Items of interest to beekeepers 14 November 2017

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






5-CHLOROINDOLE WAS AN EFFECTIVE ANTAGONIST, IT’S NOT TOXIC TO BEE LARVAE, BUT IT INHIBITED P. LARVAE SPORE GERMINATION AND BACTERIAL PROLIFERATION IN VITRO (Entomology Today) By Meredith Swett Walker American foulbrood is a bacterial disease afflicting honey bee (Apis mellifera) colonies. The Paenibacillus larvae bacterium germinates in the gut of a honey bee larva; dead larvae often decompose into a brown, gooey substance. New research suggests certain analogs to a molecule called indole may be useful in blocking the bacteria’s germination. It’s a beekeeper’s nightmare: She lifts the lid on her carefully tended hive and is greeted with a whiff of rotting flesh. Further inspection finds that the young bees of the colony, who should be plump, pearly-white larvae, have melted into a puddle of brownish goo at the bottom of their cells. This colony is infected with American foulbrood disease—most likely a death sentence. If she’s very lucky, she may be able to save the colony with a course of antibiotics, but the drugs don’t always work, and the disease is highly contagious. To save nearby colonies from infection, the beekeeper may be required burn the entire hive, bees and all. American foulbrood disease, or AFB, is caused by the Paenibacillus larvae bacterium, a difficult-to-control and highly destructive pathogen found worldwide. In a study published last week in the open-access Journal of Insect Science, Israel Alvarado, Ph.D., and colleagues at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV), explore whether blocking the germination of P. larvae spores is an effective way to treat this infection. One of the primary reasons P. larvae is so difficult to control is the bacterium’s ability to become dormant and form a spore by developing a thicker, protective cell wall that allows it to withstand extreme environmental conditions. P. larvae spores can remain in a dormant state for up to 70 years before “germinating,” or becoming active and infectious again. Spores are resistant to high temperatures, dry conditions, many harsh chemicals and treatment with antibiotics. They only germinate when they find themselves in the gut of a honey bee (Apis mellifera) larva. Upon germination, P. larvae begins reproducing and kills the larva in a few days. But what if you could prevent P. larvae spores from germinating? If you could identify the event or factor that triggers germination and block it, you could prevent infection. Alvarado and other researchers in the lab of Ernesto Abel-Santos, Ph.D., had used this approach to prevent the germination of other bacteria including Clostridium difficile, which causes a debilitating and difficult-to-control gastrointestinal infection in humans. Abel-Santos got the idea to try this approach on P. larvae during a bout of insomnia. “I was watching TV at 3 a.m. when I came across a documentary about the problems facing honey bees. One of the most dramatic things they showed was the burning of colonies contaminated with AFB. Next day, I called Professor Michelle Elekonich, an expert in honey bees at UNLV, and started throwing ideas around.” Previous research on bacterial spores had shown that germination is triggered when specific molecules, called “agonists,” bind to a special receptor molecule on the cell membrane that surrounds the spore. The agonist acts like a key sliding into a lock, causing the lock to turn, and allowing the door to open, or in this case allowing the spore to germinate. One way to prevent this is to use an “antagonist,” a molecule that binds to the receptor but does not trigger germination. An antagonist is like the wrong key for the lock. You may be able to insert it into the keyhole, but it doesn’t turn the lock. Then, it gets stuck in the lock so that you can’t pull it out and use the correct key, or agonist. Now you cannot open the door or, in this case, germinate. Research in the Abel-Santos lab showed that the molecules indole and phenol act as weak antagonists for P. larvae‘s germination receptor. In the research reported in Journal of Insect Science, the researchers tested a variety of indole and phenol analogs (molecules very similar, but not identical, in structure to indole and phenol) in the hope of finding a stronger antagonist. They then went on to determine the optimal amount of analog necessary to prevent P. larvae germination, assess whether the analog could inhibit reproduction of P. larvae that had already germinated, and whether the analog would be effective in a lab-reared bee larva. Their tests determined that 5-chloroindole was an effective antagonist. This compound was not toxic to the bee larva, but it inhibited P. larvae spore germination and bacterial proliferation in vitro. When bee larvae were fed a diet containing 5-chloroindole, they were better able to survive exposure to P. larvae spores. In a study by researchers at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, honey bee larvae treated with 5-chloroindole were better able to survive exposure to the bacteria that causes American foulbrood disease. All the larvae shown above have been exposed to Paenibacillus larvae spores, but the larva on the right has also received treatment with the indole analog, which can prevent spore germination. The two larvae on the left are brownish in color, which is characteristic of American foulbrood disease. The indole-treated larva on the right has a healthy appearance, plump and white. Alvarado and his colleagues’ work has shown that 5-chloroindole could prove an effective treatment to prevent AFB in honey bee colonies. An alternative to the antibiotics currently used is needed because these drugs can harm beneficial bacteria in bee larvae guts. In addition, some strains of P. larvae are evolving resistance to antibiotic drugs. Still, much works needs to be done before beekeepers can start using 5-chloroindole. A practical method to get 5-chloroindole to the larvae must be developed—for instance, as a food