Items of interest to beekeepers February 25 2017

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







RESEARCH JOBS LIST CATCH THE BUZZ SUGAR’S ‘TIPPING POINT’ LINK TO ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE REVEALED EVENTS LINKS —– From Dr. Christina Grozinger – ESA P-IE SCIENCE POLICY FIELD TOUR Applications close March 6th for the Entomological Society of America Plant-Insect Ecosystems Section Policy Field Tour. Complete the online application by March 6th, 11:59 PM (Pacific time) to be considered for a spot on the tour. he goal of the field tour is to promote understanding of pollinators in agriculture, and the many issues on which they intersect, including protection of pollinator habitat, pests of pollinators, insect pests of economic importance, and row crop production needs. The field tour will facilitate candid discussions with the goal of learning from a locally-executed case study in Mississippi, leveraging best practices to other agroecosystems, and developing an action plan on how policies can be shaped to balance crop production and pollinator health.   Do you have questions like, ‘What is a Field Tour?’, ‘Who will attend?’, ‘Why should a P-IE Section member want to attend?’, and ‘What inspired the event?’………then please visit the Field Tour FAQs web page ( Learn about award opportunities and keep up with all the latest tour details, local arrangements, and FAQ at the Field Tour homepage ( Direct all questions regarding field tour content and local arrangements to Melissa Siebert ( or Rayda Krell ( —– From Morning Ag Clips – BEE DECLINE THREATENS CROP PRODUCTION BURLINGTON, Vt. — The first-ever study to map U.S. wild bees suggests they are disappearing in the country’s most important farmlands — from California’s Central Valley to the Midwest’s corn belt and the Mississippi River valley. If wild bee declines continue, it could hurt U.S. crop production and farmers’ costs, said Taylor Ricketts, a conservation ecologist at the University of Vermont, at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) annual meeting panel, Plan Bee: Pollinators, Food Production and U.S. Policy on Feb. 19. “This study provides the first national picture of wild bees and their impacts on pollination,” said Ricketts, Director of UVM’s Gund Institute for Ecological Economics, noting that each year $3 billion of the U.S. economy depends on pollination from native pollinators like wild bees. At AAAS, Ricketts briefed scholars, policy makers, and journalists on how the national bee map, first published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in late 2015, can help to protect wild bees and pinpoint habitat restoration efforts. At the event, Ricketts also introduced a new mobile app that he is co-developing to help farmers upgrade their farms to better support wild bees. “Wild bees are a precious natural resource we should celebrate and protect,” said Ricketts, Gund Professor in UVM’s Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources. “If managed with care, they can help us continue to produce billions of dollars in agricultural income and a wonderful diversity of nutritious food.” Trouble zones The map identifies 139 counties in key agricultural regions of California, the Pacific Northwest, the upper Midwest and Great Plains, west Texas, and Mississippi River valley, which appear to have most worrisome mismatch between falling wild bee supply and rising crop pollination demand. These counties tend to be places that grow specialty crops — like almonds, blueberries and apples — that are highly dependent on pollinators. Or they are counties that grow less dependent crops — like soybeans, canola and cotton — in very large quantities. Of particular concern, some crops most dependent on pollinators — including pumpkins, watermelons, pears, peaches, plums, apples and blueberries — appeared to have the strongest pollination mismatch, growing in areas with dropping wild bee supply and increasing in pollination demand. Globally, more than two-thirds of the most important crops either benefit from or require pollinators, including coffee, cacao, and many fruits and vegetables. Pesticides, climate change and diseases threaten wild bees — but their decline may be caused by the conversion of bee habitat into cropland, the study suggests. In 11 key states where the map shows bees in decline, the amount of land tilled to grow corn spiked by 200 percent in five years — replacing grasslands and pastures that once supported bee populations. Rising demand, falling supply Over the last decade, honeybee keepers facing colony losses have struggled with rising demand for commercial pollination services, pushing up the cost of managed pollinators – and the importance of wild bees. “Most people can think of one or two types of bee, but there are 4,000 species in the U.S. alone,” said Insu Koh, a UVM postdoctoral researcher who co-hosted the AAAS panel and led the study. “When sufficient habitat exists, wild bees are already contributing the majority of pollination for some crops,” Koh adds. “And even around managed pollinators, wild bees complement pollination in ways that can increase crop yields.” Making the maps A team of seven researchers — from UVM, Franklin and Marshall College, University of California at Davis, and Michigan State University — created the maps by first identifying 45 land-use types from two federal land databases, including croplands and natural habitats. Then they gathered detailed input from national and state bee experts about the suitability of each land-use type for providing wild bees with nesting and food resources. The scientists built a bee habitat model that predicts the relative abundance of wild bees for every area of the contiguous United States, based on their quality for nesting and feeding from flowers. Finally, the team checked and validated their model against bee collections and field observations in many actual landscapes. The Good News “The good news about bees,” said Ricketts, “is now that we know where to focus conservation efforts, paired with all we know about what bees need, habitat-wise, there is hope for preserving wild bees.” —University of Vermont —– From the California State Beekeepers News Update, two items about the flood situation – WORK OF YUBA CITY (CA) BEEKEEPER SLOWED BY OROVILLE EVACUATION Mid-February is when beekeepers scramble to put tens of thousands of honey bees into California’s almond orchards for pollination. The Oroville Dam evacuation order forced a Yuba City apiary to stand down. There’s never a good moment for a massive evacuation order. But for Yuba City bee keeper Valeri Strachan-Severson, the timing was really unlucky. “When that happened it was kind of a shock and then concern and then you think about — well we need to get this done,” says Strachan-Severson. “But you can’t because you don’t have somebody there to do it.” Several of her semi drivers were under evacuation orders. With almond bloom just around the corner, pressure was mounting. Growers were getting anxious. —– RECORD RAIN STRAINS CALIFORNIA’S WHOLE FLOOD CONTROL NETWORK The frantic effort over the last few days to lower water levels at Oroville Dam after the structure’s two spillways became damaged is part of a larger drama playing out as California rapidly shifts from extreme drought to intense deluges. Large swaths of the region are on track to experience their wettest winter on record, with many areas having already surpassed their average precipitation for an entire year. And all that water is putting new strains on the network of dams, rivers, levees and other waterways that are essential to preventing massive flooding during wet years like this one. The biggest danger zone lies in the Central Valley at the base of the Sierra Nevada, whose tall peaks can wring the skies of huge amounts of rain and snow. The area is essentially one giant floodplain that would be easily transformed into an inland sea without man-made flood control. At 400 miles long and 40 miles wide, it has only a tiny bottleneck from which to drain — a one-mile opening at the Carquinez Strait at San Pablo Bay — before water heads into the San Francisco Bay. —– FUND A POLLINATOR FORAGE PROJECT Bayer has launched the Feed a Bee steering committee in the U.S., comprised of 14 diverse partners to distribute $500,000 to support projects that will increase pollinator forage in all 50 states by the end of 2018 (see Do you know an organization that could benefit from this funding? Encourage them to apply! Forage initiative proposals are now being accepted from stakeholders on a rolling basis with the first round of considerations occurring for those submitted prior to March 31. Visit beginning March 3 for more information on submitting proposals. —– From Dr. Christine Grozinger at POLLINATOR-L list – RESEARCH JOBS LIST 1. If you are an undergraduate science major who is interested in pursuing a career in STEM, there is an exciting new opportunity to develop your skills while studying the interface between microbes and bees. BeeMORE is a USDA-funded Research and Extension Experience for Undergraduates who are interested in significantly advancing their research skills in the field, the laboratory, or both. Potential projects include (but not limited to): – Disease ecology of native pollinators – Discovering new yeasts from beehives for brewing beer – Metagenomic surveys of bees and hives – Elucidating the gut microbiome of honey bee queens Logistics – Program runs from May 30th to August 3rd 2017 (9 weeks), and some accommodations for travel can be provided – Students will receive a $500 stipend per week ($4,500 total for the summer) PLUS free room and board at our Wolf Village Apartments – Successful applicants will be paired with faculty mentor programs to conduct their own research most amenable to their research interests and background – Activities will include presentations, group field trips, extension meetings, and the NC State Summer Undergraduate Research Symposium Apply now! – DEADLINE: March 25th, 2017 – Apply online at: – Have more questions? Email us at: or 2. Postdoctoral research position in honey bee queen biology – NC State Apiculture Program We are looking for a postdoctoral researcher to join a collaborative team investigating the reproductive potential of honey bee queens and how it affects colony health and productivity. The project addresses multiple aspects of bee biology, genetics, and apiculture. Applicants should have some experience working with honey bees as a model system, be able to apply certain basic molecular techniques, and be willing to travel and interface with beekeepers. The position will be housed in the Apiculture Program at North Carolina State University (Raleigh, NC), and salaries will depend on qualifications. Funding is available for one year with the possibility of an additional two years. Please send inquiries and applications to: David R. Tarpy Professor and Extension Apiculturist Department of Entomology & Plant Pathology Campus Box 7613 North Carolina State University Raleigh, NC 27695-7613 TEL: (919) 515-1660 EMAIL: WEB: Applications should be electronic (PDF) and comprise a CV, contact information for three professional referees, and a short (1 page) description of your research interests and career goals. Review of applications will begin 15th March 2017 and continue until the position is filled. 3.  Bio‐statistician/epidemiologist/toxicologist in Honey Bee Health – 2 positions Research Associates (Post Doc), non‐tenure, continuing contract 19 February 2017 The vanEngelsdorp Bee Lab, at the University of Maryland, is looking to fill 2 research associate (Post–Doc) positions to help analyze honey bee health survey results currently generated and/or housed at the Bee Informed Partnership and National Honey Bee Disease Survey. We are seeking self-motivated analysts who will lead efforts to analyze pesticide surveillance data and/or disease and loss distribution data to uncover relationships between land use, beekeeping management practices, and colony health. Project outcomes are aimed at identification of relationships that warrant hypothesis based testing. Successful applicant may also help coordinate national sample collection, help integrate different relevant data sets, and lead new survey or testing efforts. Some freedom for candidates to work on independent but related projects is assumed. Requirements: • PhD degree in epidemiology, toxicology, bio‐statistics or related field. • Experience with database management and statistical analysis • Self‐motivated, highly organized, and meticulous in details • Ability to work independently and in a team, and ability to prioritize daily tasks • Superb written and oral communication skills • Experience working with bees is useful but not required. Applicants should send an electronic cover letter, Curriculum vitae, and 3 references to: Karen Rennich Phone: 443.600.5229 Applications received before March 20th, 2017 will receive priority, but the position will remain open until filled. We anticipate the successful applicant will start as soon as possible. While we hope candidates will want to move to Maryland and work with our team, some telecommuting options are possible. 4. EAS Foundation for Honey Bee Research Call for Proposals 2017 One (or more) awards available in 2017; the total amount available for all awards is $10,000. The award will be announced at the EAS 2017 Conference but available by May 1, 2017. The principle investigator must present their findings at the 2018 EAS Annual Conference, and we will publicize the award to aid in solicitation of additional funds for subsequent years. Deadline for application is April 1, 2017. Additional submission details can be found at, and further inquiries can be directed to Requests for support for student projects (undergraduate summer employees/ graduate student) or for equipment/ supplies for distinct research projects are given highest priority. We welcome separate discrete project proposals and requests that identify pieces of ongoing research programs where additional funds can accomplish an objective of a larger program. Grant funds may be used for supplies, equipment, salaries, travel, or other appropriate uses by the recipient. As a nonprofit organization, the EAS Foundation does not pay overhead on funded research grants. 5. Bee Health Research Assistant, St. Louis, Missouri, US —– CATCH THE BUZZ 1. The development of new sugar standards could reduce sugars, and add honey. The Union of Concerned Scientists has petitioned the FDA to create “disqualifying levels” of added sugars that would prevent retailers and manufacturers from labeling or advertising high-sugar food products as “healthy,” according to the National Law Review. The FDA has not changed the requirements of what constitutes a “healthy” food product since 1994, and the agency recently asked for comments to help it decide if the term should be redefined. The petition will most likely be a topic for conversation at the FDA’s scheduled March 9 public meeting. The Union of Concerned Scientists collaborates with more than 17,000 scientists and technical experts across the country. With more than 180,000 connections on Facebook and 41,000 followers on Twitter, its opinion can be very persuasive. 2. Mad Honey From Nepal. Not So Good. A 61-year-old resident of Hong Kong was being treated for a rare case of mad honey poisoning after eating honey from Nepal. The man was hit by weakness, numbness, chills and shortness of breath about 45 minutes after eating just a spoonful of the honey, the Center for Health Protection said.  He sought treatment at the emergency unit of the Prince of Wales Hospital and was admitted. He was discharged the next day in a stable condition.  The South China Morning Post newspaper reports grayanotoxins, a group of closely related toxins found in rhododendrons and other plants from the same family, were later detected in his urine sample and the uneaten honey. The honey produced from the nectar of such plants can sometimes contain the neurotoxins, and is then known as “mad honey”. 3. Monarchs from as far away as Idaho, Utah, and Arizona converge to spend the winter in parts of California. And get counted. Monroe, M., E. Pelton, S. McKnight, C. Fallon, D. Frey, and S. Stevens. 