Items of interest to beekeepers 17 September 2017

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







WHAZZUP? WAS 2018 CONFERENCE MOVES TO BOISE, IDAHO – WAS UP! The 2017 Western Apricultural Society (WAS) Conference and 40th anniversary at UC-Davis, CA is a thing of the past. We left Davis and the incredible bee people there with thanks for all their hard work and with excitement for the next 40 years! Once again (for the 6th time!) Dr. Eric Mussen carved out a varied and information-packed show. Too, too bad if you missed it! New WAS President Steve Sweet of Boise, Idaho has big shoes to fill, and he left no doubt he is up to the task. Even before WAS 2017 got seriously underway, mysterious photos with “WHAZZUP?” on them began to appear. As the annual WAS members’ business meeting ended and Steve became “official”, “WAS UP! Boise 2018” took over, proclaiming the readiness of Idaho beekeepers to put on a powerful and fun-filled program. All will be revealed as plans develop and are posted on the WAS website ( Dates are being confirmed now. We’ll let you know shortly. The Treasure Valley Beekeepers Association, Steve Sweet’s home town buddies, are already famous for their boisterous National Honey Bee Day (Weekend in Boise, now officially “City of Bees”) celebrations. WHAZZUP? More of the same for WAS 2018. WAS UP!… and running! —– A PROTEIN PRODUCED BY HONEY BEES COULD INSPIRE THE FIRST NEW ANTIBIOTIC IN 30 YEARS Health officials are desperate for new antibiotics as dangerous bacterial strains strengthen their resistance against long-used drugs. Every year in the United States, 2 million people are infected with drug-resistant bacteria. For 23,000 people, the infection and related complications prove fatal. Researchers are constantly scanning nature for compounds and molecules that might inspire new antibiotics. Recent studies have identified potential compounds in sponges and Komodo dragons. In a new study published this week in the journal Nature Structural & Molecular Biology, researchers highlight the promising Api137, a protein capable of blocking protein production in harmful bacteria. The protein is produced naturally by bees, wasps and hornets, and helps keep the insects infection-free. Most antibiotics disrupt protein production by targeting the ribosome inside bacterial cells. The ribosome is responsible for synthesizing the proteins that allow bacteria cells to function. Api137 — an antibacterial peptide, or small protein — works by thwarting DNA translation, the genomic process that sees genetic instructions read and translated into fresh proteins. The latest analysis of Api137 — carried out by researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago — has helped scientists better understand exactly how the protein works. Now, scientists are working to replicate, or synthesize, the peptide in the lab. “This project was a result of an excellent collaboration of our team,” researcher Vázquez-Laslop said in a news release. “We can now harness the knowledge of how Api137 works in order to make new drugs that would kill bad bacteria using a similar mechanism of action.” —– NEW ZEALAND’S EYE IN THE SKY SATELLITE SYSTEM IS SOLVING SOME OF THE HIVE THEFT PROBLEMS New Zealand beekeepers are going high-tech as they attempt to fight off organized crime. Police seized thousands of beehives, worth up to $1000 each, in a raid in the country’s Bay of Plenty region. They found a chop shop with the hives being rigged for sale. What the thieves didn’t know as every move they made was being watched from satellite. A company called MyApiary had outfitted beekeepers with their Hive Tracker system that sends details of hive movements to beekeepers. Co-founder Carl Vink tells reporters the system sends an alert when a hive is disturbed and tracks its movement when it is moved. “The beekeeper was able to see exactly where the hives went, the route they took, right from when they stole the hives to a specific property in the Bay of Plenty region,” Vink says. Apiculture New Zealand chief executive Karin Kos said thefts from beekeepers is costing millions of dollars. “It is a problem New Zealand-wide,” she says. “Security measures are being implemented including pressure plates and increased CCTV around hives in a bid to assist police.” Detective Senior Sergeant Greg Turner says the satellite tracking data was an integral part of their investigation. “It is certainly a good crime tracking tool,” he says. “Hopefully it makes people think twice before stealing things.” —– From Dr. Christina Grozinger at POLLINATOR – L – 1. Pollination Protector Plan (P4) We have recently completed the Pennsylvania Pollinator Protection Plan (P4)!  The website with all the documents – including a portal for submitting comments on the Plan – is here: The P4 was developed with input from 36 individuals represented 28 state  and national organizations and stakeholder groups. It summarizes the current state of pollinators in Pennsylvania, and provides recommendations for best practices and resources to support and expand pollinator populations.  We are VERY pleased with how the P4 developed, and hope that it will serve as an excellent resource for Pennsylvania and beyond. Christina 2. Assistant Professor of Biology (Integrative Organismal Physiologist) – Tenure Track The Department of Biology at The College of Wooster is seeking a tenure-track Assistant Professor of Biology to begin August 2018. Primary responsibilities will be to teach upper-level courses in organismal physiology, contribute to introductory and intermediate courses in the Biology major, participate in the College’s First-Year seminar in critical inquiry, and mentor undergraduates in our nationally recognized senior research program. Ability to teach a sophomore-level course in statistics and experimental design is a plus. Ph.D. required; postdoctoral research and/or teaching experience preferred. The College of Wooster enrolls a diverse student body (20% domestic students of color and 11% international students). All applicants must demonstrate a promise of excellence in working with students from diverse backgrounds. Apply at: Questions regarding the position should be addressed to Rick Lehtinen ( Application deadline is October 9, 2017 for full consideration. 3.  Neurobiologist/Neurotoxicologist, University of North Carolina The Department of Biology at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG) invites applications for a tenure-track Assistant Professor position in Neurobiology and/or Neurotoxicology. We seek an outstanding individual who will develop a productive, externally funded research program and contribute to student instruction at all levels. Candidates must hold or anticipate a Doctorate in Biology or a related discipline when starting the position on August 1, 2018. Postdoctoral experience is preferred. Inquiries should be directed to Dr. Olav Rueppell ( The evaluation of applications will begin October 15, 2017. To find details on application requirements and submit an application, visit and click on “Faculty” (position #974). —– CATCH THE BUZZ 1. Organic Food From Field To Table Is Possible In The EU With New Technology. Is Honey Next? Britain’s organic industry is taking a major step forward, testing technology that tracks the journey of organic food from farm to shop shelf. The trial allows shoppers to tap their smartphones on packets bacon from Eversfield Organics Farm in Devon on sale in select As Nature Intended stores. Using near field communications (NFC) on product packaging and the shop shelf, together with barcode, the blockchain technology instantly retrieves the product’s complete supply chain journey. An app is not needed. Shoppers see the organic certification, the organic criteria met by the product, a map of its journey, photographs from the farm, an image of the animal if it’s a meat product, as well as farmer or producer profiles. Organic campaigner Soil Association has teamed with start-up tech firm Provenance to pilot the NFC technology. 2.  Bees’ Ungroomed Body Parts Are Safe Sites For Pollen – We’ve all seen busy bees hard at work.  They fly from one flower to the next collecting pollen to feed their offspring. As they toil to feed their young, bees are also playing a vital role in flower reproduction. While both roles are critically important, they can be in conflict with each other. The conflict occurs when bees collect pollen to transport to their offspring. Once the pollen is collected in their transport organs, or groomed into their bodies, it is lost for flower reproduction. So how are bees able to bypass this conflict? 3.  New Study Reveals Flower Color, Fragrance Coordination – This is true for many of the 41 insect-pollinated plant species growing in a Phrygana scrubland habitat on the Greek island of Lesbos. An international research team published their findings Sept. 4 in Nature Ecology & Evolution. The team investigated the way these plants communicate with a diverse assemblage of insect pollinators in the same community. They discovered a link between the color of the flowers and their fragrance, such that the two characteristics can be regarded, to a surprising extent, as one integrated signal. This is the first study to demonstrate color-fragrance integration for an entire plant community. 4. Farmers, Ranchers Affected By Hurricanes Harvey, Irma Granted Extra Time To Document, Claim Disaster Losses-USDA – Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue has announced special procedures to assist producers who lost crops or livestock or had other damage to their farms or ranches as a result of hurricanes Harvey and Irma. Also, because of the severe and widespread damage caused by the hurricanes, USDA will provide additional flexibility to assist farm loan borrowers. “The impact is shocking and will be felt for many months,” Secretary Perdue said. “In addition to efforts being made on the ground to assist producers, we have taken a hard look at our regular reporting requirements and adjusted them so producers can take care of pressing needs first and mostly deal with documentation and claims later. President Trump’s directive is to help people first and deal with paperwork second. And that’s what USDA is doing.” USDA’s Farm Service Agency, is authorizing emergency procedures on a case-by-case basis to assist impacted borrowers, livestock owners, contract growers, and other producers. The measures announced today apply only to counties impacted by a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration-determined tropical storm, typhoon or hurricane, including Harvey and Irma that have received a primary Presidential Disaster Declaration and those counties contiguous to such designated counties. 5. Monarch Decline In Western North America Is More Severe Than In East – VANCOUVER, Wash. – Monarch butterfly populations from western North America have declined far more dramatically than was previously known and face a greater risk of extinction than eastern monarchs, according to a new study in the journal Biological Conservation. “Western monarchs are faring worse than their eastern counterparts,” said Cheryl Schultz, an associate professor at Washington State University Vancouver and lead author of the study. “In the 1980s, 10 million monarchs spent the winter in coastal California. Today there are barely 300,000.” Schultz adds, “This study doesn’t just show that there are fewer monarchs now than 35 years ago. It also tells us that, if things stay the same, western monarchs probably won’t be around as we know them in another 35 years.” 6. Ethiopia’s Huge Honey Production Potential In Search Of Modern Techniques, And, Zimbabwe Looking To Expand – The beehives of Ethiopia, Africa’s top honey producer, make about a quarter of the continent’s honey, but travellers who come to sample the liquid gold often find there isn’t enough to go around . In a country where 85% of all jobs are in agriculture, industry experts say the beekeeping – or apiculture – sector is still a long way from harvesting its full potential, hampered by outdated, low-yield techniques, periodic droughts and uncompetitive prices. Honey traditionally plays a big role in Ethiopian life – where its delicious white, red and yellow varieties are used in cooking, for medicinal purposes and as a key ingredient in the local mead known as tej. The problem is that the majority of farmers use outdated styles of beehives that are stored in trees or clay jars. And these do not produce as much honey as modern wooden boxes, says Juergen Greiling, a senior adviser at the Ethiopian Apiculture Board, an umbrella group for the honey industry. Equipped with the right modern techniques, honey production has the potential to pull thousands of poor farmers out of poverty, experts say.