News from the world of beekeeping

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


Honey Bee Research in the US

Turning altruism into selfish behavior among honey bees

Dim the lights for some natural pollination

Pathogen shifts in a honeybee predator following the arrival of Varroa 

Dietary Phytochemicals, Honey Bee Longevity and Pathogen Tolerance

Johnny Appleseed, Bees And The Changing Landscape

New Solar Farms Could Offer Sweet Source of Salvation

The role of city gardens in pollinator conservation

Flowers Sweeten Up When They Sense Bees Buzzing

88 Bee Genomes and 10 Years of Studying Apples and the Future of Pollinators

Bee surveys in newest US national park could aid pollinator studies 

Wasps, cockroaches and crickets are pollinators too

Honey Bee Geneticist Robert E. Page Jr. Named UC Davis Distinguished Emeritus

UNL Bee Lab to offer beekeeping classes, educate

Woodland abuzzz over becoming a bee city

FROM Catch the Buzz:

  6. ***************** Special Issue: Honey Bee Research in the US: Current State and Solutions to Beekeeping Problems Margarita M. López-Uribe and Michael Simone-Finstrom  1. Introduction The European honey bee (Apis mellifera) is the most important managed species for agricultural pollination across the world. Despite their importance, managed honey bee colonies are experiencing annual mortality rates that now typically range between 30 to 40% in North America and Europe [1,2]. These high overwintering losses have . . .   To continue reading:   —— Finding an elusive mutation that turns altruism into selfish behavior among honeybees Among the social insects, bees have developed a strong and rich social network, where busy worker bees tend to the queen, who in turn, controls reproduction for the benefit of the hive.   But the South African Cape honey bee (Apis mellifera capensis) can flout these rules. In a process of genetic trickery called thelytoky syndrome, worker bee females ignore the queen’s orders and begin to reproduce on their own. Scientists, in their own altruistic effort to protect the Cape honey bees from a recent devastating blight, transferred the Cape honey bees to a northeastern region—-only to see the Cape bees wreak havoc among colonies of the neighboring honey bee subspecies A. m. scutellata.   The A. capensis bees turned from altruistic workers to the guests who would not leave—-becoming social parasites . . .   To continue reading: —— Dim the lights for some natural pollination Switching off street lights helps restore the natural behaviour of moths, scientists say, and that’s important because the humble moth supplements the daytime work of bees and other pollinating insects. Now a new study by researchers from Newcastle and York universities in the UK has shown we don’t need an all-night blackout to get results. In a paper published in the journal Ecosphere they report that there is no difference in pollination success between part-night lighting and full darkness. . . . To continue reading:   —— Pathogen shifts in a honeybee predator following the arrival of the Varroa mite Kevin J. Loope, James W. Baty, Philip J. Lester and Erin E. Wilson Rankin Abstract Emerging infectious diseases (EIDs) are a global threat to honeybees, and spillover from managed bees threaten wider insect populations. Deformed wing virus (DWV), a widespread virus that has become emergent in conjunction with the spread of the mite Varroa destructor, is thought to be partly responsible for global colony losses. The arrival of Varroa in honeybee populations causes a dramatic loss of viral genotypic diversity, favouring a few virulent strains. Here, we investigate DWV spillover in an invasive Hawaiian population of the wasp, Vespula pensylvanica, a honeybee predator and honey-raider. We show that Vespula underwent a parallel loss in DWV variant diversity upon the arrival of Varroa, despite the mite being a honeybee specialist. . . . To continue reading: ——   Dietary Phytochemicals, Honey Bee Longevity and Pathogen Tolerance by Elisa Bernklau,Louis Bjostad,Alison Hogeboom,Ashley Carlisle andArathi H. S.   Abstract Continued loss of natural habitats with native prairies and wildflower patches is eliminating diverse sources of pollen, nectar and phytochemicals therein for foraging bees. The longstanding plant-pollinator mutualism reiterates the role of phytochemicals in sustaining plant-pollinator relationship and promoting honey bee health. We studied the effects of four phytochemicals—caffeine, gallic acid, kaempferol and p-coumaric acid, on survival and pathogen tolerance in the European honey bee, Apis mellifera (L.). We recorded longevity of worker bees that were provided ad libitum access to sugar solution supplemented with different concentrations of phytochemicals. We artificially infected worker bees with the protozoan parasite, Nosema ceranae. Infected bees were provided access to the same concentrations of the phytochemicals in the sugar solution, and their longevity and spore load at mortality were determined. Bees supplemented with dietary phytochemicals . . .   To continue reading:   —— Johnny Appleseed, Bees And The Changing Landscape Chuck Dinerstein  In The Botany of Desire, Michael Pollen breaks down the Disneyfication of John Chapman, better known as Johnny Appleseed, pointing out that for apples to become today’s abundant fruit they must be cross-pollinated. Otherwise we’re left with a sour, misshapen fruit, unsuitable for eating by only for being fermented. Yes, the Johnny Appleseed of my youth was, among other things, a cultivator of his era’s most common drug, Applejack. Cross-pollination requires not only multiple trees and a pollinator – the bee – that subject of episodic attention. Much has been written on colony collapse disorder [1] and the migratory patterns and theft of commercialized honeybees that move around the country as our domesticated nomads pollinating crops [2]. A new report in Science looks at another factor influencing bees, the landscape. As a city boy far removed from the source . . . To continue reading: ——   New Solar Farms Could Offer Sweet Source of Salvation for Dwindling Honeybee Populations McKinley Corbley Solar farms are not just addressing the need for renewable energy, they are also becoming a source for food and habitat for dwindling pollinator populations. According to research from the National Renewable Energy Lab, America is expected to add more than 6 million acres of solar farms and facilities by 2050. In addition to hosting solar panels, however, more and more environmentalists are taking