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 (map)
AUGUST Program - Brian Fishback
Beekeeping 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.
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
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
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
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.