Items of interest to beekeepers January 7 2017

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


CATCH THE BUZZ —– UW-STOUT PROFESSOR, STUDENTS IDENTIFY BACTERIUM THAT MAY KILL HONEY BEES A University of Wisconsin-Stout biology professor and his students may have made an important discovery in the effort to determine why honey bee hives are dying out during the winters in the Upper Midwest. Biology Professor Jim Burritt and his students have published research about a new strain of the bacterium called Serratia marcescens strain sicaria. With evidence of its killing power, they chose the name sicaria, which means assassin, and Ss1 for short. “Our results indicate that Ss1 may contribute to the wintertime failure of honey bee colonies. We believe this is important because most beekeepers in our area lose over half of their hives each winter. In Dunn County, the percentage of winter hive failure rates has been as high as 80 percent recently,” said Burritt, himself a longtime beekeeper. The bacterium came to light under a microscope at UW-Stout as researchers looked for a different organism in blood drawn from sick bees in Dunn County. They saw something unexpected. “It was clear we were looking at something different. As we did more testing on the organism, we began to realize we may be working with a new threat to honey bees. We then collaborated with experts in bacterial genetics and biochemistry at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, who used mass spectrometry and three independent, whole-genome methods to confirm this organism had not been previously described in the literature,” Burritt said. With evidence of a possible new disease in bees, UW-Stout then recruited beekeepers in eight west-central Wisconsin and eastern Minnesota counties and received support from the Wisconsin and Minnesota beekeeping associations to provide samples from 91 hives for testing. Burritt and his students tested 3,219 honey bees and 1,259 Varroa destructor mites, found in the hives, between December 2014 and September 2016. Ss1 was found in bees and mites from every participating county. Student Jacob Hildebrand withdraws honey bee blood, hemolymph. Of the hives sampled for bees, 48 percent tested positive for the new bacterium, including one package of bees shipped from another region of the country. Of the hives sampled for mites, 76 percent tested positive. Of the hives that died during the winter, 73 percent had the bacterium. The UW-Stout discovery is a positive step toward a possible solution. “Though our study does not provide information on how winterkill can be stopped, we believe it will create a clearer picture of the diseases and challenges that honey bees face. This view will be important in eventually developing strategies to help bees survive the long months of winter,” Burritt said. “The well-being of honey bees and other pollinators is crucial to our ecosystem, a wholesome environment and our economy,” he added. Along with finding the new strain of bacterium, also groundbreaking within the study is confirmation that Varroa destructor mites carry the Ss1 bacterium, Burritt said. Previously, mites were known only for transmitting viruses to honey bees. The eight-legged Varroa mites are about the size of a poppy seed, Burritt said. “With the help of the students, we developed a method to efficiently obtain culture information from many individual mites,” he said. Students play key roles The research, with student co-authors Anna Winfield, of Bloomer, and Jake Hildebrand, of Menomonie, was published Dec. 21 in PLOS One, a peer-reviewed, open-access, online publication for science and medicine research. The study, “Sepsis and Hemocyte Loss in Honey Bees,” can be found online. Winfield developed two screening tests to identify Ss1 based on its biochemical properties. She graduated with honors in May 2016 in applied science and is a microbiology graduate student at UW-La Crosse. Hildebrand, a senior, led the testing of bee blood, hemolymph, for infection and identified proteins in the blood that are important to their immune system. Five other UW-Stout students are recognized in the published research. They are Morgan Ingold, of Waterford; Matheus de Jesus, of Brazil; Viviane Oshima, of Brazil; Brooke Sommerfeldt, of Park Falls; and Amber Thums, of Butternut. Professor Steve Nold provided help with bioinformatics. “The honey bee studies at UW-Stout have required the research ideas, interest and hands of a lot of students, and we had plenty of each,” Burritt said. The research also found that the Ss1 bacterium has 65 genes not found in other strains of the Serratia