Items of interest to beekeepers February 10, 2017

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







LINKS —— From the California State Beekeepers News Update – BACTERIUM DISCOVERED AT UW-STOUT COULD BE LINKED TO HONEY BEE MORTALITY RATE By Emma Wheeler Wisconsin winter weather can be hard for any of us to get through, but around the Midwest it’s particularly difficult for honeybee hives.  A recent discovery at UW-Stout could provide answers as to why so many are dying. Experts said over the last few years close to 80 percent of hives have died out annually. “We’re easily losing half of the hives every winter.  It’s been bad for a number of years, and it’s practically to the point where it’s unsustainable,” said UW-Stout biology professor Dr. Jim Burritt. Burritt and his students stumbled across a never before seen illness. That discovery is now being recognized as a new bacterium and could be the reason so many bees keep losing their buzz. “We were really looking for something else one day a couple years ago when we started seeing something different.  Maybe it had been there for awhile but it wasn’t there like we saw it that day,” Burritt said. Over 3,000 hives were tested from around the area.  This bacterium was found in over half, and in over 70 percent of hives that died. But while progress being made, a long road still awaits. “We know it makes individual bees sick. We know we can find it in hives that die, that have died during the winter. But it’s really another thing to show this bacterium causing hives to fail in winter,” Burritt said. Previously experts have attributed the Varroa destructor mite to have damaging effects on the bee population by transmitting viruses. What’s notable in this discovery is that this bacterium was also found in 76 percent of those tested. It took over two years of research, Burritt said most of which was done by students right in the classroom. “It’s a lot of fun to have them involved, but this research is because of the students,” said Burritt. It’s a discovery that’s leading many students navigating a new path in search of more answers. “It’s just been a really rewarding experience because I’ve been able to realize that this is a passion of mine, scientific research.  The experience in the lab has really led me to pursue a career in science,” said Jake Hildebrand, UW-Stout senior who was published on the discovery’s research paper. Burritt said they are trying to recruit some help from other scientists to study the bacterium further.  He said while this could be linked to the dying hives it would just be one piece of the puzzle. —– From ScienceBlog website – DESPITE FEW TASTE GENES, HONEY BEES SEEK OUT ESSENTIAL NUTRIENTS BASED ON SEASON Despite having few taste genes, honey bees are fine-tuned to know what minerals the colony may lack and proactively seek out nutrients in conjunction with the season when their floral diet varies. This key finding from a new study led by Tufts University scientists sheds light on limited research on the micronutrient requirements of honey bees, and provides potentially useful insight in support of increased health of the bee population, which has declined rapidly in recent years for a variety of complex reasons. The research, published in Ecological Entomology, suggests that beekeepers should provide opportunities for their bees to access specific nutrients, possibly through a natural mineral lick, to support their balanced health because the bees will search for the minerals when they need them. It is also an opportunity for the general public to support the bee population by planting a diverse range of flowers that bloom throughout the year. “Currently, there are micronutrient supplements for managed bee hives on the market but there is little research backing up which minerals the bees actually need,” said Rachael Bonoan, the lead study author and a Ph.D. candidate in biology within the School of Arts and Sciences at Tufts. “The fact that honey bees switch their mineral preferences based on what is available in their floral diet is really exciting.  This means that somehow, honey bees know which nutrients the colony needs. This insight helps us support honey bees and other pollinators by providing access to diverse nutrient sources all year long.” Rachael Bonoan, PhD. candidate in biology The findings show that honey bees forage for essential minerals that aid their physiological health, even though they have relatively few taste genes. In the fall, when floral resources  dwindle, the study showed  that bees seek out specific nutrients – calcium, magnesium, and potassium, all commonly found in pollen – by foraging in compound-rich or “dirty” water.  When flowers and pollen are abundant in the summer,  the bees prefer deionized water and sodium, ultimately suggesting that bees are foraging for minerals in water based on what  is lacking in their floral diet. Bonoan and her research team studied eight honey bee hives that were located about 100 yards from the research area. The bees were trained to come to the research site  because researchers placed jars  of sugar water at staged intervals until the worker bees became accustomed to the ready food supply. Researchers set up water vials with different minerals such as sodium, magnesium or phosphorus and catalogued the number of bees that visited each vial. At the end of the day,  they also measured how  much the bees drank from each vessel to determine which minerals were most in demand. The researchers also tracked the hive each bee belonged to by dusting worker bees with different colored powders as they left the hives. The team noted which colored bees were drinking from which mineral-laden water source, and later measured the amount of brood to determine whether there is a connection between bee health and specific minerals. The study results related to hive health were inconclusive. While stronger colonies do tend to visit more minerals than weaker colonies, it was difficult to determine which came first, being a stronger colony or accessing mineral resources. Additional data is necessary to assess colony fitness. Additional authors are Taylor M. Tai, Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University; Marlen