Tag-Archive for » Randy Oliver «

Monday, March 09th, 2009 | Author:

THE BEST place to see classes is on the Calendar: http://pollinatethis.org/beeblog/sf-beekeepers-calendar/

March 7th Beekeepers Guild of San Mateo County
1st Congregational Church, 751 Alameda de las Pulgas, Belmont.
Cost: Free Bring your own bag lunch.
More info & pre-registration is required: http://www.sanmateo bee.org/class. html

March 14th Alameda County Beekeepers Assn
2418 California St, Berkeley
Cost: ?
Registration required: Jim 510-845-2419
Do not wear scents, wool or dark clothes. A veil would be good to have.

March 15th Green Gulch Farm & Zen Center
More information & Registration: http://www.sfzc. org/zc/search. asp?keyword= beekeeping& search.x= 16&search. y=3

March 21st Alameda County Beekeepers Assn
Island Yacht Club, 1853 Clement Ave, Alameda (behind Svendsen’s Boat Works along the Marina…courtesy of Jayne Klugs’s family)
Cost: $10 members, $20 non-members Bring your own LUNCH. The bar at the Yacht Club will be open at lunch time – cash only.
More info & pre-registration, send email to: Sarachickbee@ aol.com

Various dates March, April, May & June BeeKind
BeeKind, Sebastopol
More info & pre-registration: http://www.beekind. com/beekeeping_ classes_2009. shtml

Friday, February 06th, 2009 | Author:

The First Full Accounting of Colony Collapse Disorder
Kim Flottum’s Daily Green – Jan. 1, 2009

“A new study comprehensively describes the early and late symptoms, the visual signs and the progression of the mysterious affliction decimating U.S. beekeepers.

In a full report prepared by this team to be released in the February issue of Bee Culture magazine, Bee Alert’s Scott Debnam and Jerry Bromenshenk from Missoula Montana, David Westervelt from Florida’s Apiary Inspections Bureau, and Randy Oliver, a commercial beekeeper with real-world honey bee research experience from Grass Valley, California detail the symptoms of CCD with respect to where it hits, and when it hits.

To review what’s commonly known:
Colony Collapse Disorder Symptoms: Final Stage

In collapsed colonies

  • Complete absence of older adult bees in colonies, with few or no dead bees in the colony, on the bottom board, in front of the colony, or in the beeyard.
  • Presence of capped brood in colonies during time of year when queen should be laying.
  • Presence of food stores, both honey and pollen, unless a drought or time of year restricts availability of food resources.
  • Absence of pest insects such as wax moth and hive beetle.
  • Lack of robbing by other bees
  • Robbing and return of hive pests is delayed by days or weeks.

In collapsing colonies

  • Too few worker bees to maintain brood that is present.
  • Remaining bee population predominately young bees.
  • Queen is present.
  • Queen may lay more eggs than can be maintained by workers, or is appropriate for the time of year.
  • Cluster is reluctant to consume supplemental food such as sugar syrup and pollen supplement.

However, these are the terminal symptoms. By the time colonies reach this point it is far too late to do anything but bury the dead. What’s needed is being able to spot colonies that are in the early stages of CCD. This could be a real plus because perhaps beekeepers could turn them around if they were discovered early enough. Even though they still don’t know the cause, proper and appropriate management techniques go a long way in helping.

Here’s what the team has found:

Colony Collapse Disorder Symptoms: Early Stages

One year out:
Colonies are “just not doing well” with few other visible symptoms. They seem healthy, but have lackluster honey production.

Six months out:
Symptoms are vague and easily missed. Monthly inspections and careful comparisons are needed. Brood nests are slow to expand, with most in a single hive body. Mid-day inspections show bees dispersed in the colony, but this varies. Population growth slows to stops during growing season when compared to other colonies in the same yard. Honey stores remain untouched, bees are feeding on nectar recently collected. These symptoms are difficult to spot due to the careful comparisons needed.

Three months out:
CCD colonies appear slow to grow and are outpaced by non-CCD colonies in the apiary. There is a noticeable population decrease going from 3 to 2 boxes, or 2 to 1, and often the bees are on only a few frames in the bottom box…and they appear restless. Brood patterns are shot gun pattern because of dead brood removal, and honey stores begin to diminish if it’s late in the season, but if early, the honey remains untouched. Routine maintenance goes undone and no propolis seals are noticeable.

One month out:
Usually 8 frames of bees or fewer remain and they decline rapidly. Brood is produced, but can’t be supported, queen replacement is often tried, and abandoned brood is common. Stored honey depends on the season … in summer it may all be depleted, in winter untouched.

Remaining bees fail to eat supplied food or medications, and it’s mostly young bees that remain now, as the older bees are gone. Queens continue to lay excessively, and the colony usually lacks any aggressiveness at all.

14 Visual Symptoms of a Colony with Colony Collapse Disorder

  1. Just days before its collapse the colony seemed to be strong and fully functional
  2. Mostly young bees remaining in the hive
  3. Bees are not aggressive
  4. Queen is present
  5. Eggs are present
  6. Full frames of brood may be present
  7. Brood may show signs of “shotgun” pattern
  8. Capped honey and fresh nectar are often present, although not in summer collapses, which are uncommon
  9. Fresh pollen has been stored in the hive recently, if external resources are available
  10. Supplemental feed (syrup and extender patties) if supplied, are ignored
  11. No robbing occurs
  12. No secondary pests (small hive beetles, wax moths or ants) are found
  13. No dead bees are noted around entrance of the hive
  14. Bees do not show any signs of winglessness, paralysis or other adult bee diseases.

Colony Collapse Disorder: Management Notes

CCD tends to travel like a wave through a beeyard, and combining affected and unaffected colonies usually gives 2 dead colonies. Adding a package may help, and may not. There is a time lag until secondary pests will move in … using equipment before that time for more bees is risky and the colony may die again. Once these secondary pests move in the equipment seems fine for bees, too.

The Cause of Colony Collapse Disorder remains unknown, but the diagnosis is getting better all the time.

For the full article with additional information see the February issue of Bee Culture on our web site www.BeeCulture.com.

Thanks to Scott, David, Jerry and Randy”

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…. symposium@beekind.com

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)