Items of potential interest 1 December 2018
Rosanna Mattingly Editor, Western Apicultural Society Journal Editor, The Bee Line, Oregon State Beekeepers Association
IN THIS ISSUE . . . Washington State Beekeepers Association Conference Wildflowers and Bees Boost Courgette Crop Wild Bees Are Dying Big Island Bees and Natural Disasters Pollinator Garden at Post Office Pollinators and Greenhouse Businesses Citizen Science and Ag Challenges Fruit Flies and Cultural Dating Pressures “Headhunter” Ants Termite Mounds Seen from Space Locust Ecology And Opera Spiders Nursing Young with Milk Strength of Spider Silk FROM CATCH THE BUZZ 1. If You Pollinate Almonds, Ask and Ask Again About These Pests 2. Good Food Awards Announces Honey Finalists 3. The United States and Support off Policies That Include Genome Editing 4. Call For Research Proposals Related to Honey Bee Health 5. If You Pollinate Apples, Your Orchards Absolutely Need To Know 6. Irish Agtech Company That Monitors Honey Bee Colonies Expands Into Us 7. Faking It – The Great Honey Robbery FROM ABJ EXTRA 1. Honey Pacifiers Suspected in Texas Infant Botulism Cases
The WASBA Conference is February 9 Learn, network and win a raffle prize or two! With speakers from Washington State University, Eastern Washington University and the University of Montana, you will come away with information that makes you a better beekeeper!
Speakers: https://mailchi.mp/1f5cfa39047e/dont-miss-the-2019-wasba-conference-2907965?e=aeceb0e5f9 Registration: https://bit.ly/2RHBWky. Take advantage of a great hotel rate at the Holiday Inn Express in Cheney: Call them at 509-235-1100 and mention the “Beekeeping Conference” group discount. —— Wildflowers and bees boost courgette crop by 39%, research shows That additional yield could have been worth £3.6 million to the 2017 courgette crop, with pollination services valued around £3,400 a hectare.
Results from the University of Exeter, funded by AHDB Horticulture, also showed there was no significant difference in crop yield when humans pollinated each flower by hand compared to natural levels of pollination, showing how effective bees are with zero labour costs. It revealed the value of pollination services to courgettes, finding that wildflower field margins can improve bee species’ work while aiding their conservation. Wildflowers help maintain healthy bee populations and in courgette field margins, they were shown to attract bees into the crop, helping to provide stable long-term services across growers’ land. This understanding enables growers to make informed planting decisions, which benefit both crop yield, bee population levels and the environment, before the 2019-growing season begins. The research was led by Dr Jessica Knapp from the University of Exeter, who said: “We set out to develop a clear understanding of courgette pollinators’ behaviour and the crop’s requirement for pollination. These findings could also relate to all crops within the cucurbit family, such as pumpkins, watermelon, and cucumber. “Early season courgette crops flower when bumblebee foragers are most active, which boosts the number of pollinators in the crop. Bumblebees also loosely carry pollen grains on their bodies, aiding pollination as they make visits from flower-to-flower. “Notably, wildflower field margins did not create a distraction to bees’ pollination work. They are an effective way of attracting pollinators into courgette fields and will help to conserve these important agricultural species,” Dr Knapp added. Courgette nectar and pollen measurements were taken to simulate bee population dynamics in ‘virtual landscapes’ with courgette fields present, using a bumblebee population model called ‘BEE-STEWARD’. Pollination rates and the abundance and diversity of pollinators were measured across 23 different study sites with most based in Cornwall, and some in Worcestershire and Cambridgeshire. The research also showed that honeybees and buff-tailed bumblebees are the most abundant pollinators of courgette. Source: https://www.farminguk.com/news/Wildflowers-and-bees-boost-courgette-crop-by-39-research-shows_50795.html ——
WILD BEES ARE DYING AND ECOSYSTEM COLLAPSE WILL FOLLOW—BUT NOBODY’S TAKING NOTICE
The humble honeybee was domesticated by humans thousands of years ago, and today it plays an important role in the world economy as a pollinator of crops.
In recent years, a significant amount of attention has been paid to the numerous threats that are facing the honeybee. But contrary to what many people believe, not all bees are in dire straits. For example, numbers of the Western honeybee—the most common of the domesticated species—in the United States have actually been rising slowly in recent years (there around 2.9 million colonies today compared with 2.5 million colonies 10 years ago, according to data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture), and the species is not at risk of extinction.
