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Tag Archives | bee keeper

KCET: Urban Beekeeping: What’s the Buzz About?

via kcet.org featuring HoneyLover Sylvia Henry

For the first time in more than a century, the Los Angeles City Council officially legalized urban beekeeping in single family homes in October 2015, catching up with cities like Santa Monica, New York, and Santa Barbara in permitting backyard beekeeping.

But now, what will it take to create a new generation of beekeepers? Can computers and smartphone apps help make the traditional task of beekeeping more inviting?

There’s no question that backyard beehives face multiple challenges. One expert, Kelton Temby, calls them the four P’s: Pests, pesticides, poor management, and pathogens. He has come up with a high-tech monitor to gauge the health of beehives remotely. What does this technology have to offer aspiring beekeepers?

In this segment of “SoCal Connected,” reporter Cara Santa Maria introduces us to beekeepers from Los Angeles and Santa Barbara and finds out what backyard beekeeping is doing to support the honey bees of Southern California.

Featuring Interviews With:

Sylvia Henry, urban beekeeper
Kelton Temby, founder, EyesOnHives
Michael Stivers, beekeeper

Read full story · Posted in HoneyLove Buzz

Elementary School Students Start Beekeeping Club

The children went from being scared of the bees to being protective of them.

via urbanfarmonline.com

From what I remember, my elementary school didn’t have many clubs students could join, and none of the ones the school did have had anything to do with beekeeping. For students at ShadowGlen Elementary in Manor, Texas (about 12 miles outside of Austin), beekeeping is now an option … as long as they have their parents’ permission.

Amanda Lengnick-Hall, a teacher, has overseen beekeeping at other schools in the area and decided to bring it to ShadowGlen, myStatesman reports. Her previous students have all been high school age. This is the first year she’s teaching elementary school age children about beekeeping.

“Beekeeping isn’t very common, especially in schools, so I like that they push themselves, even if they’re scared,” Lengnick-Hall told myStatesman. “But once they get into the suits and get closer to the bees and they start learning more about them, they start becoming really protective of them. It’s really exciting to see them go from scared … to being advocates and getting an opportunity to try something they probably haven’t thought they wanted to try.”

For five weeks the kids studied the bees in an observation hive, according to myStatesman, while learning about pollination, worker and queen bees and colony collapse disorder. The students were then given beekeeping suits to wear for their first interaction with the bees.

Elementary School Students Start Beekeeping Club (UrbanFarmOnline.com)

“We got to pet the bees, and I got to have honey!” a third-grader named Aubrey Roberts told myStatesman.

The students in the beekeeping club are learning what to do and not do around bees and are also learning entrepreneurial skills by selling the honey the bees make and then using that money for their beekeeping program.

What do you think of a beekeeping club for elementary school students? Would it work in your city?

[read original article via urbanfarmonline.com]

 

Read full story · Posted in News

Edmonton beekeeper builds a better beehive

via edmontonjournal.com

A local beekeeper has developed a novel hybrid hive design to provide better living conditions for Edmonton’s urban bees.

Dustin Bajer’s hive is taller and narrower than the typical hive used in the beekeeping industry, helping it better imitate a hollowed-out tree where bees would be found in nature.

“I take the standard hive and tweak it a little bit, try to make it a little more ‘bee-centric,’ working for the bees,” Bajer said in an interview Thursday.

Bajer said his beehive design strikes a balance between the needs of bees and those of the beekeepers who look after them.

“I’m just trying as much as possible to let the bees do what they would be doing in nature.”

Bajer is selling his handmade hives on his website, dustinbajer.com, for $200.

Typical beehives have 10 removable frames that the bees use to build honeycomb.

Bajer’s design leaves two frames out. “Eight frames is closer to the inside of a hollow tree where you’d find bees naturally,” he said, “so they’re able to cluster together a little bit easier.”

Instead of weaving in and out between the frames, bees in Bajer’s hives can move vertically along the comb to get at the honey they need to eat during winter. For overwintering bees, the less they need to move, the better.

Frames in Bajer’s hives go into boxes that are smaller than the industry norm. While the volume of the hive and its weight doesn’t change, the beekeeper can handle the boxes more easily.

