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.

Warnings:

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!

https://beeinformed.org/2019/05/16/flame-in-the-bee-yard-relighting-a-smoker-the-easy-way/

Diverse Bee Forage Could Lead To Good Honey Crop

AgAlert By Christine Souza May 15, 2019

Stanislaus County beekeeper Orin Johnson tends to beehives near Hollister. He says he is optimistic that the season’s moisture and precipitation will lead to a good honey crop for California apiarists. In recent years, the drought, a lack of diverse forage and the Varroa mite have made it difficult for beekeepers and resulted in honeybee losses. Photo/courtesy Orin Johnson

Stanislaus County beekeeper Orin Johnson tends to beehives near Hollister. He says he is optimistic that the season’s moisture and precipitation will lead to a good honey crop for California apiarists. In recent years, the drought, a lack of diverse forage and the Varroa mite have made it difficult for beekeepers and resulted in honeybee losses. Photo/courtesy Orin Johnson

  It's a "mixed box" when it comes to beekeeper expectations regarding this season's honey crop. Some beekeepers report that winter weather brought plenty of forage for honeybees to feast on this year, and others say uneven citrus bloom in some areas may affect honey production.

Although no formal statewide honey production figures are expected to be released for a few months, individual beekeepers report that the amount of honey they will extract from bee colonies could be up this year.

"We're expecting that the honey crop should be significantly better than the last five to seven years at least because of all of the rain," said Imperial County apiarist Brent Ashurst of Westmoreland, president of the California State Beekeepers Association. "For everyone, the weather has been beneficial because of all of the additional food sources for the bees, and it really makes our job easier because the bees can do what they are supposed to do."

Beekeepers point out that in recent years, factors such as the ongoing drought and lack of forage, Varroa mites and exposure to crop-protection materials, have taken a toll on the bees, resulting in bee losses for many beekeepers. But the moisture and precipitation this season has led to diverse forage for honeybees, including an abundant mix of plants and wildflowers that bees depend on for quality nutrition.

Ashurst said he does not rely on honey as an income "because it's feast or famine; there are some years we make a decent amount of honey, and some years we don't."

"Where we are located (in Southern California), a good year is 12 pounds of honey per colony. Whereas at a honey-producing area like Montana, they might be getting 120 pounds per colony, so 12 pounds is pretty insignificant," Ashurst said.

This season, due to the favorable weather, Ashurst has honeybees placed in sage locations in Temecula and Escondido.

"What we're hoping to get is a sage (honey) crop because finally we got some rain. We don't know what that crop is going to look like until we take it off in June," said Ashurst, who added that many beekeepers can sell honey for the wholesale price of $2 a pound, or filter and bottle the honey for farmers market sales and make about $10 a pound.

Stanislaus County beekeeper Orin Johnson of Hughson said "honey production in California has over the years decreased, but this year, we're looking for a little bump up in honey production for the state."

For the past few days, Johnson has extracted sage honey, calling the variety "one of the premium honeys in the world."

"The bees are still in the sage and will probably make another box by the time they come out by June," Johnson said. "We only make a good sage crop in extremely wet years. This year we had a lot of moisture. It wasn't as much as 2017, but it came at the right time and the plants are producing."

With his honeybees placed in sage locations near Hollister and Pinnacles, Johnson recalls beekeepers had large sage honey crops in 2017 and 2010. Johnson sells honey direct to local customers from his warehouse.

"A lot of my customers, other than the family that wants a jar or two, are those interested in selling honey at farmers markets, so they will come with their 5-gallon buckets and purchase direct from me," Johnson said. "l might have one person come and get a quart jar and another person come get about 30 gallons."

Many beekeepers have recently moved bees out of the state's citrus groves near Tulare County and are busy pollinating other crops.

Tulare County beekeeper and citrus grower Roger Everett of Terra Bella Honey Co. said, "We just got done pulling hives from the citrus groves and now we're trying to get to the next pollination job."

Transporting honeybee colonies to pollinate watermelons in Kern County, Everett said he likely won't open a hive to extract citrus honey until late May or early June.

"I don't know if the hives are all heavy or sort of heavy. I just know there's a stack of pallets with hives that just came out of the citrus that need to be ran through a machine and we'll see what we get," Everett said.

The citrus bloom was hit and miss, Everett said, adding, "Bloom was really weird on the citrus; some fields had heavy bloom and some hardly bloomed at all. That's how much variation there's been, at least in Tulare County."

Related to the orange honey crop, Everett said, "I think it's going to be a little off again compared to previous years or the expectation over the past few years with the rain we've been getting."

Honey production has been declining in California in recent years, Johnson said, although he said the state is among the top 10 honey-producing states.

"At one time, California was the second- or third-leading honey-producing state in the nation. Production is now about 40-pounds per hive, where before it was closer to 60 pounds a hive," said Johnson, who noted that changing diversity among irrigated crops has affected honey production.

Beekeepers say that for much of their income, they rely on revenue from pollination, such as from pollinating almonds and other crops.

"Definitely, we've got to have the almond pollination income," Johnson said.

A report on U.S. honey released in February, by the University of California Agricultural Issues Center, found that American appetite for honey is growing. In 2017, Americans consumed 596 million pounds of honey or about 1.82 pounds of honey per person, a 65% increase in consumption since 2009. In addition, the report noted that the U.S. honey sector in 2017 was responsible for more than 22,000 jobs and had total economic output of $4.75 billion.

The state apiary sector will know more about this season's honey crop in a few months, as the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Agricultural Statistics Service is expected to release its annual honey report for 2018 this week. The report includes information about honey producing colonies, honey-production and price by color class.

(Christine Souza is an assistant editor of Ag Alert. She may be contacted at csouza@cfbf.com.)

Permission for use is granted, however, credit must be made to the California Farm Bureau Federation when reprinting this item.

http://www.agalert.com/story/?id=13009&fbclid=IwAR1z4VjjnDdGLAUf6EJioPBYs-DU1PeKcLXNVVHN_HhPwNDocWeTkG3sNps

How A Queen Bee Achieves Her Regal Status That Elevates Her From Her Sterile Worker Sisters Has Been A Long-Standing Question

CATCH THE BUZZ May 15, 2019

queen bee status.jpg

CRISPR gene-editing used to understand links between diet and genetics to make a future honey bee queen.

How a queen bee achieves her regal status that elevates her from her sterile worker sisters has been a long-standing question for scientists studying honey bees.

To get at the heart of the question, scientists have now used for the first time the gene-editing tool CRISPR/Cas9 to selectively shut off a gene for necessary for general female development.

By doing so, they have shown that a dramatic difference in gonad size between honey bee queens and their female workers in response to their distinct diets requires the switching on of a specific genetic program, according to a new study published in the open-access journal PLOS Biology by Arizona State University honey bee expert and School of Life Sciences Regents’ Professor Robert Page, and colleagues Annika Roth and Martin Beye of Heinrich-Heine University in Dusseldorf, Germany.

“This study focused on a critically important and missing connection between nutrition and the developmental processes that make a queen,” said Page, who is also a distinguished sustainability scholar in ASU’s Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability. “This has been a major unanswered question in developmental biology for more than a century.”

The finding is likely to allow more detailed analysis of the interplay of genes and nutrition that drives the selection of queens from worker bees.

Queen bees differ physically from their sterile sister workers, with a much larger body and ovaries that are needed for her prime responsibility in life — to be tended to just so to produce all the future offspring in the hive. As such, future queens are fed a bee delectable, sugar-rich “royal jelly” from the time they emerge as larvae — while future workers receive relatively sugar-poor “worker jelly.” But the degree to which diet alone determines the difference in gonadal size between queen and worker has been unclear.

To explore the genetic influences on gonad size, the authors first showed that reduced sugar had no effect on male gonad size, indicating that diet isn’t the sole influence. Next, using CRISPR, they knocked out the so-called feminizer gene in early worker larvae.

With the feminizer gene turned off by CRISPR, they found that a low-sugar diet had no effect on gonad size. In fact, their gonad size was similar to those typically found in male drones. The authors conclude that the feminizer gene must be switched on not only to produce ovaries but also to permit nutrient level to affect gonad size.

“Because of the ability to rapidly screen mutations in honey bees allowed by gene editing, this study is likely to set the stage for much more extensive investigations of the role of individual genes and gene pathways in immune defense and behavioral and developmental control,” Beye said.

These results will spur further work to determine if the same gene is needed to allow development of large ovaries in future queens.

https://www.beeculture.com/catch-the-buzz-how-a-queen-bee-achieves-her-regal-status-that-elevates-her-from-her-sterile-worker-sisters-has-been-a-long-standing-question

Read more - Source: https://journals.plos.org/plosbiology/article?id=10.1371/journal.pbio.3000171

Rob Stone's Re-Queening Protocol

Orange County Beekeeping Supply By Rob Stone May 16, 2018

requeening.jpg

Or, Why did I spend big bucks on queens and none worked?!

Re-queening colonies is always a challenge, even the best beekeepers report success rates of at most 90%, with beginners typically around 50%. There are many factors that affect success, including colony size, genetics, honeyflow, weather, stress factors, etc. The biggest factor by far is colony size. You will not be able to requeen colonies of 2 and 3 boxes with any direct introduction technique, but sometimes it can be accomplished with more elaborate efforts and will take quite a bit longer. One other major prerequisites is the colony you are trying to requeen must be queenless. And it  is much better if there are no active queen cells being raised. If a virgin emerges after you have  introduced your desired queen and she is laying, she will be unsuccessful at fighting a feral virgin queen and most often the nurse bees will not let the introduced queen destroy the queen cells before their ‘home’ raised queens emerge, so you must intervene.  Of course, a colony cannot be queenless long enough to have the dreaded ‘laying workers’ syndrome, but that often can be rectified by introducing a frame of brood with all stages of eggs and larvae each week for 3 weeks, then trying the queen introduction as described here. Colonies need to be of normal mix, meaning you cannot wait till dark, pull a honey super full of foragers from a large colony to get your 5 (or 4 or 6) frames of bees and requeen that ‘colony’ because foragers are the least likely to accept your ‘foreign’ queen.   

Back to what is correct, the optimum colony size for requeening is of 4 to 6 frames of bees. 3 frames will still work if they have food and pollen. Even two frames, but expect a very slow buildup following introduction.  If you have bigger colonies, split them and requeen both halves or as many splits as you wind up with, but each should have at minimum 1 frame of brood. Two is better, three is best. And some of the brood should be unsealed, this is important as it provides the colony the brood pheromone which suppresses laying workers. You can use a nuc or a regular deep, each are OK but if you had a choice the fuller the box, the better, so the Nuc is preferable. Give them a frame of honey or two of honey (in the outside positions, thermal barrier) if you have it. Of course, if you working with 5 or 6 frames of bees, use the full size 10 frame hive body.   

Make the colony queenless. Yes, find her and remove her, untold thousands of queens have tried to be introduced to queenright colonies and they will be rejected. Without exception. I know, I have unknowingly tried this many times and it always has the same outcome, bad. A colony knows it queenless in about 8-12  hours, and they begin building emergency queen cells within 24 hours. Wait for about 3 days after you removed her and inspect. If you didn’t find queen cells being built, they think they have a queen. Or another queen is. So keep looking, you must confirm this colony is queenless by finding queen cells. Many colonies have multiple queens, most often mother/daughter combos that can persist like that for months. The colony must be in desperate need for a queen before it will accept a foreign one. Verify they need a queen by seeing the evidence of queen cells. 

Ok, you have waited 3 days and there are queen cells under construction, destroy them. Put your new queen (in her queen cage!) with corks in both ends in between brood frames or next to the one, but still be jammed between two frame top bars. You want nurse bees to come in contact with her. Before hand,  smear a tiny amount of honey on the screen of the cage. This will keep her fed for a few hours and hopefully the bees will begin to feed after that.  If you put the cage with the screen up between two frames you can check the next day how they are acting towards her and smear honey on the screen again in case they aren’t friendly to her yet. But be SURE they bees can get to screen, so they can come in contact with her when they are ready.  If they cant access her (but through the protection of the screen), she will die. Its OK to put the cage in screen down or up or whatever. She is going to remain confined like this for 3-5 days. She will be accepted within this time period, or not and she will be dead.  

So, the five confined days have passed, open up the colony and see how the bees are clinging to the screen of the queen cage. Gently coax them away from the screen. If they are trying to sting her, something is still wrong and you should remove her, and I bet you will find a queen, a virgin or queen cells. Correct and start over. Otherwise, put her aside and go through the colony very carefully to make sure you haven’t missed any queen cells, which should be large and sealed by now. If you find any destroy them. Pull one of the frames of brood and shake the bees off. The best selection is sealed brood ready to hatch or hatching now with a little corner of honey too. Bees just emerging will accept any queen.  Now we are going to let her out of her wood  cage into a push-on wire cage over some sealed brood (and some honey, if sealed poke a couple of cells so she can feed herself). This is the trickiest part of this whole procedure. An all wire queen cage is just a wire cage open on one side that your press down onto the comb. Yes, it will kill some brood where the cage knifes into the comb. I now cut a small door the size of the queen cage into the side of wire cage and flip it up (open).  Pull the cork  from the wood cage (not the candy end) and stick your finger over it (no gloves for this part of the procedure). Lay the brood frame down on something and lay the wood cage down on the frame. Place the wire cage up to the door you have cut into the push on cage. You now have your finger off and the queen can come out, and it can take a long time for her to find her way. Be patient.  When she (and attendants too if included) comes out pull away the wood cage and imprison her in the wire cage on the comb above honey and brood. I have seen her run straight to the honey and drink so it’s not true about queens not being able to feed themselves. When she is in the cage and on the other end, flip down the door and push it into the comb. She just have enough room to crawl around on the comb underneath the cage. Replace the frame with her on it and leave them alone for 5 to 7 days. She will have  bees hatch with her and she will start laying in the comb she can access. You pull the cage off after the five to seven days and now you have done it. Smile and congratulations.   

So its complete and all your stress is over. Not quite. Many times, in particular with aggressive feral colonies, they will accept your foreign queen, let her lay eggs for somewhere between a week and month,and then she is gone and you find a full set of queen cells. The only action you can take to prevent this is to look each week at your newly requeened colony and if they build queen cells, destroy them. But always verify there are eggs in worker cells before you destroy their chances of replacing your new foreign queen who has now somehow  failed and has stopped laying or is laying drone. 

Additional thoughts: Other factors influence your success rate. One is honeyflow. If there is no honeyflow things are more complicated, the bees are cranky and wont tolerate your interventions as well, and the small colony you are working with will be more  susceptible to Robbing. If your working with one colony in your backyard, robbing is a much smaller issue, but if it’s a small colony in a beeyard, you have to be so very careful. Without a honeyflow, you should put in a feeder and provide syrup, like to 1 to 1 (water weight to sugar weight) to stimulate the colony and get them to want to grow. You dont need to feed, they should have a couple of frames of nectar or honey already. You just need the stimulation a honeyflow provides. Be extra careful with the syrup (no spills, open the colony the minimum time necessary) so the small colony doesn’t get robbed out, that will ruin your chances of a happy outcome. And just put in an inch or two at a time and do it again in a couple of days. If they didn’t drink it there is a reason. Figure out why.  With feeding the big issue is robbing, so already have reduced the entrance to one bee space before you begin the requeening protocol, and use a robbing screen if the time year warrants it.  

If your working with nicer bees and can go gloveless, you can add newly hatched bees into the cage with the queen before you mash it into the comb. Find these fuzzy bees on a brood frame and pick them up from behind or by the wings and insert. They wont sting you. There are a couple of these bees on the picture above close to the queen. Again, newly hatched bees accept any queen.  

Queen pheromone strength.  If you buy a batch of queens they come in individual cages inside a large box that has few hundred attendants with it. The attendants care for all queens in the box, but you will see some queens have much larger groups of bees surrounding them. Those queens have stronger pheromone and will be easier to introduce. This is a factor for introduction. Use the more powerful queens for the larger colonies you are attempting to requeen, and the less powerful queens for the smaller colonies. 

Recap:
1. Get colony to proper size, 3 to 6 frames.  Entrance reduced, correct size box, etc. Honey, brood, pollen. 
2. Make queenless, and verify queen cell construction. Destroy cells
3. Put in queen, feed her first. Let them get used to her. Feed her again.
4. Destroy cells again and transfer queen to screen comb cage. 
5. Brood hatches and accepts her, she begins to lay in comb inside cage. 
6. Remove cage.
7. Inspect weekly for queen cells for the next month.

https://www.ocbeekeeping.com/single-post/2018/05/16/Robs-Re-Queening-Protocol

[Note: Rob Stone, owner of Orange County Beekeeping Supply, was our featured speaker at the May 6, 2019 monthly meeting of the Los Angeles County Beekeepers Association. Whether or not you were one of the fortunate attendees at this meeting, you’ll remember Rob’s highly informative, engrossing, and entertaining talk about bees and beekeeping, you’ll want to check out his blog at: https://www.ocbeekeeping.com. Thank you to Rob Stone - your talk was awesome!]

Nat Talk: Tom Seeley: The Untold Story of the Honey Bee in the Wild

San Diego Natural History Museum
Tuesday, May 14, 2019 - 7PM
Tom Seeley
”The Untold Story of the Honey Bee in the Wild”

Thomas D. Seeley .jpg

Humans have kept honey bees in hives for millennia, but only in recent decades have biologists begun to investigate how these industrious insects live in the wild. Author and Cornell University Professor Tom Seeley will present the captivating story of what scientists are learning about the behavior, social life, and survival strategies of honey bees living outside beekeepers’ hives.

Tom Seeley will show why wild colonies of honey bees living in forests are thriving while the managed colonies living in beekeepers' apiaries are in crisis. This Nat Talk  offers a new vision of how beekeeping can better align with the natural habits of honey bees. After the talk, Tom will sign copies of his book, The Lives of Bees: The Untold Story of the Honey Bee in the Wild, available for purchase in the Museum store.

Museum doors open at 5:30 PM and the talk begins at 7 PM. Food, beer, and wine will be available for purchase at the Flying Squirrel Café before the talk.

[Thank you to Jaime Garza, County of San Diego, Department of Agriculture, Weights and Measures: “I just wanted to share an event that will be taking place Tuesday May 14th at the Natural History Museum at Balboa Park. Tom Seeley, author of Honey Bee Democracy and professor at Cornell University will be giving a talk on honey bees.” Note: Yes, it’s a drive but, it’s Tom Seeley!]

