Items of interest to beekeepers 20 July 2017

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











EVENTS (• new)

LINKS (• new)
WISH YOU WAS HERE! TOP 10 REASONS WHY YOU SHOULD ‘BEE’ HERE AT UC DAVIS SEPT. 5 – 8 By Kathy Keatley Garvey Have you ever received an email, text or postcard from vacationing family or friends with the lead sentence: “Wish you were here?” Well, in this case, it’s “Wish you WAS here!” Excitement is building for the 40th anniversary conference of the Western Apiculture Society (WAS) of North America, headed by president Eric Mussen, Extension apiculturist emeritus. WAS returns to its roots on Sept. 5-8 and will be meeting here in Davis. The organization was founded at UC Davis by professor Norm Gary (his idea); postdoctoral fellow  Becky Westerdahl, and Eric Mussen, then a new faculty member. Gary is now an emeritus professor; Westerdahl is a Extension nematologist with the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology; and Mussen, although retired, maintains an office in Briggs Hall where he continues answering questions about bees.  This is also his sixth term as WAS president, so the “R” word does not mean “Relax.” We asked Eric Mussen for 10 reasons why folks might want to attend the conference, which is open to all interested persons, and registration is now underway. WAS defines itself as “a non-profit, educational, beekeeping organization founded in 1978 for the benefit and enjoyment of all beekeepers in western North America. Anyone can join, but  the organization is specifically designed to meet the educational needs of beekeepers from Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming as well as the provinces of Alberta, British Columbia, Saskatchewan and the Yukon. The 2017 WAS Conference will provide the following opportunities, according to honey bee guru “Dr. Eric”:    – to learn about current scientific honey and native bee research, from the researchers themselves, on varying topics such as foraging behavior, parasites, predators, and diseases of bees     – to speak directly to the researchers concerning their research findings and any other bee-related topics     – to learn specific beekeeping-related information from nationally renowned speakers such as Bee Culture editor Kim Flottum of Ohio, who will discuss “The Rapidly Changing Bee Scene”; Les Crowder of Texas, co-author of the book, Top-Bar Beekeeping: Organic Practices for Honey Bee Health, who will focus on “Managing Honey Bee Colonies in Top-Bar Hives” with co-author Heather Harrell; and Larry Connor of Michigan, who will address more in-depth beekeeping fundamentals with his presentation “Keeping Your Bees Alive and Growing.”    – to discuss your beekeeping styles, successes and difficulties with beekeeping peers from western U.S. states and Canadian provinces    – to meet new friends and to share recent personal information with long-time acquaintances    – to learn about various styles of beekeeping from “leave alone,” through “essential intervention,” to “intensive intervention”    – to exchange opinions on unique hives and products brought to the conference by various vendors or demonstrated during the tour to UC Davis facilities, the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility and the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, a half-acre bee friendly garden installed in 2009 and anchored by a ceramic-mosaic sculpture of a six-foot-long worker bee, and art coordinated by entomology professor/artist Diane Ullman and self-described rock artist Donna Billick    – to obtain in-depth knowledge on industry concerns, such as pesticide issues    – to participate in a formal honey tasting led by Amina Harris, director of the UC Davis Honey and Pollination Center    – to interact with personnel from Mann Lake LTD on a tour to their products showroom, warehouse assembly plant, and liquid sugar blending plant.  That tour also includes a visit a highly successful, moderate-sized, retail, gourmet honey packing operation Z Specialty Foods.     (So, those are 10 good reasons. The prez gets an extra bonus point: he provided 11 reasons, and No. 11 is…drum roll…) to visit the UC Davis campus, downtown Davis, and the northern Central Valley of America Another big draw is leadoff speaker and Sonoma County beekeeper Serge Labesque, “who has organized a terrific presentation on the natural seasonal growth and decline of a healthy honey bee colony population living in a hollow tree,” Mussen said. Okay, that’s an even dozen! You can learn more about the WAS meeting on its website.  (And be sure to register so you can send your family and friends a note saying “Wish you WAS here.”) FYI, if you are planning to be an exhibitor at WAS 2017, get your order in fast. Only THREE places left! —– PROJECT APIS M. IS HIRING! Project Apis m. is a non-profit organization that makes a real difference for bees. We develop practical, scientific solutions right where research, crops, and pollinators overlap. We are looking for some passionate, capable people to join our team.  Please help us find our next worker bees! • Operations Manager • Marketing & Communications Manager • Research Manager Details at —– Information from Medivet Pharmaceuticals about Fumagilin-B – CLARIFICATION ON PURCHASE OF FUMAGILIN-B & WARNING! “The active ingredient in Fumagililn-B  (fumagilline dch) an antibiotica, is not used for any human medication.  Therefore it is unlikely that resistance can be developed in humans (according to Health Canada) and currently no prescription is required,” says Ursula Da Rugna at Medivet Pharmaceuricals in High River, Alberta, Canada. Fumagilin-B combats Nosema, a debilitating disease of adult honey bees worldwide. The active ingredient in Fumagilin-B is fumagillin, the only compound completely effective against Nosema without harming colonies, says the Medivet website. BOLD The following warning appears on the Medivet website concerning illegal knock-offs: “Medivet’s label for Fumagilin-B has been illegally copied and someone is selling Fumagilin-B very cheaply as a counterfeit product. If you bought the product from an unreliable source or are unsure if you have the real Fumagilin-B please do not hesitate to contact us for verification. Tel. + 1403 652 4441 or Please note Medivet does NOT sell Fumagilin-B anywhere in Turkey or any Middle Eastern Countries.” More about Medivet Pharmaceuticals and Fumagilin-B at —– NO OFFENSE, AMERICAN BEES, BUT YOUR SPERM ISN’T CUTTING IT By Ryan Bell Seducing a honeybee drone – one of the males in a colony whose only job is to mate with the queen – is not too difficult. They don’t have stingers, so you just pick one up. Apply a little pressure to the abdomen and the drone gets randy, blood rushing to his endophallus, bringing him to climax. “They’re really accommodating,” says Susan Cobey, a honeybee breeder on Whidbey Island, Wash. “One ejaculate is about 1 microliter, and it takes 10 microliters to artificially inseminate a queen.” Since 2008, Cobey has done her share of bee abdomen rubbing as part of a research team from Washington State University traveling through Europe and Asia. They’ve collected sperm from native honeybees in Italy, Slovenia, Germany, Kazakhstan and the Republic of Georgia – countries where honeybees have favorable genetic traits, like resistance to the varroa mite. The deadly parasite has been cited as a major factor in bee deaths, along with genetics, poor nutrition and pesticide exposure, according to a major report from the USDA and EPA in 2013. Varroa mites are an invasive parasite from Asia that sucks hemolymph (bee blood) from adult and larval honeybees, weakening their immune systems and transmitting deadly pathogens, like bent wing virus. If left untreated, a varroa infestation can kill a colony in one year. First detected on U.S. soil in 1987, varroa has spread quickly, infesting upwards of 50 percent of American hives. Last year, 33 percent of U.S. honeybee hives died. That’s troubling for the plight of honeybees and U.S. agriculture, which relies on pollinators to produce one-third of the food we eat. The buzz on American bees: too much inbreeding According to the WSU research team, the root cause of the U.S. honeybees’ vulnerability to varroa is a dwindling gene pool that has left them short on genetic traits that help honeybees resist varroa elsewhere in the world. “Honeybees aren’t native to America,” Cobey says. “We brought them here. But the U.S. closed its borders to live honeybee imports in 1922, and our honeybee population has been interbreeding ever since.” Lots more athttp:// —– Irish Farmers’ Weekly – HEDGEROWS AND FIELD MARGINS, FARMYARDS, FARM ROADWAYS AND IN FIELD CORNERS,  LET IRISH FLOWERS GROW Ireland’s Agriculture and Food Development Authority (Teagasc) and the Federation of Irish Beekeepers’ Associations (FIBKA) launched a campaign to convince farmers that bees need wildflowers on farms.     It was a theme highlighted at the opening of the Teagasc national crops and cultivation open day with the debut of a new leaflet ‘How Farmers can help Bees’.     Teagasc Countryside Management Specialist Catherine Keena told tillage farmers at the open day, that pollinators, especially bees, are important, but are in decline.    “We need more wildflowers in the countryside,” Keena said. “Bees need food all year round, requiring a diversity of flowering plants in the landscape.    “Farmers can help bees by allowing space for wildflowers to grow and flower within hedgerows and field margins, around farmyards, along farm roadways and in field corners. The quest for neatness on farms should not override consideration for bees.”     