“When California was wild, it was one sweet bee garden throughout its entire length,
north and south, and all the way across from the snowy Sierra to the ocean.”
~John Muir, “The Bee Pastures”

Welcome to the Los Angeles County Beekeepers Association, founded in 1873, to foster the interest of bee culture and beekeeping within Los Angeles County. Our primary purpose is the care and welfare of the honeybee. Our group membership is composed of commercial and small scale beekeepers, bee hobbyists, and bee enthusiasts. So whether you came upon our site by design or just 'happened' to find us - we're glad you're here!  Our club and this website are dedicated to educating our members and the general public.  We support honeybee research, and adhering to best management practices for the keeping of bees.

The Latest Buzz:

Pollinator: Judgment Day

University of Maryland: the1a.org (NPR) March 27, 2018

Mohammed Abed/Getty Images

The continued decline of bee colonies — they fell by a third from 2016 to 2017 — has inspired some criminal enterprises.

honeybee heist in California led to the discovery of a “beehive chop shop” and thieves scheming to pinch pollinators.

And then there’s honey. “Foods that can’t be differentiated by sight will often be faked, and honey fills the bill,” writes Larry Olmsted, who investigated food fraud for a book.

Complex global trades can obscure the true source — and composition — of the gooey goods in our cupboards. So when we buy a bottle or a bear, how do we know we’re getting the good stuff?

Guests

Kim Flottum Editor, Bee Culture Magazine

Eric Wenger Chairman, True Source Honey

Margarita Lopez-Uribe Assistant professor of entomology, Penn State University; she studies how environmental changes impact the bee population.

Gene Brandi Past president, current board member at the American Beekeeping Federation; owner, Gene Brandi Apiaries

How To Make Sure Your Honey Is Real

1. Inspect the label. By law, it must include the honey’s country of origin. The highest-quality honey typically comes from Argentina, Canada, and the United States. And as for the location of the packer: if it’s a distant place you’ve never heard of, that’s a red flag.

2. Look for a stamp of approval. Certification programs like True Source Honey investigate honey supply chains abroad. If honey passes the test, you’ll be able to tell by the certified logo on the label.

3. Do your research. If you’re curious about a honey product or ingredient, you can call the collector or manufacturer and find out more information.

4. Check out your local farmer’s market. That way, you can talk to the beekeeper in person.

https://wamu.org/story/18/03/27/pollinator-judgement-day/

Drought is Driving Beekeepers and Their Hives From California

 NPR Radio   Ezra David Romero   September 29, 2015

ABF President Tim Tucker and ABF Vice President Gene Brandi were on NPR this morning.

The drought in California over the past four years has hit the agriculture industry hard, especially one of the smallest farm creatures: honeybees. A lack of crops for bees to pollinate has California's beekeeping industry on edge.

Gene Brandi is one of those beekeepers. He has a colony of bees near a field of blooming alfalfa just outside the Central California town of Los Banos. He uses smoke from a canister of burning burlap to calm the bees.

"It evokes a natural reaction, as if there were really a fire. And smoke helps to mask the pheromones that they communicate with," Brandi explains.

Brandi has worked with bees since the early '70s. He has more than 2,000 hives across the state, with around 30,000 bees in each one.

"I'm going to pull out this next frame here," says Brandi, showing me some of his hives. "Looking for the queen again — there she is. She's still laying eggs."

The lack of rain and snow has reduced the amount of plants the bees feed on, which in turn limits the amount of pollen and nectar that bees collect. Normally, there are crops and wildflowers blooming here at any given time. This year in the state, there are just not enough plants and trees in bloom to keep many commercial beekeepers profitable.

But Brandi is managing to keep his head above water by strategically placing his bees in the few spots where there are both crops and water.

A well pumps water into a canal on this farm. Thistle blooms on the banks. Nearby, cotton and alfalfa crops are growing. It's enough to keep his bees happy. But fallow farmland surrounds the area.

"In the drought years we just don't make as much honey," says Brandi. "I mean, we're very thankful that we have places like this, where the bees have made some honey this summer."

Brandi says because of the lack of natural food for the honeybees, many beekeepers have to feed their colonies processed bee food, which is a mixture of pollen and oil. They're also feeding the bees a honey substitute made of sugar syrup.

"If there's not adequate feed, we need to supply it. Otherwise, they're not going to make it, they're going to die," Brandi says.

The quality of these meal substitutes isn't as good as the real deal. They're expensive, and it's like eating fresh versus canned vegetables. Beekeepers are also supplying bees with water.

Tim Tucker, president of the American Beekeeping Federation, says the expense in providing food and drink to the bees is causing more beekeepers to take their bees out of California and into other states.

"Commercial beekeepers are having difficult times keeping bees alive, and they're kind of spread out," Tucker says. "They're going to Montana and they're going to North Dakota."

That raises concerns among farmers who rely on those bees to pollinate the 400-plus crops grown in California's Central Valley. It's especially important to have them here in the spring, when the region's 900,000-plus acres of almonds bloom.

"They're scrambling, trying to figure out as many options as possible to make sure their bees stay healthy and are prepared for next year," says Ryan Jacobsen, CEO of the Fresno County Farm Bureau. "That includes trying to move to newer areas and trying to plant new feed sources."

Jacobsen also notes that this drought is really the second punch to the beekeeping industry in the past 10 years. Each winter, as much as 40 percent of the honeybees in the West disappear due to the unexplained colony collapse disorder.

The expense of moving bees and the fear of weakening colonies are reasons why beekeepers like Gene Brandi have taken the risk of not sending their bees out of state.

"Bees are like cattle, in the sense that the pasture can be overcrowded. And even though we have less forage then normal, it's still more forage than other parts of the state," says Brandi.

