Items of interest to beekeepers 17 February 2018

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







Sent by Peggy Beckett – HAWAIIAN BEEKEEPERS – JOIN ‘THE MIGHTY NETWORK BEE COLLECTIVE” If you are a beekeeper on one of the Hawaiian islands, here is a brand new network to help you. Check out the new Master Beekeeping Program being established under the leadership of Jason Graham. Based on the University of Florida’s system, the Hawaii Master Beekeeper Program is an opportunity for participants to learn about bees and beekeeping, develop a beekeeping community network, test accumulated knowledge and certify progress through the journey to mastery. Check out this network: —– FAKE HONEY IS A PROBLEM AND SCIENCE CAN SOLVE IT – IF GOVERNMENT GETS OUT OF THE WAY By Hank Campbell, American /Council on Science and Health Adulterated honey, meaning it has been diluted with other substances, has been an issue for as far back as honey has been sold.(1) One of the reasons we know so much about the composition of the sweetener is due to efforts from the 1960s on to fight fraud. Today, it is most likely to be mixed with high fructose corn syrup because, as you probably know, that is about the same in fructose. Consumer fraud happens in lots of areas, we talk about supplements and homeopathy all of the time, but USDA can’t fix those.(2) They can, however, get expert guidance on how to detect honey fraud using modern science. And they did, almost a year ago, in a 21-page report by Michael T. Roberts, executive director of the Resnick Program for Food Law and Policy at University of California Los Angeles titled “Recommended Strategies to Address Economic Adulteration in Honey”. Yet it’s never been published, which seems strange. Honey is a $327 million industry, according to the Department Of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service Annual Honey Report from 2017, which means it is a huge business segment that needs protection from fraud so consumers don’t become jaded and legitimate sellers aren’t cheated. Beekeepers previously lobbied the Obama administration’s FDA to create a legal “standard of identity” for honey but as happened with olive oil, arguably the most faked product in the western world, FDA refused. USDA is, by its job description, more sympathetic to the concerns of legitimate food sellers and consumers. They know people are paying for labels like ‘certified organic’ or ‘USDA Grade A’ from their organization and those labels are meaningless if government has no clue whether the product has been mixed in with something else. So why is the the National Honey Board, part of USDA, sitting on it? USDA says they are but the author of the reports said at a conference he was told it is not the honey committee but instead the Agricultural Marketing Service division of USDA. So it is unclear which part of government is even preventing its publication. That makes why they are preventing it even less transparent, especially since the new administration has declared they intend to be more evidence-based than the previous one. One compelling recommendation in the report, which Politico journalists obtained, is the use of Nuclear Magnetic Resonance testing to detect fraud. Will organic honey sellers be okay with science to verify their products? (3) Thin-layer chromatography and mass spectrometric stable carbon isotope ratio analysis have been used in the past but they are not necessarily trustworthy because some of the same compounds in cane sugar, beet sugar or corn syrup are also in pure honey. Corporate media are no help. Food Safety News, founded by a trial lawyer who sues food companies, and politically sympathetic scaremongering groups like Mother Jones even manufactured claims that supermarket honey was not “real” honey because Americans prefer that honey crystallizes less quickly and so had more pollen filtered out. They implicitly suggested that their advertisers, organic groups, were selling the real stuff even though it uses identical diatomaceous earth filters. None of that was true but it’s hard for the mainstream public to know. Government could help by putting out guidelines for volunteer testing. Food groups could then market how much better their product is rather than the decades-long “nocebo” technique of putting what they don’t have on labels. All USDA will say is that that AMS and the National Honey Board were providing “technical corrections” to the draft report. Editing science reports? And here we were told this administration would be a lot different than the previous one. NOTES: (1) Around 400 A.D. in written logs. Honey usage much longer. Cave paintings place that at 6,000 B.C. (2) And the Clinton administration’s 1994 DSHEA law made it impossible to regulate them until they kill people. (3) Many of them have already abandoned that segment because it is hard to produce honey when you can’t kill pests using the best scientific methods or you’ll lose your organic sticker. —– BULLYING IN BEEKEEPING Lack of compassion and extreme arrogance among