ACBA March 2018 Newsletter

Bee chat
Q: Someone heard that you can crush rhubarb leaves and stems, and then sprinkle them over the top of frames for Varroa mites, because they’re high in oxalic acid. Anyone heard of that?
A:  No. It’s pointed out that Randy Oliver suggests using crystals of oxalic acid in paper. As the bees remove the paper, they take it through the brood nest. So maybe the leaves would work. Key is to have the oxalic acid pass by the brood nest.

Q: If you have a dead out and the capped frames look moldy, should you harvest the honey?
A: Move it to another hive and let the bees clean it up. Don’t harvest moldy frames. Continue reading ACBA March 2018 Newsletter

ACBA December 2017 Newsletter


     Holiday Potluck & Beekeeping Gadgets

Besides bringing some food…
Bring your Beekeeping-Gadgets & Gizmos to show off.
Do you have a special Tool?
Do you have a super time-saver?
Do you have a labor saver?
Did you discover a common product that can be repurposed for beekeeping?
Tell us about them!
Participants in the Show-n-Tell will get five minutes to describe/explain their goodies. Continue reading ACBA December 2017 Newsletter

ACBA 2017 November Newsletter

Speaker: Cynthia Perry, a retired radio and television journalist, and 10 years a beekeeper is enrolled in the UC Davis Master Beekeeping Program.  She started the Split Squad in Marin County about 8 years ago to identify, propagate and share out colonies with better local adaptation, disease resistance, and Varroa resistance/tolerance. Towards that end, members of the split squad do not treat their bees at all, preferring to allow natural selection take its course. Split squad members all promise not to treat their bees, and do promise to make queens and splits available to fellow members.  A sister split-squad has been established in Sonoma county. Continue reading ACBA 2017 November Newsletter

ACBA October 2017 Newsletter


Brian Johnson:  Bee Biology


Special Announcement from the Club President

The year is moving along quickly! It’s been a packed year with great events and still with more to come. A picnic! and a Bee Symposium. We’re looking at the picnic for Saturday October 14th. The club will provide main dish meat delicacies, like pulled pork lovingly made by Ronni Brega’s son. The location is Ronni’s house in Oakland, 2660 Las Aromas. From 1pm- 4pm.  What to bring? If your last name begins with letter A through L pleas bring a side dish or a salad. M through Z dessert! Let me know if you will be coming and how many if any guests so we can get a count and have enough main dishes.
To  RSVP for the Potluck…email Ronni Brega

Jerry will have details on the symposium elsewhere in the newsletter.

Now to an important point: COMMITTEES!!!!! A few months ago I brought up committees in the newsletter as well as at a meeting. As you have seen, this club does a LOT for its members. The swarm list, the Alameda Fair, monthly speakers, the library, managing the extractors, speaker weekends with BOTH Michael Bush and Randy Oliver, a symposium, the newsletter, the website.  and a Holiday party. And I’m sure I missed something! Whew! It is all managed by a few very dedicated members, year after year. The same members it seems. The club needs ALL of you!!!!! I will bring a list of the committee areas the board has talked about. to the next meeting and YES it includes a picnic committee. Which there is not, although Jeri Martinez has been very generous in the past getting one “on the boards” as it were.

One committee that WILL be appointed at the next meeting is a nominating committee. I will ask for volunteers and if there are none I will appoint a minimum of three. BE PREPARED!!
The board does WAY more than what our constitution and by -laws designate are our responsibilities. We take things on because no one steps up in a lot of cases and there is an expectation that events of a previous year automatically happen. The result can be resentment and burn out. We have over 200 members. Your involvement is what will keep this club as interesting and vigorous as it is.
That’s it from here!

Your President,
George McRae

ACBA Elections

Board Nominations for next year!

Elinor Levine and George McRae are searching for candidates to serve on the Board next year.  Term of service is January through December; standard officers include President, Vice President, Recording Secretary, and Treasurer.  We have lots of support people who are ready to assist on projects and advise on policy; the leadership of this Association is spread amongst many people with many talents.  George is stepping down as President, so there is at least one position available!  Paul Thompson is our stalwart Membership Secretary, and we hope he will continue in that role.  Please contact either George or Elinor if you are interested; you will be among those that help choose speakers for our meetings, interface with other bee clubs, determine workshops and field trips.  Fun!

Fall PICNIC!  This coming Saturday, October 14th, 1pm-4pm.  Please join us at Ronni Brega’s home for all-afternoon Bee Chat!  This will be a potluck BBQ, the more the merrier.  The club will provide BBQ meat, paper goods and some beverages.  What to Bring?  If your last name begins A-L bring a side dish or salad.  M-Z, bring a dessert.  Appetizers and your favorite beverage to share also welcome.  RSVP for a headcount:

September Bee Chat:

Q: my hive recently swarmed.  Upon inspection, found 8 queens, gave some away, left two.  Why are they still building queen cells?

A: lack of space?

A: these might just be swarmy bees.  Take out queen cells, or replace queen with one with new genetics.

A: split in the springtime to change genetics.


Q: I have bees hanging out underneath the entrance and hive; why won’t they go in the box?

A: Scrape bees off gently with a frame and put them in the box.


Q: Problems with heat and honey draining out of the hive.

A: insulate the top of the hive to keep the heat from impacting hive.

A: Take out the sticky board——never leave it in for long.

A: wax melts at 165 degrees.

A: try a solar powered fan.


Want recommendations for providing water during a heat wave.

A: bees like water in saucers under plants.

A: use a chicken waterer, found at feed and pet stores.

A: paint tray for rollers—provides a ramp to the water.

A: bucket with floating plastic from signage cut to fit a bucket.

A: bees like murky water, not fresh water.

A: don’t put it right near the hive; they forage for the water and then tell their sisters.

A: keep it visible from the air.


Q: late season swarm: how to keep alive thru winter.

A: keep them in the nuc and feed like crazy.

A: protect from ants.


Q: what to do with wet supers.

A: put the wet supers under the brood nest or under the other supers, bees will clean them up.

A: can, but don’t have to freeze the frames.  Will kill the wax moths.

A: Keep them in plastic tubs to deter mice.


Speaker Presentation: Richard Godfrey, local beekeeper and member of ACBA: Beekeeping in East Africa


Beekeeping history

collective bee hunting started 30,000 years ago.  Bees have been around for 150 million years.

In Africa, elephants can rampage through farms—so the farmers set up hives to deter the elephants who know that bees can sting inside their trunks.  In Africa, a study was done to find out which type of hive bees preferred—the log hive or the Langstroth or the Kenyan top bar hive; hands down they preferred the log hive.

Medicinal uses of honey: burn healing; apply honey to the burn then wrap like a mummy.  Richard got interested in using honey medicinally by being encouraged by Barack Obama’s grandmother.  He is a physician with Highland Hospital here in Oakland and does medical outreach in Kenya.  Honey is good for oral pharyngeal tract health, and wound care.  Egyptians have used it as a preservative. Many people use it for allergies


African Bees have a slightly shorter forewing than European bees. They forage at younger ages, maybe a little darker, maybe a little faster, harvest more pollen.  High reproductive rate, they will go after lower levels of sucrose, prone to absconding because of changes in temperature and climate, they don’t tolerate cold.  They are relatively resistant to Varroa; can have higher degree of defensive behavior.


Should Varroa viruses be thought of like human epidemics?  Or invasive species?


1956—a German entomologist brought African bees to Brazil to increase honey yields; in 1957 a beekeeper removed the queen excluders to these hives and 26 queens escaped.  Every year, they can move north 100-200 miles in a month.  In 1990 they arrived in United States.  in California they are as far north as Mariposa and Madera counties.  It is a certainty they are here in the Bay Area.  In San Diego 60-80% of the feral bees are Africanized.  In San Diego the pro beekeepers still have European bees for the most part, but the genetics indicate Africanized bees are being found in local swarms.

“To what degrees are recent elevated rates of colony mortality due to the limited gene pool of our managed stocks—lacking critical genes for resistance to the onslaught of our recently introduced parasites and associated virus issues?”  Randy Oliver,  2015.  Are managed colonies getting wimpy?  Colonies that are highly managed are genetically less diverse and have less strength for survival.  The feral/Africanized bees in San Diego are bringing new, stronger genetics.  Africanized bees in Puerto Rico manage their Varroa and viruses.


Richard showed two videos—one of Kenyan honey hunters, the Ogiek people in the Rift Valley. And one of Maasai honey hunting.

Africanized bees originate from Tanzania and the bees that are in the US are hybrids of these.  The Kenyan bees are gentle.

If anyone is interested further and wants to travel, Richard will be happy to make introductions.

Check out Richard’s book “African Queen—Tales of Motherhood and Wild Bees”

Check out the “Killer Bees” film by National Geographic; scary stuff but educational.

ACBA August 2017 Newsletter

Speaker: Joseph P. Sullivan – A career change for Joe’s wife brought him to California in 2001. Since that time, he has operated Ardea Consulting, a one-person consulting firm. He specializes in wildlife biology and toxicology. Some projects have focused on wildlife biology such as monitoring nesting birds, but many have focused on the risks posed by pesticides and other contaminants to wildlife. Projects have been completed for federal agencies, the military, state agencies, corporations, and private clients. Continue reading ACBA August 2017 Newsletter