genus, suggesting Ss1 has been successful borrowing genetic information from other bacteria. In 2014 Burritt and his students published another study in PLOS One describing their new technique of hemocyte profiling of the blood cells of honey bees. The latest research builds on the previous effort by using the new profiling method; bees infected by Ss1 were found to have fewer of the blood cells that defend against bacterial infections, suggesting Ss1 may weaken bees’ immune systems. The honey bee project at UW-Stout, led by Burritt, is in its sixth year and has involved hundreds of UW-Stout students doing research in microbiology classes, courses within the applied science major and in locations beyond the classroom. —– This update courtesy of Bonnie Morse, conference organizer and editor of the Marin County (CA) Beekeepers newsletter, via Ronni Brega of the Alameda County Beekeepers – BEE AUDACIOUS UPDATE December 11 – 13, participants invited from 6 countries and 24 states came together at Marconi Conference Center in Marshall, CA for two days of discussions to envision bold, evidence-based ideas through which bees, beekeepers and pollination managers could prosper. Even volunteer note takers converged from 8 states – from Hawaii to New York – and Canada – to be part of it.   Mark Winston’s summary of the outcomes concisely rounds up the gathering. His write up of the full conference proceedings will be available online at in March 2017. Video of the Public Report Back/Panel Discussion is now available online. What now? Well, local organizers are shifting their attention to a documentary in the planning phases which is intended to amplify the message that beekeepers around the country are giving in their communities on simple ways that everyone can help pollinators. Sign up for updates at to find out when the “Buck for a Bee” campaign rolls out next month. We’re looking for 200,000 people to each invest $1 in the next wave of pollinator conscious individuals. Got $1? During a conference discussion group, Meghan Milbraith (Northern Bee Network) and Tammy Horn (Kentucky State Apiarist) were encouraged to create a beekeeping app. They have since started a crowdfunding campaign seeking funding for their bee app, HoneyBEE, which will be a real life simulation game that will enable players to experience the joys and challenges of keeping a hive in a variety of environments. There was lots of talk at the conference about the need for better/bigger alliances for greater lobbying pressure in Washington. Will someone/group take the baton and run with it? Timing seems right and there’s an army of beekeepers out there looking for a positive way to help. Stay tuned to see what develops…. —– From Dee Lusby in Arizona – VANDALISM HITS BEEYARD – AGAIN On December 31st, Arizona beekeeper Dee Lusby got a call that the hives in her bee yard on King’s Ranch, high in the hills near Brown Canyon – where her hives got burned out last June – were knocked over and badly damaged. Having suffered this sort of thing before, Dee could see the damage was not from wind or cattle. Some one tried to start a fire in them but rain prevented it from destroying the hives completely. For years, she has been threatened over her beekeeping and lost a lot of hives to waves of vandalism. Sad… —– TRENDING 2017 These items are from Beth Roden’s weekly Bayer newsletter and reflect on development of new technology directed toward food production and crop management – One of the advancements we’ll see progress this year and beyond is CRISPR technology ( As researchers continue to study and learn more about this new tool, more implications for deeper learning are discovered. The possibilities for Ag, Pharma, medical fields and beyond are vast. The potential CRISPR provides to explore DNA sequencing and precision with genome editing is unprecedented. As we continue to think ahead and plan to meet a growing demand for an increased food supply, this technology may help us achieve our goals sustainably and efficiently. Check out some more trends ( the U.S. is predicting in food and nutrition; I suspect some of these will hold true for other parts of the world, too. A study ( from the UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Research Institute showed adding four milligrams of zinc to a diet per day can make a tremendous difference in cellular and metabolic health. The diets of many developing countries are dependent on a select group of core crops, often lacking particular sets of vitamins and minerals. Biofortification, or breeding plants to improve their nutritional quality, is a reliable method for combating “hidden