Beekeeping Class 101 - Class #5: Hive Management and Care of My Honey Bees

Honey bee frameGet ready for Class #5! Join us June 19th (9am-noon) at Bill’s Bees Bee Yard for Class #5 of the Los Angeles County Beekeepers Association Beekeeping Class 101. (Bee Suits Required)

June bee class is traditionally our class for hunting mites, but every class from now on out will have a segment on testing for mites, monitoring mite levels, and safe mite treatments for honey bees.

We will continue to follow the progress of packages installed in May.

With good mentoring, monitoring, and continued learning of beekeeping skills, you're off to a good start. Enjoy!

Happy Bee-ing!
Bill & Clyde
Bill's Bees

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Bill's Bees 100% Raw Sage Wildflower Honey

Bill's Bees 100% Raw Sage Wildflower Honey
NEW HARVEST - Bill's Bees 100% Raw Sage Wildflower Honey from the San Gabriel Mountains of California. Our Sage Wildflower honey has a very mild, almost buttery flavor. Try it on cereal, or in recipes where you want a light honey flavor. We designate honey as Sage Wildflower if it has the characteristic mild flavor, although it may vary in color from water white to light golden. Our Sage Wildflower honey will never crystalize. Many people who say they do not like any type of honey try our Sage Wildflower honey and love it! Bill's Bees Sage Wildflower Honey is 100% pure, raw, unfiltered, unheated, US Grade "A" honey. Sage Wildflowers bloom in the in the San Gabriel Mountains of the Angeles National Forest during the months of April and May. A product of the USA. http://billsbees.com/collections/honey/products/sage-wildflower-honey

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Beekeeping Class 101 - Class #4: Hive Management

LACBA Beekeeping Class 101 - Class #4

Get ready for Class #4! Join us Sunday, May 15th (9am-noon) at Bill's Bees Bee Yard for Class #4 of the 2016 Los Angeles County Beekeepers Association Beekeeping Class 101 series (Bee Suits Required). 

In this hand’s on beekeeping class you’re going to learn about hive management and what to look for to see how your bees are doing: 

  • Is my queen healthy? Or, am I queenless? 
  • Is there brood? Or, do I need to replace my queen?
  • Is there food? Or, do I need to feed my bees? What? When? How?
  • Are there Varroa mites? And if so, what do I do? 

For those of you who attended Class #3, we took our first peek inside the hive and had a look around:

We learned to approach a bee hive from the side, slowly and with care, and that it’s not a good idea to stand in front of the hive, blocking the entrance. Foragers, packed with nectar and pollen, were anxious to get in.

A few puffs of smoke from the smoker helped calm the bees before we opened the top cover. Once the cover was removed, we began our inspection inside the hive. As we removed the frames we leaned them against the side of the box. 
We worked from the outside frames first then moved toward the inside. While carefully removing the frames, we looked for the queen. She's larger and moves quicker than the worker bees and is usually going from cell to cell laying eggs. We finally found the queen surrounded by her 'court,' healthy and happy, and busy laying eggs.  

We saw where the worker bees had started building wax on new frames and were forming the wax into cells. Honey bee cells are the same size all over the world. Worker bee cells are the smallest cells, flat topped, capped with wax. This is called capped brood. Drone cells are bigger, taller, with a dome top. Queen cells are large, peanut shape and texture.

We learned that a beehive consists of three types of bees: Females: 1 Queen, Thousands of Worker Bees. Males: Drones. These three types of individual bees make up the collective hive which is an organization in itself. 

It was an amazing first look inside a bee hive; lot's of oooh's and aaah's, and finger's pointing: What's this? What's that? What are they doing?

Now, in Class #4, we’re going to go more in depth, and learn to recognize the signs of a healthy or troubled hive:

First, we’re going to find the queen and determine if she’s still laying eggs. If she’s not laying, she may be a dud, and we might need to replace her. And, how do we replace a queen?

