Items of interest to beekeepers 24 July 2017







More good reading, not necessarily bee-related – UNDERSEA CHEMICAL REACTION: COULD IT REDUCE CO2 IN THE ATMOSPHERE?


PRE-REGISTRATION FOR WAS BEE CONFERENCE AT UC DAVIS IS MONDAY, JULY 31 By Kathy Keatley Garvey, UC-Davis, CA DAVIS — Monday, July 31 is the pre-registration deadline to attend the Western Apicultural Society’s 40th annual conference, to be held Sept. 5-8 at the University of California, Davis, where the organization was founded. Extension apiculturist emeritus Eric Mussen, who is serving his sixth term as president of the Western Apicultural Society (WAS), says those registering early will save $50. “There will still be an opportunity to register after July 31 but you won’t get the ‘early bee’ special,” he said. The early registration fee for the full conference is $175, while the cost after July 31 is $225. One-day registration is also offered at $60. The conference is open to all interested persons. WAS, a non-profit organization, represents mainly small-scale beekeepers in the western portion of North America, from Alaska and the Yukon to California and Arizona.  Beekeepers across North America will gather to hear the latest in science and technology pertaining to their industry and how to keep their bees healthy. Mussen, who retired from UC Davis in 2014 but maintains an office at Briggs Hall, said most events will take place at the UC Davis Activities and Recreation Center (ARC) and surrounding facilities associated with the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology.  Off-site tours are also planned during the afternoons. The conference kicks off with the three co-founders engaging in nostalgia. The three, all from the UC Davis, are apiculturist Norm Gary, WAS first president and now professor emeritus; Mussen, first vice president; and Becky Westerdahl, first secretary-treasurer and now an Extension nematologist in the Department of Entomology and Nematology. Mussen said many former WAS officers and founding members are expected to attend and participate in the lively session. At the conference, Kim Flottum, editor of Bee Culture magazine, will share his insights on the “The Rapidly Changing Bee Scene”;  Les Crowder will discuss managing honey bees in top bar hives, and Larry Connor will cover “Keeping Your Bees Alive and Growing.” Several speakers will present mini-sessions outdoors at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility and the adjacent Häagen Dazs Bee Haven, a bee friendly garden operated by the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. Both are on Bee Biology Road. “The beekeeping and honey industries are, and have been extremely volatile,” said Flottum, editor of Bee Culture for more than 30 years. “That’s what happens when you have animals, the weather, government and humans in the mix.” He will discuss “what’s going on at the moment that beekeepers should be aware of, and more importantly, what to expect in the near and not so near future that will affect bees, beekeepers and honey, queen and honey bee production.” Flottum also authored three books on beginning, intermediate and advanced beekeeping and one on honey plants and honey tasting, and is working on several more books. “Kim Flottum has been a stalwart in U.S. beekeeping for decades,” Mussen said. “He ferrets out information on national, regional, and local beekeeping happenings and disseminates the news in various places, depending upon his role at the time.” Other presenters will include beekeeper Serge Labesque of Glen Ellen, Sonoma County, who advocates selecting local bee stocks that can handle the problems of current-day beekeeping. Amina Harris, director of the UC Davis Honey and Pollination Center will lead a formal honey tasting, and Sarah Red-Laird of Oregon, executive director of Bee Girl and the American Beekeeping Federation’s Kids and Bees Program director, will present a breakout session on “Beekeeping Education/Honey Bee Conservation.” UC Davis is a world-renowned entomology/apicultural facility. Among the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology faculty are Elina Niño, Extension apiculturist; pollination ecologist Neal Williams; bee scientists Brian Johnson and Rachel Vannette, and native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp, distinguished emeritus professor. Niño and Williams are on the speakers’ list. UC Davis artist Steve Dana created a T-shirt for the conference featuring a bee on a high wheeler bicycle or “penny-farthing”, symbolizing UC Davis. The t-shirt can be ordered on the WAS website at The conference registration form, speaker program and other information are also online. Read Kathy’s blog at Eric Mussen offers 10 reasons why one should attend the conference. See the Bug Squad blog, UC Agriculture and Natural Resources website, at —– NEXT GENERATION BEEKEEPERS BREAKOUT SESSION AT WAS 2017 Definition: Present Generation = People who have made bees their career for the last 2+ decades Next Generation = People who are in their first decade of bees as a career Next Next Generation = Kids What’s a “Next Generation Beekeeper”? “Next Gen” is defined as, “The step forward that perpetually propels us into our impending destiny.” We are the next generation in our family of beekeepers, we are the drivers of the next stage of development in the products, services, expertise, and knowledge our industry provides. This beekeeper is a commercial or small scale beekeeper, or works as an educator or researcher. They are passionate