Items of interest to beekeepers 2 June 2018

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






EFFORTS TO CREATE PESTICIDES THAT ARE NOT TOXIC TO BEES HAVE BEEN BOOSTED BY A SCIENTIFIC BREAKTHROUGH A joint study by the University of Exeter, Rothamsted Research and Bayer AG has discovered the enzymes in honey bees and bumblebees that determine how sensitive they are to different neonicotinoid pesticides. The potential impact of neonicotinoids on bee health is a subject of intensive research and considerable controversy, with the European Union having restricted three compounds on crops that are attractive to bees in 2013. However, both honey bees and bumblebees exhibit profound differences in their sensitivity to different members of this insecticide class. The researchers aimed to understand why this is, in order to aid the development of pesticides that are non-toxic to them. Just as in other organisms, toxins in bees can be broken down by enzymes called cytochrome P450s. The study identified one subfamily of these enzymes in bees — CYP9Q — and found it was responsible for the rapid breakdown of certain neonicotinoids. “Identifying these key enzymes provides valuable tools to screen new pesticides early in their development to see if bees can break them down,” said Professor Chris Bass, who led the team at the University of Exeter. “It can take a decade and $260 million to develop a single pesticide, so this knowledge can help us avoid wasting time and money on pesticides that will end up with substantial use restrictions due to intrinsic bee toxicity.” Dr Ralf Nauen, insect toxicologist and lead investigator of the study at Bayer added: “Knowing the mechanisms contributing to inherent tolerance helps us and regulators to better understand why certain insecticides have a high margin of safety to bees.” “The knowledge from our study can also be used to predict and prevent potential harmful effects that result from inadvertently blocking these key defence systems, for instance by different pesticides (such as certain fungicides) that may be applied in combination with insecticides.” Professor Lin Field, Head of the Department of Biointeractions and Crop Protection at Rothamsted Research added: “Some neonicotinoids are intrinsically highly toxic to bees but others have very low acute toxicity, but in public debate they tend to get tarred with the same brush. “Each insecticide needs to be considered on its own risks and merits, not just its name.” The researchers carried out the most comprehensive analysis of bee P450 detoxification enzymes ever attempted. Comparing the effects of two neonicotinoids, they found bees metabolise thiacloprid very efficiently, while they metabolise imidacloprid much less efficiently. Although previous work had suggested rate of metabolism might explain why bees react differently to different neonicotinoids, the specific genes or enzymes were unknown until now. The research was part funded by Bayer, which is a manufacturer of neonicotinoid insecticides. —– Sent by David White in the Tri-Cities, Washington – ‘THE BEES OF SUMMER’ Mid-Columbia Beekeepers Association, located in Tri-Cities, Washington, is hosting a one day seminar we have appropriately named the “Bees of Summer” (like the Boys of Summer) that will be held on Saturday, June 23, 2018 from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM. The featured presenters are Randy Oliver via live remote link and he will be giving his “Reading the Combs” and “Varroa Model” talks, and Dr. Brandon Hopkins of WSU talking about “Caging Queens for Varroa Control”. Also Dr. Nicholas Naeger and Dr. Jennifer Han also from WSU that will be talking about their research on using fungi for varroa control. The cost is very reasonable at $25 for MCBA members, $35 for non-members, and a limited amount of late registration/at the door cost of $50. A lunch sandwich and salad buffet is included in the price. The event is being held at the Three Rivers Convention Center located next to the Toyota Center in Kennewick, WA. Although Randy will be via remote live link we will have an awesome projection system with a 10 ft by 14 ft screen so no eye straining!! We will be able to have Q&A with Randy as he will be able to see us too! And it is his birthday so there will be plenty of birthday cake!! We have limited seating of about 185 to 200 and tickets are beginning to sell fast. There are plenty of hotels/motels in the area if anyone will be staying overnight. The tickets for the event can be purchased at: —– Two helpful items beekeepers should know about this summer (if you don’t already) – MAKING BEEKEEPING EASIER 1. Yellowjacket Trap – just add water and hang it up. When full, close it and toss in the trash. Uses a hormone attractant that applies only to (ten species of) yellowjackets. Won’t trap honey bees. Sold by Rescue Pest Control through Sterling International Inc, 3808 N. Sullivan Rd, Bldg 16, Spokane WA 99216-1630. Also available in Canada. If your local garden or hardware store doesn’t have it, ask them to find it. Rave reviews! 