Then, we’ll look for eggs and see if the larvae have been fed royal jelly. Worker bees feed royal jelly (a milky white substance) to larvae for the first three days. After three days, the worker bees feed the larvae pollen (bee bread). They will continue to feed pollen to the larvae until the larvae is capped off; usually around the 14th or 15th day. Worker bees emerge about 21 days after the egg is laid, drones 24 days, and a queen will emerge about 16 days after the egg is laid. We’re going to learn to identify the differing stages of larvae, locate the capped brood, and learn what the brood pattern reveals to us about the health of the brood and the hive. We'll also learn to tell the difference between capped brood and capped honey.

We'll cover what bees eat:

  • Why do bees need pollen: It is their protein. If bees are not bringing in enough pollen, you’ll learn to determine if you need to feed them a pollen substitute.
  • Why do bees need nectar: It is their carbohydrates. If the bees are not bringing in enough nectar, you may need to feed them sugar syrup. You'll learn how.

We’ll talk about Varroa mites. They seem to be out way too early this season. We’ll discuss various ways of testing for mites and what to do if your bees are infested.

Now, if you really want to get excited and get a jump on identifying the stages of larvae, check out this amazing time lapse video from National Geographic. Honeybee Metamorphosis: From tiny eggs to quivering pupae to hair-sprouting adults, worker honeybees develop at lightning speed thanks to a time-lapse video of 2,500 images. http://video.nationalgeographic.com/video/magazine/150415-ngm-bees-more.

Honeybee Metamorphosis - National Geographic

With good mentoring, monitoring, and continued learning of beekeeping skills, your bees are off to a good start. Enjoy!

Happy Bee-ing!
Bill & Clyde
Bill’s Bees

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Make Mom Feel Like The Queen Bee This Mother's Day!

Mothers Day Honey RecipesDelightful recipes for Mother's Day from the National Honey Board.

In case you lost track of time, like many of us do this time of year, Mother’s Day is coming up THIS WEEKEND. We love Mother’s Day because with all that our mother’s do – carpool, PTA, laundry, work, cook amazing meals – and every role they play – nurse, therapist, chauffeur, Superwoman – they deserve to have their very own special day to be celebrated and showered with love.

Now if you’re panicking about getting mom the perfect gift, we’ve got just what you need. Nothing says “I love you” quite like making something special with mom in mind, whether that’s a hand-printed card, home-made jewelry or a delicious meal. We’ve got seven honey recipes that prove that with just a few ingredients, a little time and honey, you can make mom feel like the queen bee she is!

Thinking about treating mom to the traditional Mother’s Day brunch? Why not host it at your house this year and enjoy a delicious honey breakfast on the patio? Try out these delicious recipes:

Honeyed Blueberry Breakfast Blintzes

Sunny Sunday Morning Mimosa

Maybe mom is into spa treatments; no problem! As a natural humectant and anti-microbial, honey is great for all kinds of homemade skin care recipes. Save some money and treat mom to an at-home spa day with these great beauty remedies:

Exfoliating Honey Mask

Aloha Honey Hawaiian Delight

Perhaps a nice dinner is more your thing. As one of few ingredients that span the entire menu, honey can easily be incorporated into every dish on the table. From salad dressing to marinades on meats, honey’s ability to balance and enhance flavors makes it an ideal addition to your menu. For a five-star meal at home, try these:

Broiled Scallops with Honey-Lime Marinade

Carne Asada with Honey Compound Butter and Honey Garlic Glazed Asparagus

And don’t forget to toast mom at the end of the day! What better way to celebrate than with our Queen Bee Royale? You can get that recipe here. For everything she’s done and will continue to do, we raise a toast.

Here’s to you, Mom! 

Posted by National Honey Board on May 4, 2016

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The Easter Bunny’s Got Nothing on Honey!

National Honey Board Easter RecipesPosted by National Honey Board on March 23, 2016 - 8:00 AM
Is there anything better than a beautiful spring morning? Blue skies, dew on the plants kissed by the perfect amount of sunshine, a slight breeze that reminds you that while we have survived the winter, it is still not quite summer weather.