This is not to say that the situation is good. Huge numbers of hives are being lost every winter and spring, with some beekeepers reporting losses exceeding 40 percent, May Berenbaum, a professor with the department of entomology at the University of Illinois, told Newsweek.
Essentially, honeybee numbers in the U.S. are only stable because beekeepers are becoming better at compensating for losses, so it’s becoming a very time-consuming and expensive process just to maintain their current levels.
A number of policy and conservation initiatives have been put in place to address these kinds of issues. But according to a 2016 paper in Conservation Biology, while such efforts may sound beneficial, they may actually be exacerbating another significant problem . . .
Big Island bees and Sioux Honey producer stung by natural disasters
Natural disasters stung Big Island bee colonies and harmed honey production and hives. Hawaii’s bees already face numerous challenges to their hives, from colony collapse disorder to devastating mites and beetles. This summer, flooding rains and an incorrigible lava eruption made Puna’s honey industry anything but sweet.
Hawaii’s warm temperatures along with plentiful plants, flowers, and trees usually provide the perfect place for bee colonies to thrive.
“The honey tends to taste like the flower smells, whether it is lychee or ohia, but bees also like albizia trees. Nobody likes the albizia trees in Hawaii, except the beekeepers,” said Big Island Beekeeper David Thomas.
Thomas has been raising bees on the Big Island for the past seven years, but has been a beekeeper for decades and is part of the Sioux Honey Association Co-op.
“I love the business. I guess that’s the best explanation for it. Just opening up a healthy hive and looking at a healthy hive, that makes my day.”
Spring and summertime is usually a busy time for the bees in his 5,000 colonies, as they pollinate flowers and crops while making lots of honey. But this year was different.
Lava erupted from the lower east rift zone in Puna, which forced thousands of residents to evacuate. It also shut down many businesses in the area, including beekeepers like David, who had colonies around the region.
“We were able to move all 41 locations to different areas away from eruption. We lost one because Civil Defense wouldn’t let us in to get the bees, they were concerned about our well being.”
He also lost another apiary because of flooding.
“It was a very wet winter then the eruption started. Then during the eruption a tropical storm dumped 35 inches on us. So it hasn’t been a good year.”
The eruption alone caused tens of millions of dollars in damage to Big Island agriculture crops, and Thomas says it hurt his business financially as well.
“I had to lay off a lot of people. It was bad for all agriculture in the area, where the gas was having adverse effects on foliage.”
He has also been working with the USDA on breeding mite resistant bees, but said that operation was not adversely affected by the disasters. He also hopes to have the healthy bees ready for other colonies by the summer.
In the meantime, his colonies are now thriving in other places around the Big Island. Because many can’t return to the lush plant-filled land of lower Puna.
“The bees that we moved were in an area of Hawaii that is very good for honey bees, but 14 locations where I had bees are covered with lava now.”
Thomas said he is optimistic the winter will be drier and 2019 will be quieter when he hopes to regrow his honey business. How much production picks up, will determine how many of his former employees he will be able to hire back.
Garden club creates pollinator paradise at post office
DALLAS — If you drop letters in the outgoing mailboxes at the Dallas Post Office, you’ll notice the landscape is a little more colorful.
That’s thanks to the Dallas Garden Club and a statewide push to plant “pollinator gardens,” environments friendly to the bees, butterflies and birds that are a key part of producing the world’s supply of fruits and vegetables.
Dallas’ garden is one of many across the state planted as part of the Oregon State Federation of Garden Clubs (OSFGC) President’s Project to “Plant Pollinator Gardens in Public Places.” The post office garden is planted on the corner of Mill and Church streets. The project was finished at the beginning of November.
Gaye Stewart, a Dallas resident, serves as the OSFGC President. Her husband, Mike Stewart, is the president of the Dallas Garden Club.
“The challenge is to plant one for each of the two years of her term,” Mike Stewart said. “We will try to plant another one by June, but this is the biggest and most ambitious one.”
Stewart said the post office gladly gave permission for the improvement project. Club members removed weeds, brought in soil to create a berm, purchased and planted the plants, and topped the garden with bark.
In addition to sprucing up a well-used corner of downtown Dallas, the garden is an effort at public information.
“The purpose of the garden is to provide habitat for bees and other pollinators,” Mike Stewart said. “A variety of bees are in trouble because of loss of habitat, pesticides and other reasons we don’t understand very well.”
Regardless of the causes, he said there’s something we all can do about that. It’s easy to create a pollinator garden, and there’s plenty of information on how to get started, from asking a Master Gardener, local nursery employees or members of the garden club, he said.
“They pollinate 90 percent of the world’s flowering plants, so if they suffer, we suffer,” he said. “This is about public awareness as much as anything. If we all did it, it would help offset the loss of habitat.”
Mike Stewart said the mission now is to keep the garden looking beautiful. He said the growing season in the spring and summer should help the perennials develop. In the spring, club members will plant annuals to add a splash of color.
“It’s been fun,” Mike Stewart said.
How Important Are Pollinators to Your Greenhouse Business?
The National Pollinator Garden Network (NPGN), a collaboration of conservation, garden trade, and civic groups, is close to finalizing the goals of the Million Pollinator Garden Challenge. Co-founders of the Challenge include AmericanHort, National Garden Association, National Gardening Bureau, National Wildlife Federation, Pollinator Partnership, and American Public Gardens Association.
The NPGN is developing a report that will be released in early 2019 that shows how the public and the garden industry have responded to the plight of pollinators and monarchs.
NPGN is seeking input from across the industry for this report. To report your experiences with pollinators, click here to complete a short survey.
Any horticultural business or site with pollinator-friendly plant materials and/or demonstration gardens can be counted as part of the challenge. Growers are already participating in the Challenge can also recruit others with print-on-demand materials.
Contact the Horticultural Research Institute for more information, or email Jennifer Gray or Jill Calabro, Ph.D.
Citizen science can help address ag challenges
RALEIGH, N.C. — An international team of more than three dozen researchers has published a paper highlighting the potential of citizen science to address pressing research challenges in agriculture and food systems. One key to capitalizing on such efforts, the researchers find, may be to build stronger ties between citizen science and agricultural extension efforts.
“We define citizen science as research in which non-scientists play a role in project development, data collection or discovery and which is subject to conventional peer review,” said Sean Ryan, lead author of a paper on the work. “Though citizen science has grown in popularity in recent decades, it isn’t a new idea. There are examples of what you might call citizen science dating back to ancient China, 3,500 years ago.
“Our goal with this work was to capture the extent to which modern citizen science has helped us address meaningful research questions related to agriculture and food,” said Ryan, who is a Citizen Science Fellow at North Carolina State University and postdoctoral researcher at the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture. “Has citizen science made a difference in tackling the global challenge of feeding a growing population in a changing climate? Could it do more?”
To assess the state of citizen science in agricultural research, the researchers analyzed hundreds of academic articles, singling out dozens of examples that address issues from crop pests and pathogens to biodiversity and ecosystem services. The researchers also looked at a number of ongoing projects that have not yet appeared in academic journals.
“In all of the areas we looked at, we found that citizen science has been used to both produce scientifically robust findings that address real-world issues and to engage the public,” Ryan said.
Specifically, the researchers found that — as long as a study was well designed — citizen science could produce solid findings, make a research project more cost effective and allow researchers to expand the scale of their studies dramatically.
“For example, enlisting farmers or gardeners in a study could give researchers access to samples across a broad geographic range, often on lands that researchers would not otherwise have access to,” Ryan said.
Another key idea to come out of the work is that agricultural extension and citizen science practitioners could learn from each other, and such partnerships hold a lot of potential for addressing agricultural research challenges.
“Ag extension is focused on connecting growers and researchers; it’s where research findings are put into practice,” Ryan said. “It’s effective because extension agents have relationships with farmers. There’s real trust there. And those kinds of relationships are essential to both understanding which research questions have real-world value and to enlisting growers into efforts to address those questions. Partnerships between extension and citizen science have enormous potential to advance agricultural science.”
In addition, the researchers note that citizen science efforts have the potential to — at least partially — fill the role of extension in parts of the world where there is no extension service. For example, by building relationships with farmers, citizen science practitioners may be able to help farmers apply research to address on-farm challenges.
“Ultimately, we hope citizen science researchers consider looking at agricultural issues,” Ryan said. “We hope agricultural researchers consider citizen science as a viable means of advancing their work, and we hope to see more collaboration and communication between citizen science and agricultural extension.” — North Carolina State University
Even fruit flies succumb to cultural dating pressures
Fruit flies might not sing songs, make art, or don traditional garments, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have culture. New evidence suggests female fruit flies (Drosophila melanogaster) can create unique dating customs based on the partners they see other female fruit flies select.
Cultural traditions—the traits and behaviors that are handed down across generations and spread through social learning—have been found in the grooming patterns of certain apes and the songs of some whales and birds. But scientists had little proof that smaller creatures such as insects could have culture.
So researchers set up a series of experiments in which one “observer” female fruit fly watched a “demonstrator” fly pick between two males that differed only in their color—pink or green. When it was their turn to mate, observers chose the same color of mate more than 80% of the time, compared with random chance, researchers report today in Science.
The team also tested how reliably preferences were passed to the next generation by . . .
To continue reading: https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2018/11/even-fruit-flies-succumb-cultural-dating-pressures ——
‘Headhunter’ ants might keep enemy skulls for scent camouflage
Frankie Schembri Formica archboldi, a small, red ant native to the southeastern United States, has long stumped entomologists with its macabre habit of decorating its nests with the severed heads of larger, predatory trap-jaw ants. Researchers have now discovered that F. archboldi ants subdue aggressive trap-jaw ants with quick sprays of toxic acid, allowing them to harvest the heads and body parts, National Geographic reports. Insects rely heavily on scent cues to distinguish between friend and foe. The F. archboldi ants might, therefore, use the heads to cloak themselves in trap-jaw perfume so they can sneak up on trap-jaws or hide from another predatory species known as kidnapper ants, the scientists hypothesized this week in Insectes Sociaux.
These termite mounds are so big you can see them from space
Sid Perkins In the dry scrub forests of northeastern Brazil, termites have been hard at work for thousands of years—and the millions of mounds they’ve created in a Michigan-size swath of terrain are grand testaments to those efforts.
The species responsible for the mounds (pictured), which measure 2 meters to 4 meters high and up to 9 meters across, is Syntermes dirus. Those heaps aren’t homes for the insects, as mounds built by other termite species can be. Nor are they part of a ventilation system, because the mounds are sealed off and aren’t open to the air. Instead, researchers suggest, the structures are merely waste material brought to the surface by the termites as they carve out the extensive networks of underground tunnels they live in.
Eleven mounds the researchers sampled range from 690 years to 3820 years in age. Together, the millions of Brazilian termite mounds contain an estimated 10 cubic kilometers of soil, the team reports today in Current Biology. That volume, equal to about 4000 Great Pyramids of Giza, renders the structures the largest known example of ecosystem engineering by a single insect species, the scientists say.
How locust ecology inspired an opera
Locust: The Opera finds a novel way to doom a soprano: species extinction.
The libretto, written by entomologist Jeff Lockwood of the University of Wyoming in Laramie, features a scientist, a rancher and a dead insect. The scientist tenor agonizes over why the Rocky Mountain locust went extinct at the dawn of the 20th century. He comes up with hypotheses, three of which unravel to music and frustration.
The project hatched in 2014. “Jeff got in his head, ‘Oh, opera is a good way to tell science stories,’ which takes a creative mind to think that,” says Anne Guzzo, who composed the music. Guzzo teaches music theory and composition at the University of Wyoming.
To continue reading: https://www.sciencenews.org/article/how-locust-ecology-inspired-opera ——
Spider moms spotted nursing their offspring with milk
Elizabeth Pennisi On a summer night in 2017, Chen Zhanqi made a curious find in his lab in China’s Yunnan province. In an artificial nest, he spotted a juvenile jumping spider attached to its mother in a way that reminded him of a baby mammal sucking its mother’s teats. On closer inspection, the spider mom really seemed to be doting on her young, he says. “She had to invest so much in caring for the baby.” Further study by Chen and Quan Rui-Chang, behavioral ecologists at the Chinese Academy of Sciences’s Center for Integrative Conservation in Menglunzhen, confirmed the jumping spider females were indeed producing milk for their offspring—and that they continued to do so even after the spiderlings became teenagers, they and colleagues report today. Providing milk and long-term care together is virtually unheard of in insects and other invertebrates. And with the exception of mammals, it’s not even that common among vertebrates. . . . To continue reading: https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2018/11/spider-moms-spotted-nursing-their-offspring-milk
Spider silk is five times stronger than steel—now, scientists know why
The next time you brush aside a spiderweb, you might want to meditate on its delicate strength—if human-size, it would be tough enough to snag a jetliner. Now, scientists know just how these silken strands get their power: through thousands of even smaller strands that stick together to form this critter’s clingy trap.
