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Welcome to the Mt. Diablo Beekeepers Association

Don't forget: WE ARE SWARMING away from Heather Farms Garden Center.

In August, our Monthly General Meeting on August 14th will be held at our new location at 7:00pm:
Pleasant Hill Community Center
320 Civic Drive, Pleasant Hill

AUGUST Program - Brian Fishback

Brian FishbackBeekeeping comes naturally for Brian Fishback of Wilton, a past president of the Sacramento Area Beekeepers’ Association and a volunteer at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility at the University of California, Davis.

“From the first moment I opened a hive and held a full frame of brood covered with bees, I was in utopia,” he said. “Everything came together. In my hand I held the essence of core family values.” That was in 2008. Now he shares his knowledge with beekeepers-to-be, beginning beekeepers and veteran beekeepers, and gives presentations at schools and public events.

Back in 2008, he and his wife Darla purchased a ranch in Wilton, renamed the BD Ranch and Apiary (www.beesarelife.com), to pursue a self-sustaining life. “I catapulted into this way of life, knowing that honey bees would provide us with pollination as well as a natural sweetener,” Brian recalled.

Like a nurse bee tending brood, he dived into the project head first—joining the Sacramento Area Beekeepers’ Association, reading books, and talking to beekeepers.

“My quest as well as my passion with honey bees led me to become the president of the Sacramento Area Beekeepers’ Association and become a member of the California State Beekeepers’ Association. This allowed me to delve deeper into working with others at all levels of beekeeping and research.”

Mr. Fishback has helped out at events such as the California Agriculture Day at the state capitol and at state and county fairs. His interest in research led him to Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen of the UC Davis Department of Entomology faculty and other UC Davis bee specialists. In the fall of 2010, his began volunteering at the Laidlaw facility.

Brian continues his outreach programs “to encourage interest in honey bees and to share the importance of the honey bee to our environment and our food supply.” When he gives his presentations in schools, he brings along a bee observation hive, where the youths can single out the queen bee, workers and drones.

His topic for the August meeting is: "What I learned while working at the UC Davis Bee Lab.”

Spring Bee Workshop

Our 2014 Spring Bee Workshop was April 12th at Gary's apiary. The Spring Bee Workshop is a great opportunity to learn from the experts and get some hands-on experience. We hive packaged bees as well as swarms, mark queens, extract honey, and walk through a hive from the outside in and top to bottom, pointing out things to look for in evaluating and improving a hive's health. This is a members-only event.

Here are some pictures from last year's Workshop.

Join our Facebook group for more pictures and other news.

This swarm is 30 feet off the ground in a maple tree.During the swarm season the MDBA Swarm Patrol volunteers will be available to collect swarms. If you call one of our members to request a swarm removal please be ready to answer some questions.

Swarming is a natural phenomenon. It's the way that honeybees expand their territory and ensure the continued survival of the species. Each time they swarm they double the number of hives and decrease the chances that disaster will wipe them all out.

Swarming is also a side-effect of the queen's preparation for spring honey flows. In late winter the queen will begin to lay more eggs in preparation for the influx of nectar and pollen in the spring. More food requires a larger workforce to bring it in.

But a larger honeybee population with more nectar and pollen stored in the hive also results in overcrowding. Beekeepers try to stay ahead of the bees by adding more supers (the white boxes) to the hive so that the bees will have more space. Unmanaged hives, though, soon fill up.

The swarms of spring leave home because nectar and pollen are flowing in and the hive is getting over-crowded.

Relax! When they're swarming bees are probably the most docile they will ever be. Before they leave the hive they fill up on honey to keep themselves going until they find a new home. Fat and happy honeybees, with no home to protect, are less likely to sting.

Once the bees have moved into a building, though, they're no longer swarms. Here's a great video of a structural removal - and a great illustration of why we recommend leaving structural removals to the experts.

Mt. Diablo Beekeepers Association (MDBA) is dedicated to educating communities about honeybees and the historic art of beekeeping.

The MDBA is one of the largest bee associations in the United States with 240 members from around the world. The MDBA meets at 7:00 PM on the second Thursday of every month, except November and December, at Pleasant Hill Community Center, 320 Civic Drive, Pleasant Hill, California.

Each month, the MDBA presents a different speaker on a variety of topics and has an open forum for people to exchange ideas and helpful tips.

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