One of our favorite spring holidays happens around this time, and this year Easter is at the end of March. Now whether you’re into the Easter egg hunts or sitting down for the Charlie Brown Easter Beagle special, there is one thing that every family enjoys, and that’s good food. From creating a perfectly balanced brunch and roasting the most succulent ham, to serving delectable side dishes and the sweetest desserts, you can do it all with honey!

Not only does honey add a touch of golden sweetness to every dish, but it also helps you to lock in moisture in meats and breads and balances the most complex of flavor combinations.

Below are our favorite Easter recipes that showcase the very diverse range of functions honey performs in the kitchen.

However you celebrate, do it with honey. Happy Easter!

We hope you enjoy these honey recipes from the National Honey Board. Happy Easter!

Bill's Bees

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LACBA Beekeeping Class 101: Class #1 - What You Need To Start Keeping Bees!

How exciting! Over 200  newbees (Yikes!) showed up for our first class of the 2016 season! What a gorgeous day to be up on the mountain at Bill’s Bees Bee Farm.

Bill and Clyde have hosted and taught the Los Angeles County Beekeepers Association Beekeeping Class 101 for many years. Once upon a time, there were only a handful of “newbees” interested in becoming beekeepers. Over the past few years, interest in beekeeping and the desire to learn more about these tiny honey bees who are so important to our survival, has grown around the world.

So now you want to be a beekeeper!!! You’ve come to the right place. We offer a great series of classes for both beginners and established beekeepers. We’ll walk you through a season of beekeeping; from where to get your bees, what you’ll need in the way of protective clothing, tools and equipment, how to care for your bees, and when and how to extract honey.

With the joy of beekeeping also comes the responsibility to your bees, your neighbors, and yourself. We teach responsible beekeeping for an urban environment, adhering to best management practices for the bees, the beekeepers, and the general public. Keeping bees can be daunting and there’s a lot to learn. As the beekeeper will tell you, “Ask ten beekeepers a question, and you’ll get eleven answers.” You'll make mistakes, we all do. But you’ve entered a wonderful community whose passion is honey bees. We’re here to help you become the best beekeeper you can be.

In our first class we discussed some of the preliminary planning considerations, tools and equipment, and beekeeping resources. In April you’ll be picking up your bees (hope you’ve got your bee order in, they’re going fast!). Below are some things to consider and plan for before you pick up your bees.

Location, Location, Location:

  • A location in the open, preferably with a southern or easterly exposure, for maximum sunshine throughout the day.
  • Away from animals and children, not along a foot path, or where there is direct traffic. 
  • Protected by a barrier (approx. 2 feet from - and facing a hill or wall) from wind, streets, etc. This will also force the bees to fly up and over cars, people, etc., thus causing them to be less of a nuisance and helping them to stay alive.
  • Ease of access (you don’t want to be lifting heavy supers of honey up and down stairs or across rocky fields).

What the bees will need:

  • A safe, natural habitat with a source for nectar and pollen. A typical honey bee colony forages more than 80,000 square yards to find plants and flowers with sufficient nectar (honey) the bees' source for energy and pollen (essential in brood rearing) the bees' source of carbohydrates. 
  • A nearby source of fresh water (within ¼ mile) so they don’t use the neighbor’s swimming pool. This can be a tank or barrel of water with rocks or floating boards or cork for the bees to land on. 
  • A safe, comfortable, home to live in. 

We suggest you buy a couple of good beekeeping books and read them all the way through, twice. Here’s some suggestions:

  • Beekeeper’s Handbook 
  • Keeping Bees in Towns & Cities
  • How to Keep Bees & Sell Honey
  • Beekeeping for Dummies
Beekeeping Supplies & Equipment (What You Need and What You Don't!)


Basic Essentials List for Beginning Beekeepers:

The Hive - Langstroth (from the bottom up):

Hive Stand - This is a platform to keep the hive off the ground. It improves circulation, reduces dampness in the hive, and helps keep ants, bugs, leaves, and debris from getting into the hive. It can be made of anything solid enough to support the weight of a full beehive. Wooden hive stands are available for sale but bricks, concrete blocks, pallets, and found lumber are just as good. It’s helpful to place the legs of the stand in cans filled with used motor oil to deter ants from climbing up the legs and into the hive. The stand should be strong enough to support one hive or a number of colonies. What is important to remember is that the hive needs to be at least 6 inches off the ground.

