Items of interest to beekeepers 2 July 2018

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





“ITEMS…” STILL NEEDS A NEW EDITOR Contact Fran Bach at if you are interested in taking it over, beginning in August. —– USDA RESUMES CONTINUOUS CONSERVATION RESERVE PROGRAM ENROLLMENT Another Year for Available CRP Land is Good News. As part of a 33-year effort to protect sensitive lands and improve water quality and wildlife habitat on private lands, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will resume accepting applications for the voluntary Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). Eligible farmers, ranchers, and private landowners can sign up at their local Farm Service Agency (FSA) office between June 4 and Aug. 17, 2018.               “The Conservation Reserve Program is an important component of the suite of voluntary conservation programs USDA makes available to agricultural producers, benefiting both the land and wildlife. On the road, I often hear firsthand how popular CRP is for our recreational sector; hunters, fishermen, conservationists and bird watchers,” U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said. “CRP also is a powerful tool to encourage agricultural producers to set aside unproductive, marginal lands that should not be farmed to reduce soil erosion, improve water quality, provide habitat for wildlife and boost soil health.” FSA stopped accepting applications last fall for the CRP continuous signup (excluding applications for the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) and CRP grasslands). This pause allowed USDA to review available acres and avoid exceeding the 24 million-acre CRP cap set by the 2014 Farm Bill. New limited practice availability and short sign up period helps ensure that landowners with the most sensitive acreage will enroll in the program and avoid unintended competition with new and beginning farmers seeking leases. CRP enrollment currently is about 22.7 million acres. 2018 Signup for CRP For this year’s signup, limited priority practices are available for continuous enrollment. They include grassed waterways, filter strips, riparian buffers, wetland restoration and others. View a full list of practices.  FSA will use updated soil rental rates to make annual rental payments, reflecting current values. It will not offer incentive payments as part of the new signup. USDA will not open a general signup this year, however, a one-year extension will be offered to existing CRP participants with expiring CRP contracts of 14 years or less. Producers eligible for an extension will receive a letter with more information. CRP Grasslands Additionally, FSA established new ranking criteria for CRP Grasslands. To guarantee all CRP grasslands offers are treated equally, applicants who previously applied will be asked to reapply using the new ranking criteria. Producers with pending applications will receive a letter providing the options. About CRP In return for enrolling land in CRP, USDA, through FSA on behalf of the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC), provides participants with annual rental payments and cost-share assistance. Landowners enter into contracts that last between 10 and 15 years. CRP pays producers who remove sensitive lands from production and plant certain grasses, shrubs and trees that improve water quality, prevent soil erosion and increase wildlife habitat. Signed into law by President Reagan in 1985, CRP is one of the largest private-lands conservation programs in the United States. Thanks to voluntary participation by farmers, ranchers and private landowners, CRP has improved water quality, reduced soil erosion and increased habitat for endangered and threatened species. The new changes to CRP do not impact the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program, a related program offered by CCC and state partners. Producers wanting to apply for the CRP continuous signup or CRP grasslands should contact their USDA service center. To locate your local FSA office, visit More information on CRP can be found at —– ALBUQUERQUE SEED LIBRARY From Amy and Lu Lu of the Albuquerque Beekeepers – Exciting news! South Broadway Library and Cultural Center in Albuquerque now has a seed library.  People who have a Bernalillo County library card have access to 15 seed packets each season-that’s 60 free packets of seeds a year!  These seeds include veggies, flowers, and herbs.  