What Are You Doing For National Farmers Market Week?


Bill's Bees joins the nation in celebrating National Farmers Market Week. The week of August 2 through 8, 2015 was declared “National Farmers Market Week” by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

Come celebrate your local farmers market. If you've never been to a farmers market - or you haven't been in a while, National Farmers Market Week is a perfect time to take a leisurely stroll through one of our Los Angeles County Farmers Markets.  

You'll find an abundance of the freshest California fruits, herbs, nuts, and vegetables locally grown and brought to market by farmers who care about their product. Take the opportunity to talk to some of the vendors and find out where and how their produce is grown. Perhaps they'll share with you some of their health benefits, cooking tips, or recipes.

Check out the homemade baked goods, jams, jellies, oils and vinegars, fresh eggs and cheeses, nursery plants and flowers.  

Buzz by Bill's Bees at these Los Angeles County Farmers Markets and pick up California's finest honey. Bill's Bees honey is 100% pure raw local honey; unfiltered, unprocessed. We harvest, extract, and bottle our honey right here on Bill's Bees Bee Farm. Our honey varietals: Alfalfa, Avocado, Buckwheat, Orange Blossom, and Wildflower are Just the Way the Bees Made It! Honey- Direct from the Beekeeper to You! Be sure to try Bill's Bees Caramelized Honey. And the Wildflower Honeycomb, ummm, is out of this world delicious. Pick up sticks - Bill's Bees honeystix, that is! If you're in a hurry, you can order Bill's Bees honey online and pick up at these Farmers Market

As you explore the market, see if you can identify the many ways honey bees are responsible for most of what you see. 

Did you know:
  • Bees pollinate 80% of the world's plants including 90 different food crops.
  • 1 out of every 3 or 4 bites of food you eat is thanks to bees.
  • The honey bee is responsible for $15 billion in U.S. agricultural crops each year.
  • Honey is the only food that does not spoil (bacteria can’t grow in it, and because of it’s low moisture content and low pH – honey can last indefinitely).
  • Bees maintain a temperature of 92-93 degrees Fahrenheit in their central brood nest regardless of whether the outside temperature is 110 or -40 degrees.
  • The honey bee is the only insect that produces food eaten by man.
  • Man’s first alcoholic beverage, mead, is a wine made with honey.
By shopping at local farmers markets you'll get to support local farmers, you'll get to know the people who produce your food, you'll get to enjoy food that's truly fresh and delicious. You'll maybe get to dance a jig with one of the local bands. Our Los Angeles County Farmers Markets are truly fun for the whole family. Enjoy!

Thanks,
Bill & Clyde
Bill's Bees
http://www.cdfa.ca.gov/is/i_&_c/cfm.html

Bill Lewis previously served two terms and Clyde Steese is currently on the California State Certified Farmers Market Advisory Committee. Bill Lewis is on the board of the Ventura County Certified Farmers Market Association.  Bill Lewis and Clyde Steese are long-time members and past presidents of the Los Angeles County Beekeepers Association. They are long time members of the California State Beekeepers Association. Bill Lewis was the 2014 President and is currently on the board of the California State Beekeepers Association. Bill and Clyde are both members of the American Beekeeping Federation.

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

Get ready for Class #5! Join us June 14th (9am-noon) at Bill’s Bees Bee Yard for Class #5 
of the Los Angeles County Beekeepers Association Beekeeping Class 101. (Bee Suits Required)

Honey Bee FrameJune 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 April.

Also, a beekeeper from Long Beach is supposed to be bringing a hive with a problem. We plan to diagnose the problem and fix it.

We may get a chance to take a look at an Africanized hive going through the re-queening process. For those of you who stayed very late last month, you may remember that the queen was introduced in a cage after removing the old queen. We now need to verify that she was accepted 'or not.'

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

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Italian Queen Bees For Sale

Italian Queen Bees For SaleOur Italian Queen Bees are mated with known gentle genetics and are ready to lay eggs. They are ideal for the hobby beekeeper or the commercial beekeeper needing to re-queen. 

Italian honey bees have been a favorite among beekeepers since they were first introduced to the New World in the 1850’s. They came to Los Angeles County in the mid-1850's and became the 'bee of choice' for local beekeepers. They are favored around the world.

Italian honey bees are known to be gentle of temperament and easy to work with. They readily build comb and are very prolific. They are diligent housekeepers, continually working to keep their hives clean and hygienic. Italian honey bees have less tendency to swarm. They are wonderful foragers, excellent honey producers, and are highly valued for their pollination services in many of the fruits, nuts, and vegetables that grace our table. 