Bottom Board - Is placed on top of the hive stand and is the floor of the hive. Bees use it as a landing board and a place to take off from.

Entrance Reducer - Is basically a stick of wood used to reduce the size of the entrance to the hive. It helps deter robbing.

Hive Boxes/Supers - Come in three sizes: deep, medium and shallow. Traditionally, 2 deep boxes have been used as brood chambers with 3 or 4 or more boxes (medium or shallow) on top as needed for honey storage. Many beekeepers use all medium boxes throughout the hive. This helps reduce the weight of each box for lifting. If you have back problems or are concerned about heavy lifting, you could even use shallow boxes all throughout the hive. So, 6 boxes as a minimum for deep and medium. More if you wanted to use only shallow boxes. You will only need two boxes to start out, adding boxes as needed for extra room and honey storage.

Frames and Foundation - For each box you have for your hive, you will need 10 frames that fit that box. Frames can be wooden with beeswax foundation or all plastic with a light coating of beeswax. The bees don't care and will use both equally well. Foundation is intended to give the bees a head start on their comb building and helps minimize cross comb building that makes it difficult to remove and inspect. You can buy all beeswax foundation or plastic foundation with a thin coat of beeswax applied to it. Alternatively, you can provide empty frames and let the bees build their comb from scratch but that can be a bit tricky and it takes the bees longer to get established. 

Top Cover: The top cover can be as simple as a flat sheet of plywood. We prefer the top covers made with laminated pieces to make a flat board and extra cross bracing to help hold the board flat for years. Plywood tends to warp over time. You can also use a telescoping cover, but they require an additional inner cover. 

Paint - All parts of your hive that are exposed to the weather should be painted with (2 coats) of a non-toxic paint. Do not paint the inside of the hive or the entrance reducer. Most hives are painted white to reflect the sun, but you can use any light colors. Painting your hives different colors may help reduce drift between the colonies. If your hive will not be in your own bee yard, you may want to paint your name and phone number on the side of the hive.

Tools & Supplies:

bee brushBee Brush - A beekeeper needs a brush to gently move the bees from an area of observation when looking for a queen and when harvesting frames of honey. Use a brush that has long, soft, flexible, yellow bristles. Don’t use a dark, stiff brush with animal hair, or a paint brush.

duct tapeDuct Tape - You’ll have lots of uses for duct tape, might want to keep it handy.                                                                                                                                                             




hive toolHive Tool - A hive tool is the most useful piece of beekeeping equipment. It can be used to pry up the inner cover, pry apart frames, scrape and clean hive parts, scrape wax and propolis out of the hive, nail the lid shut, pull nails, and scrape bee stingers off skin. The hive tool has two parts: the wedge or blade and the handle. Hive tools are often fitted with brightly-colored, plastic-coated handles which helps the beekeeper locate the hive tool while working. 

FeederFeeder - You may want to have a feeder with sugar syrup to give your new bees a boost in their new home. Its the helping hand they need to get started building comb.

SmokerSmoker - Examining a hive is much easier when you use a smoker. Use it to puff smoke into the entrance before opening the hive and to blow smoke over the frames once the hive is opened. This helps the beekeeper to manage the bees. Cool smoke helps to settle the bees. Smoking the bees initiates a feeding response causing preparation to possibly leave the hive due to a fire. The smoke also masks the alarm pheromone released by the colony’s guard bees when the hive is opened and manipulated. Smoke must be used carefully. Too much can drive bees from the hive. A smoker is basically a metal can with a bellows and a spout attached to it. We prefer to use a smoker with a wire cage around it. A large smoker is best as it keeps the smoke going longer. It can be difficult to keep a smoker lit (especially for new beekeepers). Practice lighting and maintaining the smoker. Burlap, rotted wood shavings, pine needles, eucalyptus, cardboard, and cotton rags are good smoker fuels.

