Items of interest to beekeepers 26 November 2017

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





LINKS —– PUERTO RICO’S AFRICAN HONEY BEES HAVE BEEN SELECTED TO BE GENTLE, AND ARE ALREADY VARROA RESISTANT    A genomic study of Puerto Rico’s Africanized honey bees has found out why they are more docile than other so-called killer bees – and are far less susceptible to Varroa mite.    University of Illinois postdoctoral researcher Arian Avalos says the study found they retain most of the genetic traits of their African honey bee ancestors, but a few regions of their DNA have become more like those of European honey bees.    The researchers say these changes likely contributed to the bees’ rapid evolution toward gentleness in Puerto Rico, a change that occurred within 30 years.    The territory’s Africanized bees are also highly resistant to the Varroa mite.   The mites, along with pesticides used to treat infested bees, are believed to be major factors in the widespread decline of honey bees across the globe.    In previous research in the Giray laboratory, scientists showed Puerto Rico’s gentle Africanized bees groom themselves aggressively when infested with Varroa, removing the mites almost as soon as they appear.    “Infestation of European honey bees with the mites elicits very little response,” says Avalos, who previously worked with Giray in Puerto Rico. This could be good news for beekeepers who want to develop a gentle honey bee that is also Varroa-resistant.”    The findings, reported in the journal Nature Communications, could lead to advances that will bolster honey bee populations in the Americas.    Africanized bees are the offspring of African honey bees and their European counterparts. In the late 1950s, these aggressive killer bees escaped from an experimental breeding program in Brazil. That program had set out to produce a desirable mix of traits from the gentle European bees and their African counterparts, which were more aggressive, disease-resistant and adapted to a tropical climate.    Ironically, what scientists failed to do in the laboratory was eventually accomplished by happenstance.    Africanized honey bees arrived in Puerto Rico, most likely on a ship, by accident, in the 1990s, and within three decades had evolved into the gentle, yet hardy, Africanized bees that dominate the island today.    Biology professor Tugrul Giray of the University of Puerto Rico, a co-author of the new study, first reported on the gentle Puerto Rican bees in the journal Evolutionary Applications in 2012. Giray is a co-author of the new study.    To gain insight into how the bees became gentle, the researchers sequenced the genomes of 30 gentle Puerto Rican bees, 30 Africanized bees from Mexico and 30 European honey bees from central Illinois.    “The benefit of having these three populations is that you can compare and contrast between the three,” Avalos says.     Avalos conducted the research with U. of Illinois entomology professor Gene Robinson; crop sciences professor Matthew Hudson; and Guojie Zhang and Hailin Pan of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.    The team discovered that, for the most part, the genomes of the gentle bees resembled those of their Africanized forebears. Specific regions of the DNA, however, had shifted in the gentle bees, reflecting more of their European heritage.     These regions appeared to be under positive selection. This means that something in the bees’ environment was favoring these genetic signatures over others.    The scientists hypothesize that the bees evolved to be more docile as a result of living on a very densely populated island from which they could not easily escape. Humans likely eradicated the most aggressive bees, aiding their more docile counterparts.    “Evolution involves changes in the frequency of gene variants across a population, and that’s what we’re seeing in Puerto Rico,” says Robinson, who directs the Institute for Genomic Biology at Illinois. “Now we know that these gentle Africanized bees can be genetically distinguished both from other Africanized honey bees and from European honey bees.”    The researchers say the new findings offer a bit of hope for the beleaguered beekeeping industry.    European honey bees tend to have less genetic diversity than Africanized bees, which carry both European and African honey bee genes. European honey bees also are more susceptible to a host of debilitating parasites and pathogens. Their rapid decline since 2005, a phenomenon known as colony collapse disorder, is disrupting agriculture around the world.    “The fact that we’ve shown that the genetics of these Puerto Rican bees are very distinct from the European bees, and the fact that they are demonstrably gentle, makes it very interesting as a potential way to mitigate pollinator decline,” Hudson says. —– In the (to us) “odd and unusual” classification – BEE LARVAE – RICH MAN’S FOOD IN NORTH EASTERN INDIA Ukhrul, November 02 2017: Many may balk at this but to the people of Ukhrul (As with probably all the tribals of Manipur and the North East in India), bee larvae is today a menu on the rich man’s table with each piece costing at least Rs 15-20 ($.30 – $.40) . No wonder the people of Ukhrul today have a very good knowledge of apiculture (bee rearing), rearing different varieties of wasp bees, Api Dorsata, Apis Indica or Apis Melifera all for their larvae . The larvae of the wild giant wasp bee called “Khuirei” in Tangkhul dialect is in high demand at the local market because of their exceptional taste and is a prized delicacy . At least nine different wild wasp bees are found in Ukhrul district and are today largely reared for larvae consumption. Their local names include Lanemnao, Lapuinao, Rerngui, Khuipui, Mazam, Mayir, Khuikhan, Khuichihui and Khuirei. This is apart from honey producing bee families . The local people start to collect bee nests from the last week of May and rear them till the first week of November for the larvae . Wild wasp bee Lanemnao, Lapuinao, Mayir, Mazam and Khuirei build their nest/hive in burrows while the bee nest of Khuipui, Khuikhan, Khuichihui are found at the tree top . Knowledge of apiculture is not new to the people of Ukhrul and there are many bee farmers in the district today. They practice traditional method in feeding them, which help them to grow to the optimum level within a short period of time . In a brief interaction, well known local bee farmer Angam, said that he started collecting bee nests as a hobby and added that a nest (hive) of Khuirei (wild giant wasp bee) can earn Rs 30,000-50,000 in a year . He also explained the traditional style of the Tangkhuls in hunting bee nests and bee rearing. Khui-kahor is a Tangkhul term dealing with the art of hunting and collecting bee nest from the jungle. He said two or three persons go out to the wild forest, feed the bee with meat to strike up familiarity, then tie a white material called “Kongrahar” on the thorax part of the bee. When the bee leaves, the Kongrahar is clearly visible to the bee hunter and this help them to locate the bee nest. —– CATCH THE BUZZ 1. Mingora Honey Processing Centre In Pakistan Begins Operation To Produce 1.5 Million Pounds Of Honey A Year – PESHAWAR: The Honey Processing and Packaging Common Facility Centre (CFC) established in Mingora under the federal government-funded Public Sector Development Programme has formally began function to process 2000kg honey daily and generate revenue for the national kitty. The Rs38.17 million project is sponsored by the industry and production ministry and executed by the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Authority, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The executing agency will also be responsible for the project’s ownership and management. CFC project director Mohammad Ishfaq Afridi told reporters here the establishment of the modern honey processing plant was proposed by Smeda on the basis of honeybee cluster studies and analysis to facilitate the production of refined high quality honey that could be utilised for bulk consumption in the pharmaceutical, cosmetics or food processing industry or can be sold in the lucrative international market. He said the plant had sophisticated equipment with adequate capability to process apiary as well as forest honey on a large scale. 2. Researchers Aim To Develop Best Practices For Organic Beekeeping Industry – UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — A nearly $1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture will support Penn State researchers in determining best management practices for organic beekeeping by comparing organic and chemical-free to conventional management systems. The funding comes from the Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative of USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Led by project director Margarita López-Uribe, assistant professor of entomology in Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences, the research team will conduct a stakeholder-driven, integrated systems-based project to rigorously test the effect of organic, chemical-free and conventional honey bee management practices on honey bee health. To this end, they will quantify colony performance, immune competence, and parasite and pathogen levels. The overarching goals of the three-year project are to generate evidence-based knowledge for best management practices that will improve colony health in a sustainable, organic beekeeping system, and to increase economic returns of beekeepers. Researchers hope results from this study will help to improve organic agriculture while creating a profitable economic opportunity for beekeepers and organic growers. 3. Honey Production Down As Rain Dampens Beehive Libido. Warm Fall Weather Helps Save Season – A pot of golden honey could be worth a pretty penny this year after production was down across Ontario in 2017. “Our production here is 75 per cent of our long term average,” said Paul Kelly, apiary manager at the University of Guelph. “So, it’s not terrible, but other people are saying it’s 50 per cent of their long term average, which is pretty bad.” 4.  