Our Italian Queens come in a screened cage with attendants. Unmarked queens are $35. Queens can be marked for an additional $5. Just make sure you also order the 'Marked' Queen

You can place your order for Italian Queen Bees and pick up at Bill's Bees Bee Yard. 

Thank you!
Bill & Clyde
Bill's Bees

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New Harvest - California Orange Blossom Honey

Bill's Bees Orange Blossom HoneyBill's Bees New Harvest of California's finest Orange Blossom Honey is available now! Simply the sweetest, most heavenly honey you can buy. Tastes like your in the middle of an orange grove in springtime.  

Orange Blossom honey is considered one of the best honey's in the world.  In the spring we take our honey bees to the citrus groves of sunny Southern California where all you can see for miles is oranges trees, all you can smell is the heavenly aroma of waxy white orange blossoms, and all you can hear is the buzz of happy bees.

We bring our bees home six week later with hives bursting with sweet 100% pure raw, Orange Blossom honey. Our honey is unprocessed, unfiltered - Just the Way the Bees Made It! We extract, bottle, and distribute our honey direct from Bill's Bees Bee Yard. 

Bill's Bees Orange Blossom honey is lovely in tea.  You can drizzle it over berries and melon, pour it over pancakes, it's great for baking, and can be used in just about any recipe. 

Buy in our online Shop or at our local LA County Farmers Markets.   

Enjoy!
Bill & Clyde
Bill's Bees

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Beekeeping Class 101 - Class #4: How Are My Bees Doing?

Get ready for Class #4! Join us May 17th (9am-noon) at Bill’s Bees Bee Yard for Class #4
of the Los Angeles County Beekeepers Association Beekeeping Class 101. (Bee Suits Required)

Los Angeles County Beekeepers Association Beekeeping Class 101

In this hand’s on beekeeping class you’re going to learn 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.

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

http://www.losangelescountybeekeepers.com/beekeeping-classes-losangeles/

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California Orange Blossom Honey

Honey Bee on Orange BlossomIt was a glorious day in April and we were in the middle of a sunny orange grove in the heart of California’s citrus belt tending our bees. Life could not be sweeter for a beekeeper. The heady scent of orange blossoms made us weak in the knees as we moved from hive to hive, peeking inside, making sure our honey bees were healthy, happy, and bringing in nectar. The beauty of bees in an orange grove is they can fly for miles and miles and just bring back nectar from the waxy white blossoms. This way we know our honey is 100% pure California orange blossom honey. 

The season is short, only four weeks, then orange pollination is over until next year. One evening around dusk, after all the foragers returned to the hive, we loaded up our truck to bring our honey bees home. We’ve been coming up to Lindsay, California for years so our bees could be part of orange pollination and so we could reap the bounty of pure California orange blossom honey. It was a beautiful bittersweet evening, always is when you say goodbye until next year, and we got to reflecting on how the citrus industry all got started. We thought you might like to know a little bit of the story. “The History of Citrus in California” by Ching Lee originally appeared in the California Farm Bureau Federation's California Country magazine. We hope you enjoy the read!

Oh, by the way, the New Harvest of Bill’s Bees Orange Blossom Honey straight from the citrus belt of California will be ready for you at the Farmers Markets and here on our website on April 30, 2015. We hope you enjoy this year’s bounty!

Thank you,
Bill & Clyde
Bill’s Bees

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It's Earth Day

Bee PasturesEarth Day is an annual event, celebrated on April 22, on which day events worldwide are held to demonstrate support for environmental protection. It was first celebrated in 1970, and is now coordinated globally by the Earth Day Network,[1] and celebrated in more than 192 countries each year.[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earth_Day

On behalf of all of us at Bill's Bees we wish you a happy, peaceful Earth Day.

"Keep close to Nature’s heart ... and break clear away, once in a while, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.” -- John Muir 

The following is an excerpt from "The Mountains of California" Ch. 16: "The Bee-Pastures" (1894) by John Muir.


"When California was wild, it was one sweet bee-garden throughout its entire length, north and south, and all the way across from the snowy Sierra to the ocean...The air was sweet with fragrance, the larks sang their blessed songs...while myriads of wild bees stirred the lower air with their monotonous hum---monotonous, yet forever fresh and sweet as every-day sunshine."

To read "The Bee-Pastures" in its entirety, click here: http://goo.gl/5q38OO

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Beekeeping Class 101 - Class #3: What Goes On Inside the Hive?

Beekeeping Class 101You’ve got your bees! You’ve got your box! Now What?
Hopefully, you were successful in installing your bee packages. Now we’re going to take a look inside the hive. You’ll find the queen and her eggs and identify the progressive stages of growth. You’ll be able to compare the progress of your new bees to see how they’re doing. Join us on April 19th (9am-noon) at Bill’s Bees Bee Yard for Class #3 of the Los Angeles County Beekeepers Association Beekeeping Class 101.

"I liked the ABeeC's Beginning Beekeeping article by Phill Remick "Blind Leading the Blind," says Bill. It's reprinted below.

Blind Leading the Blind

by Phill Remick

"Recently I met an individual who is quite new to the world of beekeeping but blessed with rather good fortune in the financial realm. His more than adequate monetary resources have opened many doors for his new business, which revolves around keeping bees.

This particular person and I were having a bee-related discussion at my office when I brought up something he didn’t agree with. Suddenly his demeanor sharply changed as he told me, “I’ve read all the books and I’ve never heard that before. Are you sure?” I stared him straight in the eyes as we closed our conversation stating that having read ‘All the books’ doesn’t mean a thing when you arrive in the bee yard, because the honey bees have their own library.

Anybody can start a business or beekeeping in their backyard or in their town while reading ‘all the books’. Is that enough? The trick is to associate with reliable, trustworthy, knowledgeable sources; those capable of relating the subtle nuances honey bees display regardless of what is written about them. Learn from these individuals! Whether you’ve visited an apiary one time or several thousand times, there is always information to glean from our honey bearing friends and experienced beekeepers with their hive tools in hand. Their boots on the ground and years and years of seasonal experience out-knowledge any beekeeping book on the shelf.

For example: one of my students said he had been reading and reading - but now, after opening hives and listening to my explanations - he finally got it! It is one thing to read about bees, it is another to experience them and hear about them from a qualified beekeeper, capable of pointing out the differences of a particular beehive as the bees are flying around your veil… and comparing one beehive to another: a totally different venture than any book describes.

This is the verbiage of a beekeeping club whose comments I monitor: We are desperate for mentors! Anyone with at least a year or more of beekeeping experience is welcome to sign up to help new beekeepers.

To me, this is the blind leading the blind and is something to be acutely aware of IF you want to be more than a backyard ‘bee-haver.’

Beekeeping is detailed. It can throw you a curve ball or two, or three. In a yard of five hives each colony may present totally different problems. Your book related one or two of those issues. Guess what? Bees are not predictable, nor are the weather, water, forage, pests, pesticides or predators. Your book may not tell you all the subtleties that differentiate each hive - or how to address it. Books are books. Knowledgeable beekeepers have the experience to lead, teach and guide you through most of the variances that any hive can offer up.

Read a book? I highly suggest reading all you can! Is that all you need to do to be a good beekeeper? NO! Is a mentor who has only had one more season of experience than you what you need as a guide? I’m sure you can answer that by now.

A Stinging Rebuke

IF, and notice that I use the word ‘IF’ you want to be more than a bee-haver, you must not only read as much as you can, but align yourself with a proven, long-term, experienced beekeeper as a mentor and teacher. There is NO substitute for experience…and one season/new beekeepers just don’t have it.

Check out your ‘mentor.’ What is their experience? How many colonies have they kept? Is it one season of beekeeping or is 15-30 years of beekeeping? Have they taught before? How many people have they taught? Do they teach beginning, intermediate and advanced? Can they supply on-site hive management and analysis of any problems you may have? Or…are they just guessing?

If you ‘wing it’…your bees may die. If you decide to become a long-term, serious beekeeper, then you need to invest in a series of classes taught by an expert—not beekeepers that have only one or two seasons more experience than you do. A new beekeeper may want the notoriety of teaching a class, but their lack of long-term experience will not pay for your loss of hives.

Investigate who you align yourselves with. There is the time-worn but accurate expression, "You get what you pay for." You can get second-hand or even new books and try to teach yourself. You can buddy up with another newbie and together guess at what you are doing. Or, you can get years of beekeeping experience over the phone and even personal visits to your own apiary by an expert. You get what you pay for. Classes and years of experience are worth every penny if it gives you the first-hand, on-site experience that will help you to become the long-term beekeeper that can make a difference to the honey bees existence."

Phill Remick is a former commercial beekeeper who teaches beekeeping classes, offers year round apiary troubleshooting, hive management and sells beekeeping supplies near Albuquerque, NM. Contact him at www.NewBeeRescue.com.

The above installment of “ABeeCs” by Phill Remick, appeared in the April 2015 Newsletter ~ Kelley Beekeeping.

Bill Lewis and Clyde Steese have been keeping bees and teaching beekeeping for many years. To learn more about Bill and Clyde, check out our About Us page. Or, you can simply ask them at our next Beekeeping Class 101.

Enjoy your bees!
Bill & Clyde
Bill's Bees

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Beekeeping Class 101: Part 2 – What You Need to Start Keeping Bees

In our first Beekeeping Class 101 session we talked about the location for your hive, what the bees will need, and suggestions for informative reading for beginning beekeepers. We also went over the beekeeping equipment, supplies and protective clothing: What you need, and what you don’t!

Here’s the list of all you’ll really need to get started in beekeeping:

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 March 15th Los Angeles County Beekeepers Association Beekeeping Class 101 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. You may want to purchase what you need at that time from The Valley Hive

The April 19th 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.

If you haven't ordered your BEES yet, you can ORDER HERE!

We look forward to seeing you on Sunday!

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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Commercial Bees, the Unsung Heros of the Nut Business

By Tracey Samuelson, Featured on Marketplace, March 2, 2015 (Click here for Radio Interview) 17:15

Bill Lewis is waiting for the sun to set, the time of day when his bees crawl back inside the short white boxes that house their colonies. As the sky turns pink behind the San Gabriel mountains, on the outskirts of Los Angeles, Lewis climbs into the seat of a forklift and starts moving the hives onto the back of a flatbed truck. These bees are on the move.

Marketplace Bees return to their hive for the night

 


                                                                                               
"As soon as you get on the freeway and there’s air flowing past the entrances, all the bees run back inside,” says Lewis, of any stragglers.

Lewis, who runs Bill’s Bees, is taking about 700 of his hives on a road trip to the California’s Central Valley, where he’ll unload them across acres of almond orchards, working until 1 or 2 a.m. under the light of full moon.

All across the country, more than a million-and-a-half colonies are making a similar journey – traveling hundreds or even thousands of miles to pollinate California’s almonds. Farmers rent hives for few weeks because in order for almond trees to produce nuts, bees need to move pollen from one tree to another. 

No bees, no almonds.

“This pollination season there will be [some] 800,000 acres of almonds that need to be pollinated,” says Eric Mussen, a honey bee specialist at the University of California Davis. He says more than 100 different kinds of crops need these rent-a-bees, but almonds are significant for the number of acres that require pollination all at the same time. About 85 percent of the commercial bees in United States – which Mussen calls “bees on wheels” – travel to California for almonds.

The state supplies roughly 80 percent of the world’s almonds, worth $6.4 billion during the 2013-2014 season, according to the Almond Board of California.

“It’s a matter of numbers,” he says. “You’re trying to provide enough bees to be moving the pollen around between the varieties and whatnot. It’s just a huge, huge number of bees. The only way we can get a huge number of bees in one place at one time is to bring them in on trucks.”

In fact, bees are such an important part of the almond business that Paramount Farms, one of the biggest almond growers in the world, has decided they need to be in the bee business, too. The company just bought one of the largest beekeepers in the United States, based in Florida.

“Bees are so essential for the process of growing almonds,” says Joe Joe MacIlvane, Paramount’s president. “If we don’t have a reliable supply of good strong colonies, we simply won’t be a viable almond grower, so that’s our primary motivation for getting into the business.”

Renting bees is about 10 to 15 percent of Paramount’s production costs, but the motivation to keep their own bees isn’t simply economic.

“Many bee keepers are individual or family business and many people are getting on in years and we don’t see a lot of young people coming into the business,” says MacIlvane.

Additionally, bee populations are struggling. A significant number having been dying each year for the past decade or so, thanks to a mix of factors, from pesticides to lost habitat for feeding. Sometimes it’s difficult to know exactly what’s killing them.

“We had a large problem last year with bees dying in the orchard because of something that was going on during bloom,” says Bill Lewis. He thinks a pesticide or fungicide may have been to blame.

This year, Lewis and his bee broker are being pickier about the farms they’re working with, vetting them more carefully because those lost bees had big economic consequences – about $300,000 in lost income for Lewis.

Featured in: Marketplace for Monday March 2, 2015 (Click here for Radio Interview)

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