Protective Clothing:

Bee suitBee Suit - For the best protection, full bee suits are recommended. But whether or not a suit is used, a beekeeper's clothing should be white or light in color (bees generally do not like dark colors and will attack dark objects). Avoid woolen and knit material. You will want to wear clothing both that will protect you and you don’t mind getting stained (bees produce waste that shows up as yellowish marks on your clothing). You’ll want to close off all potential to getting stung by wearing high top boots or tucking your pants into your socks and securing your cuffs with rubber bands or duct tape.

Bee Gloves - Long, leather, ventilated gloves with elastic on the sleeves help protect the hands and arms from stings.

 Hat and Veil - Even the most experienced beekeepers wear a hat and veil to protect their head, face, and eyes from bee stings. Wire veils keep bees farther away from the face than those made of cloth. Black veiling is generally easier to see through. Make sure the veil extends down below and away from your neck.

That’s it!

Once you have all you need, expenses can be kept to a minimum. With the right care, equipment, tools, and clothing will last a long time. If your hive becomes overcrowded, just add another box or two. Or, you may find you’ll want to split your hive – then you’ll have two! If honey is overflowing, just add another box or two. And, great! – You’ll have lots of yummy honey!!

A note on protective clothing: There was a time when we could safely visit our bees wearing little protective clothing. With the arrival of Africanized bees into the Southern states we've come to realize the potential danger of an aggressive hive and have learned to exercise caution when approaching our bees. A once gentle hive could be invaded and taken over by a small aggressive swarm in a few days. These bees are unpredictable and vigorously defend their hives. Protective clothing such as a bee suit, veil and gloves will help keep stings to a minimum in the bee yard if worn correctly. As beekeepers, it is our responsibility to help curtail the danger to our bees, ourselves, and others.

Here’s a list of suppliers:

The Valley Hive
Los Angeles Honey Company
Dadant & Sons
Mann Lake Ltd.
Walter T. Kelley Co.

We primarily work with the Langstroth hive but you can also use the Top Bar Hive or the Warre Hive. We'll be happy to share our experience with these two styles of hives, as well. 

The 2nd Class on March 20th will be held at The Valley Hive (9633 Baden Ave., Chatsworth, CA 91311 tel: 818-280-6500). The topic is: Woodworking, Building Your Own Hive and Frames. You'll also learn how to care for your hives and equipment. 

The April 17th class will be back at Bill's Bees Bee Yard for a grand adventure.  We'll be taking a peek at what goes on inside the bee hive. This class is so exciting. You'll learn all about the worker bees and their 'jobs,' the drones and their 'job,' and you'll learn to find 'your queen'!  BEE SUITS ARE REQUIRED for this class and all the rest of the beekeeping classes. Any and all information, changes, scheduling, etc. is posted on the Los Angeles County Beekeepers Association Beekeeping Class 101 page and on the LACBA Facebook page.

Happy bee-ing!

Thank you, 
Bill & Clyde
Bill's Bees

http://billsbees.com/
http://www.losangelescountybeekeepers.com/ 
http://www.losangelescountybeekeepers.com/beekeeping-classes-losangeles/ 
https://www.facebook.com/losangelesbeekeeping

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Bees in Boxes: How Did They Get In There?

Bill's Bees A three-pound package of bees"In a little over a month from now you'll be picking up your bees. Here's some helpful tips from the American Honey Queen - Buzzing Across America blog on what to do when you get YOUR BEES home! ~ Bill Lewis, Bill's Bees 

You may have seen beehives near orchards or along fields in your area, but how did the honeybees get in there? Let’s take a look at how bees arrive in the spring and how they are transferred into the hive. 

After a beekeeper has pre-ordered their honeybees for the year, they will get a phone call in spring saying the bees have arrived. They drive to the bee supply store to pick up their packages of honeybees. The packages are small wooden boxes with wire mesh on the sides and a can of sugar syrup hanging from the top. Depending on what size package the beekeeper ordered, there are either two pounds or three pounds of bees in the package. There are approximately 10,000 bees in a three-pound package, plus one queen bee in her own cage. This queen has recently been introduced to the bees in the package, which means they all need a few days to get to know each other. By the time the package arrives, all the bees have become accustomed to one another.



When the beekeeper gets the package of bees home, it is time to install it in the hive they have prepared. This is usually one deep hive body with frames inside. A deep hive body is the biggest box we can use for a hive. Frames are wooden frames with a sheet of beeswax or plastic with the honeycomb pattern molded into it, which offers a building guide for the bees to create wax honeycomb. Just like other types of farmers, different beekeepers might have different ways they take care of their animals. Here is one method to install the package of bees in the hive.

 Bill's Bees Deep Hive BodyBill's Bees shaking bees into the hive

First, remove a few frames from the middle of the hive and set them aside. Remove the can of sugar syrup from the package. This can is usually empty because the bees were hungry on their truck ride to their destination! Slide the queen’s cage out of the package, make sure she is alive, and tuck her in your pocket for now. Pick up the package of honeybees, flip it over quickly, and start shaking the bees out into the middle of the box. The package can be tilted from side to side to help the bees shake out through the circular hole. Once almost all of them are out, set the package down near the hive. If there are still a few bees left inside, the package can be left near the hive until they find their way out.

Bill's Bees queen in a her cageNext, gently return the frames to the hive. Be careful as you lower them into the box, making sure you are softly spreading the bees out and not squishing them. Once all the frames are back in the box, it’s time to release our queen! One way to release the queen is called direct release, meaning she will leave her cage immediately. Using the hive tool, the staple holding the wire mesh on the queen’s cage is removed. The wire mesh is held down with a finger until we are ready to release her. Lower the queen cage as deep as possible in the hive between two frames, then pull back the wire mesh from the front of the cage. Keep a close eye on the queen to make sure she walks out onto the frame and does not try to escape!

Put the inner cover on the hive. Many beekeepers will offer the bees sugar syrup after they first arrive to ensure they have a close source of food, especially if not many flowers are blooming and producing nectar. This is simply one part water and one part sugar mixed in a bucket. The bucket has tiny holes drilled in the lid, so when it is flipped upside-down the bucket will not leak continuously. This bucket feeder is placed partially over the hole in the inner cover. A medium box is placed around the feeder to protect it from weather, and the outer cover is placed on top of that.

Bill's Bees started building comb 

At this point, our bees have been removed from their package and transferred to their new home. Once they find the food and are comfortable with their surroundings, they will get to work!

Thank you to 

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How the Honey Bee Crisis is Affecting California's Almond Growers

"I read the following article and attended this meeting. I thought it was a good informative meeting. It was great to hear from some of the top researchers investigating bee problems. I really appreciate their taking time out of their busy schedules to share with us. Yes, in 2014 President Obama put out a Presidential Memorandum instructing  federal agencies to create a national strategy to promote the heath of honey bees and other pollinators. A lot of work is being done. However, to my knowledge, there was never any budget set aside to fund this effort. Dr. Jeff Pettis said it best. "You need to talk to some of the people down in Washington, D.C., and get a few more of us out in the field that care about the industry," and fund this effort." ~ Bill Lewis, Owner, Bill's Bees Inc.

Los Angeles Times
February 26, 2016
By Robin Abcarian

How the Honey Bee Crisis is Affecting California's Almond Growers

The last of the evening light had disappeared, stealing the incandescence from a million pink and white almond blossoms. Inside the modest conference room of a research facility once operated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the South Valley Bee Club convened its regular meeting.

More people than usual — 51 — turned up Tuesday. A sprinkling were out-of-staters, part of a huge migration of keepers and their bees who trek to California each year from as far as Florida and New Jersey for what has been called the planet's largest "managed pollination" event.

Without bees, there can be no almonds. In fact, each of California's nearly 1 million acres of almond orchards requires two hives. But California beekeepers have only a quarter of the needed hives.

