Orindan Anna Lisa Kronman Provides Good Home for Bees

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(Bobbie Dodson, Photographer)
Beekeeper Anna Lisa Kronman points to the queen. All the bees are attuned to the queen’s scent. Her entire job is laying eggs and she will lay thousands of them over the course of her life.

    When Miramonte discovered a swarm of bees on campus, Orinda beekeeper Anna Lisa Kronman, a member of Diablo Beekeepers Association, came to the rescue. It was a win-win situation. Kronman got more bees for her hives, and the school rid itself of a problem.  
    “It’s a service of the Association. Call and someone will come,” said Kronman.
    One of 250 beekeepers in the Lamorinda area, Kronman explained she became one after several nudges. 
    “My visiting son said, ‘Mom, you should keep bees since you have so many plants they favor like lavender and rosemary.’ Soon, I found a beekeeper magazine, Bee Culture, in my mailbox addressed to our cat. Then another. So, I thought I should at least look at them, and it proved interesting,” said Kronman. “After six months of this, I said to my husband, ‘Let’s get some bees and try it.’”
    They drove to Sacramento to purchase everything they needed. That was some 10 years ago, and Kronman is hooked. 
    “Bees are amazing to watch,” she said. “I like to take pictures in slow motion really to observe them. All worker bees are female. In the videos, you can see they seem to collect either pollen or nectar. Drones are the male honeybees. Their only function is to fertilize a young queen bee. They are visibly larger and stouter than workers.”
    Kronman said the queen can vary in size, but she is usually only slightly larger than a worker bee. It’s her shape that distinguishes her. Her abdomen is long and so are her legs. Her wings are short in comparison with her body and do not reach the end of her abdomen. Her back is bald, black and shiny. 
    “Because queens are in the business of laying eggs, the most likely place to find your queen is in the nursery,” said Kronman.
    Kronman feels beekeeping to be time-consuming, though not hard. She added, “It smells good.”  
    She is pleased that some years she gets 50 pounds of honey. 
    “While I like the honey, I also keep bees because I want to give bees a good spot to be,” she said. “I give them a bee hotel, and they pollinate the flowers and fruit trees in my garden.”
    Items typically needed to start include: bee hives and a stand to keep them off the ground; wooden frames to hold beeswax; smokers, which calm bees and reduce stinging; a hive tool for prying apart frames; veil and gloves or full body suits for protection; and feeders to hold sugar syrup when natural nectar is not available.
    While it’s estimated there are two trillion bees in the world and 20,000 species, an average hive will have about 30,000 bees. They are the chief pollinators of the world’s flowers while providing beauty as well as food. In fact, one-third of the food we eat depends on bees. 
    Some bees don’t produce honey but have a specific purpose. For example, the Dogwood genus, Cornus, is kept alive by three rare species of miner bees.
    Kronman said pesticides and herbicides can be deadly to bees.
    “There is also a mite problem,” she said. “In recent years, mites have weakened the bee population. Fortunately, they haven’t come to my hives. My purpose is to give bees a safe space to be, so they will thrive, collect pollen and nectar and be revived and provide honey for my morning toast!” 

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