Items of interest to beekeepers 16 December 2017

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








Also from the Winter ‘Buzz’ – AWARDEES AT NORTH AMERICAN POLLINATOR PROTECTION CAMPAIGN (NAPPC) CONFERENCE 2017 NAPPC presented 5 awards to pollinator advocates and farmer ranchers who have worked for years to promote pollinators. These awardees understand just how important pollinators are to food, culture, and life and they’ve all worked hard to promote the birds, bees, butterflies, moths, and bats that support agriculture and ecosystems everywhere. • 14 year old Nikolas Liepins, founder and COO of Bee Kind MN, gives age focused presentations to youth in local schools and scouting groups on pollinator issues. • Dr. Cameron Cartiere and Nancy Holmes at Border Free Bees provide a model for how communities can come together to create and preserve pollinator habitat and understand the scope of pollination systems in British Columbia. • Eduardo Rendon Salinas engages in important research on Monarch butterflies that systematically monitors monarch overwintering forests in Mexico. • Brendon Rockey of Rockey Farms has become a leader in using a biotic approach to farming that promotes pollinator health on his Colorado potato farm. • Antony John of Soiled Reputation has been supplying south-western Ontario for 20+ years with over 50 varieties of gourmet organic vegetables using practices that promote pollinator and wildlife diversity on his farm. —– HONEY BEES FILL ‘SADDLEBAGS’ WITH POLLEN. HERE’S HOW THEY KEEP THEM GRIPPED TIGHT. By Katherine Kornei, Portland OR Bees don’t just transport pollen between plants, they also bring balls of it back to the hive for food. These “pollen pellets,” which also include nectar and can account for 30% of a bee’s weight, hang off their hind legs like overstuffed saddlebags (pictured). Now, researchers have investigated just how securely bees carry their precious cargo. The team caught roughly 20 of the insects returning to their hives and examined their legs and pollen pellets using both high-resolution imaging and a technique similar to an x-ray. Long hairs on the bees’ legs helped hold the pollen pellets in place as the animals flew, the team reported last week at the 70th Annual Meeting of the American Physical Society Division of Fluid Dynamics in Denver. The researchers then tugged on some of the pollen pellets using elastic string. They found that the pellets, though seemingly precarious, were firmly attached: The force necessary to dislodge a pellet was about 20 times more than the force a bee typically experiences while flying. These findings can help scientists design artificial pollinators in the future, the team suggests. —– RADAR REVEALS HOW BEES DEVELOP ROUTES LONDON — As bees gain foraging experience they continually refine both the order in which they visit flowers and the flight paths they take between flowers to generate better and better routes, according to researchers at Queen Mary University of London. Despite this, bees can be tricked into taking tempting shortcuts between flowers even at the cost of increasing the overall distance they have to fly. Animals that travel between multiple destinations and return to a home base – like bees, birds, primates and humans – face a predicament known to mathematicians as the Travelling Salesman Problem. The challenge is to find a route that visits each destination while travelling the shortest possible distance. Previous research, looking only at the order in which animals arrive at each destination, has shown that animals often find a good, or even optimal, solution but little is known about how they find that solution. Lead author Joseph Woodgate, from Queen Mary’s School of Biological and Chemical Sciences, said: “Animals cannot simply inspect a map to find out where the best food sources are or plan how to get between them.” Bumblebees start out knowing nothing about the terrain or where they can find food, so they must explore the landscape, discovering locations one by one and then face the challenge of integrating their spatial memories into an efficient route. “Only by monitoring every move they make as they explore and try to generate a better route, can we understand how they tackle this challenge”, Dr Woodgate added. The researchers allowed bumblebee foragers to feed on an array of artificial flowers and used harmonic radar technology to follow individuals continuously over every foraging trip they made as they gradually developed solutions to the problem of how to visit them all. The result was one of the largest and most complete datasets on bee flight ever recorded and provided an in-depth look at route development for the first time ever. They found that focussing simply on sequences of visits to feeder stations, rather than the actual movements between stations or the way that routes develop, is insufficient to understand how animals solve route optimisation problems. The study, conducted in collaboration with Rothamsted Research, was published in Scientific Reports. Professor Lars Chittka, coordinator of the study, said: “Imagine a salesman from London who needs to call at Manchester, Leeds, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Inverness before returning home. From Manchester it is tempting to make the short trip across to Leeds, and from Glasgow it is tempting to visit Edinburgh, but a salesman who does that will soon find themselves stranded in Inverness with a very long drive home. The better solution is to travel up one side of the UK and return down the other.” The researchers presented the bees with an equivalent challenge. Dr Woodgate said: “As predicted, our bees showed a strong preference for taking shortcuts between nearby pairs of feeders even though this meant flying further in the long run. However, they did not exclusively fly only to the closest possible feeders, and tried out different routes in a flexible way.” The tracks recorded by the harmonic radar could be used to visualise the routes taken by the bees as they foraged. The researchers developed animated heatmaps that graphically demonstrated how some segments of route became habitual while other explorations were forgotten as preferred flight paths were discovered. The flight distance and duration of foraging bouts reduced as bees gained experience and this increased efficiency was attributable mainly to experienced bees flying straighter and exploring less, rather than improvements in the order in which flowers were visited. However, the bees never became completely set in their ways and the researchers uncovered evidence that suggests that they use random processes to introduce some variation into their routes which may help them to try out different visit orders looking for improvements to their routes. The results also reveal that efficient routes develop by parallel improvements of both the order feeders were visited and the actual movements of bees flying between them. In other words, experienced bees not only visited their feeders in the same order, but also flew along the same flight lines time after time. These habitual flight paths were straighter than the routes they flew when first discovering the feeders, allowing them to reduce their travel distance even when they were unable to visit them in the best possible order. Co-author James Makinson said: “Understanding how small-brained animals like bees find efficient rules-of-thumb to accomplish complex and flexible behaviours has great potential to inform the development of artificial intelligence and advanced robots. “It’s also important to understand how bees and other pollinating insects search for food and use the landscape is crucial to managing the risks to pollinator services posed by habitat loss and agricultural intensification.”   — Queen Mary University of London —– BEE AUDACIOUS UPDATE It’s been nearly a year! It’s one thing to generate ideas, it is quite another to put them into action.  This is a long road, but some steps have been taken to keep momentum going. Interviews – Many of the participants of the Bee Audacious conference were interviewed by Caroline Harrison of The Hive Studios.  She has organized the interviews into “bee insights”.  The first seven – including Tom Seeley, Marla Spivak, Mark Winston, Chas Mraz, Nicola Bradbear, Megan Denver, Katie Klett, Becky Masterman, Randy Oliver, Leo Sharashkin and Mace Vaughn are now available: Anyone is welcome to use / share these videos for informational purposes.  Stay tuned.  We will be adding more as they become available. Final Report – Full conference report and subsequent panel discussion is available online, if you haven’t already seen it (  Not only is it a comprehensive report of the ideas generated at the gathering, but it’s also a helpful guide if you are considering incorporating the dialogue format into your next conference. What’s Next?  10 x 10 + 10 – The ideas generated by the conference left us asking how we can: 1: Connect concerned citizens with local projects (or help them develop projects) 2: Connect contributions to large scale habitat restoration projects developed by respected pollinator organizations 3. Connect people into a network where they can be alerted to pollinator issues that need a voice (a loud one) like the next Farm Bill? We’re hoping 10 x 10 + 10 can be the tool that helps to accomplish these goals. Our fiscal non-profit sponsor, Planetwork, was founded in 1998 with the recognition that the only phenomenon growing as fast as the global ecological crisis was the global communications system and that with it, we could address the biggest threats facing humanity and the planet. What is 10 x 10 + 10? • A hub for action items and education to restore habitat and preserve biodiversity. • A tool for existing grassroots organizations to promote projects which encourage members of their local communities to provide habitat for pollinators. 10 x 10 • Create 10’ x 10’ space for pollinators! • Find a local groups for suggestions on plants suitable for your area. • Can’t find one?  Create one!   +10 • Donate $10 to a regional habitat restoration project (Bee & Butterfly Habitat Fund and Appalachian Headwaters) or an organization recommended by your local group to help restore pollinator habitat. Website is under development now.  Sign up for updates at —– IN SILICO IDENTIFICATION OF OFF-TARGET PESTICIDAL dsRNA BINDING IN HONEY BEES By Christina L. Mogren, Jonathan Gary Lundgren​ RNAi based insecticides were recently commercialized as a GM corn plant; a series of other GM crops also employ this technology for managing pests. A key marketing strategy for these products is that RNAi-based technology is very specific for a particular pest, based on its unique genetic “fingerprint”. Our recent work draws this specificity of RNAi-based pesticides into question. We looked at dozens of published pesticidal RNAs and found that they invariably matched unintended areas of the honey bee genome. Abstract   Background – Pesticidal RNAs that silence critical gene function have great potential in pest management, but the benefits of this technology must be weighed against non-target organism risks. Methods – Published studies that developed pesticidal double stranded RNAs (dsRNAs) were collated into a database. The target gene sequences for these pesticidal RNAs were determined, and the degree of similarity