As almond acreage has exploded and bees have been in some kind of crazy death spiral, growers have been in a mild state of panic over where to find enough little pollinators.

As a result, they are willing to pay dearly — up to $180 to rent one hive for a couple of weeks.

"None of us wants to get into the bee business," said Los Banos almond grower Joe Del Bosque, whose bee budget is $250,000 this year. "Bees are livestock. It's like owning a dairy. A lot of work."

Hence, the annual bee migration.

"We're the whores of agriculture," said Dave Hackenberg, a Pennsylvania beekeeper, who rents his hives on a national circuit, starting with almonds in February, ending with Brazilian peppers in Florida in the winter.

After the bee people finished their barbecue dinner, they turned their attention to two of the world's leading bee researchers.

David De Jong has studied bees in Brazil for more than 35 years, and is an expert on a particular mite that plagues bee colonies. Jeff Pettis of the USDA's Bee Laboratory in Beltsville, Md., has been instrumental in determining why bee colonies are in such steep decline. 

Bottom line: There's no single cause for the weakening or untimely demise of the tiny creatures that make the almond harvest possible. The idea of a mysterious "colony collapse disorder" has seized the public imagination — who among us does not love bees, or at least the idea of bees? — but it's mostly a misnomer.

Bee failure has multiple, probably interlocking causes, many of which are still poorly understood. Bees are vulnerable to pesticides and pests such as the varroa mite, fungicides and fungus, and a host of viruses that cause them to fly slowly, or act demented or die prematurely.

Pettis has looked at the effect of high and low temperature spikes on queens during transportation, and drone sperm motility issues.

What else hurts bees? "Cellphones," joked one beekeeper. "Aliens," said another.

Finally, Jack Brumley, a Porterville-area beekeeper with 40 years of experience, could take it no longer.

"We've been talking about this problem for what, 10 years?" said Brumley, 72, who told me he lost more than half of his 9,000 hives this year. "How many more academic papers do we have to pay for? How many more PhDs do we have to educate before we get some information that I can take home and use?"

Knowing laughter rippled through the room.

"Don't bark at me," Pettis said. "You need to talk to some of the people down in Washington, D.C., and get a few more of us out in the field that care about the industry."

In 2014, President Obama, acknowledging the critical state of bee colony health, ordered the creation of a national strategy "to promote the health of honey bees and other pollinators." The goal is to reduce honey bee colony losses to no more than 15% within a decade.

Needless to say, people in this room aren't holding their breath.

On Wednesday morning, on the edge of a fragrant almond orchard south of Bakersfield, I donned a rather fetching white bee suit and joined two University of Maryland entomology students collecting bees for testing by the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

Kneeling on the ground, Nathalie Steinhauer, a doctoral student, stuffed pine needles into a baffled smoker, lit them, then gently puffed smoke into square wooden hives to calm the bees, which, to put it mildly, can get agitated when disturbed.

I had learned this the hard way a few days earlier, when I visited one of Del Bosque's orchards in Firebaugh, north of Fresno, with his longtime beekeeper, Rosemary Grissom. As I approached a hive to shoot some photos, Grissom ordered me to back away from it quickly but calmly.

I was wearing black, a color that displeases bees because it makes them think bears, their natural enemies, are coming for their honey. I didn't move quite fast enough.

Let's just say I now have a visceral understanding of what it means to have a "bee in your bonnet." There is no mistaking the sound of an angry bee, especially when it's stuck in your hair.

Steinhauer's colleague, Meghan McConnell, a master's student, gently pried frames from their hives. Each frame was covered in thousands of cells, filled with honey, or pollen, or larvae or pupae. Being careful to avoid hurting the queen bee, who is essential, McConnell shook each frame into a pan, then scooped up a quarter-cup of bees into a live-bee box or a jar of alcohol.

Back in the lab, the live bees will be tested for viruses; the dead ones for pests. With a narrow stick, she painstakingly collected pollen to test for pesticides.

"Look here," McConnell said. "You can see two babies being born."

In a corner of the frame's spectacular swirl of brown, orange and yellow, two new bees poked their teensy heads out of hexagonal cells.