Here is the link - https://www.sdnhm.org/calendar/public-programs/nattalks-and-films/.

Beekeepers Hit Hard by Thefts of Hives

National Geographic By Rene Ebersole, Photographs by Lucal Foglia May 3, 2019

In sophisticated night heists, thieves are stealing thousands of bees. Why?

Eighty percent of the world’s almonds are grown in California’s Central Valley. Honeybees trucked in by the billions to pollinate the trees are as essential as rain and sunshine. Without them, only a fraction of the acreage under self-pollinating almond varieties would produce nuts. PHOTOGRAPH BY LUCAS FOGLIA, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC

Eighty percent of the world’s almonds are grown in California’s Central Valley. Honeybees trucked in by the billions to pollinate the trees are as essential as rain and sunshine. Without them, only a fraction of the acreage under self-pollinating almond varieties would produce nuts. PHOTOGRAPH BY LUCAS FOGLIA, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC

CENTRAL VALLEY, CALIF.It was Wednesday night around dinnertime when Jeremy Kuhnhenn realized something was wrong. A few days earlier, in preparation for pollination season, he’d temporarily parked a truckload of more than 280 wooden boxes vibrating with buzzing bees on a grassy knoll overlooking a vista of citrus trees in McFarland, in California’s Central Valley. Now, standing on the hill, he felt ill, as if he might throw up—many of the boxes were missing.

Feverishly, he started counting. “I couldn’t think. I kept messing up the count,” he told me, sitting at a friend’s kitchen table the next morning, shaking his head. He’d hardly slept. “Over half of them were gone, 160 boxes”—days before California’s almond bloom, the biggest and most lucrative pollination event in the world. “Those thieves stole about $70,000 from me,” he said, tallying the insects, equipment, and lost pollination rental fees.

Each year between February and March, more than a million acres of almond orchards in the Central Valley burst into bloom, painting the region pastel pink and white. The area’s mild climate is ideal for cultivating almonds, as well as many other crops. PHOTOGRAPH BY LUCAS FOGLIA, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC

Each year between February and March, more than a million acres of almond orchards in the Central Valley burst into bloom, painting the region pastel pink and white. The area’s mild climate is ideal for cultivating almonds, as well as many other crops. PHOTOGRAPH BY LUCAS FOGLIA, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC

Kuhnhenn, 39—tattooed, with a brown beard, and wearing a black “Right To Bear Arms” T-shirt and jeans—is a commercial beekeeper from Bantry, North Dakota. Like many others in his profession, he makes the bulk of his living from an annual pilgrimage to the Central Valley, where his bees help pollinate the state’s almond crop. In the off-season, back home on his ranch, Bulldog Honey Farms, he manufactures about 80 pounds of summer honey. Wintertime is almond season, and he’d been preparing for the bloom all year. His hives were ready to move into position in the almond orchards. Now was that time, and a bunch of his bees were gone.

Kuhnhenn was distraught. How would he make up for the loss and pay the bills? “I’ve got some cows,” he said, rubbing his bloodshot eyes. “My wife is saying she’s gonna put up her Mustang GT.”

Left:  Officer Rowdy Jay Freeman, a member of California's Rural Crime Prevention Task Force, is also an apiarist, an activity he first learned about while working on a bee theft case. With his special expertise, he serves as a liaison between commercial beekeepers and regional law enforcement. Tips and reports from the beekeepers, a tightly knit group, often help solve cases.  Right:  Bee thieves are often beekeepers with experience handling stinging insects. Tire tracks are important evidence helping detectives determine if the vehicle used in a theft was typical of what a commercial beekeeper would own—such as a truck, trailer, or forklift. Car tracks would suggest less sophisticated criminals. PHOTOGRAPH BY LUCAS FOGLIA, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC

Left: Officer Rowdy Jay Freeman, a member of California's Rural Crime Prevention Task Force, is also an apiarist, an activity he first learned about while working on a bee theft case. With his special expertise, he serves as a liaison between commercial beekeepers and regional law enforcement. Tips and reports from the beekeepers, a tightly knit group, often help solve cases. Right: Bee thieves are often beekeepers with experience handling stinging insects. Tire tracks are important evidence helping detectives determine if the vehicle used in a theft was typical of what a commercial beekeeper would own—such as a truck, trailer, or forklift. Car tracks would suggest less sophisticated criminals. PHOTOGRAPH BY LUCAS FOGLIA, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC

Rowdy Jay Freeman and his colleagues on the state’s Rural Crime Prevention Task Force respond to reports of bee thefts and many other agriculture-related crimes, including stolen farm equipment, fuel, metal, cargo, pesticides, and more. PHOTOGRAPH BY LUCAS FOGLIA, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC

Rowdy Jay Freeman and his colleagues on the state’s Rural Crime Prevention Task Force respond to reports of bee thefts and many other agriculture-related crimes, including stolen farm equipment, fuel, metal, cargo, pesticides, and more. PHOTOGRAPH BY LUCAS FOGLIA, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC

He wanted to show me the crime scene. He climbed into his truck, and I followed in my rental car. We traced a long series of dirt roads, deeply rutted from heavy rain and truck traffic. Finally arriving at the hill, we walked across the grass to where his bees had been.

“They were right here,” he said, pointing at the ground. “You can see the pallet marks in the grass, and here in the dirt are tread marks from the forklift. It had smaller tires than mine.”

Whoever did this knew what he was doing, Kuhnhenn said, and had the right equipment.

Cattle raiding and horse thieving were common crimes in the Wild West, but bee rustling is a relatively new offense for the lawbooks. That’s thanks in large part to the increasing necessity and profitability of trucking billions of bees to vast commercial orchards in dire need of pollination, as well as a thriving international market for gourmet honey.

“It’s the perfect crime,” said Butte County police detective Rowdy Jay Freeman, a member of the state’s Rural Crime Prevention Task Force and a commercial apiarist himself. “You see a person in a white suit, and it looks like a beekeeper, but it could be a thief too—you’d never know.”

Throughout the almond bloom, beekeepers monitor their bee colonies’ health, looking out for mites, fungi, and disease that can wipe out a hive. In cold weather, beekeepers supplement the hives with syrup and pollen to keep the bees alive till the weather warms. PHOTOGRAPH BY LUCAS FOGLIA, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC

Throughout the almond bloom, beekeepers monitor their bee colonies’ health, looking out for mites, fungi, and disease that can wipe out a hive. In cold weather, beekeepers supplement the hives with syrup and pollen to keep the bees alive till the weather warms. PHOTOGRAPH BY LUCAS FOGLIA, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC

Big bee heists are making global headlines. In April 2016, a few weeks shy of blueberry pollination season, thieves struck one of the largest family apiaries in the Canadian province of Québec. The beekeeper, Jean Marc Labonte, told reporters the crooks made off with 180 hives worth an estimated $200,000. Of two likely suspects snagged by police, one was sentenced to nine months’ probation, including five months’ house arrest, and a $40,000 fine; the other was acquitted, according to reports by the Canadian Broadcasting Companyand other outlets.

A few months later, in June, bandits absconded with some of the most valuable bees in Canada, belonging to a $7.1 million research project at the University of Laval aimed at breeding stronger honeybees resistant to some of the ailments, from mites to fungi, currently plaguing colonies around the globe.

Four out of the 30 stolen beehives were part of the Laval study. Hundreds of hours of research had been devoted to selectively breeding those particular colonies, University of Laval bee biologist Pierre Giovenazzo explained. “It’s difficult to put a price on it, but those hives were worth a lot,” he said.

Bees are not only a hot commodity for their pollination services—there’s big money in their honey too. One of Britain’s largest bee heists happened in February 2018 when 40 hives, containing millions of bees, were stolen from a family-run company, Beekeeper Honey, in Oxfordshire. The crime came on the heels of a Telegraph report about a spike in bee thefts in England and Wales.

Diane Roberts, a press officer with the British Beekeepers Association, stressed that bee thefts are not rampant but that a few happen every year. “The value of bees has gone up enormously,” she said, adding that some heists might be related to the type of bee stock—“like racehorses, the best bees are highly prized.”

New Zealand has become a major target for people hoping to cash in on the craze for manuka honey, a trendy sweetener valued for purported health benefits in the treatment of everything from colds to skin infections. Amber-colored manuka is produced by bees pollinating the flowers of the indigenous manuka shrub. An eight-ounce jar of manuka, dubbed “liquid gold,” sells for as much as $60 online. The global manuka market is exploding. Now valued at $940 million, it’s expected to reach $2.16 billion by 2025.

Thieves want both the raw honey and the hives, said New Zealand senior police sergeant Alasdair MacMillan. By his count, there have been more than 2,000 heists in New Zealand since 2016, with some possibly linked to organized crime. “The type and quantities being stolen indicate that a number of persons would need to be involved,” he said. “It takes lifting equipment, vehicles, beekeeping, an outlet for extraction—and of course a market.” Given the volume of manuka being stolen and high prices for the product in China and elsewhere, MacMillan said, it’s likely destined for the black market.

Perils of beekeeping

The domesticated western honeybee (Apis mellifera) is the superstar of the bee world. Out of roughly 20,000 bee species on Earth, more than 4,000 in the United States alone, this one little European species commands the spotlight. It is indeed an extraordinary creature. No other bee takes division of labor to such an extreme, with colonies comprising one queen and tens of thousands of workers thrumming along in perfect synchrony—a superorganism. En masse, they move by swarm. Individually, they navigate in fanciful figure eights. Their hives are like little factories, not only filling our cupboards with honey but also producing wax for candles and soap. What’s more, they pollinate a third of the produce on our plates—everything from apples, oranges, and blueberries to tomatoes, watermelons, and zucchini.

Steve Godlin is one of the commercial beekeepers in the Central Valley who had nearly a hundred of his own hives and as many more that he was brokering stolen this year. Factoring the value of the equipment, bees, and lost pollination fees, a stolen hive is worth about $350. Oftentimes, thieves steal hundreds in one swoop, wiping out much of a beekeeper’s annual income. PHOTOGRAPH BY LUCAS FOGLIA, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC

Steve Godlin is one of the commercial beekeepers in the Central Valley who had nearly a hundred of his own hives and as many more that he was brokering stolen this year. Factoring the value of the equipment, bees, and lost pollination fees, a stolen hive is worth about $350. Oftentimes, thieves steal hundreds in one swoop, wiping out much of a beekeeper’s annual income. PHOTOGRAPH BY LUCAS FOGLIA, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC

California almond season is the pollination Grand Prix. In roughly four weeks between February and March, when almond buds burst into pink and white petals, billions of honeybees buzz through the orchards collecting pollen and nectar for their hives and simultaneously pollinating about one million acres of almonds.

In the days leading up to the bloom, an estimated 85 percent of all the honeybees in the country are trucked into the valley. Budget hotels, Denny’s, and IHOPs overflow with rugged out-of-towners, sweaty and dirty from working with bees 24/7. A commercial apiarist makes a modest (and sticky) living traveling the country pollinating dozens of different crops, but it’s the almonds that pay mortgages and kids’ college loans.

Lately beekeepers are having a tough time supplying the high demand for their bees. With almonds priced at about $2.80 a pound, farmers are ripping out their raisin grapes and row crops and replacing them with almond trees. During the past 10 years, lands under almonds in California have grown from 825,000 to 1.33 million acres—a 61 percent rise, according to the state almond board.

In addition to trying to keep pace with the increasing almond acreage, beekeepers are struggling to prevent their colonies from succumbing to a multitude of maladies—mites, viruses, bacteria, fungi, pesticides—often simultaneously. Many apiarists say it’s never been so hard or expensive to raise and maintain healthy honeybee colonies. This year has been particularly arduous, with some beekeepers reporting as much as 85 percent losses.

Almond grower Daljit Rakkar (right) is helping run the Central Valley business established by his father, Gurcharan (left), who got his start in almonds as a farm laborer. Half the Rakkars’ 2,000 acres are planted with almonds, and the rest with a mix of pistachios and raisins. PHOTOGRAPH BY LUCAS FOGLIA, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC

Almond grower Daljit Rakkar (right) is helping run the Central Valley business established by his father, Gurcharan (left), who got his start in almonds as a farm laborer. Half the Rakkars’ 2,000 acres are planted with almonds, and the rest with a mix of pistachios and raisins. PHOTOGRAPH BY LUCAS FOGLIA, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC

Jeremy Kuhnhenn said about 75 percent of his bees died during the seven months between last year’s almond bloom and the end of honey season in early October. “I don’t know what caused it,” he said, looking out over the miles of farmland sloping from the hillside where his hives were stolen. “It could be a combination of a lot of stuff. I’m waiting on test results from some scientists. I had to buy bees to come out here with 1,500 hives for the almonds. Some of those hives died—I only had 830 left. Now I’m down 160 more.”

With such demand for honeybees, pollination fees have soared. Daljit Rakkar is a second-generation almond grower in Madera, California, whose father built an empire after starting out as a young laborer in the orchards. One afternoon at his family mansion, where two Mercedes-Benzes and a Maserati were parked in the driveway, Rakkar said his company has witnessed the dramatic increase in the cost of bee rentals. “When we first got started, the rental fee was five dollars a hive,” he said. “Now it’s $180 to $200. The standard is two hives per acre. We’ll spend $500,000 on bees this year.”

The opportunity for such high profits is unquestionably motive for theft. But here’s the thing: Not just anyone can make off with millions of stinging insects. More often than not, said detective Freeman, bee burglars are beekeepers. Some steal for a quick payday; others pinch some hives when they come up short trying to fulfill their contracts.

“The vast majority of beekeepers are good, hardworking people,” Freeman said. “But a small percentage of them are on the side of crime. They don’t have boundaries, and they’re looking to make a quick buck. Since the pollination prices have spiked, there have been hundreds of thousands of hives stolen in California.”

Beehive chop shops

Joe Romance, a beekeeper from North Dakota who splits the year between his home state, California, and Maine for the spring blueberry bloom, was furious when he heard that Kuhnhenn, “a young guy coming up in the business” had been robbed. Romance has been a victim too.

“When you go in the yard and see your bees are gone, you go crazy,” he said. “I think that’s the only time in my life when I could kill somebody—if I had a gun (which I don’t). It’s the worst feeling, because you’ve lost your crop, your farm, your everything—years of work, gone.”

In 2014, Romance got a call from one of his employees who’d discovered that more than a hundred hives were missing from the inventory. Romance drove up and down Kern County looking for the missing boxes, hoping the thief had been reckless enough to place them near a road. He didn’t find them. One day, he heard from a friend who said he’d met a guy offering some bees for rent and thought he’d seen some of Romance’s equipment at his place.

Accused of stealing hundreds of beehives throughout the Central Valley over several years, Pavel Tveretinov and an alleged accomplice, Vitaliy Yeroshenko, were arrested in 2017. Their preliminary trials are scheduled for this summer. PHOTOGRAPH BY LUCAS FOGLIA, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC

Accused of stealing hundreds of beehives throughout the Central Valley over several years, Pavel Tveretinov and an alleged accomplice, Vitaliy Yeroshenko, were arrested in 2017. Their preliminary trials are scheduled for this summer. PHOTOGRAPH BY LUCAS FOGLIA, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC

“It was a lucky break,” Romance said. He decided to go incognito to check things out. “I go over to the house with another friend who’s like six four, and we pretend we’re almond farmers,” he recounted. He was met by two men. “I said, ‘I’m paying $225 a hive’—top dollar. The price at the time was about $180. These guys were falling all over themselves saying they’d love to sell us some bees.”

While they talked, Romance looked around and realized what was going on. “It was a chop shop. They were grinding the brands off the boxes and painting over them,” he said. “That’s like branding over cattle—you can’t do that. Used to be a hanging offense! They were systematically stealing bees, painting the boxes, and reselling them.”

Romance called the sheriff. Later that evening the sheriff arrested one of the men, Gabino Jordan Peña, who worked for a nearby beekeeper named William Green. When Green got word that Peña had been pegged for stealing bees, he couldn’t believe it. He’d always considered Peña to be a good employee—he didn’t drink, didn’t smoke, went to church at least once a week. But Green soon came to the conclusion that Peña was likely swindling him too, even using his equipment and credit card to fund his operation.

Peña declared his innocence, said detective Richard Hudson, of the Kern County rural crime prevention task force, and his church raised money to bail him out of jail. A few days before he was scheduled to appear in court, Peña skipped town, possibly to Mexico, Hudson said.

It’s not uncommon for an employee to steal bees from the boss—bee crooks need to get training somewhere, Romance explained. “You don’t go to school or read a book to become a beekeeper. It’s a dirty, hot, stinging job. You have to have the chutzpah to do it.”

Ultimately, Romance said, the stolen bees were recovered and redistributed among Green, other victims, and himself.

Feeling the sting

Investigating bee crimes isn’t easy. “These cases are hard to crack because bees don’t have VIN numbers like cars, and we can’t track them by their DNA,” said detective Isaac Torres, a Fresno-based member of California’s rural crime prevention task force. Often the only witnesses at the crime scene would be an angry mob with stingers. Once while responding to a call, Torres’s partner, Andres Solis, got stung eight times in the head, and his face “swelled up like a balloon,” Torres said. Now Solis wears a beekeeper’s veil when investigating bee cases.

In 2017, Solis and Torres managed to crack one of the biggest hive heists in California history. For three years in a row, an unusually high number of bee crimes were reported throughout the Central Valley—200, 300, 400 hives at a time in many different locations. “We knew it had to be someone in the business,” Solis said. “They weren’t just any crooks. They really knew what they were doing.”

Buzz’s Bees, owned by California apiarist Buzz Landon, had eight hives stolen early in the 2019 season. The California Rural Crime Prevention Task Force recommends that beekeepers brand their boxes with their name and state-issued registration number, keep them where thieves have less access, and use technologies such as GPS trackers to help find stolen hives. PHOTOGRAPH BY LUCAS FOGLIA, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC

Buzz’s Bees, owned by California apiarist Buzz Landon, had eight hives stolen early in the 2019 season. The California Rural Crime Prevention Task Force recommends that beekeepers brand their boxes with their name and state-issued registration number, keep them where thieves have less access, and use technologies such as GPS trackers to help find stolen hives. PHOTOGRAPH BY LUCAS FOGLIA, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC

A few weeks after the almond bloom, the detectives investigated a report about a suspicious discovery: a vacant lot on the outskirts of Fresno with bee boxes in varied shapes, colors, and designs stacked and scattered about. At the scene, they found what appeared to be a chop shop, where boxes were being sanded, repainted, and stenciled with the name Allstate Apiaries Inc., a business operated by Pavel Tveretinov, who was on-site tending to the bees.

