Hives for Sale

$50 Bees! I have two hives each with 1 deep and 1 medium brood boxes. Both hives were purchased as packages to start this season from Bill's Bees. One of the queens needed to be requeened from a reliable source. Both hives doing great and very viable. Moving and need to find a new home for the bees. I'm asking for $50 so I can replace the frames that will go to the new home. You will need to come pickup (Canyon Country, CA) and provide hives, etc. for transportation as I can give you the deep and medium frames (20 each size total). They have not yet been treated for Varroa and will need that ASAP. Well cared for, but have not been inside the hive for the past two weeks. Reach out to me via messenger and we will set something up. Looking for a good home for my girls. Thanks! Contact: Michael Ruskow 818-970-0420 (cell).

Beekeepers Feel the Sting of California's Great Hive Heist

NPR The Salt   Heard on All Things Considered   By Ezra David Romero     June 27, 2017Beehives in an apiary Daniel Milchev/Getty Images

Heard on All Things Considered:

Seventy-one million. That's the number of bees Max Nikolaychuk tends in the rolling hills east of Fresno, Calif. Each is worth a fraction of a cent, but together, they make up a large part of his livelihood.

Nikolaychuk makes most of his money during almond pollination season, renting out the bees to California's almond orchards. This year, a thief stole four stacks of his hives.

"He knew about the bees, because he went through every bee colony I had and only took the good ones," he says. "But, you know, the bee yards — I don't have no security there, no fences."

That lack of security means his bees have been stolen more than once. And it's a type of theft that's been playing out all over the state's orchards.

Literally billions of bees are needed to pollinate California's almond crop. Not enough bees live in California year-round to do that. So they are trucked in from across the country, from places like Colorado, Arizona and Montana. Earlier this year, around a million dollars' worth of stolen bees were found in a field in Fresno County. Sgt. Arley Terrence with the Fresno County Sheriff's Department says it was a "beehive chop shop."

"There were so many different beehives and bee boxes owned by so many different victims," Terrence says. "All of these stolen bee boxes that we recovered — none of them were stolen in Fresno County."

The bees were stolen from across California, but they belong to beekeepers from around the country. A few thousand bee boxes disappear every year, but this bee heist was different.

"This is the biggest bee theft investigation that we've had," Terrence says. Most of the time, he says, beehive thieves turn out to be "someone within the bee community."

Earlier this year, California authorities uncovered this "beehive chop-shop" in a field in Fresno County. A single bee is worth a fraction of a cent, but there can be as many as 65,000 bees in each hive. Ezra Romero for NPRThat was the case in the giant heist earlier this year. The alleged thief, Pavel Tveretinov, was a beekeeper from Sacramento who used the stolen bees for pollination and then stashed them on a plot of land in Fresno County. He was arrested and could face around 10 years of jail time. And authorities say he didn't act alone. His alleged accomplice, Vitaliy Yeroshenko, has been charged and a warrant is out for his arrest.

Steve Godlin with the California State Beekeepers Association says the problem of hive theft gets worse every year.

"There used to be kind of a code of honor that you didn't mess with another man's bees," Godlin says. But the alleged perpetrators of this giant hive theft broke that code.

"He went way, way over the line, Godlin says. "It's just, you know, heart breaking when you go out and your bees are gone."

Godlin has had hives stolen in the past. He and many other beekeepers make their income not just from renting out hives but also from selling the honey the bees produce. So when bees are stolen, beekeepers lose out on both sources of income.

Godlin says it takes time to develop a new hive by introducing a new queen and developing honey. "Bees, you know, we have been hit by everything from vandals to bears to thieves. But the vandalism and thieving is the worst. You know, the one that hurts the most."

Godlin says his organization will pay a reward of up to $10,000 for tips leading to the prosecution of bee thieves. But that only relieves some of the sting.

Bears Raiding Bee Colonies: They're Seeking the Brood

Bug Squad    By Kathy Keatley Garvey     May 18, 2017

A huge financial loss: this is an example of the damage a bear can do in the bee yard.(Photo courtesy of Jackie Park-Burris, Palo Cedro)Yes, bears raid honey bee colonies.

But it's primarily for the bee brood, not the honey.

The brood provides the protein, and the honey, the  carbohydrates. For beekeepers and commercial queen bee breeders, this can wreak havoc. Financial havoc.

The American Beekeeping Federation, headed by Gene Brandi of Los Gatos, recently asked Extension apiculturist emeritus Eric Mussen of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology to respond to a question about bees and bears.

Mussen, who retired in 2014 after 38 years of service (but he still remains active from his office in Briggs Hall), is from Minnesota, where the bears are and he isn't. He's managed to photograph a few bears, though, on family outings to Lake Tahoe.

We thought we'd share his response about bees and bears. Jackie Park-Burris of Palo Cedro, who owns Jackie Park-Burris Queens, kindly let us post some of her photos so our readers can see what bear damage looks like.  A past president of the California State Apiary Board and the California State Beekeepers' Association, she's a member of the noted Homer Park beekeeping family and has been involved with bees all of her life. She's been breeding Park Italian queens since 1994.

But back to Eric Mussen, the bee guru who has answered tons of questions during his 38-year academic career and who's now serving his sixth term as president of the Western Apicultural Society. (The society, founded in Davis, will gather \Sept. 5-8 in Davis for its 40th annual meeting, returning to its roots.)

"Bears eat both meat and plants (berries) etc. whenever they can find them," Mussen says. "Most people think that a bear has a sweet tooth, since it is attracted to beehives. While it is true that bears will eat some honey if it gains access to a hive, a closer look shows that it will eat all of what we call 'brood' first, and then eats a little honey."

Eric MussenMussen describes bee brood "as made up of bee eggs, larvae, and pupae."  Since the queen may be laying between 1000 and 2000 eggs a day, "quite a bit of brood can accumulate before the end of the 21-day period that it takes to complete development from egg to adult female worker bee (24 days for the drones)."

"Bears have a pretty good sense of smell, so they can smell a beehive if they get downwind of a nearby colony," Mussen points out. "If the colony is living in a tree, often the bear literally tears the tree apart to get to the bees.  Unfortunately, they will claw and dig into a man-made beehive, as well.  They leave the covers scattered all over; the hive boxes scattered and often broken; the combs pulled out, broken, and strewn about in the apiary; and the combs that had brood in them will have the comb eaten out.  The colony will not survive and there may be very little undamaged equipment to salvage."

"To a small-scale beekeeper," Mussen says, "the financial loss is not too severe.  However, losing the colony, that requires so much effort to keep healthy these days, is quite a blow.  For commercial operators, who may not revisit the apiary for a couple weeks, it can mean a very substantial economic loss."

"The correct type of well-maintained bear fence usually is very effective at keeping bears away from the hives.  However, that holds true only for situations in which the bear has not had previous positive experiences ripping apart man-made beehives.  In that case, the bear expects a substantial reward for barging through the stinging fence and getting into the hives."

What to do? "Most beekeepers have no desire to kill bears, but they do desire to keep their colonies alive," Mussen says. "Often, attempts are made to capture the offending bear, tag it, and move it away far enough that it should not return.  Some of the wildlife specialists marvel in how far away a bear can be taken away and still return. Bears that cannot stay away from apiaries, or away from people's houses, or away from trash containers, etc., sometimes have to be eliminated.  It is best to have this done by agency personnel, but sometimes in remote areas the beekeepers get deprivation permits and kill the bear themselves.  In Northern California, the beekeeper has to notify the wildlife people of the kill, and the carcass has to be inspected to be certain that specific, black market body parts have not been removed from the bear.  The carcass then is buried in a landfill, or once in a while used in institutional food."

Occasionally Bug Squad hears of bears raiding honey bee hives in rural Solano County. We remember a story about a beekeeper/queen breeder in Mix Canyon, Vacaville, who was losing his hives to a "wild animal." The loss? Reportedly about $30,000. He set up a stealth camera and....photographed a 300-pound black bear. 

"Bears have a pretty good sense of smell," as Mussen says, and the result can be "a very substantial economic loss."

This is what bear damage to a hive looks like. This photo was provided by Jackie Park-Burris of Palo Cedro, who owns Jackie Park-Burris Queens. (Photo courtesy of Jackie Park-Burris.)

A bear scattered frames all over this bee yard, as it went for the brood and then the honey. (Photo courtesy of Jackie Park-Burris, Palo Cedro.)

A bear wreaked havoc in this bee yard. (Photo courtesy of Jackie Park-Burris, Palo Cedro.)

 This image of a bear snagging fish was taken at Lake Tahoe by Eric Mussen, Extension apiculturist emeritus, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. He's been answering questions about bears and bees for more than three decades.

Beekeepers Feel the Sting of Stolen Hives

NPR The Salt  By Jodi Helmer    June 6, 2016  

Between December and March, beekeepers send millions of hives to California to pollinate almond trees. Not all of the hives make it back home.

"The number of beehive thefts is increasing," explains Jay Freeman, a detective with the Butte County Sheriff's Office.

In California, 1,734 hives were stolen during peak almond pollination season in 2016. In Butte County alone, the number of stolen hives jumped from 200 in 2015 to 400 this year, according to Freeman.

Denise Qualls, a California bee broker who arranges contracts between beekeepers and almond growers, isn't surprised that beehive thefts are on the rise.

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What to do When a Bee Truck Overturns

Bug Squad     By Kathy Keatley Garvey    November 12, 2015

A worker bee. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)When a bee truck overturns, all sorts of things can happen. None of them is good--unless both the people and the bees fare well. 

Bystanders panic. Bees can and do react to all the commotion by stinging the first responders and the bystanders. It's especially difficult at night.

So when Extension apiculturist (emeritus) Eric Mussen of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, who retired in June 2014 after 38 years of service, was asked about this, and what first responders can do, we thought we'd share the informatoin.

"It is hard to know where to start with protecting people from bee spills," he says.  "Depending upon in what part of the country it happens, the concern about loose bees varies.  In a large metropolitan area, it is likely that someone will try to put down (kill) the bees as quickly as possible.  In rural agricultural areas, the people value the bees and probably would try to salvage as many hives and bees as possible."

"Every potentially responsible agency should have a list of beekeepers to contact when such an incident happens.  The beekeepers can go to the scene, access the problem, and help clean it up."

Mussen cautions that if you respond to the scene, whether you are law enforcement, a firefighter, bulldozer or front-loader driver, towing crew, or news media, you should not exit your vehicle without wearing proper protective gear. " If you have an inkling that you may be allergic to bee stings, you should not even be at the scene.  A messy problem can turn into a life-threatening emergency when allergic people get stung." 

"Water misted into the flying bees will tend to 'ground' them, temporarily, and many will drown," he warns. "To be sure the bees are down for good, some use fire-fighting foam instead of water.  This will cause an enormous financial loss for the beekeeper, but it calms things down rather quickly.  If the bees form a gigantic cluster under an overpass, the bees can be salvaged or, in at least one case, burned up using a flame thrower."

"People should understand that it takes quite a while to upright the hives and get the frames back into them," Mussen says. "They should also know that the bees are not likely to go back into the hives, on their own, until nighttime." Bees do not fly at night.

"If the bees are being 'rescued,' someone has to help haul away the up-righted hives and put them in a safe place," Mussen points out. "Not infrequently the assisting, anonymous beekeepers leave with the hives and never return them to the owner.  Some empty hives have to be left at the scene to collect the remaining bees that are flying around.  They can be picked up early the next morning."

Those are just some considerations, Mussen says. "Every event is different.  If the emergency folks have met with a few beekeepers to talk about what to do, it will go a lot easier if it ever happens."

Good advice.

A truck loaded with bee hives. Photo taken through a car window. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)Read at:

Where is the Best Place to Put a Beehive?

Mother Nature Networks    By Kate Marks   (Originally posted (MNN) January 21, 2014) 
 Here's what you need to know about sunlight, apiary air traffic control, and skunks.

Bees can be rewarding and tons of fun to keep, and thankfully there are numerous resources available to help you keep your bees happy, healthy and productive. But you may have one remaining and critical question: uh, where to put the bees? Beehive placement is actually pretty important not just because you want to avoid upsetting the neighbors, but because you want to avoid upsetting the bees, and because where you place your hive can determine how healthy they are, the flavor of the honey they produce, and how well they settle into their new digs. So here's what you need to know.
Food and water
Bees need a nice, steady supply of water a quick flight away. Your hive should be placed in close proximity to a water supply to ensure that they don't have to forage too far afield. Bees are attracted to the sound of running water, but they prefer still water, because it's safer for them, so make sure they have a supply of still water to drink. For that matter, there should be ample sources of pollen, nectar and forage near the hive so the bees can easily sustain themselves and bring supplies back to the hive.
Not enough forage? Talk to a landscaper about planting a bee garden with lots of nectar and pollen-producing plants to stimulate honey production, and pay attention to how it affects the flavor of your honey.
The whole point of keeping bees is not to attempt to sustain them solely on supplements, but to get flavorful, dynamic honeys made by bees flying freely in the natural environment. To make honey, they need supplies of food. And the closer that food is, the more honey they'll make.
beehive framesLight
Bees love sun. As soon as the sun is up, they're out and about, and they buzz around all day until the sun goes down. That means you should place the hive in a sunny spot so they don't turn sluggish and sleep in, and consider facing the hive south so the bees wake up as soon as the sun peeps up over the horizon. However, full sun can make a hive brutally hot in the summer, so go for a spot with dappled sunlight.
A windbreak is key to protect the hives. Choose a sheltered nook, or build a windbreak, to protect the hive from harsh winds and weather. Be sure your hive is also placed in an area with adequate drainage to limit the risk of damp conditions, as bees don't appreciate being wet. Choose a site with firm ground, too, to avoid a toppling beehive.
Consider the flight path
When bees fly out of the hive, they don't have to file a flight plan with the FAA, and their main concern is getting some snacks. They don't really care about what, or who, might be in the way, so it's up to you to use some common sense: Don't put a beehive near a footpath or other highly trafficked area, or someone's going to get a faceful of bees.
Too many hives can result in competition and poor honey quality for everyone. Check out the area around where you plan to set up to see how many hives are around, and talk to local apiarists about their bees. If the population is reaching critical mass, you may need to set up further afield or talk to someone about working with their hives for a while until a chance to set up your own opens up.
skunk, beehivesUrban bees
It can be a challenge to find a spot for urban bees, because forage is more limited and you have more people to deal with. One of the best spots is a community garden, and many community gardens are grateful for the opportunity to have resident pollinators. Talk to organizers about setting up your hives in the garden.
Your bees should be protected from big livestock like cows and horses who might view the hive as a scratching post and knock it over by accident. Furthermore, consider predation issues: Skunks, for example, love beehives and can destroy them in just a few nights. Make sure your bees are well-protected. Sadly, vandalism is also an issue sometimes, so if you're concerned about that, secure fencing to keep out would-be vandals is a good idea.
You're the one taking care of the hive, and remember that in the first few weeks, you may be there a lot. You need a location that's easy to get to by vehicle or while pulling a small wagon filled with supplies, and make sure your access won't be blocked at some point by construction or other activities.

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Frame: grafvision/Shutterstock; skunk: Heiko Kiera/Shutterstock

Honey on Tap: A New Beehive that Automatically Extracts Honey without Disturbing Bees

COLOSSAL   By Christopher Jobson   February 19, 2015 

The Flow Hive is a new beehive invention that promises to eliminate the more laborious aspects of collecting honey from a beehive with a novel spigot system that taps into specially designed honeycomb frames. Invented over the last decade by father and son beekeepers Stuart and Cedar Anderson, the system eliminates the traditional process of honey extraction where frames are removed from beehives, opened with hot knives, and loaded into a machine that uses centrifugal force to get the honey out. Here is how the Andersons explain their design:

The Flow frame consists of already partly formed honeycomb cells. The bees complete the comb with their wax, fill the cells with honey and cap the cells as usual. When you turn the tool, a bit like a tap, the cells split vertically inside the comb forming channels allowing the honey to flow down to a sealed trough at the base of the frame and out of the hive while the bees are practically undisturbed on the comb surface.