Keena said bees are essential for the health of the environment, the economy and to ensure Ireland can continue to grow fruit, vegetables and crops that require bees for pollination.    “By pollinating wildflowers and trees, bees are responsible for the colorful and distinct natural beauty of our landscape that makes it a pleasant place to live and a selling point for our agricultural produce,” she said.    FIBKA president Gerry Ryan said many beekeepers work closely with farmers placing their beehives in fields of oilseed rape, peas and beans to improve pollination of the crops.    “It is important for tillage farmers growing these crops to provide pollinators with wildflowers outside the main crop flowering period,” Ryan said.    All-Ireland Pollinator Plan Steering Group chairwoman Úna Fitzpatrick said the new leaflet is important to raise awareness of the problem of decline in bees.    “Ireland has 98 species of bees and one third of them are threatened with extinction,” Fitzpatrick said.    “By having more wildflowers, we can help protect bees and the livelihood of farmers and growers who rely on their ‘free’ pollinator service.”     Tillage farmers at the open day were also reminded to spray crop protection products, in the early morning and late evening when honey bees are less active, and to notify local beekeepers before carrying out the operation. —– From Morning AgClips – TIPS FOR PROTECTING POLLINATORS With the right combination of methods, landscape managers can strike an effective balance between pest management and protecting pollinators in turfgrass settings. A new, open-access guide in the Journal of Integrated Pest Management (JIPM) offers an in-depth look at best practices for protecting pollinators such as bees and butterflies while reducing pests in lawns, fields, golf courses, and other managed grass settings. The review of existing research in integrated pest management (IPM) shows that some practices are simple but effective, such as mowing before applying an insecticide, which cuts flowering weeds so they don’t attract pollinators once they’ve been sprayed. “Simply mowing weedy turf before making an application of insecticides will greatly reduce the hazard to pollinating insects. If turfgrass professionals wish to take even more proactive steps, creating pollinator habitat strips or allowing white clover and other weeds to grow in turf will provide food for these important insects,” says Jonathan Larson, Ph.D., entomology educator in the extension program at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and lead author of the JIPM guide. Concern about pollinator health centers on a variety of factors, including pathogens, parasites, habitat loss, and pesticide exposure. Neonicotinoids, a class of insecticide that have been implicated as a contributing factor in pollinator losses, are a useful part of turfgrass IPM, which makes their careful use and the employment of alternative, nonchemical pest-control strategies critical. Among these IPM practices are:     Waiting until May or June to make pesticide applications, to avoid exposure to early-season pollinators and colonies of bees that are still recovering from winter stress in March and April.     Using granular formulations of insecticides, which fall to the ground and avoid direct contamination of flowering portions of blooming plants.     Selecting and planting grass breeds that are resistant to pests.     Maintaining a high mowing height for grass to promote deeper root systems and enhance tolerance to stress and injury from pests.     Introducing biological control agents, such as parasitic nematodes and fungi that attack pest insects but are generally safe for nontarget organisms.     Establishing plots of pollinator-friendly plants (an already-growing practice among golf course managers and homeowners). The guide to best practices in JIPM is the product of a workgroup formed during the 2016 National Turfgrass Entomology Workshop. “We chose this topic because many of the insecticides that people discuss as part of pollinator decline are used by turf professionals to care for turf and landscape plants,” says Larson. “Our goal was to highlight what we knew about the interactions between pollinators and turf insecticides, determine what we still need to learn, and create extension materials to help get that information into stakeholder’s hands.” Future research recommended by the group includes working to gain a deeper understanding of the breadth of pollinator species present in turfgrass habitats, what aspects of turfgrass ecosystems are most critical to pollinator health, and how pollinator interactions differ between cool-season and warm-season turfgrasses. (Entomological Society of America) —– From Dr. Christina Grozinger at POLLINATOR-L – MORE RESEARCH JOBS Position: Research Entomologist/Toxicologist (Post-doc Research Associate) at USDA-ARS, Jamie Whitten Delta States Research Center, Stoneville, Mississippi The incumbent will actively plan research and conduct experiments to examine the toxicological impact of pesticides on honey bees by using bioassay, biochemical, and molecular approaches. Research will focus on acute and sublethal toxicities of individual and mixtures of representative pesticides, toxicity and mechanisms of interaction of insecticides with other agrochemicals and other CCD-causing factors (such as mite and viral infestations), and factors influencing pesticide susceptibility (intoxication and detoxification) in honey bees. Biological and physiological responses; and gene regulations, including defense-, immunity-, stress-, and other important metabolism-related responses, will be examined. US citizenship is required. This position requires a Ph.D in entomology with research experience in pesticide toxicology or a related field of study, such as biochemistry and molecular biology. Send application or contact Dr. Yu Cheng Zhu at or 662-686-5360. PhD student scholarships – Hawkesbury Insitute for the Environment, Western Sydney University, Richmond, New South Wales, Australia 1. This PhD project will include research at field sites and in controlled-environment facilities exploring the availability and quality of floral resources across different seasons, and factors influencing pollinator choice of foraging plants. This will include assessment of candidate species for on-farm floral resource enhancement and the impact of climate change manipulations on floral resource quality and attractiveness to bees. The project is suitable for a candidate with strong interests and preferably research experience in subjects such as ecology, conservation, insect behaviour and/or botany. 2. This PhD will focus on: 1) characterizing pollinator communities in cropping landscapes, using field studies and both morphological and molecular (DNA barcoding) taxonomy; 2) insect pollination of selected crops using manipulative experiments; and 3) studying bee foraging behavior and how this influences patterns of crop pollination in orchards. The project is suitable for a candidate with strong interests and preferably research experience in subjects such as entomology, animal behavior, genetics, ecology or conservation. Students in both projects will receive a tax free stipend of $26,682 per annum. Those with a strong track record may receive a fee waiver.  Funding is available for project costs and conference travel. Applicants should discuss their eligibility and interests with Prof James Cook   Contact the Graduate Research School at Please submit an application form, CV, names and contact information of two referees, and a one-page document stating how your research interests align with the project’s aims. Closing date: 21 July 2017 The application form can be downloaded at —– CATCH THE BUZZ 1. Time To Hunt Some Blood-Sucking Bugs. Stop Mosquitoes Before Somebody Has To Spray! – Though mosquitoes are small, they are also deadly. Mosquito bites result in the deaths of more than 725,000 people each year—more than any other animal. That compares to about 50,000 deaths from snakes, 25,000 from dogs, 20,000 from tsetse flies, 1,000 from crocodiles, and 500 from hippos. More than 50 percent of the world’s population lives in areas where mosquito-borne diseases are common, according to the World Health Organization. Malaria is the deadliest disease spread by mosquito, but the bugs also serve as vectors for Chikungunya, Zika, Dengue, West Nile Virus, and Yellow Fever. NASA and the Global Learning and Observation to Benefit the Environment (GLOBE) Program have a new way of fighting back. The GLOBE Observer Mosquito Habitat Mapper is an app that makes it possible for citizen scientists to collect data on mosquito range and habitat and then feed that information to public health and science institutions trying to combat mosquito-borne illnesses. The app also provides tips on fighting the spread of disease by disrupting mosquito habitats. Specifically, it will help you find potential breeding sites, identify and count larvae, take photos, and clean away  pools of standing water where mosquitoes reproduce. The Crowd & the Cloud, a show hosted by former NASA Chief Scientist Waleed Abdalati, has an excellent segment (video above) that explains how the app works. Don’t delay. Download the Habitat Mapper for iOS from the iTunes app store or from Google Play for Android now, and start hunting down these blood-sucking killers. 