Items of interest to beekeepers 6 August 2017

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









COUNTDOWN TO WAS 2017 & 40TH ANNIVERSARY CONFERENCE ONE MONTH FROM TODAY, beekeepers will be at UC Davis, California on the first day of the 40th anniversary conference. If your registration isn’t already on its way, don’t wait! You risk missing a superb event. President’s Message (July 1) at Conference Schedule at Registration form at CATERERS REQUIRE HARD NUMBERS FOR LUNCH AND BANQUET BY AUGUST 25TH. IF YOU REGISTER LATER THAN THAT, MEALS CANNOT BE GUARANTEED! Location & Lodging at T-Shirts at IF YOU ARE NOT ATTENDING THE CONFERENCE. Otherwise use the Registration Form to order. —– From Beth Roden’s Bayer weekly newsletter – BEES ARE BOUNCING BACK FROM CCD The number of U.S. honeybees, a critical component to agricultural production, rose in 2017 from a year earlier, and deaths of the insects attributed to a mysterious malady that’s affected hives in North America and Europe declined, according a U.S. Department of Agriculture honeybee health survey released Tuesday. The number of commercial U.S. honeybee colonies rose 3 percent to 2.89 million as of April 1, 2017 compared with a year earlier, the Agriculture Department reported. The number of hives lost to Colony Collapse Disorder, a phenomenon of disappearing bees that has raised concerns among farmers and scientists for a decade, was 84,430 in this year’s first quarter, down 27 percent from a year earlier. Year-over-year losses declined by the same percentage in April through June, the most recent data in the survey. Still, more than two-fifths of beekeepers said mites were harming their hives, and with pesticides and other factors still stressing bees, the overall increase is largely the result of constant replenishment of losses, the study showed. “You create new hives by breaking up your stronger hives, which just makes them weaker,” said Tim May, a beekeeper in Harvard, Illinois and the vice-president of the American Beekeeping Federation based in Atlanta. “We check for mites, we keep our bees well-fed, we communicate with farmers so they don’t spray pesticides when our hives are vulnerable. I don’t know what else we can do.” Environmental groups have expressed alarm over the 90 percent decline during the past two decades in the population of pollinators, from wild bees to Monarch butterflies. Some point to a class of pesticides called neonicotinoids as a possible cause, a link rejected by Bayer AG and other manufacturers. In the USDA study, beekeepers who owned at least five colonies, or hives, reported the most losses from the varroa mite, a parasite that lives only in beehives and survives by sucking insect blood. The scourge, present in the U.S. since 1987, was reported in 42 percent of commercial hives between April and June this year, according to the USDA. That’s down from 53 percent in the same period one year earlier. Among other factors, beekeepers said 13 percent of colonies in the second quarter of this year were stressed by pesticides, 12 percent by mites and pests other than varroa and 4.3 by diseases. Bad weather, starvation, insufficient forage and other reasons were listed as problems with 6.6 percent of hives. Colony Collapse Colony Collapse, while not a main cause of loss, has perplexed scientists for more than a decade since the phenomenon of bees seemingly spontaneously fleeing their hives and not returning was first identified in the U.S. As beekeepers have worked to improve hive conditions, the syndrome has waned as a concern, said May Berenbaum, head of the entomology department at the University of Illinois and a winner of the National Medal of Science. “It’s been more of a blip in the history of beekeeping,” she said in an interview. On the other hand, “it’s staggering that half of America’s bees have mites,” she said. “Colony Collapse Disorder has been vastly overshadowed by diseases, recognizable parasites and diagnosable physiological problems.” In the survey, a hive loss was attributed to colony collapse if varroa or other mites were ruled out as a cause; few dead bees were found in a hive, a sign that they fled; a queen bee and food reserves were both seemingly normal pre-collapse; and food reserves were left alone after fleeing. May said his losses are highly variable depending on where his hives are located and may be affected by farmers improperly spraying pesticides. “It’s really tricky” to tease out factors behind bee deaths, he said. “Maybe it’s pesticides, maybe it’s not. But when I eliminate everything else, it’s a distinct possibility.” The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is reviewing neonicotinoids, proposing bans on spraying them and several dozen other pesticides in fields where bees have been brought in to pollinate a crop.   A pair of scientific studies in Science last month linked neonicotinoids to poor reproduction and shorter lifespans in European and Canadian bees. The research was funded in part by Bayer CropScience and Syngenta AG, the makers of imidacloprid, clothianidin and thiamethoxam. “There are numerous things impacting bee health,” Syngenta Chief Executive Officer Erik Fyrwald said in an interview in Brussels last month. “One of the very minor elements there is pesticides. So it’s amazing to us that the discussion is, as a whole, about pesticides. Not only pesticides, just specifically neonics.” —– From the Indiana PA Gazette Jul 9, 2017 – NOVICES POSE BIGGEST THREAT TO HONEY BEES, LOCAL KEEPERS SAY By Jason L. Levan, The much-publicized decline of the nation’s honeybee population is greatly exaggerated, according to the organizers of a local beekeeping organization. Paradoxically, the biggest threat to bees is people who want to help the insects flourish. Behind the headlines about the bees plight are national studies that focus on how many of the insects perish each year, not the net population, which leads to wildly inaccurate counts, said beekeeper Michael Scott, who helped form the group Indiana PA Honey Bee last year. Since the government stopped subsidizing beekeepers in the 1940s, many people stopped registering their colonies as is required in Pennsylvania, prompting researchers to determine that a significant number have died off. But because these surveys are sent only to those who register their hives, the method is faulty, Scott said. Everybody thinks bees are in trouble. They’re not, he said. Beekeeping has been increasing in popularity, thanks largely to the misconception that the honeybee population is in danger, Scott said. But inexperienced beekeepers have unwittingly been a detriment. Most novices who buy colonies get them through the mail from the South ” usually Georgia” but they are warm-weather adapted bees that often can’t survive Pennsylvania winters. The starter packages that come from warmer climates have an 80 percent failure rate here, he said. Hundreds of thousands of packages are sold this way, at a big profit. Early on, longtime beekeeper David Varney himself fell victim to this common practice. He lost his colonies for the first six years before meeting an experienced mentor who helped him figure out what he had been doing wrong. Today, Varney has about 480 colonies in various counties in western Pennsylvania. Last year in Indiana Borough ” where keeping hives is not even legal ” Scott estimated there were 30 colonies, and it’s likely none survived last winter. But with such a large number of the insects in that relatively small area, there was not enough forage to sustain them, he said, and they encroached on other bees habitats while looking for food. It was the first time, in fact, that Scott lost a hive in White Township. It’s a ripple effect, Scott said, so he and others in the group recognize the importance of educating others. And there are a number of factors that can determine if a colony thrives. Beekeeping is easy if you’re doing everything right, but doing one thing wrong can be like doing everything wrong, Scott said. People have to realize, he said, that bees are not pets; they’re part of agriculture, and it’s important to help, not hinder, them. Bees know how to be bees. We need to learn how to be better beekeepers, said Scott, who maintains a dozen hives. Indiana PA Honey Bee is meant to be a resource for novice beekeepers. The members are happy to help anyone get started, and can donate bees that are used to this climate, plus offer advice on what to do and what to avoid. The best thing you can do is find a mentor, Varney said. Members of the group also have been invited to give talks at 4-H clubs and farmer’s markets. At the group’s next meeting, they will discuss basic terminology. A class planned for the fall will help get newbies ready for their new colonies in the spring. For more information, call (724) 465-2416 or visit the group’s Facebook page. Bet you didn’t know … Beekeeping is not cheap. The total cost to get started ” with bees, boxes, smoker, suit and tools” can be about $1,200. A strong colony contains about 50,000 bees. The lifespan of a worker honeybee is 36-40 days. Queens may live 3 or 4 years. Besides honey (which never spoils), everything bees produce can be used, including the wax and a resinous anti-bacterial mixture called propolis. A single pound of honey requires visiting 2 million flowers, flying 55,000 miles and the lifetime work of 768 bees. Bees can fly 15 miles an hour but usually forage within a half-mile to a mile of their hive. —– From Dr. Christina Grozinger at POLLINATOR-L – AAPA AND AIA ARE JOINING 2018 ABF CONFERENCE The American Association of Professional Apiculturists and the Apiary Inspectors of America are joining the 2018 American Beekeeping Federation Conference and Tradeshow.  in Reno, NV January 11-12, 2018 (meeting all day Thursday and Friday). The meeting will be located at Registration and presentation submission will open in late August to mid-September.  Titles and abstracts will likely be due end of October-November 1. If you have research to share involving the genus Apis, we will welcome your submissions. This message is just to get you ready and thinking about the meeting. I’m on leave currently, so we appreciate your patience regarding setting up the ABRC meeting website and other announcements. For the time being refer to http://  for information regarding the meeting venue, travel information, etc. Feel free to book your rooms using the information provided on this site. If you are just attending the ABRC since we’re recommending planning on two full days for the meeting and so travel on Jan 10 and the 13th. Those that pre-register through us/AAPA will be able to attend ABF as well prior to the start of the ABRC, so see their full schedule when you’re planning your travel. —– APICULTURE INSURANCE EXPANDED TO MORE STATES AND NOW BASED ON PRECIPITATION WASHINGTON, July 27, 2017 – Crop insurance for beekeeper operations has been expanded to include 19 additional states and now spans the entire 48 contiguous states. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Risk Management Agency (RMA) has announced changes to the Apiculture Pilot Insurance (API) plan, ensuring greater protection for the producers’ honey, pollen collection, wax, and breeding stock. “Expanding this coverage so that more producers can participate in the Federal crop insurance program strengthens the rural economy through a broader farm safety net,” said RMA Acting Administrator Heather Manzano. “This provides increased support for beekeepers who play a critical role in agriculture.” Apiculture systems are diverse, with varying types of plant species and climate conditions. API is designed to cover the unique precipitation requirements of different regions across the nation. In addition to expanding API coverage, the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation Board of Directors voted to replace the satellite-based Vegetation Index with the precipitation-based Rainfall Index for API policies. Available since 2009, API was developed through the Federal Crop Insurance Act’s 508(h) process, which allows private submitters to develop innovative insurance products to meet the needs of producers. Producers have until Nov. 15, 2017 to enroll in API coverage for the 2018 crop year. Crop insurance is sold and delivered solely through private crop insurance agents. A list of agents is available at all USDA Service Centers and online at the RMA Agent Locator. Learn more about crop insurance and the modern farm safety net at —– POST OFFICES “ABUZZ” OVER NEW STAMPS The U.S. Postal Service is paying tribute to the beauty and importance of pollinators with stamps depicting two of our continent’s most iconic, the monarch butterfly and the western honeybee, each shown industriously pollinating a variety of plants native to North America. The Protect Pollinators Forever stamps will be dedicated at noon tomorrow at the American Philatelic Society National Summer Convention StampShow in Richmond, VA.  Share the news on social media using the hashtags #ProtectPollinators and #PollinatorStamps. “Bees, butterflies and other pollinators sustain our ecosystem and are a vital natural resource,” said U.S. Postal Service Judicial Officer Gary Shapiro, who will dedicate the stamps.  “They are being threatened and we must protect them.” Scheduled to join Judge Shapiro in the dedication are American Philatelic Society President Mick Zais; The Pollinator Partnership President & CEO Val Dolcini; and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Assistant Regional Director for External Affairs, Midwest Region, Charles Traxler.  U.S. Postal Service Director, Stamp Services Mary-Anne Penner will serve as master of ceremonies. “We’d like to thank the U.S. Postal Service, not only for supporting StampShow Richmond, but for bringing stamps that are sure to be a hit with collectors,” said Zais. A bee buzzing around the patio might provoke anxiety, while a butterfly fluttering over the lawn inspires childlike wonder. But both of these insects are simply going about their business, providing the vital ecological service of pollination. As with their fellow pollinators — other insects, birds and bats — they are rewarded with sweet nectar as they shuttle pollen from blossom to blossom. The plants are rewarded too. They can then produce the seeds that bring their next generation. Humans also benefit. We can thank insect pollinators for about a third of the food that we eat, particularly many of the fruits and vegetables that add colorful variety and important nutrients to our diet. Monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus) and western honeybees (Apis mellifera), also called European honeybees, are two of North America’s most iconic pollinators. Both travel far and wide. Monarchs can flutter thousands of miles in one of nature’s most wondrous migrations, a multigenerational round-trip that can cross southern Canada, the north-south breadth of the contiguous United States, and deep into Mexico, where they rest for the winter before returning north. While western honeybees do not naturally migrate such distances, beekeepers truck their hives on long-haul migrations, accommodating agricultural growing seasons around the nation. These bees are far and away the continent’s most vital pollinators, servicing almond, citrus, peach, apple and cherry tree blossoms, plus the blossoms of berries, melons, cucumbers, onions and pumpkins, to name just a few. Surpluses of honey, created from nectar by honeybees as a nonperishable food source for their hives, is yet another benefit to humans. In this modern world, these pollinators need mindful human intervention in order to thrive. The hives of western honeybees have lately been raided by parasitic mites and plagued by Colony Collapse Disorder, a mysterious condition which disorients bees and causes them to abandon their hives. While monarch butterflies, utterly dependent on milkweed plants throughout their range and specific mountain forests in Mexico, face collapsing populations as these habitats disappear to accommodate farming, urban development and illegal logging. Throughout North America, efforts to halt logging, study the effects of agricultural herbicides and pesticides, and plant long swaths of flowers along stretches of highway and other such rights-of-way offer promise. On a grassroots level, individuals and groups can help provide for pollinators by planting locally appropriate flowers — a win–win for people and pollinators alike. The Protect Pollinators stamps are being issued as Forever stamps. Forever stamps are always equal in value to the current First-Class Mail one-ounce price. Ordering First-Day-of-Issue Postmarks Customers have 60 days to obtain first-day-of-issue postmarks by mail. They may purchase new stamps at United States Post Office locations, at the Postal Store or by calling 800-782-6724. They should affix the stamps to envelopes of their choice, address the envelopes to themselves or others and place them in larger envelopes addressed to: FDOI – Protect Pollinators Stamps USPS Stamp Fulfillment Services 8300 NE Underground Drive, Suite 300 Kansas City, MO  64144-9900 After applying the first-day-of-issue postmark, the Postal Service will return the envelopes through the mail. There is no charge for postmarks up to a quantity of 50. For more than 50, customers are charged 5 cents each. All orders must be postmarked by Oct. 3, 2017. Ordering First-Day Covers The Postal Service also offers first-day covers for new stamps and stationery items postmarked with the official first-day-of-issue cancellation. Each item has an individual catalog number and is offered in the quarterly USA Philatelic catalog, online at or by calling 800-782-6724. Customers may request a free catalog by calling 800-782-6724 or writing to: U.S. Postal Service Catalog Request PO Box 219014 Kansas City, MO  64121-9014 Philatelic Products Philatelic products for this stamp issue are as follows:     475206, Press Sheet with Die-cut, $88.20.     475210, Digital Color Postmark Keepsake (set of 5), $18.95.     475216, First-Day Cover (set of 5), $4.65.     475221, Digital Color Postmark (set of 5), $8.20.     475224, Framed Art, $29.95.     475229, Activity Book, $14.95.     475230, Ceremony Program, $6.95.     475233, Panel, $10.95. You may view many of this year’s other stamps on Facebook at or via Twitter @USPSstamps.    —USPS, via American Bee Journal —– CALL FOR IUSSI2018 SYMPOSIA SUGGESTIONS Dear Colleagues, It is a pleasure to invite you to attend the XVIII International Union for the Study of Social Insects (IUSSI2018) Congress that will be held in Guarujá, Brazil, between August 5 to 10, 2018. From June 1 till October 20, 2017, we will be receiving symposia proposals for the XVIII IUSSI International Congress.   As shown in the general Program structure (see Program in Menu,, we have scheduled 8 slots for symposia (7 with 2.5 hours duration each and 1 with 2 h), and for each of these slots we can have up to 5 parallel sessions. So as to keep parallel sessions parallel, each speaker slot would be projected for 15 min (including discussion). So in case you plan to have an introductory speaker, he/she would have to be programmed for a 30 min time frame. Proposals should be structured as follows: – Symposium title – Chair and co-chair names – Chair and co-chair contact addresses and e-mails – List of potential speakers and time proposed for each (15 or 30 min) Please inform which speakers you have already contacted and which ones already agreed, at least tentatively. Symposia proposals must be submitted in English. In case you think that a 2.5 hour time frame is not sufficient for your symposium, please indicate this so that the symposium can have a continuation in the subsequent symposia slot (morning/afternoon in such cases). Also, please mention whether you would have slots available for non-invited abstract submissions that may fit the topic of your symposium. Please send applications (in Word format) to our Gmail account: Use the subject heading: [IUSSI 2018 Symposium Proposal] Deadline: Please submit proposals no later than October 20, 2017 Evaluation of symposia proposals: all proposals will be discussed between the members of the International Scientific Committee and the Local Organizing Committee for the best fit in terms of scientific and logistic structure. For a successful and interesting 2018 congress we would especially appreciate to receive suggestions that envisage the crosstalk between different areas of research on social insects. This was the concept already proposed for the 2014 meeting and it brought us many fruitful discussions. Suggestions made by the evaluation committees will be communicated to the proponents so that eventual adjustments can be made. Thus, we think that by January 2018 we should have an attractive program proposal ready. —– CATCH THE BUZZ 1. NATURAL: Grocery Manufacturers Want A Definition. – A FOOD Dive Brief: From     The “naturalness” of food is crucial to consumers and is important for acceptance of different ingredients and food technologies, according to a research review in the journal Trends in Food Science & Technology.     The review examined perceptions of what makes food natural among more than 85,000 consumers from 35 different countries. The researchers found the term was difficult to define, but that a majority of consumers had no difficulty in intuitively assessing the naturalness of foods.     Most consumers from developed countries preferred foods grown in a traditional way in accordance with nature, the review’s authors concluded. They wanted foods to be free from artificial additives and preservatives, although they were more willing to accept additives of natural origin. 2. Quarantine Area In The Peace River Region, And New Brunswick, Established For Small Hive Beetle – By Medhat Nasr, PhD., Provincial Apiculturist, Alberta, Canada On July 19, 2017, Alberta has established a quarantine area in the Peace River region where small hive beetle was detected in a beekeeping operation during an inspection. The pest has been linked to colonies that were imported from Ontario without the required permit. The quarantined area in northern Alberta includes northern Big Lakes County, the southern area of Northern Sunrise County, and the eastern parts of the Municipal District of Smoky River and the Municipal District of Greenview. This quarantine has been put in place as a proactive measure to help prevent the spread of the beetle while an Agriculture and Forestry inspection team investigates to determine the level of infestation and actions are taken to deal with the detected pests including using traps to remove beetle from affected hives. A total of 15 beekeeping operations within the 15 km flight radius of this pest are located within the quarantined area. While these beekeepers will not be able to move or sell honey bee colonies, bee nuclei and package bees out of the quarantine area for the duration of the quarantine, they can continue with their day-to-day operations and can continue sell honey as usual. Any bee colonies moved into the quarantine area during this period will be subject to the same restrictions. The quarantine will initially be in place for 45 days, and could be lifted if two consecutive inspections of bees in the quarantine area show that hives are free of small hive beetle. The quarantine period could also be extended if necessary. 3. Wright-Patterson Air Force Base Is the first military installation nationwide to be declared a “Bee City USA” – Hundreds of base personnel and members of the public were buzzing about the same thing at the Wright Brothers Memorial June 21 – Wright-Patterson Air Force Base’s status as the first military installation nationwide to be declared a “Bee City USA.” A first-ever Pollinator Expo was coordinated by personnel in the 88th Civil Engineer Group, Installation Management, Environmental Branch, Assets Section. The event included about 30 booths devoted to live demonstration hives, beekeepers making demonstrations, conservancy districts, natural resources proponents, food trucks and such family-friendly activities as free face painting and children’s hands-on activities.