Items of interest to beekeepers 15 October 2017

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








THE PESTICIDES THAT ARE HURTING THE BEES ARE ALSO TURNING UP IN THE WORLD’S HONEY SUPPLY Listen to Dr. David Goulson, Univ. of Sussex, in the UK, talk on neonics in bees and honey, from The Voice of America The decline of the world’s industrialized honeybees has been well documented. A combination of pesticides and parasites have led to whole bee colonies dying off. Now, it turns out the pesticides that are hurting the bees are also turning up in the world’s honey supply. VOA’s Kevin Enochs reports. Use this link to listen: As you may be aware a number of news stories ran recently regarding the level of pesticides found in honey samples. The official statement from the National Honey Board on the issue: “We understand the concerns people have about honey and pesticides. Honey is one of nature’s purest products, made by bees with no additives or preservatives of any kind, and it is totally safe to eat. Though beekeepers do not use neonicotinoid insecticides, honey bees can come into contact with them when foraging for food. The concentrations found in honey were well below thresholds that would pose any risk to humans. However, our industry is concerned that neonicotinoids could be a contributing factor to poor pollinator health, which is why the National Honey Board allocates five percent of its revenue each year to bee health research and has done so since 2008, representing funding of over $3 million to-date. We also recently partnered with Project Apis m. and together we have pledged an additional $10 million investment by 2020.” —– RESEARCH PROPOSALS REQUESTED Research proposals are requested that focus on honey bee health and productivity which provide practical and tangible solutions to the beekeeping industry. The National Honey Board and Project Apis m. reinforce their commitment to the future of bees through an investment of $10 million by 2020 in bee health projects, through the financial support of successful research proposals. The goal of this research is to help producers maintain colony health and honey production. Most proposals will likely be of one-year duration. Priority will be given to proposals which aim to produce solutions to industry problems, including Varroa mites. Proposals must be received by Project Apis m. by midnight (PDT), November 5, 2017. Email proposals to and Proposals received after the deadline will not be considered. More info at —– INTERNATIONAL YOUTH AG SUMMIT 2018 EXPLORES INNOVATION IN AN AGE OF ACCELERATION (Brussels, Belgium) – Innovation can mean different things, but Bayer Crop Science Head of Research and Development Adrian Percy describes it this way. “For me, it’s bringing value to growers,” Percy said. “It’s bringing something new that they need, that will actually help in their operations, perhaps make them more efficient, help them perhaps access different markets, but it’s also about bringing something that’s acceptable to consumers and that’s a lot of what we talked about today.” Percy addressed youth delegates at the 2017 Youth Ag Summit, sharing his excitement about advancements in areas like precision agriculture and plant breeding. He was inspired by working with the youth delegates in attendance. “What inspires me is the energy, the hope, the passion for what they’re doing. They’re discovering things about themselves and what they want to do in life. They’re seeing agriculture as a tremendous place to be,” he said. Listen to an interview with Adrian Percy at; view and download photos from the event at —– From Dr. Christina Grozinger at POLLINATOR-L 1. Grad student positions in honey bee foraging The Couvillon Lab at Virginia Tech is seeking highly motivated, independent students with a keen interest in honey bee foraging and recruitment behavior and/or pollinator health to join their newly established researchgroup ( in the late spring or early autumn 2018 under Dr. Margaret Couvillon, Assistant Professor of Pollinator Biology and Ecology in the Department of Entomology, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, Virginia. One PhD (4 years) and one MSc/MS (2 years) available. Application deadline 15 December 2017. For more details on the research and our lab, please see or contact Dr. Maggie Couvillon ( directly. You may also “Join” our Facebook page The BeeGroup @ VT. 2. Pollinator Biology Assistant Professor Position (tenure track) – Purdue University The Department of Entomology at Purdue University seeks to fill a tenure track position in pollinator biology. This is a nine-month appointment at the level of assistant professor with primary research and secondary extension responsibilities. The search committee will begin reviewing applications after November 22nd, 2017, but will accept submissions until the position is filled. Download a PDF of this job posting at <>. For more information please see ( For any questions please contact Dr. Christian Krupke, Search Committee Chair – 3. Molecular BioSciences Program at Montana State University This is an interdisciplinary PhD program offering outstanding students a competitive first year fellowship plus tuition for up to 5 years to fund their Ph.D. graduate education. The first year includes rotations in three laboratories, which allows inquisitive students that are broadly interested in molecular biosciences to gain experience in several fields including: Cell Biology and Neuroscience, Chemical and Biological Engineering, Chemistry and Biochemistry, Earth Sciences, Ecology, Land Resources and Environmental Sciences, Mathematics, Microbiology and Immunology, Structural Biology, and Plant Sciences and Plant Pathology. After the first year graduate students are admitted into their chosen graduate programs and funded by their research advisor. The next application deadline is Dec. 12, 2017 for the Fall 2018 semester – see website for additional details: . Interested students contact