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About Rob McFarland

Rob McFarland

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Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 35 total)
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  • in reply to: Honey Bees in aquaponic greenhouses #10290

    Rob McFarland
    Keymaster

    Hey Mike!

    Haven’t heard much about using honey bees in greenhouses, but I do know that bumblebees are used for pollination in commercial tomato greenhouse operations. The bumblebees are used until the crop is pollinated and then dispatched. They are non-native to the area (and carry parasites harmful to natives) so they can’t just be released. Don’t think that I would be comfortable confining a hive to a greenhouse for an extended period of time, I just picture bees repeatedly flying into the glass trying to get out.

    Let us know what you decide. Thanks!

    Rob

    in reply to: California bee primary in my backyard #10248

    Rob McFarland
    Keymaster

    I would get them set up as soon as possible, they are going to fill it up quickly. They’ll be oriented to that position, so when you move them (at night) you should put leaves over the entrance so they get the idea they need to reorient. Don’t wait to get a mentor!

    in reply to: California bee primary in my backyard #10246

    Rob McFarland
    Keymaster

    Thanks for sharing! Keep us posted on what they decide!

    in reply to: New Beekeeper – Question about Nucs #10199

    Rob McFarland
    Keymaster

    Hey Shane!

    Welcome to beekeeping! You sound like a great fit for the hobby and that you have all the right ideas. I wouldn’t worry about them removing pupae from the hive -typical hygienic behavior. They can detect infected brood and remove it from the hive. They could be infected with bacteria that wouldn’t be visible to the naked eye. If you notice a peculiar smell, that could be an indication of bacterial infection. The good news is that requeening and giving the hive a brood break is a solution to bacterial brood diseases. The drawback with purchasing nucs is that you inherit the previous keeper’s problems. If the bees have a history of being treated with miticides & antibiotics, transitioning to treatment-free might be rough. Since your living isn’t tied to your bees, you can afford to be experimental and give your bees the opportunity to grapple with these issues without our chemical / microbial interference.

    (Shameless self-promotion warning): Our book has lots of insights into keeping bees without treatments – http://savethebeesbook.com/

    Thanks Shane, keep us updated on your progress!

    Rob

    in reply to: Lesson learned the hard way at LA Honey #9292

    Rob McFarland
    Keymaster

    Hey Karim!

    Check out The Valley Hive in Chatsworth, a new beekeeping supply store that donates a portion of HoneyLove related sales back to the organization. You can order stuff on their website and have it delivered, while supporting a local business at the same time! We are big fans of LA Honey as well, but it is always great to have more options to better serve our community.

    Check them out:

    http://thevalleyhive.com/

    9633 Baden Avenue, Chatsworth, CA 91311
    (818) 280-6500

    Hope that helps!

    Rob

    in reply to: Interview with Les Crowder Top-Bar Beekeeper #9201

    Rob McFarland
    Keymaster

    The issues you mentioned were hot topics of debate at the CSBA Conference, and without question part of the discussion about legalizing beekeeping. The inspector’s POV is of course informed by the pending code amendments, and it’s his job to report back on his findings. To your point, this makes it imperative that we welcome him to visit our managed colonies and show two basic things: 1. our hive(s) have moveable frames which can easily be inspected for disease (basic rule of beekeeping in America), and 2. that our bees are not aggressive and a potential danger to our neighbors, pets, etc.

    Ruth and I sat on a panel at the Conference on building a better relationship between urban and commercial beekeepers. The points that were repeated again and again, in the panel and in the hallways, were in line with the inspector’s two main concerns. There was a fair amount of alarm and fear conveyed to me surrounding the use of feral bees, and the potential for a stinging incident to ruin it for everyone. We were all in agreement that no one should keep overly aggressive bees, especially new beekeepers in densely populated areas. The problem with feral bees is you don’t know when you are going to get the 5-10% which are too fierce. This is especially problematic for new beekeepers if they don’t keep up with learning and maintenance that goes into keeping bees. Without regular inspection hives can become ‘cross-comb’ which can make it much more difficult to inspect. These situation quickly get to a level new beekeepers aren’t equipped to deal with on their own.

    Poor management can make any honeybees angry, so when new beekeepers get in over their heads it can cause a real problem in an urban environment. Again, that is regardless of the variety of honeybees – none of them like clumsy beekeeping. So when you add the uncertainty of ferals into the equation, it just requires that beekeepers of all experience levels continue their educational process and mentoring so they have the skills and knowledge to deal with any situation. Urban beekeepers have even greater responsibility to be smart and safety-oriented. My position is to let people know the facts and let them make up their own minds, however I don’t gloss over any of the realities of beekeeping. HoneyLove can’t and shouldn’t say which bees you can and can’t use, all we can do is educate and present the fairest set of facts as possible. Education, education, education.

    The criticism from the commercial beekeepers was that people don’t take the responsibility seriously enough, and become what they call ‘bee havers’, who they argue only contribute sickly bees which spread pests and disease. While I think that is harsh and an unfair assessment of urban beekeepers generally, I have seen people fall into the ‘bee haver’ category early on in their learning process. The only antidote is to provide education, and to inspire people to stick with it. HoneyLove was created for this very reason: to educate and inspire urban beekeepers. It is a tall order, but education is the only way forward. Our goal is to make learning about bees fun and engaging so that people are more likely to stay out of ‘bee haver’ territory and practice this exciting hobby in the safest way possible.

    My experience has been that it takes 2-3 years for it to really start clicking, if you keep learning and pursuing mentorship. A certain amount of beekeeping is just learned by doing, through hours and hours of experience. I don’t think it is fair to expect that every new beekeeper is completely competent before they get a hive, but I do agree that, mandatory or not, beekeepers should complete a full beekeeping 101 course during their first season. We’re working on developing curriculum for exactly that, however we keep tripping up on the fact that we need somewhere in the city where we could conduct these classes with hands-on beekeeping experience.

    Thanks Susan!

    Rob

    in reply to: Yellow Tie Event! #8416

    Rob McFarland
    Keymaster

    Hi everyone!

    Just wanted to hop on this thread to ask all of you to help us get people out to the event – invite your neighbors, your friends, and anyone you think might enjoy a nice evening out for a worthy cause (who doesn’t enjoy good food, drinks,and music in an amazing setting?).

    We try to limit the fundraising events we do so we can focus on providing educational opportunities, which means we need the Yellow Tie Event to have the biggest impact it possibly can…and we can’t do that without your help. So please consider extending an invitation to everyone you can think of and help us pack the place. Throw em in the back of your car if you have to (yay carpools!), once they get there, I promise you that they will have a good time.

    Thank you,

    Rob

    • This reply was modified 5 years, 3 months ago by  Rob McFarland.
    in reply to: Dresser cutout bees in Torrance #8102

    Rob McFarland
    Keymaster

    I think it’s fine for now. I just want to make it clear that if people find out about a cutout or swarm here, that it doesn’t give them license to represent HoneyLove. I benefited from hearing about swarms/cut-outs on the bbk list; I learned SO much in the process but I did so ON THE JOB…pretty scary thinking back. I want to make sure we’re not dispatching unexperienced people into harms way, for their own sake and for those in the mix. I remember being fresh and eager and thinking ‘how hard can it be to cut-out some bees?’ and I just went for it. I’m damn lucky that things didn’t go disastrously wrong, and that I was the only one to get stung in the face 🙂 Beekeeping is a serious responsibility – especially in the urban environment – so I’m going to take every opportunity to remind people to be careful out there, be humble, be cautious, and don’t bite off more than you can chew.

    Thanks Susan.

    in reply to: Dresser cutout bees in Torrance #8093

    Rob McFarland
    Keymaster

    Just a reminder that if you choose to respond to this rescue call, you are not doing so as a representative of HoneyLove. Thanks!

    in reply to: Two swarm boxes for adoption #8091

    Rob McFarland
    Keymaster

    You’re able to update what time of day you get the digest in your profile settings.

    in reply to: Harvest clean-Up behavior. #7739

    Rob McFarland
    Keymaster

    Can’t say for sure why they would prefer the wax to the honey, but I do know that one way to tell if there is pollen/nectar flowing is if the bees ignore a free honey lunch. Their passing on the honey suggests that they are too busy foraging to care. Perhaps the wax retains more of the hive’s pheromones, making it irresistible.

    in reply to: Hello from Berlin – a couple questions #7531

    Rob McFarland
    Keymaster

    Hey Kevin,

    I think Michael Bush best articulates the reasons for the treatment-free approach. Here is an interview we did with him:

    Thanks!

    Rob

    in reply to: Unusual new hive box. #7506

    Rob McFarland
    Keymaster

    What a terrible website. Was curious how much they were charging for these, but it doesn’t say anywhere on the page. When you click ‘buy now’ it just jumps down the page to reviews of some chicken products. LOL. I think it seems like a decent product, although I probably wouldn’t buy one if for no other reason than it’s made of plastic.

    in reply to: Need help to safely move bees on same property #7479

    Rob McFarland
    Keymaster

    Hi Alice,

    My recommendation would be to get in touch with one of companies listed on our rescue bee page found here:

    http://honeylove.org/rescuebees/

    Thanks!

    Rob

    in reply to: need help removing bees from medium #7459

    Rob McFarland
    Keymaster

    Cat,

    Sounds like the bee escape is the way to go if you’re sure it’s all honey and no brood. If you use the bee escape, I would recommend putting a empty box in between to make room for the bees.

    Best,

    Rob

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