Items of potential interest to beekeepers 18 September 2018

Rosanna Mattingly Editor, Western Apicultural Society Journal Editor, The Bee Line, Oregon State Beekeepers Association

IN THIS ISSUE . . . WSU Pollinator Center Pollinator Public Art Bee Specialization Whole Food an Bees France and Pesticides’ Ban Almonds in Trade

FROM CATCH THE BUZZ 1. Upcoming Podcast 2. Bee Losses in Mexico FROM ABJ EXTRA High-Yield Farming

WSU donations feed momentum to build a world-renowned pollinator center on campus

Olivia Roberts

PULLMAN, Wash. – The world’s food supply depends in large part on pollinators including the honey bee. Honey bees are responsible for pollinating hundred of foods including apples, cherries and blueberries. The future of vital seed crops like cabbage, onion, broccoli and carrots are reliant on the honey bee as well.

“A large proportion of seed crops rely on bees for pollination,” said Ken Christianson, a retired seed grower. “The WSU bee program really resonation with both my wife and I because the work they do is essential to the future of agriculture.”

To ensure the momentum towards building a world class pollinator center continues, Ken and Sue Christianson are donating $1 million to help build the WSU Honey Bee and Pollinator Research Facility on WSU’s Pullman Campus.

To continue reading:


Pollinator Public Art Initiative Takes Flight at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo

The façade of the Great Ape House at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo is getting a “bee-autiful” makeover—one that visitors will be buzzing about for years to come. Beginning today, Sept. 17, artist Matthew Willey will put paint to the popular primate exhibit, creating a larger-than-life swarm of honeybees to highlight the importance of pollinator conservation. Two of Willey’s art installations—“Bending Hives” and “Colony Expanse”—are also on display near the Zoo’s Kids’ Farm and Zoo in Your Backyard exhibits, respectively.

Starting Sept. 22, Zoo visitors will be able to watch Willey at work and chat with the artist on Saturdays and Tuesdays at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Once completed in mid-November, the finished piece will exist as a part of Willey’s growing series of murals created through his initiative, The Good of the Hive, which strives to raise awareness about the importance of honeybees and other pollinators while celebrating the beauty and power of nature and human connection…

To continue reading:


As Bees Specialize, So Does Their DNA Packaging

Shawna Williams

The bee genome has a superpower. Not only can the exact same DNA sequence yield three types of insect—worker, drone, and queen—that look and behave very differently, but, in the case of workers, it dictates different sets of behaviors.

A key to the genome’s versatility seems to be epigenetic changes—chemical tags that, when added or removed from DNA, change the activity of a gene. Previous studies had shown distinct patterns of tags known as methyl groups on the genomes of bees performing different roles within their hives.

To continue reading:–so-does-their-dna-packaging-64779


The whole food diet for bees

Stephanie Pain

As I walked into Jeri Wright’s bee lab on a mid-October morning, two things were bothering me. The lab, where Wright and her team investigate bee nutrition, is in the far north of England, part of Newcastle University’s Institute of Neuroscience. The bees live on the roof and the tail end of Hurricane Ophelia was about to blow through. So would there be any bees to see, or would they be tucked up warm and safe for winter? And if there were bees still actively helping Wright’s team unravel the complexities of a bee’s diet — how to avoid being stung?

It didn’t look promising. There were no bees yet — so while we waited, the team happily shared their expert knowledge of bee stings.

To continue reading:


France becomes first country in Europe to ban all five pesticides killing bees 

France will take a radical step towards protecting its dwindling bee population on Saturday by becoming the first country in Europe to ban all five pesticides researchers believe are killing off the insects.

The move to ban the five so-called neonicotinoids has been hailed by beekeepers and environmentalists, but cereal and sugar beet farmers warn it could leave them all but defenceless in protecting valuable crops against other harmful insects.

By enforcing the blanket ban, France is going further than the European Union, which voted to outlaw the use of three neonicotinoids – clothianidin, imidacloprid and thiamethoxam – in crop fields starting on December 19.

France has banned these three, along with thiacloprid and acetamiprid, not only outdoors but in greenhouses too.

To continue reading:


Almonds included in trade mitigation package

MODESTO, Calif. — California almonds are included in the $12 billion trade mitigation package announced by the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture assisting farmers suffering from damage due to international trade retaliation.  The damage assessment figure assigned to almonds is $63.3 million, yet the program details of distribution are forthcoming.

The announcement by USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue pertaining to almonds is a result of the industry coming together and advocating through the Almond Alliance of California (AAC). Elaine Trevino, President/CEO of AAC states “The industry should be proud that through a unified organized effort they were able to have their voice heard and be acknowledged for what they provide to the national economy and what significance they have in the international market place.”

The almond industry has been significantly impacted by retaliatory tariffs and the inclusion of the commodity in the USDA trade mitigation package is confirmation of that reality by the Administration. AAC President/CEO states “This is the recognition that the California almond industry deserves given the hard work and investment that they have made to grow a proven nutritious food to meet international demand for wholesome products and to increase markets for almonds, thereby improving the federal trade deficit with our international partners.”