When the honey has finished draining you turn the tap again in the upper slot resets the comb into the original position and allows the bees to chew the wax capping away, and fill it with honey again.

It’s difficult to say how this might scale up for commercial operations, but for urban or backyard beekeeping it seems like a whole lot of fun. It wouldn’t be hard to imagine these on the roof of a restaurant where honey could be extracted daily, or for use by kids or others who might be more squeamish around live bees. You can see more on their website and over on Facebook.

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At the Hive Entrance

Mother Earth News     By Jennifer Ford    August 4, 2014

Hive Entrance OneWhile it is important to do regular inspections of your bee hives, you can also learn a lot about the state of the colony just by sitting and closely observing the front of the hive and entrance. Observing the hive from the outside minimizes the disturbance that occurs inside when they are opened up for an inspection. It is also a good way to do a “quick check” of the hive if you are pressed for time. Additionally, I enjoy being able to just sit and spend some time with my bees without having to interrupt their daily work!

While watching the hive entrance, the first thing I take note of is the reaction of the hive to my standing near them. A normal hive will take little or no notice of me, and will continue with its normal activities. If the guard bees approach me, or act in an aggressive manner, it means that there is a problem with the colony that should be investigated. It could be that problems with the queen are making them more “grouchy”, or that night time intruders such as skunks or raccoons are causing the hive to become more defensive. Scratch marks near the entrance are a sign that animals are the problem.

I then take a look at the bees at the hive entrance. A strong hive will have bees stationed at the entrance – the guard bees. These bees are checking the bees returning to the hive to be sure that they belong to that hive, and are not intruders from another hive. The guard bees also keep a look out for other intruders such as wasps, hornets, mice, etc.  

The entrance of the hive should be a busy place – you should see many bees taking off from the hive entrance while others are returning with nectar and pollen. Speaking of pollen – sometimes it is possible to get an idea of what flowers the bees are visiting by looking at the color of pollen they are bringing in. It will vary in different areas, but in our area maple is pale yellow, blackberry and raspberry are grayish, and white clover is a dark yellow. By observing the pollen the bees are bringing into the hive, and being aware of what is blooming in your area, you can get a good idea of what plants your bees are visiting.

Hovering Bees

If you are watching the front of your hive in the late afternoon, you may see large groups of bees “hovering” in front of the hive. They may be moving up and down or moving in a “figure eight’ pattern. These are newly hatched bees that are “orienting” to the hive entrance. If a hive is producing many bees, it is a good sign that there is a healthy laying queen in the hive.

There are also a few things to look for that are cause for concern. One of these is robbing behavior. Robbing tends to become more common in fall when nectar becomes more scarce, and bees are trying to prepare for winter. Signs of robbing are bees wrestling and fighting at the hive entrance, and bees aggressively circling the hive looking for ways to get in. If you see robbing happening, it is important to take steps to stop it immediately.   The hive being robbed could be weakened to the point that it will not survive the winter. For tips on putting a stop to robbing, see my previous blog, "Honeybees and Robbing".

Another concern is bees crawling in front of the hive, unable to fly. If you look closely, you may see that the wings are deformed. This can be caused by tracheal mites (if the wings seem to form a ‘K”), or by varroa mites. Again, if this is observed, steps should be taken to sample for and decide on a treatment plan for these parasites.

A third observation that could be cause for concern is large numbers of dead bees in front of the hive. While it is common to see some dead bees as the house bees clean out the hive, a large number could indicate that something is wrong in the hive and should be investigated further by doing a full hive inspection.

A valuable resource if you are interested in learning more about this subject is “At the Hive Entrance” by H. Storch. This book was originally published in German, and then translated to English and reprinted in 1985. It is considered to be “the definitive guide” to understanding what is happening inside the hive by observing the outside of the hive. It can be a little difficult to obtain a printed copy, but many libraries - especially libraries maintained by beekeeping clubs, may have copies you can borrow. I also noticed that it was available for download on several websites.

So next time you are itching to go inside your hives and see how the bees are doing, consider instead, pulling up a chair. A lot of what you would go into the hive to look for can be determined just by watching the entrance!

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