Items of interest to beekeepers 24 June 2018

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






“ITEMS…” NEEDS A NEW EDITOR As most of you know, I have retired as editor of both the Western Apicultural Society (WAS) Journal and the Washington State Beekeepers (WASBA) Newsletter. I am continuing the “Items for beekeepers…” blog until the WAS conference in Boise, Idaho August 3 to 5 (info at, at which time I plan to withdraw from this effort as well. If anyone is interested in taking it over, please let me know. • This blog is my own and not part of either WAS or WASBA. It began because a large amount of good information kept accruing in my mailbox, far beyond what would fit into either of the journals, and I hated to see it go to waste. • It is circulated free of charge to all interested parties. All that is required is an email request to be added to the list. • Normally, “Items..” goes out more-or-less weekly. • Beyond removing abusive people and editorial, no filter is applied to either readership or content, in the belief we need to know both sides of the issues to consider ourselves ‘educated’ on the matter. Anyone well connected to online resources, with a positive outlook on delivering useful information to the beekeeping industry, and a willingness to take a small amount of time each issue to send it out, is invited to contact me at Let’s talk! —– FIVE DOLLAR BEE WORDS By Dan Wyns, Bee Informed Partnership I came to the world of bees by accident and had no bee-specific knowledge or training prior to becoming a beekeeper. Prior to working with Bee Informed Partnership (BIP), I spent 8 years as a commercial beekeeper where I gained a good understanding of bee behavior and management from practical experience. Since joining BIP, the exposure to colleagues and scientists has led to a lot of “lightbulb” moments where an unfamiliar word was used and I had to ask what it meant. The explanation was normally met by an, “Oh sure, I’ve seen that, I just didn’t know there was a word for it,” or similar reaction. Below are a few of the interesting terms I’ve picked up in recent years. Corbicula: Commonly called a pollen baskets, the corbicula is the flattened surface on the lower hind legs.  This specialized anatomy allows honey bees to store pollen during foraging in order to be transported back to the colony. Diutinus: The technical name for winter bees that are capable of surviving the lengthy period of dormancy in winter climates until new brood-rearing commences in the spring by storing food reserves in their fat bodies. Eclosion: Although commonly referred to as hatching or emerging, the act where a developed bee chews open its pupal case and exits the cell. Festooning: The behavior in which young bees cling to each other, creating a lattice or chain. It is not definitively known why bees behave this way, but festooning is most common when fresh wax is being drawn. Haplodiploidy: A genetic description of honey bees and other hymenopterans (bees, ants, wasps) where females develop from fertilized eggs and males develop from unfertilized eggs. Haplodiploidy results in females having twice the number of chromosomes as males and unconventional family trees where males are have neither fathers nor sons but do have grandfathers and grandsons. Nasanoving: A behavior where bees extend their abdomen to expose the nasonov gland and emit a pheromone that aids in orienting and recruiting nestmates. Commercially available swarm lures contain synthetic nasanov pheromone to attract swarms. Phoretic: A relationship where one species clings to another and is transported further than it is capable of moving on its own. In the context of honey bees, varroa mites are said to be phoretic when they are attached to adult bees as opposed to reproducing in cells. Common varroa monitoring techniques like the alcohol wash, sugar shake, and ether roll monitor the level of phoretic mites, commonly expressed as a percentage of mites per 100 bees. Retinue: The small group of bees that move through the colony with the queen. Members of the retinue perform tasks for the queen including feeding, grooming, waste removal and pheromone dispersal. Temporal Polyethism: Worker bees progression of tasks and roles throughout their lifespan which is generally understood to transition from ‘indoor jobs’ including nursing and comb construction to ‘outdoor jobs’ that include guarding and foraging. Thixotropic: A physical property of some substances where mechanical agitation results in a change from a solid/gel state to a liquid. Manuka and some other varietal honeys are thixotropic and require an extra machine to agitate the honey after it is uncapped so it will flow freely from the comb. Trophallaxis: Behavior in many social insects where food and pheromones are exchanged through direct contact. When two bees are touching tongues (proboscis), they may be communicating information regarding the status of the queen or a newly discovered food source. Unfortunately this type of contact has also been shown to be the manner in which several honey bee maladies are spread within a colony. Vitellogenin: A protein that determines behavior and foraging preferences as well as influencing the lifespan of individual bees. Elevated vitellogenin levels are critical in diutinus bees having adequate protein to survive winter dormancy. —– ELD, HOURS OF SERVICE FIXES FOR LIVESTOCK HAULERS, INCLUDING HONEY BEES Eleven Senators proposed a bipartisan bill that would help alleviate the strain of transportation laws such as the Electronic Logging Device (ELD) and hours of service rules for truckers hauling livestock. The Transporting Livestock Across America Safely Act was introduced by a bipartisan group led by Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) on May 23. The bill provides some fixes for the hours of service and the ELD through the following measures: •    Providing that hours of service and ELD requirements are inapplicable until after a driver travels more than 300-air miles from their source. Drive time for hours of service purposes does not start until after 300-air mile threshold. •    Extends the hours of service on-duty time maximum hour requirement from 11 hours to a minimum of 15 hours and a maximum of 18 hours of on-duty time. •    Loading and unloading times are exempt from the hours of service calculation of driving time, so are time spent waiting at facilities such as packing plants. •    Grants flexibility for drivers to rest at any point during their trip without counting against hours of service time. •    Allows drivers to complete their trip – regardless of hours of service requirements – if they come within 150-air miles of their delivery point. •    After the driver completes their delivery and the truck is unloaded, the driver will take a break for a period that is 5 hours less than the maximum on-duty time (10 hours if a 15 hour drive time). “Our ranchers and haulers are professionals who make the well-being of livestock their top priority and that includes safe transportation,” Sen. Sasse says. “The Department of Transportation’s current regulations endanger livestock during hot summers and cold winters causing significant stress on the animals and concern for the drivers. This bipartisan bill is good for our ranchers, good for our haulers, and good for our livestock.” Other Senators signing the bill include: Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa),  Jon Tester (D-Mont.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Doug Jones (D-Ala.). “The transport of agricultural commodities, particularly livestock, poses unique challenges not faced by other segments of the trucking industry,” says Sen. Ernst. “The Transporting Livestock Across America Safely Act addresses these realities and the shortcomings of the current hours of service regulations by giving truckers the flexibility they need to get cattle, hogs, and other live agricultural commodities to their destination.” Livestock groups are pleased to see the proposed legislation with the U.S. Cattlemen’s Association (USCA), the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) and the National Pork Producer’s Council (NPPC) all backing changes to the hours of service rules. “We asked, and Congress answered. This is a historic moment for livestock and insect haulers to finally be afforded needed flexibility in the restrictive hours of service rules,” says Steve Hilker, USCA Transportation Committee Chairman and owner of Steve Hilker Trucking in Kansas. “Thank you to everyone who has put in many hours, many miles and many late nights to get this piece of legislation brought forth to the Senate floor. We look forward to working with the Senate – and the House – to get the Transporting Livestock Across America Safely Act across the finish line.” Hilker and NCBA President Kevin Kester both expressed thanks specifically to Sen. Sasse for helping push forward the legislation. “The current hours of service rules for livestock haulers present big challenges for our industry and can often jeopardize the health and well-being of livestock,” says Kester, a fifth-generation California rancher. “Given the unique nature of livestock hauling – often very long distances between cow-calf operations and feedlots or processing facilities – and the fact that we’re transporting live animals that must be treated humanely – this legislation is vitally important and I think it strikes a balance coupled with common sense for everybody involved. I hope Congress will pass this bill as quickly as possible so we can have this issue resolved before the ELD mandate for livestock haulers goes into effect on Oct.1.” —– PROJECT APIS M. BLOG JUNE 20 By Sharah Yaddaw, Communications Director 1. Costco and Project Apis m. – Investing in Tommorow’s Bee Scientists 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.” 2. Feast or Famine Morgan Carr-Markell’s research is giving us a better understanding of honey bee behavior and forage activity which will help us improve the way we manage bee nutrition, conservation, and forage plantings.  ​ ​If you are familiar with the plight of honey bees you probably know that one of the major threats facing bees today is a lack of nutrition – which for bees, means flowers.  If a person gets run down and doesn’t eat right they are more likely to get sick or develop health problems, but getting the proper nutrition can help a person stay healthy amid stressors.  Just like people, bees need a healthy diet too!  The major stressors that threaten bee health are pests, parasites, pathogens, and pesticide exposure.  We can help bees by directly addressing these stressors, but we also know that giving them good nutrition makes them better equipped to stay healthy through it all. ​ ​Beekeepers across the nation reported 40% colony losses in 2017, but it’s not just bees that are being lost – the blooming plants that bees need are disappearing from the landscape too, making it harder every year for bees to get the food that they need.  In order to help bees stay healthy and productive, we need to replenish the habitat that is being lost, and we need to do it in a way that optimizes our use of the land and the other resources that we have to work with.    Morgan Carr-Markell, a PhD candidate in Dr. Marla Spivak’s lab at the University of Minnesota’s Entomology Department is conducting research which will give us a better understanding of honey bee behavior and forage activity, helping us improve the way we manage bee nutrition, conservation, and forage plantings. Imagine if we knew exactly what bee colonies want and need to eat.  