Almonds are one of California’s top three valued commodities and the leading agricultural export.  The California almond industry exports 67% of what it produces, thereby making it a valuable commodity that addresses the federal trade deficit. The California almond industry is focused on trade and market growth. None of the mitigation programs will begin to offset the financial impacts, the disruptions to our relationships with commercial partners, or the longer term effect this could have on the considerable market development investments the almond industry has made over the past decades.

On the domestic side the California almond industry generates about 104,000 jobs in California, with over 97,000 in the Central Valley, especially in areas that suffer from chronic unemployment. The industry also generates more than $21 billion in economic revenue and directly creates more than $11 billion to the size of the state’s total economy.




Kim Flottum, Editor-in-Chief, Bee Culture Magazine and Dr. James “Jim” Tew, Emeritus Professor, Entomology, OSU will be bringing you their 21st “Live” and 22nd “Live” show.

9/21 @ 5pm EST – Jim Tew in Auburn, Kim in Ohio talk wintering, south and north: Register

9/25 @ 12pm EST – Next Generation of Beekeeping: Register


CANCUN, Mexico – The death of millions of bees in the apiaries of the La Candelaria commons, in the heart of the Maya area of Quintana Roo, inflicted disaster and desolation on the beekeepers of the region, who thought the possible cause could be the spraying of a nearby crop of habanero chili peppers.

Up to now some 365 beehives have been counted in 18 apiaries within a radius of 5 kilometers (3 miles) from the field of habanero peppers, which could be why the beekeepers are losing their main source of income.

The volume of bees affected has not been totally quantified, however, because more bees keep dying in hothouses farther away.

Also because, according to professors at the Maya Intercultural University of Quintana Roo, further studies are needed to analyze the impact on other types of insects such as butterflies, spiders and wild bee species, on the ground water and even on the health of farm workers exposed to the chemicals.

At more than two weeks after the first dying bees in the apiaries closest to the habanero peppers were reported, the beekeepers face losing the harvest season and all their installations, since after being contaminated, the hives must be burned to avoid spreading the poisonous insecticide.

Laureano Pech Esquivel has been dedicated to beekeeping “since I reached the age of reason” and was among the first to report the dying off of massive amounts of bees.

The land where he built his apiary and planted trees like cedars is less than 300 meters (980 feet) from the field of habanero peppers.

“Because the habanero field was covered, they didn’t spray it, but when they suddenly uncovered it, they applied that insecticide,” he told EFE.

In Laureano’s apiary the air was dense and smelled of putrefaction.

“It’s the dead bees that are rotting – they’re full of worms, there’s nothing to save here,” he said while running his eyes over the beehives that were once the source of the so-called liquid gold of the Mayan jungle: honey.

For now, the affected beekeepers are focused on getting authorities to do an in-depth investigation into what happened so that it never happens again and above all, so they get paid for the damage done to their business.

Wilson Ayala Mex is another of the affected beekeepers. During a tour of the area he told EFE that the economic losses won’t be easy to cover, so the only alternative is to get a ruling that the owner of the habanero field must pay for the damages.

Every beehive costs between 1,700 and 1,900 pesos (between $90 and $100), but the price increases when it has two or three levels.

“We didn’t get rid of them because the authorities told us not to move anything that will serve as evidence,” he said.


‘High-yield’ Farming Could Help Spare Habitats and Reduce Environmental Impacts, but Only if Intensive Use Curtails Farm Expansion 

We often equate organic agriculture as being better for the planet. But what if we minimized the spread of agriculture, preserving more wild land and intensified our use of current farm land? Agriculture that appears to be more eco-friendly, but uses more land, may actually have greater environmental costs per unit of food than “high-yield” farming that uses less land, a new study has found.

There is mounting evidence that the best way to meet rising food demand while conserving biodiversity is to wring as much food as sustainably possible from the land we do farm, so that more natural habitats can be “spared the plough.”

However, this involves intensive farming techniques thought to create disproportionate levels of pollution, water scarcity and soil erosion. Now, a study published today in the journal Nature Sustainability shows this may not necessarily be the case.

Scientists have put together measures for some of the major “externalities” – such as greenhouse gas emission, fertilizer and water use – generated by high- and low-yield farming systems, and compared the environmental costs of producing a given amount of food in different ways.

Previous research compared these costs by land area. As high-yield farming needs less land to produce the same quantity of food, the study’s authors say this approach overestimates its environmental impact. It would be better to calculate the cost per unit of food produced.

Their results from four major agricultural sectors suggest that, contrary to many people’s perceptions, more intensive agriculture that uses less land may also produce fewer pollutants, cause less soil loss and consume less water.

However, the team behind the study, led by scientists from the University of Cambridge, caution that if higher yields are simply used to increase profit or lower prices, they will only accelerate the extinction crisis we are already seeing.

To continue reading: