Items of interest to beekeepers 23 September 2017

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







From the Capital Region Beekeepers in Victoria British Columbia – WHAT’S ON YOUR BOTTOM BOARD? By Werner Grundlingh   As a new beekeeper you often wonder what the bees are doing. Are they building comb? Are they bringing in honey? Is the queen laying? Are they hungry and need food? So many questions. The only way to truly see — first-hand — what they’re up to is to open up the hive and inspect. However, a second-hand view on the hive’s activity is often provided through what you find on the bottom board. What do you have on your bottom board?   A common perception is that bees tend to be clean insects — they remove the dead or other foreign material from the hive by flying into your neighbour’s yard and dumping it. They even clean my hive tool when I leave it on the inner cover, but they can be equally dirty at times when you inspect your bottom board. —– $10 MILLION TO AID BEE HEALTH National Honey Board is partnering with Project Apis m. on bee health research. The initiatives will seek to improve the well-being of nearly 2.9 million American bee colonies. (Allagash Brewing, Flickr/Creative Commons) FIRESTONE, Colo. — The National Honey Board and Project Apis m. are reinforcing their commitment to the future of bees through an investment of $10 million by 2020 in bee health research. In addition to producing honey, bees are an important contributor to our food supply. Pollinator foods, including those pollinated by bees, represent one in every three bites of food that we eat.1 The initiatives will seek to improve the well-being of nearly 2.9 million American bee colonies, with a specific focus on the main threats to bee health:    – Pesticides, some of which, may kill the bee immediately once they’ve made contact, or when the bee brings small amounts of the pesticide, on its body or in contaminated nectar, back to the hive. There are also many sub lethal effects which appear slowly or synergisms of multiple exposure.    – Pathogens and parasites, such as Nosema and Varroa mites, infect bees with diseases that can destroy entire colonies. All parasites directly or indirectly feed on the honey bees.    – Limited quality and quantity of forage for bees results in poor nutrition. “The National Honey Board depends upon the hard-working honey bee to produce the honey that many of us enjoy, and celebrate every September during National Honey Month. We feel a strong responsibility to help protect the bees, which is why we’ve been funding production research since 2004, funding for CCD research since early 2007 and began allocating five percent of our annual budget to all honey bee health research in 2008,” said Margaret Lombard, Chief Executive Officer, National Honey Board. “We’re so pleased to be working alongside partners, such as Project Apis m., who share our commitment to improving and maintaining bee health, during a time when it is needed most.” In addition to these efforts, there are several, simple changes that people can make to help improve the health of bees, such as:    – Provide forage and habitat for bees by planting pollinator-friendly flowers and flowering herbs in the garden. Find plant species that are native to your area and also beneficial non-native plants by visiting the Pollinator Partnership website.    – Allow dandelions and other flowering weeds to grow to provide more nectar and pollen sources for the bees. If you must control them, consider waiting until bloom is over, and using natural alternatives to chemical and pesticides, such as releasing natural pest predators or pulling weeds by hand. If you apply a chemical, do so in the evening after pollinator flight periods.    – Donate to an organization dedicated to helping protect and provide habitat for honey bees and other pollinators    – Eat more honey. Supporting the honey industry makes beekeeping possible, and will continue to fund bee health research that will help our pollinator friends to thrive. “Without bees, we wouldn’t have some of the world’s most nutrient-rich foods,”6 said Danielle Downey, Executive Director, Project Apis m. “Thanks to previous research and funding, we’ve been making progress towards better bee health, however, we still have a long road ahead. We’re pleased to join our partners and the National Honey Board to commit to funding vital research to continue to improve bee health.” To educate people about the importance of bees to our food supply and honey production, the National Honey Board has created a virtual reality (VR) video that takes viewers on a hive-to-table journey, seen from the point of view of a bee. The video can be viewed as a 360 video or as a more immersive experience using a VR viewing headset. It is available online at After experiencing the point of view of a bee in VR, people can also celebrate the hard work of bees and the pure, natural flavor of honey during September’s National Honey Month by creating honey-infused meals, found on About National Honey Board The National Honey Board (NHB) is an industry-funded agriculture promotion group that works to educate consumers about the benefits and uses for honey and honey products through research, marketing and promotional programs. The Board’s work, funded by an assessment on domestic and imported honey, is designed to increase the awareness and usage of honey by consumers, the foodservice industry and food manufacturers. The ten-member-Board, appointed by the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, represents producers (beekeepers), packers, importers and a marketing cooperative. For more information, visit About Project Apis m. Project Apis m. (PAm) is the go-to organization at the interface of honey bees and pollinated crops. Since 2006, PAm has infused over $6 million into honey bee health research to benefit growers, beekeepers and consumers. Working closely with commercial beekeepers, growers, and top bee scientists in the USA and Canada to direct strategic efforts focused on practical solutions, PAm funds research studies and enhances honey bee health and nutrition by replacing forage on the landscape. PAm is a non-profit 501 (c) (5) organization governed by a nine-member board of beekeepers, pollinators and honey producers, with five dedicated scientific advisors. For more information on Project Apis m., visit —– I often have to wonder how “Items…” gets to the places it does. Always lovely surprises! This item reached us via Kyler’s mother, Suzanne, and definitely rates a “Like” – 15-YEAR-OLD SCOUT CREATES HAVENSVILLE BEE PARK My name is Kyler Bernritter (15 yr.) and I’m a Life Scout with Troop 64 in Kansas, working on my Eagle Project. I’m developing the Havensville Bee Park and conducting a Be a Bee Buddy campaign. Why do I care about bees? My Aunt Robin has been a beekeeper for many years. When I was just pre-school age I would watch my aunt work her bees. I loved it and took every opportunity to learn about bees. I saved my money for a few years so I could afford to buy my equipment. I accomplished that goal. My aunt is now a Master Beekeeper and I’ve been a beekeeper for five years now! When it came time to decide on an Eagle project, it was natural to do something for bees, not just about bees. The Havensville Bee Park is a safe haven for honey bees and other pollinators. It has an educational, enclosed display board and is full of flowers native to our area and friendly for our bees. When completed it will have a couple of benches so people can go and enjoy the park, a water feature and trellis entrance. In addition to the bee park, I have also been getting the word out about how people can help support our honey bees in their own yards. I have a movie poster size free-standing sign that I have placed in area grocery stores and businesses to better reach folks and let them know about the Havensville Bee Park. I’m trying to get the word out about the project. The project Facebook page has followed the project with journal entries and photos. Please help me get the word out by liking the page on Facebook@The Havensville Bee Park. Thank you for your help. Kyler —– BEES SUFFER WHEN THEY CAN’T FIND A BALANCED DIET Fewer wildflower choices thwart bees’ natural inclination to choose a balanced diet and they suffer cognitively from lLack of Omega-3 acids. By Abigail Klein Leichman September 13, 2017, 9:00 am If you give a “menu” to a bee, it will instinctively choose dishes that provide the right balance of nutrients: sugary nectar plus pollen full of protein, fatty acids and micronutrients. That’s one of the findings of groundbreaking experiments performed at Israel’s Benjamin Triwaks Bee Research Center at Hebrew University’s Robert H. Smith Faculty of Agriculture in Rehovot. The center also has discovered that, like humans, bees consuming an unhealthy ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids develop cognitive deficiencies. They cannot simply choose pollen from flowers high in omega-3 because increasing urbanization has decimated many kinds of wildflowers. The resulting nutritional imbalance is a major reason why honeybees, responsible for the pollination of more than 90 commercial food crops across the world, are dying at an alarming rate. “Our specific research is on understanding bee diets and how they choose their diets. We know they need nectar and pollen, and that all comes from flowers,” Bee Research Center director Prof. Sharoni Shafir tells ISRAEL21c. “Beekeepers can give them sugar water if there’s not enough nectar but lack of pollen is a more acute problem because it’s complex. There are essential amino acids they can only get from pollen, and the amount of essential fatty acids — omega-3 and omega-6 – varies from pollen to pollen. We are working in an international consortium to understand how to formulate an artificial diet that will be as good as pollen,” he says. Omega-3 deficiency slows bees’ learning Shafir’s PhD student Yael Arien fed colonies of bees with artificial pollens, some poor in omega-3 and others rich in omega-3. Then she tested the bees’ learning aptitude using Pavlovian conditioning. The experiment revealed that 90% of the bees raised on high omega-3 diets learned to differentiate between odors associated with sugar or salt within three trials. But only about 45% of the bees raised on an omega-3 deficient diet were able to do so. “That was a striking effect,” says Shafir. He explains that in humans, the right balance of omega-6 and omega-3 is 1:1. The typical modern Western diet (high in corn and corn byproducts and low in fish and free-range meat, poultry and eggs) provides a 15:1 omega-6 to omega-3 ratio. This imbalance is thought to contribute to cognitive dysfunctions such as dementia, depression and ADHD. “Some doctors think too much omega-6 is the No. 1 health issue of the future,” Shafir says. “In bees and other invertebrates, nobody has looked at this possible unbalance. It turns out that bees usually collect pollen higher in omega-3 than omega-6. When they can, they collect a mixed diet of pollen.” Which pollen makes bees dance? For three days, Shafir’s lab fed one colony of bees a type of pollen lacking omega-6 and fed another colony pollen lacking omega-3. Then they allowed the forager bees from each colony to choose among three dishes of pollen. The first dish contained exactly what they’d eaten for three days. The second dish had pollen from a different flower but with the same fatty acid lacking. The third dish contained “complementary” pollen rich in whichever fatty acid they had not gotten for three days. “In the observation hive, we could see what they were excited about because they do a ‘recruitment’ dance,” he says. “We videotaped all their dances and analyzed them, and found they did a more rigorous dance when they found the complementary pollen. So we saw that the individual foragers make decisions and relay them to the whole colony. We just ‘listened’ to what the bees told each other.” In a similar study in Shafir’s lab, led by postdoc Harmen Hendriksma from Holland, each colony was deprived of a certain amino acid (protein) for a week. Afterward, most foragers chose the complementary pollen to balance their diet. “Taken together, we see that omega-3 deficiencies have a strong effect on cognition and that bees try to balance their deficiencies, though we don’t know how,” says Shafir. “What ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 do they need for best learning performance or for longevity and other aspects? We’re working on that.” Shafir emphasized that the experiments are not focused specifically on colony collapse disorder, a “strange disappearing act” affecting honeybee colonies in the United States since 2006, but on the global problem of colony losses. “Bees are dying from all kinds of reasons,” he tells ISRAEL21c. “There is an ongoing debate as to the causes. We believe there are multiple causes and they all synergize. The three most important factors are the use of pesticides and poisons in the environment; the Varroa mite and the viruses it transmits; and the lack of proper nutrition or malnutrition” caused by shrinking amount and variety of wildflowers. Nutrition is the basis of everything, because malnourishment leads to a weaker immune system that cannot fight the effects of pesticides and viruses. Shafir’s lab has proven that providing bees with a more balanced diet makes them healthier and smarter. Development of well-balanced artificial pollen is now underway. —– PLANT COLOR, FRAGRANCE ATTRACTS POLLINATORS ITHACA, N.Y. — Who knew that it’s possible to predict the fragrance of a flower by looking at its color? 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 as one integrated signal. This is the first study to demonstrate color-fragrance integration for an entire plant community. “This result shocked us because we collected and analyzed the data in a blind and unbiased way, and because previous studies had not even considered the possibility of scent-color coordination,” said Robert Raguso, professor of neurobiology and behavior, who participated in the study. The flowers use coordinated signals of color and fragrance to attract insects, which acquire pollen during floral visits and ensure pollination of the plants. In turn, the insects benefit by acquiring nectar and pollen as food. By connecting visual and olfactory channels, the flowers render their signal stronger and more stable under the intense environmental conditions of the Aegean. On windy days, fragrances may dissipate but colors will remain viable floral attractants, whereas fragrance could be the primary attractant when flowers are concealed by the dense vegetation of the Phrygana scrublands. According to Raguso, it is also likely that many insects learn to associate nectar or pollen meals with specific combinations of color and fragrance. “Bees are the dominant pollinators in our study site, and they have trichromatic color vision – they see UV, blue, green,” Raguso said. “But butterflies and beetles have divergent visual systems, and can also see in red. We designed our study to account for these different forms of perception and selective pressure.” The study provides a new direction for research on the interactions between plant signals and animal senses. “Progress in our field has been hampered by the ways that we study plant-pollinator interactions – focusing only on one spatial scale or one sensory channel,” Raguso said. “With this study, we took a step closer to what I suspect is the reality for most pollinators, which seamlessly integrate across sensory channels as they approach a food item, just as we do.” The researchers estimate the study will lower the barriers to reaching a more holistic understanding of pollination, by providing a blueprint for how to perform unbiased sensory-ecological analyses in any plant-pollinator community.  — Cornell University