hunger” ( around the globe. The 2016 laureates for the World Food Prize ( demonstrated how impactful this process can be: They developed the world’s most successful iteration of biofortification in a sweet potato, impacting over 10 million people. As technology advances, so does the ability to keep up with our crops using more efficient methods. These 17 apps ( can equip growers with new ideas for farming “smarter, not harder.” It’s now possible to use your smartphone to do things like analyzing nitrogen levels by uploading photos, monitoring your farm from afar with the use of drones and digitally comparing treatments for your field before actually applying them. Digitalization continues to impact how we all do work today and I am sure in the future. An estimated 269 billion apps will be downloaded in 2017, roughly double the number from just three years ago! The deadline for bright young minds to apply to our Youth Ag-Summit ( is next Friday, Jan. 13! Bayer is looking for 18-to-25-year-olds who are passionate about possible solutions for the environmental, social and agricultural changes facing our world. Those selected will travel to Brussels on Bayer’s behalf to brainstorm solutions to global food challenges with other up-and-coming innovators. We’d love your help in sharing this last call for applicants! —– This from Dr. Michelle Flenniken at MSU in Bozeman MT – NEW POLLINATOR HEALTH CENTER AT MONTANA STATE U – Dr. Michelle Flenniken is directing a USDA-AFRI funded project aimed at improving the health of the U.S. honey bee pollination force by better understanding biotic (pathogens and microbes) and abiotic (agrochemical) factors affecting individual bee and colony health. Laura Burkle, Casey Delphia and Kevin O’Neill (MSU), are quantifying the benefit of native perennial flower strips on farms for pollinator conservation and pollination services to crops. Lots more at —– FREE BEE WEBINAR STARTING IN FEBRUARY The British Columbia Ministry of Agriculture has offered a free introductory WEBINAR course for beekeepers for a number of years now. Participants can be located anywhere – in the past they have been from the US, the Yukon, Ontario and as far east as Newfoundland as well as BC. The purpose of offering the course for free is to address the serious problem of many novice beekeepers failing in the first few years. Many colonies go through a protracted period of decline, often in company of diseases and pests which are then subsequently spread to other beekeepers nearby. The original intent of the course was to offer educational opportunities to beekeepers who live in isolated locations in the province without ready access to such services. The fact that many participants are outside BC is not important. The “virtual classroom” has no enrollment limit so anyone interested in taking the course can do so. Some details: • 4 sessions on Saturday mornings from 0900-1130 (Pacific Time). No practicum or field day. • Especially suitable for people living outside the Fraser Valley. • Unlimited class size. Reasonably up-to-date computer and access to high-speed internet recommended. • No materials provided but prior to each session, participants receive an email with suggested reading and reference materials. • Planned starting date: February 11, 2017 • Course is FREE. Visit for further details. Please also note the Ministry’s new initiative on supporting native pollinators at —– From Dr. Christina Grozinger at POLLINATOR-L – RESEARCH JOBS LIST 1. Research Entomologist position at ARS-Poplarville, MS is now posted on USAjobs – Closes Thursday January 19 2017. Contact: Christine Isaac, HRS Agricultural Research Service 5601 Sunnyside Ave. Beltsville MD Phone 301-504-1394/202-855-1234 Email: 2. Louisiana State University “Project Leader” position that will work collaboratively with the Baton Rouge Bee Lab. Apply online at  Job listing expiration 60 days. For more information contact: Dr. Kristen Healy Department of Entomology A508 Life Sciences 110 LSU Union Square Louisiana State University Baton Rouge, LA 70803 (225) 578-7386 Email: Web site: 3. I’m a recruiter with Eurofins Scientific, Inc. We are currently looking for a recent Ph.D. graduate in Entomology that has experience in apidology. This position is in North Carolina, and is permanent and full-time. The best candidate would have management, or study director experience. If you know of any alumnus that are looking for a position, please have them apply: Jeremy Schlieve Senior Recruiting Specialist Eurofins Lancaster Laboratories, Inc. 2425 New Holland Pike Lancaster, PA 17601 Office: 717-556-7358 Cell: 717-208-0503 Fax: 717-556-7370 4. Post-Doc position available in Stoneville MS Two year Research Entomologist/Toxicologist/GS-0414/GS-11 (Post-Doc Research Associate) with starting salary ~$60,000/yr. Location: Jamie Whitten Delta States Research Center, Stoneville, Mississippi. Send Application or Contact: Dr. Yu Cheng Zhu at or 662-686-5360. —– This collection from the Alameda County (CA) Beekeepers newsletter – MORE GOOD READS – BEE-RELATED 1. Shared from BBC:  Why bees could be the secret to superhuman intelligence –   2. Scientist finds a new fascination, in beekeeping – 3. Preserving Honey Bees Means Protecting Our Food Supply – 4. Watch: Mite leaps from flower to honey bee  –                                             5. Milk and honey:  Meet Mumbai’s resident beekeeper – —– From Kim Flottum at Bee Culture magazine – 1. Flower Power: The Physics of Pollination Pollination. The word brings to mind the droning buzz of fat yellow and black bumblebees bouncing from blossom to blossom in flower-decked meadows. But up close and in person, pollination is often anything but idyllic. The physical forces involved in pollination can be impressive, and both plants and insects must be well adapted to withstand them. 2. California needs 2 million colonies next spring for 1 million acres of producing almond trees. Plus, USDA approves Almond Board of California assessment hike to 4 cents per pound as industry looks to produce 2.6 billion pounds of nuts by 2020 – Almond industry leaders are working to ensure that the projected 25 percent growth in U.S. production over the next three years is planned and consistent with a more far-sighted, sustainable approach. The long-term goals of the Almond Board of California have not just been about growing production – farmers can sometimes be too good at that. In many ways the industry has been more focused on ensuring sufficient markets for nuts they knew would continue to fill bins and warehouses as planted acreage surpassed one million in 2012. Bearing acreage should hit the million-acre milestone in the coming year as there appears to be little short-term slowdown in new almond plantings. 3.  Here’s Your Chance to Participate in a HiveAlive Trial! We at Véto-pharma believe the best way to further enhance our products and address the needs of beekeepers is to ask for their input both on our current product line and when developing new products. That’s why we invite you to participate in our customer panel in order to further enhance our product line to better support your apiaries (US beekeepers only). Registration open until January 30th, 2017. More information at 4. Millions of dead bees after spraying for zika virus South Carolina honey bees have begun to die in massive numbers. Death of the area’s bees has come suddenly to Dorchester County, S.C. Stressed insects tried to flee their nests, only to surrender in little clumps at the hive entrances. Dead worker bees littering the farms suggested that ‘colony collapse disorder’ was not the culprit. In colony collapse disorder, workers vanish as though raptured, leaving a living queen and young bees behind. Instead, the dead heaps in S.C signal a more devastating killer. The pattern matches acute pesticide poisoning. By one estimate, in one apiary in Summerville, 46 hives died on the spot, totaling around 2.5 million bees. Walking through the farm, one Summerville woman stated it was “like visiting a cemetery, pure sadness.” A Clemson University scientist collected soil samples from Flowertown on Tuesday, December 27, according to WCBD-TV. The beekeepers have a clear opinion. Their bees had been poisoned by Dorchester’s own insecticide efforts, casualties in the war on disease-carrying mosquitoes. 5. Queen bees: How honey co-ops help Afghan women take control – “I make my money for me,” declared Afghan beekeeper Jamila pointing emphatically at her chest. Her small honey-making business provides not only an income, but a sense of pride. In the mountainous central province of Bamiyan, one of the country’s least developed, but most liberal regions, beekeeping complements its only other commercial crop, potatoes, and gives rural women the chance to become entrepreneurs. Four-beekeeping cooperatives have been set up here in recent years, backed by NGOs and foreign aid. Starting from scratch, they now employ around 400 people, half of them women, and produce 14 tons of honey yearly. The district of Yakawlang, around 100 kilometers (60 miles) from the famous giant Buddhas that were destroyed by the Taliban, sits around 2,600 meters (8,500 feet) above sea level. Residents are worried the arrival of winter will kill off their bees.