Items of interest to beekeepers 15 July 2018

Fran Bach, (former) Western Apicultural Society Journal and Washington State Beekeepers newsletter editor



Catch the Buzz

COUNTDOWN TO 2018 WESTERN APICULTURAL SOCIETY (WAS) CONFERENCE – BOISE, IDAHO!! In the past few weeks, summer has triumphantly arrived in Boise, and by all accounts we anticipate the pleasant, warm weather will continue through our WAS Annual Conference August 3 – 5.  Daytime temperatures during the Conference should be in the 90’s and the night times in the 70’s and 80’s, all with relatively low humidity.  When you come to Boise, be sure to bring your walking and/or jogging shoes and try to sneak in a little spare time to explore our Boise River Greenbelt, a riverside pathway extending miles up and down the river.  From the Conference center, the Greenbelt is a mere three blocks away and offers you a wonderful break, especially in the early mornings. We’ve got a stellar line-up coming to the Boise Conference, complete with Jennifer Berry, Randy Oliver, Dewey Caron, Jerry Hayes, Jerry Bromenshenk, Sarah Red-Laird, Jamie Strange, Ramesh Sagilli, Ellen Topitzhofer, plus a couple of very talented locals in Melinda Jean Stafford, and Ron Bitner.  Every one of these speakers is an expert in their own right.  The beauty of the WAS Annual Conference is that you will find that there are plenty of opportunities during the event to visit one-on-one with these whizzes, allowing you to explore questions in detail.  This is an opportunity that you will certainly find hard to match at larger events across the country. Our conference is being held at the brand, spanking new and highly eclectic Jack’s Urban Meeting Place.  “JUMP” is the Simplot family’s contribution to Boise in the spirit of Jack Simplot, the late family patriarch.  The purpose of the facility is help unleash our creative sides and to “expand our lives, enrich our communities, and push the human story forward.”  In addition to the superb venue in the heart of town, JUMP also touts a large, on-site antique tractor collection and a five story spiral slide that’s open to all.  You just don’t find venues very often that offer tractors and slides like these. We hope to see you in Boise for the 41st Annual WAS conference.  The weather will be great, our top-notch speakers will provide state of the art information, they will generally be accessible for one-on-one follow-up during your time at the Conference, and the eclectic JUMP venue is sure to make this a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to expand your horizons. All information on the website at Looking forward to seeing you in Boise. WAS Up! Steve Sweet. President —– “ITEMS…” HAS A NEW EDITOR Thank you to those who answered the call for a new editor for the “Items for beekeepers”. We got some great contenders, and we will be keeping them on file for help in future. It is wonderful to see the enthusiasm out there and to know that “Items…” is appreciated. As of early August, Rosanna Mattingly will continue the Items-WAS  connection as the new editor. She is a very busy lady and will appreciate the help that has always come from our readers in finding good material to pass on. “Items…” has always been a joint editor-reader effort.  Spot a great article? Pass it on to her at —– 27 UNKNOWN BEE VIRUSES DISCOVERED! An international team of researchers has discovered evidence of 27 previously unknown viruses in bees. The finding could help scientists design strategies to prevent the spread of viral pathogens among these important pollinators. “Populations of bees around the world are declining, and viruses are known to contribute to these declines,” said David Galbraith, research scientist at Bristol Myers Squibb and a recent Penn State graduate. “Despite the importance of bees as pollinators of flowering plants in agricultural and natural landscapes and the importance of viruses to bee health, our understanding of bee viruses is surprisingly limited.” To investigate viruses in bees, the team collected samples of DNA and RNA, which is responsible for the synthesis of proteins, from 12 bee species in nine countries across the world. Next, they developed a novel high-throughput sequencing technique that efficiently detected both previously identified and 27 never-seen-before viruses belonging to at least six new families in a single experiment. The results appear in the June 11, 2018, issue of Scientific Reports. “Typically, researchers would have to develop labor-intensive molecular assays to test for the presence of specific viruses,” said Zachary Fuller, postdoctoral fellow at Columbia University and a recent Penn State graduate. “With our method, they can sequence all the viruses present in a sample without having any prior knowledge about what might be there.” Fuller noted that because the cost of high-throughput sequencing continues to decrease, the team’s approach provides an inexpensive and efficient technique for other researchers to identify additional unknown viruses in bee populations around the world. “Although our study nearly doubles the number of described bee-associated viruses, there are undoubtedly many more viruses yet to be uncovered, both in well-studied regions and in understudied countries,” he said. Among the new viruses the team identified was one that is similar to a virus that infects plants. “It is possible that bees may acquire viruses from plants, and could then spread these viruses to other plants, posing a risk to agricultural crops,” said Christina Grozinger, distinguished professor of entomology and director of the Center for Pollinator Research at Penn State. “We need to do more experiments to see if the viruses are actively infecting the bees — because the viruses could be on the pollen they eat, but not directly infecting the bees — and then determine if they are having negative effects on the bees and crops. Some viruses may not cause symptoms or only cause symptoms if the bees are stressed in other ways.” Beyond identifying the new viruses, the team also found that some of the viruses exist in multiple bee species — such as in honey bees and in bumble bees — suggesting that these viruses may freely circulate within different bee populations. “This finding highlights the importance of monitoring bee populations brought into the United States due to the potential for these species to transmit viruses to local pollinator populations,” said Galbraith. “We have identified several novel viruses that can now be used in screening processes to monitor bee health across the world.” According to Galbraith, the study represents the largest effort to identify novel pathogens in global bee samples and greatly expands our understanding of the diversity of viruses found in bee communities around the world. “Our protocol has provided a foundation for future studies to continue to identify novel pathogens that infect global bee populations using an inexpensive method for the detection of novel viruses,” he said. The National Geographic Society and the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service supported this research. —– COSTCO/PAM SCHOLARSHIPS INVEST IN HONEY BEE RESEARCH. OVER $550,000 SO FAR Sarah Yaddaw, Communications Director, PAm In 2013 Costco and PAm launched the first Costco/PAm scholarship awards.  Costco has an admirable commitment to sustainability, and is a champion supporter of honey bee research, recognizing it as an investment to ensure an ethical and sustainable food supply.    ​ Investing in research that has real and practical impacts on the sustainability of both honey production and crop production is the foundation of the Costco/PAm partnership.  We often think of sustainability in terms of resource management, but another component of sustainability is developing intellectual expertise by supporting those who will help in the future: tomorrow’s bee scientists. The students who receive this PhD scholarship bring new energy, ideas, and expertise to the fold of scientists pushing the fronts of bee health research across the globe. They will become the leaders who innovate and support the next generation of beekeepers and pollinators. Since 2013 the Costco/PAm scholarship funds in USA and Canada have awarded over $550,000 in scholarships to seven of the most impressive up-and-coming bee researchers who are committed to a better future for bees.  These scholars have already made significant contributions and important discoveries through their research, been recognized with awards of merit, published peer-reviewed academic articles, and continue with dedication to solve the mysteries and challenges that bees and beekeepers face. They are also very good at talking with beekeepers and growers, ensuring a connection to ‘bridge the gap’ so that research provides what industry needs and can use. Over the next few months, Project Apis m. will bring you stories about these scholars, their progress, and how their research is making a difference.     But don’t just take our word for it – in the words of scholarship recipient Cameron Jack, in the Ellis lab at the University of Florida Agriculture and Life Sciences: “I am thoroughly convinced that there is nothing more exciting or rewarding than the study of honey bees. If an early-career scientist is involved in research relating to honey bees long enough, the hook will be set so deep that they will be utterly enthralled by the most fascinating and useful species known to mankind. By investing in the education of honey bee researchers, we will attract the brightest minds to field and permanently enlist them in the noble cause of improving honey bee health.” ​ With thanks to our wonderful scholars and to Costco, we hope you stay tuned to read more. —– From Dr. Christina Grozinger, POLLINATOR-L – BEE JOBS 3 positions open at USDA Baton Rouge! The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Honey Bee Breeding, Genetics and Physiology Laboratory in Baton Rouge, LA, seeks three scientists to conduct research on honey bees. These permanent, full positions are for a Research Entomologist (announcement number ARS-D18W-0089), Research Geneticist (ARS-D18W-0103) and Research Molecular Biologist (ARS-D18W-0104). All three positions will be advertised at the GS-12/13 level, with salaries ranging from $73,375.00 to $113,428.00 per year. Vacancy announcements for these three positions will open July 16, 2018 and close on July 25. 2018. For details and directions on how to apply, visit for position ARS-D18W-0089; for ARS-D18W-0103; and for ARS-D18W-0104. U.S. citizenship is required for these permanent positions.   USDA is an Equal Opportunity Employer and Provider. Contact Bob Danka if you have any questions or need additional information: Bob.Danka@ARS.USDA.GOV —– CATCH THE BUZZ 1. UF’s New Honey Bee Lab Will Support Beekeeping, Agriculture – GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Twenty percent of the food we eat is made possible by honey bees. And behind each of these hardworking pollinators is an equally hardworking beekeeper or scientist who helps them thrive. The University of Florida’s honey bee program has been around since the 1920s, but this June will mark the completion of a new honey bee headquarters on the UF campus, said Jamie Ellis, Gahan Endowed Associate Professor of Entomology in UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. “The Honey Bee Research and Extension Laboratory is a series of three buildings — it’s a mini bee campus. One of the buildings, the Amy E. Lohman Apiculture Center, will house the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ Apiary Inspection team, a beekeeping museum, a honey extraction and processing facility, and workshop space,” said Ellis, who heads the Honey Bee Lab. The Amy E. Lohman Apiculture Center is named for one of the project’s key supporters, Ellis said. 2. New Technology Makes Commercial Beekeeping More Efficient, Profitable – In an effort to provide beekeepers with a more effective and comprehensive management system, two Healthy Hives 2020 grant recipients recently announced a new collaboration that could help transform commercial beekeeping practices by using Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) technology, combined with web and mobile apps, to track and manage honey bee colonies. Hive Tracks, an apiary management software provider, and its chief executive officer, James Wilkes, PhD., have been an integral part of the Healthy Hives 2020 research conducted by Joseph Cazier, PhD., professor and director of the Center for Analytics Research and Education at Appalachian State University. Both Cazier and Brandon Hopkins, PhD., assistant research professor in the Department of Entomology at Washington State University, received research grants in 2016 that focused on how to improve management practices for commercial beekeepers. 3. Bipartisan Bill Delays Hours of Service and ELD Enforcement for Reform – Livestock haulers could get further relief from the hours of service (HOS) and Electronic Logging Device (ELD) regulations if a newly proposed bipartisan bill makes its way through the Senate. On June 12, Senators John Hoeven (R-N.D.) and Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) introduced the Modernizing Agricultural Transportation Act in an effort to reform the ELD and hours of service law. Additionally, the legislation would delay enforcement of the ELD until the reforms required under the bill are formally proposed by the U.S. Secretary of Transportation. “Improving highway safety is an important goal, but the rules we put in place must recognize the very real challenges faced by those who haul livestock and other perishable commodities,” says Senator Hoeven.