Items of interest to beekeepers 10 March 2018

Supplied by Fran Bach Editor of both WAS and Washington State Beekeepers newsletters








SICK BEES EAT HEALTHIER Dr Lori Lach, Senior Lecturer at James Cook University, Australia, reported a study that compared the feeding habits of healthy bees to those infected with the gut parasite Nosema ceranae. In the study, published recently in the journal Microbial Ecology, the researchers first gave groups of bees different kinds of pollen. They found that sick bees, and not healthy bees, lived longer when they had access to the pollen that was more nutritious, even though it also increased the number of parasites found in their gut. “The real question then was – when the bees had the opportunity to select their own food, would they choose what was good for them?” said Jade Ferguson, the student who conducted the project for her Honours degree. The answer was yes. When given the option to forage on artificial flowers with either high quality pollen, lower quality pollen, or sugar water, healthy bees showed no pollen preference. However, twice as many infected bees selected the higher quality pollen than the lower quality pollen. “Nosema ceranae is one of the most widespread parasites of adult honey bees in the world, and a lot of studies have investigated its effects on bee physiology. Ours is the first study we’re aware of to investigate effects on floral choice,” said Dr. Lach. It is still unclear how the bees distinguish between pollens of different quality. However, the choices bees make will likely affect the native and crop flowers they visit. Flowers vary greatly in the quality of pollen they offer and are often competing for pollinators. Parasites appear to be one more factor that may influence which flowers are visited. —– From Scientific American – A PROMISING BACKUP TO THE HONEY BEE IS SHUT DOWN The world’s largest almond grower has suddenly closed an eight-year research project to develop a new commercial pollinator. The almond industry contributes an estimated $21 billion annually to California’s economy and it is completely dependent on honeybees for its existence. For eight years the Wonderful Company, the world’s largest almond grower, had been funding a large research project to breed another commercial pollinator—Osmia lignaria, aka the blue orchard bee, or BOB—to help the beleaguered honeybee in their vast orchards. Researchers and growers worldwide were keeping a close eye on the program’s progress. But in February 2018, right when a new generation of BOBs was to fly into the orchards, Wonderful canceled the program. Why? And what does this mean for the vital pollinator business? Blue orchard bees are premier pollinators of early-blooming fruit trees like almonds. Several hundred female BOBs can do the work of a hive that contains 10,000 honeybees. BOBs are completely different kinds of bees, so they are managed differently. One of the key problems inhibiting their widespread use has been the inability of breeders to propagate large numbers of them. In the mid-2000s, when honeybees were really struggling, several companies started propagating blue orchard bees inside large, netted production cages. Chief among them was Paramount Farming, which was renamed Wonderful Orchards in 2015. Joe MacIlvaine was president of Paramount at the time and says he wanted to pursue an alternative bee because it made him nervous that the honeybees were “our sole means of support.” More at —– TOOLS HELP SOYBEAN GROWERS SUPPORT POLLINATORS Resources include information on pre-planting planning, harvest, use of cover crops WASHINGTON — On Monday, the Honey Bee Health Coalition unveiled a series of tools and resources on best management practices for soybean growers — the first of its kind for soybeans — to support honey bee health and to help protect pollinators in and around soybean fields. An expert team of extension agents, agronomists, entomologists, beekeepers, soybean growers, and crop consultants developed the best management practices. They include strategies to identify potential impacts of soybean agricultural practices on bees at each stage of soybean production and suggest strategies to mitigate these impacts. Pollinator habitat and the plants bees rely upon often border soy fields throughout North America. Soybeans can be an attractive source of pollen and nectar under certain circumstances. “Honey bees and soybean farmers are both essential to modern agriculture. That’s why the United Soybean Board and the Honey Bee Health Coalition worked together to develop first-of-their-kind best management practices to improve the health of bees in and around soybean fields,” said Meagan Kaiser, a Missouri farmer and United Soybean Board leader for sustainability initiatives. Soybeans are the second most planted crop in the United States, and with fields covering more than 80 million acres. “These lands and the land around soybeans are vital for honey bee and other native pollinator forage,” said Chris Hiatt, vice president of the American Honey Producers Association. “These best management practices will elevate this issue and lead to better communication and in-field practices that keep bees safer. Similarly, almond best management practices have been effective at protecting bees from incidental insecticide exposure during bloom while ensuring a productive crop.” The Coalition, a diverse group of nearly 50 organizations working to improve the health of honey bees in general and specifically around production agriculture, announced the best management practices today at the Commodity Classic trade show. “The Coalition is dedicated to finding new ways to foster collaboration among farmers, beekeepers, and other stakeholders working to support pollinator health,” said Julie Shapiro, the facilitator of the Honey Bee Health Coalition and a senior policy director at the Keystone Policy Center. “These best management practices are a step in the right direction to ensuring growers have access to the best bee-friendly resources, information, and strategies possible.” These voluntary best management practices complement information already available to growers, including mandatory pesticide label instructions and advisory warnings. About