beekeepers borders on fanatical intolerance – tribalism By Albert Chubak, WAS rep from Utah Abstract Bullying is not just exhibited by students, it may be the office jerk who you wish would just quit. Bullying is a form of control where the instigator is wanting to usurp power or force an ideology on another person. Society as a whole sees differences as not necessarily bad, evil, or corrupt – just different. What is good for one is not always good for all. One thought, method, practice, an application is rarely universal as many situations can exist that need variation. In beekeeping, many think one system or practice or belief should be universal and should not be questioned. Many beliefs are shared in bookswritten by those in the bee world that claim to be the “way it is”. However, beekeeping is a regional thing and adaptation to the environment, local conditions, personal limitation, and needs all play a part in what method, hive, system, or application is, will, or could be used. Regularly there are posts where the “all knowing” seasoned beekeeper will share his “word” on what should be followed in relation to a hive type. Many times, this insight is not wanted nor sought but comes and can be critical and demeaning. Bullying in any form is ignorant, short-sighted, and displays character weakness and faults. Historical development and where we are There was a time beyond our days when the craft of beekeeping was excitingly new, and almost anything was accepted, tried, and even patented. Every thought, idea, method, and structure was detailed and submitted for a patent number then labeled and accredited as a “patented beehive”. As the beekeeping ideas were tried, slowly some faded away. Many of those ideas are now lost and the equipment that was carefully designed then are now rotted and have been worm excrement for a century or more. The victor in the battle of the 19th-century beehives was Lorenzo Langstroth’s hive. It was the simplest design with the greatest commercial potential. This hive though did not meet every beekeeping need then or now, so other systems and styles have evolved. Joining an extended partially intolerant family … a family of beekeepers Today there are about 800 beekeeping clubs nationally in the US. According to the USDA in October/December 2017 there were 3,032,060 commercial honey bee colonies in the United States ( Additional undocumented colonies exist in hobbyist apiaries, increasing that total significantly. An estimate on the number of beekeepers in the USA is quite elusive but is believed to be about two million. Many beekeepers are private in how they manage their colonies, yet others are quite outspoken. The adage, “ask ten beekeepers a question, you’ll get ten answers”, is quite realistic. With the advent of social media, many have sought their beekeeping enlightenment via venues like YouTube and Facebook. Those joining the ranks of “beekeeper” initially view others as perhaps their new family. Comradery is expected, but for those who choose a variant system/hive, a door is opened that leads the beekeeper initially into defense mode. This defense is a result of ostracization, ridicule, and simply bullying. Instead of a welcoming hand or word of friendship, many are avoided as their choice of a hive is not the standard Langstroth hive so clearly, they must be on an opposing beekeeping team! The world of beekeeping is not all Langstroth’s world Variant hives have always existed, with the most common 21st-century styles/methods being:   • Warre hive,   • Top-bar or Kenyan hive,   • Horizontal or Long-box hive,   • Flow Hive,   • Mini Urban Beehive,   • Slovenian hive,   • Barrel hive, and others unmentioned. Each hive system serves a specific need due to regional issues, or adaptation to a specific environment, local conditions, personal limitations, honey production, bee health, growth cycles, emotional, medical, diet, age, millennial status, ease or simplicity, and of course beauty. The beekeeping industry clearly caters to the Langstroth hive setup but others still exist. Those with variant hives, seeking beekeeping answers, may be bombarded with responses typical of the Langstroth method. Those loyal to this 19th century adaptation in beekeeping (Langstroth) may display almost religious zeal in defending their “hive” and opposing others as “second rate” or “novelties”. Another saying, “If you want to be a beekeeper, you need to do as the big boys do”. The beekeeper’s perceptional view window is stuck on one setting (hive), even though they agree many hives exist. It is narrow-minded to think one hive style can serve every need. Other needs exist besides HONEY. When the “Flow” hive made its initial debut on social media, many traditional beekeepers were vehemently opposed to it while new beekeepers were mesmerized by it. Some of the hatred rose due to the horrendous amount of “hey look at this new hive” posting. Many traditionalists tried to mansplain the reasons why it was bad, evil, foolish without ever trying it. Not everything needs to