on another bug.”

Jerry will continue to write his much loved column for ABJ and we wish him much success in this next stage of his life. We will be interviewing Jerry in an upcoming issue, so stayed tuned as he reflects on what lies ahead.

Black Beekeepers Are Transforming Detroit’s Vacant Lots Into Bee Farms

Huffington Post     By Philip Lewis     January 10, 2018

“Work hard, stay bumble” is their nonprofit motto.

A pair of Detroit natives have decided to combat neighborhood blight in a pretty sweet way — by transforming abandoned vacant lots in their city into honeybee farms. 

Detroit Hives, a nonprofit organization founded by Timothy Paule and Nicole Lindsey in 2017, purchases vacant properties and remodels them into fully functioning bee farms. 

“These properties are left abandoned and serve as a dumping ground in most cases,” Paule told HuffPost. “The area can be a breeding ground for environmental hazards, which creates a stigma around the city.” 

Paule, a photographer, and Lindsey, a staff member for the health care provider Henry Ford OptimEyes, had been dating for some time before launching the nonprofit. Paule attributes their inspiration to a cold that he just couldn’t get rid of.

“I went to the local market that I normally go to, and he suggested that I try some local honey for my cough,” Paule said. “He said you consume local honey because it has medicinal properties.” 

After he started to feel better, the couple also began to think about how urban blight contributed to allergies through overgrown ragweeds in abandoned areas. They put producing local honey and erasing urban blight together, and Detroit Hives was born.

Detroit Hives

To become certified beekeepers, Paule and Lindsey took two courses at Green Toe Gardens and Keep Growing Detroit. The duo bought their first vacant space on Detroit’s East Side for $340 with the help of the Detroit Land Bank Authority, an agency that works to redevelop abandoned properties.

“The land bank offers a community partnership program for nonprofits and faith-based organizations to purchase structures or vacant land from the land bank to put back to productive use,” Darnell Adams, director of inventory at the land bank, told HuffPost. “We encourage them to bring their visions and their proposals to the land bank so that we can give them access to land to implement them.” 

Currently, Detroit Hives owns just the one farm, but they’re looking to expand in 2018. 

Besides raising honeybees, the nonprofit aims to spread awareness about bees by hosting public tours of the farm ― they encourage community members to schedule an appointment ― and by traveling to schools in the Detroit area to speak with students.

“It was a little hard at first because most high-schoolers are afraid of bees or they really don’t care,” Paule said. “So I had to find a unique way to introduce bees to them. One thing they found intriguing is how each honeybee had a unique job.”

Detroit Hives

And of course, Detroit Hives sells honey to the public and to local vendors that use it to create products such as handcrafted beer and sauces. They’ve even created Bee Moji, an emoji sticker app.

While you’d think people would be concerned about thousands of bees in the area, the local community loves the bee farm, according to Paule and Lindsey. 

“The neighbors love it. They say they wish we were there 10, 20 years ago,” Lindsey said. “That area has always been a place where people dump trash, so when we came there, we gave that area a sense of purpose. The neighbors keep an eye on the area to make sure that people aren’t dumping anymore.”

Detroit Hives’ tagline is “Work Hard, Stay Bumble,” fitting for a city that knows all about perseverance.

“We’re hustlers, innovators and thinkers,” Paule said. “Bees work really hard, and they’re humble. In Detroit, you have to work hard and be humble. It’ll take you far.”

200,000 Honey Bees Killed In Prunedale

KSBW US     Reporter Sierra Starks    January 17, 2018

PRUNEDALE, Calif. — A bee killer toppled 100 beehives in Prunedale and sprayed hundreds of thousands of honey bees with gasoline over the weekend.

The honey bees were being kept on Mike Hickenbottom's Prunedale property along Echo Valley Road during the winter. The bees are owned by a man who lives in the Central Valley, where it's too cold during winter months, and they like feeding from eucalyptus trees that flower on the Central Coast during this time of year.

Hickenbottom believes his neighbors were behind the incident, partially because they had complained to him three times.