supplement for the colony. In addition, researchers must determine how long 5-chloroindole persists in the wax and honey stored by a treated colony. Nevertheless, it is a promising development in the battle against AFB. If the researchers find continued success, beekeepers may soon be armed with a more effective, less drastic treatment for AFB, and fewer bee hives will be sent to the burn pile. From Journal of Insect Science, reprinted at —– PROJECT APIS M. UNVEILS NEW VIDEOS & TWO NEW-BEES We are delighted to share a snapshot of Project Apis m.’s work in our new video series: forage initiatives Seeds for Bees in California and The Bee & Butterfly Habitat Fund in the Upper Midwest, and the Field Trials Assessing Varroa Resistant Bees. (Find them at We celebrate the contribution each of you has made in advancing our understanding of and solutions to protect and enhance honey bee health! We hope you enjoy visiting the almond orchards of California and the NextGen Habitat Projects in North Dakota for a few minutes. These videos are a testament to what can be accomplished together. Be inspired. Dream new dreams. And join us as we pull up our bootstraps for there is still much work to be done! Two new-bees! Project Apis m. began with what was almost guerilla tactics — raising funds donated by growers and beekeepers and channeling research efforts to protect their livelihood. PAm founders built trust and partnerships to develop lean, efficient programs and crafted a mission that connects resources with a practical focus. That was ten years ago (so was CCD!) and since then we’ve fought a good fight. As our research and forage programs continue to expand into our second decade, we are pleased to be growing our skill set and capacity with two excellent new hires!   PAm fielded an impressive pool of applicants for the positions we posted (thank you!) and we’re happy to welcome a new Director of Operations, Patty Shreve, and Sheila Jackson, providing communications and fundraising expertise. Both live in Utah. If you see Patty and Sheila at upcoming conferences, be sure to say hello and tell them about your role in our hive! Danielle Downey, Executive Director, Project Apis.m   —— From Dr. Christina Grozinger at POLLINATOR-L – JOIN A MONARCH BUTTERFLY WEBINAR On Wednesday, November 15, 2017, we invite you to participate in the second in a series of webinars hosted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as we develop our Monarch Conservation Database. While our August webinar provided a general database overview and an update on the progress of our work on a monarch species status assessment, the purpose of the November webinar is to present technical information about the development and use of the database. This webinar is directed primarily at technical staff who will be interacting with the Monarch Conservation Database, collecting or handling data related to monarchs and monarch habitat, and participating in the creation and management of other monarch databases.  Please invite members of your staff who may be interested, or forward this invitation to others who you think may be interested. What: Monarch Conservation Database Webinar Date:     Wednesday, November 15, 2017    Time:    Choose 11:00 a.m. Eastern or 3:00 p.m. Eastern Call:       888-972-9928 Participant passcode: 3543207 Web access:  Meeting Number:          743130248 1. Join the meeting now:   2. Enter the required fields. 3. Indicate that you have read the Privacy Policy. 4. Click on Proceed. For more information about the webinar, contact: —— BEE JOBS Staff Scientist Positions Open at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute – The Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI; announces openings for permanent staff scientists to pursue independent, internationally recognized research programs in the tropics.  Previous tropical experience is not required. We seek outstanding colleagues who will complement and enhance our existing strengths, and further develop our intellectual community. Positions are full-time research. Internal research funds are provided for laboratory setup, core ongoing research and travel expenses. Staff scientists may compete for additional intramural and external research funds. Opportunities are available to mentor post-doctoral fellows, students, and interns drawn from an international community, to teach in graduate training programs with affiliated universities and to participate in outreach to local and international audiences. STRI is headquartered in the Republic of Panama, with modern research facilities and terrestrial and marine field stations throughout the country. For more information on the positions, including answers to frequently asked questions, please see  Positions are open until filled; review of applications will begin on 15 November 2017.    —– CATCH THE BUZZ 1. China Leads The World In Both Pesticide Production And Consumption – Now, Under One Roof – China, the world’s largest producer and consumer of pesticides, is changing its approach to regulating the chemicals. The Ministry of Agriculture announced recently that it had established the Pesticide Management Office, which will regulate the production, sale, and use of such chemicals. Previously, oversight of pesticides was divided among several departments. China leads the world in both pesticide production and consumption at 3.75 million tons and 1.7 million tons, respectively, in 2015. Through its exports, China is also a major international player, and in June, state-owned ChemChina announced it was acquiring Syngenta AG, then the world’s largest pesticide manufacturer. 2. New Zealand Exports Rise 5%, But Myrtle Rust Shows Up On Manuka – New Zealand honey exports rose 5% to NZ$330 million (US$229.8 million) in the year ending last June.    A Ministry for Primary Industries report says this was a surprisingly strong result as exports were on pace to reach just NZ$300 million (US$208.9 million) for the full year, but there was an unexpected surge in exports to China in the last quarter.    