be tried to expose faults. Experience can replace some testing but testing is the best route. Many reasons have been touted in opposition to this new hive system, but many have now successfully used it. Is it a perfect system? The answer is to be decided by the one using it. Years ago, we had rotary telephones and we loved them – the longer the cord the better. Today we have minicomputer style cell phones, and we love them despite their costs and frequent repairs. My belief is better than your belief Bullying may come differently to people. It may be harassment, talking down, mocking, using descriptives such as “You’re stupid”, “How could you ever think that would work.”, and “I know better than you.” Sadly, many that profess beekeeping knowledge base their insights on their understanding of the Langstroth method. It is similar to knowing how to ride a bike based on knowledge of driving a car, but if you need information on how to ride a bike, information on the car may be completely unrelated. Sure, there are similarities, but the method in question may be entirely unique and related only to the Langstroth method. A comment copied from social media, “I never get my panties in a bunch, but if you suggest something, and 20 experienced people immediately tell you it is a really bad idea, it is not a pile on, nor is it bullying. It is the voice of experience trying to keep you from making a mistake. If those same 20 folks spout off about a hive or frame system they have never used and in many cases never seen – that is not experience; that is contempt prior to investigation.” He continues by naming a person responsible for a modern hive, “… has a hiving system that is not what I am interested in but I can see the practicality for the uses he markets for. As a beginner I had three different hive systems: two systems came to me to test, and I built a horizontal double system. I am interested in the horizontal double for what it is worth. None of my hiving systems are perfect, nor are they substandard just because the old hands “do not think” the system is of value.” Another derogatory remark, “…I have seen so much of this and wondered why beekeepers eat their own”. Some attack, demean and insult. It serves to discourage others from asking questions and sharing experiences in beekeeping. Rather it could be said, “I’m glad to see someone addressing the issue. Thank you.” A lady from Oregon wrote, “As far as support from other beekeepers, I haven’t found anyone who would share their information; it’s like a private club or something”. And, “When I started, a few people told me that I would fail, as I did not start with a queen. One person, in particular, who has kept bees for 20 years, said raising your own queen was the most ridiculous thing ever and said that I bought into a stupid scheme.” Basing a belief on a myth is like believing in a fairytale There are myths in beekeeping – beliefs that are actually false, but are promoted and taught by many.   • A colony needs 80lbs of honey to survive a winter (Smaller colonies require less stores. Carniolan bees go through winter with smaller colonies and can survive on less. Italian bees build up to large colonies that consume a great deal of resources even in winter).   • You can’t start a colony without a queen (As long as there are nurse bees with open brood laid by a mated queen and available resources of pollen and honey, the colony can create a queen).   • All honey bees are aggressive (Defense bees are protective; nurse bees are non-aggressive).   • Plastic foundation is the only way to have perfect frames (Smaller frames with starter strips of thin surplus create perfect honeycomb).   • Only a double deep or equivalent hive can survive the winter (Small colonies have survived the winter in nature for 30 million years. Methods and hives exist that prove this false).   • A swarm in May is worth a load of hay, a swarm in June is worth a silver spoon, a swarm inJuly isn’t worth a fly (Swarms can always be added to an existing colony. Double queened colonies also generate faster larger bee populations. Mini colonies can be started as late as October that survives the winter).   • The size of the hive is equal to how much honey can be produced (Honey production is related to available forage and health of the colony. A smaller colony/hive can out-produce a larger colony/hive based on location, health, and age of queen).   • Only a 3lb package or a 5 frame Nuc can build a colony that can survive the winter (Colonies started with as little as two 6″x6″ frames of open brood with nurse bees by June can not only create a locally mated queen, also survive winter in any North American climate).   • Bees prefer a vertical hive compared to a horizontal hive (Many methods/hives exist globally, showing bees adapt to their chosen hive).   • Drawn wax takes lots of resources for a colony to produce (Wax is produced quickly when nectar is abundant. Inducing wax production can be facilitated by feeding when nectar is slow).   • One hive style is perfect for every application (Many needs exist for having honey bees ranging from medical apitherapy to apartment dwellers, to pollination gardens and seniors or children and those with handicaps. One size hive does not fit all needed applications).   • The best hive is the Langstroth hive. (There are many hives and each has pros and cons. The Langstroth hive is the best commercial hive as it is adapted to facilitate honey production and pollination. It is not, however, a great hive to learn on. It is heavy, requires extraction, utilizes plastic foundation, can be overwhelming to a new colony). Having provable insights are wonderful to share The scientific study standard requires results to be verifiable through an independent source. If the results cannot be replicated then the results are not valid. It is difficult to claim something is false without testing. Testing just once may not be adequate as the attempt may also be flawed or skewed by other factors, or may have a personal bias being reflected in the attempt. Everyone has an opinion, and perceptions vary. Many rally behind teams and fill stadiums for contests of skill and strategy. Sometimes underdogs prove victorious. In beekeeping, similar contests can be seen daily on social media exposing fanatical intolerance to the degree of tribalism. Supporters of each method protect their own and claim varying techniques and skills. Those caught up in these lively Internet beekeeping debates may see fervor similar to religious zeal urging on the modern-day crusades to flush out the opposing views. Which beekeeping method is the best? That entirely depends on the needs of those who are beekeeping. Until beekeepers realize there are many reasons to possess and raise bees, hive styles will equally vary. Unfortunately, tribalism will ignorantly continue. Learning how to be kind to one another, an art social media decimated The true teacher understands a student may learn in many ways. One of them is in failure. Failure is a powerful teaching experience. It is also vital that the teacher first learns about the item in question. Speaking generally about beekeeping is a general topic, whereas speaking about a specific method requires an understanding of that method. To teach requires kindness and tact like the powerful saying, “If you don’t have anything good to say, don’t say nothing at all.” According to Karanveer Pannu, the number one cause of bullying is ignorance. Other suggested guidelines to prevent beekeeping bullying online or otherwise:   • Do not speak down to the person or use derogatory comments.   • If you do not have specific understanding related to the item discussed, say nothing at all.   • First, seek to understand the needs of the individual.   • Suggest where information can be obtained, if known.   • Refrain from mansplaining or trying to redirect to a personal agenda.   • Understand many views can be right, but the missing key may be what “they” want, not you.   • You may not know everything about beekeeping, even though you are a beekeeper, that is okay.   • Sometimes helping may be just listening.   • Understand the question before you respond.   • Keep your personal feelings to yourself.   • Avoid manipulation, as it is the act of intentionally trying to redirect to your way of thinking.   • If related to the Internet, know many may see your comments besides those in the discussion. A recent discussion on a Facebook site was initiated by a new beekeeper wanting access to bees. Instead of specific help solving his issue, discourses followed relating to the “poor” choice of beekeeping equipment. In the end, a personal response was sent via private message. “Looks like I am now hated by my new friends”. As referenced earlier, do we “eat our own” or do we nurture them to succeed despite what we think is good for them? —– From Dr. Christina Grozinger at POLLINATOR -L – RESEARCH JOBS 1. Pruitt Lab Postdoctoral Search, UC Santa Barbara CA The Pruitt Lab explores the ecology of intraspecific variation, with particular focus on how the collective traits of animal societies influence their rise and fall in contrasting environments. We will be hiring multiple postdocs starting fall 2018. Initial appointments will be for a year, but can be extended up to three years. Each position will come with an annual research and discretionary fund of eight thousand dollars. Postdoctoral positions are available in any subfield of behavioral ecology, but applicants interested in the ecology of social behavior, collective behavior, and the determinants of group success are particularly encouraged to apply. Applicants may choose to work on any organism they wish, but existing laboratory infrastructure can support research on invertebrates, small terrestrial vertebrates, and fishes. Interested applicants should submit a brief cover letter containing the contact information of three references, a CV, and a 1-page proposal describing their proposed research including system information and hypotheses. Please send these documents to Review of applications will begin on March 15th but will continue to be evaluated on a rolling basis. More information about the Pruitt Lab can be found here: 2. Collection Manager, University of New Hampshire Insect Collection, Durham, NH The University of New Hampshire Insect Collection is seeking to hire a Collection Manager in our Department of Biological Sciences. The start date for the position is July 1, 2018. Application deadline is March 9, 2018. Minimum qualifications include a Master’s or PhD in Biology (with an emphasis in Entomology and experience with Hymenoptera is desirable), four years of experience in curatorial or closely related work required (or an equivalent combination of education and experience), and prior supervisory experience. Information, including detailed position descriptions and complete application information is available at All applicants will be required to apply online at 3. BeeMORE Undergraduate Summer Research paid internship, North Carolina State University, Raleigh If you are an undergraduate science major who is interested in pursuing a career in STEM, there is an exciting new opportunity to develop your skills while studying the interface between microbes and bees. BeeMORE is a USDA-funded Research and Extension Experience for Undergraduates who are interested in significantly advancing their research skills in the field, the laboratory, or both. Potential projects include (but not limited to): – Disease ecology of native pollinators – Evaluating the microbial diversity found in DNA from beehives – Discovering new yeasts from bees for brewing beer – Metagenomic surveys of bees and hives – Assessing the use of RNAi as a pest control method for hive pests – Elucidating the gut microbiome of honey bee queens – Culturing and characterizing properties of bee pathogens Logistics – Program runs from May 30th to August 3rd 2018 (9 weeks), and some accommodations for travel can be provided – Students will receive a $500 stipend per week ($4,500 total for the summer) PLUS free room and board at our Wolf Village Apartments – Successful applicants will be paired with faculty mentor programs to conduct their own research most amenable to their research interests and background – Activities will include presentations, group field trips, extension meetings, and the NC State Summer Undergraduate Research Symposium Apply now! – DEADLINE: Application review will begin on February 28th, 2018 – Apply online at: 4. EPA Jobs This is a broad announcement for multiple permanent positions in the re-evaluation division of OPP. While GS-9 might not appear all that attractive up front (especially for Ph.D students), these positions all operate on an annual grade promotion ladder up to GS-13; so essentially automatic promotion to GS-9, 11, 12, 13 in successive years, and then steps 1-4 of GS-13 after that. With DC locality pay that will likely mean a salary over $100k within 3-4 years. Entomologists are always of interest to OPP, particularly those with some expertise in IPM, toxicology, med/vet/public health ent, or environmental exposure/risk assessment. Biologist/Entomologist/Toxicologist/Industrial Hygienist/Chemist Eric Bohnenblust, Tim Ciarlo, and Clayton Myers are always happy to talk to PSU students and answer any questions or offer tips. The application window is tight for these–closing February 23. Also, students should be on the look-out for additional USAjobs announcements from OPP for entomologists over the coming months. Despite the overall down times at EPA, the pesticide program has enhanced flexibility for hiring  at the moment, using PRIA fees. So we’re in a bit of ramping-up mode unlike the rest of the Agency. 5. Collection Manager, University of New Hampshire Insect Collection, University of New Hampshire, Durham, NH The University of New Hampshire Insect Collection is seeking to hire a Collection Manager in our Department of Biological Sciences. The start date for the position is July 1, 2018. Application deadline is March 9, 2018. Information, including detailed position descriptions and complete application information is available at All applicants will be required to apply online at —– CATCH THE BUZZ 1.  Higher Temperatures in California Resulting in Early Season Bloom – Temperatures in Central Valley have been well above average; that means blooms along the Fresno County Blossom Trail are well ahead of schedule. Everywhere in Fresno county you can start to see blossoms in the orchards; in another week or so many of these trees will be in full bloom. Apricots, oranges, and peaches are just a few of the valley’s signature crops that start out in this beautiful and delicate way. People from all over the world come to see the blossoms. But due to the unseasonably warm start to February, the timing of this bloom is multiple week’s ahead of schedule, reported On the surface this may not seem like a problem, but Stacie Grote with Simonian Farms says some growers are concerned: “If we were to get a frost in the next few weeks it could devastate the cherry crop.” 2. ND, CA Working Together for Bees. Common Sense Might Just Win – North Dakota Agriculture commissioner Doug Goehring is working with California’s agriculture secretary Karen Ross on a new program that will benefit both states when it comes to honey bees. California needs honey bees to pollinate most of its crops, many of which are now in the spring bud break season. The majority of those honeybees come from North Dakota. Commissioner Goehring pointed out there can be some issues when trucks carrying the bees hit the California border. “We have trucks piled up for border inspections for five, six, I’ve heard several hours,” he said. He explained some of the issues those hold ups can cause for the bees. “If it happens during a warm part of the day it can cause those bees, first of all, to start swarming and start to overheat. It can cause more death losses and more problems. It really comes down to making sure that we’re concerned about the health of the bees and also the welfare of the bees.” 3. Almond Growers Need To Learn How To Inspect Hives And What To Look For When Doing Those Inspections – Almond growers not inspecting bee hives when they first arrive, or having them inspected before the bloom, are setting themselves and the industry up for delivery of weak colonies for pollination. Neil Trent is a bee inspector with Scientific Ag Company of Bakersfield, a company owned by bee broker Joe Traynor. Trent spoke with Western Farm Press recently about what he does and how almond growers can protect themselves during pollination. Trent is a retired beekeeper who formerly rented bees for pollination through Traynor. About 12 years ago Trent retired from beekeeping and went to work for Traynor as a bee inspector. “My job is to protect the farmer,” Trent says. That job includes inspecting hives for contract compliance – typically a minimum of eight frames on average. He also looks for signs of healthy hives, which will include… 4. Cautious Optimism for Sufficient Bee Colonies for Almond Pollination – With pollination season fast approaching, almond growers should already have pollination contracts in place.           As California’s producing almond acreage continues to grow, so does the demand for pollination services. USDA Pollination Survey figures suggest 1.9 million honey bee colonies — about three-quarters of the nation’s colonies — will be needed for almond pollination this year.    American Beekeeping Federation President Gene Brandi, who is also a longtime Central Valley beekeeper, says he is hearing that bee supplies could be short, or that hive strength could be compromised. Hives from out of state providers have been arriving in California in recent weeks, and are already being moved into orchards as weather allows. 5. Even Better Than Manuka? Jarrah and Marri Honey: A Liquid Goldrush of Medical Benefits – In high demand, Jarrah and Marri honey fetches a high price due to its medicinal properties (ABC News: Western Australia is experiencing a new gold rush, but it has nothing to do with precious metals. It’s liquid gold — honey sourced from the state’s unique jarrah and other forests, rich in antimicrobial and other health giving properties. Farm gate prices have increased tenfold in the last decade and the strongest “medi-honeys” are now selling for as much as $100 a kilogram in China. Independent testing of jarrah and marri honey in New Zealand in 2016 found that it had stronger antimicrobial properties than the much prized manuka honey. 6. Scientists Developing Kits to Test and Grade Honey – New Delhi –  Scientists are working on developing kits for testing and grading of honey in the country to ensure that its quality is maintained, the government today informed the Rajya Sabha. Replying to questions on adulteration of honey in the market, Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh said there are seven laboratories in the country where testing of honey is done. “Our scientists are working to develop kits to ensure that the honey is pure and there is no adulteration and to ensure that its grading is done,” he told the members. 7. Agriculture This Week – Canola Market Will Face Pressures – One truth about farming is that acres tend to flow to crops deemed to have the best chance of a good return. On first look that statement is rather obvious, and would seem to make sense. If a crop is enjoying good prices it would be wise to grow that crop. Of course the problem that arises is that good prices today are far from a guarantee of good prices by the time the next crop comes off. Prices can dip rather quickly in the world of commodities which at the heart of their markets rely on supply and demand. Certainly over the years government trade subsidies from one country, or another, trade barrier tariffs and other outside pressures have circumvented the supply and demand mechanic of markets, but the amount of a crop available to the world market, and the amount buys need to fulfill their requirements remains a key factor. And therein lies an ongoing reality for producers.