Seeds are organic and non-GMO whenever possible, and consist of plants that are open pollinated. What a wonderful idea! —– BEE JOBS 1. State Apiary Inspector position, New York State Department of Agriculture Info at —– CATCH THE BUZZ 1. Africanized Honey Bees Have a Different Chemistry than Non-Africans – Journal of Proteome Research Africanized honeybees, commonly known as “killer bees,” are much more aggressive than their European counterparts. Now researchers have examined neuropeptide changes that take place in Africanized honeybees’ brains during aggressive behavior. The researchers, who report their results in the Journal of Proteome Research, also showed they could turn gentle bees into angry ones by injecting them with certain peptides. In the 1950s, researchers in Brazil bred Africanized honeybees by crossing European and African bees. In 1957, swarms of the bees were released, and they have been buzzing their way across the Americas ever since. Scientists currently don’t understand what makes these bees so aggressive, but the behavior appears to involve a complex network of genetic and environmental factors, regulated by neuropeptides. So Mario Sergio Palma and his colleagues wanted to examine neuropeptide differences between the brains of bees displaying aggressive and non-aggressive behavior. The researchers stimulated Africanized honeybees to attack by hanging spherical, black leather targets in front of their colonies. Angry guard bees quickly attacked the targets, becoming embedded in the leather by their stingers. Meanwhile, gentler bees kept their distance. The researchers collected both groups of bees and analyzed their brains by mass spectral imaging. In the brains of aggressive bees, two longer neuropeptides were cleaved into shorter ones, but this did not happen in the gentler bees. The researchers then injected the shorter peptides into anesthetized, non-aggressive bees, which became combative upon waking. The study provides new insights into the neurological basis for aggressive honeybee behavior, the researchers say. 2. Australian Scientists Taught Bees the Concept of Zero — Something Human Children Struggle With – Zero, zilch, nothing, is a pretty hard concept to understand. Children generally can’t grasp it until kindergarten. And it’s a concept that may not be innate but rather learned through culture and education. Throughout human history, civilizations have had varying representations for it (the ancient Romans, for instance, had no numeral for zero, but the ancient Mayans did). Yet our closest animal relative, the chimpanzee, can understand it. And now researchers in Australia writing in the journal Science say the humble honey bee can be taught to understand that zero is less than one. The result is kind of astounding, considering how tiny bee brains are. Humans have around 100 billion neurons. The bee brain? Fewer than 1 million. http:// 3. Hundreds and Hundreds of Bumble and Other Bees Killed on Linden Trees in Virginia – There was a Linden tree associated kill event in Reston, VA this week. Here is what is known: •    3 trees involved •    Tilia cordata (note:  this species is not associated with Linden poisonings in Europe) •    Trees were in parking area of a residential area of Reston, Virginia •    At least 2 trees with noticeable soil injection points •    Management company said they were treated in March and had been treated every year for about 6 years •    Unclear what chemicals were involved or whether treatments changed or whether more trees were treated elsewhere •    Company was advised by their lawyers to no longer speak to anyone •    3 people reported the kill but no kill was reported in previous years •    Most of these bees were picked up on one day •    500 or so were picked up by State of Virginia for analysis and not available for species determination •    Management company would not allow additional collections •    Trees were not netted after kills were known •    Note that only 6 Apis were found…despite much greater activity …likely they took nectar back to hives, not clear if there was honey bee mortality at the hives •    A chemical assay of bees and flowers will be made by the state •    Pattern is very similar to those of Oregon Linden mortality events…and seems likely to involve neonic treatment 4.  Bee City USA Joins Forces with the Xerces Society – Bee City USA began as a spark from one person and has grown into a nationwide network of communities large and small dedicated to promoting and protecting pollinators. This remarkable volunteer conservation initiative is joining forces with the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation to ensure it can continue to mobilize more communities to help pollinators. “I am thrilled that Bee City is joining with the Xerces Society,” said Phyllis Stiles, founder and director of Bee City USA. “The organization we launched in 2012 has far exceeded our hopes for engaging communities in pollinator conservation. Now, the Xerces Society is uniquely qualified to provide the capacity we need to take it to the next level.” From June of this year, Bee City USA and its sister initiative Bee Campus USA will be part of the Xerces Society. Bee City will get support and stability for the future and the Xerces Society can now help thousands of energetic pollinator advocates.