2017. Western Monarch Thanksgiving Count Data from 1997–2016. To learn more about the WMTC visit: In the fall of 1997, a small group of dedicated monarch scientists and volunteers set out to count how many monarch butterflies were overwintering in California, an essential step in understanding and conserving this remarkable insect and its migration. Twenty years later, the Western Monarch Thanksgiving Count (WMTC) is established as one of the longest running insect conservation projects in the country and is the most comprehensive effort to monitor overwintering monarchs in California. The dedication is undiminished and the counting effort has swelled: The WMTC marked its 20th anniversary with more than a hundred enthusiasts spreading out along the California coast to find and count monarchs. Thanks to the efforts of so many people, this year’s WMTC tallied a total of 298,464 monarchs. A glance at the graph suggests reason for celebration, but it’s not. This number is because more people visited more sites rather than there being more butterflies at each site—and the total is less than a quarter of the 1.2 million monarchs recorded in the late 1990s. Key sites such as Pismo Beach and Natural Bridges hosted fewer butterflies this year, and all but one of the 15 sites which have been continuously monitored since 1997 had lower counts than prior years. This long term decline was illustrated by a recent analysis of the two decades of WMTC data, which documented a 74% decline in California overwintering population since the late 1990s—mirroring the steep decline observed at the monarch overwintering sites in the state of Michoacán, Mexico, to where a fraction of western monarchs migrate. There are a few positive findings from this year’s results. Four new sites were documented in Southern California and a private site in Monterey County hosted over 39,000 butterflies, the largest aggregation observed in the last 10 years on the California coast. 4. Insect Sized Drones Can Pollinate Plants Using a Sticky Gel That Can Move Pollen – As bees slip onto the endangered species list in the United States, researchers in Japan are pollinating lilies with insect-sized drones. The undersides of these artificial pollinators are coated with horse hairs and an ionic gel just sticky enough to pick up pollen from one flower and deposit it onto another. Far from replacing bees, the drones’ designers are hopeful that their invention could someday help carry the burden that modern agricultural demand has put on colonies and in turn benefit farmers. The work appears February 9 in the journal Chem. The gel used for the artificial pollinators was the result of an experiment gone wrong. In 2007, senior author Eijiro Miyako, a chemist at the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) Nanomaterial Research Institute, was working to make liquids that could be used as electrical conductors. One of his attempts generated a gel as sticky as hair wax, which he considered a failure. After a decade of sitting in a storage cabinet in an uncapped bottle, it was rediscovered unchanged during a lab cleanup. Inspired by concerns over honeybees and news reports on robotic insects, Miyako began to explore, by using houseflies and ants, whether the gel could work to pick up pollen. 5. Best Management Practices In Almond Orchards State With Good Communication As almond growers are getting ready for pollination, Director of Agricultural Affairs for the Almond Board of California, Bob Curtis, says at the field level, best management practices are critical. He says it all starts with a good working relationship between the almond grower and the beekeeper, especially when it comes to communication about the use of pesticides. From the Almond Board: Honey bees are essential for a successful almond crop.The single most important factor determining a good yield is pollination during the bloom period, and honey bees are the most successful pollinators of almonds blossoms. Colonies of honey bees are placed in California Almond orchards at the beginning of the bloom period to ensure pollination. A working partnership between growers and beekeepers is the basis for a successful pollination. Growers need to avoid any activities that put the health and safety of bees in their orchards at risk, and beekeepers are responsible for delivering and maintaining the requisite number and quality of hives. As part of an ongoing commitment to honey bee health, Almond Board of California developed a comprehensive set of Honey Bee Best Management Practices (BMPs) for California’s almond industry. 6. Providing an additional source of minerals might be just the thing for honey bees – 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. —– Good reading but not necessarily bee-related – SUGAR’S ‘TIPPING POINT’ LINK TO ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE REVEALED For the first time a “tipping point” molecular link between the blood sugar glucose and Alzheimer’s disease has been established by scientists, who have shown that excess glucose damages a vital enzyme involved with inflammation response to the early stages of Alzheimer’s. Abnormally high blood sugar levels, or hyperglycaemia, is well-known as a characteristic of diabetes and obesity, but its link to Alzheimer’s disease is less familiar. Diabetes patients have an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease compared to healthy individuals. In Alzheimer’s disease abnormal proteins aggregate to form plaques and tangles in the brain which progressively damage the brain and lead to severe cognitive decline. Scientists already knew that glucose and its break-down products can damage proteins in cells via a reaction called glycation but the specific molecular link between glucose and Alzheimer’s was not understood.