In a day, they'll be at work in the almond blossoms. In a few weeks or so, they'll be dead. In a perfect world, the hive would live on, ad infinitum. These days, survival is always in doubt.

Anyway, next time you pop a handful of almonds, thank a bee.

http://www.latimes.com/local/abcarian/la-me-abcarian-bees-almonds-20160226-column.html

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Happy Birthday George Washington!

George WashingtonBorn on February 11, but celebrated on February 22, 1732, ~ George Washington was a Beekeeper ~Beekeeping Superstition in Appalachia Related to His Birthday. 

Via Historical Honeybee Articles - Beekeeping History 

George Washington was a beekeeper: There are two brief mentions in George Washington’s papers indicating that bees were raised by him at Mount Vernon. 

In 1787 George Washington, then President, had a 'bee house' built on the grounds of Mount Vernon, a replica with three straw skeps was built in 1947. 

Members of the old gum fraternity in the highlands of Appalachia say, "that if you expect your bees to do well, you must always salt them on Washington's Birthday." - Bee-keeper's magazine. October - 1880, page 215

The beekeepers in Appalachia, held the belief that gums must be moved an inch or two on Washington's birthday (February 22), "else calamity will follow" and "the bees will all die." When asked how many gums they have, they don't know, If the visitor proceeds to count, he is stopped immediately, and told "there are about so many" -for to count the colonies and know the exact number would invite calamity; and so common superstition seems to have gotten hold of these splendid highlanders, the purest of the pure descendants of our forefathers.- Gleanings in bee Culture, Volume 44, April - 1916, page 250. and The ABC and XYZ of bee culture Amos Ives Root, Ernest Rob Root, circa. 1917.

Mount Vernon is Abuzz with BeesMount Vernon is Abuzz with Bees! It’s always Mount Vernon’s goal to keep the estate as true to original form as possible. That’s why we jumped at the chance to get our own apiary, where several hives of bees will produce honey, just like in George Washington’s day. http://youtu.be/k5BLQi-MoAg  

"I hope you've enjoyed this little history of our first President of the United States and his honey bees. Now I'm headed out to the apiary to 'salt my bees.'" ~ Bill Lewis, Bill's Bees

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Bill's Bees Hosts LACBA Beekeeping Class 101

The Los Angeles County Beekeepers Association Beekeeping Class 101 - 2016 Season begins Sunday, February 21, 9:00AM-Noon, at Bill's Bees Bee Yard - http://goo.gl/maps/Hz7NS

We teach responsible beekeeping for an urban environment, adhering to Best Management Practices for the bees, beekeepers, and general public. All are Welcome!

Dates
: Classes are held the 3rd Sunday of each month: February 21, March 20, April 17, May 15, June 19, July 17, August 15, No class in September, we're sharing our experience and knowledge at the LA County Fair Bee Booth), October 16.

Time: Classes held from 9am-noon. Please arrive 15 min. early so we can start on time.

Cost: Beekeeping Class 101 is free to LACBA members. Membership is $10/year, per household. New members are welcome to join at the classes. Non members $10/class.

Registration: You do not need to call, email, Facebook, or contact us in advance to register for class. Just show up. It is not required that you attend all the classes but it is suggested you do in order to get the most benefit out of learning to work with bees. 

All the information you need including the 2016 Schedule, Location, Directions, etc. in order to attend the LACBA Beekeeping Class 101 is posted on the LACBA website:
http://www.losangelescountybeekeepers.com/beekeeping-classes-losangeles/.

What an awesome experience to be standing on a mountain top, blue skies above, thousands of tiny honeybees buzzing all around us, and our 'heads in a beehive.' As we learned; focus, presence of mind, slow movement, and a profound love of the honeybee became a new experience in our lives. It is one of our greatest gifts as beekeepers. With experience, perseverence, and passion may we all become bee keepers rather than bee havers. The bee keeper is truly blessed. May we be forever grateful for the 'Gift of the Bees'.

It's a great class! Hope to see you there!

Bill & Clyde
Bill's Bees

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