the Honey Bee Health Coalition The Honey Bee Health Coalition brings together beekeepers, growers, researchers, government agencies, agribusinesses, conservation groups, manufacturers and brands, and other key partners to improve the health of honey bees and other pollinators. Its mission is to collaboratively implement solutions that will help to achieve a healthy population of honey bees while also supporting healthy populations of native and managed pollinators in the context of productive agricultural systems and thriving ecosystems. The Coalition is focusing on accelerating the collective impact of efforts to improve honey bee health in four key areas: forage and nutrition, hive management, crop pest management, and communications, outreach, and education. Through its unique network of private and public sector members, the Coalition fosters new partnerships, leverages existing efforts and expertise, and promotes and implements new solutions. The Coalition brings its diverse resources to bear in promoting communication, coordination, collaboration, and investment to strategically and substantively improve honey bee health in North America. Learn more at The Honey Bee Health Coalition is a project of the Keystone Policy Center, a nationally recognized nonprofit working to find collaborative, actionable solutions to public policy challenges. Keystone operates under a statement of independence to serve all of its project participants. Learn more at   ––Honey Bee Health Coalition —– BEES4VETS FUNDING COMPETITION – YOU CAN HELP! Bees4Vets (, a Nevada 501c3 non profit, was founded in 2017 to offer vocational beekeeping opportunities to veterans with PTSD or TBI.  Veterans pay nothing, and after a season of beekeeping, they can graduate with their own equipment and bees. Bees4Vets has been chosen to be one of the 115 nonprofits entered into NV Energy’s “Power of Good Giveaway” March 12-16.  Nevada’s veteran suicide rate is one of the highest in the nation, and every nonprofit entered in this giveaway serves veterans or active military.  A few seconds of your time will result in NV Energy donating a total of $30,000 to a first, second and third place winner in both the north and south ends of Nevada. If you are in Nevada please consider voting once a day (March 12-16th) at:  Bees4Vets can win up to $10,000 (1st place)  which will help fund the equipment and bees for our veterans.  All Bees4Vets personnel are volunteers; any funding received goes directly into the program.   —– FEED A BEE FUNDS 20 NEW PROJECTS ACROSS U.S.  Less than one year after launching the Feed a Bee 50-state forage grant program, the Bayer Bee Care Program today revealed the list of 20 new organizations that have received funding for important forage initiatives around the country, bringing the total number of projects funded to more than 100. After a rigorous review and evaluation process by the Feed a Bee steering committee, 20 organizations were chosen in the latest round of review to receive awards ranging from $1,000 – $5,000. This brings the total for the program to 112 funded projects in 39 states and Washington, D.C. In 2017, Bayer announced the Feed a Bee forage initiative, with the goal of distributing $500,000 for projects focused on establishing or restoring pollinator forage in every state by the end of 2018. Since then, 215 organizations and private individuals have applied for the grants, all with one goal in mind: providing more diverse, abundant sources of nutrition for pollinators. “It’s exciting to see this program continue to develop and impact communities around the country,” said Dr. Becky Langer, project manager, Bayer North American Bee Care Program. “For more than 30 years, Bayer has been actively involved in finding solutions for pollinator health, and this Feed a Bee initiative demonstrates organizations all over the country are looking for ways to become just as engaged in the quest to support a diverse food supply for honey bees and other important pollinators.” This round’s 20 forage projects, which will be carried out across the country by schools, universities, government organizations and nonprofits, will take place throughout the remainder of the year. For example, Warrior Overwatch Inc., an organization in Georgia funded in this latest round, incorporates farming and gardening as therapeutic outlets for veterans with PTSD. They hope to select native plants from a local university and use the forage grant funds to create pollinator habitat throughout their six-acre farm located in Dahlonega. The Collier County 4-H Association, located in Naples, Florida, will use its grant to create a pollinator garden where 4-H students and master gardeners can work and learn side by side. Several other grantees will be expanding existing pollinator habitat and developing educational materials for their visitors on how planting forage can support pollinators, such as honey bees, birds and butterflies. “In our 60-acre outdoor historical village, we proudly interpret the life of our pioneer settlers, but equally important is the land and our responsibility to ensure its care,” said grantee Amy Meyer, executive director, Manitowoc County Historical Society. “The funding from our Feed a Bee grant will aid us in enhancing our museum with a natural habitat that will bring to life the environment our early pioneers experienced. The newly established pollinator habitat will include a nature trail and two honey bee hives, as well as a place to host public education programs for our local high school horticulture classes.” “In the first year of the program, we awarded funds to organizations in almost every state, so our goal in 2018 is to establish forage in those states that haven’t yet had projects funded,” Langer said. “With an initiative like this, it truly does take a village, and we are excited to see what these recently-selected projects, which include three new states, will do with their funds, as well as what prospective organizations have planned for their proposals. If your organization is in any of our 11 remaining states, we strongly encourage you to apply!” Feed a Bee is one of several programs sponsored by Bayer’s Bee Care Program, continuing its nearly 30 years of supporting bee health. For more information on Bayer’s bee health initiatives, please visit: You can also follow and share with us on Twitter @BayerBeeCare, on Facebook at and view photos on Flickr. —– CATCH THE BUZZ 1.  Psyllid Zapper, Resistant Trees Among Tactics To Combat Florida’s Citrus Greening – FORT PIERCE – Drawing inspiration from President Ronald Reagan’s Star Wars missile-defense initiative of the 1980’s, scientists last week showed their progress on a laser bug zapper they said can specifically target Asian psyllids. Hundreds of growers from around Florida and other citrus-growing states and countries gathered at the Havert L. Fenn Center in Fort Pierce for the annual two-day Florida Citrus Show and learned they may soon have a new weapon against the bane of their existence: the psyllid. The small, winged, brown-speckled insect, first found in Florida in 1998 in Boynton Beach, mostly would be a nuisance except it carries the world’s most damaging citrus disease. Greening is a bacterial disease that slowly kills trees while reducing fruit yield and causing early droppage. It was first detected in Florida in 2005 and since has infected nearly 100 percent of the state’s mature citrus trees. 2. California’s Drought Restrictions on Wasteful Water Habits Could Be Coming Back — This Time They’ll Be Permanent! Anyone caught wasting water in California may be fined as much as $500 under new rules being considered by the state water board, officials said Monday. The State Water Resources Control Board is expected to adopt regulation coming before the board on Feb. 20 that would make it a crime to commit any of seven wasteful water practices — from lawn over watering to street median irrigation. Those rules would take effect April 1. “These are permanent prohibitions on wasteful water uses,” said Max Gomberg, a climate and conservation manager for the state board. The ruling would formally make the rules part of the state code. This means the powerful agency would no longer need a “drought emergency” declaration from the governor to act, like the ones issued by Gov. Jerry Brown during the state drought between 2012 and 2017. 3.  Draft Guidance for Industry: Declaration of Added Sugars on Honey, Maple Syrup, and Certain Cranberry Products. COMMENTS WANTED! How to Comment The comment period opens March 2, 2018. Although you can comment on any guidance at any time (see 21 CFR 10.115(g)(5)), to ensure that FDA considers your comment on this draft guidance before we begin work on the final version of the guidance, submit either electronic or written comments on the draft guidance within 60 days from when the comment period opens. Submit electronic comments to to docket number FDA-2018-D-0075 Submit written comments to: Dockets Management Staff (HFA-305) Food and Drug Administration 5630 Fishers Lane, rm. 1061 Rockville, MD 20852 All comments should be identified with the docket number FDA-2018-D-0075. Contains Nonbinding Recommendations Draft – Not for Implementation This guidance is being distributed for comment purposes only. The purpose of this draft guidance is to advise food manufacturers of our intent to exercise enforcement discretion related to the use in the Nutrition Facts label of a symbol “†” immediately after the added sugars percent Daily Value information on single ingredient packages and/or containers of pure honey or pure maple syrup and on certain dried cranberry and cranberry juice products that are sweetened with added sugars and that contain total sugars at levels no greater than comparable products with endogenous (inherent) sugars, but no added sugars. More at 4. Farmers Trained On Using Herbicide Blamed For Crop Damage – MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Tens of thousands of soybean and cotton farmers across the country are taking free but mandatory training in how to properly use a weed killer blamed for drifting and damaging crops in neighboring fields. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency required the training and other restrictions last fall in a deal with three major agribusiness companies — Monsanto, BASF and DuPont. All three make special formulations of dicamba for use on new soybean and cotton varieties that are genetically engineered to resist the herbicide, using seed technology commercialized by Monsanto. The products are increasingly popular because they give farmers a new weapon against aggressive weeds such as pigweed that have become resistant to other herbicides such as glyphosate, also known as Roundup. 5. More Bees Means More And Bigger Plums. Go Figure! “The production areas of Chinese plums are located in Meishan, Sichuan; Maoming, Guangdong; Gutian, Fujian; and Guizhou province. Under regular weather conditions the plum production season in Meishan begins every year in June and ends in the beginning of July. The production volume of 2017 showed a great increase in comparison with the production volume of 2016. This was in large parts due to the production volume increase by around 30% for the trees that were pollinated.” This is according to Mr. Yang Qi of Sichuan Top Grade Modern Agriculture Co., Ltd. 6. Hedgerow Plantings That Feed Wildlife are Good For Farms, and Safe for Food – Hedgerows enhance wildlife abundance and diversity around farmland without contributing to food safety problems in field crops, according to a new study published by a team of University of California researchers. The UC Agriculture and Natural Resources and UC Davis study documented that field edge plantings around farms are generally too narrow relative to the surrounding landscape to be a source of rodents and foodborne pathogens. “This study is particularly pertinent right now when FDA’s Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) is calling for farmers to co-manage wildlife and agriculture, instead of clear cutting wild habitat around their crops,” said co-author Rachael Long, UC Cooperative Extension farm advisor in the Sacramento Valley. “Our paper provides support for this ruling, showing that the presence of hedgerows does increase wildlife diversity, but does not increase wildlife intrusion into the fields and, more importantly, does not increase the prevalence of animals carrying foodborne pathogens.”