Items of interest to beekeepers 22 October 2017

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







WESTERN APICULTURAL SOCIETY CONFERENCE 2017 WRAP Dr. Eric Mussen, 2017 President About 150 participants were involved in the 40th anniversary conference of WAS held on the UC Davis campus, the birthplace of WAS, between September 5th and 8th, 2017. The “home cooked” food from the caterer was very good. Working closely with the caterer, we chose three different buffets for two lunches and the banquet. People concerned about being served on “paper” plates should be aware that the University insists on “compostable” plates and utensils. So, we were consuming our food with compressed corn and potato starch plates and utensils. They were neither “paper” nor “plastic.” The two tour days contrasted considerably. The first day, we visited the Z Specialty Food honey packing facility. Inside the warehouse and packing area, the bulk supply of cool honey kept the temperature moderate. A table was set with samples of many different honeys that participants could taste. Some were very unique. Z Specialty Food produces and packs a large number of varietal honeys and fruit spreads. Many folks left the facility with scrumptious food items in tow. That same day, Eric Foster at Mann Lake said the warehouse was just too hot for folks to tolerate a 30 minute tour. Additionally, the sugar syrup plant had sprung a leak (as quite a number of beekeepers have encountered over the years with honey) and the facility was ankle deep in syrup throughout, and not available to us. So, the visitors were treated to nearly an hour to roam the isles of the Mann Lake showroom and see in person the items that appear only as photographs in the supply catalog. So, I got to read some labels. There were two brands of reduced-odor honey bee repellent used to encourage the bees to leave the honey supers. One was a single, well-known chemical that does just that. The competitive product read like an extensive list of ingredients for human food consumption. I imagine the second product was simply purchased and repackaged for the new purpose. The next afternoon was oddly cool. The demonstrations outside the Bee Biology Facility were very comfortable and enjoyable. Bee Biology staffers were able to display and demonstrate a number of beehives, including the internally-insulated walls, plastic, Apimaye Ergo beehive. This hive was developed by students of Dr. Osman Kaftanoglu in Arizona. He has preliminary data showing that the hive interiors remained cooler than wooden hives in the warmest Arizona summer weather. Chris Casey was in the Häagen Dazs Garden showing visitors the various bee plants. Randy Oliver was making a “big splash” (literally) with demonstrations on detecting Varroa mites and Nosema spores. At the opening “reminiscence” session, Dr. Norman Gary was on hand to revisit the founding of the society. Finding some free time, he reflected over many aspects of his career at UC Davis. He was informative and entertaining. Hopefully a number of the other invited speakers will submit a synopsis of their presentations to Fran Bach, so that you can review what transpired in their sessions. We had a relatively laid back conference that many folks appreciated. Hope to see you in Boise, Idaho, next year to have another enjoyable experience with our friends and fellow beekeepers. —– INTRODUCING THE 2018 WAS PRESIDENT Steve Sweet is a professional engineer in Boise, Idaho, and a graduate of UC Davis, where he also took the first of many beekeeping courses and participated in the campus work study program at “Bee Bio”, now the “Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility. Since then he has kept bees continuously in California, Washington state and Idaho, and more recently, become active in the Idaho Honey Industry Association and the Treasure Valley Beekeepers Club that he helped found. For the past two years, he has served on the WAS Board as the Idaho Director. Steve obtained Journeyman Beekeeping certification from the Oregon State University/Oregon State Beekeepers Association Master Beekeeper Program and is currently seeking to satisfy Master certification requirements. Steve’s activities in the bee yard include running 20-40 colonies, participating in the Bee Informed Program Tier 4 Real Time Disease Load Survey (2014-2017), and the National Honey Bee Health Survey (2015-2017). The WAS Board and members welcome Steve as their new president and look forward to an exciting year, leading up to the 2018 Conference in Boise. —– NEW PRESIDENT’S MESSAGE Steve Sweet, 2018 President This September, the culmination of 40 years of Western Apicultural Society activities was celebrated in Davis, California. Dr. Eric Mussen, 2017 WAS President, convened a stellar program and kicked off the first day, sharing the early stage with Dr. Norman Gary. Our two Founders nostalgically reflected on “back to our roots” concerning the Society’s origins, as they put into perspective our humble beginnings. These early reminisces were quickly followed by top-flight presentations running the gamut of beekeeping topics relevant in the West today. Journal readers, keep an eye out for summaries of the informative presentations that we all enjoyed in Davis in this and future issues. Certainly, our speakers represented the most current state of apicultural science and kept the rapt attention of the audience. In addition to sessions at the conference hall, we enjoyed an afternoon at the UC Davis Bee Biology Facility, with Bernardo Nino providing a hands-on guide to currently popular hives; Randy Oliver – in his typically effervescent style – demonstrating how to efficiently sample for Varroa and Nosema; Dr. William’s grad students informing on pollinator plant selection; and Christine Casey leading a tour of the pollinator plants in the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven. Thursday evening’s activities continued the WAS tradition, established in 2014, dedicated to the “Next Generation of Beekeepers,” as Oregon Director and 2nd Vice President Sarah Red-Laird – the Bee Girl ( – led a breakout session at the Robert Mondavi Institute Sensory Building. Sarah’s “Next Gen” initiative is geared toward encouraging more young beekeepers to take an active role in organized beekeeping. Her outreach program brings many benefits for both new and long-time members and will continue to be emphasized in WAS’s future activities. Prior WAS conferences have been convened throughout Western North America over the past four decades. With the conclusion of our most recent and highly successful forum, Dr. Mussen completed his record fifth term as WAS President and re-established a very high Conference standard. Each of the 31 prior WAS leaders, and Dr. Mussen in particular, deserves our sincere gratitude for building a reputation for well-received beekeeping conferences across the far-flung West. Of course, WAS is also known for the Journal, which has blossomed into a colorful quarterly production that reflects the high quality of our organization. Thanks, too, to our valued sponsors who share the Journal’s success through their valuable support. Unforeseen back in 1977, when WAS was originally organized, new forms of communication have sprung up thanks to the ubiquitous presence of the internet. In response, WAS has committed to a top-drawer web presence showcasing the Journal; regularly dispatching electronic notices across the internet through “Items for Beekeepers;” and thanks to Sarah Red-Laird’s capable assistance, an impressive and informative presence on Facebook. We are fortunate that our prior leaders have navigated WAS through decades of issues important to Western beekeepers. Their recent reflections on 40 years of progress helps to focus our efforts on how we might forge continued improvement. As WAS’ new President, I will be encouraging each State and Provincial director to develop consistent lines of communication with their respective local organizations. WAS’s foundation is education. I will be convening a group to identify the essentials of local educational programs (state-wide Master Beekeeping Programs, etc.) that will allow WAS to separate the wheat from the chaff and offer formal endorsements of worthy educational programs. The future of any organization is guided by the youth involved in the program. Therefore, the WAS Board will also be expected to join Sarah Red-Laird’s “Next Gen” program to bring new, energetic members into the fold. Finally: Save the date!! Our next Annual Conference is scheduled for September 14-16, 2018, here in Boise, Idaho. For our next conference, timing will change from a mid-week rendezvous to a Friday through Sunday session, with the intention of appealing to the busy schedules of our Next Gen beekeepers. Stay tuned to the next Journal for an announcement on the venue and confirmation on speakers coming to town. In the meantime, here’s hoping that your bees are ready for winter, your mites are under control, your equipment is prepared for paint and assembly and ready to put out next Spring. Whazzup? Boise, 2018. WAS Up! —– ‘TIPS & TRICKS’ INVITED Joe Carson, Chair of the WAS Education Committee, wants ideas, thoughts, experience and input on topics concerning all facets of beekeeping to be shared with the WAS membership. For example, we are looking for WAS members to provide short articles (approximately 300 – 400 words) on any of the following topics: 1.  Specific equipment or types of models of equipment you find useful or not so useful (bottom boards, inner covers, follower boards, feeders, pollen traps, propolis traps, foundation, clothing, etc.). 2.  Beekeeping techniques that have contributed to or improved your success in the bee yard. 3.  Regional beekeeping practices (wintering techniques, surviving hot climates, urban beekeeping, migratory, “hot” bees, etc.). All submissions will be considered for inclusion in future WAS printed and electronic publications. These articles are intended to be quick reads that can provide a series of quick informative, educational boosts for our readers.  To help provide context, please include a short description of the region where you keep your bees. Please send any and all articles, thoughts, pictures, opinions and musings to: —– From Dr. Christina Grozinger, POLLINATOR-L – MORE RESEARCH JOBS 1. PhD position on spatial ecology of bumble bee pollinators of blueberry in Canada – We are seeking a graduate student to begin work on a PhD in January 2018, to join the labs of Paul Galpern and Ralph Cartar at the University of Calgary, in a biology department with considerable expertise in pollination and pollinator ecology, and beneficial insects. The funded research will involve landscape-scale study of wild-nesting bumble bee pollinators of blueberries in the Fraser Valley, British Columbia.  It will examine landscape context, off-crop foraging alternatives, distance-based foraging, foraging competitors, and reproductive success of bumble bee colonies in the context of wild bumble bees providing ecosystem pollination services to blueberry crops.  The project will involve an integration of landscape ecology, behavioural ecology, and chemical ecology, and will span basic and applied ecology. Applications are welcome immediately, and selection of a candidate will likely happen before 31 October 2017. Canadian applicants already holding an MSc would best fit the short timeline for entry into the program by January 2018. Salary stipend is $23,000 per year, some of which would obtain from TAing a course in the Fall term. To apply, please email a statement of interest, a CV, and the names of 3 referees to:  Paul Galpern <> or Ralph Cartar <> 2. Xerces Society – Pollinator Conservation Specialist/Agronomist in Minnesota or North Dakota. Job open until filled; applications will be reviewed as they are received. Hiring preference will go to candidates available to start in early to mid-January; some flexibility of start date exists. For the right candidate, we may consider additional location options. Reporting to the Xerces Society Pollinator Conservation Program Co-Director and in collaboration with private sector partners, the Pollinator Conservation Specialist/Agronomist will: coordinate day to day operations of pollinator habitat enhancement and establishment across thousands of acres of farmland in the Upper Midwest, Northern Plains, and Prairie Provinces of Canada; develop and consistently improve habitat establishment methodology in pasture and cropland settings; and provide regular habitat restoration technical support to other farmers, partner organizations, and other Xerces staff. Please review full job details and application instructions here: —– CATCH THE BUZZ 1. Apple Trees Bear More Fruit When Surrounded By Good Neighbors, And Good Honey Bees. Be Sure Your Grower Knows That. Research led by Purdue University professor Peter Hirst shows that pollen from some apple trees may be better for pollinating high-value apples. (Purdue Agricultural Communication photo/Tom Campbell) WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Apple growers want to get the most out of their high-value cultivars, and a Purdue University study shows they might want to focus on the types of apples they plant near those cash crops. Since apple trees cannot self-pollinate, the pollen from other apple varieties is necessary for fruit to grow. Orchard owners often plant crab apple trees amongst high-value apples such as Honeycrisp, Gala and Fuji. Crab apples produce a lot of flowers and thus a lot of pollen for bees to spread around to the other trees. “If you are growing some Honeycrisp, you want to plant something next to your Honeycrisp that bees will pick up and spread to your Honeycrisp and make good apples,” said Peter Hirst, a Purdue professor of horticulture and landscape architecture. “Growers will alternate plantings of different cultivars every few rows to promote cross-pollination, and they’ll sometimes put a crab apple tree in the middle of a row as well.” Hirst and Khalil Jahed, a Purdue doctoral student, wondered if it mattered which type of apple pollinated high-value cultivars. To find out, they manually applied pollen from Red Delicious and Golden Delicious, and two types of crab apple, Ralph Shay and Malus floribunda, to Honeycrisp, Fuji and Gala. 2. Traps Baited With Synthesized Pheromone Could Become Solution To Invasive Asian Hornet – Over the past decade, Asian hornets, predatory insects with a widespread and expanding population, have invaded parts of Europe and Korea. Vespa velutina has a growing reputation as a species that proliferates rapidly, preys on honey bees and poses risks to humans. Now a biologist at the University of California San Diego and his colleagues in Asia have developed a solution for controlling Asian hornets derived from the insect’s natural chemical mating instincts. As reported in the Oct. 11 edition of Scientific Reports, UC San Diego’s James Nieh and researchers at the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Yunnan Agricultural University have deciphered the sex pheromone of Vespa velutina. Further, they developed a method of controlling Asian hornets by luring males into traps baited with synthesized versions of the pheromones. 3. NZ Exports Up Nearly 600%, Number Of Beekeepers Nearly Triples – Manuka honey can demand as much as $500/lb or more. Apiarists from outside Golden Bay are threatening the bay’s honey industry by pushing out local keepers from their long-held sites, Takaka beekeepers say. Honey firms desperate to cash in on the manuka honey gold rush, from as far away as Canterbury and the North Island, are taking beekeeper’s sites by promising landowners bigger bucks. Some are concerned about the increasingly cut-throat nature of the industry and the risks that come with the movement of beehives and over-stocking. Takaka resident Terry Knight, new owner of Wild Bee Honey NZ, said more and more corporate beekeepers had been coming in to exploit the area and aggressively compete with locals for sites. Knight was recently asked to remove his hives from a property near Takaka where they had been situated for a decade. Medical grade manuka honey can get fetch up to $1000 per kilogram. A manuka honey company from Nelson had offered the landowner more money to keep their hives instead, he said.