2. Improving Macadamia Tree Yields By More Than 50 Per Cent Could Be Achieved By Alternating Varieties In Rows And Increasing Pollinators – For the study – funded by Hort Innovation and Plant & Food Research and the Australian Macadamia Society (AMS) – researchers conducted a trial in a Bundaberg orchard which investigated pollination impacts on four different nut varieties. The trials showed that, when researchers hand-pollinated flowers along rows of different varieties, in almost all cases (44 of 47 trials), more than double the nuts were produced compared to those not hand pollinated. This suggested that when pollinators, particularly bees, had the opportunity to transfer pollen between different macadamia varieties, similar results could occur. Hort Innovation chief executive John Lloyd said these findings complement a range of efforts underway through the grower-owned not-for-profit company. “The consumer appetite for Australian macadamia nuts is insatiable with a trade-focused agenda seeing the export value jumping 66 per cent between 2015 and 2016 to $253M,” he said. “Domestically, 19 per cent of households are consuming macadamias, and we are working with industry and the AMS to increase that figure through a three-year $5.5M marketing campaign being delivered using grower levies. This research, along with a host of other projects, will further support those efforts.” Lead researcher, Plant and Food Research pollination scientist Dr Brad Howlett, said the project also uncovered important early findings about pollinators. “Honeybees are the most common macadamia pollinators but we also see stingless bees, lycrid beetles, soldier beetles and flies,” he said. “Research has shown the more varied the pollinators, the better. This is because pollinators are more likely to complement each other by moving pollen between trees in different ways.” 3. I Visited A CSI Crime Lab, But For Bees – I recently had a chance to visit the National Bee Diagnostic Centre (NBDC) in the small town of Beaverlodge, Alberta, which is basically an NCIS crime lab for bees. I was greeted by three scientists huddled around a computer screen speckled with green and red dots. They “hmm”ed and “ahhh”ed and occasionally tapped the screen with a finger or a pen. The red dots represented dead “swimmers” and the green were live ones: sperm samples from a queen bee. (The queen stores sperm from multiple worker drones.) Facing pressures like climate change and pesticide use, bees are in trouble in North America. The health of these pollinators is of upmost importance, so the NBDC is collecting health data on bees across Canada to help this country create a national bee health database. The project, called the National Honey Bee Health Survey, is funded in part by the Canadian government and researchers have been collecting samples for the last three years. The first phase is finishing this year, with the results coming out sometime next summer. 4.  Iran Produces 80,000 Tons Of Honey Last Year, According To Ag Minister – Deputy agriculture minister said over 80,000 tons of honey are produced annually in Iran two percent of which is exported to global markets. Deputy Agriculture Minister for Livestock Production Hassan Rokni made the remarks while delivering a speech at a conference on organic beekeeping and called for acceleration of acquiring modern sciences and techniques in the field. The official underscored that the main objective of beekeeping, more than honey production, pertains to pollination which boosts crops production. 5. Hot And Dry Across The Northern Plains And Northwestern Midwest In Recent Weeks Diminishing Yields Of Corn, Soybeans And Probably Honey – “Rains are currently pushing across the west central Midwest; however, a drier and much warmer pattern for southwestern areas the week of the 17th will allow stress to quickly build again,” said Don Keeney… As of July 13, 2017 1:00 PM ET MDA Continues to Lower Yield Estimates for Corn, Soybeans, and Spring Wheat     GAITHERSBURG, MD – (July 13, 2017) Persistent dryness and heat across the northern Plains and northwestern Midwest  in recent weeks have resulted in significant stress on spring wheat, and have also begun to stress corn and soybeans. As a result, MDA has been steadily reducing yield potential for all three crops since mid-June. Additional reductions will also be possible over the next few weeks, particularly for corn. “Rains are currently pushing across the west central Midwest; however, a drier and much warmer pattern for southwestern areas next week will allow stress to quickly build again,” said Don Keeney, Senior Agricultural Meteorologist for MDA Weather Services. “Temperatures should push well into the upper 90s F across southern Iowa, Missouri, and Illinois which will be quite stressful for pollinating corn,” said Keeney.  MDA’s current projections for U.S. corn yields are 165.8 bu/ac (USDA: 170.7), 46.5 bu/ac (USDA: 48.0) for soybeans, and 35.0 bu/ac (USDA: 40.3) for spring wheat.