The bees are allowed to fly freely around the property, and Hickenbottom's neighbors said their children were too scared to go outside.

Hickenbottom said the Italian and Russian honey bees are not aggressive.

"I go up around the bee boxes without any protective clothing on. I've never been stung," he said. 

The vandals struck sometime between 10:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. Saturday.

"Somebody came here, and tipped over all the boxes, and sprayed them with diesel fuel. It killed a whole bunch of bees," beekeeper Alfonzo Perez.

An estimated 200,000 bees died.

Perez leases the hives to pollinate almond trees growing on farms across Californian.

The bee killing cost Perez more than $50,000, a huge chunk of his annual salary.


"I just feel really bad for Alfonzo because he work so hard to support his family. Then somebody goes and does something like this," Hickenbottom said.

DONATE: If you want to donate to beekeeper Alfonzo Perez, click here

A police report was filed with the Monterey County Sheriff's Office. No arrests have been made.

Honey Bees Fill ‘Saddlebags’ With Pollen. Here’s How They Keep Them Gripped Tight     By Katherine Kornei     November 27, 2017

Heidi and Hans-Juergen Koch/Minden PicturesBees don’t just transport pollen between plants, they also bring balls of it back to the hive for food. These “pollen pellets,” which also include nectar and can account for 30% of a bee’s weight, hang off their hind legs like overstuffed saddlebags (pictured). Now, researchers have investigated just how securely bees carry their precious cargo. The team caught roughly 20 of the insects returning to their hives and examined their legs and pollen pellets using both high-resolution imaging and a technique similar to an x-ray. Long hairs on the bees’ legs helped hold the pollen pellets in place as the animals flew, the team reported last week at the 70th Annual Meeting of the American Physical Society Division of Fluid Dynamics in Denver. The researchers then tugged on some of the pollen pellets using elastic string. They found that the pellets, though seemingly precarious, were firmly attached: The force necessary to dislodge a pellet was about 20 times more than the force a bee typically experiences while flying. These findings can help scientists design artificial pollinators in the future, the team suggests.

LACBA Annual Holiday Banquet - December 4, 2017

December 4, 2017 


WHERE: Pickwick Gardens
1001 Riverside Dr.
Burbank, CA 91506
Conference Center 

WHEN: Monday, December 4, 2017
TIME: 6:00 PM - 9:00 PM  (Doors open at 6, we dine about 6:30)


WHO: This is a family-friendly open event - feel free to bring your spouse, partner, kids, and friends.

HOW MUCH: $10/person.  

WHAT TO BRING: Please bring either an appetizer or dessert to share (6-8 servings is plenty).
Potluck by last name: A-M Desserts  N-Z Appetizers    

RAFFLE: Tickets are $1. Members renewing for 2018 get 5 free tickets. Please bring any items you'd like to contribute to the raffle on the night of the dinner.

CATERING: Once again, we are so pleased to announce our wonderful dinner will be provided by Outback Catering (LACBA Member, Doug Noland).  Beverages will be provided by Pickwick Gardens. 

Erika WainDecker Guest Speaker at the LA County Arboretum

Erika WainDecker


Erika WainDecker, a longtime member of the Los Angeles County Beekeepers Association, co-owner Klausesbees, and an experienced beekeeper, will be Guest Speaker at two events at the Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden.

"As we already know, bees play a significant role in our lives, but the relationship between the beekeep and the ladies is one that is seldom explored." ~Erika WainDecker

The Geranium Society of Los Angeles

at The Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden
SEPTEMBER 19, 2017 7:30pm - 9pm   FREE
(Bamboo Room - Lower Lecture Hall)
301 N Baldwin Ave, Arcadia, CA 91007

TOPIC: Politics of BeeKeeping


The Los Angeles County Arboretum
SEPTEMBER 21, 2017  9:30am to 12noon
(Palm Room) 301 N Baldwin Ave, Arcadia, CA 91007
$140 for series - $25 per class.
Each class begins with open discussion which may or may not include – show and tell/ current events/ culture tips/ pest problems and introductions to new plants – all classes are eligible for ASSOCIATION PROFESSIONAL LANDSCAPE Designers Continuing Education units.
Read about it here:

TOPIC: Bees/ Symbiotic Relationship and the Politics of Beekeeping

Africanized Honey Bees

University of Georgia Extension By Keith S. Delaplane


Honey Bees in the New World

History of Africanized Honey Bees

Differences Between Africanized and European Bees

Potential Range of Africanized Bees in the United States

Safety Precautions

If You Are Attacked

After an Attack

The Role of Beekeepers

Tips for Beekeepers

Honey bees are among the most well-known and economically important insects. They produce honey and beeswax, and pollinate many crops. In Georgia, a large segment of the beekeeping industry produces queens and package bees for sale to other beekeepers. Although many people make a living from bees, most beekeepers are hobbyists with only a few hives.

Honey Bees in the New World
Honey bees are not native to the New World. Most of them are descendants of bees brought to North America and South America by European settlers beginning in the 1600s. Bees from Europe did well in North America, so most areas of the United States today have managed and wild honey bee colonies of European descent. European honey bees were not as well adapted to tropical and subtropical Latin America and can be maintained there only with special care.

History of Africanized Honey Bees
In 1956, researchers imported honey bees from Africa into Brazil in an effort to improve beekeeping in the New World tropics. These African bees were well suited to conditions in Brazil, and they began colonizing South America, hybridizing with European honey bees (hence the name “Africanized” honey bees) and displacing European bees. Compared to European bees, Africanized honey bees are much more defensive. Large numbers of them sometimes sting people and livestock with little provocation. They are also occasionally known to take over European bee colonies by entering them and killing the resident queen. Because of these noxious behaviors, many beekeepers abandoned beekeeping, and the media widely publicized these so-called “killer bees.”

The bees spread northward at a rate of about 200 to 300 miles per year, and today every country in Latin America except Chile has established populations of Africanized honey bees. In October 1990, the first natural colony of Africanized honey bees was found in the United States near Hidalgo, Texas. In subsequent years the bees moved in a westerly manner, eventually occupying much of the American Southwest and the southern counties of Nevada and California. By the summer of 2005, Africanized bees were confirmed east of the Mississippi with established populations in Florida.

In spite of the alarm surrounding Africanization, these bees have not caused widespread or permanent chaos. Dramatic stinging incidents do occur, but the quality of life for most people is unaffected. Typically, the commercial beekeeping industries of Africanized areas suffer temporary decline and then eventually recover.

Differences Between Africanized and European Bees
European honey bees are adapted to winter survival, largely because of their ability to collect large honey supplies. Africanized bees, on the other hand, do not overwinter well and respond to food shortages by migrating. European bees make large, permanent colonies whereas Africanized bees make small to large colonies that reproduce (swarm) often. The table outlines some of the differences between the two types of bees.




open, exposed nests



location of nests

variable; any kind of cavity including in-ground animal nests, which increases likelihood of human contact

prefer larger cavities, bee hives, hollow trees, hollow walls; rarely in ground

tendency to abandon nest



swarming rate



stinging behavior

intense; can defend nest at distances of up to 100 yards

moderate to mild; defend nest from 1-20 yards

body size

about 10-20% smaller than European


development time for worker bee

19-20 days

21 days

honey production

acceptable once beekeepers adapt

industry standard


effective pollinators but risky for farm laborers

industry standard

tolerance of mechanized handling

acceptable if beekeeper limits hives to one per stand or pallet; netting essential

industry standard

Potential Range of Africanized Bees in the United States

As Africanized bees expand into temperate areas, their tropical adaptations are less advantageous. Cold weather seems to limit both their defensiveness and overwintering capacity. Africanized bees are more defensive in warm tropical regions and less so in cooler zones. In South America the bees do not overwinter south of 34 degrees S latitude, which corresponds roughly to Atlanta, Georgia. (Please note, however, that Africanized bees are found north of this latitude in the American West.)

