Items of interest to beekeepers 25 March 2018

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







US & CANADIAN FARMER-RANCHER POLLINATOR CONSERVATION AWARDS Do you know a farmer or rancher who is making a difference for pollinators? Pollinator Partnership (P2) is seeking nominations for the 2018 Farmer-Rancher Pollinator Conservation Awards. Visit for more information and help celebrate the contributions of the agricultural community to pollinators. We would also greatly appreciate for your organization to share the links below through your social media: Twitter: Facebook: On behalf of all pollinators, thank you for helping us recognize the invaluable contributions of farmers and ranchers to the protection of our country’s bees, butterflies and beneficials! Kathleen Law, Outreach Program Manager, Pollinator Partnership —– SOME NEONICOTINOID PESTICIDES ARE MORE TOXIC TO BEES THAN OTHERS; HERE’S WHY You’ve probably heard that the safety of neonicotinoid pesticides to bees is a matter of considerable controversy. However, neonicotinoids show varying toxicity to bees. Now, researchers reporting in the journal Current Biology on March 22 have new evidence in honeybees and bumble bees that helps to explain why bees differ in their sensitivity to different neonicotinoids. The study by researchers at Bayer AG (a company that manufactures neonicotinoid insecticides), the University of Exeter, and Rothamsted Research shows that differences in pesticide sensitivity result from differences in the way that metabolic enzymes involved in the bees’ defense against toxins break down particular pesticide chemicals. The findings suggest that it may be possible to specifically design pesticides that are toxic to insect pests but not to bees, the researchers say. The study was supported with funds from Bayer AG. “Honeybees are more than 1,000 times less sensitive to the neonicotinoid thiacloprid than imidacloprid, with the latter classified as ‘highly toxic’ but the former categorized as only ‘slightly toxic’ or ‘practically non-toxic’ according to the official categories of the US Environmental Protection Agency,” says Chris Bass from the University of Exeter, United Kingdom. “By utilizing genomic information and state-of-the-art molecular and biochemical techniques, we show that in both honeybees and bumble bees, this selectivity is determined by closely related enzymes, which rapidly break down thiacloprid before it impacts the bee nervous system. Those same enzymes have little to no capacity to break down imidacloprid–thus explaining the differences in bee sensitivity to these compounds.” The enzymes in question are members of a subfamily of enzymes known as cytochrome P450s. Earlier studies showed those enzymes detoxify other insecticides used by beekeepers to defend their hives against parasitic Varroa mites. Interestingly, related enzymes in humans are also involved in the metabolism of drugs and toxins. In the new study, the researchers, including Ralf Nauen and his bee toxicogenomics team from Bayer AG’s Crop Science Division in Germany, first tested for differences in the way thiacloprid and imidacloprid bind to protein receptors in the bees’ heads. Those studies showed no differences in receptor binding by the two pesticides. Differences in receptor binding weren’t the answer. To explore potential differences in the way metabolic enzymes break down the two pesticides, the researchers first treated bees with a chemical known to block the function of P450 enzymes. Those studies showed that without working P450 enzymes, honeybees and bumble bees both grew much more sensitive to thiacloprid. The treatment didn’t change their sensitivity to imidacloprid much, if at all. Studies conducted in cells in the lab suggested a link between differences in the honeybees’ sensitivity and the function of a particular P450 enzyme called CYP9Q3. To provide additional evidence that CYP9Q3 is the primary honeybee P450 that confers tolerance to thiacloprid, the researchers engineered fruit flies to express various P450 enzymes from the honeybees and then tested their sensitivity to the pesticides. The studies confirmed that CYP9Q3 is the key enzyme. The researchers also found that bumble bees have a closely related P450 enzyme called CYP9Q4, which explains similar differences in their pesticide sensitivities. “We identified the same enzyme subfamily degrading thiacloprid in two different bee pollinator species, which raises hope that the mechanism is evolutionarily conserved among other bee pollinators,” Lin Field of Rothamsted Research says. “We also found that these key enzymes are expressed at particularly high levels in Malpighian tubules–the insect equivalent of kidneys–and/or the brain where neonicotinoid insecticides act.” The findings already suggest strategies for further protecting bees. For example, the researchers says, certain fungicides are known to inhibit P450 enzymes. Therefore, those fungicides should not be used in combination with neonicotinoids. The researchers say that simple screening assays could help to identify compounds or combinations of compounds that have a lower innate toxicity to bees early in development, to protect pollinator species and crops. The genetically modified fruit flies that they’ve developed can now also be used in studies to identify future insecticides that might be effective against pests and also readily broken down by bees. The findings come at a time when it has become increasingly difficult to register new pesticides, particularly in Europe. “It is frequently no longer sufficient to just demonstrate that new compounds are non-hazardous to bees; a mechanistic explanation