Officers arrested Tveretinov, a 51-year-old Ukrainian immigrant, and later an alleged accomplice, Vitaliy Yeroshenko, 48. As the investigation progressed, the detectives uncovered similar operations at two other locations. They say they recovered some 2,500 hives worth $875,000.

Word about the arrests spread quickly. Soon beekeepers from all over the country were calling to find out if their missing equipment was among the recovered stacks.

“It was like a spiderweb,” Torres said. “One person would go and ID their bees, then goes home and tells their friends they saw some equipment of theirs. Then they come and see someone else’s, and it kept going like that.”

Kamron Koehne, a beekeeper in Butte County, California, recovered some of his 240 hives, all of which were uniquely branded with the numbers 42-14. “Every frame, every bottom, every lid, every pallet, everything was branded,” he said. “We’ve never sold a thing. If someone else has it, they either picked it up off the road or stole it.” Recently, Koehne was informed by the investigators that some of his equipment was found in North Dakota, where Tveretinov was allegedly making honey in the off-season.

Almond farmers generally rent two hives per acre to ensure adequate pollination. Fees range from $180 to $220. When the almond bloom ends, beekeepers truck their bees to other locations across the U.S. to pollinate more than 90 crops, from apples and avocados to blueberries and cherries. PHOTOGRAPH BY LUCAS FOGLIA, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC

Almond farmers generally rent two hives per acre to ensure adequate pollination. Fees range from $180 to $220. When the almond bloom ends, beekeepers truck their bees to other locations across the U.S. to pollinate more than 90 crops, from apples and avocados to blueberries and cherries. PHOTOGRAPH BY LUCAS FOGLIA, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC

Fresno County Deputy District Attorney Ryan McGinthy confirmed that Tveretinov and Yeroshenko are still under investigation and that more charges could be forthcoming. Tveretinov now faces 12 felony counts, including receiving stolen property and grand theft. Yeroshenko is charged with 10 counts of receiving stolen property. Court records show their preliminary hearing is tentatively scheduled for June 25. If found guilty, they could face prison time and thousands of dollars in fines. Both men maintain their innocence.

The California State Beekeepers Association offers a $10,000 reward for information resulting in the arrest and conviction of a bee rustler. Torres said apiarists should report thefts to authorities immediately and be vigilant to protect themselves against crime. That includes registering their hives with the state and minimizing opportunities for thieves to snatch equipment by placing hives away from access roads, behind locked gates when possible. Unique hive designs are easier to identify and recover after a theft. Some beekeepers are meticulous about branding every moving part in the hive. A growing number are taking advantage of technologies such as GPS trackers and camera systems that can send text alerts when hives are moved. “If this is your bread and butter, you’ve got to protect yourself,” Torres said. “I tell everyone to put GPS trackers on their hives.”

That’s just what Jeremy Kuhnhenn would like to do. But the units are pricey, as much as $130 apiece, he said, and right now money is especially tight. Back at Bulldog Honey Farms in North Dakota in March, all his cows were still in the barn, but there was extra space in the driveway. The loss of his hives meant he had to sell a 24-foot trailer and his wife’s 2010 Mustang to pay the bills. He also got a loan from the bank to keep things going while building back his bee colonies and preparing to make summer honey.

Next February, as the winter stillness settles over North Dakota, he’ll load his bees on a truck and again make the 1,800-mile trip southwest to California, where money grows on almond trees.

Wildlife Watch is an investigative reporting project between National Geographic Society and National Geographic Partners focusing on wildlife crime and exploitation. Read more Wildlife Watch stories here, and learn more about National Geographic Society’s nonprofit mission at nationalgeographic.org. Send tips, feedback, and story ideas to ngwildlife@natgeo.com.

Lucas Foglia's photographs have been widely exhibited and published in the United States, Europe, and Asia. Nazraeli Press recently released his third book,Human Nature . Follow him on Instagram.

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/2019/05/bee-thieves-cost-beekeepers-thousands/?fbclid=IwAR0nWJrPgam84cT3vd5GAZbA06vhwspRSDztBtVFxPBjugu9vBeLqpXK_XM

Honey Harvest Festival: June 22nd & 23rd, 2019

Free Admission! Join us for loads of fun at the Honey Harvest Festival in Central Park, Fillmore, CA.

Jump on board the Honey Bee Express for a train ride to Bennett's Honey Farm. Experienced LACBA beekeepers will be traveling with you, sharing stories of their exciting adventures in beekeeping and life with honey bees. Lot’s of fun for everyone!

http://californiahoneyharvestfestival.com

https://www.facebook.com/California-Honey-Harvest-Festival-354330011860218/

LACBA Meeting Monday, May 6, 2019

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Next Meeting
Monday, May 6, 2019
Time: Doors Open: 6:30PM
Meeting Starts: 7:00PM

Mt. Olive Lutheran Church 
3561 Foothill Boulevard 
La Crescenta, CA  91214


Agenda:

a.      Welcome

b.     Flag Salute

c.      Introduce the board Kevin Vice president, Merrill Secretary, ElRay Member at large and I your president.   Bill our treasurer passed away March 26th.   We will have a remembrance tonight at the end of the meeting.

d.     Select Raffle ticket seller, index cards for questions

e.      New Members and/or guests

f.       Thank Doug Noland for the treat du jour

First/Second year beekeeping - Speaker (7 minutes)
A selected beekeeper, Murry, to speak on how they got into beekeeping and their first two years of beekeeping. Specifically, on the mistakes made, the trials, tribulations, problems.

Topic Speaker
Rob Stone, Orange County Beekeepers
Reading the frames.  What you can tell about your bees from the clues on the frame.

Main Topic: Receiving your Packages

  • How’d it go?

  • How many gallons of syrup have they ate?

  • Have you opened them other than sliding lid for syrup addition?

  • April 25th  it’s been 11 days so should be inspecting yesterdayish eggs? Larva? capped brood?    What’s your plan?  Swarm control?

Meeting minutes: Mary Ann Laun

Secretary Report: Merrill Kruger

Treasurer's Report.    Jon Reese

Membership Report:  Cheryl Thiele

Website: Eva Andrews

Education: Mary Landau –  opportunities to go speak.   

I have a request.  Someone to go along to a community meeting about beekeepers and their pesky bees in the area.  I want some one to buffer me (and maybe me them) when I explain the beekeeping ordinance legalizing bees and how homeowners can move neighbors to comply with the ordinance. (Get the state apiary inspector’s number) explain bees foraging

Beekeeping 101: Keith Roberts. How did bee class go and what’s in the next class

Upcoming events:

  • Eaton canyon nature center is having a one-day event.  June 2nd.   Educate.  Observation hive sell honey. Partner with BASC.  Who will bring an observation hive?  We have honey 50 bears (?more bears?) and sticks  and sample spoons.  Need banner & pamphlets

  • Elray  Bennett’s honey Farm event. May be a donation to our club is in order for showing up and manning the train from Bennett’s

LA County Fair: Cindy Caldera

Upcoming Talk: Michele Colopy Pollinator Stewardship June 3rd  talk on Migratory beekeeping and why it is so hard to keep bees alive.

How can you increase the production of propolis in your colonies which will increase the health of the hive.  Propolis trap on the walls, saw cutting rips into the walls or roughing up walls with steel brush. 

What do you see, what are you doing this time of year?  Swarms? 

What’s blooming

Index cards Q&A

Next month:  Splits, mite check-treat, honey flow?

Raffle!!!

[You can now review LACBA Minutes and past LACBA Buzzings! Newsletters on our website on the LACBA Meeting Archives page : https://www.losangelescountybeekeepers.com/lacba-meeting-archives ]

Neonics Hinder Bees' Ability to Fend Off Deadly Mites

Science Daily Story Source: University of Guelph April 22, 2019

The self-grooming behavior of wild honey bees like these can be affected by pesticides.  Credit: University of Guelph

The self-grooming behavior of wild honey bees like these can be affected by pesticides. Credit: University of Guelph

A University of Guelph study is the first to uncover the impact of neonicotinoid pesticides on honey bees' ability to groom and rid themselves of deadly mites.

The research comes as Health Canada places new limits on the use of three key neonicotinoids while it decides whether to impose a full phase-out of the chemicals.

Published in the Nature journal Scientific Reports, the study revealed that when honey bees are infected with varroa mites and then regularly exposed to low doses of a commonly used neonicotinoid called clothianidin, their self-grooming behaviour drops off.

Without that self-grooming, bees are susceptible to mites that can also carry viruses that can quickly kill, said lead author Nuria Morfin Ramirez, who completed the research along with Prof. Ernesto Guzman, School of Environmental Sciences, as part of her PhD.

"When bee colonies began to collapse years ago, it became clear there wasn't just one factor involved, so we were interested in whether there was an interaction between two of the main stressors that affect bees: varroa mites and a neurotoxic insecticide, clothianidin," said Morfin.

"This is the first study to evaluate the impact on the grooming behaviour of bees."

Neonicotinoids, or "neonics," are the most commonly used insecticides in Canada. They are coated on canola and corn seeds or sprayed on fruit and vegetable plants and trees. But they have also been linked to honey bee colony collapses.

Varroa mites are also contributing to colony collapses and have been associated with more than 85 per cent of colony losses.

The mites kill bees by slowly feeding off their body fat and hemolymph (blood), and can also transmit a virus called deformed wing virus (DWV). One of the only ways bees can protect themselves is to groom aggressively and brush the mites off.

The researchers wanted to know whether the two stressors of pesticide exposure varroa mites were working together to contribute to bee deaths. The research team used bees from U of G's Honey Bee Research Centre and exposed them to a widely used neonic clothianidin, either on its own or along with varroa mites.

They experimented with three doses of clothianidin, all similar to what the bees would experience while feeding on flower nectar of neonic-treated crop fields, but all low enough to be considered sublethal.

"What we found was a complicated interaction between the mite and the pesticide that decreased the proportion of bees that groomed intensively, and affected genes associated with neurodegenerative processes," Morfin said.

Bees exposed to medium level doses of the neonic showed no changes in grooming behaviour, but when they were also introduced to varroa mites, the proportion of bees that groomed intensively was 1.4 times lower compared to the bees exposed to clothianidin alone.

When exposed to the lowest dose of the pesticide, the proportion of bees that groomed significantly dropped. The lowest dose was also linked to an increased level of deformed wing virus -- an effect not seen at the higher doses.

"These results showed a complex and non-additive interaction between these two stressors," said Guzman. "This study highlights the importance of reducing stressors that bees are exposed to, to reduce the risk of disease and consequently colony mortality."

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/04/190422112818.htm

'The Pollinators' Screens at the Newport Beach Film Festival

REMINDER:
The Pollinators screens April 27 and May 1, 2019
at the Newport Beach Film Festival

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The Pollinators is a cinematic journey around the United States following migratory beekeepers and their truckloads of honey bees as they pollinate the flowers that become the fruits, nuts and vegetables we all eat. The many challenges the beekeepers and their bees face en route reveal flaws to our simplified chemically dependent agriculture system. We talk to farmers, scientists, chefs and academics along the way to give a broad perspective about the threats to honey bees, what it means to our food security and how we can improve it.

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View Trailer Here

https://www.thepollinators.net/

[Filmmaker, Peter Nelson, is a beekeeper based in the Hudson Valley of New York and has also been a backyard beekeeper for 30 years. In addition to his new feature length documentary, The Pollinators, about bees and their importance to our food and agriculture system, he also produced, directed, photographed, and edited the beautiful short film Dance of the Honey Bee, which was featured on Bill Moyers Presents, and can be viewed here.]

Join Us THIS WEEKEND! LACBA Honey Tasting at the LA Zoo Spring Fling

LAST WEEKEND!

The Los Angeles County Beekeepers Association is hosting a ‘Honey Tasting’ (like a ‘Wine Tasting’) during the Los Angeles Zoo 2019 Spring Fling.

For six weekends beginning Saturday, March 23 through Sunday, April 28, 2019 (10AM-4PM). LACBA members will be on hand offering samples of a variety of local honeys, selling local honey, and providing education about honey bees and answering questions.

LACBA Member Schedule & Sign Up

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Pesticide Cocktail Can Harm Honey Bees

PHYS.ORG University of California at San Diego April 10, 2019

A honey bee collects pollen. Credit: James Nieh, UC San Diego

A honey bee collects pollen. Credit: James Nieh, UC San Diego

A recently approved pesticide growing in popularity around the world was developed as a "bee safe" product, designed to kill a broad spectrum of insect pests but not harm pollinators.

A series of tests conducted over several years by scientists at the University of California San Diego focused on better investigating the effects of this chemical. They have shown for the first time that Sivanto, developed by Bayer CropScience AG and first registered for commercial use in 2014, could in fact pose a range of threats to honey bees depending on seasonality, bee age and use in combination with common chemicals such as fungicides.

The study, led by former UC San Diego postdoctoral fellow Simone Tosi, now at ANSES, University Paris Est, and Biological Sciences Professor James Nieh, is published April 10 in Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

Pesticides are a leading health threat to bees. After years of growing concerns about systemic toxic pesticides such as neonicotinoids and their harm on pollinators, Sivanto was developed as a next-generation product.

Sivanto's "bee safe" classification allows it to be used on blooming crops with actively foraging bees. Currently, pesticides are approved for widespread use with only limited testing. Perhaps most importantly, the interactions between new pesticides and other common chemicals such as fungicides are not fully tested. Sivanto's product label does prohibit the pesticide from being mixed in an application tank with certain fungicides. However, bees can still be exposed to Sivanto and other chemicals (pesticide "cocktails") that are commonly used in adjacent crops or that persist over time.

Honey bee workers inside their nest. Credit: Heather Broccard-Bell

Honey bee workers inside their nest. Credit: Heather Broccard-Bell

Starting in 2016, after reviewing documents describing Sivanto's risk assessments, the scientists conducted several honey bee (Apis mellifera) studies investigating effects that were not previously tested, particularly the behavioral effects of chemical cocktails, seasonality and bee age. The scientists provided the first demonstration that pesticide cocktails reduce honey bee survival and increase abnormal behaviors. They showed that worst-case, field-realistic doses of Sivanto, in combination with a common fungicide, can synergistically harm bee behavior and survival, depending upon season and bee age. Bees suffered greater mortality—compared with control groups observed under normal conditions—and exhibited abnormal behavior, including poor coordination, hyperactivity and apathy.

The results are troubling, the researchers say, because the official guidelines for pesticide risk assessment call for testing in-hive bees, likely underestimating the pesticide risks to foragers. Honey bees have a division of labor in which workers that are younger typically work inside the colony (in-hive bees) and foragers work outside the colony. Foragers are therefore more likely to be exposed to pesticides.

"We found foragers more susceptible," said Nieh. "They tend to be older bees and therefore because of their age they can suffer greater harm."

The harmful effects of Sivanto were four-times greater with foragers than with in-hive bees, the UC San Diego study showed, threatening their foraging efficiency and survival. Both kinds of workers also were more strongly harmed in summer as compared to spring.

"This work is a step forward toward a better understanding of the risks that pesticides could pose to bees and the environment," said Tosi, a postdoctoral fellow and project manager at the Epidemiology Unit. According to the authors, the standard measurements of only lethal effects are insufficient for assessing the complexity of pesticide effects.

A honey bee forages on flower. Credit: Heather Broccard-Bell

A honey bee forages on flower. Credit: Heather Broccard-Bell

"Our results highlight the importance of assessing the effects pesticides have on the behavior of animals, and demonstrate that synergism, seasonality and bee age are key factors that subtly change pesticide toxicity," Tosi said. Cocktail effects are particularly relevant because bees are frequently exposed to multiple pesticides simultaneously.

"Because standard risk assessment requires relatively limited tests that only marginally address bee behavior and do not consider the influence of bee age and season, these results raise concerns about the safety of multiple approved pesticides, not only Sivanto," said Nieh, a professor in the Section of Ecology, Behavior and Evolution. "This research suggests that pesticide risk assessments should be refined to determine the effects of commonly encountered pesticide cocktails upon bee behavior and survival."

Sivanto is available in 30 countries in America, Africa, Asia and Europe, with 65 additional countries preparing to approve the product soon. Tosi points out that "because Sivanto was only recently approved, and no monitoring studies have yet investigated its co-occurrence with other pesticides after typical uses in the field, further studies are needed to better assess its actual environmental contamination, and consequent risk for pollinators."

"The idea that this pesticide is a silver bullet in the sense that it will kill all the bad things but preserve the good things is very alluring but deserves caution," said Nieh.
https://phys.org/news/2019-04-pesticide-cocktail-honey-bees.html

Explore further Pesticides and poor nutrition damage animal health

More information: S. Tosi et al. Lethal and sublethal synergistic effects of a new systemic pesticide, flupyradifurone (Sivanto ® ), on honeybees, Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences (2019). DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2019.0433

Journal information: Proceedings of the Royal Society B 

Provided by the University of California - San Diego https://phys.org/partners/university-of-california---san-diego/

Not Just Bumble and Honey: Ground Nesting Bees Impaired by Neonicotinoid Exposure

Beyond Pesticides March 19, 2019

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(Beyond Pesticides, March 19, 2019) Research is beginning to explain how systemic neonicotinoid insecticides affect often overlooked species of ground nesting bees. While much of the current scientific literature has focused on the impacts of pesticides to bumblebees and honey bees, a study, Chronic contact with realistic soil concentrations of imidacloprid affects the mass, immature development speed, and adult longevity of solitary bees, recently published in Scientific Reports, confirms that wild, soil-dwelling bees are at similar risk. As policy makers consider ways to protect pollinators, this research finds that uncontaminated soil is an important aspect of ensuring the health of wild, native bees.

“This is an important piece of work because it’s one of the first studies to look at realistic concentrations of pesticides that you would find in the soil as a route of exposure for bees,” said Nick Anderson, co-author of the study. “It’s a very under-explored route, especially for some of the more solitary species that nest in the ground.”

In order to study the impact of neonicotinoids on ground nesting bees, researchers used orchard mason bees and leafcutter bees as proxies, as they are easier to gather and rear in the lab, and have a similar ecology to ground nesting species. Roughly 300 bees of each species were taken into the lab as larva, and exposed every 48 hours to either 7.5, 15, or 100 ppb of the neonicotinoid imidacloprid. A control with no exposure was also established as a baseline. The authors explain that these amounts represent realistic exposure patterns that wild bees are likely to encounter in soil.

Researchers monitored the bees every day until they reached adulthood, recording longevity, development speed, and mass. Results show that male and female bees have different reactions to exposure. Female mason bees subject to the highest concentrations of imidacloprid live much shorter lives than those unexposed, while the authors had difficulty determining effects on male bees due to an equipment malfunction. Male leafcutter bees actually lived longer than control bees, but developed much faster and to a smaller size than bees not exposed to a pesticide. Female leafcutter development appeared to depend on the concentration of exposure, with the 15ppb group developing slower than other treatment levels and the 100ppb group developing two days faster than control bees.

The changes are likely a result of a hormetic response by the pollinators. This is a phenomena that results from exposure to pesticides; changes in development occur in order to compensate for energy the bee diverts into physical and biological protections from pesticide exposure. This has important implications for the long term health of ground-nesting bees. Any change in development that distracts or alters normal functioning can affect fitness in the field.

Previous research on the environmental fate of neonicotinoids shows that they have the potential to remain in soil from 200 days to as long as 19 years. This means that the type of chronic exposure tested in the current study could occur years or even a decade after an initial pesticide application. Although scientific literature on wild pollinators is limited, past research on mason bees revealed 50% reduced total offspring and a significantly male-biased offspring sex ratio.

The pollinator crisis is broader than honey and bumble bees, and extends not only to native, ground nesting bees but also butterflies and birds. The New York Times has identified the precipitous decline in insect populations over the past several decades as an insect apocalypse.

While bombastic “apocalyptic” language may be criticized for stoking panic and fear, even these warnings have been generally ignored by many policy makers, begging the question of what it will actually take in order to get action on this critical issue. We need to protect not only honey bees, but the wide diversity of native pollinators in order to maintain agricultural production, floral resources, and other ecosystem services that enable our environment, and ultimately human civilization to thrive.

U.S. Representatives Earl Blumenauer, Jim McGovern, and the 33 current cosponsors of the Saving America’s Pollinators Act are listening to these warnings, and have introduced legislation that would substantive address the threats pesticides pose to pollinators. But in order for change to happen, we need a significant outpouring of public support in favor of this proposal. Take action today by urging your member of Congress to cosponsor SAPA. And if you’re also interested in working on this issue in your state or local community, contact Beyond Pesticides at info@beyondpesticides.org or 202-543-5450.

All unattributed positions and opinions in this piece are those of Beyond Pesticides.

Source: University of Illinois Press ReleaseScientific Reports (peer reviewed journal)

https://beyondpesticides.org/dailynewsblog/2019/03/not-just-bumble-and-honey-ground-nesting-bees-impaired-by-neonicotinoid-exposure/

Work Being Done by the Industry to Insure Honey's Purity Will Continue

Catch the Buzz Honey Integrity Task Force April 25, 2019

Honey Integrity.jpg

Phoenix, March 19, 2019 /PRNewswire/ — An independent test of top selling honey products sold in U.S. grocery stores found zero instances of adulteration. In all, the 30 top selling products were tested, all of which represented the top items in the honey category as determined by Nielsen’s recent 2018 honey category research. These brands account for approximately 40 percent of the honey sold in the U.S. retail market. The study was commissioned by the Honey Integrity Task Force, an organization made up of representatives from the entire honey industry including importers, packers, producers, marketing cooperative members and an organization that specializes in honey supply chain management.

An independent third party company, RQA Inc., was hired to conduct the study. They pulled two sets of each of the 30 samples from retail shelves across the country. The honey sample brand names were masked, and the samples were sent to two independent German laboratories that specialize in honey testing, QSI and Intertek.

Each lab conducted two adulteration tests, the AOAC-approved 998.12, 13C-Isotope Mass Spectrometry and 13C-IRMS (EA IRMS)/ +LC-IRMS method for C4/C3 adulteration. Both tests are well recognized methods designed to determine if any sugar was added to the honey.

Of the 28 products that were labeled at retail locations as pure honey, the tests from both labs confirmed the samples were not adulterated. Two of the 30 products were actually labeled as honey blends, not pure honey. Both labs correctly identified them as “adulterated.” One was an imitation honey made with maltitol syrup and the other was a combination product with both corn syrup and honey.

“Consumers have every right to expect they’re getting pure honey when they purchase something labeled as such,” said Christi Heintz, Director for the Honey Integrity Task Force. “While the results of this study are very encouraging, we certainly aren’t declaring victory. We view it as validation that our efforts are working, and we hope it gives consumers more confidence in a system that’s been created to protect them. However, our work is never complete and we will continue to work hard and find newer and better ways to ensure the purity of our products.”

The Honey Integrity Task Force plans to conduct more independent testing of honey products in 2019.

Honey is one of nature’s original products, and it is made by bees with no additives or preservatives of any kind. It is one of many food products that can be vulnerable to what is known as economically motivated adulteration, a term used when unscrupulous players within the honey supply chain use cheaper ingredients to lower their production costs and then sell the product as pure honey. The honey industry has put safeguards in place over the years to minimize the chances that a product labeled as honey will be adulterated with sugar or syrup.

https://www.beeculture.com/catch-the-buzz-work-being-done-by-the-industry-to-ensure-honeys-purity-will-continue

Honey Bees of the Cathedral Notre-Dame De Paris Are Still Alive

Beeopic Apiculture April 18, 2019

Honey Bees of the Cathedral Notre-Dame De Paris

Honey Bees of the Cathedral Notre-Dame De Paris

4/18/19 Update: “Our bees from the Cathedral Notre-Dame De Paris are still alive!! Confirmation from the site's officials!!”

4/16/19 Photo of honey bee hives atop Notre-Dame

4/16/19 Photo of honey bee hives atop Notre-Dame

4/16/19 Post: An Ounce of hope!

”The Photos taken by different drones show that the 3 hives are still in place... and visibly intact!

As for the occupying, the mystery remains whole. Smoke, heat, water... we will see if our brave bees are still among us as soon as we have access to the location, which may take a lot of time. We would like to thank you for all your messages of support, which affect us very much.”

The Los Angeles County Beekeepers Association sends our love, prayers and best wishes to the people of France, that great country, and their brave little honey bees.

Stay updated on the honey bees of the Cathedral Notre-Dame De Paris on the Beeopic Apiculture Facebook page.

Propolis Power-Up: How Beekeepers Can Encourage Resin Deposits For Better Hive Health

Entomology Today By Andrew Porterfield April 16, 2019

Propolis is a pliable, resinous mixture that honey bees (Apis mellifera) create by mixing a variety of plant resins, saliva, and beeswax and which they apply to interior surfaces of their hives, namely at points of comb attachment and to seal up cracks and crevices on the interior side of hive walls. Greater propolis production is connected with improved hive health, and a new study finds a few simple methods beekeepers can employ to stimulate increased propolis production.

Propolis, a mass of plant resins built by honey bees inside their hives, has drawn attention in recent years partly because of its alleged (but as yet unproven) health benefits to humans. But, perhaps more important, it also shows health benefits to bees themselves. Created from resins and other oils and fats collected from trees, propolis helps preserve the structural integrity of a bee hive and protects against

Propolis has also been connected to benefiting honey bee (Apis mellifera) immune systems, saving energy that would otherwise have been used to protect against nest-invading beetles like Aethina tumida or parasites like the Varroa destructor mite, Nosema fungus, and viruses. In the past, some beekeepers have tried to keep their hives “clean” of propolis, believing it impeded with honey-making activities. Today, though, scientists and beekeepers have begun looking at encouraging propolis production to help sustain healthy hives.

In a new study published recently in the Journal of Economic Entomology, three researches—Cynthia Hodges, master beekeeper and co-owner of Hodges Honey Apiaries in Dunwoody, Georgia; Keith Delaplane, Ph.D., entomology professor at the University of Georgia; and Berry Brosi, Ph.D., associate professor of environmental science at Emory University in Atlanta—looked at four different ways to enhance propolis growth in bee hives. The team found that three surface modifications—plastic trap material on the hive wall interior, parallel saw cuts on hive wall interior, and brush-roughened wall interiors—were all equally capable of resulting in increased propolis production, compared to a fourth method, a control, in which the hive wall interiors we left unmodified.

The researchers divided 20 colonies into five apiary sites and randomly applied one of the three texture treatments or control to each colony. Bees in the colonies foraged for propolis resins from plants common to the Appalachian Piedmont in the southeastern U.S., including conifers, oaks, pecan, red maple, yellow poplar, and urban ornamental plants. The researchers then measured extensiveness and depth of propolis deposits in the hives over time.

Their results showed that any hive interior treatment significantly increased propolis deposition compared to a non-treatment control. Sampling over time showed propolis hoarding and accumulation, as well. None of the texture treatments showed significantly different results from each other.

