Items of interest to beekeepers April 9 2017

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




The program the Washington State Department of Corrections is rolling out is proving good for bees, and inmates too.
By Dominique Mosbergen, Huffington Post

The Washington Department of Corrections has rolled out a robust beekeeping program in seven of its 12 state prisons. Here, 10 beekeeping students at the Washington State Penitentiary learn the ropes from a volunteer professional beekeeper.

Just inside the barbed wire border of Airway Heights Corrections Center, four nondescript white boxes fat with honey and thousands of bees are being tended to by men society might misjudge as being anything but tender.


From Project Apis m.

Danielle Downey

Project Apis m.’s primary mission has been to fund and direct research to help honey bees, but as we expand our forage programs, including Seeds for Bees in California and The Bee and Butterfly Fund in the Upper Midwest, there is a whole new body of interests to understand. The recent campaign from General Mills, where Buzz the honey bee disappeared from the Cheerios box, has gotten a lot of attention–both praise and criticism. Not only did they quickly ‘sell out’ of all the free seed packets that were offered, but there was equally swift backlash criticizing the effort for the seeds chosen. As we engage to replace critical habitat which has been lost for honey bees, below the surface of that good deed are interests that may seem at odds, and may confuse most audiences seeking to help the situation. As I discussed this issue with the Director of Habitat Partnerships from Pheasants Forever, Pete Berthelsen, he provided the following explanation from his years of service building habitat:

The use of “Invasive” or “Introduced” plants in seeding mixtures to benefit pollinators has been a hot topic the past month or so.  This is an interesting and important discussion and it’s exciting to see the enthusiasm around the topic of planting pollinator habitat. But like most complicated issues, there are many aspects to this story that we need to consider carefully.  Here are five points to consider when deciding whether “introduced” plants are friend or foe.

Just like the ‘Flow Hive’ generated lots and lots of media attention, dollars raised, Facebook posts, enthusiasm, etc., it was a far more complicated issue than the message on the surface would have the public believe.  The issue of introduced plants vs. native plants is just as complicated.  Here are a few points that need to be understood and considered about Introduced plants in pollinator plantings:

1.    Not all Introduced plants are all bad.  If you were to remove all introduced species from a pollinator planting, you would also remove the most important plants for honey bees (sweet clover and many other introduced clovers).  Recent research conducted by USGS in the Dakotas has identified introduced clovers as the most important plants on the landscape for honey bees.

2.    Not all introduced plants are good for all landscapes.  Introduced plants like sweet clover can become invasive in areas with moderate to generous rainfall (about 32” of annual rainfall or more).  That’s why species like sweet clover are not included in our Bee & Butterfly Habitat Fund NextGen Habitat Project seed mixtures for East of the Dakotas and Nebraska.  When designing pollinator seed mixtures, you must take the time to consider where and how each of the species- native or introduced- will function on the landscape, and in the mixture.  If they have a tendency to become ‘invasive’, they are likely to outcompete the other species in the mixture.

3.    There is a “Natives First” movement out there.  There are states where there is a strong movement to use only native species in their conservation/pollinator plantings.  This effort can usually be traced back to conservation programs that used introduced species in their past program seed mixes, like Fescue, smooth brome, etc., which were generally detrimental to wildlife and pollinators. The backlash solution is often to recommend the use of only native species in conservation programs going forward, assuming all non-natives are similarly detrimental.

4.    Introduced and native can live and work well together.  When Conservation/pollinator program seed mixtures are designed properly, there is a role for both native and introduced species to perform well in mixtures.  This is especially important where pollinator habitat is concerned.  If we allow people to repeat the message that “All Introduced species are bad”, we will be removing one of the most valuable tools in the toolbox for pollinators……especially honey bees.

5.  Introduced plants can fill important roles.  The use of the correct combination and rate of introduced species alongside native species can provide important benefits in other areas like: Cost-effective seed mixtures, habitat that establishes quickly and easily, providing significant pollinator benefits within just a few months, and a habitat planting that is better able to compete with weeds.

The bottom line is that this is a complex topic without a simple answer or response.  We need to be thoughtful and careful about how this message is relayed to the public that is enthusiastically wanting to help the bees and butterflies! I hope these five points will help inform habitat enthusiasts as they encounter these debates.

Danielle Downey, Executive Director, Apis m.
with Pete Berthelsen, Director of Habitat Partnerships, Pheasants Forever



Véto-pharma is now the exclusive U.S. distributor of ApiLifeVar, a natural thymol-based product.

We are delighted to inform you that in order to provide a natural varroa control alternative for use by American beekeepers, Véto-pharma has concluded an exclusive distribution agreement with Chemicals Laif, the producer of ApiLifeVar, and is now the exclusive distributor of ApiLifeVar in the United States.

ApiLifeVar has been used in 34 countries for several years, and is the current thymol-based product market leader in Europe. This success is due to its unique formulation, which is a  solution composed by 4 natural ingredients: thymol, camphor, levomenthol and eucalyptus oil. This exclusive formulation allows a better release of thymol by contact in addition to the evaporation, improving efficacy. In addition, it allows a reduction in the dosage of thymol in each application, increasing tolerability to honey bees.


From Dr. Christina Grozinger at POLLINATOR-L –


1. Apiary technician position at University of Delaware – deadline April 16

Access careers site:

If you are a current employee of our organization please use the following link instead:



1. E.P.A. Chief Chooses Not to Ban chlorpyrifos, going against his own agency’s findings –

From The New York Times:

Scott Pruitt, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, moved late on Wednesday, March 29, to reject the scientific conclusion of the agency’s own chemical safety experts who under the Obama administration recommended that one of the nation’s most widely used insecticides be permanently banned at farms nationwide because of the harm it potentially causes children and farm workers.

The ruling by Mr. Pruitt, in one of his first formal actions as the nation’s top environmental official, rejected a petition filed a decade ago by two environmental groups that had asked that the agency ban all uses of chlorpyrifos. The chemical was banned in 2000 for use in most household settings, but still today is used at about 40,000 farms on about 50 different types of crops, ranging from almonds to apples.

2. Planned Plantings this year of just 4 crops to total 284 million acres, 116 million more than all of Texas! –

Released March 31, 2017, by the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), Agricultural Statistics Board, United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Corn Planted Acreage Down 4 Percent from 2016
Soybean Acreage Up 7 Percent
All Wheat Acreage Down 8 Percent
All Cotton Acreage Up 21 Percent

Corn planted area for all purposes in 2017 is estimated at 90.0 million acres, down 4 percent or 4.0 million acres from last year. Compared with last year, planted acreage is expected to be down or unchanged in 38 of the 48 estimating States.

Soybean planted area for 2017 is estimated at a record high 89.5 million acres, up 7 percent from last year. Compared with last year, planted acreage intentions are up or unchanged in 27 of the 31 estimating States.

3. U.S. Honey and Garlic Producers Applaud President Trump’s Executive Order to Improve Duty Collection –

The U.S. honey and garlic industries applaud President Trump’s Executive Order issued today instructing Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to develop enhanced procedures to ensure that remedial antidumping and countervailing (AD/CV) duties imposed by the United States are actually collected.

As the Administration has noted, at least $2.8 billion in duties have gone uncollected since 2001, with China accounting for much of the problem. According to a recent analysis by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), the lion’s share of AD/CV duties that have not been collected involve duties on imports from China of fresh garlic, honey, canned mushrooms, and crawfish. At the time of the GAO report, which included data through Fiscal Year 2014, the total uncollected duties on these four products exceeded $1.4 billion.