Beekeepers, growers, biologists, and even home gardeners would be able to recognize and enhance the nutritional value of the forage that is available.  Morgan is conducting her research to study this question in the upper Midwest, comparing bees’ preferences for species in native prairies and non-native plant communities.  The Midwest is an important “summer home” for many bee colonies where they go to replenish between pollination jobs, relying on the available forage to gain colony strength, and, hopefully make honey, so it’s also an important place for conservation efforts. Morgan says “we know that honey bees will come to forage on lots of native prairie species, but when we are out in the field in real restored prairies, we want to know – what are the top species that we see, and what parts of the season are they really helpful?”   ​ By “eavesdropping” on the scout bees who are recruiting foragers, Morgan decodes a language of bees; a kind of interpretive dance known as the ‘waggle dance.’  By watching these dances, along with pollen sampling and identification, Morgan uses the dance to identify the exact times, locations, and plants that scout bees are ‘advertising’ to the other bees as food sources.  This information gives scientists the ability to answer specific questions about bee’s preferences. For example, when do honey bees forage on certain plant species, and what other factors like plant distance and density compel honey bees to choose one forage option over another?        According to Morgan, her research can help beekeepers in several ways: “for example, if a beekeeper was wondering whether a restored prairie will have a big positive effect on honey production and colony health, my results suggest that a restored prairie of even a hundred acres may not provide honey bee colonies with much pollen or significantly boost honey production until perhaps late August/September (when late-season asters such as goldenrod begin blooming).  Of course, the effect of a restored prairie depends on the species that bloom there and the density of flowers.  At the same time, this information can help beekeepers advocate for future bee friendly plantings which incorporate species that are really great for bees.  It can help beekeepers push for projects like the Bee and Butterfly Habitat Fund that will help make more areas bee friendly.”    ​ Biologists can also use the information from Morgan’s research to identify what plants are best to include in forage seed mixes and how they should be included (what density, for example), allowing the biologists to make the best use of resources as they create conservation and bee forage seed mixes.  As the image below shows, over 20 million acres of habitat was converted into crops over just a four-year period in the US.  These monumental habitat losses are one of the reasons we need this research – to maximize the benefits of remaining habitat.  ​ At Project Apis m. we believe that investing in the future of bee research and supporting dedicated scholars and researchers like Morgan Carr-Markell will help us towards our mission of sustainable bee health and crop production.  We believe, as Morgan says: “When we all work together, everyone is able to do their job better, and we make leaps and bounds forward with our understanding of bee health.” 3. Forage for the Future By Billy Synk, Director of Pollination Programs, Project Apis m. During my time managing the Seeds for Bees program I have seen cover crops positively impact our food system in many ways.  Working closely with beekeepers and growers has allowed me to witness the benefits to bees and the land first hand.  But our goals are not only to have seeds in the ground and good nutrition for bees today.  They are also about helping to plant the seeds of sustainable land management and healthy bees for generations to come.   This year I had the opportunity to see the Seeds for Bees program reach beyond our traditional partners of established growers, and into the education of the next generation of farmers, ranchers, and orchardists who will usher us into the future of our food systems.   ​ ​ It all began when, in Stanislaus County, California, Oakdale Joint Unified School District (OJUSD) Superintendent Marc Malone saw an opportunity to use a piece of vacant land owned by the school district to create a school farm.  The farm was quickly built thanks to Superintendent Malone’s vision and the help of many donors and volunteers.  Stanislaus County is largely agricultural, and contains the third highest acreage of almond orchards in the State of California – about 116,000 acres in total.  It is an ideal place for this school farm which has a mission statement to “strengthen student knowledge by connecting academic and job transition goals that support successful passage into post-secondary education, training and employment through practical farming skills.”   At the OJUSD school farm 13 acres are being developed as almond and walnut orchards to be included as part of the outdoor lab.  With a young almond orchard and beehives on site, Project Apis m. teamed up with grower consultant Mike Silveira, Orchard Committee Chairman Brian Lemons, and OJUSD Assistant Superintendent Larry Mendonca to plant cover crops in the young orchard.  This team of experts guided students as they participated in hands on learning about the land preparation, planting, irrigation, and cover crop management necessary for productive and sustainable orchards.  Students incorporated Project Apis m.’s Mustard seed mix as cover crops for the school’s orchard management plan and were able to witness the benefits to the honey bees, soil, and water for themselves.    The PAm Mustard Mix performed very well in the orchard at Oakdale.  It was blooming more than 30 days before the almonds with only 7 inches of water!  But the true success of this cover crop project wasn’t associated with cultivating seeds and improving the soil at a specific site.  The real success was in helping cultivate the next generation of farmers and growers to value cover crops and bee health as important parts of a sustainable future, and in giving them the skills to do so.     Just like planting cover crops can ‘jump-start the hive’ prior to the almond bloom, the OJUSD school farm is planting the seeds of education and ‘jump-starting’ their students to practice good land stewardship throughout their careers.    ​ From myself and everyone in the beekeeping industry we tip our hats to Marc, Larry, Brian, and most of all to the future-farmers and students of Oakdale School District for a job well done. —– From Ontario (Canada) Provincial Apiarist Paul Kozak via POLLINATOR-L list – NEW FAO PUBLICATION ON POLLINATION AND POLLINATORS A new FAO publication on pollination that includes sections on pollinator habitat, yield benefits from pollination, information for various crops, IPM, bee management Volume 1 Volume 2 —– CATCH THE BUZZ 1. FDA’s ‘Added Sugar’ Label Hits Sour Note with Maple Syrup Makers, and Beekeepers – Maple syrup producers take pride in their pure, natural product. So when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration proposed new labels to say maple syrup contains “added sugar,” producers fought back. The outrage is particularly strong in Vermont, the nation’s top producer of maple syrup, where it’s illegal to adulterate maple syrup with cane or beet sugar and sell it as the real thing. At Slopeside Syrup, in Richmond, Vt., Roger Brown and his brother, Doug, are cleaning up from a season during which they made about 6,600 gallons of syrup. 2. International Celebrations Mark Pollinator Partnership’s 11th Annual Pollinator Week – Pollinator Week 2018 (June 18-24), marks the eleventh consecutive year of bringing greater awareness to the critically important issue of pollinator conservation. Pollinator Partnership (P2), which founded Pollinator Week in 2007, announced today that ALL 50 state governors (and many mayors), as well as the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and the U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, have signed proclamations supporting the observance of National Pollinator Week. In addition, more than 250 events across North America have been organized and registered through P2’s Pollinator Week webpage (view the complete list at Val Dolcini, President and CEO of Pollinator Partnership, noted that “As we celebrate Pollinator Week throughout the U.S and Canada, we continue to focus our work on the pollinators that contribute so significantly to the biodiversity of wildlands and working landscapes, but in a more fundamental way, we also honor the partnerships that have made for such important public policy successes over the years.” 3. Bee Culture’s First Podcast Bee Culture’s very first podcast, BeekeepingTodayPodcast has been released and is available on their webpage at Jeff Ott and Kim Flottum have put together a collection of conversations with beekeepers, conservationists and pollinators for Pollinator Week. And stay tuned for a wide variety of unusual, and not so unusual people in the beekeeping community that will entertain, educate and inform you. For our first program we visit with Amber Barnes, from Pollinator Partnership and Monarch Wings across Ohio. Amber tends the monarch garden here at Bee Culture’s Corporate Headquarters, and is a wildlife biologist. Her program and Pollinator Partnerships, is to work with all manner of organizations to provide suitable habitat for all kinds of pollinators, but her specialty is the Monarch Butterfly. Of course butterflies and honey bees pretty much eat the same things, so what’s good for the Monarch is good for the honey bee. Tune in today (June 20) and listen to Kim Flottum and Jeff Ott chat with Amber about her program, about Pollinator Partnership and about her garden in Kim’s Backyard. And then check back again and listen to John Miller, Commercial Beekeeper from California and North Dakota, Joe Traynor, Almond Pollination Broker from Bakersfield, California, and Matthew Shepherd, Communications Director from the Xerces Society. All will be posted ASAP. Then, you can subscribe to this Podcast for free on ITunes and get advance notice when new programs are posted. 4. Citrus Greening Infestations Slowing in California, But Have Not Stopped! By Cecilia Parsons, California Farm Bureau The number of citrus trees found infected with the fatal plant disease huanglongbing continues to rise in Southern California—but in the state’s prime citrus-production area, fewer potentially disease-spreading insects are being trapped. Pest experts offer a number of possible reasons fewer Asian citrus psyllids have been identified in the sticky yellow traps set throughout the San Joaquin Valley to monitor populations. Nick Condos of the California Department of Food and Agriculture said strict rules now in place for moving bulk citrus might be playing a part in the lower numbers. Jim Gorden, chairman of the California Citrus Pest and Disease Prevention Committee, said time of the year could also be a factor. Condos, Gorden and Beth Grafton-Cardwell, director of the University of California Lindcove Research Station, all stressed that despite the current low numbers, the psyllid still poses a serious threat to California citrus production.