Items of interest to beekeepers 13 April 2018

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







RESEARCHERS CREATE MICROPARTICLES THAT COULD HELP SAVE HONEY BEES By Scott Weybright, College of Agricultural, Human and Natural Resource Sciences, Washington State University PULLMAN, Wash. – Honey bee colonies could be saved from collapse in the future thanks to a microscopic particle that attracts pesticides, as created by Washington State University researchers. Consider this: A grain of salt weighs 58,500 nanograms. It takes only 15 nanograms of pesticide to kill a bee. Researchers at Washington State University have developed a new material that attracts pesticide residue in bees. Over time, pollen tinged with itsy bitsy amounts of pesticides accumulates in a bee’s body, reducing the lifespan of each bee in a colony. Toxic residue magnet “The material acts as a magnetic microsponge that absorbs ingested toxic residues,” said Waled Suliman, a postdoctoral research associate in WSU’s Department of Biological Systems Engineering. The product, a powder, can be incorporated into a sugar solution that’s fed to bee colonies. Each microparticle is the size and shape of a grain of pollen, making them easily digestible for bees. And they’re specially designed and formulated to be safe for beekeepers to handle. Undergraduate innovation nets $20,000 Recently, a group named BeeToxx — comprised of undergraduate students mentored by Suliman, WSU’s Derick Jiwan, and others — won second place in the Alaska Airlines Environmental Innovation Challenge, taking home a $10,000 prize and beating out 22 other teams. The students had the opportunity to work on a real world problem that goes beyond what they learn in classes, Suliman said. This winter, the team involved was one of four to win the Honey Bee Health Coalition’s Bee Nutrition Challenge and also received a $10,000 prize. Their proposal was chosen from among 20 submitted, with only four prize-winners. “We’re really proud to get noticed for the work we’ve done so far,” Suliman said. “And this will help us keep testing and refining the product.” Just passin’ through When consumed by the bees, the particles attract and absorb pesticide toxins. Then, they pass through the bees like any other food. Each particle only spends a few hours in their digestive system, which is enough to significantly reduce pesticide residues. In fact, each particle of Suliman’s technology can remove about 300 nanograms of pesticide residue — much more than bees can survive. Last summer, to test this new product, Suliman and assistant professor of entomology and manager of the WSU bee program Brandon Hopkins fed around 6,000 bees the microparticles in a sugar solution. Then they tested feces from those bees and found it contained the microparticles. In addition, the bee colonies remained healthy, showing that the microparticles don’t harm bees. Measuring toxin attraction This summer, they will test just how well the particles attract toxins in the bees’ bodies by collecting the microparticles after they’ve been through the bees and measuring them. “We’re really lucky that bees have fairly simple digestive systems,” Suliman said. “Our material is specifically designed to work only on pesticide residues and only at a certain pH level and temperature. So the micro-particles won’t absorb amino acids or anything else a honey bee eats.” Since they’re still collecting data, the material isn’t yet available to beekeepers. But Suliman is hoping to have the product on the market in the next two years. “We have proof of concept,” he said. “Ultimately, our goal is to lessen the economic impact of bee decline not only for beekeepers but also for farmers and food prices.” —– AID FOR LIVESTOCK, HONEY BEE, FARM-FISH LOSSES $34M in payments for 2017 losses part of broad suite of programs aiding ag operations WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will issue $34 million to help agricultural producers recover from 2017 natural disasters through the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees and Farm-raised Fish Program (ELAP), which covers losses not covered by certain other USDA disaster assistance programs. These payments are being made available today, and they are part of a broader USDA effort to help producers recover from hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, wildfires and drought. A large portion of this assistance will be made available in federally designated disaster areas. “From Florida, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, through the South, the Southwest, California and the Great Plains, American agriculture was devastated by natural disasters in 2017,” said Bill Northey, Under Secretary for Farm Production and Conservation. “The Trump Administration is moving quickly to distribute financial assistance to help producers recover and rebuild.  It is important to get this help to producers in time for the spring planting season.” ELAP aims to help eligible producers of livestock, honeybees and farm-raised fish for losses due to disease, certain adverse weather events or loss conditions, including blizzards and wildfires, as determined by the Secretary. ELAP assistance is provided for losses not covered by other disaster assistance programs such as the Livestock Forage Disaster Program (LFP) and the Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP). —– Three Items from Bee Girl, Sarah Red-Laird – NEXT GEN BEEKEEPER: KATRINA KLETT        What word comes to mind when you think of Chinese honey?  Laundering, tainted, counterfeit? Yes, me too.  That was, until I met next generation beekeeper and entrepreneur, Katrina Klett, of Elevated Honey Co.  In our conversations, Katrina helped me to understand that Chinese honey isn’t the problem.  It’s the supply chain that has so many fissures, it’s become weak and broken.  The system has failed both Chinese beekeepers, and worldwide consumers.  With “Elevated Honey Co.” she aims to spark a change.   http://More at —– NATALIE FAYE’S BEE GIRL SHORT FILM AT THE ASHLAND INDEPENDENT FILM FESTIVAL The Ashland Independent Film Festival is five days of the highest quality independent film in this historic town the Washington Post called “a dream you’ll never want to leave.”  Every Spring, Southern Oregon is buzzing with the excitement of the AIFF.  Over 7000 film lovers gather at the art-deco Varsity Theatre, the Historic Ashland Armory, and other venues to watch over 90 documentary, feature, and short films in five days. Filmmakers from around the world engage with the audience after each screening and at festival events such as Opening Night Bash, the AfterLounge, and Awards Celebration, which include local wine, beer, and gourmet food. Special guests have included Ty Burrell, Albert Maysles, Barbara Kopple, Helen Hunt, and Bruce Campbell. The Ashland Independent Film Festival: Celebrating the diversity of human experience through the art of independent film—enriching, educating and inspiring audiences of all ages. The 17th annual festival happens April 12-16 at the Varsity Theatre, the Historic Ashland Armory, Ashland Street Cinema, the Ashland Springs Hotel, the SOU Music Recital Hall, Collaborative Theatre Project and ScienceWorks. 100+ films and many filmmakers will be featured this year. The full festival schedule is available now!   Check out some of Natalie’s stunning stills at  Click for Tickets & Information. —– SISKIYOU SEEDS FOR BEES If you received a 2018 catalogue from Siskiyou Seeds, you may have noticed a familiar face on page 122!  It’s me and my bees!  Beginning last summer, Don Tipping, Siskiyou Seeds founder and farmer, and I partnered up to design packs of seeds to benefit bees.  Siskiyou Seeds will be selling three new “Pollinator Packs” (perennial, early annual, and late annual) on their website and at markets across the country starting now!     In 2017 Don and his team grew out flower research plots near my teaching apiary.  Once they blossomed, my team monitored the plots about three times a week for the duration of the growing season.  We analyzed the data, and shared our thoughts and recommendations with Sisikiyou Seeds to build the best seed mixes possible.    Last year, we supported the research program by offering cut flowers from the plots, and honey from the adjacent apiary to our local community in the form of a CSA (Community Supported Apiculture) program.  This year, we’ll be continuing the research, but we’ve “outgrown” our capacity to deliver the honey and bee friendly bouquets ourselves, so we’ll be partnering with another CSA to offer our flowers and honey as a weekly “add-on” item.  Ordering info coming soon!   To support the collaboration, Siskiyou Seeds is donating 20% of the sale of the packets back to the Bee Girl Organization for further bee habitat research!  So even if you are not local to Southern Oregon, you can still enjoy our bee friendly blossoms and support our hard work for bees!     Check out more at —– BEE JOBS 1. Cornell’s Dyce Lab for Honey Bee Studies is looking to hire a temporary honey bee technician to start in May. Applications are open immediately. Please pass along this position description to anyone who may be interested, and feel free to post it on any pollinator/entomology list serves you may manage. Anyone interested in applying, they can email Emma Kate Mullen ( a cover letter and CV. The full position description can be found at this link: —– CATCH THE BUZZ 1.  Newfoundland and Labador’s First Honey Bee Reserve Opens June 1 – Operated by Paul and Brenda Dinn, Adelaide’s Honey Bee, Pollinator and Wildflower Reserve is in Goulds, a 10-minute drive from downtown St John’s, the Canadian province’s capital, in the heartland of the agricultural belt. The Dinns have operated their apiary as a small home-based business and hobby for five years. Six years ago, a family friend commented on a picture of wildflowers on the property and pointed out the abundance of a plant called fireweed, “After researching, I learned fireweed is highly prized by bee keepers as its nectar and pollen make one of the world’s finest honeys,” Paul Dinn says. “Some bee keepers even drive or fly their beehives great distances, so their bees can make honey from the fireweed blossom.” 2. Agroecology is a Concept and a Practice of Managing and Boosting Nature’s Own Ecological Processes to Improve Productivity – More with less. This is the challenge and the mantra for our future. There will be many more of us in the years to come. We will go from a population of 7.6 billion today to 9.8 billion in 2050; yet, with our current rate of usage, there will be less fresh water, less arable soil, less available land for agriculture or clean, fruitful seas for fisheries. This is calling into question how we are doing things now and pushing us to find solutions for the future. The answers don’t have to involve high-tech machinery or expensive system overhauls. In fact, some of the most promising solutions come from the connection between nature and farmers, in particular family farmers. Harnessing the power of nature by mixing modern science with traditional and indigenous knowledge of food producers and farmers is part of the idea behind agroecology. 3. Declining Bee Population to Get Helping Hand with National Project – Funded by the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research, Barbara Sharanowski, at the University of Central Florida will coordinate a nationwide team of citizen scientists who will convert lawns into native wildflower havens especially designed to attract native bees and other insects that pollinate plants.                  Bees and other pollinators are essential to food production. Some scientists estimate that one out of every three bites of food eaten exists because of pollinators like bees.