And just like every other farmer in the region, Brandi and his beekeeping counterparts say rain and snow are the only true answer to reviving the California beekeeping industry.

http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2015/09/29/442670602/drought-is-driving-beekeepers-and-their-hives-from-california

California Drought Stings Bees, Honey Supplies

Telegram.com    By Terence Chea    August 22, 2014

LOS BANOS, Calif. — California's record drought hasn't been sweet to honeybees, and it's creating a sticky situation for beekeepers and honey buyers. 

The state is traditionally one of the country's largest honey producers, with abundant crops and wildflowers that provide the nectar that bees turn into honey. But the lack of rain has ravaged native plants and forced farmers to scale back crop production, leaving fewer places for honeybees to forage. 

The historic drought, now in its third year, is reducing supplies of California honey, raising prices for consumers and making it harder for beekeepers to earn a living. 

''Our honey crop is severely impacted by the drought, and it does impact our bottom line as a business,'' said Gene Brandi, a beekeeper in Los Banos, a farming town in California's Central Valley. 

The state's deepening drought is having widespread impacts across the state. More than 80 percent of the state is under ''extreme'' or ''exceptional'' drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. Gov. Jerry Brown has declared a drought emergency, and residents now face fines of up to $500 a day for wasting water. 

The drought is just the latest blow to honeybees, which pollinate about one third of U.S. agricultural crops. In recent years, bee populations worldwide have been decimated by pesticides, parasites and colony collapse disorder, a mysterious phenomenon in which worker bees suddenly disappear. 

The drought is worsening a worldwide shortage of honey that has pushed prices to all-time highs. Over the past eight years, the average retail price for honey has increased 65 percent from $3.83 to $6.32 per pound, according to the National Honey Board. 

Since the drought began, California's honey crop has fallen sharply from 27.5 million pounds in 2010 to 10.9 million pounds last year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. And this year's crop is expected to be even worse. 

California was the country's leading honey producer as recently as 2003, but it has since been surpassed by North Dakota, Montana, South Dakota and Florida. In 2013, California produced less than 10 percent of the country's $317 million honey crop. 

On a recent summer morning in Los Banos, swarms of honeybees surrounded Gene Brandi and his son Mike, wearing white helmets with mesh veils, as they cracked open wooden hives and inserted packets of protein supplement to keep the insects healthy. 

This year their colonies have only produced about 10 percent of the honey they make in a good year, said Brandi, who is vice president of the American Beekeeping Federation. 

Besides selling honey, beekeepers earn their living from pollinating crops such as almonds, cotton, alfalfa and melons. But farmers are renting fewer hives because the lack of irrigation water has forced them to tear out orchards and leave fields unplanted. 

Like many beekeepers, Brandi is feeding his bees a lot more sugar syrup than usual to compensate for the lack of nectar. The supplemental feed keeps the bees alive, but it's expensive and doesn't produce honey. 

''Not only are you feeding as an expense, but you aren't gaining any income.'' said Brandi's son Mike, who's also a beekeeper. ''If this would persist, you'd see higher food costs, higher pollination fees and unfortunately higher prices for the commodity of honey.'' 

Many California beekeepers, including Gene Brandi's brother, are taking their hives to states such as North Dakota where they can forage in clover and buckwheat fields. 

The drought is hurting businesses such as Marshall's Farm Honey, which supplies raw honey to high-end restaurants, grocery stores and farmers markets in Northern California. 

The Napa Valley business is having trouble making and buying enough honey to meet the demands of its customers. Many varieties such as honey made from sage and star-thistle aren't available at all because it's too dry for their flowers to produce nectar. 

''They keep coming back wanting more, and it's very painful to have to say, 'We don't have it,''' said Helene Marshall, who runs the business with her husband Spencer. ''There's increased demand because of increased awareness of how good it is for you, and there is less supply.'' 

Spencer Marshall, who maintains hives throughout the San Francisco Bay Area, said this is by far the worst year for honey production he's seen in five decades of beekeeping. When the drought ends, ''the bees may come back, but the beekeepers may not,'' Marshall said. 

Amelia Barad-Humphries, who owns a restaurant and floral business in Napa Valley, said she's concerned about the drought's impact on bees and honey supplies. She said she eats a teaspoon of local honey every day to keep her allergies in check and she relies on bees to pollinate her backyard garden. 

''We need honeybees for everything,'' she said. ''People should be paying attention.''

Read at... http://www.telegram.com/article/20140822/NEWS/308229949/1052

California Drought Tough on Honeybee Health

Western Farm Press    By Dennis Pollock    April 22, 2014

Honeybee Risk:  Some U.S. beekeepers are questioning whether to continue coming to California and risk damage to hives, or stay home and make honey that sells for more than $2 per pound.

Gene Brandi with the American Beekeeping Federation talked of the need for most of the nation’s bee colonies – some 1.6 million colonies – to pollinate the almonds in California.

And he warned that there are some beekeepers, notably in the Southern United States who are questioning whether to continue to come to California and risk damage to hives or stay home and make honey that sells for more than $2 per pound.

Brandi and others are concerned that toxicity to bees is not often noted on labels for products that include fungicides and growth regulators.

As for the drought, Brandi said, “this year was tough. There were a lot of places with no water. Bees need some source of clean, uncontaminated water.”

He said 32 beekeepers gathered in Los Banos last month and reported 70,000 colonies negatively affected this year.

Brandi recommends that any spraying during bloom should be done at night, preferably ending by midnight.

The meeting closed with a presentation by Matthew Danielczyk, restoration project manager with Audubon California, on programs to create hedgerows in orchards that can benefit wildlife, provide food for honeybees, combat erosion and mitigate drift.

Read at...