To find out how most spider silk is five times stronger than steel, scientists analyzed the silk that venomous brown recluse spiders use to create their ground webs and hold their eggs, using an atomic force microscope. They found that each strand—which is 1000 times thinner than a human hair—is actually made up of thousands of nanostrands, only 20 millionths of a millimeter in diameter, they reported last month in ACS Macro Letters. Just like a tiny cable, each silk fiber is entirely composed of parallel nanostrands, which they measured to be at least 1 micron long. That may not sound very lengthy, but on a nanoscale, it’s at least 50 times as long as these fibers are wide—and researchers believe they could stretch even further.
The idea that nanofibers make up spider silk has been proposed before, but until now, there was no evidence to suggest nanostrands comprised the entire makeup of a silk fiber. The team’s secret weapon was the unique silk of the brown recluse spider, which, unlike most, is a flat ribbon as opposed to a cylindrical fiber, making it easier to examine under the lens of a powerful microscope.
The new discovery builds on a finding the team made last year, which demonstrated how the brown recluse spider reinforces its main silk strands with a special looping technique (above). Equipped with a tiny sewing machine–like spinneret, the spider weaves about 20 microloops into every millimeter of silk it ejects, which strengthens their sticky spool and prevents it from collapsing.
Researchers say even though the flat ribbons and looping technique are not shared by all spiders, their study of brown recluse silk may be a window to exploring the stringy fibers of other species. Such studies could pave the way for creating new materials that could be used in medicine and engineering. But synthetic spider silk has been notoriously difficult to create. In the meantime, researchers hope their work will help us unreel one of the toughest materials of the natural world.
—— FROM CATCH THE BUZZ
- IF YOU POLLINATE ALMONDS, ASK AND ASK AGAIN ABOUT THESE PESTS IN YOUR ORCHARD. YOUR BEES WILL LIVE LONGER
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — New research reveals that Aspergillus flavus, a fungus that produces carcinogenic aflatoxins that can contaminate seeds and nuts, has a multilegged partner in crime: the navel orangeworm caterpillar, which targets some of the same nut and fruit orchards afflicted by the fungus. Scientists report in the Journal of Chemical Ecology that the two pests work in concert to overcome plant defenses and resist pesticides.
“It turns out that the caterpillar grows better with the fungus; the fungus grows better with the caterpillar,” said University of Illinois entomology professor and department head May Berenbaum, who conducted the study with entomology graduate student Daniel S. Bush and U.S. Department of Agriculture research entomologist Joel P. Siegel.
“The fungus is an incredibly opportunistic pathogen. It infects all kind of plants. It also infects animals on occasion, including humans,” Berenbaum said. “And it’s very, very good at breaking down toxins.”
- GOOD FOOD AWARDS ANNOUNCES HONEY FINALISTS FOR 2019
Would you believe that the food and drink the Good Food Awards celebrate – from spirits to cheese to honey – represent a greater portion of America’s gross domestic produce than the cattle and pork industries combined? At over $200 billion in revenue each year, it’s true. By shining a spotlight on the taste-making crafters at the vanguard of deliciousness and social and environmental excellence, the Awards catalyzes a shift in spending towards truly good food, and the rest of the industry follows.
After a completely blind tasting in September, Finalists were announced in November. Finalists are the five highest scoring entrants in each category from each region of the country – North, South, East, West and Central. Of these, three in each region become the Winners. All companies that score well on taste undergo a rigorous vetting process to ensure they meet the Good Food Awards Standards before being named Finalists or Winners.
Pollinate your tastebuds with…
- THE UNITED STATES HAS JOINED WITH 12 OTHER NATIONS TO SUPPORT POLICIES THAT INCLUDE GENOME EDITING
WASHINGTON, Nov. 2, 2018 – U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today announced that the United States has joined with 12 other nations to support policies that enable agricultural innovation, including genome editing. The International Statement on Agricultural Applications of Precision Biotechnology was released in Geneva at the World Trade Organization (WTO) Committee on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures.
“Precision biotechnologies such as genome editing hold great promise for both farmers and consumers around the world. These tools can play a critical role in helping farmers address many of the production challenges they face while improving the quality and nutritional value of foods available to consumers worldwide,” said Perdue.
“Unfortunately, such technologies too often face regulatory roadblocks that are based on misinformation and political posturing. Therefore, it’s gratifying to see Argentina and other allies come together under the WTO umbrella to publicly embrace science-based regulatory systems that will allow us to unlock the huge potential of these new technologies.”
Countries and organizations supporting the statement, to date, are: Argentina, which led this effort, as well as Australia, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Honduras, Jordan, Paraguay, the United States, Uruguay, Vietnam and the Secretariat of the Economic Community of West African States.
The text of the joint statement, which is being updated as additional countries sign on, is available on the WTO website.
- CALL FOR RESEARCH PROPOSALS RELATED TO HONEY BEE HEALTH
Background The North American Pollinator Protection Campaign (NAPPC) is seeking proposals for research related to improving the health of honey bees. Proposals should focus on research to understand, manage, suppress and eradicate Varroa mites, small hive beetles, and other pests, pathogens, and diseases contributing to colony losses. Summaries of previously funded projects can be found at http://pollinator.org/honeybee_health.htm. Review and selection of proposals will be conducted by members of the Honey Bee Health Task Force.
Research Needs We anticipate supporting several proposals, for a maximum of $10,000 for each individual proposal. Students and post-doctoral research fellows are encouraged to apply. Funds must be used within a one-year period. Focused, targeted projects with a high likelihood of providing tangible results that can be applied to improving bee health are preferred.
Priority Areas The Honey Bee Health Task Force has identified seven priority areas for funding, though other areas will be considered as well 1. Effects of pathogens and pests on honey bee behavior, physiology and/or colony health; including the development of novel methods to mitigate these effects. 2. Effects of nutrition on pest, pathogen, and disease incidence. 3. Effects of pesticides on pest, pathogen, and disease incidence. 4. Effects of parasite and pathogen spillover between bee species. 5. Development of approaches for genetic stock improvement of honey bee populations to enhance resistance to pathogens and parasites. 6. Effects of climate or environmental variables on honey bee pests, pathogens, and disease incidence. 7. The development of diagnostics or indicators for the presence of pests, pathogens and diseases that affect honey bee health, particularly field-ready diagnostics that can be used by beekeepers.
Submission Email your proposal packets as a single PDF file to Kelly Rourke (firstname.lastname@example.org) by 3PM PST on Friday, February 1, 2019.
Funding Decisions The proposals will be evaluated by members of the Honey Bee Health Task Force and funding decisions will be made by Monday, March 11, 2019.
More information at http://pollinator.org/honeybee-health. Email email@example.com with questions.
Email your proposals to Kelly Rourke (firstname.lastname@example.org) by Friday, February 1, 2019.
Thank you, NAPPC / Pollinator Partnership
- IF YOU POLLINATE APPLES, YOUR ORCHARDS ABSOLUTELY NEED TO KNOW THIS INFORMATION TO INCREASE BOTH YIELD AND QUALITY
Apple growers should increase the amount of flowers around their apple orchards if they want to increase their harvest. A new study by researchers from Stockholm University, among others, shows that more pollinators, such as bees and flower flies, are attracted to orchards with flowers – which increase the chance for pollination.
This summer’s apple harvest set record highs and there were large expansions of organically produced apples. New research studying apple orchards in Sweden, Germany and Spain, published in the Journal of Applied Ecology, found that wild pollinators and pollination were higher in orchards with more flowering plants.
“However, many orchards do not contain high numbers of flowering plants. Growers could benefit from changing this,” says Peter Hambäck, professor at the Department of Ecology, Environment and Plant Sciences at Stockholm University. Improved pollination generates more seeds, which may increase possible storage time for certain crops. Researchers believe that by generating more seeds in individual apples, thus changing the mineral content, apples can be stored longer. Increasing the amount of time apples can be stored after harvest has great advantages for apple growers, but more studies are needed to further investigate this link between pollination and seed production. Higher apple harvest – not a threat to biodiversity The study showed that the average production of apples in organic orchards is lower than in orchards utilising chemical pesticides for plant protection.
“Yet, a surprising result in the study was that the organic orchard with the highest production had considerably higher production than the average of the orchards using chemical pesticides. This shows us that there is a potential to develop more environmentally friendly cultivations and at the same time obtain a high harvest,” says Peter Hambäck. For other crops, such as different grains, higher production usually leads to less biodiversity. This is because . . .
- IRISH AGTECH COMPANY THAT MONITORS HONEY BEE COLONIES EXPANDS INTO US
ApisProtect, an Irish agtech company using the Internet of Things (IoT) to monitor honey bee colonies, announced the close of a $1.8 million seed round of financing led by international venture capital investors Finistere Ventures and Atlantic Bridge Capital. Radicle Growth, the Yield Lab and Enterprise Ireland also participated in the investment round. ApisProtect said it will use the investment to accelerate international expansion, opening its first U.S. office at the Western Growers Association’s WG Center for Innovation and Technology in Salinas, California.
“Our investment partners offer deep knowledge of the pollination services market, as well as the agriculture and IoT technology sectors,” noted Fiona Edwards Murphy Ph.D., CEO and co-founder, ApisProtect. “This investment will allow us to accelerate our expansion as we work to create an extensive global hive health database to power our machine learning insights. The aim is to help commercial pollinators and growers to optimize pollination.”
Beekeepers no longer need to rely solely on periodic, manual hive checks that can allow disease, pests and other issues to deteriorate hive health beyond rescue. ApisProtect said it helps commercial beekeepers more effectively manage colonies. The company now monitors the health of over six million honey bees in hives across Europe and North America, utilizing advanced sensors and machine learning technology into the hive. According to the company, this delivers a 24/7 early warning system so beekeepers can give at-risk hives immediate attention and improve bee health, giving beekeepers actionable insights and alerts with the aim to help prevent losses and increase colony productivity.
- FAKING IT – THE GREAT HONEY ROBBERY
ROBLIN, Man. — The surge of counterfeit honey into global honey supplies has been devastating for Canadian beekeepers.
“It’s been twisting my hand because I can’t stay here,” said Tim Wendell of Wendell Honey.
“I don’t know if the price is coming back or how long it’s going to take. It always has come back, but is it even going to happen this time because no one seems to care.”
Wendell has been in the business a long time. He and his wife, Isabel, officially took over the hives from his father in 1974, but bees have always been part of his life.
Wendell’s father, John, was fascinated by bees and started the business in the 1930s after catching a few hives in the late 1920s.
Wendell Honey, which is based out of MacNutt, Sask., has experienced good years and struggled through times when the price of honey dropped or when a treatment was ineffective against an ever-changing mite population that caused a spike in bee mortality.
Recently, from 2010-12, the price for a pound of honey surged to more than $2 in Canada, and honey producers enjoyed healthy profits.
But the boon was short lived as fraudulent honey flowed into world honey markets.
The extra volume of “honey” on the world market quickly weighed on prices, which fell to as low as $1.10 per lb., well below the cost of production for Canadian producers.
Today bulk honey returns are showing some strength and it is possible for honey producers to reap a small profit. However, the problem of fraudulent honey persists, and how long the price will stay at this level is anyone’s guess.
“(Adulterated honey is) a worldwide problem. What it has done is it’s basically downgraded the price of Canadian honey, of basically all honeys,” said Rod Scarlett, executive director of the Canadian Honey Council.
“They will take honey and they will add . . .
To continue reading: https://www.beeculture.com/catch-the-buzz-faking-it-the-great-honey-robbery
FROM ABJ Extra
- Honey Pacifiers Suspected in Texas Infant Botulism Cases The FDA is reminding parents and caregivers not to give honey to infants or children younger than one year of age. This includes pacifiers filled with or dipped in honey.
The FDA has received reports from the state of Texas that four infants have been hospitalized with botulism. All four infants had used pacifiers containing honey. These pacifiers were purchased in Mexico, but similar products also appear to be available in the U.S. through online retailers.
Botulism is a rare but serious illness caused by a toxin that attacks the body’s nerves and causes difficulty breathing, muscle paralysis, and even death. This toxin is made by Clostridium botulinum and sometimes Clostridium butyricumand Clostridium baratii bacteria.
Honey is a known source of Clostridium botulinum spores, which can multiply in a baby’s immature digestive system, and has previously been implicated in some cases of infant botulism. For this reason, the FDA, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend not feeding honey to infants younger than 12 months.
The FDA is recommending parents and caregivers do not give pacifiers filled with or dipped in honey to their infants or young children. If you have previously purchased a pacifier filled with or dipped in honey, you should stop using it and discard it immediately.
The FDA recommends online retailers discontinue sales of honey filled pacifiers.