Tagle Rodriguez, Biomedical Engineering Department at the University of California, Irvine; Laine Feller, Biology Department, Villanova University; Salvatore R. Daddario, Department of Neuroscience at Pomona College, Claremont; Rebecca A. Czaja, Department of Marine and Environmental Sciences at Northeastern University, Boston; Luke D. O’Connor and Georgiana Burruss, both of Cape Eleuthera Institute, Rockland Sound, Eleuthera, The Bahamas; and Philip T. Stark, associate professor, Biology Department at Tufts University, Medford, MA. This study was supported by the National Science Foundation’s Research Experiences for Undergraduates program. Bonoan et al. “Seasonality of salt foraging in honey bees (Apis mellifera)” Ecological Entomology (2016). DOI:10.1111/een.12375 —– From Dr. Christina Grozinger and the POLLINATOR -L list – RESEARCH JOBS LIST 1. Post-doctoral Research Associate – Imminent funding is expected for a two-year postdoctoral position funded by the USDA-NIFA to address research priorities of the U.S. Pollinator Research Action Plan. In this project we will examine the behavioral and physiological consequences of fungicide ingestion on honey bees in the lab and in colonies. The postdoc will work with a team of faculty and graduate and undergraduate students; the project includes assessment of fungicide processing by the bees, and the effects of fungicides on mitochondrial, digestive, developmental, sensory and cognitive functions and foraging. We will also be working with the USDA to integrate our findings into models that may enable prediction of effects under a broader range of conditions, and for educational outreach to beekeepers and the public. Skills with metabolic biochemistry, insect physiology, and honey bees would be beneficial. Postdoc must be initiated in 2017. Please contact one of the co-PI’s to let them know of your interest. Jon Harrison, Jennifer Fewell, Brian Smith, Osman Kaftanoglu, Gloria DeGrandi-Hoffman, 2. Graduate Assistantships on Pollinator Health – Louisiana State University (LSU) The Healy laboratory is currently seeking a graduate student (MS or PhD) interested in evaluating the epidemiology of deformed wing virus on honey bees.  This project will involve working in a team at LSU with partners from the USDA Honey Bee Research laboratory in Baton Rouge.  The goal of this study will be to evaluate different transmission dynamics of the virus to honey bees. Contact Kristen Healy (   3. The Swale laboratory is currently seeking a PhD student to conduct physiology based studies evaluating the impacts of different stressors (pathogens, pesticides, mites, nutrition, climate) on honey bee health. This research will be in collaboration with partners from LSU and the USDA Honey Bee Research laboratory in Baton Rouge. Contact Dan Swale ( 4. Project Leader – LSU. Funding is available for a project leader (Masters or PhD level) in the area of honey bee health and mortality. The successful applicant will coordinate and conduct research as part of a longitudinal study on honey bee health being conducted at the Louisiana State University, Department of Entomology. Objectives of this study are to understand the epidemiology of deformed wing virus to honey bees, to evaluate various stressors affecting the health of commercially managed honey bees, and to evaluate different extension-based methodologies to improve outcomes in managed honey bees. Apply online at For more information contact: Kristen Healy (; (225) 578-7386). 5. The Entomology and Nematology Department at the University of Florida is accepting applications for an Assistant Professorship focused on pollination ecology in natural areas and crop systems. This is a 12-month, tenure-accruing position that will be 60% research (Florida Agricultural Experiment Station), 25% Extension (UF/IFAS Extension Service), and 15% teaching (College of Agricultural and Life Sciences). The position is based in Gainesville, FL, USA. The primary focus within the research assignment is the pollination ecology and/or conservation of non-Apis bees. The Extension responsibilities will include developing and implementing an effective statewide Extension education program to support conservation efforts and stakeholders who rely on the pollination services that non-Apis bees provide. The teaching responsibilities will include developing an undergraduate/graduate course in pollinator ecology/conservation and participation in revolving topic seminars in the candidate’s area of expertise. Please forward this announcement to all interested parties. More information about the position can be found at The University of Florida is an Equal Opportunity Institution. Jamie Ellis, PhD: Honey Bee Research and Extension Laboratory Department of Entomology and Nematology University of Florida Bldg 970 Natural Area Drive PO Box 110620 Gainesville, FL 32611-0620 @ UFhoneybeelab —– CATCH THE BUZZ From Kim Flottom at Bee Culture magazine – 1. Moving Bees To California? Read This from California Department of Food and Agriculture –  Sent out by California State Beekeepers. Below is a statement from Roger Cline with the California Department of Food and Agriculture. During the January 19, 2017 Honey Bee Shipment meeting, a request was made concerning the best times that could possibly assist the more effective movement of apiary shipments. A review of the data shows that February (and most months) the general traffic pattern by day of week below. 2. Good Food Awards for 2017 in the Honey Category – The Good Food Awards celebrate the kind of food we all want to eat: tasty, authentic and responsibly produced. We grant awards to outstanding American food producers and the farmers who provide their ingredients. We host an annual Awards Ceremony and Marketplace in San Francisco to honor the Good Food Award recipients who push their industries towards craftsmanship and sustainability while enhancing our agricultural landscape and building strong communities. In its seventh year, Good Food Awards will be given to winners in 14 categories: beer, cider, charcuterie, cheese, chocolate, coffee, confections, honey, pantry, pickles, preserves, spirits, oil and our newest category, preserved fish.