Items of interest to beekeepers 7, January 2018

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








DOT NOW TAKING PUBLIC COMMENTS ON ELD RULES As you know, last month the U.S. Department of Transportation (DoT) announced a 90-day delay of its Electronic Logging Device (ELD) rules for agricultural commodities. The intent of the delay is to give DoT officials more time to hear the concerns of truckers who transport live-loads and other agricultural products. DoT is accepting public comments regarding agricultural commodities HERE ( until Jan. 19, 2018. We encourage all citizens who could be negatively affected by the ELD rules to voice their concerns. —– From Dr. Christina Grozinger, POLLINATOR-L list- 1. “RECOMMENDATIONS” CHAPTER FOR PA POLLINATOR PROTECTION PLAN The “Recommendations for Research, Policy and Communication” chapter for the Pennsylvania Pollinator Protection Plan (P4) has been posted! The full plan is available at this website: And the recommendations chapter can be downloaded here: This chapter was developed with input from the P4 Task Force and Advisory Board, as well as information submitted during the public comment period on the P4 over Fall 2017.  These recommendations provide a comprehensive framework to support the pollinators and people of Pennsylvania. For those of you who are local, there will be a special session celebrating the P4 at the PA Farm Show on Monday, Jan 8. 2. EPA HAS AN OPEN COMMENT PERIOD ON FOLIAR APPLICATIONS OF THIAMETHOXAM TO CROPS EPA Registration Number: 100-936, 100-938, 100-941, 100-1147, 100-1291, 100-1458. Docket ID number: EPA-HQ-OPP-2017-0234. Applicant: Syngenta Crop Protection, LLC, P.O. Box 18300, Greensboro, NC 27419. Active ingredient: Thiamethoxam. Product type: Insecticide. Proposed Use: Foliar application to wheat, barley, corn, sorghum, alfalfa, rice, and potato. Contact: RD.   Note that the comment period is open until Jan 16!   —– Thanks to Joe Traynor for this update – NOTES FROM THE ALMOND GROWERS’ NEWSLETTER 2018 Bee Supply – As occurs every year, there will be a shortage of strong bee colonies in 2018. Our bee suppliers will work right up to delivery time, feeding, culling and sorting their colonies in order to come up with colonies that meet our strength standards and provide the activity that you have come to expect from the bees you rent from us. This will be an especially challenging year for all beekeepers, due to bee losses to CA  fires (and smoke) and to excess rains and flooding in southern states.  Loss of bee forage from fires and the conversion of huge acreages of prairie bee forage to corn and soybeans put further pressure on bee colony numbers available for almonds. Diminished bee forage results in malnourished bees.  Suboptimal nutrition impairs the immune systems of all living organisms, making it more difficult for them to fend off pests and diseases.  Consider planting bee-friendly forage adjacent to or near your almond orchard. Over 6,000 acres of such forage have been planted in recent years, much of it last year. Contact and click on “seeds for bees” for more information. Such forage will not compete for bees with almond bloom since bees can obtain pollen far more easily from open almond flowers than from ground-cover flowers and will readily switch to almond flowers once almond bloom commences. The consensus among beekeepers and bee  researchers is that the main cause of current bee  problems is the parasitic varroa mite and the viruses that the mites spread. Chemical mite controls that used to be effective no longer work because the mites have developed resistance to them. Twenty years ago, 2 mite treatments a year could keep mite numbers in check; now many beekeepers treat monthly, at considerable added expense.  Some treatments can’t be made when bees are making honey due to potential contamination of honey. Low honey prices have reduced beekeeper income. Pollination prices for crops that bloom after almonds drop precipitously – a supply/demand phenomenon.  Most bee people figure it takes $200 to $300+ per colony to maintain a bee colony for a year. Many beekeepers are struggling. Dennis vanEnglesdorp, a leading U.S. bee researcher, stated recently “We’re not worried about the bees going extinct. We’re worried about the  beekeepers going extinct.” There is no question that most commercial beekeepers could not survive without almond pollination income and many are struggling even with this income. Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs) will be required on trucks hauling bees more than 150 air miles from their point of origin. Some truckers will no longer haul bees; others will raise their prices. Fungicide applications during or near almond bloom are usually needed on most almond orchards for disease control.  Please apply fungicides either at night, or late afternoon after bees have collected almond pollen from the flowers. Don’t tank-mix other materials with fungicides as recent studies have shown that many adjuvants, spreaders, and nutrients will harm bees. IGRs (Insect Growth Regulators) will damage bee larvae and should never be applied. At petal fall, when no pollen remains in the orchard, the hazard to bees from collecting and consuming contaminated pollen is eliminated, however bees can still be damaged or killed by direct contact with fungicide sprays and by consuming contaminated nectar. Bee Removal – Timely removal of bees at petal-fall will improve bee health. Strong bee colonies can deteriorate rapidly when there is no pollen in the orchard; bees that desperately search for pollen that is no longer there are of no benefit to almond growers and can be a nuisance.  The Almond Board states that “Petals normally remain on flowers past the receptive period for cross-pollination. When 90% of the flowers on the latest-blooming variety are at petal fall and no pollination is taking place, it is in the best interest of the bees to have beekeepers remove the colonies regardless of the presence of petals or of nectar foraging bees.” [emphasis added]. When no pollen remains in the orchard, no pollination can take place, and bees are not of any benefit to growers in spite of bee activity around remaining petals. 2017 Research Donation –  We rented 33,472 bee colonies to almond growers in 2017 with $2/colony ($1  each from growers and beekeepers) set aside for bee research. $60,000 was allocated to Project ApisM and $7,000 to beekeeper/researcher Randy Oliver ( —– From Dr. Christina Grozinger – RESEARCH JOBS 1. PhD scholarship: Dispersal strategies and space use in pollinating bees, Bangor University and Rothamsted Research. Deadline to apply January 14, 2018. Info 2. Postdoctoral Fellowship in Eco-Physiology and Molecular Ecology, Department of Biology, University of Copenhagen. Deadline: February 15, 2018. Info 3. Postdoc in Viral Evolution in Bees, Halle, Germany. Further details of the position can be obtained from Robert Paxton (, to whom applications should be sent by 15 February 2018 referring to  “position 5-12596/17-D”. —– COMMUNITY STEPS UP TO AID VANDALIZED BEE OP Tori and Justin Engelhardt’s worst fears became a reality when they discovered vandals had broken into their bee farm and killed half a million bees. According to the Sioux City Journal, the Sioux City couple, who own and operate “Wild Hill Honey,” discovered the destruction on Thursday morning when Justin went to check on the hives. All 50 of their beehives were destroyed, and his supply shed was completely ransacked. Engelhardt told the Sioux City Journal their situation “looked really hopeless.” But then, support came pouring in overnight. News of the vandalism spread and many people in the surrounding communities opened their hearts and wallets in support of the Engelhardts. But that doesn’t mean the situation has completely resolved itself. “We are salvaging what we can,” Justin Engelhardt told the Sioux City Journal. A GoFundMe account was started, and by 2:30 p.m. on Friday, the couple had raised nearly $14,000 from almost 400 donors on their main GoFundMe account. The total they need is $20,000. At the time of this article, the total is slightly more than $18,000. In addition to their main GoFundMe page, similar accounts were created on behalf of the Engelhardts, bringing the total amount to $20,200. However, the loss of the hives was calculated to be between $50,000 and $60,000 and the hives were not covered by insurance. The sheer volume of donations and support was certainly overwhelming for the couple. “Holy smokes,” Engelhardt said to the Sioux City Journal. “That is amazing. We are really, really grateful for all the support.” Police are still investigating. (The Engelhardts have since reported via Facebook that their needs have been met and fundraisers for their operation closed. Thanks to all who helped.) —– BEEKEEPING INDUSTRY SAYS GOODBYE TO BINFORD WEAVER Howard Binford Weaver (March 25, 1928 – December 29, 2017) Howard Binford Weaver graduated from Navasota High School during World War II at 15. Because of the important role of apiculture in the war effort, Binford assumed full-time responsibility for queen rearing and beekeeping at Weaver Apiaries for the duration of the War. Later he attended Southwestern University and graduated from Texas Christian University. After post WWII army service and college, he rejoined Weaver Apiaries and became an expert beekeeper of vast knowledge and experience. He was respected by all and loved by many, especially the protégés he mentored. His apicultural talents were recognized around the world, receiving honors from organizations in the US, Australia, Europe, Central America and South America. Binford’s service to the beekeeping industry remains legendary. His political skills, industry respect and influence with Congress benefited beekeepers in the US, with those programs he helped build here impelling similar efforts abroad. Besides his church and community involvements, he served as President, member of the Executive Committee and Director of the American Beekeeping Federation for many years – he had been a member since its inception 75 years ago. He was Chairman, a member of the Board, and an organizer of the National Honey Board, and served on multiple councils, task forces and special committees advising the Secretaries of US Agencies, US Congressional Committees, State Governors and Foreign Governments. Among his notable apicultural accomplishments, he founded Kona Queen Company in Hawaii with partners, and established Bee Weaver Apiaries, the successor to Weaver Apiaries, with his son, Daniel. While at Bee Weaver, he helped surmount the challenges of the Africanized bee invasion and the introduction of Varroa mites. Binford helped select and breed the first managed population of honey bees naturally able to survive and thrive despite Varroa mites and the viruses they vector. Binford died December 29, 2017, and was preceded in death by his wife, Bennie Lou Franks Weaver, and one son. He is survived by his son Daniel and daughter-in-law Laura Gregory Weaver; grandsons, Travis, Dylan and Stone Weaver; two sisters and many other family members. A Memorial Service at the First Presbyterian Church, Navasota, TX was held January 6, 2018. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to the United Methodist Committee on Relief; the Foundation for the Preservation of Honey Bees; or to the Bee Research, Education and Apiculture Development Foundation, a charitable organization to be established pursuant to Binford’s wishes in furtherance of those aims. Donations to the latter may be sent c/o Daniel Weaver 6301 Highland Hills Drive Austin, TX 78731 and will be deposited once organization as a charity is complete. —– CATCH THE BUZZ 1.  Pesticides And Poor Nutrition Combined Are A 1, 2 Punch For Honey Bees Says Univ. Study, But Just Pesticides OK, Says EPA – The combined effects of pesticides and a lack of nutrition form a deadly one-two punch, new research from biologists at the University of California San Diego has shown for the first time. In a study published Dec. 20 in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, Simone Tosi, James Nieh and their colleagues used honey bees due to their important role as agricultural pollinators and “bioindicators” of environmental quality. The researchers studied how honey bees fared with exposure to neonicotinoids—pesticides broadly used in agriculture—along with limited nutrient sources, scenarios that are commonly found in agricultural areas. Read more at: Meanwhile…… Neonicotinoid insecticides, including Syngenta’s insecticide thiamethoxam, have been used globally on a wide range of crops through seed, soil, and foliage treatments. A large-scale study, carried out in close coordination with the Environmental Protection Agency and published in Environmental Toxicology & Chemistry, demonstrates that residue levels in pollen and nectar from thiamethoxam-treated seeds do not harm bees and have no effect on colony survival. The research included individual honey bees—adults and larvae—and 84 honey bee colonies. “This robust study definitively establishes a threshold below which there are no harmful effects to honey bee colonies,” said lead author Jay Overmyer, PhD, of Syngenta Crop Protection. “This information can be used to assess the potential risk of honey bee colonies exposed to thiamethoxam residues in pollen and nectar from all types of use patterns.” Read more at: 2. How Plants Form Their Seeds Is Complicated – Vegetable, fruit, or grain – the majority of our food results from plant reproduction. Researchers at UZH have now discovered the key to how plants regulate pollen growth and seed formation. In addition to seed formation, knowledge about these signaling pathways can be used to influence plant growth or their defense against pests. Around 80 to 85 percent of our calorie needs is covered through seeds, either directly as food or indirectly through use as feed. Seeds are the result of plant reproduction. During the flowering period, the male and female tissues interact with each other in a number of ways. When pollen lands on the flower’s stigma, it germinates and forms a pollen tube, which then quickly grows towards the plant’s ovary. Once it finds an ovule, the pollen tube bursts to release sperm cells, which fertilize the ovule and initiate seed formation.