2. Frame Extractor – Easy grasp frame grip for both plastic and wood frames of all sizes. Less hand strength needed so less muscle stress. For more information visit, then click the video under Literature/Video header or on YouTube at —– BEE JOBS 1. POSTDOC IN POLLINATOR POPULATION GENOMICS, QUEEN MARY UNIVERSITY OF LONDON Apply by June 5th 2018. The position is full time and available for 12 months, starting as soon as possible. For informal enquiries and details regarding possible directions of the project, please contact Dr Yannick Wurm via email 2. Two PhD positions and a postdoc Jane Stout’s lab, Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland. http://postdoc: 2 PhDs available Specific pdfs for each position: • Bee Health (part of PoshBee) • Pesticide Residues (part of PROTECTS) 3. Two internship positions at UBEES, a start-up company in Davis, California – • Sensors/IoT Design and Testing – Designing and testing IoT sensors to be housed in beehives to monitor bee health in real time. More info or Location in Davis, with travels to Minnesota, South Dakota, Texas and Oregon. Start date – immediately. Send application (resume and cover letter) to Refer to “intern” in the title. • Landscape Ecology – Track and monitor plant phenology, bee summer foraging preferences and perform hive assessments. More info or Location in Davis, with travels to Minnesota, South Dakota, Texas and Oregon. Start date – immediately. Send application (resume and cover letter) to Refer to “intern” in the title. —– CATCH THE BUZZ 1. Nationwide Reveals Most Common Agribusiness Insurance Claims. Motor Vehicle Accidents are the Number One, but spray drift is Number Three!! Over the last three years, the top ten types of agribusiness claims have accounted for more than 50,000 claims received by Nationwide. To help educate agribusiness professionals about costly trends in the industry, Nationwide, the number one farm insurer in the United States¹, has released its most common commercial agribusiness insurance claims. Below are the top 10 commercial agribusiness claims received by Nationwide in 2017: Top 10 Agribusiness Insurance Claims 1. Motor Vehicle Accidents 2. Workers Compensation for Disability or Death 3. Misapplication of Chemicals or Drift 4. Slip, Fall or Injury 5. Food Related Claim 6. Animal Caused Damage or Bite 7. Glass Breakage 8. Wind Damage 9. Hail or Lightning Damage 10. Fire Damage or Loss “By sharing our top claims data, we hope to help agribusiness owners recognize areas of their operation that may need increased safety precautions,” said Carol Alvarez, vice president of claims for Nationwide. “These national trends can help business owners pinpoint areas where they can take extra measure to keep their employees, products and equipment safe.” 2. Farmers, Scientists and Beekeepers are Working to Raise Blue Orchard Mason Bees to Pollinate Valuable Orchard Crops. Colony collapse disorder has devastated honeybee populations over the past decade and brought a major push from beekeepers and scientists to commercialize a native pollinator for orchards in California and beyond. The most promising pollinator for the job is the blue orchard mason bee (Osmia lignaria). The challenge: figuring out how to produce enough of the finicky tunnel-nesting bees without depleting wild populations. The blue orchard mason bee, or BOB for short, makes individual nests for its young in hollow plant stems and leftover beetle burrows in wood. Humans can coax them to nest densely together in boxes and build populations large enough to support honeybee pollination in valuable fruit trees. It has taken many years of research to reach this point. “It is not as easy to work with blue orchard bees,” said Theresa Pitts-Singer, a research entomologist with the USDA Bee Lab in Logan, Utah who has been studying the species for the past 16 years. 3. Wasps Have Complex Communication about Food, Just as Ants, Bees, Termites, and Other Social Insects – LONG ISLAND CITY, NY – Have you ever had to shout to call your family to the dinner table? Or watched an old movie where a cook would ring a bell to let the cowboys know it was dinner time? Turns out that humans aren’t the only creatures that need to find creative ways to tell their loved ones and comrades about a meal on the table. Benjamin Taylor, PhD, assistant professor of biology in the Department of Natural Sciences at LaGuardia Community College/CUNY, co-led research that found that wasps have their own way of communicating to each other about mealtime. Professor Taylor and his colleagues studied a behavior exhibited by the wasps called gastral drumming. When workers produce the behavior, they drum their gaster (or abdomen) against different parts of the nest in a rhythmic fashion, producing distinct sounds. 4. More Acres, More Almonds, More Business for Beekeepers. Record-Breaking Almond Crop Predicted for 2018 – In spite of concerns about freezing weather during almond bloom, the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) is predicting a record crop in 2018. MODESTO, Calif. – According to the NASS 2018 Almond Subjective Forecast issued today, California almond orchards are expected to produce 2.30 billion pounds of nuts this year, up 1.3% from last year’s 2.27 billion-pound crop.[1] “Almond farmers used a variety of techniques to manage freezing nighttime temperatures in some parts of the Central Valley during bloom this year and those efforts appear to have worked,” said Richard Waycott, president and CEO, Almond Board of California. “Every year weather impacts farming, but almond trees thrive in our state because California is home to the world’s most efficient almond farmers, who continually improve their practices and rise to the challenge.” The Almond Subjective Forecast, the first of two California almond forecast reports for this year’s crop, is based on opinions obtained from randomly selected almond farmers located throughout the state via a phone survey conducted in April and May. Farmers were asked to indicate their almond yield per acre from last year and expected yield for the current year based on field observations. Those estimates are then combined and extrapolated to arrive at the numbers reported in the Almond Subjective Forecast.