bees and beekeeping, honey inside and outside the kitchen and the environment

Los Angeles Beekeeping membership available through LosAngelesCountyBeekeepers.com

Inspiration to learn more about honeybees came from watching the Documentary:  More Than Honey on Netflix

IMG_1339-2Right now, I have a Beverly Hills rental and bees in a wall hanging beehive or beehive boxes in my courtyard, may be out of the question.  Convincing my landlord and neighbors, I don’t think will be so easy.  Until I get a proper place for beekeeping, I can learn about them. Once a month Los Angeles Beekeeping Association has beekeeping classes during bee season.  A yearly membership is required. All classes are available at no charge with this membership. You will need a bee suit to attend some classes and you cover the cost of that and other class related items should you choose to build bee boxes and purchase bees, etc.

Bees hanging on the wall inside The Hive retail store
Bees hanging on the wall inside The Hive retail store

FUN FACTS:

sign at THE HIVE (frame building class)
sign at THE HIVE (frame building class)

****I will continue to update as each class happens****

Class #1: Feb 21st:  Introduction to Beekeeping and LA County rules..

I was unable to attend this class (will get caught up)

Class #2:  March 20th Woodworking Class at The Hive

The Hive Local Honey & Gifts is easy to find. I park as instructed and make my way to several ladies seated at a long banquet table. They collect my membership forms and fee.

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Everyone in class sits on chairs, towels or benches in a semicircle.  I find a small step stool ladder not in use hiding behind a tree. I use this. Instructor introductions begin. This is a demonstration class and before we get started…Keith Richards leading the class begins with “the secret of good carpentry: GLUE.” Per his request, we all (everyone in class) raise our right hand and promising aloud “I solemnly swear, I will use wood glue in every wood application involving beekeeping, therefore, my box will not fall apart when I have 80lbs of honey stinging insects. Thank you” We all clap. Demonstration begins.

Proper wood, nail sizes and such are introduced in this step by step demonstration.

“..Brushes and wet rags… Be mindful of where handle is and begin putting glue in every joint. Maximize surface area. Glue in every finger joint,.. major joints and in right places and directions… Titebond III Ultimate Wood Glue is strong and water proof..”

bee box frame
bee box frame

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wire used for bee frames
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nails and frames on working table
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was frame being built
Plastic frame
Plastic frame
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every three years change frames.. bees don’t care whether the frames are plastic, wax and wood..

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example of colorful bee boxes

I learned about a new style hive. “Free flow” hive..

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flow hive sample

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Related Article:  New Flow Hive with Honey Tap

I cant wait for the next class!

 

Fun Fact: Honey Bees are very “detailed oriented”

Fun Fact:  There are 900 cells in a bees brain

 

Bee Suit arrives!

THE HIVE sells Bee Suits. On-line ordering is easy and the suit arrives in less than two days even with FEDEX two day shipping selected.

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Bee Suit and Gloves

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tried on my Bee Suit..my best photo ever?
…tried on my Bee Suit..my best photo my me of ever? (iphone6)
Hangs until Bee class
Hangs until Bee class

Class #3 April 17 What goes on inside a Bee Hive and beekeeping 101 (Bee Suit required) at Bill’s Bees Bee Yard

I am so excited! Bee suit, directions and Nikon in hand I am ready to go.  I start my Volvo and drive. Almost there, but am I?  I have been driving on this long windy narrow road surrounded by mountains for a while and if I stop to look at my phone for directions, I think Wild West horse riding bandits could appear. Speaking of horses, with the horse crossing signs every few miles and passing the California Polo Club, I am for sure in Equestrian territory and no sign of any kind regarding bees or Beekeeping Class, in sight.  I even turn around knowing I am going to be a little late as it is a few minutes before 9:am and don’t even know now if I am in the right place or programmed directions correctly. The quick detour confirms I am in headed in the right direction. Getting started again to find class, I finally see a sequence of numbers nailed to a wooden post wearing a mailbox as a hat, the address. I make the turn into what seems like a driveway after seeing a small sign with the words Bee Class and an arrow indicating direction. Passed it last time. A more narrower windy road than the last. I continue to drive. I see the sign. Bill’s Bess Bee Yard. I made it! I am a twenty-four minutes late to class. I get our of my car quickly put on my bee suit.  I join the first group I see. Ruth is the instructor. She is giving a demonstration on using the smoker. I use my iPhone at first to video and take pictures as I don’t want to be distracting. Once the gloves are on and we are at the hives, I realize, I need the Nikon. Standing at the hives, thinking about getting the camera from my car, my feet start to feel extremely sweaty in my second skin PRADA Sport boots. I wear them because I don’t  need to tape my bee suit at the ankles. The heat, lingering smell of smoke from smoker demo and me inside my bee suit and now the added buzzing sound of bees as the hives open, I get a little panicky. Bees are flying around me. After a few breaths, and a quick walk back toy car for the Nikon, I am suddenly at the front of class, snapping happily and listening to Ruth discuss the beehive keeping 101.  The bees are hard at work and as we move frames in and out of boxes, sometimes rotating and passing the frames from student to student. The bees are unphased.  They remain hard at work.  Their peach fuzz textured stripped coats and transparent veining wings glistening in the sun light. These honey bees are beautiful. They are very beautiful! The buzzing sound suddenly becomes a song as if they are whistling, in this case buzzing, while they work.

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I love this!!..beautiful tree..On my way to Bee Class!! then, in the distance, I see Bill’s Bees Yard Signs

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we walk this path to the hives
we walk this path to the hives
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base of bee hive boxes. something is there as small bee swarm investigates

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Ruth is removing frame with hive tool

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Ruth’s smoker
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while looking at Royal Jelly bees are being born

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these honey bees are unfazed as the frame is removed for viewing and I snap photos..

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propolis. made by bees as an extra seal (glue) for extra reinforcement to each beehive box. propolis is also used to treat cold sore, genital herpes in some varnishes. as i understand, even some toothpaste..

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everything in order before we leave to go to next lesson
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bees and The Queen and Introducing the Queen to the hive
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demonstration lesson on introducing the Queen to the hive  ..it takes about three days or so for the Queen to be introduced
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carpenters crayon. use this to write on bee box. works best as gloves are big

Class #4 May 15th Hive Management (Bee Suit required)

Forbes Five Star Standards to greet a guest within thirty seconds upon arrival. Drinks made from the bar to the bar should be delivered within four minutes and five minutes from the bar to a table. After the orders are taken. Rent has a due date. Qualifying for certain marathons, a specific time required and by age.  This morning for bee class I check the map at 12:45am. Beekeeping suit and Nikon in “go bag”. Alarm set 7:am. Meditation twenty minutes after waking up. Leave by 8:am. Class starts at 9:am. All time and yet lately I never mind the time. After leaving my apartment at 8:10am, already later than 8:am goal, for Bill’s Bees Bee Yard and making my way to the final Exit 8 toward Osborn/Lake View with fifteen minutes to spare, I pass it. Next exit, I exit. Turn around and make my way to the 118 West to Osborne. Exit. For forty minutes I drive back and forth on Osborne. I have run marathons in the rain in four hours and twenty two minutes. I remind myself of this when I get frustrated and think I can’t do something or find my way. Finally, at 9:30am Osborne leads me to Van Nuys Blvd and make my way to the 5 freeway towards Los Angeles. I hate to be late. And lately that is all I have been. Never mind the time, I guess. You think I would be able to find a place I have already been to before. I don’t make Beekeeping class. I give up. Turn around and come home. In June, I will go. I will not work the night before and into the early morning hours. I’ll leave thirty minutes earlier than required. Again, I will dress in my favorite gray t-shirt from American Apparel and my Rockstar grey motorcycle jeans and PRADA Sport boots.  I am home now. 10:08am. Happy Sunday.  I am sorry that I didn’t get to see the bees today. I was really looking forward to it.

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Bees, I am sorr I didn't see you today! Next month.. I don't have picture of class so, I selfie.
Bees, I am sorry I didn’t see you today! Next month..
I don’t have picture from class so, I selfie.

Next class June 19th, 2016.. Stay Tuned..

Class #5 June 19th Pest Management Lesson One

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***will continue to update with additional photos, video and text in the coming days***

I found it! Beekeeping class. Got lost for five minutes, saw a peacock, debated taking his picture seeing as he was minding his own business and I had somewhere to be, so I decide to mind mine. Saw a gentleman out front, thanks to peacock. He gave me the turn information that I missed. I am early and happy to be in class.

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Topics of today’s class:

Beekeeping in the heat, Checking and treating for mites and Queen Bees

We all stand around waiting to for everyone to arrive. As soon as class begins, discussion of heat is topic number one. Staying cool in the heat while beekeeping. Beekeeping suits have large pockets and are great for carrying bottles of water,  Also water saturated sponges are great under beekeeping hats.  We segway into how our own beekeeping is going. I listen.  Someone mentions that they knew someone who’s bees started to produce red honey.  This person’s bees were eating red hummingbird food and honey became red.  This is important to know when treating for mites. We break into groups. I go with Bill’s group this time, it is his yard after all.  Lecture lesson starts. There are a few kinds of treatments for treating hives with mites.  Thymol. Can be used in warmer temperatures and don’t have to worry about replacing the Queen. Thymol will give a bit of flavor to the honey so it is best to have honey that you want to harvest harvested first before treating with this.  Harvest honey then treat.  Best treatment and a bit harder to get is the Apivar.  Apivar strips.  This one has a chemical in it called Amitraz that is also an ingredient found in dog collars.  White plastic translucent plastic strip. Only use one in a two packet, which is a half dose.  It is too hot for the hive. There again, harvest honey first.  Mites do eventually become resistant.  Alternating treatments is recommended.  Mites are transported on bees from hive to hive.  The mites do not fly.  Keeping bees with gentile genetics will more than likely get mites but this is safer than keeping a hive with aggressive bees.  The average cost to treat each hive is about 5$.

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This is the first hive to be opened under a big tree. Big trees provide shade. Given the 110 degree temperature, we were all happy.
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Looking for the Queen Bee begins as we don’t want to put her in the alcohol to test for mites..
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First scrape to look for mites on larva to determine if test is needed. If four or five mites are spotted in the same hive test is needed.
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larva looking for mites

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glass jars, sadder top with screen bucket and measuring cup for mite checking with alcohol
First alcohol test of the day
First alcohol test of the day
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about a half a cup of bees are placed into one side of the jar and flooded and drown after a another shake, the alcohol is then drained to the other side of the jar and any mites will be spotted in alcohol.. R. I. P. honey bees

Video of  a test on another hive with clean alcohol. Checking for the Queen takes the longest. Making sure not to put her in the alcohol.  (Hope you can hear all as it is really windy)

More about the Queens..

Queen Bees from all over. Italy, Hawaii and California.. breed and purchased and stored in small boxes..
Queen Bees from all over. Italy, Hawaii and California..
breed and purchased and stored in small boxes..

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inspecting a Queen
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bees sometimes get transported in boxes like this
write on beed hive boxes with carpenter's chalk
write on beed hive boxes with carpenter’s chalk

 

Class #6 July 17th  Harvesting and Extracting

Today, unlike the other days, I found bee class without a problem.  So easy in fact that I don’t even understand why I had trouble in the first place.  I will say I am a bit disappointed today with class in that I didn’t get to see any bees, except for the one flying around the lady sitting in from of me.  There was no honey to be harvested.  Next month  should anyone in class with hives and needed to harvest one to ten frames or how many ever are offered the opportunity to bring them to class for honey harvesting.  Topics for discussion were written on the easel holding a large pad of paper with a red marker.  We all decided that general hive maintenance, including record keeping, more on mites and other pest control should be discussed. Also, Queens. There is always much discussion on the Queen.  It is cooler today than last month.  There is a slight breeze. The energy is peaceful..

Class #7 August 21 More on Pest Management and hive health and raising bees

I am out of town for this class.

Class #8 October 16th Keeping Bees alive through dearth

Today is very very cloudy and cool.  Bill is put of town in Hawaii for a beekeeping conference with the Western Apicultural Society. So, sadly, I won’t be able to include a few interview questions, yet. Clyde is leading class.  Class starts with an open forum conversation and a bit of a lecture style with questions and answers.  It seems it is too cold to open the hives today.  Bees hate wind and temperatures under 50 degrees fahrenheit.  Today is windy.  We do not want to upset the bees.  I had a feeling and I didn’t bring my camera.  I should have despite.  The landscape gorgeous and I am not one to take pictures of a mountain or a tree unless directly related to some food agriculture item (in the end all related) but next time. Today all shots are the iPhone 6.  Besides, I know before leaving home that I need to take notes as this is the last class and I missed a couple of classes.  While I still do not have my own honey bees, I want to learn as much as I can.

The class conversation starts with business of beekeeping and when better to pay for honey or pay for bees to go into the almond farm (for example), distinguishing the difference between American and European bacteria and how to tell the difference through sight and smell and how to treat, aggressive bees and replacing the queen.  Weather, wax moths and other fun facts about honey bees are also discussed.

Regarding the American foulbrood, it is untreatable.  The smell of ammonia and almost chocolate colored gooey larva.  They should be bagged, bees included, and burned.  In California, taken to a landfill for discarding.  European foulbrood larva, while tan and light brown and slightly dehydrated, seemingly can destroy a hive.  Know the hive can be saved.  75% of the time anyway.  A two to three treatment series may be necessary..

Treatment for European foulbrood can be done with about a teaspoon and a half of Terramycin (Terra-Pro).

hobbyist doesn't need this much treatment..
hobbyist doesn’t need this much treatment..

 

the drive down to the bee yard
the drive down to the bee yard
extra bee boxes in Bill's Bee Yard
extra bee boxes in Bill’s Bee Yard
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Clyde is explaining insulation

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since the bees are warm in their bee boxes we take a look at wax moths and old frames both wood and plastic..
since the bees are warm in their bee boxes we take a look at wax moths and old frames both wood and plastic..
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wax moths and what they look like
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looks like a Halloween something or other.. not to come near my bees..

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old frames and distinguishing the difference between frames..
removal of all build up.. if the fames are relatively see through in some cases an after steam cleaning a fresh coat of wax can be applied and the frames used for another season..
removal of all build up.. if the fames are relatively see through in some cases an after steam cleaning a fresh coat of wax can be applied and the frames used for another season..

We also review examples of hive management sheets:

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Fun fact: Buckeyes are poisonous to honeybees

Fun fact:  dark wax separation in a melting separation process produces a darker honey called bakers honey (rises to the top and can be scraped off)  This dark honey is excellent for salad dressings, bbq sauces, sweeten coffee and cakes.  It has similar consistency to molasses. 

saw this on a canvas bag in a fabric store..
saw this on a canvas bag in a fabric store..#iphonephoto too..

Oh and say your hive is taken over by aggressive Africanized bees, kill the Queen and buy a new Queen. Sounds terrible and will take a few cycles, hive should return to normal.  Oh and a must is to have a Queen on hand before splitting a hive (another fun necessary fact).  Queens can be purchased from Kona Queen Company or Big Island Queens.

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One of the best experiences, in the last few months, for me, has been my beekeeping classes.  I have taken myself out of my bubble and learned of something far greater and beyond myself.  Honeybees don’t just provide sweet nectar (natures candy) for sweetening coffee and spa treatments.  Bees are extraordinarily important to our ecosystem.  Our food supply.  Honeybees are responsible for a third of global nutrition.  That’s one third of all the food we eat is pollinated by honeybees..

I can’t wait to get my own bees and bee boxes.  When that will be, I can’t say for sure.  I will enjoy their labor and continue to be grateful for what these busy bodies contribute to our world.

Until Next Time..

a frame
a frame, good for one more season
more from in my kitchen
more from in my kitchen

 

Related Articles and Materials:

National Geographic 

Heifer International-Give the Gift of Bees

Bees4Kids.org

Backyard Beekeeping in Los Angeles

Healing Honey And The New Queen Bee (keepers)

Why Urban Beekeeping is right for Los Angeles

Honey Bee Queen:  Facts & Appearance of the Honeybee Queen

How to Attract Native Bees

beehive hanging basket
beehive hanging basket

 

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