SoCal Beekeeping

Bee Class with Randy Oliver
Michael Henderson

The Orange County Beekeepers organized a class on bees taught by Randy Oliver on September 30.  I attended the class.  The class was held at the Irvine Ranch Outdoor Education Center in Irvine Regional Park.  Getting in was a challenge because the park was being used as a staging area for equipment to fight a wildfire in the area.  But they let us in after showing the registration papers.

Here's the building that the class was held in - it's called the "Leadership Center".

The classroom was your standard rectangular room, with tables and chairs and a screen at the front.  I took this picture before most of the people arrived.

The class was taught by Randy Oliver.

I can't show anything about the lecture part of the class - what do you take pictures of?  The lecture lasted until lunch, then after lunch we went out to the field to see Randy work a couple of hives.  The hive in the foreground is empty. He worked the two hives past that first one.

Here's Randy getting ready to open the first hive.  He talked about each step and made recommendations on the best practices.  Note how everyone has veils on but Randy is bare headed. Since I work with feral bees which are more defensive than Italian bees, I had a veil on.

Examining a frame from the first hive.  This hive was fairly small.

Then he moved to the second hive which was larger - note that it's two brood boxes.

Examining frames and pointing out things to look for on the frames.

After checking to make sure the queen was not on a frame, he shook the bees into the plastic container.  Then he gently shook the plastic container to get any forager bees to fly away.  All that was left was nurse bees.

He scooped up a half cup of bees.

And dumped the bees into the alcohol wash container (arrow).  This killed the bees and the varroa mites immediately.

Swirl the container around for a minute.  He stressed that you should not shake the container because you want the mites to fall through the holes in the upper container.  Shaking can cause the mites to stay in the upper part of the container.

Remove the upper container that has the bees in it.

And examine the lower container for mites.  I count nine mites.  Some of the "spots" are just trash.  The mites are reddish.

And that was the end of the outdoor portion of the class.

We went back to the Leadership Center and did some Q&A, along with a short presentation by Randy and then the class was over.