Items of interest to beekeepers 25 May 2018

Fran Bach, (former) Western Apicultural Society Journal and Washington State Beekeepers newsletter editor







WAS CONFERENCE HEADLINES   President’s Message Our upcoming Western Apicultural Society Conference is set for Friday–Sunday, August 3–5, when we will convene at the eclectic and unique Jack’s Urban Meeting Place (JUMP) in Boise, Idaho. JUMP offers something for everyone, with a first-class conference room sporting floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the Boise skyline and “state-of-the-art projection and sound systems,” plus a spacious deck allowing the placement of hives right outside our conference room. Still under construction is a five-story slide from the top of the JUMP building to the ground floor. That ought to prove entertaining. Another unique offering to be found at JUMP is the late JR Simplot’s antique collection of 50 vintage steam engines and tractors. (Free tours are available!) As announced in the February 2018 WAS Journal, Jennifer Berry and Randy Oliver will lead off the weekend events—you want to be sure to catch these two. Dr. Dewey Caron will be sharing his wealth of knowledge with a presentation on “Varroa, Forage, Pesticides: Honey Bee Health Coalition Resources for WAS.” Following Dewey, we’ll have the “Two Jerrys of Beekeeping” (Jerry Hayes and Jerry Bromenshenk), who will update us on Bayer/Monsanto’s current efforts to improve beekeeping (Jerry H) and provide a personal perspective addressing how much beekeeping has changed and is expected to continue to change over the foreseeable future (Jerry B). Closing out our regular Friday session, Jennifer and Marc von Heune will provide a perspective on “Beekeeping Behind Bars.” Friday evening, Sarah Red-Laird, the Bee Girl (who recently finished a feature stint at the Ashland Independent Film Festival), is planning another of her Next Gen sessions under the moniker of “The Future of Beekeeping is Ours!” Word has it that within 90 minutes of convening, the group is anticipated to embark on a Pub Swarm throughout Downtown Boise, led by the stalwarts of the local university Bee Team. With Friday night in Boise (No. 1 on Forbes Fastest Growing Cities List for 2018) and the Next Gen bunch on the loose, watch out! Bright and early the next morning, Sarah will lead off and provide an update on current “Education Programs, Research Projects, and University Collaboration on the Advancement of Saving Bees.” Continuing to test the resiliency of the Next Gens to bounce back following a night of Downtown Boise Tomfoolery, immediately after Sarah’s presentation, Melinda Jean Stafford, the current President of the local Treasure Valley Beekeepers Club, will share insights on helping young apiarists succeed in beekeeping. Mid-morning on Saturday, Jennifer and Randy will don their gear and invite 20 or so young beekeepers to join them on the outdoor JUMP patio, where a small apiary will have been set up. For those who don’t venture outside, the entire show will be visible through the ceiling-to-floor windows immediately nearby. To improve this experience for our indoor viewers, both Randy and Jennifer will be equipped with wireless mics so that they can narrate the entire show. (Hint: If you’d like to venture out with our headliners on this adventure, be sure to bring your veil and a long-sleeved shirt!) Following the lunch hour, we’ll open with an interesting and practical discussion, led by Dr. Ron Bitner, providing insights on “Bee-Friendly Farming: Ground Cover for Native Bees.” Note that our annual banquet will be held later Saturday at Bitner Vineyards, and we’ll be able to observe how this knowledge has been put into practice. Dr. Jamie Strange, a USDA-ARS research entomologist based in Logan, Utah, will share the state of the art on bumble bee biology and practical aspects of bumble bee culture. Next, Dr. Ramesh Sagili, from Oregon State University, will provide information on honey bee nutrition and update on his activities with the Bee Informed Partnership. Ellen Topitzhofer, also with the Bee Informed Partnership, will close out the day with observations that she has garnered over the summer as a member of the Pacific Northwest Tech Transfer Team. Sunday morning will open with a panel discussion focusing on various Master Beekeeper Programs available throughout the country. Our panelists will consist of Jennifer Berry (Georgia), Jerry Bromenshenk (Montana), Dewey Caron (Eastern Apiculture Society), and Ramesh Sagili (Oregon). Each panelist will briefly describe his or her respective master beekeeper program in the context of the ability to provide positive community outreach. Following the overviews will be a question-and-answer period allowing us to delve into the specific intricacies of the programs. If we are lucky, we will also have a panelist from California to provide insights on that new program. Sunday will close with our annual business meeting. You’ll all want to be present for that, as the adoption of the new Bylaws will be on the agenda — as will an announcement on a proposed new, simplified dues structure. This will be the time for those who desire to make the Future of Beekeeping Yours to step up and help guide this organization successfully to our 50th anniversary. WAS Up! Steve Sweet, President Hotels and dining info  http://   Registration form  http://   Conference Schedule  http:// —– BIP HONEY BEE COLONY LOSSES 2017-2018: PRELIMINARY RESULTS The Bee Informed Partnership ( recently conducted the twelfth annual survey of managed honey bee colony losses in the United States. This year, 4,794 beekeepers collectively managing 175,923 colonies in October 2017 provided validated survey responses. This represents 6.6% of the estimated 2.67 million managed honey-producing colonies in the nation (USDA, 2018). During the 2017-2018 winter (1 October 2017 – 1 April 2018), an estimated 30.7% of managed colonies in the United States were lost (Fig. 1). This represents an increase of 9.5 percentage points over that of the previous year, and an increase of 2.8 percentage points over that of the 10-year average total winter colony loss rate of 27.9%. Similar to previous years, backyard beekeepers lost more colonies in winter (46.3%) compared to those lost by sideline (38.0%) and commercial (26.4%) beekeepers. Backyard, sideline, and commercial beekeepers are defined as those managing 50 or fewer colonies, 51 – 500 colonies, and 501 or more colonies, respectively. Interestingly, the self-reported ‘level of acceptable winter colony loss’ increased from 18.7% last year to 20.6% this year. Sixty-nine percent of responding beekeepers lost more of their colonies than deemed to be acceptable. —– EU PROPOSES ACTION ON BEES & PESTICIDES BRUSSELS — May 17, EU Member States did not reach a qualified majority – either in favour or against – in the Appeal Committee1 which discussed a Commission proposal to restrict the use of 3 neonicotinoid insecticides. Tonio Borg, Health and Consumer Commissioner, said: “Although a majority of Member States now supports our proposal, the necessary qualified majority was not reached. The decision now lies with the Commission. Since our proposal is based on a number of risks to bee health identified by the European Food Safety Authority, the Commission will go ahead with its text in the coming weeks.” To conclude: “I pledge to do my utmost to ensure that our bees, which are so vital to our ecosystem and contribute over €22 billion annually to European agriculture, are protected.” 15 Member States supported the restriction, 8 Member States voted against and 4 Member States abstained during the appeal committee vote. Main elements of the proposal The proposal restricts the use of 3 neonicotinoids (clothianidin, imidacloprid and thiametoxam) for seed treatment, soil application (granules) and foliar treatment on bee attractive plants and cereals. In addition, the remaining authorised uses are available only to professionals. Exceptions will be limited to the possibility to treat bee-attractive crops in greenhouses, in open-air fields only after flowering. The restrictions apply from 1 December 2013. As soon as new information is available, and at the latest within 2 years, the Commission will review the conditions of approval of the 3 neonicotinoids to take into account relevant scientific and technical developments. Next steps In absence of an agreement between Member States, it is now for the Commission to decide on the adoption of the proposed restriction. Background Following the request of the European Commission, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) published, on 16 January, its scientific findings on the risks associated with the use of three pesticides, belonging to the neonicotinoid family, on bee health. On the basis of this opinion, the Commission tabled a proposal for discussion with Member States. Experts representing the EU-27 met in the Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health on 15 March and failed to reach a qualified majority – either in favour or against – the proposal to restrict the use of three neonicotinoid. 13 Member States supported the restriction, 9 Member States voted against and 5 Member States abstained. The proposal was then referred to the appeal committee on 29 April. For more information: EFSA’s website: Article from European Commission Published at —– SYNGENTA RESPONDS TO EU COURT RULING BASEL, Switzerland — The recent European General Court ruling is disappointing and unfortunate. We stand by our past decision to challenge the European Commission’s decision-making process concerning our thiamethoxam technology, as it relied on a hypothetical risk to implement partial restrictions on neonicotinoid chemistries, outside legally approved regulation. Predictable regulatory frameworks and their consistent application by regulators enable companies like Syngenta to innovate and thus support European farmers and ultimately European consumers with locally produced, safe and affordable food. The handling of this specific case reflects our more general concern at the approach the European Commission is taking to regulating technology in agriculture. The evolution of modern farming technology and responsible, science-based environmental management is imperative if we are to sustainably produce affordable, safe and local food to feed more than 9 billion people by 2050 and take care of our planet. Predictable, transparent and science-based regulation must lie at the center of meeting this challenge. Scientific and regulatory excellence in Europe has increasingly become politicized. This has negatively affected all interested parties and above all, has damaged consumer trust. Looking forward, today’s ruling must be seen as an opportunity to build stronger foundations for transparent dialogue and scientific understanding with European regulators and all other stakeholders. We want to send a clear message that scientific innovation is in our view the only effective way to address the joint challenges of achieving food security and protecting the environment. We remain committed to innovating, within a reliable regulatory framework, in order to help EU agriculture become more sustainable while ensuring the financial security of EU farmers. About Syngenta Syngenta is a leading agriculture company helping to improve global food security by enabling millions of farmers to make better use of available resources. Through world class science and innovative crop solutions, our 28,000 people in over 90 countries are working to transform how crops are grown. We are committed to rescuing land from degradation, enhancing biodiversity and revitalizing rural communities. To learn more visit and Follow us on Twitter® at —– “GIVE BEES A CHANCE” BY MOD SOCKS Have you heard the buzz? ModSocks’ new bee socks are not just cute, they are socks with a purpose! ModSocks has pledged 100 percent of its profits from Give Bees A Chance Women’s Crew Socks to bee conservation. Designed in Bellingham, Wash., the socks feature bees and peace signs made of daisy flowers. ModSocks’ profits for this design will go to Bee Girl, a nonprofit based in Ashland, Oregon founded by beekeeper and bee researcher Sarah Red-Laird. More at —– BEE JOBS Curatorial Associate, Entomology, Harvard University’s Museum of Comparative Zoology, Cambridge MA Apply through the Harvard Employment website: Search requisition#: 45571BR. —– CATCH THE BUZZ 1. Six Reasons Why You Should Apply for the Young Beekeeper Award – Deadline Extended to May 31, 2018 The 2018 Bayer Bee Care Young Beekeeper Award provides entrants between the ages of 12 and 18 the opportunity to win a $3,000 (1st place), $2,000 (2nd place) or $1,000 (3rd place) prize to support honey bee-focused initiatives in their schools or communities or to be applied toward college tuition. Any student under 18 who has approval from a legal guardian as well as a sponsoring mentor, such as an apiarist/beekeeper, grower, community leader, teacher, school official, etc., may apply. To apply, complete the entry form, essay questions, and provide contact details for a sponsoring mentor (see approved mentors above). The award winner is selected from the applicant pool by a panel of industry judges. 2. Crop Insurance, Disaster assistance, Indemnity Programs, Emergency Assistance (ELAP) for Honey Bees, Set-aside Programs, Crop Losses, and Much, Much More – Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honey Bees, and Farm-raised Fish (ELAP) ELAP provides financial assistance to eligible producers of livestock, honeybees and farm-raised fish for losses due to disease, certain adverse weather events or loss conditions, including blizzards and wildfires, as determined by the Secretary. ELAP assistance is provided for losses not covered by other disaster assistance programs authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill and the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, such as losses not covered by the Livestock Forage Disaster Program (LFP) and the Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP). 3. Robotic Bees Are a Real Thing—and the Company Funding Them Might Surprise You – By Bonnie Burton The buzz about pollination drones is more important than ever, and companies like Walmart want in on the action. When several types of bees and bumblebees made the endangered-species list thanks to declining bee populations it’s easy to see why companies are looking towards robotics as a possible solution. After all, bees supply more than just honey. Without busy bees pollinating plants, domestic crops such as various fruit and vegetables could be hit hard. More than 75 percent of the world’s food crops rely at least in part on pollination by insects and other animals. Between $235 billion and $577 billion worth of annual global food production relies on direct contributions by pollinators, according to a 2016 report from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. The European Union went so far as to recently ban all outdoor use of pesticides containing harmful neonicotinoids to protect bee populations overseas. Now Walmart wants to get in on the act of giving bees a helping hand while investing in advanced robotics. 4. La Nina is dead. Long live El Nino? Is El Nino Coming Back? By Bloomberg A weather pattern known as La Nina that has worsened drought conditions across the U.S. Great Plains has faded, according to the U.S. Climate Prediction Center. But it could be replaced late this year by one called El Nino, which often roils agriculture and energy markets around the world. La Nina and El Nino are the terms used for fluctuations in ocean temperatures and atmosphere in the equatorial Pacific that can cause large-scale changes to the global climate. Conditions are now neutral, though the potential for El Nino has increased, according to the center in College Park, Maryland. “La Nina is gone,” said Michelle L’Heureux, a forecaster at the center. “We did not issue an El Nino watch because the probabilities are still not that high, but we wanted to at least notify folks there is a possibility.” The problem facing meteorologists is forecast models about El Nino and La Nina aren’t very good at this time of year. Many predictions about El Nino and La Nina made in the Northern Hemisphere’s spring have fizzled in the past, L’Heureux said. But La Nina probably won’t be coming back for a third year, and the chance of an El Nino forming between November and January is 49 percent, up from 48 percent last month. 5. Bruce Summers Has Been Named Administrator of the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service – Bruce Summers, former chief of U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act branch, has been named administrator of the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service. AMS publishes, among many other reports, the Annual Honey Report relied on heavily by our industry. Summers, a 30-year veteran at the agency, has been acting administrator of the AMS. “During his many years at the department, Bruce Summers has earned a reputation for excellence and effectiveness,” Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said in a news release. “As the acting administrator, Bruce has proved he has the knowledge and steady hand needed to continue leading AMS in their service to American farmers and families. I know that as AMS administrator, Bruce will build on his great record of success.” The United Fresh Produce Association expressed support for the choice. 6. The New Latvian “Honey Coin” Featuring Honeycomb Cells is Struck in Silver and Plated With Gold – Latvia’s central bank is abuzz – and for once it has nothing to do with the ongoing investigation into allegations of corruption against its governor. On Tuesday, 22 May, Latvijas Banka is issuing a collector coin dubbed the “Honey Coin” which won the first prize in the competition for the best design of an innovative collector coin. The competition was announced in January 2017 to search for ideas to create an innovative coin in terms of its motif, design or technical solution. Overall, 42 works were submitted and were evaluated by the Coin Design Commission of Latvijas Banka. The first prize was awarded to designer Artūrs Analts’ work “Honey”. We’ll let the central bank explain the rest in its own inimitable fashion. “Honey has a special role in Latvia. Together with the diligent honey bees it is widely present in our folk songs; it is an important food, traditional medicine and cosmetics product. Citizens, who are as busy as bees in their day-to-day lives, fill their country like bees fill a hive. Therefore, the “Honey Coin” is a symbol of diligence and sweetness of work. The bees also have a significant role to play in maintaining the biological diversity, and their presence is an indicator of nature’s healthiness.” drones the bank. 7. Bees Linger on a Flower, Emptying it of Nectar, Because They Have Sugar-Sensing Taste Neurons That Work Together – British scientists have discovered bees linger on a flower, emptying it of nectar, because they have sugar-sensing taste neurons that work together to prolong the pleasure of the sweetness. The Newcastle University researchers report the bees’ taste neurons found on their proboscis – their mouth parts – fire intense signals for up to 10 seconds, much longer than the taste neurons found in other insects. Bees can taste sugars on their proboscis and when in contact with food, taste neurons on the proboscis are activated signaling the presence of food. The researchers report in a study published in the journal Current Biology that the neurons that specifically respond to sugar exhibit a very intense activation, which persists up to 10 seconds. 8. Global Honey Industry Set to Expand at a Compound Annual Growth Rate of 2.6% – The global apiculture market value is estimated to rise at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 2.6% from US$8.81 billion in 2017 to US$10.28 billion in 2023, a new report says. The report published by market researcher IndustryARC of Hyderabad, India, says the increasing popularity of royal jelly and pollen as beneficial supplements will drive the market in the coming years. “Apiculture industry has humungous investment opportunities as demand is increasing at an accentuated rate from 2018 to 2023,” the company says. Europe is the dominant market for bee products and a major importing region with sales of bee products valued at US$3,218 million and estimated to grow at a CAGR of 2% in the next five years. With the escalating consumption of honey in the emerging countries of China, India and other Southeast Asian countries, the Asia-Pacific market is projected to grow faster than other regions. The report says that for the last five years China has been the largest producer of apiary culture derived products – honey, beeswax, live bees, royal jelly, pollen, propolis, and bee venom. 9. A New U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Disaster Program called 2017 Wildfires and Hurricanes Indemnity Program (2017 WHIP) – Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced new details on eligibility for a new U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) disaster program called 2017 Wildfires and Hurricanes Indemnity Program (2017 WHIP).                                                               USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) will deploy up to $2.36 billion that Congress appropriated to help producers with recovery of their agricultural operations in at least nine states with hurricane damage and states impacted by wildfire. Perdue said the U.S. last year experienced some of the most significant disasters in decades, some back-to-back, at the most critical time in the production year. “While USDA has a suite of disaster programs as well as crop insurance available to help producers manage their risk, Congress felt it was important to provide extra assistance to our nation’s farms and ranches that were the hardest hit last year,” Perdue said. “Our team is working as quickly as possible to make this new program available to farmers in need. Our aim is to provide excellent customer service, building on efforts which began the day the storm hit.”