In areas where their ranges overlap, African- and European-derived bees interbreed, causing “hybrid zones” where bees share African and European traits. In Argentina, Africanized bees dominate in the northern semitropical regions but European bees dominate in the southern temperate areas; the area in between (ca. 32-34 degrees latitude) is a hybrid zone where bees have varying degrees of African or European traits. A similar pattern may occur in the United States, with African traits dominating in southern regions.

Safety Precautions
If and when Africanized bees reach your area, don’t panic. Just as you should look out for fire ants and poisonous snakes, however, stay alert for wild bee colonies when you are outdoors. Remember these points:

Never knowingly approach an occupied bee nest. During daylight hours bees can be seen flying to and from their entrance.

Do not disturb a swarm of bees. Call a professional bee removal service, the fire department, or your county Extension agent for help removing it.

Never climb a tree, kick a log or stump, or move trash until you first check if bees are flying in and out.

Keep an escape route in mind. Never crawl into an enclosed place from which you cannot quickly exit.

Operators of open-cab tractors are especially at risk from hidden in-ground colonies. Keeping a veil on hand is a good safety precaution.

If You Are Attacked
Run away or get indoors as fast as possible if you are attacked. Never stand in one spot and swat because this only aggravates bees further and increases the number of stings you may receive. Be aware that bees may follow you for hundreds of yards. Do not stop running to hide yourself under water or in leaves, brush or a crevice because bees are likely to find you and inflict numerous stings. The single most important thing is to get away from the colony!

After an Attack
When a bee stings, the stinger and poison sack remain in the skin of the victim, even after the bee flies away, and venom continues to be pumped into the skin. After you have safely escaped the bees, remove stingers from your skin by scraping or brushing them out. The venom of a single Africanized bee sting is no more toxic than a European bee sting (in fact, it’s a little less so). The difference is a matter of dose. Instead of a dozen or so stings, victims of Africanized bees can sustain hundreds of stings. Most people can tolerate 15-25 stings without requiring special medical treatment. Pain, redness and swelling are normal at a sting site and this does not constitute an allergic reaction. People with a history of systemic allergic reactions (fainting, trouble breathing), however, should always carry with them an emergency kit of injectable epinephrine, use it if they are stung, and then immediately see a physician. Anyone who receives more than 15-25 stings should seek medical supervision for possible delayed systemic complications.

The Role of Beekeepers
Beekeepers are the best defense Americans have against Africanized honey bees. Citizens and lawmakers need to understand this. In the fear that accompanies the arrival of Africanized bees, some groups may want to ban beekeeping in their municipalities. Without beekeepers, the density of docile European bees in an area will decrease, leaving that area open to infestation by Africanized bees. It is equivalent to “abandoning territory to the enemy.” Only beekeepers have the knowledge and resources to maintain high densities of European bees that can genetically dilute Africanized populations.

Tips for Beekeepers
If Africanized bees move into an area, beekeepers will have to change their management habits. If you keep bees in an Africanized area, observe the following precautions:

Register every colony with the state Department of Agriculture.

Re-queen a colony with European stock any time it becomes unusually defensive.

Mark queens so you can later confirm their identity.

Do not place hives near penned animals, sidewalks, playgrounds or similar high-traffic areas.

Plant bushes or place barricades around the edges of apiaries. This forces bees to fly above head level and reduces the chance of them flying into people or livestock.

Keep colonies at least 2 yards apart to discourage disturbed bees from exciting neighboring colonies.

Beekeepers may need to re-think the practice of combining several hives on a pallet because the vibration from working one hive disturbs them all. For this reason, beekeepers in Latin America have switched to single hive stands.

Use plastic-coated gloves instead of leather; bees will sting leather and the embedded stingers contain alarm chemicals that further aggravate the bees.

Use white-faced veils instead of black. Africanized bees are attracted to dark objects, and a white outer surface minimizes bees massing on the veil and obstructing your vision. The interior side of the netting should be black to minimize glare.