While all treatments resulted in more propolis deposition, the researchers point to the roughened interior of the hive walls as the best method for encouraging deposition. In fact, leaving lumber naturally rough, with no planning or sanding, would provide a simple and effective surface for boosting propolis, they write.

“We come down in favor of roughened or un-planed wood,” says Delaplane, “because, unlike the plastic trap, it will not subtract from the bee space engineered around the walls and combs. What you see in our pictures is the work of a steel brush. Naturally un-planed wood would be much rougher and, I would expect, even better at stimulating propolis deposition.”

Other researchers have shown that propolis development has a strong effect on the members of the bee hive. These other investigations have shown that interior walls painted with propolis extract resulted in colonies with lower bacterial loads and with worker bees that expressed lower levels of immune gene expression. Sustained activation of immune genes comes at an energy cost, which can result in a reduction in brood numbers and pose a threat to overall colony health. Further studies have shown that reduced immune activation (and therefore less energy spent on fighting infection) comes from reduced pathogen loads in high-propolis colonies and not from immune suppression by propolis.

“I don’t know of any beekeepers deliberately encouraging their bees to collect propolis,” says Delaplane, adding that many keepers in the past have tried to clear propolis from their hives. “But today we know that this bias is misdirected. I believe encouraging propolis deposition is one more thing beekeepers can do to partner with biology instead of ignore it.”

https://www.beeculture.com/catch-the-buzz-propolis-power-up-how-beekeepers-can-encourage-resin-deposits-for-better-hive-health/?utm_source=Catch+The+Buzz&utm_campaign=5b74875a68-Catch_The_Buzz_4_29_2015&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_0272f190ab-5b74875a68-256252085

https://academic.oup.com/jee/article-abstract/112/2/986/5199372?redirectedFrom=fulltext

Bill to Ban Beekeeping in Las Vegas Blasted in Legislature

A Henderson state senator’s bill to ban beekeeping in urban and suburban areas ran into plenty of opposition before a Nevada Senate committee Thursday, April 4, 2019, in Carson City. (Las Vegas Review-Journal file)

A Henderson state senator’s bill to ban beekeeping in urban and suburban areas ran into plenty of opposition before a Nevada Senate committee Thursday, April 4, 2019, in Carson City. (Las Vegas Review-Journal file)

Las Vegas Review-Journal By Bill Dentzer April 4, 2019

CARSON CITY — A Henderson state senator’s bill to ban beekeeping in urban and suburban areas ran into — ahem — a swarm of opposition before a Senate committee Thursday.

Senate Bill 389 would prohibit apiaries — places where bees are kept — in areas zoned for two or more residences per acre. Republican Sen. Keith Pickard, who co-sponsored the bill, presented it with an amendment limiting its application to the state’s existing Africanized bee quarantine zone in Southern Nevada, which covers all of Clark County and the southern sections of Nye and Lincoln counties.

Even so, the bill’s hearing before the Senate Natural Resources committee landed like swatting a hive with a stick, as beekeepers, conservationists and local officials stung it repeatedly with barbed criticism.

The only thing thicker than the buzzing of opposition in the committee room were the bee puns.

“I see the place is swarming,” Pickard said as he started his presentation.

The senator said the bill was in response to resident complaints of stings near a Henderson address, where the owner maintained 12 hives.

“They had essentially been driven indoors as their backyards had been overrun by the bees, presumably by the neighboring property,” Pickard said.

He acknowledged that the bees could have come from elsewhere. But, children and pets had been stung, and dogs and horses had died, he said, citing media reports as his source.

In recent years, only one person in the state has died from bee stings — a Las Vegas exterminator who was stung countless times in 2016 while removing a hive without protective clothing.

Whatever the number of apiphobes — people who fear bees — might exist in Henderson or elsewhere, they did not turn out Thursday to support Pickard’s bill, leaving him its lone advocate. Even with the amendment restricting the bill’s applicable area to Southern Nevada, beekeepers and others from Northern Nevada, speaking in Carson City, joined opponents testifying by video link in Las Vegas to denounce it.

They included David Sharpless, whose well-hived Henderson home was the original source of complaints that prompted the bill.

Amid discussion of the finer points and benefits of beekeeping and hive-tending, opponents said the threat of Africanized bees — known as “killer” bees — spreading to more areas was not the fault of local apiaries.

“If my family can use our yard without our bees bothering us, then so can my neighbors,” Sharpless said, adding it was “ridiculous to think that banning backyard hives is a solution to this problem in any way.”

The city of Henderson turned out to oppose the bill, noting a more comprehensive local ordinance it passed in August that regulates apiaries without banning them outright. Under the city’s rules, Sharpless is permitted just two hives on his property, and he has complied.

Pickard’s bill “is too restrictive and conflicts with the city’s goal of allowing apiaries in to a variety of neighborhood types,” Henderson planning manager Eddie Dichter told the committee. Other localities, including the cities of Las Vegas and Reno, agreed.

As the buzz died down, Pickard remained the bill’s unstung hero, saying regulation of apiaries was properly a state — not local — matter, and that the Henderson apiary in question was still out of compliance.

“This is response to a real problem where kids were being stung in their own yards,” he said.

https://www.reviewjournal.com/news/politics-and-government/2019-legislature/bill-to-ban-beekeeping-in-las-vegas-valley-blasted-in-legislature-1633798/?fbclid=IwAR11qFJynK4ESkZrSrN_TKS_U9FAr6OWopKqDWnIYFwZnWWRKSBeg8LQAlw

Beekeeping Class 101: Sunday, April 14, 2019

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Sunday, April 14th

REGISTRATION REQUIRED
 Register by Thursday April 11th to receive class location and details needed to attend class.

 PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT REQUIRED

This class will take place in an apiary, therefore, protective equipment will be required.  If you do not have proper protective equipment you will NOT be able to participate in class and refunds will NOT be issued (all money collected for classes were a donation).

Class Topic: 

  • Get comfortable with handling your bees

  • Hive inspection techniques – what to look for on you first hive inspection after installing your package of bees or nuc of bees.

  • Be prepared for a quiz!  Do you remember what was covered in class last month?

https://www.losangelescountybeekeepers.com/beekeeping-class-101

Bill Rathfelder - Telling the Bees

Telling the Bees
of the Passing of
Bill Rathfelder

Bill Rathfelder bee border.jpg

Long-time member and treasurer of the Los Angeles County Beekeepers Association, our fellow beekeeper and dear friend, Bill Rathfelder, passed away on Tuesday, March 26, 2019.

Services

Funeral Service:

Date: Friday, April 12, 2019 Time: 11:00 am

Mt. Olive Lutheran Church
 3561 Foothill Blvd.
 La Crescenta, CA 91214
(Reception will follow the funderal service in the fellowship hall.)
Website: https://www.molc.org/ 

Gravesite Interment (next-day):

Date: Saturday, April 13, 2019 Time: 10:00 am

Glen Haven Memorial Park
13017 Lopez Canyon Rd.
Sylmar, CA 91342
Map: https://www.google.com/search?q=13107+Lopez+Canyon+Road%2C+Sylmar&rlz=1C1CHFX_enUS523US523&oq=13107+Lopez+Canyon+Road%2C+Sylmar&aqs=chrome..69i57.9288j0j7&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8

Bill ( on the left) enjoyed A magical day in the almond orchards with the bees and fellow beekeepers.

Bill ( on the left) enjoyed A magical day in the almond orchards with the bees and fellow beekeepers.

Bill’s fascination for bees went way back to childhood. He became an avid beekeeper and kept bees for over fifty years. Bill passed his interest in bees onto his sons when they were kids. He loved telling the story of how he built them a live honey bee observation hive and they kept it in their room.

Bill enjoyed a long career at Lockheed as an aeronautical engineer and retired after fifty years of service. He continued his interest in aerospace, traveled to many air shows, and kept us informed (though his many emails) as to what was happening the the starry starry sky and the universe beyond.

Bill became a member of the Los Angeles County Beekeepers Association in  1999. He was actively involved in our club events, volunteered at the LA County Fair Bee Booth for many years, and held the position of Treasure for over ten years - until his passing.

In 2000, the LA County Fair presented Bill Rathfelder with the Award for Best Hobbyist Beekeeper.

In 2012, Bill received the Los Angeles County Beekeepers Association’s Golden Hive Tool Award. The Golden Hive Tool Award is our President’s choice of someone who has shown great dedication to the club and thereby improved people’s experience of beekeeping. 

We love you Bill, and we will miss you - especially in the springtime, when the almonds bloom and the bees are a’buzzin!

A Prayer in Spring
By Robert Frost

Oh, give us pleasure in the flowers to-day; 
And give us not to think so far away 
As the uncertain harvest; keep us here 
All simply in the springing of the year. 

Oh, give us pleasure in the orchard white,
Like nothing else by day, like ghosts by night; 
And make us happy in the happy bees, 
The swarm dilating round the perfect trees. 

And make us happy in the darting bird 
That suddenly above the bees is heard,
The meteor that thrusts in with needle bill, 
And off a blossom in mid air stands still. 

For this is love and nothing else is love, 
The which it is reserved for God above 
To sanctify to what far ends He will,
But which it only needs that we fulfil.