Items of interest to beekeepers 2 February 2018

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









Good reads, not necessarily bee-related    – NEARLY HALF OF CA VEGETATION AT RISK FROM CLIMATE STRESS


WAS PRESIDENT’S MESSAGE & 2018 CONFERENCE ANNOUNCEMENT Whazzup, Beekeepers! With the New Year in the review mirror, we are all now setting our sights on the upcoming spring buildup and planning for that bumper year with healthy bees and a wealth of hive products.  Now’s also the time to mark your calendars for the 2018 Western Apicultural Society Annual Conference.  This year we’ll meet in Boise, Idaho, at “Jack’s Urban Meeting Place,” known locally as “JUMP,” an eclectic and lively community space, unique to the Western states.  Plan on coming to Boise and attending the Conference from Friday, August 3 through Sunday, August 5. You’ll notice that our event has moved to a weekend setting, which differs markedly from recent WAS Conferences.  The idea behind the shift is to accommodate a time that our “Next Gen Beekeepers” can better fit into their schedules.  Along the lines of the Next Gen Beekeepers, be sure to read Sarah Red-Laird’s summary of her most recent Breakout Session in this issue of the Journal.  Sarah is making big strides to help reinvigorate beekeeping, and we all owe her our unflagging support in this initiative. This year we will emphasize ‘Beekeeper Education’ as our Conference theme.  Certainly, we’re excited that Jennifer Berry (University of Georgia Honey Bee Program) will be returning for a second visit to Boise as a Conference headliner.  Ms. Berry’s academic, popular articles and columns can be found here: and here:  Jennifer’s body of work fits very nicely into our Education-based theme. When last in Boise, she proved herself to be a quite a wag, leading a carousing “Pub Swarm” one evening through downtown, entertaining a packed house the next day with her National Honey Bee Day 2016 presentation and then immediately after the presentation, gleefully tearing into bee boxes at the Boise State University Roof Top Bee Farm.  A note of caution: Don’t be surprised to experience “The Return of the Whoopee Cushion” on this upcoming visit. Joining Ms. Berry in leading the agenda, Randy Oliver (ScientificBeekeeping,http:// will share his unique insights and expertise with Conference attendees.  During the WAS 2017 field activity at the UC Davis Harry Laidlaw Bee Biology Facility, Randy’s expertise and practical tips delivered through hands-on sampling for Varroa and Nosema detection was a big hit.  Long-time and new beekeepers all benefitted from spending time with Mr. Oliver, and we look to extending this interaction to all our 2018 attendees this next time in Boise.  Spending time with Randy, working and reading a hive, is bound to help every beekeeper improve their overall technique and enjoyment.  Be sure to follow WAS on Facebook and the WAS website for exciting new details on the Conference as they are finalized. On the business side of WAS, our Hawaiian Director Peggy Beckett has decided to step away in order to focus on her thriving bee business, leaving a vacancy on the WAS Board of Directors.  We are presently pursuing a “young, enthusiastic, and incredibly knowledgeable” individual and look forward to announcing a replacement soon.  In the meantime, we will be missing Peggy’s valuable contribution to WAS and thank her for the time she spent with us. Springtime is just a few short weeks away.  Keep an eye on those mite levels, good luck with swarm season and here’s to the bees heading into summer strong and buzzing! As the “old white guy with the red neck, who owns the comment,” I eagerly look forward to joining you all in Boise this August 3 – 5, as WAS moves into our next decade!   WAS Up!  Boise – 2018! Steve Sweet, WAS President —– SPECIAL BEEKEEPER PRESENTATION FEB 9th ATTENTION IDAHO FALLS BEEKEEPERS:  We will be kicking off the year with a big name beekeeper presentation Friday February 9th, 2018 @7:00 at the county extension office, 2925 Rollandet St., Idaho Falls. (Upper Snake River Beekeepers). The event fee will be $5.00 for non card- holding club members and free for existing club members. Our presenter will be via Skype and presented by Solomon Parker …. “Solomon Parker is committed to educating new beekeepers who choose the treatment-free path.  He is the creator of the Treatment-Free Beekeeping Podcast and the founder of the Treatment-Free Beekeepers’ Facebook group which now has over 14,000 members.  He has been keeping bees treatment-free since he started in 2003 and he lives in Medford, Oregon where he was born and raised, with his wife and children and bees.” Ken Rhodes, Master Beekeeper (U Montana/Bromenshenk program) —– NSF PROVIDES $225,000 GRANT FOR BEEHIVE MONITORING SYSTEM DEVELOPMENT The Bee Corp, an agricultural technology startup founded by Indiana University alumni, has received federal funding to pursue research into using data science to detect the presence of pests and diseases in the hive. The award is for an SBIR Phase I grant of $225,000, which will allow The Bee Corp to build on its baseline statistical model that looks for anomalies in hive data that correspond to common threats to hive health, including pest and disease related problems. The findings will be used to improve existing monitoring products for beekeepers. Check them out at —– COLONY HEALTH AND PATHOGEN COMPOSITION IN MIGRATORY OPERATIONS INVOLVED IN CA ALMOND POLLINATION Abstract – Honey bees are important pollinators of agricultural crops. Pathogens and other factors have been implicated in high annual losses of honey bee colonies in North America and some European countries. To further investigate the relationship between multiple factors, including pathogen prevalence and abundance and colony health, we monitored commercially managed migratory honey bee colonies involved in California almond pollination in 2014. At each sampling event, honey bee colony health was assessed, using colony population size as a proxy for health, and the prevalence and abundance of seven honey bee pathogens was evaluated using PCR and quantitative PCR, respectively. In this sample cohort, pathogen prevalence and abundance did not correlate with colony health, but did correlate with the date of sampling. In general, pathogen prevalence (i.e., the number of specific pathogens harbored within a colony) was lower early in the year (January—March) and was greater in the summer, with peak prevalence occurring in June. Pathogen abundance in individual honey bee colonies varied throughout the year and was strongly associated with the sampling date, and was influenced by beekeeping operation, colony health, and mite infestation level. Together, data from this and other observational cohort studies that monitor individual honey bee colonies and precisely account for sampling date (i.e., day of year) will lead to a better understanding of the influence of pathogens on colony mortality and the effects of other factors on these associations. —– VIRUS AND dsRNA-TRIGGERED TRANSCRIPTIONAL RESPONSES REVEAL KEYCOMPONENTS OF HONEY BEE ANTIVIRAL DEFENSE Abstract – Recent high annual losses of honey bee colonies are associated with many factors, including RNA virus infections. Honey bee antiviral responses include RNA interference and immune pathway activation, but their relative roles in antiviral defense are not well understood. To better characterize the mechanism(s) of honey bee antiviral defense, bees were infected with a model virus in the presence or absence of dsRNA, a virus associated molecular pattern. Regardless of sequence specificity, dsRNA reduced virus abundance. We utilized next generation sequencing to examine transcriptional responses triggered by virus and dsRNA at three time-points post-infection. Hundreds of genes exhibited differential expression in response to co-treatment of dsRNA and virus. Virus-infected bees had greater expression of genes involved in RNAi, Toll, Imd, and JAK-STAT pathways, but the majority of differentially expressed genes are not well characterized. To confirm the virus limiting role of two genes, including the well-characterized gene, dicer, and a probable uncharacterized cyclin dependent kinase in honey bees, we utilized RNAi to reduce their expression in vivo and determined that virus abundance increased, supporting their involvement in antiviral defense. Together, these results further our understanding of honey bee antiviral defense, particularly the role of a non-sequence specific dsRNA-mediated antiviral pathway. —– RESEARCH JOBS 1. Open postdoctoral positions in animal behavior The Ben-Shahar lab at Washington University in St. Louis is searching for postdoctoral fellows to join our group. We study animal behavior from mechanistic and evolutionary perspectives by using fruit flies, bees, and other insects. These funded positions are ideal for recent PhDs, who are interested in studying mechanisms of behavior at the cellular, and molecular levels. Preference will be given to candidates who are eligible for US federal funding, with research background in animal behavior, neuroethology, molecular genetics and evolution, or *in vivo* neurophysiology. Additional information about our group can be found here: Interested individuals should email their CV, and contact information for three potential reference letter writers to Yehuda Ben-Shahar at 2. 2018 USFS Pollinator/Community Garden Grants The National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF), with major funding support from US Forest Service (USFS), is offering a little over $10,700 through mini-grants to facilitate Pollinator Garden and/Community Garden activities. Awarded grantees will be expected to facilitate the development of educational and conservation activities on local Forest Service lands, other partner public lands, local and municipal public lands, or on lands within urban communities. Programming should connect participants to urban forests and nature-based spaces: meeting people where they are. These activities will be accomplished by mobilizing community volunteers and educating participants about the importance of their actions and their relationship to the long-term sustainability of the lands. APPLICATION DEADLINE: 11:59 PM EST, MONDAY, FEBRUARY 26, 2018 Average Award Amount: Applicants can request up to $3,000. Awarded amounts will vary based on the scope and cost of work proposed by each applicant, quality of the submissions, and the review and selection process. Applications are only accepted through NEEF’s online system.  Follow these steps to apply: • Log in or create an account in NEEF’s online grants system (link is external). • To access the application, click Apply on the left-hand column. Select grant titled “2018 USFS – Pollinator and Community Garden – EE Week Grant (link is external)” to begin your application. • Once you have completed the application, click Submit Form. If you do not click Submit Form, you will not have applied. You will be directed to a confirmation screen upon submitting. If you have any questions about the process, please contact us at 3. Monarch Butterfly and Pollinators Conservation Fund The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation will soon be releasing its annual RFP for the Monarch Butterfly and Pollinators Conservation Fund. Up to $1.6 million is expected to be available for grant awards in 2018. The RFP should be released on February 7, 2018. The USFWS is an eligible recipient of these funds. More details on the fund can be found at This has been a highly competitive RFP the last several years, but I encourage you to consider submitting a proposal if you have a compelling project. This year, the scope of the fund has been broadened to include monarchs as well as other at-risk native insect pollinators. An informational webinar about this funding opportunity will be held on February 15 at 10 AM eastern time. To attend, you will need to register at ​ If you are considering applying for this funding opportunity, you are encouraged to attend the webinar and learn about the process and the requirements. 4. Native Bees of Prairie Remnants Graduate Research Assistantship (MS/PhD), South Dakota The Insect Biodiversity Lab at South Dakota State University seeks a graduate research assistant at either the MS (2-2.5 year) or PhD (4 yr) level to conduct an inventory focused on the native bees occurring in prairie remnants in northeastern South Dakota. Non-native species will be included in the survey only from a faunal component basis. The successful candidate must demonstrate an ability with or to learn basic bee taxonomy. Habitat characterization and floral preferences will be done. Spring and summer seasons will include considerable fieldwork. Curatorial work in the Severin-McDaniel Insect Research Collection is required, including database contributions in taxonomic groups related to the project. Production of scientific publications and posters, and participation in scientific meetings and conferences is expected. This position is available now and applications will be reviewed until a qualified candidate is identified. Qualifications include prior academic degrees (B.S. and M.S., as applicable, or their equivalents) in entomology, zoology, biology, or a closely related discipline. Applicants must meet academic requirements of, and acceptance by, the SDSU Graduate School and the Agronomy, Horticulture & Plant Science Department. A background in zoological taxonomy, biodiversity inventory, or environmental or conservation biology is desired. Demonstrable skill in bee taxonomy is highly desired. The selected person will be expected to work independently and collaboratively with a diversity of people in the field and the lab, in a professionally  focused manner.  An ability to legally and safely operate a motor vehicle in off-road condition is essential. Interested persons must submit an introductory 1-2 page letter cogently written that describes relevant experiences, melittological interests, qualifications, and professional goals; and names and contact information for 3 persons able to be academic or professional references. Applications to: Dr. Paul J. Johnson, South Dakota State University is committed to affirmative action, equal opportunity and diversity of its faculty, staff and students.  Women and minorities are encouraged to apply.  Arrangements for accommodations required by disabilities can be made at 605/688-4504 (TTY 605/688-4394). 5. PhD positions in Tropical Agroecology in Peru We are seeking two highly motivated PhD students with strong interest in animal ecology, tropical ecology or agroecology. One position will be located in the Department of Animal Ecology and Tropical Biology ( at University of Würzberg and one in the Agroecology Group at the University of Göttingen ( while Vienna University is also involved ( bm_ research.html). For further information, please contact:,, Application deadline 28 February. —– ELEPHANTS ARE VERY SCARED OF BEES. THAT COULD SAVE THEIR LIVES By Karen Weintraub Elephants are afraid of bees. Let that sink in for a second. The largest animal on land is so terrified of a tiny insect that it will flap its ears, stir up dust and make noises when it hears the buzz of a beehive. Of course a bee’s stinger can’t penetrate the thick hide of an elephant. But when bees swarm — and African bees swarm aggressively — hundreds of bees might sting an elephant in its most sensitive areas, the trunk, mouth and eyes. And they hurt. The threat of bees is so intensely felt by elephants that conservationists are using it to help prevent the kinds of conflict that put the behemoths at risk. The endangered animals have sometimes been shot by farmers trying to save their crops from elephants foraging at night for late-night snacks, or by poachers allowed access to help guard the fields. Now there’s a weapon — and a mutually beneficial one — in the arsenal. In recent years, researchers and advocates have persuaded farmers to use the elephant’s fear of bees as a potential fence line to protect crops. By stringing beehives every 20 meters — alternating with fake hives — a team of researchers in Africa has shown that they can keep 80 percent of elephants away from farmland. In a new study published this week, the same team, led by Lucy King, an Oxford University research associate, found that Asian elephants are also afraid of bees, though perhaps less so. It’s the first step toward showing that the control strategy can also work in countries like Sri Lanka, India, Nepal and Thailand, where Asian elephants are 10 times more endangered than their African cousins. The Asian elephants behaved a little differently: They didn’t shake their heads or shower themselves with dust, but they did make noises, shying away from the bees and touching one another’s trunks or putting a trunk into another’s mouth, perhaps as a sign of reassurance or comfort. The Asian elephants also sometimes slapped their trunks against the ground in fear. —– HONEY BEES HAVE GONE FROM ENDANGERED TO DANGEROUS – AND THAT IS A SCIENCE JOURNALISM PROBLEM By Chuck Dinerstein Victim or Victimizer? It has been a tough decade for the honeybee; first they were suddenly dying due to something called Colony Collapse Disorder and when that was shown to be just the kind of blip they have had in deaths since the first recorded notes on domesticated beehives, they have been implicated in a Science editorial as damaging the environment, because there are too many of them. How can this bee? First, some information. Our beloved western honey bee, Apis mellifera, is a pollinator, but it is one of just over 25,000 bee species. We don’t even know how many there actually are because only just over a handful of bee species have hives and can be readily estimated. But domesticated honey bees are involved in the production of over 70 percent of global crops. That, rather than honey, is their agricultural driver. We cultivate western honey bees just like chickens, cows, and pigs. In some ways, their prominence among the tens of thousands of pollinator species speaks to our use of them as ‘monocultures.’ And it is this human use that is the subject of new environmental concern. Counting the bees is not possible The authors make the point that the recent concerns about the collapse of pollination, used to inspire our environmental spirit (i.e. donations), is more an “issue of agricultural rather than environmental importance.” They assert that our use of honey bees as an agricultural tool, moving them from pollination site to pollination site, is equivalent to introducing a new, extensive species into each area. The authors speculate that with each conquering invader the indigenous wild species lose their share of resources and may be further afflicted by disease carried by the honey bee “invaders.” Disease. Brought by parasites like varroa mites, which can only be killed by pesticides. And pesticides were the thing that groups promoting Colony Collapse Disorder said were causing honey bee die-offs before they said anthropogenic honeybee use was leading to too many honey bees and killing wild bees. The authors suggest we need a better assessment of how to deploy our honey bee forces; more specifically, in what numbers, in what times and where; and we should take into account the effect on local pollinators. That is a fine idea but difficult. Colony Collapse Disorder only became a concern because we rely on voluntary surveys from beekeepers, so as beekeeping became a fad business (to prevent die-off) and amateur beekeepers killed more bees due to inexperience, they reported those die-offs and those were linked to science. With wild local pollinators, any number used as a baseline is sheer speculation. As stated above, only a minuscule fraction of pollinators even have hives that can be used to count. From endangered to dangerous When faced with concerns about Colony Collapse Disorder, Europeans restricted the use of targeted neonicotinoid pesticides that ward off real plant pests, and then to offset a crisis that wasn’t happening, Europeans put more honey bees everywhere – interfering with the entire ecosystem at once. Yet they claim they did it “for the environment.” Biodiversity is good, I get that, and the editorial certainly presents a provocative claim for how humans may impact our environment in unintended ways. But all of this was known and yet media and government were presenting a different human-centric story: That the collapse of honey bee pollinators, a threat to both them and us was the result of neonicotinoid interference. Now it is agriculture, organic and conventional, which includes all of those small beekeepers that cropped up to save the western honey bee. Media, fed by environmental press releases, move the goalposts. If they get enough attention, governments act, regardless of the science. From the editorial: crop pollination by managed honey bees should not be considered an ecosystem service because those pollination services are delivered by an agricultural animal and not be the local ecosystem. …. Beekeeping is an agrarian activity that should not be confused with wildlife conservation. Why didn’t we get the more nuanced story before? When the honey bee goes from endangered to dangerous in a year, is it any wonder that our trust in science journalism is in the cellar? It probably makes you feel manipulated, just like it does me. Why are we informed in soundbites when there is an equally compelling but more inclusive story to be told? Dr. Charles Dinerstein, M.D., M.B.A., F.A.C.S. is Senior Medical Fellow at the American Council on Science and Health. A retired vascular surgeon, he also writes a “more philosophic” blog at Surgical —– Good reads, not necessarily bee-related – NEARLY HALF OF CALIFORNIA VEGETATION AT RISK FROM CLIMATE STRESS Current levels of greenhouse gas emissions are putting nearly half of California’s natural vegetation at risk from climate stress, with transformative implications for the state’s landscape and the people and animals that depend on it, according to a study led by the University of California, Davis. However, cutting emissions so that global temperatures increase by no more than 2 degrees Celsius (3.2 degrees Fahrenheit) could reduce those impacts by half, with about a quarter of the state’s natural vegetation affected. The study, published in the journal Ecosphere, asks: What are the implications for the state’s vegetation under a business-as-usual emissions strategy, where temperatures increase up to 4.5 degrees Celsius by 2100, compared to meeting targets outlined in the Paris climate agreement that limit warming to 2 degrees Celsius? “At current rates of emissions, about 45-56 percent of all the natural vegetation in the state is at risk, or from 61,190 to 75,866 square miles,” said lead author James Thorne, a research scientist with the Department of Environmental Science and Policy at UC Davis. “If we reduce the rate to Paris accord targets, those numbers are lowered to between 21 and 28 percent of the lands at climatic risk.” The report notes that this is a conservative estimate because it only examines direct climate exposure. It does not include increased wildfire or insect attacks on forests, which are also intensifying and likely to increase with further warming. These secondary effects are likely to have large impacts, as well, the authors say. For example, during the recent drought, more than 127 million trees died primarily due to beetle outbreaks, and wildfires have consumed extensive amounts of natural vegetation. 68 percent of LA, San Diego regions impacted The study features maps of the state and shows the climate risk to 30 different vegetation types under different climate scenarios. It projects that at current rates of greenhouse gas emissions, vegetation in southwestern California, the Central Valley and Sierra Nevada mountains becomes more than 50 percent impacted by 2100, including 68 percent of the lands surrounding Los Angeles and San Diego. “This is the map of where we live,” Thorne said. “The natural landscapes that make up California provide the water, clean air and other natural benefits for all the people who live here. They provide the sanctuary for California’s high biodiversity that is globally ranked. This map portrays the level of climate risk to all of those things. In some cases, the transformation may be quite dramatic and visible, as is the case with wildfire and beetle outbreaks. In other cases, it might not be dramatically visible but will have impacts, nevertheless.” Resilient areas also identified The study and its maps are being used by state agencies and land managers to make decisions under changing conditions. Commissioned by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, the data is helping the agency understand not only which parts of the state are vulnerable to climate change, but also which areas are more resilient, such as some coastal areas and parts of northwestern California, so they can ensure they remain resilient. “In California, we have good information on the vulnerability of fish and wildlife to climate change,” said Whitney Albright, a project manager with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. “But we were missing this crucial piece of climate risks to underlying habitat. This study helped fill the information gap. We’ve already started to use its data in our conservation planning efforts.” The study also provides a risk assessment for policymakers to consider the benefits to California of reaching Paris climate agreement emission targets that limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius, and the risks to the state of remaining on the current business-as-usual level of emissions and temperature warming. Co-authoring institutions included the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, and the U.S. Geological Survey. The study was funded by the U.S. National Park Service and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.  — UC DAVIS —– CATCH THE BUZZ 1. Worldwide Importance of Honey Bees for Natural Habitats Honey Bees as World’s Key Pollinator of Non-Crop Plants – Maybe, Maybe Not. Read On… An unprecedented study integrating data from around the globe has shown that honey bees are the world’s most important single species of pollinator in natural ecosystems and a key contributor to natural ecosystem functions. The first quantitative analysis of its kind, led by biologists at the University of California San Diego, is published Jan. 10 in Proceedings of the Royal Society B. The report weaves together information from 80 plant-pollinator interaction networks. The results clearly identify the honey bee (Apis mellifera) as the single most frequent visitor to flowers of naturally occurring (non-crop) plants worldwide. Honey bees were recorded in 89 percent of the pollination networks in the honey bee’s native range and in 61 percent in regions where honey bees have been introduced by humans. One out of eight interactions between a non-agricultural plant and a pollinator is carried out by the honey bee, the study revealed. The honey bee’s global importance is further underscored when considering that it is but one of tens of thousands of pollinating species in the world, including wasps, flies, beetles, butterflies, moths and other bee species. 2. The Ancient Art Of Honey Hunting Based On Keeping Bees In Artificially-Made Caverns Placed High In The Trees – Belarusian and Polish experts are preparing a file on forest beekeeping for the inscription onto the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, BelTA learned from Natalia Khvir, the head of the historical and cultural heritage protection department at the Culture Ministry. The work on the file was launched in 2017. A group of experts was set up following the negotiations. A Belarusian private company on traditional forest beekeeping is also working on the nomination file. Belarusian and Polish experts are expected to meet in mid January. The parties are working on a film about forest beekeeping, which is a necessary element in the package of nomination documents. The file will be ready before 31 March 2018. The decision to inscribe Forest Beekeeping of Belarus and Poland onto the UNESCO Intangible Heritage List will be taken in 2019. 3. Urban Agriculture Worth $33 Billion Worldwide, And Could Be A Lot More – The services provided by urban farmers worldwide is estimated to be worth as much as $33 billion a year and have the potential to reach $160 billion. The urban agriculture phenomenon has grown over the years for many reasons, each specific to the plot of land or rooftop it covers. While most of the benefits appear limited and local, when taken collectively there is a significant environmental impact that results. Researchers led by Arizona State University (ASU) and Google assessed the value of urban agriculture and project an annual food production of 100 million to 180 million tons. 4. Where There’s Lead In The Environment, There’s Lead In Honey Bees. And That’s Not Good – Researchers have used bees to monitor pollution for the first time in Australia and have found significant lead levels in the insects, depending on location. The Sydney Morning Herald newspaper reports the levels of metal varied depending on the history of the land. Scientists say Sydney dwelling bees are affected by former leaded gasoline emissions from the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s, with highest lead levels reaching 230-440 micrograms a kilogram. But 715 miles to the west in Broken Hill, where lead mining is carried out, bees possessed much higher levels of lead, with about 2,570ug/kg detected. 5. Turkey Honey Exports Up 60% Over Last Year. $8.1 Million to US – Revenues from Turkish honey exports soared 60 percent in 2017, according to an analysis of industry data. Turkey last year earned $23.8 million in revenue from honey exports to 45 countries, according to Eastern Black Sea Exporters Association (DKIB) data provided to state-run Anadolu Agency. The volume of honey exports also rose 79 percent over 2016. The data shows the top three buyers of Turkish honey are Germany, the U.S., and Saudi Arabia. Germany took first place with $9.3 million, followed by the U.S. with $8.1 million and Saudi Arabia with $1.3 million. “Our honey exports are constantly going up,” Ahmet Hamdi Gürdoğan, who heads the exporters’ group, told Anadolu Agency. He added that signs point to another banner year in 2018. 6. Arab Beekeeping to Host Maiden International Conference in Abu Dhabi – The Arab Beekeeping Organization, the first independent entity dedicated to looking after the affairs of beekeepers and honey-production workers in the Arab world, will host its first international conference next month on the sidelines of the Global Forum for Innovation in Agriculture, GFIA on 5th and 6th February, 2018, at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre, ADNEC. To be held under the patronage of H.H. Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs and Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority, ADFCA, the association will operate under the umbrella of the Arab Organization for Agricultural Development, AOAD. 7. Organic Almond Orchard In California Becomes First Bee Better Grower – Sran Family Orchards, the world’s largest grower of organic almonds, has long committed to sustainable farming, with flower-rich pollinator habitat an integral part of the almond orchards. This investment recently paid off when Sran Family Orchards gained certification as a Bee Better Certified grower.  “By being Bee Better Certified we are assured that we are being guided by the highest standards of the very best possible program in place for bees’ future,” said Jason Hickman of Sran Family Orchards. “Because we understand the importance of bees and their diversity within the food system, we saw the need here at Sran Family Orchards to do our part in giving the bees the most beneficial diet.” “We’re thrilled to welcome Sran Family Orchards to the Bee Better Certified community,” said Cameron Newell, Bee Better Certified Coordinator for the Xerces Society. Bee Better Certified is the only third-party food and farming certification program in the world focused specifically on pollinator conservation. With the goal of giving bees a healthy place to live, the program was launched in June 2017 by the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation in collaboration with national nonprofit organic certifier, Oregon Tilth.