Smoke hives heavily before entering them; the bees are difficult to calm once angered.

Acknowledgments: Gratitude is expressed to David De Jong, Ph.D., University of São Paulo, Brazil, and Eric Mussen, Ph.D., University of California, who made useful comments on this document. 1Professor of Entomology

Status and Revision History
Published on Mar 15, 2006
In review as of Jan 5, 2010
Re-published on Mar 25, 2010
Reviewed on Jan 27, 2013
Reviewed on Jan 27, 2014

Honey Bees “A Gift From Them, to Us”

Honey Bees
“A Gift From Them, to Us.”

April 2, 2017
By: Emma A. Ramirez

At La Comunidad de Niños Unidos

Jim, a neighbor and member of the community, is a Bee Keeper who was invited to our school to share his knowledge about bees. He was prepared with plenty of pictures and fruit to share with the children. The children were aware that Jim the Bee Keeper would be coming to the Community school and prepared a few questions prior to the presentation. As Jim walked in, Kaicee greeted him “Good morning Jim!” The children sat and were eager to listen to what Jim had to say. They were mesmerized with the pictures of bees and became more curious. He was full of valuable and interesting information. Theorist Lev Vygotsky stresses the importance of scaffolding the children’s behavior. In this case Jim was scaffolding and supporting the children in how to respect and not be afraid of bees. Being exposed to such experiences is extremely vital in the future of our children and our earth. It is important for them to make a connection with nature and appreciate it. Although connecting to nature was a key point in this presentation, the connection they made with Jim was crucial. The children now have a known resource in their own community to continue learning from.  During our presentation we learned how hard bees work to produce honey and how they must work as a team to complete each ones tasks. Just like the bees, our community will continue to work together, help each other and learn from one another.

(Note: Jim Honodel is a beekeeper and member of the Los Angeles County Beekeepers Association. Thank you, Emma, for this lovely remembrance of a fun day talking about bees.)

The Spiritual Foundations of Beekeeping

The Natural Beekeeping Trust

The Natural Beekeeping Trust is honoured to present an English translation of Iwer Thor Lorenzen’s "The Spiritual Foundations of Bee Husbandry. 

The honey bee has lived in close association with human beings for millennia. Tragically, however, humanity’s once intimate connection with this unique creature has been harmed by our increasingly utilitarian and exploitative dealings with the natural world. We are now in urgent need of re-establishing a deeper relationship, not just for the sake of the bees themselves but for the whole of nature – and of course for ourselves. 

Lorenzen – a true master beekeeper – provides numerous insights to enable a more fruitful engagement with the living world. Offering an enrichment of the knowledge and practice of beekeeping, he discusses the origins of the honey bee, its relationship to the floral kingdom, the digestion of the bee, the treatment of bee diseases as well as appropriate beekeeping techniques. He also develops subtle spiritual concepts such as the idea of the bee colony as an ‘individuality’ and ‘group-soul’, providing new depth and wisdom to our understanding of how bees live and work. 

This small book, a hidden gem that has never before appeared in English, is essential reading for anyone who cares about the future of the honey bee and the future of humanity.

The Threat of Robbing

Perfect Bee Facebook Page    April 11, 2017

The following is from the Perfect Bee Facebook Page: "At this time of year beekeepers install new hives and overwintered colonies start exploring again, after the winter cluster has worked its magic. In the next few weeks there will be a focused effort by our bees to build up their numbers.

But for the smaller or weaker colony there is another challenge. A good example is the installation of a package of bees. A common and effective way for new beekeepers to establish their first hives, a package results in around 10,000 starting out in a new home.

But 10,000 still represents a small colony. While the numbers expand, there's always the chance of robbing. A colony may not have the capability to successfully defend the hive.

Our article "The Threat of Robbing" looks at why and how robbing occurs and what steps you, as a beekeeper, can take to help your bees protect their space."

Read text and view videos at Perfet Bee's Blog post by Mark Williams: "The Threat of Robbing."