about bees, and want to be involved in future beekeeping innovation, research, policy, technology, advocacy, or community leadership. This breakout session will feature free beer, music, great networking opportunities, free beer, and an organized, interactive group session. The session is designed to develop a few ideas for addressing the issues new beekeepers face, as we join this industry. You tell us what that needs to be done, we’ll listen and help to develop a positive action plan to propel our industry forward. Date and Time: Thu, September 7, 2017 7:00 PM – 10:00 PM PDT Location: Sensory Building, Robert Mondavi Institute, 392 Old Davis Rd, Davis, CA Register at —– From Kristen Ellis at Porter Novelli in Atlanta, Georgia – BAYER COMMUNITY LEADERSHIP AWARDS Bayer presents the Community Leadership Award ( annually to recognize deserving individuals championing bee health on a grassroots level. This year, Bayer selected the first-ever young beekeeper winner in Carmel, California, for his work to spearhead local awareness and involvement on honey bees and other pollinators’ importance to our food chain. Jake Reisdorf, 14-year-old owner of Carmel Honey Company (, manages nearly 100 hives in Monterey County and helps others do the same, speaking to organizations and schools as part of his “Jake Gives Back” program, in addition to harvesting and selling the honey from his hives. Jake is also currently participating in the UC Davis Master Beekeepers Program. For his dedication and focus on education, especially at such a young age, he’s been selected to receive Bayer Bee Care’s inaugural “Young Beekeeper” Community Leadership Award, which comes complete with a $1,000 prize and the opportunity to use the platform for further outreach initiatives. In addition to Jake, beekeeping pair Kirk and Heidi Tubbs of Tubbs Berry Farm ( were also honored for their work with the local pest abatement district in Twin Falls, Idaho, to ensure mosquito control methods used do not negatively impact honey bees. Selected for a $5,000 Community Leadership Award, Kirk and Heidi plan to continue working with members of their community to explore the effects insect controllers may have on bees. —– A HOME FOR BEES Nesting aids make agricultural fields attractive for pollinators WÜRZBURG, Germany — Farmers are facing a problem: Honeybees are becoming ever more rare in many places. But a lot of plants can only produce fruits and seeds when their flowers were previously pollinated with pollen from different individuals. So when there are no pollinators around, yields will decrease. But honeybees are not the only insects that do this crucial job. The various species of wild bees, too, are busy pollen collectors and pollinate a number of crops in the process. However, their importance has long been underestimated. But we now know that the yields of many crops increase noticeably when not only honeybees but also their “wild” relatives are abundant in fields. Study of rapeseed field landscapes “So we studied how the number of bees on agricultural land can be increased with sustainable effect,” Ingolf Steffan-Dewenter explains. For this purpose, the qualified beekeeper and Professor of Animal Ecology and Tropical Biology at the Julius-Maximilians-Universität (JMU) Würzburg in Bavaria, Germany, together with his team and colleagues from the University of Wageningen investigated several landscapes with rapeseed fields. The study was conducted within the scope of the EU project STEP (Status and Trends of European Pollinators). The examined areas were located around Würzburg and in the Netherlands. First, the biologists installed so-called nesting aids at the edges of the fields – these are short bundles of reed in which the insects can lay their eggs. Over the next two years, they studied how many brood cells were produced in these nests and from which species. Flowering plants are important food resources During the rapeseed flower in May, the fields attract vast numbers of pollinators. So it’s no wonder that the number of nesting aids occupied by wild bees virtually explodes during this time. Afterwards, the nesting activity decreased significantly in both years. “Flowering plants are the only food resource of wild bees – and that both for the adult animals and their larvae,” Ingolf Steffan-Dewenter explains. “The insects can only thrive in the presence of sufficient flowering plants.” Rapeseed flowers for a few weeks only; afterwards the food on offer declines rapidly. Only wild bees whose activity patterns are during spring are capable of coping with these circumstances. “In order to settle a greater variety of bees, we have to create sufficient flower-rich areas near the nesting sites – small strips of wild flowers are often sufficient for this purpose,” Steffan-Dewenter points out. “We were able to show that such measures but also nature-oriented habitats in the surrounding area have a positive impact on the abundance of wild bees in the fields.” Simple measures have a positive impact The availability of sufficient food resources is important, but the provision of nesting aids is also essential as was the case in the study. When enough nesting sites and flowering plants are available, wild bees can reproduce rapidly. “Our work has shown that comparably simple measures have a positive impact on the number and diversity of pollinators,” the JMU biologist explains. This also helps farmers become more independent of honeybees, especially since wild bees can help boost the yield of many crops. Dr Andrea Holzschuh, co-author and research assistant at the JMU department, mentions other reasons why it makes sense to rely on different species of pollinators: A single bee species is at a much greater risk of being decimated by parasites or diseases; with more species the risk is lower. Parasites not a big problem However, wild bees also have natural enemies and are vulnerable to pathogens: The scientists showed in their study that one in six brood cells was attacked by parasites and about as many larvae died as a result of infection. The greater the number of bees, the greater the percentage that fell victim to these problems. However, this effect did not impair the reproduction of the useful insects in the long run.  —University of Würzburg —– From Dr. Christina Grozinger at POLLINATOR-L – MORE RESEARCH JOBS Postdoc position at University of Würzburg, Germany – “Honey bee and bumble bee ecology” We offer a Research Scientist (Postdoc) position at the Department for Animal Ecology and Tropical Biology, Biocenter, University of Würzburg, for three years with possible extension for further three years. The position builds upon long-term research activities of the group on the ecology of honey bees and bumble bees in the context of land use and climate change and combined risks by pesticides, parasites, and loss of floral resources. The successful candidate (i) will analyse existing data sets on community dynamics, biotic interactions, and seasonal timing of social bees and on environmental risk assessment in honey bees, (ii) will initiate new projects and (iii) contribute to teaching. The candidate is expected to hold a PhD degree in Ecology or a similar discipline with a background in bee ecology. Further requirements are a very good knowledge of ecological statistics (using R) and experimental designs, very good writing and communication skills, ability to work independently and self-motivated, interest to work in interdisciplinary projects, and the willingness to teach undergraduate students and to supervise BSc, MSc and PhD students. Further valued skills are practical experience in beekeeping, DNA-metabarcoding of pollen samples, bee parasites and pathogens, and GIS/landscape ecology. We offer the membership in an ambitious research team, modern facilities and an international research environment. Salary and benefits are according to public service positions in Germany (TVL13, full position). Female scientists are particularly encouraged to apply. Disabled applicants will be preferentially considered in case of equivalent qualification. Planned start date is 1st November 2017. Please send your application ( with cover letter, a short summary of research interests, CV, complete certificates, and the names (with email addresses) of two potential referees) as a single pdf file per-email to and by 31th August 2017. For further information, please contact Prof. Dr. Ingolf Steffan-Dewenter, Department of Animal Ecology and Tropical Biology, Biocenter, University of Würzburg, Am Hubland, 97074 Würzburg, Germany, by Email (see above), phone: +49 931 3186947 or check the homepage: —– More good reading, not necessarily bee-related – UNDERSEA CHEMICAL REACTION: COULD IT REDUCE CO2 IN THE ATMOSPHERE? Scientists at USC and Caltech may have taken a big step toward storing and neutralizing carbon in the deepest recesses of the ocean without harming coral or other organisms. It all revolves around calcium carbonate, a molecule common to the oceans. For the first time, the USC-Caltech team precisely measured the reaction rate of calcite, a form of calcium carbonate, as it dissolved in seawater enhanced by a common enzyme, carbonic anhydrase. That’s the same enzyme that maintains the acid-base balance in the blood and tissue of humans and other animals. They found that they could accelerate this natural chemical reaction, which is normally slow, by a factor of 500. The findings were published online July 17 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Researchers had known about a chemical reaction involving calcium carbonate and carbonic acid, “but people studying it before had kind of dismissed it,” said William Berelson, a geochemist at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences and a senior author of the acceleration study. “This carbonate material that’s all over the ocean floor has been neutralizing ocean CO2 for billions of years. Yet the uncatalyzed reaction is quite slow. Remarkably, nobody has quite understood how to speed up this process. Now, we’re beginning to figure it out.” Co-principal investigator Jess Adkins of Caltech noted, “The exact mechanism of the buffering by carbonates has been an elusive goal in oceanography.” Berelson’s lab provided the isotopic measurements crucial to understanding these dissolution rates. “This reaction has been overlooked,” said Adam Subhas, lead author and a Caltech graduate researcher. “The slow step is making and breaking CO bonds to go from CO2 to CO3. They don’t like to break; they’re stable forms. This is very slow, and nature has figured it out, so it has created an enzyme called carbonic anhydrase to speed it up.” An antacid for the ocean Calcium carbonate exists all over the planet’s oceans, from coral reefs near the surface to the shells of dead organisms like plankton that are buried deep below. There is roughly 50 times as much greenhouse gas in the ocean as the atmosphere, causing ocean acidification. However, when acidified surface waters make their way to deeper parts of the ocean, they are able to react with the dead calcium carbonate shells on the sea floor that neutralize the added carbon dioxide. This is part of the natural buffering process that allows the ocean to hold such a large amount of carbon dioxide safely, at least in those parts where acidification isn’t touching and eroding structures like coral reefs. “The dissolution of calcium carbonate in the ocean is what we call in chemistry a buffer. It’s very much like when you take an antacid for an upset stomach because it is neutralizing the acid in your tummy,” Berelson said. Now, thanks to the USC-Caltech team, this process to safely convert CO2 to bicarbonate that would normally take tens of thousands years can be replicated in a fraction of the time. “It isn’t lost on us that this may hold some really important role, sooner or later, in helping mitigate atmospheric CO2,” Berelson said. —– CATCH THE BUZZ 1.  Iowa’s Republican-Controlled Legislature Has Voted To Cut All Funding To The 30-Year-Old Leopold Foundation Center – The future of the famed Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture is in doubt after Iowa’s Republican-controlled legislature voted to cut all funding to the 30-year-old research group. State Governor Terry Branstad vetoed legislation that would have shut down the center, but in what is described as an act of political vindictiveness, allowed a section diverting all its $1.8-million funding to the Iowa Nutrient Research Center. This leaves Leopold with no money to operate. Branstad then resigned and headed off to China to serve as the U.S. ambassador. 2. A New UC Study Finds That Almonds And Honey Bees Depend On Each Other, And Pollination Fees For Almond Orchards Have Stabilized After Sharp Increases A Decade Ago – Did you know – pollination has become the top income source for beekeepers nationwide—accounting for $338 million in revenues in 2016, compared to $336 million for honey Almonds and honey bees depend on each other, and pollination fees for almond orchards have stabilized after sharp increases a decade ago: Those are among conclusions of a report from the Giannini Foundation for Agricultural Economics at the University of California. “Almonds depend on honey bees and the size and economic health of the beekeeping industry depends crucially on the economic health of the almond industry,” the UC report said. Titled “Bee-conomics Revisited,” the report said prices charged for almond pollination have remained steady “because an efficient system has quickly evolved to deliver bees to the expanding almond acreage, even with fluctuations in disease pressure on the honey bee industry.” Citing U.S. Department of Agriculture statistics, the UC report said pollination has become the top income source for beekeepers nationwide—accounting for $338 million in revenues in 2016, compared to $336 million for honey — and that beekeepers “tend to specialize among revenue-generating alternatives.” 3.  Food Dive Reports On Popularity Of Almonds. And We All Know Almonds Need Bees. Good News Just Gets Better – Caroline Macdonald of Food Dive Dive Brief:     Almonds were the number one nut used in global new food products for the 10th straight year in 2016, reports Food Ingredients First.     Of all new products that featured nuts last year, almonds were in 38% of them, according to the Innova Global New Products Report. Confectionery, bakery, bars, snacks and cereal accounted for 82% of new almond-containing products — but the dairy and dessert categories also saw rapid growth.     There was a 26% increase in almond products in the dairy category, which includes almond milk, and a 33% increase in the number of almond products in the desserts and ice cream category. 4. The Keynote Presenters And Their Session Descriptions Have Been Announced For The 2017 Protecting Pollinators In Ornamental Landscapes Conference Oct. 9-11, In Traverse City, Michigan – 5. The Rainbow Bee-Eater Can Eat Hundreds Of Bees A Day, Making Its Pellets A Valuable Resource For Authorities To Find Asian Honey Bees – The rainbow bee-eater can eat hundreds of bees a day, making its pellets a valuable resource for authorities. It is a common dry season visitor throughout the tropical north, and now the rainbow bee-eater could hold the key to identifying the remaining varroa mite colonies that have made their way to Australia. The biosecurity threat of a mite infestation could cost Australia more than $1 billion in lost production. When first detected in Townsville last year the varroa mite was found living on Asian honey bees, but authorities fear the virus-carrying mites could spread to European honey bees, Australia’s largest producers of honey. The National Varroa Mite Eradication Program (NVMEP) is calling on the public’s help to identify the rainbow bee-eater’s roosts in a bid to find any remaining Asian honey bee nests. 6. 89 Percent Believe Pesticide Exposure Most Important Threat To Bees – By Ann Marie Hak According to a media release from Friends of Earth Canada, a national poll study found that a majority of 89 per cent of Canadians believe that pesticide exposure is the most important threat to bees. “Almost eight out of 10, 79 per cent, believe the loss of suitable floral resources was important. More than six out of ten, also cited other threats as important – habitat loss, disease, climate change, and modern intensive agriculture. Friends of the Earth Canada believes that all these threats to bees are very important and are cause for urgent action by all concerned,” said Friends of Earth Canada.