with sequences in the honey bee genome were evaluated statistically. Results – We identified 101 insecticidal RNAs sharing high sequence similarity with genomic regions in honey bees. The likelihood that off-target sequences were similar increased with the number of nucleotides in the dsRNA molecule. The similarities of non-target genes to the pesticidal RNA was unaffected by taxonomic relatedness of the target insect to honey bees, contrary to previous assertions. Gene groups active during honey bee development had disproportionately high sequence similarity with pesticidal RNAs relative to other areas of the genome. Discussion – Although sequence similarity does not itself guarantee a significant phenotypic effect in honey bees by the primary dsRNA, in silico screening may help to identify appropriate experimental endpoints within a risk assessment framework for pesticidal RNAi. Mogren CL, Lundgren JG. (2017) In silico identification of off-target pesticidal dsRNA binding in honey bees (Apis mellifera) PeerJ 5:e4131 Full article at —– From Dr. Christina Grozinger, POLLINATOR-L – BEE JOBS 1. Monarch and Pollinator Restoration Ecologist, Sacramento, CA Application Deadline: Job open until filled; applications will be reviewed as they are received. Start Date: January 2, 2018 – February 12, 2018 Join a growing team of ecologists, educators, advocates, and restoration practitioners working to conserve some of North America?s most important yet endangered pollinators.  Reporting to Xerces Society’s Director of Endangered Species and Aquatic Conservation, the Monarch Butterfly and Pollinator Restoration Ecologist will work with public land managers and private land owners to restore, enhance, and manage climate resilient habitat for monarch butterflies and other pollinators in California’s Central Valley. Please review full job details and application instructions here: 2. Graduate Level Pollinator Fellowship, Pollinator Partnership Position Announcement, Field Researcher – Springdale, Arkansas The Garden Club of America (GCA) Board of Associates Centennial Pollinator Fellowship provides funding to a current graduate student to study the causes of pollinator decline, in particular bees, bats, butterflies and moths, which could lead to potential solutions for their conservation and sustainability. Application deadline February 1, 2018 The categories under which applicants may apply are: 1. Effects of nutrition, genetics, pesticides, pathogens, parasites and disease on pollinators 2. Pollinator habitat development, assessment or monitoring 3. Plant-pollinator interactions and pollination biology 4. Research that examines other aspects of pollinator health, including cutting-edge, original concepts More info 3. Paid Field Research Opportunity – Springdale, Arkansas The Pollinator Partnership (P2) seeks to hire a motivated, detail-oriented Field Researcher in Northwest Arkansas to provide programmatic support for P2’s Monarch Wings Across America (MWAA) program. For more information, visit Deadline to apply: January 17, 2018 by 3PM PST. 4. EAS Honey Bee Research Proposals – There will be one (or more) awards available in 2018; the total amount available for all awards is $10,000. The award will be announced at the EAS 2018 Conference but available by May 1, 2018. The principle investigator must present their findings at the 2019 EAS Annual Conference, and we will publicize the award to aid in solicitation of additional funds for subsequent years. Deadline for application is February 1, 2018. Additional submission details can be found at, and further inquiries can be directed to 5. MS on forest pollinators at Indiana University of Pennsylvania – I am seeking an outstanding student to pursue an MS research project exploring the habitat associations of insect pollinators on private- and public forestlands in the central Appalachian Mountains (PA). Little is known about pollinator ecology in heavily forest landscapes such as central Appalachia where increased forestry efforts are underway to benefit imperiled wildlife that use younger age class forest. This research assistantship includes i) a full in-state tuition-waver for an MS degree from Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP), ii) graduate stipend, and iii) all funding for required research components. The successful applicant will 1) collect pollinator occurrence data across forest stands of various successional stages; 2) interact frequently with private forest owners and public land managers; 3) collaborate with wildlife ecologists, statisticians, and entomologists to accomplish the above goals; and 4) work to establish scientific guidelines to aid forestry in efforts to conserve / promote forest pollinators. Contact Jeff Larken for more information ( —– CATCH THE BUZZ 1. Key U.S. Panel Sees No National Security Barriers to Bayer Takeover of Monsanto – A special review panel of U.S. officials “has concluded there are no unresolved national security concerns” in the proposed purchase by German chemical giant Bayer of St. Louis-based Monsanto for $66 billion. “Bayer and Monsanto will continue to cooperate with the authorities in order to complete the transaction in early 2018,” said a terse joint statement by the companies. The merger would result in the world’s largest seed and ag chemical company, and would complete a wave of consolidation that is turning the big six into a big three in the sector. In the other combinations, Dow and DuPont merged and state-owned ChemChina purchased Swiss-based Syngenta. Bayer and Monsanto reached agreement on their combination in September 2016, saying it would combine Monsanto’s strengths in seeds and digital agriculture with Bayer’s crop-protection portfolio. 