Exports to the United Kingdom soared 56% to NZ$60 million (US$41.8 million), but higher exports to China and the UK were balanced by drops in the value of exports to Australia by 48% and to Hong Kong by 50%.    “Honey export volumes and prices are expected to continue to increase in 2018 and beyond due to continued strong demand overseas for all types of honey, more favorable climatic conditions, and expanding production,” the report says.    Myrtle rust was discovered on mainland New Zealand in May. The first detection was in Northland followed by finds in Taranaki, Waikato, and the Bay of Plenty.    The report says the impact of myrtle rust varies by species and is dependent on the environment. 3. USDA Grants To Spur Innovations To Slash Pesticide Use. California Biotech Firm Receives $1.8 Million For Pest-Control Innovations – A Riverside, Calif., biotech company will advance eight environmentally-friendly innovations to control damaging crop and forest pests and improve crop yields thanks to $1.8 million in grants it received this year from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. ISCA Technologies received six $100,000 “Phase 1” grants from the department’s Small Business Innovation Research Program to develop and test five new pest control products and one that improves fruit blossom pollination rates. ISCA also received two $600,000 Phase 2 grants to prepare for the commercial market products already shown to have worked in field trials. These technologies are economical, effective and ground-breaking. For example, one innovation uses naturally occurring pheromones to induce honey bees to pollinate flowers preferentially in the area where the product is applied. This results in healthier bees, higher pollination rates, and higher crop production. Another puts yeast species to work to brew insect sex pheromones inexpensively, making various environmentally safe control strategies significantly more affordable to growers. And a third launches drones to deploy pheromones and other naturally occurring compounds that control pests by modifying their behavior. 4. South Africa Set To Increase Honey Production 6 Fold – Johannesburg – A structural approach and strategic business model could see South Africa’s honey industry turnover reach R20bn, according to experts. Rishad Ahmed, project funding expert and specialist from Incentives SA said the inclusion of various industry stakeholders in a combined effort could aid in the growth of the industry. The local honey industry currently sees an average annual turnover of R3.2bn, producing 2 000 tonnes per annum, according to the South African Biodiversity Institute. Ahmed, however, believes these numbers could drastically increase, given a proper business model and investments made.  “Various stakeholders need to be involved to ensure projects such as this one take off. Projects need to be packaged and project managers need to engage with the stakeholders and those in industry to join the dots in the honey productions industry,” Ahmed told Fin24. However, Ahmed said there were numerous factors that needed to be considered and which affected the honey industry locally. Since 1980 there has been a massive decline in the the number of South African beekeepers, according to SA Honeybee Foundation’s Dominique Marchand. 5. Same Plants, Same Honey … So Why Does New Zealand Want To Trademark Manuka? The ongoing fight between Australian and New Zealand manuka honey producers has ratcheted up a notch, with a new Australian industry association staunchly opposing the kiwi push to trademark the “liquid gold” being formed. The Australian Manuka Honey Association (AMHA) was born out of a meeting in Melbourne last month and is being backed by big industry players including Australia’s largest producer Capilano. It was around the same time reports emerged of New Zealand producers applying for exclusive trademarks on “manuka honey” in five countries, including Australia and China. But Australians argue the kiwi claim to what’s been previously dubbed “liquid gold”, which is produced by bees foraging on Leptospermum plants native to both countries, is bunk. Inaugural AMHA chairman Paul Callender said the group would allow the domestic industry to formalise and fight. 6. Honey Production Down Across Ontario Following Cool, Wet Summer And Some Local Producers Are Feeling The Sting – Some eastern Ontario beekeepers aren’t feeling too buzzed about their honey crop, with close to a third reporting yields about half the size of last year’s. “We had an extremely cool and wet year, and that does not help with our yields,” said Peter Vichos, a third-generation beekeeper near Kemptville, Ont., who runs a large operation with between 1,200 and 1,300 honeybee colonies. “We saw probably more rainfall in those very important honey-producing months than we normally have in at least the last 15 to 20 years.” Vichos’s honey crop was about half as big as normal, he said, putting him in the unhappy company of many others in the province. Bees have been making less honey this year because like people, honeybees don’t like to forage in cold, wet weather, and rain also washes nectar from the plants. 7.  In June 2014, Rwanda Was Among Third Party Countries Accredited To Export Honey To The European Union Following A Rigorous Process By An EU Accredited Lab – Tree species that can be mixed with crops will be planted on about 1.4 million hectares under a new strategic plan for agriculture transformation, the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources (MINAGRI ) has said. The move, according to Dr Octave Semwaga, the Director-General of Strategic Planning and Programmess Coordination at MINAGRI, will contribute to honey production through diversifying vegetation from which bees can forage, and enable Rwanda to tap into the European honey market. Semwaga made the revelation in Kigali, this week, during a consultation workshop on the fourth Strategic Plan for the Transformation of Agriculture (PSTA4), which will guide Rwanda’s agriculture and livestock sector between 2018 and 2023.