advantage of this energy farmland by planting wildflowers that are critical to the survival of honeybees and butterflies. Back in August, a research team from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne lab began examining the potential benefits of establishing pollinator habitat at large utility-scale solar energy facilities to help conserve the threatened insects. Looking at some 2,800 . . . To continue reading:   —— The role of city gardens in pollinator conservation   A new research collaboration has revealed that city gardens can play an important role in pollinator conservation. The research, carried out by scientists at the Universities of Bristol, Edinburgh, Leeds and Reading in collaboration with Cardiff University and the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC), found that city gardens have an important role in pollinator conservation. The scientists also found that lavender, borage, dandelions, thistles, brambles and buttercups are important garden plants that pollinators use as food sources. . . . To continue reading:   ——  Flowers Sweeten Up When They Sense Bees Buzzing Jason Daley   It’s a common assumption that auditory information is reserved for living things with ears and that creatures without cochlea—namely plants—don’t tune into a bee buzzing or the wind whistling. But a new study suggests the plants are listening, and some flowers even sweeten up their nectar when they sense a pollinator approaching.   Sound is ubiquitous; plenty of species have harnessed the power of sound to their evolutionary advantage in some way or another—a wolf howls and rabbits run; a deer hears a thunder strike in the distance and seeks shelter, and birds sing to attract their mates. Plants have withstood the test of time, so logically so, they must react to such a crucial sensory tool as well, right? This question is the essentially the basis of Tel Aviv University evolutionary theoretician Lilach Hadany’s interest in pursuing the new study, reports Michelle Z. Donahue at National Geographic. Since sound is propagated as a wave, it doesn’t always take the complex set of ear bones and hair cells found in mammal ears to detect the presence of sound, just the ability to perceive vibrations. To test the idea . . . To continue reading:    —— What 88 Bee Genomes and 10 Years of Studying Apples Tell Us About the Future of Pollinators Anna Groves Stroll through an apple orchard in bloom, and you’ll be surrounded with the buzz of busy bees. But unless the farm manager has rented hives of domesticated honeybees — which are not native to the U.S. — the bees at work will be a highly diverse crew that live in the nearby wild. Big or small, green or striped, shiny or fuzzy, bees come in all types. While news of bee declines has almost stopped feeling like news, a group of researchers has figured out a new question to ask about these diverse wild bees that pollinate our apple crops. Are the species of bees most in decline closely related? And does it matter if they are? The answers could be a big hint for future research about the causes, consequences and solutions to the perilous state of wild bees. The team, led by entomologists at Cornell University, studied apple orchards and their bees for ten years. Many of the orchards experienced losses of bee habitat in their surrounding landscapes in that time, and subsequently lost many of their wild bee species. But that’s not the news. When it comes to making apples, it turns out the relatedness of the wild bees makes all the difference. To continue reading: ——   Bee surveys in newest US national park could aid pollinator studies elsewhere LOGAN, UTAH, USA – Declines in native bee populations are widely reported, but can existing data really analyze these trends? In the Jan. 17, 2019, online edition of PLOS One, Utah State University and USDA researchers report findings about pollinator biodiversity in California’s Pinnacles National Park derived from data collected from three separate surveys spanning 17 years. Their results documented 450 species of wild, native bees at Pinnacles, including 48 new to the area since 2002, and 95 detected at the site in the 1990s, but now missing. “This number of species marks the park as a national biodiversity hotspot for bees,” says lead author Joan Meiners . . .   To continue reading:   ——   Wasps, cockroaches and crickets are pollinators too   Wasps, cockroaches and crickets are widely disliked, but for a certain species of plant on the Japanese island of Yakushima they play a vital role. While studying the non-photosynthetic Mitrastemon yamamotoi plant, Associate Professor Kenji Suetsugu revealed that these insects were responsible for its pollination. Suetsugu is a member of the Kobe University Graduate School of Science, and these findings were published in the January 2019 edition of Plant Biology.   Mitrastemon yamamotoi grows on the dark forest floor, an environment rarely visited by typical pollinators . . .   To continue reading:   —— Honey Bee Geneticist Robert E. Page Jr. Named UC Davis Distinguished Emeritus Kathy Keatley Garvey DAVIS–Internationally acclaimed honey bee geneticist Robert E. Page Jr., a UC Davis alumnus whose administrative career took him from chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology to provost of Arizona State University, is the recipient of the 2019 UC Davis Distinguished Emeritus Award.    Nominator Steve Nadler . . .   To continue reading:   —— UNL Bee Lab to offer beekeeping classes, educate on pollinator preservation Emma Kopplin With the fragrant smell of wildflowers in the light breeze, Judy Wu-Smart can be found conducting her research in the field. Under her careful eye, buzzing fills the air as honey bees continuously pollinate. Even now, with the bees overwintering, her research and extension program continues to grow in the changing and evolving UNL Bee lab. . . . To continue reading:   —— Woodland abuzzz over becoming a bee city When people set their minds to it, they can be as busy as bees. And that’s what happened on Wednesday, when less than 24 hours after the Woodland City Council applied to become a “Bee City,” the members of “Bee City USA” accepted the request. “Congratulations! Bee City USA is pleased to advise you that we received your signed resolution adopted January 15, 2019,  and your final application, and have concluded that your community has met the standards for certification as the 79th Bee City USA affiliate in the nation,” according to a statement sent to the city by Phyllis Stiles of the group. . . . To continue reading:

FROM CATCH THE BUZZ: 1.COMPUTERS COULD TELL FARMERS AND OTHER LANDOWNERS WHERE TO MOST EFFICIENTLY AND COST-EFFECTIVELY PLANT TREES AND HEDGEROWS FOR POLLINATOR FORAGE AND HOUSING Alan Harman Planting more hedgerows and trees could hold the key to helping bees thrive again, a new study argues. Researchers at Lancaster University in the United Kingdom suggest artificial intelligence could be used as a tool to design landscapes so that trees, hedgerows and wildflowers are planted in the right place and the right numbers to ensure pollinators have enough food. Bees and other important insects vital for pollinating plants and food crops are in long-term decline across Europe. One of the major causes in the reduction of honey bees, bumblebees, solitary bees and hoverflies is the degradation of suitable habitats. A process that scientists claim is accelerated by modern farming practices. Efforts, including the planting of large strips of wildflowers on the margins of agricultural land, are under way to try to reverse this long-term decline. However . . . To continue reading:   2. RESEARCH OFFERS INSIGHTS OF HONEY BEE CHROMOSOMES Kathy Keatley Garvey Newly published research by a team of Germany-based honey bee geneticists, collaborating with Robert Page Jr. of Arizona State University/UC Davis, offers new insights in the ability to modify and study the chromosomes of honey bees. Martin Beye, a professor at the University of Düsseldorf, Germany and a former postdoctoral fellow in Page’s lab at UC Davis, served as the lead author of the research, “Improving Genetic Transformation Rates in Honeybees,” published in Scientific Reports in the journal Nature. The work was accomplished in Beye’s lab in Germany and the Page labs. “The significance of this paper lies in the ability to modify the chromosomes of honey bees and study the effects of individual genes,” said Page . . .   To continue reading:   3. RAW HONEY IS DRIVING NET GROWTH WITHIN THE HONEY AND SYRUP INDUSTRY DUE TO THE POPULARITY OF THE PALEO DIET Nicole Potenza Denis Conventional sugar’s reputation is suffering. According to Mintel’s “Sugars and Sweeteners Report, December 2016,” dollar sales of sugar and sweeteners fell five percent from 2011 to 2016 and settled at an estimated $4.3 billion in 2016. Sales of sugar, sugar substitutes, and syrup also continued to decline, unable to disassociate from sugar’s negative stigmatization and the concerns over the safety and flavor of artificial sweeteners. (Thirty-five percent of consumers surveyed by Mintel believe that artificial sweeteners are bad for their health, and that something derived from nature is more appealing.) With ties to obesity, chronic inflammation, diabetes, and a no-no in increasingly popular diets worldwide, sugar has health-focused consumers rushing to . . . To continue reading: 4. MAKE SURE THE WORKERS ARE FED, AND THEY’LL TAKE CARE OF THE QUEEN More than a decade after the identification of colony collapse disorder, a phenomenon marked by widespread loss of honey bee colonies, scientists are still working to untangle the ecologically complex problem of how to mitigate ongoing losses of honey bees and other pollinating species. One much-needed aid in this effort is more efficient ways to track specific impacts on bee health. To address this need, a group of Illinois researchers has established a laboratory-based method for tracking the fertility of honey bee queens. . . .   To continue reading:   5. CALIFORNIA MONARCH BUTTERFLY POPULATION DOWN 86 PERCENT IN ONE YEAR California’s coast has historically hosted millions of overwintering monarch butterflies. This is a shot from the 2016 overwintering season at the Monarch Butterfly Grove at Pismo State Beach. California’s coast, from Bolinas to Pismo Beach, is a popular overwintering site for the western population of monarch butterflies. Historically, you could find millions of the orange and black winged invertebrates around this time of year, using coastal eucalyptus trees as shelter. But there’s been a troubling trend over the past few decades. Each year, fewer . . . To continue reading: