Archive for » March, 2008 «

Sunday, March 23rd, 2008 | Author:

I cleaned the two hives I bought from my friend in Sebastopol. And just today I heard of a swarm on the SFBA list… but I wasn’t quick enough. Now I need to torch the frames and box to kill anything on there and make sure my bottom board is alright. I don’t actually have a white board or screen, yet.

Scraping Frames Scraping Frames 2 Gunk Boxes Frames and Boxes

I’m considering placing a hive at the Alemany Farm (watch great video), just down the street. (download video)

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Tuesday, March 18th, 2008 | Author:

Today’s juicy find on da Net delivered via google news alert came from a little story in the Meadville Tribune which included a reference to MAAREC, “a regional group focused on addressing the pest management crisis facing the beekeeping industry in the Mid-Atlantic Region.”

“The focus of MAAREC research has been on the identification of alternatives to chemical controls and promotion of less reliance on chemical pesticides for mite control. (More)

New On This Site:

  • New! “How to Live With Black Bears” by Craig Cella, June 2005 Am. Bee Journal (Part 1, Part 2)
  • New! Participate in NASA sponsored climate and scale hive study (3/11/2008)
  • New! Pesticide Residue Testing (3/11/2008) - (see copy of PDF below)
  • New! Online Beekeeping Course – University of Delaware (3/11/2008)
  • New! Häagen-Dazs recently presented a gift to Penn State to support entomology research and education on the honey bee crisis. (press release) The ice cream company has unveiled a new interactive website promoting honey bee education and research on colony collapse disorder. (2/22/2007)
  • Mid-Atlantic Beekeepers’ IPM Priorities Survey


Pesticide Analysis of Honey Bee Hive Products and Matrixes

Many beekeepers have expressed an interest in having their hive products or other materials within the hive, such as pollen, wax or nectar, tested for pesticide residues. Because these pesticide analyses are costly, we are working with potential funding agencies to generate monies that would allow us to share the cost of the analysis with beekeepers. This program to share the cost of the analysis would have additional benefits. The information from individual samples would become part of a large centralized, and confidential database maintained at Penn State. Pesticide preparation

We could then provide individual beekeepers with their information in light of all samples analyzed up until that point in time (their levels compared to the average levels in the entire data base). We could also provide additional information about the pesticides detected, such as their relative toxicity to bees (LD50).

To date we do not have the monies to fund this program, however we are working to obtain these funds. In the meantime, beekeepers who wish to have samples analyzed can send them directly to the USDA-AMS-National Science Laboratory (see directions below). If you are willing to allow your data to be available to the Penn State research group working on pesticides for inclusion into the overall database, please state this in writing when you send your sample(s) to the NSL. If you have questions or concerns, please contact Maryann Frazier at or by phone at 814-865-4621.

Direct testing through the USDA-AMS-National Sciences Lab

USDA-AMS-National Science Laboratory (NSL)
801 Summit Crossing Place, Suite B
Gastonia, NC 28054

The NSL can provide fee-for-service pesticide residue testing of honey bee hive products, including honey, wax, pollen, royal jelly, bees, brood, and bee bread. We can also test other sample types upon request and consultation.

The fee schedule is as follows: Comprehensive pesticide residue testing of 170 pesticides and metabolites – $252.00

Focused pesticide residue testing of Amitraz and its metabolites (2,4-dimethyl aniline and 2,4-dimethylphenyl formamide), Coumaphos and its metabolites (Coumaphos oxon, Chlorferon and Potasan), and Fluvalinate – $126.00

Samples can be submitted directly to the laboratory address above with the attention to Roger Simonds.

The information needed for any sample submittal is as follows:
• Sample type
• Unique identifier
• Type of testing desired
• Contact information of sample submitter

The results will be reported directly to the sample submitter unless permission is given in writing with the sample that PSU or any other party is to also receive the results.

The sample size should be no less than 1 gram if possible, and preferably greater than 10 grams. A larger sample size is more representative and also allows us to subsample and save some of the original material in case a re-extraction is necessary due to a problem during analysis. Samples should be submitted in very clean, leak-proof, crush-proof (preferably not glass), containers.

Does anyone know of other pesticide testing labs and pricing? Comment here.

Amitraz Tick collar
Etofenprox and Methoprene collar
ZODIAC pet warning… yikes!
Carbaryl flea collar
Permethrin Flea collar
Propoxur flea collar

Incidentally, I was in a feed store/hardware store in Mendocino County, CA on March 1, and noticed the flea collars, and remembered reading about neonicotinoids being suspected of lowering honey bee immunity and causing “CCD” and how they are in flea collars and pet products. Well, I took some pics for later research. Turns out fipronil is the active ingredient in FRONTLINE cream, and that was a substance banned in France in 2004 for killing bees! Is this substance under EPA and public scrutiny? Imagine where all those used collars end up… landfills, garbage cans, places where insects and worms are supposed to thrive and do the work of breaking down our waste. Imagine all the places your dogs and cats wander around outdoors, laying, rubbing against, scratching away hairs that contain residues of this chemical. How long does the chemical survive? Is it one of those found in water supplies across the U.S. by the Associated Press Investigative team (followup)? Who’s got a report back on the EPA status of this “active ingredient, fipronil?” A 10 second google search found this public discussion… Comment, please.

Flea collar with fipronil - product name “FRONTLINE”


Monday, March 17th, 2008 | Author:

Pollination of our -food- supply is threatened, because throughout the past several years, the honey bees have been disappearing from hives, leaving queens, honey and larva behind! Few dead bees remain, mostly abandoned hives: colony collapse.

You’ll find plenty of research and speculation. But solutions are not easy to find. CCD News map


We must take action now, however. PollinateThis! calls for immediate federal emergency spending (FEMA, USDA) to give the U.S. beekeepers, both commercial and other, financial relief for losses. This small community (beekeepers) is mission critical to the survival of our economy. We cannot let them go out of business. They need the same relief and benefits that other -subsidized- industries and farmers receive! If we pay farmers in this country -not- to farm, then we can pay beekeepers to exist. We further call upon FEMA and the U.S. president to redirect money allocated for the “War on Terror” directly toward establishment of emergency beekeeper training in the U.S. for veterans and returning soldiers. We may not have enough bees to sustain -our own food-, and we cannot rely on imports from China! Can you imagine the potential for reckless poisoning from tainted foods? They don’t have an EPA in China and that’s why their bees disappeared and they are hand-pollinating pears (pesticides)! “Homeland” defense must now include sustaining and nurturing our honey bees, because our lives depend on it. Immediate relief for beekeeper losses can come in the form of compensation for educational services provided to returning vets to learn beekeeping. These are our bold recommendations. THIS IS NOT A DRILL! 2008 is the year to prevent catastrophe! Beekeeping and PTSD probably go together pretty well, too.

I don’t have post trauma, but I’ll be blogging here about my experience becoming a beekeeper in a time when it doesn’t look profitable or healthy. But that’s what I think we need to do – pay more attention and nurture our relationship with this amazing, beautiful, female BEEing.

- PollinateThis!
January 22, 2008
San Francisco, CA

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Monday, March 17th, 2008 | Author:

I borrowed my friend’s vegcar to drive up to Santa Rosa, CA last weekend to learn about the CCD situation and meet more local beekeepers at the 2008 Bee Symposium. Quite a niceRandy Oliver at 2008 Bee Symposium, Sebastapol, CA turnout at the Summerfield Waldorf School, and I learned some great bits about dusting for mites with powdered sugar and using a microscope to look for Nosema ceranae from Randy Oliver (scientificbeekeeping dot com). The nice couple from Bee Kind store sponsored the event….

I have some recordings, and photos. The most interesting presentation that I wished I had recorded entirely was Dr. Ron Fessenden’s 20 minute powerpoint about honey and health, and the first Int’l Honey and Human Health symposium that happened in January 2008. It was fantastic! Click play below for some video from his presentation (shot with Canon Powershot SD1000).


I commented publicly on my observation that most of the attendees were more experienced, and/or older folks and thought that there may be a connection between the disheartening graph presented by Serge Labesque, and the fact that not many younger beekeepers were present (I counted 5 including myself). The response from Michael Thiele and others was “it’s always been that way” and “even in Germany and other Chart of beekeeper decline? parts of the world.” Obviously, according to the graph. My intention is to inspire more “kids” to understand pollination and beekeeping. It’s probably more heroic work, than, say… well, need I say? I encourage potential beekeeper mentors to recruit, get involved with leadership programs to integrate your work to find and plant the beeky seeds in our youth. Gold stars for all who get a kid away from “Play”stations and Second “Life” and turn them on to saving the planet for real!

Many San Francisco beekeepers were there, who I met later in the week at my first beekeeping club meeting. I’ve gained a mentor, and have found a place to put my hives when my bees come in April. We’ve formed a subcommittee within SFBA to examine and understand the apple moth arial spraying slated for the city of San Francisco August 1, 2008. Arial spraying for pests seems to me to be a rather Soviet-era way to handle a bug, militaristic and ineffective, and devastatingly ignorant. There is a campaign to stop this insanity.

As far as CCD goes, Mussen reported that it appears the same or worse than last year. The Vanishing of the Bees crew blogged of a well-known beek bringing them to see his dead-out hives, bee “graveyard” – millions of bees.

-DNR, March 16, 2008


DATE: Saturday, March 8, 2008
TIME: 9:00 am ? 6:00 pm

In this time of global ecological challenges, the honeybee is an indicator species reflecting the enormous changes taking place in our world. Bee populations are dying and pollination ecology is deeply affected. As beekeepers, we must become stewards of the earth and change paradigms. This one-day symposium offers information and speakers with new perspectives on honeybees and native pollinators, beekeeping practices, innovative approaches and ecological strategies for beekeepers.Randy Oliver on microscope


  • Randy Oliver, Grass Valley, Biologist and forward thinking commercial beekeeper
  • Dr. Eric Mussen, Entomologist, UC Davis, CA Beekeeper Association 2006 Beekeeper of the Year
  • Katharina Ullmann, Presenting for Claire Kremnen, Xerces Society, UC Berkeley
  • Serge Labesque, 2006 Western Apiculturist Society’s (WAS) Innovator of the year
  • Kathy Kellison, Executive Director of Partners For Sustainable Pollination (PFSP)
  • Michael Thiele, Holistic beekeeper; Demeter Beekeeping Standards
  • Ron Fessenden, M.D. Co-Chairman of The Committee on Honey and Human Health

Serge Labesque presentation


Two Innovative Movies on Beekeeping presented by the filmmakers

1) Pollen Nation, by Singeli Agnew and Joshua Fischer

2) The Vanishing of the Bees, by Maryam Henein

Doreen Schmid, presenting bee art The Melissa Garden ? A honey bee sanctuary in Healdsburg Rudolf Steiner College, Sonoma County Master Gardeners, 4-H Kids, Sonoma County Beekeeping Association and more.

Natural looking Hive (from Germany)