In April of this year, Edmonton city council amended its animal licensing and control bylaw to permit beekeeping in the city.

Edmonton is a good environment for keeping bees, said Bajer, who lives in McCauley.

“We typically think of cities as these barren concrete jungles without nature,” he said. But in reality, the biological diversity present in cities helps produce good honey.

“You can actually taste it, because you’re going to get pollen from willows, cherry trees, lilacs. There’s a little bit of something for the bees the entire growing season.”

Bajer said he tries to live as close as possible to nature in an urban environment. He wants his leafy backyard to feel like an oasis in the city.

“My ideal day is sitting on the deck with a glass of wine, just watching the bees go and forth.”

Bajer’s beehive design is his personal response to the needs of urban bees.

“First and foremost, beekeepers need to understand how bees behave, and to ensure that they have everything that they need in order to be able to do that.”

[view original post via edmontonjournal.com]

Read full story · Posted in News

READ: Herbicides, Not Insecticides, Biggest Threat to Bees

honeybees

By Bonnie Coblentz via agfax.com

People who care about honeybees know that insecticides and pollinators are usually a bad mix, but it turns out that herbicides used to control weeds can spell even bigger trouble for bees.

Jeff Harris, bee specialist with the MSU Extension Service and Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station researcher, said herbicides destroy bee food sources.

“When farmers burn down weeds before spring planting, or people spray for goldenrod, asters and spring flowers, or when power companies spray their rights-of-way, they’re killing a lot of potential food sources for bees and wild pollinators,” he said.

Harris said the direct effect of these chemicals on bees is so much less of an issue than their loss of food supply.

“Disappearing food is on the mind of beekeepers in the state,” he said. “That is even more important to them than losses of bees to insecticides.”

Johnny Thompson, vice president of the Mississippi Beekeeping Association, is a cattle and poultry farmer in Neshoba County who has been in the bee business for the last 10 years.

“Before we got back into bees, I sprayed pastures by the barrel to kill weeds. As a cattle farmer, weeds are a nuisance,” Thompson said. “I’m trying to grow grass for the cows to eat and not weeds, but as a beekeeper, those weeds are not weeds. That’s forage for the bees.”

Today, Thompson said he uses the bush hog more than he sprays herbicides to keep the food supply for bees intact on his land.

“If you kill everything the bee has for food, you may as well go in and spray the hive directly. The bees are going to die,” he said. “All the emphasis is being put on insecticide, but the greater risk to bees are the herbicides.”

He has made management changes for the sake of his bees’ food supply, but he recognizes the tension between current agricultural management practices and pollinators’ best interests.

“When you travel through the Delta or the prairie part of the state in February, the row crop land is purple with henbit blooming. By the end of March, it’s all gone because farmers burned it down with chemicals to try to kill everything in the field before they plant,” he said.

“They burn it down early because weeds in March or early April are a reservoir for insect pests to the crops that will soon be planted,” Thompson said.

Crops in the field, especially soybeans, are great sources of bee forage, and farmers and beekeepers can coordinate to protect both of their interests.

“We moved bees to the Delta this summer to make soybean honey,” Thompson said. “We’re working with the growers to try to put the bees in areas that are fairly protected and won’t get directly sprayed.”

But farmland is not the only place bees find food. Yards, roadsides, golf courses and power line rights-of-way are other places bees forage when plants are allowed to bloom naturally.

“We need to stop looking at them as weeds and instead look at these plants as forage,” Thompson said. “I can manage around the insecticides, but if herbicide use means there’s nothing for a bee to eat, there’s no reason to put a hive in an area.”

[view original post via agfax.com]

Read full story · Posted in News

BEEKEEPING LEGALIZED IN TORRANCE!

email via HoneyLover Jim Montgomery


The city council approved the ordinance last night, 6-1!!!!  All were in favor except for Councilmember Heidi Ashcraft.    (The link for the ordinance is here).  Beekeeping on single family residences is no longer illegal in Torrance. That is the good news, the bad news is the process is more complicated and costly than I would have liked.  I would have liked to see beekeeping allowed by right as is the case in Redondo Beach, but in Torrance we will have to submit a Special Animal Permit along with an $80 application fee.
In addition, when you apply your surrounding neighbors will be notified of your application and will have up to 10 calendar days to object.  If this occurs, your application will be suspended and you can appeal the objection to the Torrance Environmental Quality and Energy Conservation commission along with, I believe, a $70 appeal fee.
If there is no objection, or there is an objection and you win the appeal and the SAP is approved there is still one more potential hurdle. Anyone, anywhere in the city of Torrance can appeal the decision.  They would be on the hook for this $70 appeal fee, not you since the SAP has been approved at this point.   If there was no objection by your neighbors, the appeal goes to the TEQECC as above.  If it had been objected to and you won your appeal at the TEQECC, the appeal would then go to the city council to be heard.  The decision of the council will be final with no further ability to appeal either by you or anyone else.
A few of the council members spoke in favor of allowing beekeeping by right (Councilmembers Goodrich and Griffiths) but there was sufficient concern raised by others that in order to secure enough votes to pass the ordinance, the compromise to allow this objection/appeal process was put in place.  I spoke with the staffer who largely wrote the ordinance to voice my concern about this process that it is likely that at least one of your neighbors is going to object out of fear, spite or just because it is easier to say no than yes.  He acknowledged that but said if you follow the regulations of the ordinance and the objection is not based upon something substantial like a medically certified bee sting allergy, the thought is that the TEQECC or council would take that into account when hearing the appeal and likely approve the application.
The TEQECC voted 6-1 to pass the ordinance to council and the council voted 6-1 to approve the ordinance so I suspect that an application will be approved by them unless an objector has a significant objection and not just they don’t want a neighbor to have bees.
Take the time to read the ordinance and let me know if you have any questions.   The Special Animal Permit is not in place yet so I do not yet think you can apply, I will update folks when I hear more about the process to apply.
Thanks again to everyone who contributed to getting an ordinance passed to legalize beekeeping in Torrance!
Jim
Read full story · Posted in News, Yay Bees

READ: Swarm-less Spring and Summer?

By HoneyLover Susan Rudnicki

butterfly_plants

It is the natural reproductive urge of honey bees to build up numbers in the Spring in order to swarm and establish new colonies. This activity has other benefits for bees besides the increasing of numbers—it helps bees cleanse their colonies of carpetbagging diseases and pests by initiating a break in the brood rearing cycle. Many pathogens depend on a continuous occupancy of the brood nest and young bees, so when the swarm leaves the hive and takes up to two weeks to find a suitable cavity, draw comb, and the queen commences egg laying, the pathogens drop away.

But, as some of you may have noticed, there seems to have been a dearth of swarms this year. Many  hopeful newbees have put out swarm boxes, watching carefully for a swarm to move in, but it has sat empty. My normal connections with a bee swarm removal service that delivers the boxed swarms after a client call, have been dismal. Both Wendy and Sam, the contacts I work with to re-home these boxed swarms, have had no calls in weeks from the public in the South Bay. My own network with the city of Manhattan Beach and the listing with the Agriculture Department have yielded very few calls. Most of the swarms I am getting I am hiving myself rather than listing them for adoption.I have asked other beeks about their impression of swarming this year. Rob Stone with Orange County Beekeepers Club says not much swarming activity is being seen down South. Scott Davis in Palos Verdes has had half the number of swarm calls he would expect and thinks the issue is the prolonged drought.

So for the time being, the ongoing drought is affecting the forage sources of the bees such that fewer have the numbers to swarm successfully, are making less honey, and finding less pollen for raising brood.

Read full story · Posted in Newsletter Articles

Bee Informed Partnership Hive Scale Project

Susan BIP Scale
via HoneyLover Susan RudnickiHave you ever wondered how our local, LA Urban beekeeping differ from other areas of the country? I just read the other day that beekeepers in Wales expect about 25 pounds of honey per year on their hives—33 pounds is a bumper crop!   This does not seem like much. Our bees are active year ’round, making brood, honey and drones. This growth is very different from temperate climate bees and, as well, we are using Africanized hybrid ferals—a relatively rare population to survey. We now have a opportunity to participate in amassing data on our specific niche by the generosity of HoneyLove who purchased the SolutionBee Hive scale for me to monitor a hive in my backyard garden.

The project is managed by BIP (the Bee Informed Partnership)  and the hive data is automatically sent to their website as well as the SolutionBee team, the manufacturers of the hive scale (purchased from Brushy Mountain). The colony I selected came from a large swarm hived on April 27, 2014 which has proven to be super productive and nicely behaved. They now occupy 3 deep boxes and 2 mediums after seven months and have produced 60 pounds of honey.  I have also raided their brood nest for frames of brood for weak nuc hives. They are VERY strong bees and a pleasure to work.

The goal of the project is summarized below, as taken from the initial offering to participate sent out by BIP. I am having great fun with this, watching my bee’s growth graph going ever upward in weight gain. For the first time I am also having to learn how to use a cell phone—my son’s iphone—as the data recording and uploading device. Arghh!  —this is not my strong suit.

The Bee Informed Partnership is dedicated to helping beekeepers make informed data-based management decisions. Monitoring weight changes in colonies has huge potential to help us understand disease and parasite population growth, as well as the timing of management practices. We are seeking some innovative beekeepers who are willing to help us develop and beta test the hive scale tools’ ability to develop a system that will provide the best regionally specific management practices based on real time data. We are collaborating with NASA’s Honeybee Net, under the direction of Wayne Esaias, to test this exciting effort.

Why hive scales?

Hive scales weigh individual colonies at regular intervals, keeping track of strong nectar flows, swarming, and other conditions that affect management decisions.  Beekeepers may respond to rises in weight by putting supers on, inspecting colonies for swarm cells, and extracting full honey supers. Conversely, weight loss may indicate a need to feed colonies, robbing or indicate the colony has swarmed and is at increased risk of becoming queenless.

With new digital hive scales, beekeepers can track the weight of colonies without having to do a hive inspection. The scale we are using for our beta testing will utilizing Bluetooth with an Android device (e.g., Android phone or tablet), and a visit to the apiary is required to read the data. The data can be viewed on the device or be uploaded via cellular or WIFI communication. However, in the future these same scales when used with a data collector will allow for data to be automatically uploaded via cell phones or cell phone service data plans that allow for remote monitoring.

Armed with data from hive scales and other disease monitoring efforts, the Bee Informed Partnership hopes to make predictive models of honey flows and disease population growth. These models will help us develop an “alert system” that will make management recommendations based on real-time and regionally specific data.

As to my particular case,  I don’t expect the disease/pest monitoring aspect will be so relevant to my bee population. The varroa mite has not been a great destroyer of my bees in the past and they seem to manage the pest well on their own. When Spring comes, it will be interesting to observe the growth of the brood nest and respond with management techniques to overcome swarming tendencies.   One thing is sure—that time will be sooner than any other part of the country.

Read full story · Posted in HoneyLove HQ, Newsletter Articles

Honeybee Anatomy Lesson: Pollen-collecting

Pollen is the honeybee’s main source of protein, critical to brood production and development. Honeybees’ fuzzy, hairy bodies help foragers collect pollen. Some bees collect only nectar while other collect both nectar and pollen on the same trip.

Bees have several anatomical features that are uniquely devoted to efficient pollen-collecting.

Pollen combs are hairy parts on the inside of a bee’s hind legs that are used to remove pollen stuck on the body.

The bees then rub their rear legs together and rake the pollen into the pollen press on the opposite leg.

The pollen press is a joint that compresses pollen particles into a dense clump for more efficient storage while flying.

Pollen clumps are moved from the rake to the pollen baskets on the outside of a honeybee worker’s hind leg.

Pollen collected in the field is stored in the pollen basket until it is removed upon return to the hive. With all these body parts devoted to pollen, it must be pretty important stuff.

Read full story · Posted in Yay Bees

The Flowers of Winter

by HoneyLover Susan Rudnicki
Corymbia_ficifolia_1

Flower-nectar and pollen are the life’s blood of our bees and—even though we are in the month of November—much is in bloom in the city. Many plants from the Southern Hemisphere bloom in Winter and irrigation of city gardens blurs the droughty conditions naturally seen in the wild lands of California.

I’m often surprised by the relatively sparse knowledge beekeepers have about the plant resources that are so fundamental to bees’ health and prosperity. We must try to hone our observational skills on the plant life around us and what those blossoms are offering our bees. When we pay attention, we can easily conjecture what bees will be storing in their combs and how colonies may be growing. A LOT of beekeeping is taking a long view of a process and not so much a set of strict rules of what to expect.

Here are a few things in bloom I’m seeing now:

  • Melaleuca quinquenervia (Paperbark tree)—white, bottlebrush flowers and thick, squishy, peeling white bark.  There are several types of melaleucas.
  • Eucalyptus of various kinds—E. ficifolia (now called Corymbia ficifolia)—Huge trusses of flowers in shades of red, pink or orange. E. camaldulensis (Red River Gum)—white or pale yellow flowers. And E. globulus (Blue Gum)—white flowers.
  • Schinus terebinthifolius (Brazilian Pepper Tree)—Tiny but profuse white flowers.
  • Callistemon rigidus (Bottlebrush tree)—red, bottlebrush flowers.
  • Rosemary, Lavender and Basil—all have the small flowers bees seem to be most attracted to.
  • Citrus trees—lemon, orange, lime.

Take a look around and notice something new. What plants are attracting the bees’ attention in your neighborhood?

Read full story · Posted in Newsletter Articles

NEW! HoneyLove inspired Christian Science Monitor article

Chelsea and Rob McFarland lure people into a sweet science: urban beekeeping

Honeybee populations are under attack but the founders of nonprofit HoneyLove believe bees’ best future is in cities.

By Daniel B. Wood, Staff Writer

Butterflies and hummingbirds flit in the shafts of light behind Chelsea McFarland as she tells a group of about 20 interested volunteers – residents ages 6 to 66 from around this West Los Angeles suburb – what they can do to combat the dramatic worldwide depletion of the honeybee.

“Instead of one guy with 60,000 hives, our hope is that we can inspire 30,000 people to have two each,” she says to the volunteers who sit on folding chairs inside an auxiliary greenhouse on the grounds of Venice High School Learning Garden.

Between 1947 and 2005, the number of bee colonies in the United States declined by more than 50 percent, from 5.9 million to 2.4 million, she tells them. Researchers are now saying the once-mysterious disappearance is likely due to a combination of viruses, pesticides, and contaminated water, which makes bees more susceptible to everything from stress to parasitic mites. The bees pick up insecticides through dust and residue on nectar and pollen.

The recent Saturday gathering aims to reverse the trend. Ms. McFarland’s hope is that the information will ignite a passion within the listeners to (1) spread the word and (2) adopt a whole slew of ideas that can dramatically boost the bee population.

Those actions could range from becoming a full-time urban beekeeper – building and sustaining hives of bees and harvesting the honey – to planting a bee-friendly organic garden with bee-friendly plants, such as lavender, glory bushes, jasmine, rosemary, coreopsis, violets, thyme, wisteria, bluebells, trumpet vine, sunflowers, cosmos, and coneflowers.

Taking action also could be as simple as building a clean, outdoor, nonstagnant water source on one’s property.

“The best science tells us that the future of the honeybee is within the urban environment,” McFarland says. “Cities actually provide safer habitat than the farms and rural areas traditionally associated with beekeeping.”

That’s because urban areas offer more diversity of plants, and they are available year-round – not just in a single season, like most of the 100 crops that bees pollinate which make up about a third of the average person’s diet.

Bee pollination is worth $15 billion a year to the US farming industry, McFarland says. Bee depletion is also predicted to affect the beef and dairy industries by reducing the pollination of clover and other hay and forage crops.

The Committee on the Status of Pollinators in North America told Congress in March 2007 that if the disappearances – known as colony collapse disorder – continued unabated, managed honeybees would disappear by 2035.

That would also result in higher prices for nuts, fruits, and vegetables, and possibly increased imports of cheaper fruits and vegetables from overseas countries where CCD is less prevalent…

[continue reading on csmonitor.com]

Read full story · Posted in HoneyLove Interviews, News