must be sought for why they are non-hazardous,” Nauen says. “Our study demonstrates for the first time that it is possible to mechanistically understand the low toxicity of certain pesticides to bee pollinators.” This study received funding from Bayer AG, the European Research Council, and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council. Current Biology, Manjon, Troczka, and Zaworra et al.: “Unravelling the Molecular Determinants of Bee Sensitivity to Neonicotinoid Insecticides” Current Biology (@CurrentBiology), published by Cell Press, is a bimonthly journal that features papers across all areas of biology. Current Biology strives to foster communication across fields of biology, both by publishing important findings of general interest and through highly accessible front matter for non-specialists. Visit: To receive Cell Press media alerts, contact —– TAMMY HORN POTTER JOINS PROJECT APIS M. BOARD From the Project Apis m. newsletter Project Apis m. welcomes Tammy Horn Potter to its Board of Directors. A native of Kentucky, Tammy is currently the State Apiarist. She is a consummate bridge-builder and master of bee history and lore. She brings her passion for honey bees, apiculture education, collaboration, and pollinator protection to PAm’s mission. Tammy is inspired by new advances in queen bee breeding, what she describes as “the heartbeat of honey bee health,” and the movement to bring more clean, nutritious pollinator habitat back into the landscape. “It’s tangible. It takes a long-term commitment. And it’s not easy,” she says. “But if we get long-term commitment, the land is living again. The bees are buzzing. Plants are growing. Nectar is flowing. I get to be a part of it. And that’s exciting.” Tammy has studied the pulse of beekeeping and beekeepers – large operations and small. “I want to do whatever I can to build bridges. Bring diversity and a different perspective. This is important for beekeeping and bee health,” Tammy adds. Tammy became interested in beekeeping in the late 1990s while working with her grandfather in his apiaries. Tammy has authored Bees in America: How the Honey Bee Shaped a Nation (2005) and Beeconomy: What Women and Bees Teach Us About Local Trade and Global Markets (2012), and is now working on her third book about forest-based beekeeping. She has worked in the queen bee production industry, in forest-based beekeeping with Coal Country Beeworks, with surface mine companies to increase pollinator habitat, and as an apiary educator. Tammy is no stranger to the multitude of issues influencing bees, beekeeping, agriculture and honey production. “It’s a complicated industry. And this is a complicated time, and there are no easy answers. We need to be asking the right questions. Roll up our sleeves. Marshal resources,” says Tammy. “PAm does a great service for the bee industry in lots of different ways.” Tammy is a trusted voice in beekeeping circles and for honey bee advocacy. We are proud Tammy has chosen to share her experience, wisdom and leadership with PAm. —– UCR RESEARCHERS TO IMPROVE POLLINATOR HEALTH By Sarah Nightingale, UC Riverside A team of researchers at the University of California, Riverside, have received a $490,000 Pollinator Health Fund grant from the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR). The grant will support a study measuring the effectiveness of recommended almond orchard management practices in reducing the negative impacts of pesticides, parasites, and inadequate nutrition on bees. With matching funds from UCR’s Office of Research and Economic Development, College of Natural & Agricultural Sciences, and Department of Entomology, the project will total almost $1 million. Lauren Ponisio, Quinn McFrederick, and Hollis Woodard, all assistant professors of entomology at UCR, are examining how management practices in almond orchards affect the interacting risks of inadequate bee nutrition, pesticide exposure, and parasites. “Determining whether recommended pollinator-friendly practices are successfully improving bee health and crop pollination will have important outcomes for farm managers deciding whether to employ those practices,” Ponisio said. In recent years, Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) in honeybees and pollinator declines in general have become serious environmental concerns that could threaten the functioning of natural ecosystems and affect the production of important crops, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Insect pollinators contribute an estimated 24 billion dollars to the U.S. economy annually. FFAR, a nonprofit established through bipartisan congressional support in the 2014 Farm Bill, established its Pollinator Health Fund in response to the agricultural threat posed by declining pollinator health. “Managed and native pollinators are vital to many crop production systems and the ecological resources that support them,” said Sally Rockey, executive director of FFAR. “The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research looks forward to results that will inform science-based approaches to improving pollinator health.” UCR is one of 16 grantee organizations who received a total of $7 million in FFAR funding toward research and technology development addressing the social and economic challenges faced by beekeepers, farmers, ranchers, private businesses, and others to contribute to a healthy pollinator population that supports crop yields and agricultural ecosystems. —– BEE JOBS 1. An email has been received from Mauricio Bianchi Sanguinetti in Uraguay, looking for a head beekeeper job. He is 44, a family man, and has worked with bees all his life. He trained as a beekeeper technician at the Universidad de la Empresa and as a bee pathologist at the Rubino Institute. If you are interested, please email him at <> for a detailed CV. 2. ORISE / ARS Pollinator Post-Doc, Fargo, North Dakota Description: An opportunity in entomology research is available with the U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Agricultural Research Service (ARS) in Fargo, North Dakota. Research will focus on plant-pollinator interactions in wild and cultivated Asteraceae, including sunflowers (Helianthus spp.) and Silphium spp. Possible areas of investigation include modeling pollinator responses to specific plant traits, investigating the (plant or insect) genetic basis of pollinator preference, or other topics appropriate to the successful applicant’s interest and expertise. Research will include ongoing research collaborations with Biological Sciences faculty at North Dakota State University. There will also be opportunities to work with other plant and insect scientists at this and other locations. Qualifications: To be eligible, applicants must have received a Ph.D. in entomology, biology or a closely-related field. Ability to publish peer-reviewed research, experience with plant-insect interactions, pollinator rearing or identification, and molecular or quantitative genetics are desirable. Additional Information: A stipend of $48,000 per year plus health insurance is available. Anyone interested in the position should make contact via email to —– CATCH THE BUZZ 1. Saskatchewan’s Honey Industry Is Buzzing Over Changes Made To The Province’s Crop Insurance Program – Agriculture Minister Lyle Stewart announced the new coverage for beekeepers early this month. Coverage for over-winter losses will now be offered, and deductibles will be based on a long-term industry averages. Jake Berg, vice-president of the Saskatchewan Beekeeper’s Development Commission, said he was happy to hear the announcement Tuesday. “The changes are very welcome,” Berg said. “These changes are kind of something we’ve been working with [the Saskatchewan Crop Insurance Corporation] on for the last year.” Faced with the challenge of wintering their bees, Saskatchewan’s beekeepers have their bees inspected at the end their season. If a hive is found to have a good chance of survival, a producer can now purchase mortality insurance to cover them against any unforeseen disasters that may happen before spring. Berg, who is also a commercial beekeeper in the Melfort area, said the changes will make the industry more fair. 2. Health Canada Relents on Honey Label – By Ron Friesen Canada’s beekeepers are expressing relief after Health Canada last week exempted honey from proposed new mandatory rules for nutritional food package labels. The regulations, if approved, will require pre-packaged products to carry warning labels if they exceed recommended thresholds for sugar, sodium and saturated fat. Food products containing more than 15 per cent of the daily recommended intake of each ingredient will have to display the labels on the front of packages near the top. This will enable shoppers to identify foods high in these nutrients and help reduce potential health risks, according to Health Canada. Health Canada’s proposed requirements aim at addressing concerns about excessive intakes of sugar, sodium and fat that contribute to obesity and other public health problems. But beekeepers had warned the proposed warning label would scare consumers away from honey because of its high sugar content and cause severe harm to the industry in the process. 3. Is Trendy Superfood Manuka Honey Actually Worth Its Price Tag? By Justina Huddleston We’ve been seeing Manuka honey pop up all over Instagram and recipe sites lately, but we wanted to figure out what exactly makes this honey a “superfood,” and if it’s worth the price tag compared to regular honey. As with the kale or turmeric crazes before it, Manuka does have some scientifically backed properties that make it healthier than other types of sweetener. But it’s always good to look at these things a little more closely before wiping out an entire paycheck so you can stock your cupboard with some new “miracle” cure. We talked to a handful of experts to find out the real deal with Manuka honey. The reviews were definitely mixed, but now you can get the full picture before deciding whether or not to buy it. 4. Just So You Know, The Flow Hive Has Been Redesigned – The Flow Hive is a groundbreaking beehive that offers honey on tap. Over 50,000 Flow Hives have gone out to 130 countries around the world, and now the Australian father-son team behind the design are back. The pair redesigned their groundbreaking hive, drawing on customer feedback and adding brand new features, and they took to Indiegogo again with the Flow Hive 2 for a campaign that was 18,983% funded. Flow Hive 2’s design is simple: inside a body comprised of laser-cut sustainable Western red cedar rest Flow Frames, which Stuart Anderson and Cedar Anderson, father and son, describe as “the most revolutionary beekeeping invention since the Langstroth hive was designed in 1852.” The frames are partially built honeycomb: add bees to do their thing — covering the honeycomb in wax, completing the cells, filling them with honey, and capping with wax — and then, when it’s time to harvest the honey, beekeepers insert and turn a handle to allow channels to form inside. The honey flows down into a waiting jar with minimal disturbance to the bees, who “are left to be, still standing on their wax capping.” A few hours later the bees realize the honeycomb is empty and they get right back to work, busy as bees.