2. UC Davis Chemical Ecologist Discovers Sex Pheromone Of Asian Citrus Psyllid – The Asian citrus psyllid, the most devastating threat to the worldwide citrus industry, may have met its match. In a ground-breaking discovery encompassing six years of research, an international team of scientists led by UC Davis chemical ecologist Walter Leal announced they’ve identified the sex pheromone of the pest, which feeds on citrus and transmits the bacteria that causes the deadly citrus greening disease known as Huanglongbing (HLB). Leal, a native of Brazil and a fellow of both the Entomological Society of America and the Entomological Society of Brazil, revealed the discovery during his presentation Dec. 5 at the 10th Annual Brazilian Meeting of Chemical Ecology in Sao Paulo. His team included scientists from UC Davis, University of Sao Paulo, and the Fund for Citrus Protection (FUNDECITRUS) from the state of Sao Paulo. 3. Me & The Bees Lemonade Founder Mikaila Ulmer Named To Time Magazine’s 30 Most Influential Teens Of 2017 – AUSTIN, Texas (November 7, 2017) – Me & the Bees Lemonade founder, philanthropist and kidpreneur, Mikaila Ulmer, has just been named to Time Magazine’s 30 Most Influential Teens of 2017 list. Mikaila Ulmer was just four years old, when she was stung by two bees in the same week, creating a fascination that inspired her to start Me & The Bees Lemonade. Upon discovering the important role bees play in our ecosystem, Mikaila was determined to help them. Using her Great Granny’s flaxseed honey lemonade recipe, Mikaila launched a business out of her Austin, Texas home. Fast forward 8 years later, Mikaila’s award winning Me & The Bees Lemonade is buzzing off the shelves in more than 300 Whole Foods Market stores, Wegmans and other grocers across the United States. Committed to philanthropy, Mikaila helps save honey bees by donating 10 percent of profits toward the cause. On the heels of her 13th birthday, Mikaila is one of only two 13 year olds to be featured on this years’ Time Magazine’s Most Influential Teens list, the other being Netflix Stranger Things star, Millie Bobby Brown. Time Magazine selects individuals for their annual Influential Teens list based on accolades across numerous fields, global impact through social media and overall ability to drive news. In the past, Time Magazine’s Most Influential Teen lists have recognized everyone from singer Lorde to Olympic champion Simone Biles to political activist Joshua Wong. 4. Researchers ID What Each Bacterial Species Found In A Bee Gut Contributes To Bee Digestion – The honey bee gut is colonized by specialized bacteria that help digest components of the floral pollen diet and produce molecules that likely promote bee health. A group of researchers led by Philipp Engel at the University of Lausanne and ETH Zürich, Switzerland, have uncovered which bacterial species perform which specific digestive functions in the bee gut. In a study in the journal PLOS Biology, the researchers measured the repertoire of simple chemical compounds – the so-called metabolome – from bee guts. They then compared the gut metabolomes of bees colonized with each bacterial species individually and in combination. This allowed the team to identify what each bacterial species contributes to the bee digestion and the various strategies bacteria deploy to co-exist in the animal gut. 5. Battlefields to Beehives – USDA Helps West Virginia Veteran Grow His Farm into a Success – Eric Grandon never thought he would be a farmer. After joining the Army at 19, he served in four peace-time missions in the Middle East and two combat missions, Operations Desert Storm and Iraqi Freedom. After retiring from his military service, he was introduced to the Veterans and Warriors Agriculture program, through the West Virginia Department of Agriculture, and eventually opened an agricultural operation of his own. “I’ve only been farming for four years. When I retired from the National Guard, I had Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and I didn’t do anything for two years,” said Grandon. “I met James McCormick, the director of the Veterans and Warriors Agriculture program, and he recommended that I try agriculture. I loved it.” Grandon and his wife, Mary, bought his father-in-law’s farm in Clay County, West Virginia, started producing molasses and named it “Sugar Bottom Farm.” “Now we grow almost everything you would find on salad bar: romaine lettuce, grape tomatoes, cucumbers, green onions, mini sweet peppers, snap peas, rainbow carrots, slicing tomatoes, broccoli, and cabbage,” said Grandon. “We also grow watermelon, strawberries, raspberries and blueberries, but my favorite thing to grow is honeybees.” 6. The Last Honey Hunter, and Rare Hallucinogenic Honey – Directed by Ben Knight, The Last Honey Hunter documents the life of Mauli Dhan Rai, the last man in the remote village of Saadi in Solokhumbu to have had the dream that, as the legend has it, grants him safe passage in high jungle cliffs to harvest a rare hallucinogenic strain of wild honey. To date, no one else in the community has had the dream, and this age-old tradition of honey hunting is at risk of dying out. Produced with support from National Geographic, the documentary has already won several awards in the international film festival circuit, including Best Mountain Culture at the Banff Mountain Film Festival, Best Visuals at the Kendal Mountain Film Festival, and Best Short at the Camden International Film Festival in the US. The film also features the culture and traditions of the Kulung people, and paints a dramatic portrait of how life is changing for remote communities across Nepal.