Items of potential interest to beekeepers 4 October 2018

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

Seed Vault in Colorado Pollinator Plantings & Solar Arrays What Termites Can Teach Us Australia Beekeepers Statement Signs of Varroa Damage Taste Is Key Bats & Hummingbirds Varroa & Other Stressors in Argentina South Georgia Honey Bee Festival

FROM CATCH THE BUZZ 1. Beesharing: Online Network 2. Citrus & Screening 3. Mosquito Spray in South Carolina 4. Pollination Income 5. USDA, EPA, & Chlorpyrifos 6. WSU Pollinator Center Donation FROM ABJ EXTRA True Source Honey Approvals BEE JOBS/RESEARCH/GRANTS and more RFP for Pollinator Education

Fort Collins Seed Vault Preserves Plants

FORT COLLINS, Colo. (AP) — As climate change jeopardizes the world’s doomsday seed vault near the North Pole, a similar Fort Collins facility continues to stock up its collection.

The modern-day Noah’s Ark, located on the campus of Colorado State University, houses more than 850,000 plant seeds and materials, as well as various DNA samples from about 160 breeds of livestock.

Like the Svalbard Global Seed Vault in Norway — which needs a $12.7 million upgrade to combat melting permafrost — the Fort Collins vault is meant to preserve plant types in case they are wiped out by natural or man-made disasters.

The facility, formally known as the National Laboratory for Genetic Resources Preservation, is run by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“The whole point is we are saving the resources for the world,” said Gayle Volk, a scientist at the Fort Collins seed vault for the past 19 years.

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Planting for Pollinators at Solar Arrays: A Success Story

My kids have been actively engaged in recent weeks helping caterpillars morph into butterflies by feeding them milkweed grown in a neighborhood pollinator garden. The caterpillars are currently in the cocoon phase, and upon their emerging from their chrysalis, we will be releasing the butterflies for their migration southward. As 7- and 4-year-olds, the kids are already learning about the importance of providing adequate forage to protect and support these amazing creatures that are so critical to the overall health of our ecosystem.

Native pollinators — butterflies, hummingbirds, moths, bees and other insects — move pollen from plant to plant, providing a sustainable reproductive pathway for many of the fruits, vegetables, nuts and plants that other animals higher up the food chain and we human beings rely on for sustenance. Unfortunately, these important creatures are being crowded out by a growing human population that has more than doubled over the past 50 years to 7.5 billion and is expected to reach 10 billion by 2050. This has resulted in a loss of critical habitat which, combined with widespread use of pesticides, has had devastating impacts on the pollinator population. Here in Vermont, there were 17 species of bumblebees 25 years ago. We are now down to 10 species, and seven of these are endangered, including the previously common rusty patched bumblebee, whose population has plummeted 87 percent since the late 1990s and has recently been declared an endangered species.

As we seek to move to a more localized food production system, it will be critical to ensure the health of all pollinator species to ensure the future health of our agricultural land. Here at Encore Renewable Energy, we are making an effort to do just this — similar to what my kids are doing at home and in our neighborhood. Our efforts have been focused on utilizing the unused portions of solar arrays we have developed and constructed to provide some of the critical habitat necessary for pollinators to thrive.

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—— What Termites Can Teach Us

New termite colonies are founded on windless evenings, at dusk, after the rain. Most termites have neither eyes nor wings, but every mature colony has a caste of translucent-winged seeing creatures called alates, which are nurtured by the colony’s workers until they are ready to propagate. When the time comes—given the right temperature and humidity—colonies release thousands of alates into the air, an event called “swarming.” Most of the nutrient-rich alates are eaten by animals as they glide to the ground. The few that survive shed their wings and pair off, male and female. Then they burrow into the earth, future kings and queens. The pair will remain there, alone in a dark hole, for the rest of their lives. They bite off the ends of their antennae, reducing their acute sensitivity; perhaps it’s a means of making more bearable a life wholly given over to procreation. They mate, and the queen begins to lay her eggs. She will lay millions in the course of her decades-long life—the longest life span of any insect. Her translucent white abdomen, constricted by the tight black bands of her exoskeleton, swells to the size of a human thumb, leaving her unable to move. Her tiny head and legs flail while her pulsating body is fed and cleaned by her offspring. The South African naturalist and poet Eugène Marais described the queen’s fate in “The Soul of the White Ant” (first published, in Afrikaans, in 1934): “Although you will apparently be an immobile shapeless mass buried in a living grave, you will actually be a sensitive mainspring. You will become the feeling, the thinking, the seeing, of a life a thousand times greater and more important than yours could ever have become.”

Humans have often looked at insects and seen themselves, or the selves they would like to be. Early-modern European naturalists peered into termite mounds, anthills, and beehives and saw microcosms of well-ordered states: monarchs, soldiers, laborers.

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AHBIC Media Statement – Macquarie University Study

The Australian beekeeping industry is a small industry with a big impact. The Australian Honey Bee Industry Council (AHBIC) takes the quality and safety of Australian honey very seriously. Australian honey is renowned globally for its high quality and unique diversity of characteristics.

AHBIC has recently been made aware of a report compiled by a PhD Student at Macquarie University that indicates adulteration of international and Australian honey. We understand that samples of honey have been gathered and tested for C4 sugar adulteration.

AHBIC has not yet seen any detail of the report but is keen to analyse it and understand the details of the report. The Australian beekeeping community is a hardworking industry who will always take on board new information and new science in order to continue to build its reputation as a high quality producer of pure honey.

AHBIC will meet as an industry once the report is available to discuss and agree to actions to fully ensure the high quality of Australian honey. It will determine if any additional beekeeper training on good beekeeping practices is required as a result of the information contained within the report.

Australian consumers should feel confident in buying Australian honey.

Download PDF Statement here



The Signs of Mite Damage: How to Identify Progressed Varroosis?

Garett Slater

Varroa infested colonies entered the United States in ~1987, and changed beekeeping forever. Beekeeping has always been time consuming, difficult and experience oriented; however, beekeeping became even more challenging when beekeepers were called to eradicate a bug on another bug. Since its introduction in the US, beekeepers have reported high annual colony losses due to mites. In fact, some beekeepers report 60% losses due to this troublesome pest. While beekeepers have faced devastating challenges before, including American Foulbrood, Varroa mites has presented damages never before seen.

Varroa have become more difficult to manage since their introduction. The mites are seemingly embedded within the honey bee industry reality as nearly, if not all, colonies have Varroa. Like many beekeepers say: ” all my colonies have mites, I just cannot see them”. Even if alcohol washes do not reveal mites, Varroa is present in the brood or will be present soon due to infestation from surrounding colonies. As mites have become more widespread, they became a vector for a variety of viruses. In fact, researchers are finding more and more variants of Deformed Wing Virus (DWV), a virus that affects the honey bee’s essential flight capabilities. Research has shown that DWV-B (Deformed Wing Virus variant B) can be responsible for high over-winter losses.

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Taste Is Key In Promoting Insect-Based Food

A new study finds that promoting insect-based food as pleasurable, rather than healthy or environmentally friendly, could be the most effective marketing strategy for these currently taboo or unappealing foods. Published in Frontiers in Nutrition as part of a special research collection on food systems, the study is the first to compare promotional methods for insect-based food. Promoting insects as tasty, or even as a luxurious and exotic delicacy, could help to change attitudes and achieve more sustainable food production and healthier diets.

Food production accounts for an enormous 25% of all human greenhouse gas emissions. Livestock is a huge contributor to these emissions and researchers and policymakers are trying to develop and promote more sustainable ways to produce animal protein. One controversial option is farming and eating insects.

“Insects have numerous health benefits as a source of protein and dramatically outperform conventional meats in terms of greenhouse gas emissions,” said Professor Sebastian Berger, of the University of Bern in Switzerland. “Therefore, insect-based food might help in the fight against climate change.”

Despite these benefits, people in Western countries rarely eat insects. Many people are wary or even disgusted at the thought of eating insect-based food. However, many of these same people will happily eat a lobster or crayfish, despite their insect-like appearance — so it is possible such attitudes can change.

So far, no-one had investigated the best way to promote or market insects so that they are more appealing to the public. Highlighting their health and environmental benefits seems like an intuitive way to do this, as social labels such as “eco-friendly” or “fair trade” have appealed to consumers in the past.