Ukraine ups Exports first 9 months of 2017. Almost 30% exported to US – Ukraine’s 400,000 beekeepers shipped record levels of honey in the first nine months of the year, driven by a growing demand in the United States and Europe. UN Food and Agriculture Organization consultant Anna Burka says the Ukraine shipped 46,200 tons of honey worth $86.9 million from January- through September. This makes it the world’s fifth largest exporter of this product. Burka tells reporters nine of 10 key importers of honey from Ukraine have increased purchases. The U.S. was the biggest buyer, accounting for 27% of total sales. It was followed by Germany, Poland, France and Belgium. 5. Australia & New Zealand Argue Over Trademark Of The Name Manuka – The trans-Tasman battle over Manuka honey is getting stickier. After New Zealand honey producers said they would trademark the name manuka – it is the name of a native New Zealand bush – the Australians have formed the Australian Manuka Honey Association. The Australians say New Zealand’s Leptospermum species migrated from Australia, most likely from Tasmania, where it has been used in honey production since 1831. Tasmania’s The Advocate newspaper reports Tasmanian Beekeepers Association president Lindsay Bourke chaired the first meeting of the new association. “What a ridiculous thing to try to register something that was [in Australia] before there,” Bourke says. “We have to save our honey.” The association’s formation was a reaction after the New Zealand’s Manuka Honey Appellation Society Inc. applied to trademark manuka, stating that honey “derived from Manuka plant nectar, originate in New Zealand, and that the preparation, production, and/or processing of the goods take place in New Zealand”. 6. No Shave November: Here’s How You Can Make Beard Wax At Home – Growing beard and grooming it well has recently become a trend that seems like it is here to stay. Many companies are coming with beard grooming products right from beard oil to beard wax, serum, etc. However, they cost a fortune and aren’t all natural. Here’s how you can easily make beard wax at home that will help you tame your beard and give it a shine. Ingredient: – Beeswax: This is the main ingredient to give it wax-like texture. – Carrier oils: They are used to have a grip on the beard and make it easy to tame the beard. You can use coconut oil or shea butter as carrier oils. Shea butter will help the wax spread better. This will give you low to medium hold. OR Petroleum Jelly: You might want to use to get a better shine and a very low hold. However, you must check if you are allergic to it or no. OR Plant resins: This will give you a very strong hold, even though there are synthetic resins too but opt for plant-based resins for your beard. Melt it in the carrier oil first. – Essential oils: This is used for fragrance. Choose your favorite fragrance from lavender, cedar-wood, tea tree, rosemary, etc. 7. Australia, New Zealand Fight Bitter War Over Honey – Australian honey producers have been stung by the news that New Zealand’s honey industry is in the process of trying to trademark the word “manuka” around the globe. In response, Australian producers have created a new industry body called the Australian Manuka Honey Association (AMHA) in order to fight the bitter feud. AMHA Chairman Paul Callander explained to Xinhua on Monday the function of the new organization is to ensure international governments understand the product is also native to Australia. “The Australian Manuka Honey Association will strive to ensure Australia’s manuka honey gets a fair go in the global marketplace,” he said. “Our new association is determined to protect the integrity and reputation of Australian manuka Honey.” Considered a superfood, the buzz around manuka honey comes from its “healing power” and anti-inflammatory properties. Containing methylglyoxal compounds, the product is able to fight off superbugs and heal cuts and wounds. 8. Honey Bees Are Dying. In Three Minutes, A UMD Student Can Tell You Why – Trekking through the mountains of Thailand’s Mae Rim Colony, University of Maryland doctoral candidate Samuel Ramsey follows a ‘honey hunter’ to a buzzing beehive searching for the microscopic parasite he believes is responsible for the global decline in honey bee populations. Ramsey’s research on the Varroa destructor mite’s dieting habits was the focus of his project for Universitas 21’s Three-Minute Thesis contest, which challenges research students to communicate the significance of their work to a non-specialist audience in just three minutes, according to its website. On Tuesday, officials announced that Ramsey — who was one of hundreds of participants from 11 countries and among 17 graduate students who advanced to the final round — won both the People’s Choice award, which is decided by an online public vote, and the judge’s First Place award, which is decided by a panel of international judges consisting of industry and academic professionals, according to the Universitas 21 website. “It turned out to be far more challenging than I anticipated to actually take several years of research and sum the entire thing up in just three minutes,” said Ramsey, who has been conducting research in Thailand since September.