the program coordinator at or Michelle Flenniken at —– GOOD READS: NOT NECESSARILY BEE-ORIENTED 1. Why Mann Packing is removing non-GMO labels as major brands add them by Diana Bradley   Gina Nucci, Mann’s director of corporate marketing, explained that the produce company doesn’t want to perpetuate a fear that something is wrong with GMOs. SALINAS, CA: One year ago, Mann Packing went through the process of getting some of its vegetable products Non-GMO Project Verified. Now, the company is trying to distance itself from non-GMO labeling. The company is removing the non-GMO verified check from its single-cut lettuce products in its next print run, which could take place next month, said Gina Nucci, Mann’s director of corporate marketing. Mann did an about face after presenting its product packaging in Canada, where the Non-GMO Project Verified label is only allowed on products that have a GMO alternative. “There is no GMO lettuce,” said Nucci. “It made us go: Why are we doing this? We are perpetuating a fear that something is wrong with GMOs. We didn’t feel right doing that, so we chose to take that label off.” Mann sells other products that do not have the non-GMO verified check, but include copy stating they are GMO-free on the packaging. Nucci said the company is discussing removing that, as well. Nucci said Mann is not proactively communicating about its stance on GMOs, but it isn’t hiding its opinion either. If people reach out with questions, its comms team responds. One consumer recently complained to Mann’s Fresh Vegetables on social media about how “disappointed” she was to see the non-GMO label on the company’s products. Mann wrote back, publicly stating that it would be removing the labeling from its products. “I am not doing a press release that we are making this stance, but we are pretty vocal about this,” said Nucci. “We participate with The Alliance for Food and Farming; I speak on panels about focusing on facts, not fear. In the community and in the agriculture world, we are active about this.” Nucci added that the company is aware it has customers who want their products to be GMO-free. Mann gets about three calls per week on its 1-800 number from people asking if its products have GMOs. To contend with this, the company created an FAQ page. She explained that Mann’s approach is all about giving consumers all the facts “so they can make the best choice for them.” Nucci said she’s seen more and more companies adding non-GMO labels to their products. She added that Mann believes GMOs are good for the public and will eventually help farmers use fewer pesticides and herbicides. “[Non-GMO labeling] is at a point where it has gotten out of hand,” said Nucci. “There is non-GMO water, non-GMO salt, non-GMO cat litter; it is ridiculous. We want to nip this in the bud and educate people about GMOs, non-GMOs, and hybrids. Because that uneducated consumer is the one that is just going to hear the buzz and follow the lead.” Peel back the label Last month, the National Milk Producers Federation launched a campaign called Peel Back the Label to highlight the trend of what it calls “fear-based food labeling.” A 2016 study by Consumer Reports found that 70% of consumers use front-of-package information when deciding whether to buy processed foods for the first time. Food manufacturers are capitalizing on this, The National Milk Producers Federation said in a release, by placing more labels on products that state “GMO-free” or “hormone-free,” to play on consumers’ food-safety fears and misconceptions. On the Peel Back the Label website, consumers have access to the tools they need to “separate hype from fact as they work to make informed food decisions for their families,” the federation said in a statement. It also describes how consumers can tell their own stories about the negative effects of deceptive labeling and share information on social media. “This kind of deceptive and fear-based labeling by food companies has become so pervasive that many consumers aren’t even aware it is happening,” said Amber McDowell, spokesperson for Peel Back the Label. “Our challenge with Peel Back the Label is to help consumers do just that: peel back the label on the foods they purchase every day and show them that food companies are using their own misconceptions about particular foods against them in order to increase their market share.” McDowell added that transparency is particularly important in a campaign like this. Its campaign team is using strong visuals that connect consumers with the highlighted product and help them immediately understand “the deception that is happening every day on just about every grocery aisle in America,” said McDowell. The Peel Back the Label website and social channels feature visual case studies of brands taking part in “food label fear mongering.” “Our visual case studies have proven to be the most persuasive and engaging content we’ve featured so far as part of the campaign,” McDowell said. “We are also enlisting consumers in our efforts to shine a spotlight on these bad actors by asking them to share their own examples that they find of fear-based labeling and marketing.” A Facebook page for the campaign has about 20,000 followers. McDowell said it is a platform consumers look to and trust for this kind of information. As Mann removes non-GMO labeling, these brands are adding it – • In September, Triscuit rolled out Non-GMO Project Verification across its entire portfolio; • Dannon’s whole milk yogurts, its plain quarts, and its Danimals Smoothies were also recently Non-GMO Project-verified; • Late last year, Hunt’s added a “GMO-free” label to its canned tomatoes. This story was updated on October 5 to clarify that in Canada, the Non-GMO Project Verified label is only allowed on products that have a GMO alternative. 2. This Combat Vet Wants to Inspire a New Generation of Farmers Growing up on a 15-acre family farm in central California, Morgan Boyd never dreamed of a career in agriculture. He recalled harvesting corn by hand in the sweltering heat in the Huasna Valley and hawking produce at farmer’s markets around San Luis Obispo County. “I didn’t see the farm as something I ever wanted to pursue at all,” he said. But after serving a dozen years in the Army, during which he deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, he was medically retired and struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury. He found peace back on the farm. “My transition out was really rough — I didn’t know what I was going to do with my life,” he said in a telephone interview with “I was coming home and helping my family on the farm, and I was finding a lot of peace and solitude and, to be quite honest, some healing out there.” Now, Boyd, a remarried father of two, wants to inspire other veterans interested in trading their combat fatigues for overalls. He launched the Farmer Experiential Education and Development, or FEED, program at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo to give beginner farmers a crash course in farming. —– CATCH THE BUZZ 1. The Number Of Beehives In New Zealand Is Expected To Hit The Million Mark By Christmas – The number of beehives in New Zealand is expected to hit the million mark by Christmas, and a Dunedin, New Zealand, apiary equipment supplier is urging those interested in hobby beekeeping to ensure they have the appropriate mentoring, education and support networks in place before they start out. Dunedin Beekeepers’ Club president Brian Pilley said in the past two or three years he had seen a big increase in interest in the hobby. The club has both commercial and hobbyist members from a wide range of backgrounds, and provides education and expertise for the less experienced. His company, Beeline Supplies Ltd, sells beekeeping equipment. ”We won’t sell to people unless they have mentoring, a support network or belong to a club,” Pilley said. 2.  Man Headed to Court Over Natural Landscaping Aimed at Helping Bee Population – Bees sustain our ecosystem and pollinate about a third of everything we eat, but that perfect lawn so many homeowners strive for is causing them harm, Bees are disappearing at an alarming rate because of pesticides, parasites, and loss of habitat. Now, a movement is underway to change the way we landscape so we don’t harm bees. Instead, we attract them. The quintessential American dream: a beautiful home, surrounded by a vibrant green lawn, maybe even a white picket fence. But to achieve our dream homes, we rely on harsh chemicals and pesticides to ward off insects and weeds. A new trend in landscaping is ditching the pesticides, creating quite the buzz in one town in western Massachusetts. 3. Former Coal Miners In Southern West Virginia Spent Their Summer Learning How To Keep Bees Thanks To UD’s Debbie Delaney – Former coal miners or citizens whose lives have been shaped by the coal mining industry in southern West Virginia spent their summer learning how to establish and operate bee colonies thanks to help from the University of Delaware’s Debbie Delaney. Delaney, associate professor of entomology in UD’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, spent her summer in Summers County working as a consultant through Appalachian Headwaters which is a non-profit organization that formed the Appalachian Beekeeping Collective. Delaney said that the goal was to help get the socioeconomic growth program up and running for displaced miners in 14 counties in southern West Virginia. “We got about 500 nucleus colonies or nucs, which are small colonies of bees, and a queen and all summer we’ve been erecting bear fences and creating bee yards so we can grow the colonies over the season and get them through the winter,” said Delaney. Beginning next year, local partners will come on board and get hives which will be a way for them to generate income. Delaney said that how much income will vary depending on what kind of forage is available during that time of year—and that since the initial installation began after foraging season, they have had to feed the bees a lot to get them up to weight to make it through winter. 4. Australian Growers Are Cloning The Strongest Medical Manuka Honey Available And Produce It On A Medicinal Honey Plantation –   Australian promoters are reported working on a project to clone the strongest medical Manuka honey available and produce it in a medicinal honey plantation.    The Land weekly farm newspaper reports one of the first plantations of its kind in Australia is producing promising results.    Cofounder Matt Blomfield, chief executive of Gather By says the company is using evidence-based approach, working with scientists from the University of the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, University Technology Sydney and University of Western Australia.  “Our cloned plants produce flowers at an order of magnitude greater than in the wild,” Blomfield says. 5. Nectar-Living Microbes Release Scents Or Volatile Compounds And Can Influence A Pollinator’s Foraging Preference – Hear that honey bee buzzing toward a flower? It’s not just the nectar that she’s scented. Nectar-living microbes release scents or volatile compounds, too, and can influence a pollinator’s foraging preference, according to newly published research led by UC Davis community ecologist Rachel Vannette. The groundbreaking research, published in the current edition of New Phytologistjournal, shows that nectar-inhabiting species of bacteria and fungi “can influence pollinator preference through differential volatile production,” said Vannette, an assistant professor in the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. “This extends our understanding of how microbial species can differentially influence plant phenotype and species interactions through a previously overlooked mechanism,” Vannette said. “It’s a novel mechanism by which the presence and species composition of the microbiome can influence pollination.”