Berger and colleagues set out to investigate the factors influencing people’s attitudes towards insect-based food. They asked members of the public in Cologne, Germany, to participate in the study. First, the participants viewed an advertisement for a company offering insect-based food. Some of the advertisements aimed to highlight the environmental or health benefits of the food, while others highlighted pleasurable aspects, such as its taste.

Then, the participants had the option to eat a mealworm chocolate truffle. They completed a questionnaire to record their expectations about the truffle quality and whether they were willing to try it. Those who tried the truffle also rated how nice it tasted.

Surprisingly, the research team found that advertisements promoting health and environmental benefits were significantly less effective than those promoting pleasurable aspects of the food. Claims of quality and luxury enhanced the participants’ expectations of the truffle and made them more likely to try it. These participants also rated the taste of the truffles more highly.

So, why may insects differ from other products where social issues have positively influenced sales? Long-term social considerations, such as environmental protection or improved health, don’t appear to be enough for consumers to overcome the insect “disgust” factor. As people’s aversion towards insects is largely emotional rather than rational, it makes sense to try to influence their emotions rather than make rational appeals about long-term issues.

The team’s results suggest that future marketing campaigns should portray insect-based food as delicious, trendy or even luxurious, if they are to effectively change people’s eating habits. Further larger studies are needed to establish if a large-scale switch from conventional animal protein to insect-based foods is feasible.


—— Comparing Hovering Bats and Hummingbirds

Each sunrise in Las Cruces, Costa Rica, River Ingersoll’s field team trekked into the jungle to put the finishing touches on nearly invisible nets. A graduate student in the lab of David Lentink, assistant professor of mechanical engineering at Stanford University, Ingersoll needed these delicate nets to catch, study and release the region’s abundant hummingbirds and bats – the only two vertebrates with the ability to hover in place.

“We’re really interested in how hovering flight evolved,” said Ingersoll. “Nectar bats drink from flowers like hummingbirds do, so we want to see if there’s any similarities or differences between these two different taxa.”

Ingersoll’s nets worked, and he ended up examining over 100 individual hummingbirds and bats, covering 17 hummingbird and three bat species, during his field study, the results of which the group published in Science Advances.

Through a combination of high-speed camera footage and aerodynamic force measurements, he and his fellow researchers found that hummingbirds and bats hover in very different ways. Yet they also found that nectar bats’ hovering shares some similarities with hummingbird hovering – which fruit bats do not share. This suggests that they evolved a different method to hover compared with other bats in order to drink nectar.

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Potential Associations between the Mite Varroa destructor and Other Stressors in Honeybee Colonies (Apis mellifera L.) in Temperate and Subtropical Climate from Argentina

Agostina Giacobino et al.


The presence of Varroa destructor in colonies of Apis mellifera is explained by the interaction among a number of factors including beekeeping practices and surrounding environment features. The aim of this study was to evaluate the relative impact of environment geographical region and beekeeping management on Varroa infestation levels throughout a year. A monitoring study was carried out during 2015 in north-central regions from Argentina, consisting of three sampling dates: 1) autumn survey before autumn acaricide treatment; 2) autumn survey after autumn acaricide treatment and 3) spring survey. During these visits, we collected samples for Varroa mites and Nosema sp. presence assessment and information concerning the apiary management practices during each period. Both regional location and beekeeping practices impact on V. destructor infestation level during the course of the year, but relative importance depend partially on the time of year when this was observed. Varroa infestation level is driven simultaneously by a wide-range of environmental factors (regional effect) and honeybee population dynamics. Additionally, colony life histories are also strongly affected by the management practices employed by beekeepers, especially regarding the Varroa mites control and the supplementary feeding. Complexity involving multiple factors interaction in socio-ecological systems like beekeeping is discussed.



History Abuzz with Honey Bee Festival

HAHIRA — Driving to the annual Honey Bee festival this week, one may wonder why?

Why does Hahira celebrate the honey bee?

It’s not that Hahira has more bees than other South Georgia cities. Not now. Not any more anyway.

But it once did.

As it has for nearly four decades, the Honey Bee Festival pays tribute to years gone by when Hahira was considered the “Queen Bee Capital of the World” for its manufacture of honey bees.

In approximately 1920, the first honey bee business opened shop in Hahira.

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Senator Frank Horch, in a conversation with start-up BEEsharing, on bees in fruit and vegetable growing as well as ideas for solutions to worldwide bee mortality.

Bees are good money makers. Honey and other bee products are popular and they sell well. But above all, the pollination performance of bees is of enormous importance. They make a huge difference in the fruit and vegetable industry, as they can enlarge the yields. And it is exactly there where the BEEsharing’s business model of ties in. An online network that combines beekeeping and agriculture. Beekeepers offer bee colonies for pollination, and farmers and growers then buy their services. Consulting, mediation and logistics are handled by BEEsharing. The apiary in Hamburg is currently experiencing a tremendous upswing, now with more than 1,000 beekeepers.

Senator Frank Horch emphasized: “Sharing bees means looking after them. BEEsharing uses the opportunities offered by digitization and combines beekeepers with agricultural partners. A great business idea that also keeps an eye on plant and species diversity. Hamburg needs people who recognize opportunities and push their ideas forward with courage and passion. Startups like these deserve our attention because they create innovation and are the guarantor of tomorrow’s economic successes. We want to support them with good framework conditions.”

Otmar Trenk, CEO and Founder BEEsharing P.A.L.S. GmbH, said: “We are pleased that we have the opportunity to present our young, innovative company to representatives from politics and business and to enter into a pragmatic discourse with them. This discourse is necessary to maintain the competitiveness of beekeeping and agriculture, and to make it a promising endeavour.”

Bees are among the most important farm animals; they play a key role in nature and agriculture. The economic output of beekeeping in Germany is around 1.7 billion euros per year, of which 1.6 billion euros are accounted for by pollination alone. In Hamburg, there are more than 400 horticultural businesses for which bees are indispensable. In order to be able to use these bees in the future as well, a good environment is needed. The numerous beekeepers contribute to this. The developments in Hamburg have been very positive in recent years. The Beekeeper Association Hamburg e. V. currently has more than 1,000 bee friends, while in 2005 there were only about 250 members.




A system designed to protect citrus trees from the deadly greening disease withstood the ravaging winds of Hurricane Irma last year, University of Florida scientists say. With reinforcements installed after the storm, they’ll likely withstand even more dangerous storms.

Using Citrus Under Protective Screening, or “CUPS,” growers can keep the Asian citrus psyllid away from their trees, said Arnold Schumann, a professor of soil and water sciences at the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. If an infected psyllid – a bug the size of a pin – bites citrus leaves, it infects trees with a bacterium that sickens them with greening, also known as Huanglongbing, or HLB.

During the four years of the CUPS experiment, UF/IFAS researchers have seen no psyllids or greening on the citrus grown in the screened-in environment, said Schumann, a faculty member at the UF/IFAS Citrus Research and Education Center (CREC) in Lake Alfred, Florida.

When they built the indoor citrus growing system, UF/IFAS researchers – knowing they faced the potential of tropical storm-force winds – had anchors installed on the poles that keep the screens in place, Schumann said. Those worked fairly well during Irma, but there was room for improvement, he said.

“After Irma, we found widespread but not catastrophic damage, mainly due to high winds over a long time,” Schumann said. “The trees inside the CUPS were mostly unaffected . . .

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Tom Hallman

CLEMSON — Mosquitoes are breeding in abundance in floodwaters left behind by Hurricane Florence, prompting officials throughout the Pee Dee region to step up pesticide treatments to control them. The Pee Dee is a region of South Carolina located in the northeastern corner of the state. … There is no agreed definition on which of South Carolina’s counties are included in the region. The region takes its name from the Pee Dee River. Experts with the Clemson University Extension Service and Regulatory Services units are advising beekeepers to be aware of increased sprayings and prepare to cover their hives if necessary while sprayings are in progress.

“The potential for human health impacts due to mosquito born illnesses is significant and serious, and we’re trying to help provide awareness that mosquito abatement programs are underway,” Ben Powell, a Clemson Extension agent in Georgetown, advised members of the Blackwater Beekeepers Association. “Due to unprecedented flooding and an exploding mosquito problem, the Horry County Mosquito Control Program will be very active in providing area suppression using both ground and aerial equipment.”

Increased mosquito abatement is either planned or is being discussed in more than half a dozen counties from Chesterfield to the coast, said Josh Weaver, agriculture compliance specialist with the Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR), a regulatory agency based at Clemson.

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Jenny Schlecht

MEDINA, N.D. — All was quiet in the pasture until Chad Price and Brandon Weatherly started moving bee boxes. Then the persistent buzz in the air was interrupted only by the whir of a passing spray plane or the snap of nearby power lines.

The bees haven’t been producing much honey for about a month, Price said Sept. 10. But they’ll stay out for another month or so on the pastures and prairie trails around Medina.

After the hives get cleaned up, they’ll likely spend a few months in a “winter palace” that belongs to Miller Honey Farms in Gackle, N.D. The facility, new last winter, may help improve the health of honey bees by cutting down on moves, controlling the environment and possibly eliminating varroa mites with carbon dioxide. After a few months in the “winter palace,” the bees will head west.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, North Dakota, with 37.83 million pounds of honey, was the top honey producing state in the country in 2016, nearly double what is produced by neighbors South Dakota, with 19.88 million pounds, and Montana, with 12.243 million, which rank second and third in honey production.

Coming in fourth was California, with 11.16 million pounds. Many of the bees that produced honey in the Northern Plains also worked to produce the honey in California, as well as other coastal and southern states.

But these days, honey production is a secondary feature of taking bees to warmer climates. Beekeepers now rely as much on the income they generate from taking their bees across the country to pollinate crops as on the income they receive from their honey.

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(Washington, D.C., September 24, 2018) – U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today praised the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) decision to request a rehearing of a pesticide case before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. DOJ has asked for a panel rehearing and a rehearing en banc in a case in which the court directed the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to ban chlorpyrifos, a common and useful pesticide, within 60 days.

Secretary Perdue issued the following statement:

“USDA disagrees with the ruling ordering EPA to revoke tolerances and cancel registrations for chlorpyrifos. The decision appears to be based on a misunderstanding of both the available scientific information and EPA’s pesticide regulatory system. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and other groups have pointed out significant flaws in the draft chlorpyrifos assessments on which the court based its opinion, and USDA supports EPA’s conclusion that the available scientific evidence does not indicate the need for a total ban on the use of chlorpyrifos. EPA should be allowed to continue its ongoing science-based and expert-led evaluation of chlorpyrifos, which is part of EPA’s registration review program that covers all pesticides.

“The costs of an incorrect decision on chlorpyrifos are expected to be high and would cause serious impacts to American farmers working

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Justyna Tomtas

Washington State University received a $1 million donation from Ken and Sue Christianson to help build a new 15,330-square-foot honey bee and pollinator research facility at its Pullman campus.

The new research facility is in the fundraising phase, having pulled in $3.5 million to date, according to the program’s website.

“A large proportion of seed crops rely on bees for pollination. The WSU bee program really resonated with both my wife and I because the work they do is so essential to the future of agriculture,” Ken Christianson, a retired seed grower, said in a news release. “The program is doing phenomenal work, despite the challenges involved in shuffling between facilities to conduct complex bee research.”

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True Source Honey Approves Products to Use Made with True Source Honey™ Logo

September, 2018 – Several major brands are taking a stance against honey fraud and adulteration by sourcing 100 percent of the honey used in their products from True Source Honey® certified suppliers. Honey Stinger, Droga Chocolates and Unilever’s Hellmann’s are the first brands to earn the Made With True Source Honey™ certification.

Makers of food, personal care and over-the-counter products can show their commitment to responsible honey sourcing by selecting honey suppliers that have earned independent certification to the True Source Honey protocol. This voluntary, third-party testing and certification program traces honey all the way back to the hive so wholesale buyers and consumers can be confident about the origin and authenticity of honey as well as its compliance with U.S. and international trade laws.

“Consumers care where their honey comes from and deserve pure natural honey – nothing added and nothing taken away,” said Gordon Marks, executive director of True Source Honey. “It’s the reason we launched the True Source Honey Certification® program.”

“True Source Honey certification helps honey suppliers to voluntarily demonstrate their commitment to responsible honey sourcing,” said Marks.

True Source Honey certification combines rigorous third-party audits with active third-party sampling and container shipment oversight to trace honey to its origin.

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