Newsnotes archive

 November 2014


Evolutionary History of Honey bees Revealed by Genomics

In a study published in Nature Genetics, researchers from Uppsala University present the first global analysis of genome variation in honey bees. The findings show a surprisingly high level of genetic diversity in honey bees, and indicate that the species most probably originates from Asia, and not from Africa as previously thought.

The honey bee (Apis mellifera) is of crucial importance for humanity. One-third of our food is dependent on the pollination of fruits, nuts and vegetables by bees and other insects. Extensive losses of honeybee colonies in recent years are a major cause for concern. Honey bees face threats from disease, climate change, and management practices. To combat these threats it is important to understand the evolutionary history of honeybees and how they are adapted to different environments across the world.

“We have used state-of-the-art high-throughput genomics to address these questions, and have identified high levels of genetic diversity in honeybees. In contrast to other domestic species, management of honey bees seems to have increased levels of genetic variation by mixing bees from different parts of the world. The findings may also indicate that high levels of inbreeding are not a major cause of global colony losses”, says Matthew Webster, researcher at the department of Medical Biochemistry and Microbiology, Uppsala University.

Another unexpected result was that honey bees seem to be derived from an ancient lineage of cavity-nesting bees that arrived from Asia around 300,000 years ago and rapidly spread across Europe and Africa. This stands in contrast to previous research that suggests that honey bees originate from Africa.

“The evolutionary tree we constructed from genome sequences does not support an origin in Africa, this gives us new insight into how honeybees spread and became adapted to habitats across the world”, says Matthew Webster.

Hidden in the patterns of genome variation are signals that indicate large cyclical fluctuations in population size that mirror historical patterns of glaciation. This indicates that climate change has strongly impacted honeybee populations historically. “Populations in Europe appear to have contracted during ice ages whereas African populations have expanded at those times, suggesting that environmental conditions there were more favorable”, says Matthew Webster.

The researchers also identified specific mutations in genes important in adaptation to factors such as climate and pathogens, including those involved in morphology, behavior and innate immunity.

“The study provides new insights into evolution and genetic adaptation, and establishes a framework for investigating the biological mechanisms behind disease resistance and adaptation to climate, knowledge that could be vital for protecting honey bees in a rapidly changing world”, says Matthew Webster.

Bacteria from Bees Possible Alternative to Antibiotics

Raw honey has been used against infections for millennia, before honey - as we now know it - was manufactured and sold in stores. So what is the key to its antimicrobial properties? Researchers at Lund University in Sweden have identified a unique group of 13 lactic acid bacteria found in fresh honey, from the honey stomach of bees. The bacteria produce a myriad of active antimicrobial compounds.

These lactic acid bacteria have now been tested on severe human wound pathogens such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus(MRSA), Pseudomonas aeruginosa and vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus (VRE), among others. When the lactic acid bacteria were applied to the pathogens in the laboratory, it counteracted all of them.

While the effect on human bacteria has only been tested in a lab environment thus far, the lactic acid bacteria has been applied directly to horses with persistent wounds. The LAB was mixed with honey and applied to ten horses; where the owners had tried several other methods to no avail. All of the horses’ wounds were healed by the mixture.

The researchers believe the secret to the strong results lie in the broad spectrum of active substances involved.

“Antibiotics are mostly one active substance, effective against only a narrow spectrum of bacteria. When used alive, these 13 lactic acid bacteria produce the right kind of antimicrobial compounds as needed, depending on the threat. It seems to have worked well for millions of years of protecting bees’ health and honey against other harmful microorganisms. However, since store-bought honey doesn’t contain the living lactic acid bacteria, many of its unique properties have been lost in recent times”, explains Tobias Olofsson.

The next step is further studies to investigate wider clinical use against topical human infections as well as on animals.

The findings have implications for developing countries, where fresh honey is easily available, but also for Western countries where antibiotic resistance is seriously increasing.

Sunspot Activity Affects Honey Bees’ Ability to Find Their Way Home

Fluctuations in magnetic fields, including those caused by solar storms, may interfere with the magnetoreceptors in honey bees so that fewer bees return to their hives from foraging trips. A new study published today in the Journal of Apicultural Research finds that this disruption may be so severe that the flying bees disappear from their hive and that these losses may contribute to colony failure.

Bees can sense and use the earth’s magnetic fields to help them to identify their position and find their route home. This ability called magnetoreception is similar to that found in birds, fish and dolphins. Whilst bee magnetoreception has long been known, this new paper by Dr Thomas Ferrari from Pollen Bank, California, USA, for the first time identifies solar activity as one of the many causes of honey bee disappearance.

Widespread honey bee colony loss is not a new problem, and we now understand that many of these losses are due to various interacting factors including pests, diseases, pesticides and availability of suitable forage. Yet sometimes bees disappear without showing signs of illness, leaving adequate food, healthy brood but only a small cluster of bees. With good husbandry these remaining bees can sometimes be restored into a vibrant colony, and the disorder is not transmitted to other colonies. This situation can be distinguished from swarming behaviour and is one form of colony collapse - the flying bees simply vanish and their colonies fail.

Like humans, bees use several different senses for navigation, but magnetoreception seems to become increasingly important the further the bee is from its hive. Through a series of experiments that subject foraging bees to magnetic fields to disrupt their ability to navigate, Dr Ferrari shows that they are less able to find their way home. Their homing ability also seems to be affected by uncontrolled, natural fluctuations in the Earth’s magnetosphere. The study links documented periods of increased levels of solar storms and disruption to the magnetosphere to increased levels of honey bee colony loss.

IBRA Science Director Norman Carreck says: “For humans, the impact of sunspots on magnetic fields and their effects on bees is a difficult concept to grasp. Perhaps we could liken it to humans, who rely on sight, becoming lost in fog when we have no visual clues to help us identify our location. In unfamiliar territory any landmarks would be harder to recognise, so we find it harder is to work out where we are. This interesting study throws light on a curious aspect of bee biology. It is only part of the story of colony losses, but an aspect which merits further study.”

Natural American Foods Drive Sales with USA-Made Smokey the Bear Honey

New Natural American Foods Line
Benefits USDA Forest Service,
Supports American Beekeepers

ONSTED, Mich. (Aug. 26, 2014) – Natural American Foods, a worldwide leader in honey processing and distribution, is launching nationally  its USA-made, Grade A, Smokey the Bear branded honey for retailers.  Through an innovative partnership with the USDA Forest Service, a portion of the proceeds from every sale of Smokey the Bear honey goes to support educational efforts on wildfire prevention ( In addition, this new line supports American beekeepers by sourcing honey directly from U.S. hives. The honey category is on the rise, growing at four times the rate of that of jelly and jam.

“Smokey the Bear is synonymous with fire prevention, and bear packaging is a familiar sight for retail honey customers.  We married the two ideas to create a...


 October 2014


Honey Flavor Wheel: Do You Know How to Describe the Flavor?

by Kathy Keatley Garvey
UC Davis Department of Entomology
and Nematology

DAVIS--When you taste honey, do you know how to describe the flavor?
You probably will when you use the UC Davis Honey and Pollinator Center’s newly published Honey Flavor Wheel.
“This gives a huge lexicon to the tastes and aromas we find when tasting honey,” said Amina Harris, director of the Honey and Pollinator Center, affiliated with the Robert Mondavi Institute of Wine and Food Science and the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology.
The Honey Flavor Wheel production involved six months of research and development. “We brought together a group of 20 people--trained tasters, beekeepers and food enthusiasts--who worked together with a sensory scientist to come up with almost 100 descriptors,” Harris said. “This wheel will prove invaluable to those who love honey and want to celebrate its nuances.”
“I have always been astonished by the range of flavors in honey,” Harris said. “And its aromas, too. Developing the wheel has been an astonishing learning experience at all levels. I now truly pay attention as I taste many different kinds of foods. I notice flavors from beginning to end.
“I had one wonderful surprise during the tasting series. The sensory scientist we worked with, Sue Langstaff, had been to New Zealand and brought back several honeys. One was a wildflower called Viper’s Bugloss. What an amazing aroma! Imagine sitting in a garden. The sun has just set. And the heady aromas of jasmine and orange blossom together crowd the air. This is the scent of Viper’s Bugloss. An astonishing honey. Now I want more!”
Harris’ favorite honey? Sweet clover. And that’s not to be confused with clover. “Sweet clover is a tall, five-foot wildflower that grows in profusion in Montana, the Dakotas and elsewhere in the high plains of the United States,” Harris said. “It is light in color, spicy with a wonderful cinnamon hint!
“When we tasted it, one of our analytical panel members said: ‘There is really only one word for this. Yum!’
“And that is how I feel, too!” Harris said.
The front of the colorful wheel shows the descriptors, including fruity, floral, herbaceous, woody, spicy, nutty, confectionary, caramel and earthy. No longer can you just say “sweet” when you taste honey or “sour, salty and bitter.” If it’s fruity, can you determine if it’s berry, citrus, dried fruit, tree fruit or tropical fruit? If it falls into the confectionary category, can you pinpoint marshmallow, vanilla, maple, butterscotch, toffee, molasses, cotton candy, crème brûlée, burnt sugar or brown sugar?
There’s even an “animal” category” where you can opine that your sample of honey reminds you of a barnyard. Retired Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, who has coordinated and conducted the annual honey tasting at the UC Davis Picnic Day for 38 years, remembers tasting buckwheat honey in Oregon that reminded him of “goat.”
“Maybe the honey bees drank goat pee,” he said, smiling. “Actually, the environmental conditions where the plants are growing can have quite an effect on the odors and flavors of some honeys, while others just seem to be the same everywhere. The ‘goat’ honey that I tasted was buckwheat. In many cases, buckwheat honey seems more similar to blackstrap molasses than anything else. It is normally quite robust, but can be mild. In some cases it has been described as having a ‘barnyard’ odor and flavor--goat? A search of websites suggests that the mild-tasting samples can become more pungent, with off-flavors developing if it’s left sitting around for some time or if it’s been heated.”
The back of the Honey Flavor Wheel relates how to taste honey and shares four honey profiles (Florida tupelo, California orange blossom, Northwest blackberry and Midwestern clover) “so the consumer can get an idea of how to use this innovative product,” Harris said.
The Honey Flavor Wheel, measuring 8.25 inches, sells for $10 each, with all proceeds supporting bee health research at UC Davis. The product is available at the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science and soon will be available online, at the UC Davis Campus bookstore and at the downtown Davis Campus Bookstore.

New Data Reflects the Continued Demand for Farmers Markets

Three New USDA Directories Help Connect Consumers and Farmers through Local Food Opportunities

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) Administrator Anne Alonzo announced in August that USDA’s National Farmers Market Directory now lists 8,268 markets, an increase of 76 percent since 2008. The data reflects continued demand and growth of farmers markets in every region of the country. Alonzo also announced that AMS is developing three new local food directories that will expand USDA’s support for local and regional foods by providing easy access to the most current information about the local food market.
Alonzo made the announcements at the Dane County Farmers Market in Madison, Wisconsin, the country’s largest producer-only market, where she kicked off the 15th annual “National Farmers Market Week”, from Aug. 3 through Aug. 9, 2014.
“The National Farmers Market Directory numbers reflect the continued importance of farmers markets to American agriculture. Since its inception, the directory has proven to be a valuable tool for accessing up-to-date information about local farmers markets,” Alonzo said. “Farmers markets play an extremely important role for both farmers and consumers. They bring urban and rural communities together while creating economic growth and increasing access to fresh, healthy foods.”
The USDA National Farmers Market Directory, available at, provides information about U.S. farmers market locations, directions, operating times, product offerings, and much more. The data is collected via voluntary self-reporting by operating farmers market managers and is searchable by zip code, product mix, and other criteria. The National Farmers Market Directory receives over two million hits annually.

In addition to USDA’s National Farmers Market Directory, AMS is adding:

USDA’s National Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) Enterprise Directory - A CSA is a farm or network/association of multiple farms that offer consumers regular deliveries of locally-grown farm products during one or more harvest season(s) on a subscription or membership basis.

USDA’s National Food Hub Directory - A Food Hub is a business or organization that actively manages the aggregation, distribution, and marketing of source-identified food products to multiple buyers from multiple producers, primarily local and regional producers, to strengthen the ability of these producers to satisfy local and regional wholesale, retail, and institutional demand.

USDA’s National On-Farm Market Directory -
An On-Farm Market is a farm market managed by a single farm operator that sells agricultural and/or horticultural products directly to consumers from a location on their farm property or on property adjacent to that farm.

USDA invites local food business owners who fall within these categories to list their operational details in the new directories These new directories will be available online early in 2015, giving potential customers, business partners, and community planners easy, one-stop access to the most current information about different sources of local foods.

2014 Directory Highlights
According to USDA’s 2014 National Farmers Market Directory, the states with the most farmers markets reported are California (764 markets), New York (638 markets), Michigan (339 markets), Ohio (311 markets), Illinois (309 markets), Massachusetts (306 markets), Pennsylvania (297 markets), Wisconsin (295 markets), Virginia (249 markets), and Missouri (245 markets). All geographic regions saw increases in their market listings, with the most growth in the South. The 10 states with the biggest increases in the numbers of farmers markets include Tennessee, Louisiana, Texas, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Arkansas, North Carolina, Montana, Florida and Nebraska. Five of these states – Tennessee, Louisiana, Texas, Arkansas, and North Carolina – are part of USDA’s StrikeForce for Rural Growth and Opportunity, where USDA has increased investment in rural communities through intensive outreach and stronger partnerships.
Farmers market development is a cornerstone of USDA’s Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Initiative, which coordinates the Department’s policy, resources, and outreach efforts related to local and regional food systems. Secretary Vilsack has identified strengthening local food systems as one of the four pillars of USDA’s commitment to rural economic development.

Venom Gets Good Buzz as Potential Cancer-fighter

SAN FRANCISCO — Bee, snake or scorpion venom could form the basis of a new generation of cancer-fighting drugs, scientists report. They have devised a method for targeting venom proteins specifically to malignant cells while sparing healthy ones, which reduces or eliminates side effects that the toxins would otherwise cause.
“We have safely used venom toxins in tiny nanometer-sized particles to treat breast cancer and melanoma cells in the laboratory,” says Dipanjan Pan, Ph.D., who led the study. “These particles, which are camouflaged from the immune system, take the toxin directly to the cancer cells, sparing normal tissue.”
Venom from snakes, bees and scorpions contains proteins and peptides which, when separated from the other components and tested individually, can attach to cancer cell membranes. That activity could potentially ...


 September 2014


Scientists Track Gene Activity When Honey Bees Do and Don’t Eat Honey

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Many beekeepers feed their honey bees sucrose or high-fructose corn syrup when times are lean inside the hive. This practice has come under scrutiny, however, in response to colony collapse disorder, the massive -- and as yet not fully explained -- annual die-off of honey bees in the U.S. and Europe. Some suspect that inadequate nutrition plays a role in honey bee declines.

In a new study, described in Scientific Reports, researchers took a broad look at changes in gene activity in response to diet in the Western honey bee (Apis mellifera), and found significant differences occur depending on what the bees eat.

The researchers looked specifically at an energy storage tissue in bees called the fat body, which functions like the liver and fat tissues in humans and other vertebrates.
“We figured that the fat body might be a particularly revealing tissue to examine, and it did turn out to be the case,” said University of Illinois entomology professor and Institute for Genomic Biology director Gene Robinson, who performed the new analysis together with entomology graduate student Marsha Wheeler.

The researchers limited their analysis to foraging bees, which are older, have a higher metabolic rate and less energy reserves (in the form of lipids stored in the fat body) than their hive-bound nest mates -- making the foragers much more dependent on a carbohydrate-rich diet, Robinson said.
“We reasoned that the foragers might be more sensitive to the effects of different carbohydrate sources,” he said.

The researchers focused on gene activity in response to feeding with honey, high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), or sucrose. They found that those bees fed honey had a very different profile of gene activity in the fat body than those relying on HFCS or sucrose. Hundreds of genes showed differences in activity in honey bees consuming honey compared with those fed HFCS or sucrose. These differences remained even in an experimental hive that the researchers discovered was infected with deformed wing virus, one of the many maladies that afflict honey bees around the world.

“Our results parallel suggestive findings in humans,” Robinson said. “It seems that in both bees and humans, sugar is not sugar -- different carbohydrate sources can act differently in the body.”

Some of the genes that were activated differently in the honey-eating bees have been linked to protein metabolism, brain-signaling and immune defense. The latter finding supports a 2013 study led by U. of I. entomology professor and department head May Berenbaum, who reported that some substances in honey increase the activity of genes that help the bees break down potentially toxic substances such as pesticides.

“Our results further show honey induces gene expression changes on a more global scale, and it now becomes important to investigate whether these changes can affect bee health,” Robinson said.

Loss Benefits Available to Beekeepers Don’t Miss the Sign-up Deadline

There is potential assistance available to you under the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honey bees and Farm-Raised Fish Program (ELAP) authorized under the Agricultural Assistance Act of 2014 (2014 Farm Bill) for eligible honey bee losses.

The 2014 Farm Bill authorized $20 million each fiscal year for ELAP to provide emergency assistance to eligible producers of livestock, honey bees and farm-raised fish. ELAP covers losses due to an eligible adverse weather or loss condition, including blizzards and wildfires, as determined by the Secretary. More specifically, for honey bee losses, ELAP provides assistance for the loss of honey bee colonies in excess of normal mortality. Also, the program covers damage to honey bee hives and honey bee feed that was purchased or produced for eligible honey bees, including additional feed purchased above normal quantities to sustain honey bees until such time that additional feed becomes available.

ELAP sign-up began at local FSA service centers on April 15, 2014, for eligible honey bee losses suffered during the 2014 program years. If you have suffered 2014 honey bee losses, you must submit an application for payment and a notice of loss to the local FSA office that maintains your farm records; however, if the local FSA office that maintains your farm records is not in close proximity to the physical location where the honey bee loss occurs, you may submit a notice of loss to the local FSA office in the county where the loss occurs.

For 2014 program year (losses occurring on or after October 1, 2013, through September 30, 2014), sign-up ends November 1, 2014. Please contact you local FSA office for types of records needed and to schedule an appointment. FSA will use data furnished by you to determine eligibility for program benefits. Furnishing the data is voluntary; however, without all required data, program benefits will not be approved or provided.

For a Fact Sheet overview of the 2014 Farm Bill USDA ELAP program and beekeeper eligibility, you can access the FSA website:

Losses of Honey Bee Colonies Over the 2013/14 Winter

Preliminary Results From an International Study
The honey bee protection network COLOSS1 has today announced the preliminary results of an international study to investigate honey bee winter colony losses. Data were collected from Israel and Algeria and 19 European countries. In total 17,135 respondents provided overwintering mortality and other data of their honey bee colonies. Collectively, all responding beekeepers managed more than 376,754 colonies. A preliminary analysis of the data show that the mortality rate over the 2013-14 winter varied between countries, ranging from 6% in Norway to 14 % in Portugal, and there were also marked regional differences within most countries. The overall proportion of colonies lost was 9 %, the lowest since the international working group started collecting data in 2007.

These figures compare with losses over the same period of 7.85% in England and Wales (provided by the UK Food and Environment Research Agency). Losses of colonies in the USA between Oct. 1, 2013 and April 1, 2014 were also substantially

The protocol used to collect this COLOSS data has been


 August 2014


EPA is Advancing Pollinator Science and Sharing Useful Information with Growers and Beekeepers

On June 20, 2014, President Obama issued a directive to federal agencies to create a federal strategy to promote honey bee and other pollinator health.  The President’s directive created a Pollinator Health Task Force, co-chaired by EPA and USDA, and charged federal agencies with expanding federal efforts and taking new steps to reverse pollinator losses.  Scientists believe that honey bee losses are likely caused by multiple stressors, including poor bee nutrition, loss of forage lands, parasites, pathogens, and pesticides.  EPA will address the role of pesticides and take action, as appropriate, to protect pollinators.

Two important tools are being released today as part of EPA’s ongoing actions to protect pollinators. These and other EPA pollinator protection efforts complement those of the USDA, the lead federal agency tasked with identifying and mitigating the causes of U.S. honey bee decline.

EPA’s New Pollinator Risk Assessment Guidance:  EPA has posted its new Pollinator Risk Assessment Guidance online. The guidance is part of a long-term strategy to advance the science of assessing the risks posed by pesticides to bees, giving risk managers the means to further improve pollinator protection in our regulatory decisions. Among other things, EPA anticipates the guidance will allow the agency to assess effects from systemic pesticides quantitatively on individual bees, as well as on bee colonies. The guidance, developed in cooperation with the California Department of Pesticide Regulation and Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory agency, builds upon our ongoing efforts to advance the science of pollinator risk assessment.

We are already implementing elements of the guidance in our ongoing registration review of neonicotinoid pesticides, as well as in our other pesticide regulatory work. The agency is currently reviewing new data we required of the registrants, including refined semi-field studies under more real-world application conditions. Other data from ongoing full-field studies will take up to several years to complete.

RT25 Data Now Online:  At the request of beekeepers and growers alike, the agency has also posted our Residual Time to 25% Bee Mortality (RT25) Data online. Bees may be susceptible to harm from direct exposure to pesticides sprayed on flowering plants, but pesticide residues generally decrease in toxicity as the spray dries and time passes. Farmers and beekeepers can use EPA’s RT25 data to gauge the amount of time after application that a particular pesticide product remains toxic enough under real-world conditions to kill 25 percent of bees that are exposed to residues on treated plant surfaces. Some have used this information to select pesticide products with shorter periods in which the chemicals remain active and can affect bees.

USDA Provides $8 Million to Help Boost Declining Honey Bee Population

Five Midwest States Receive Additional Incentives to Establish Honey Bee Habitats

WASHINGTON, June 20, 2014 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), today announced $8 million in Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) incentives for Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin farmers and ranchers who establish new habitats for declining honey bee populations. More than half of the commercially managed honey bees are in these five states during the summer. Today’s announcement comes in addition to $3 million USDA designated to the Midwest states to support bee populations earlier this year through the Natural Resources Conservation Service Environmental Quality Incentives Program.

“American agricultural production relies on having a healthy honey bee population,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “In recent years, factors such as diseases, parasites, pesticides or habitat loss have contributed to a significant decline in the honey bee population. This $8 million is part of the Administration’s ongoing strategy to reverse these trends and establish more plant habitat on Conservation Reserve Program lands to restore the bee population.”

The new CRP pollinator initiative is designed to further enhance current CRP land, allowing it to provide better access to nutritious pollinator forage. The program allows for managing or replacing existing vegetation, known as ‘covers’, with lower cost, high nutrition seed mixes that can support distinct blooming cycles of plants that benefit pollinators. Honey bees, the pollinator workhorse of U.S. fruit and vegetable agriculture, will have more blooms from which to collect nectar and pollen to sustain and promote colony growth and honey production throughout the growing season. By assisting honey bees, the pollinator initiative helps USDA continue to secure the food supply. More than $15 billion worth of agricultural production, including over 130 fruits and vegetables, depend on the health and well-being of honey bees.

Now is a critical time for efforts to support honey bee populations. The honey bee population in the United States has been declining for decades. The number of managed U.S. honey bee colonies dropped from 6 million in 1947, to just 2.5 million today.

This week, President Obama issued a memorandum directing U.S. government agencies to take additional steps to protect and restore domestic populations of pollinators, including honey bees. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy will co-chair a new Pollinator Health Task Force to focus federal efforts to conduct research and take action to help pollinators recover from population losses. This includes a public education campaign to teach people ways that they can help pollinators in their own homes or businesses.

USDA is already actively pursuing solutions to the multiple problems affecting honey bee health. The Agricultural Research Service (ARS) maintains four laboratories across the country conducting research into all aspects of bee genetics, breeding, biology and physiology, with special focus on bee nutrition, control of pathogens and parasites, the effects of pesticide exposure and the interactions between each of these factors. The National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) supports bee research efforts through grants and research to Land Grant Universities. The Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) conducts national honey bee pest and disease surveys and provides border inspections to prevent new invasive bee pests from entering the U.S. The Farm Service Agency (FSA) and NRCS work on improved forage and habitat for bees through programs such as the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) and EQIP. Additionally, the Economic Research Service (ERS) is currently examining the direct economic costs of the pollinator problem and the associated indirect economic impacts, and the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) conducts limited surveys of honey production, number of colonies, price, and value of production which provide some data essential for research by the other agencies.

The CRP pollinator initiative, administered by the USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA), takes advantage of the new pollinator seed mixes developed by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. FSA also recently announced the restart of continuous enrollments in CRP, including its Pollinator Habitat Initiative to enroll 100,000 acres of longer lasting meadows of high-quality native wildflowers that support honey bees, pollinators and other wildlife populations.

For more information about new the pollinator initiative in the five Midwestern states, the continuous enrollment in the Conservation Reserve Program, and the pollinator habitat initiative, agricultural producers are encouraged to contact their local FSA office or go online at

New Coalition Brings Together Diverse Stakeholders to Improve Honey Bee Health

KEYSTONE, CO, June 18, 2014 – At the Saint Louis Zoo’s Annual Pollinator Dinner last night, The Keystone Center announced the formation of a new Honey Bee Health Coalition. Recognizing that declines in honey bee and pollinator health have put agriculture, healthy ecosystems, and worldwide food security at risk, this diverse coalition was formed to promote collaborative solutions.

Ed Spevak of the Saint Louis Zoo’s WildCare Institute Center for Native Pollinator Conservation and the Zoo’s Curator of Invertebrates introduced the Honey Bee Health Coalition, noting that it brings together beekeepers, growers, researchers, government agencies, agribusinesses, conservation groups, manufacturers and consumer brands, and other key partners in the U.S. and Canada to improve the health of honey bees and other pollinators, ecosystems, and the security of our food supply. Approximately 80% of flowering plants rely on the honey bee and other native and managed pollinators; these plants include crops like almonds, apples, blueberries, cherries, cranberries, squashes, tomatoes, and alfalfa among many others.

“We helped found this Coalition because honey bees support approximately $18 billion of United States food production annually,” said Randy Verhoek, president of the American Honey Producers Association. “In the United States, approximately 30% of managed honey bees now die each winter,” he continued, “compared to around 15% that beekeepers consider acceptable. This makes it increasingly difficult for beekeepers to stay in business, hurting not only the beekeepers and their families but also the farmers and agricultural communities that rely on those bees to pollinate crops.”

“If we do not act collaboratively to find solutions that work for all involved, honey bee health, the ability to produce fruits, nuts and vegetables, and the ability to sustain ecosystems and the economy will all be impacted,” said Jerry Hayes, Honey Bee Health Lead for Monsanto. “A healthy bee population is imperative for our industry and for our supply chain, and we need collaboration across stakeholders. This coalition is a great step in this direction.”

“The Coalition has already made important progress in identifying critical areas for collaboration, including bee forage and nutrition, crop pest management, hive management, and outreach, education and communications,” said Richard Joost, Director of Research for the United Soybean Board. “The Coalition will address these critical areas by building consensus on key strategies, creating a platform for collaboration, and funding partnerships, pilots, and programs.”

The idea for the Coalition first took shape as part of a Clinton Global Initiative Commitment in 2013. In a very short period of time the coalition members have turned that idea into a reality.

Coalition members currently include the Agricultural Retailers Association, the Almond Board of California, the American Beekeeping Federation, the American Honey Producers Association, the American Seed Trade Association, Bayer CropScience, Browning Honey Company, the Canadian Honey Council, CropLife America, CropLife Canada, Ducks Unlimited, DuPont, Eastern Missouri Beekeepers Association, Land O’Lakes, Inc., Monsanto Company, the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture, Pheasants Forever, Project Apis m., the Saint Louis Zoo’s WildCare Institute Center for Native Pollinator Conservation, Syngenta, Unilever, United Soybean Board, the University of Maryland’s Department of Entomology, and the U.S. Canola Association. The Coalition also includes ex officio participation from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Funding has been provided by the Agricultural Retailers Association, the American Honey Producers Association, Bayer CropScience, CropLife America, DuPont, Eastern Missouri Beekeepers Association, Land O’Lakes, Inc., Monsanto, Syngenta, Unilever, and the United Soybean Board.

About the Honey Bee Health Coalition

The Honey Bee Health Coalition brings together beekeepers, growers, researchers, government agencies, agribusinesses, conservation groups, manufacturers and brands, and other key partners to improve the health of honey bees and other pollinators. Our mission is to collaboratively implement solutions that will help to achieve a healthy population of honey bees while also supporting healthy populations of native and managed pollinators in the context of productive agricultural systems and thriving ecosystems. The Coalition is focusing on accelerating collective impact to improve honey bee health in four key areas: forage and nutrition, hive management, crop pest management, and communications, outreach and education.

Through its unique network of private and public sector members, the ...


July 2014


Yearly Survey Shows Better Results for Pollinators, but Losses Remain  Significant

USDA Office of
Communications Press Release

USDA Announces Fall Summit on Bee Nutrition and Forage; Launches “Bee Watch” Website to Broadcast  Bee Activity and Increase Public  Awareness of the Role of Pollinators in Crop Production

WASHINGTON, May 15, 2014 - A yearly survey of beekeepers, released today, shows fewer colony losses occurred in the United States over the winter of 2013-2014 than in recent years, but beekeepers say losses remain higher than the level that they consider to be sustainable. According to survey results, total losses of managed honey bee colonies from all causes were 23.2 percent nationwide. That number is above the 18.9 percent level of loss that beekeepers say is acceptable for their economic sustainability, but is a marked improvement over the 30.5 percent loss reported for the winter of 2012-2013, and over the eight-year average loss of 29.6 percent.

More than three-fourths of the world’s flowering plants rely on pollinators, such as bees, to reproduce, meaning pollinators help produce one out of every three bites of food Americans eat.

“Pollinators, such as bees, birds and other insects are essential partners for farmers and ranchers and help produce much of our food supply. Healthy pollinator populations are critical to the continued economic well-being of agricultural producers,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “While we’re glad to see improvement this year, losses are still too high and there is still much more work to be done to stabilize bee populations.”

There is no way to tell why the bees did better this year, according to both Pettis and Dennis vanEngelsdorp, a University of Maryland assistant professor who is the leader of the survey and director of the Bee Informed Partnership. Although the survey, conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the University of Maryland Bee Informed Partnership shows improvement, losses remain above the level that beekeepers consider to be economically sustainable. This year, almost two-thirds of the beekeepers responding reported losses greater than the 18.9 percent threshold.

“Yearly fluctuations in the rate of losses like these only demonstrate how complicated the whole issue of honey bee health has become, with factors such as viruses and other pathogens, parasites like varroa mites, problems of nutrition from lack of diversity in pollen sources, and even sublethal effects of pesticides combining to weaken and kill bee colonies,” said Jeff Pettis, co-author of the survey and research leader of the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Bee Research Laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland. ARS is USDA’s chief intramural scientific research agency.

The winter losses survey covers the period from October 2013 through April 2014. About 7,200 beekeepers responded to the voluntary survey.

A complete analysis of the bee survey data will be published later this year. The summary of the analysis is at
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) also announced today that it will hold a summit this fall aimed at addressing the nutrition and forage needs of pollinators. The summit will take place in Washington D.C. on October 20-21 and will be attended by a consortium of public, private, and non-governmental organizations. Attendees will discuss the most recent research related to pollinator loss and work to identify solutions.

Additionally, today USDA launched the People’s Garden Apiary bee cam at the USDA headquarters in Washington, D.C. as an additional effort to increase public awareness about the reduction of bee populations and to inform Americans about actions they can take to support the recovery of pollinator populations. The USDA “Bee Watch” website ( will broadcast honey bee hive activity live over the Internet 24 hours per day, 7 days per week. Created in 2010, the People’s Garden Apiary is home to two beehives. The bees are Italian queens, the most common bee stock and the same used in many honey bee colonies throughout the United States.

In March of 2014, Secretary Vilsack created a Pollinator Working Group, under the leadership of Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden, to better coordinate efforts, leverage resources, and increase focus on pollinator issues across USDA agencies. USDA personnel from ten Department agencies (Agricultural Research Service, National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Farm Services Agency, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Economic Research Service, Forest Service, Agricultural Marketing Service, Risk Management Agency and Rural Development) meet regularly to coordinate and evaluate efforts as USDA strives toward improving pollinator health and ensuring our pollinators continuing contributions to our nation’s environment and food security.
Earlier this year, USDA made $3 million available to help agriculture producers in five states (North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan) provide floral forage habitats to benefit pollinating species on working lands. The Honey Bee Pollinator Effort is intended to encourage farmers and ranchers to grow alfalfa, clover and other flowering habitat for bees and other pollinators.

The President’s fiscal year 2015 budget proposal provides $71 million for pollinator health activities through multiple USDA agencies. This includes an increase of $40 million in combined mandatory and discretionary funds to advance efforts, in consultation with the Environmental Protection Agency and other Federal partners, to respond to the decline in honey bee health and ensure their recovery. This coordinated effort is focused on targeted research that addresses multifactorial stressors, their interaction, and identification and implementation of measures to improve and increase habitat available to pollinators on Federal and private lands. In addition, this initiative will help prevent introductions of invasive bees, bee diseases, and parasites; document the status of honey bee health factors associated with bee losses and honey bee production; and work with stakeholders on best management practices. A coordinated communication strategy, including outreach and education, will engage the public to help solve this important challenge.

Bee Biodiversity Boosts Crop Yields

Research from North Carolina State University shows that blueberries produce more seeds and larger berries if they are visited by more diverse bee species, allowing farmers to harvest significantly more pounds of fruit per acre.

“We wanted to understand the functional role of diversity,” says Dr. Hannah Burrack, an associate professor of entomology at NC State and co-author of a paper on the research. “And we found that there is a quantifiable benefit of having a lot of different types of bees pollinating a crop.”

The researchers looked at blueberries in North Carolina because it is an economically important and well understood crop that relies on insect pollination.

Within the blueberry fields, the researchers identified five distinct groups of bee species: honey bees, bumble bees, southeastern blueberry bees, carpenter bees and a functionally similar collection of species that they termed small native bees.

The researchers found that for each group above one, farmers saw an increase of $311 worth of yield per acre. For example, if two bee groups pollinated a field, the boost would be $311 per acre; for three bee groups, the boost would be $622 per acre, and so on.
“For North Carolina blueberries as a whole, we calculate the benefit of each group to be approximately $1.42 million worth of yield each year,” Burrack says.

“We think the benefit stems from differences in behavior between bee groups, in part depending on the weather,” explains Dr. David Tarpy, an associate professor of entomology at NC State and co-author of the paper. For example, southeastern blueberry bees work well regardless of inclement weather, whereas honey bees only perform at their best on calm, warm, sunny days.

“This can make a big difference, since blueberries bloom in March and April in North Carolina,” Burrack says. “That means the weather can swing from great to awful, as we saw this year.”
There is some research showing that having native, flowering plants near blueberry fields can increase native bee populations over time, but the researchers are now planning to see what role crop management can play in fostering bee diversity at crop sites.

“We’ve shown that there is a real financial benefit associated with biodiversity,” Burrack says. “The next step is to figure out how to foster that diversity in practical terms.”

Happy Bees Down on the Farm in Indiana

How A Beekeeper And A Grower Created A New Home For Honey bees

 by Dr. Becky Langer
Project Manager
Bayer Bee Care Program in North America

HANOVER, Ind. – Eleven years ago, a pilot flew into the grass runway airport that Ginger Davidson and her husband, Rich, own and manage near this southern Indiana community and sent her life in a new

During a conversation, the pilot mentioned he was a beekeeper and Ginger said she was thinking about becoming a beekeeper. “The next thing I know, he was flying back in, helping me put my bees in my hives,” said Davidson. “I started with two hives and it kind of gets under your skin. I am up to 60 hives right now.”

Davidson, who operates her honey bee business under the trade name, Geez Beez, sells honey as well as bees and queens. “My husband thinks it’s not too profitable,” she said. “The bee side is very profitable and the honey side helps cover expenses. I like to say that I break even but I’m working on it.”

Davidson’s apiary was hit by a tornado in March 2012 and she lost half of her hives. When she was chosen to receive a 2013 U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) North Central Region SARE (Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education) Farmer/Rancher grant to promote sustainable beekeeping, she needed more bees so she purchased an apiary to replace lost hives and expand her operation. That meant she had to find more locations to place her hives – then fate stepped in at a USDA pasture management seminar.

“When you have 110 acres of which 50 are grass, you spend a lot of time mowing,” explained Davidson. “You try to find ways to reduce mowing time and to best utilize the land in airport friendly ways.” Davidson attended the seminar to learn new methods to manage the airport’s acreage. She mentioned to the instructor, Robert Zupancic who works out of the USDA’s office in nearby North Vernon, Ind., that she was looking for land for her honey bees. Zupancic knew exactly who to call.

The Bairds To The Rescue
“We have been friends with Robert for years and he knew that we have had beekeepers on our land in the past to help pollinate our pumpkins and squash,” said Linda Baird, whose family operates a farm about 30 miles from Davidson’s home. “We think it is mutually beneficial and we need the pollination.”

The 2013 Indiana Farm Family of the Year, Linda and her, husband, Kevin, along with sons Michael and Jared, are third-generation farmers, operating under the trade name, Cornucopia Farm. In addition to growing pumpkins and squash, they also grow corn, soybeans, and mums, bale straw for sale, and have a few cattle. On their 375-acre farm, they operate a seasonal market, have school tours to educate the public about agriculture, and, somewhat legendary locally, host an annual corn maze event.

“My husband and I went to meet them,” said Davidson. “We wanted to be sure the bees would be safe.” The Davidson’s were particularly concerned about chemical spraying near their hives, but the Bairds make sure that is not a problem.

“If we spray, and we only spray on as needed basis, we spray when the bees are in their hives,” said Baird. “I think if we all follow label directions and do the right thing, it will help the bees.”

Both Davidson and Baird are aware of concerns that pesticides may be causing honey bee colony decline. “I don’t believe pesticides are the only thing causing the problems,” said Davidson. “I think they (bees) are getting stresses from many

Davidson said the key is communication between beekeepers and growers. “We need to communicate more,” she said. “Growers don’t understand the beekeepers and the beekeepers don’t understand the growers. We need each other to survive.”
Baird agrees. “The bees are no trouble,” she said. “We think more people should help to increase our bee population…(and) providing habitat for them. That is what we are doing.”
Bringing together growers and beekeepers to have a positive impact on honey bee health is the goal of a broad-based stewardship campaign introduced during the spring of 2013 by Bayer CropScience North America. The campaign, launched under the acronym, C.A.R.E. urges growers to:

  • Communicate planting activities and be aware of beekeepers in the area;
  • Be Aware of wind speed, direction during planting;
  • Help Reduce potential risk to pollinators by using Fluency Agent, a new seed lubricant for corn and soybeans; and
  • Ensure seed is planted correctly.

“Linda Baird and Ginger Davidson are an excellent example of what happens when beekeepers and growers collaborate,” said Dick Rogers, apiologist and research manager, Bayer Bee Care Center in North America. “We believe that this type of collaboration will go a long way in helping all of us protect honey bees.”

In addition, there are a few intangible benefits. “It’s been a great relationship so far; the bees like it there,” said Davidson. “I have placed an observation hive in their store so the kids can see the bees working.”

On the Baird side of the ledger, Jared Baird, a sophomore at Purdue University, signed up for a beekeeping class this year. And for Linda, she and the bees couldn’t be doing better, “I’ve got more bees than I have had in the past, so I am happy.”

Researching an Endangered Relationship

Imperfect together? Climate change could endanger the relationship between bees and the plants they pollinate say NJIT Researchers.
The timing has been ....


June 2014


80,000+ Beehives Damaged or Dead; Beekeepers Meet With EPA

Courtesy of Pollinator Stewardship Council

In March the Pollinator Stewardship Council received reports of bee kills at the end of the almond bloom. A meeting with EPA was held by Pollinator Stewardship Council and the American Beekeeping Federation, March 24 in Los Banos, California to discuss the pollinator losses during almond pollination. More than 70 beekeepers attended in person and on a conference call.

Bees were released from almond pollination, and beekeepers began to see the effects of a tank mix that caused dead adult bees, and dead, dying, and deformed brood. A poll taken of the 75 beekeepers at the meeting showed 80,000 colonies damaged: 75% of them severely damaged. Additional reports place an average loss of 60% of hives in almonds as being impacted. Of that 60%, 40% lost adult bees and had dying brood, 20% of the hives were dead completely. These losses were experienced by beekeepers who wintered in California, as well as those who brought their bees into almonds from southern states.

The meeting addressed the bee kills in almonds, and the new label language for foliar applications of clothianidin, dinotefuran, imidacloprid, thiamethoxam, and the two new products tolfenpyrad and cyantraniliprole. The majority of the meeting addressed the damages beekeepers suffered from a tank mix that included an insect growth regulator (IGR) and a fungicide. The tank mix was applied “per the label.” However, the IGR has decimated the ability of beekeepers to make splits for the next crop pollination, to breed queens, or to make packages of bees. Many beekeepers expressed grave concern that the tank mix was applied in one area, but honey bees from other orchards, under another grower’s pollination contract received damage due to drift, and foraging range. Some of the bee damage was not evident until truckloads of bees returned to their southern homes. The effects of fungicides and IGRs were delayed just enough that beekeepers did not realize the impact until their hives were released from pollinating almonds. Research has shown fungicides are detrimental to pollinators. (Fungicides can reduce, hinder pollination potential of honey bees
Research and experience has shown night applications of pesticides in almonds causes less damage to pollinators. Beekeepers at the Los Banos meeting stated they have been experiencing damage to their bees in almonds for six years. The damages decreased when growers applied products at night, or did not apply any products during the bloom; but this year some practices changed, and bees were heavily impacted. The impact was so great a few beekeepers said they would not return to almonds, as they cannot take these losses to their bees and their business.

The bee kills in almonds at the end of this season were due to products used “per the label.” The fungicides, the IGRs were all used per the label. The tank mixing of products were all used per the label. Directions on pesticide labels generally state the herbicide, fungicide, insecticide “is physically and biologically compatible with many registered pesticides, fertilizers or micronutrients . . . If you have no experience with the combination you are considering, you should conduct a test to determine physical compatibility. To determine physical compatibility, add the recommended proportions of each chemical with the same proportion of water as will be present in the chemical supply tank into a suitable container, mix thoroughly, and allow to stand for five minutes. If the combination remains mixed, or can be readily re-mixed, the mixture is considered physically compatible.” One beekeeper described tank mixing this way, “The pesticide label basically instructs you to take a quart jar and mix the products you want to use into the jar. If it does not ‘blow-up’ go ahead and mix the full chemicals and apply to the crop.” (Pesticide Mixtures Have Damaging Effects on Bees

Earlier we reported that the EPA stated the new pesticide label language will now only be required for foliar applications of clothianidin, dinotefuran, imidacloprid, thiamethoxam, and the two new products tolfenpyrad and cyantraniliprole. At the Los Banos meeting the representatives from EPA stated they had not seen the letter from Mr. Jim Jones to the bee industry, and they were not aware of the issues the bee industry had concerning the new label language. EPA listened politely, but made no promise to do anything, stating that changing label wording is a long and drawn out process, and one that cannot be done quickly. Beekeepers on the other hand did make promises: promises to add a pesticide surcharge to pollination contracts next year; promises that if no enforceable change to labels is made before next years’ pollination to stay in Georgia or Florida and make honey in a safe environment rather than risk another season of severe hive damage. Beekeepers at the meeting asked EPA for two things: adding a statement on the label instructing applicators when and how to apply pesticides to not damage pollinators; and curtail the use of tank mixing.

Paramount Farms, the largest almond grower in the world, testified at the meeting they use no crop protection products during almond pollination season, and have found their yields improved when they made the decision to better time their pesticide use.
At the Los Banos meeting March 24 the beekeepers did a rough tally of total estimated losses. 1.7M colonies supplied by 1300 commercial beekeepers were needed to pollinate almonds. Even with the drought, all available honey bees were utilized for almond pollination. Of the 1.7M total colonies, it is estimated fifteen to twenty-five percent were damaged (dead, loss of brood, loss of adult foragers in full or in part) which equals 255,000 to 425,000 colonies of honey bees severely impacted in almonds. The conservative value of these losses is $63,750,000 to $106,250,000; however beekeepers are still assessing their damages. This figure does not include the loss of viable colonies to satisfy subsequent pollination contracts. This figure does not take into account the losses in selling bulk packages of honey bees, queens, or frames of brood to establish new hives. With severely damaged hives some beekeepers have been forced to cancel orders.

Almonds are the beginning of the crop pollination season. Almonds are the first crop honey bees pollinate. What happens to honey bees in almonds affects the ability of crop pollination services to apples, cranberries, canola, tangelos, blueberries, squash, watermelon, kiwi, plums, apricots, cherries, seed crops, and so much of our vegetables and fruit. One beekeeper who pollinates Washington apples after almonds was short 1200 hives due to his losses during almond pollination. What happens to honey bees in almonds does not stay in almonds; it affects how many bees are available to pollinate other crops, the cost of pollinating those crops, and the cost of the food you buy to feed your family.
The Pollinator Stewardship Council works with beekeepers to collect reports of bee kills across the U.S. in rural, suburban, and urban areas. Please contact the Pollinator Stewardship Council to file your bee kill report at 832-727-9492 or info@pollinator

Bayer CropScience Opens North American Bee Care Center

State-of-the-Art Facility Dedicated to Improving Honey Bee Health through Research and Development, Education

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. – In celebration of Bayer CropScience’s more than 25-year commitment to pollinator health, the company celebrated the grand opening of its North American Bee Care Center, at its North American headquarters in Research Triangle Park. The $2.4 million center brings together significant technological, scientific and academic resources, with goals of promoting improved honey bee health, product stewardship and sustainable agriculture. A 6,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art facility, the Center will complement the Eastern Bee Care Technology Station in Clayton, N.C., and a Bee Care Center at the joint global headquarters campus of Bayer CropScience and Bayer Animal Health in Monheim, Germany.

The North American Bee Care Center, part of the company’s $12 million investment in bee health in 2014, brings together some of the brightest minds in agriculture and apiology to develop comprehensive solutions for bee health. This includes entomologists and apiarists, graduate researchers and more, all of whom are invested in the continuation of Bayer CropScience’s commitment to honey bee health excellence. The North American Bee Care Center team includes Becky Langer, Bee Care program manager; Dick Rogers, M.Sc., bee health expert and manager, Bee Care Center Research Program; Dr. Ana Cabrera, pollinator safety and varroa mite research scientist; Sarah Myers, apiarist and event manager, Bee Care Center; Kim Huntzinger, bee health laboratory diagnostic specialist; Sadye Howald, field apiarist in Indiana; and Jim Dempster, apiarist at Eastern Bee Care Center Technology Station in Clayton, N.C.

The center houses a full laboratory with a teaching and research apiary, honey extraction and hive maintenance space; interactive learning center; and meeting, training and presentation facilities for beekeepers, farmers and educators, as well as office space for a full staff and graduate students. On-site honey bee colonies, pollinator-friendly gardens and a screened hive observation area serve to further education and collaboration that will foster significant improvement in honey bee health and stewardship measures and best management practices.

“Honey bees are essential to modern agriculture production, and our North American Bee Care Center will help facilitate the research needed to help honey bees meet the increasing global demand for crop pollination,” said Jim Blome, president and CEO of Bayer CropScience LP. “Healthy honey bees mean a more substantial and nutritious food supply for us all, and we understand the many complex issues affecting honey bees’ ability to thrive, including disease, parasites such as Varroa mites, genetics and more.”

A hub for worldwide honey bee health initiatives, the Center supports scientific research and development, and education of the public on honey bees’ integral role in agriculture. The Center serves as a hub for premier technological, scientific and academic resources to protect and improve honey bee health and sustainable agriculture. Additionally, the North American Bee Care Center is targeting LEED Silver certification. The environmentally sustainable facility will help Bayer CropScience reduce its carbon footprint in an effort to promote corporate environmental stewardship. Products and technology developed at the Center will control parasitic mites in honey bee hives, help manage a Healthy Bees program, assess the safety of crop protection products to bees, and much more. Other activities conducted on-site include a Sentinel Hive monitoring program, varroagate testing and development, Varroa resistance monitoring and varroacide screening.

“Bayer CropScience actively seeks to ....

 May 2014


Nectar: A Sweet Reward from Plants to Attract Pollinators

Flowering plants need sugar transporter SWEET9 for nectar production

Evolution is based on diversity, and sexual reproduction is key to creating a diverse population that secures competitiveness in nature. Plants as largely immobile organisms had to solve a problem: they needed to find ways to spread their genetic material beyond individual flowers. To make sure that flying pollinators such as insects, birds and bats come to the flowers to pick up pollen, plants evolved special organs, the nectaries, to attract and reward the animals. Scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology in Jena (Germany) and their colleagues from Stanford and Duluth (USA) have identified the sugar transporter that plays a key role in plants’ nectar production. SWEET9 transports sugar into extracellular areas of the nectaries where nectar is secreted. Thus, SWEET9 may have been crucial for the evolution of flowering plants that attract and reward pollinators with sweet nectar. (Nature, March 16, 2014, doi: 10.1038/nature13082)

Despite the obvious importance of nectar, the process by which plants manufacture and secrete it has remained a mystery. New research from a team led by Wolf Frommer, director of the Plant Biology Department, Carnegie Institution for Science in Stanford, in collaboration with the Carter lab in Minnesota and the Baldwin lab at the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology in Jena, Germany, now identified key components of the sugar synthesis and secretion mechanisms. Their work also suggests that the components were recruited for this purpose early during the evolution of flowering plants. Their work is published by Nature.
The team used advanced techniques to search for transporters that could be involved in sugar transport and were present in nectaries. They identified SWEET9 as a key player in three diverse flowering plant species, thale cress Arabidopsis thaliana, turnip Brassica rapa and coyote tobacca Nicotiana attenuata, and demonstrated that it is essential for nectar production.

In specially engineered plants lacking SWEET9, the team found that nectar secretion did not occur but sugars rather accumulated in the stems. They also identified genes necessary for the production of sucrose, which turn out to be also essential for nectar secretion. Taken together, their work shows that sucrose is manufactured in the nectary and then transported into the extracellular space of nectaries by SWEET9. In this interstitial area the sugar is converted into a mixture of sucrose and other sugars, namely glucose and fructose. In the plants tested these three sugars comprise the majority of solutes in the nectar, a prerequisite for collection by bees for honey production.

“SWEETs are key transporters for transporting photosynthates from leaves to seeds and we believe that the nectarial SWEET9 sugar transporter evolved around the time of the formation of the first floral nectaries, and that this process may have been a major step in attracting and rewarding pollinators and thus increasing the genetic diversity of plants,” Frommer said.

Honey is a New Approach to Fighting Antibiotic Resistance: How Sweet It Is!

Honey, that delectable condiment for breads and fruits, could be one sweet solution to the serious, ever-growing problem of bacterial resistance to antibiotics, researchers said here today.

Medical professionals sometimes use honey successfully as a topical dressing, but it could play a larger role in fighting infections, the researchers predicted. Their study was part of the 247th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS), the world’s largest scientific society.

The meeting, attended by thousands of scientists, features more than 10,000 reports on new advances in science and other topics. It is being held at the Dallas Convention Center and area hotels through Thursday.

“The unique property of honey lies in its ability to fight infection on multiple levels, making it more difficult for bacteria to develop resistance,” said study leader Susan M. Meschwitz, Ph.D. That is, it uses a combination of weapons, including hydrogen peroxide, acidity, osmotic effect, high sugar concentration and polyphenols — all of which actively kill bacterial cells, she explained. The osmotic effect, which is the result of the high sugar concentration in honey, draws water from the bacterial cells, dehydrating and killing them.

In addition, several studies have shown that honey inhibits the formation of biofilms, or communities of slimy disease-causing bacteria, she said. “Honey may also disrupt quorum sensing, which weakens bacterial virulence, rendering the bacteria more susceptible to conventional antibiotics,” Meschwitz said. Quorum sensing is the way bacteria communicate with one another, and may be involved in the formation of biofilms. In certain bacteria, this communication system also controls the release of toxins, which affects the bacteria’s pathogenicity, or their ability to cause disease.

Meschwitz, who is with Salve Regina University in Newport, R.I., said another advantage of honey is that unlike conventional antibiotics, it doesn’t target the essential growth processes of bacteria. The problem with this type of targeting, which is the basis of conventional antibiotics, is that it results in the bacteria building up resistance to the drugs.
Honey is effective because it is filled with healthful polyphenols, or antioxidants, she said. These include the phenolic acids, caffeic acid, p-coumaric acid and ellagic acid, as well as many flavonoids. “Several studies have demonstrated a correlation between the non-peroxide antimicrobial and antioxidant activities of honey and the presence of honey phenolics,” she added. A large number of laboratory and limited clinical studies have confirmed the broad-spectrum antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties of honey, according to Meschwitz.

She said that her team also is finding that honey has antioxidant properties and is an effective antibacterial. “We have run standard antioxidant tests on honey to measure the level of antioxidant activity,” she explained. “We have separated and identified the various antioxidant polyphenol compounds. In our antibacterial studies, we have been testing honey’s activity against E. coli, Staphylococcus aureus and Pseudomonas aeruginosa, among others.”

Asian Hornet trap launched to Combat the Latest Honey Bee Pest in Europe

Beekeepers now have a weapon to counter the Asian hornet, a new invasive honeybee pest that is threatening honey bee colonies across Europe.

ApiShield, just launched by Vita (Europe) Ltd, has been designed specifically to trap the Asian hornet (Vespa velutina). The trap doesn’t require any bait or chemicals and beekeepers can easily incorporate it into existing husbandry routines.

The Asian hornet is native to China, but arrived in a pottery consignment in Bordeaux, France in 2004. Since then they have devastated honey bee colonies in many parts of France and have already spread into Belgium, NW Spain, N Portugal and Italy and might reach the UK at some point in the future.

The hornets’ mode of attack is highly organized. In the summer a few hornets terrorize honeybee colonies by picking them off one by one as they return to the hive. Faced with this threat, the honey bees eventually stay home for safety, but then weaken by starvation. At the end of the season more hornets arrive and swoop en masse to invade the hive and consume the bees and the hive stores.

Native honey bees have no defense against the marauding hornets. Removing nests is usually impractical because, although very large, they are built high in trees and do not become easily visible until leaf fall in Autumn when the damage to honeybee colonies has been done.

ApiShield, the new trap from Vita, lures hornets into a trap in the bottom of the beehive. The trap, which acts as a base for a hive, has a modified front entrance for the honey bees and decoy side entrances that attract the Asian hornet and other flying honey bee pests. The hornets try to enter the hive by the unguarded side entrances, but become trapped in the false bottom, and then dehydrate and die. The beekeeper simply removes the dead hornets as required.

Dr. Max Watkins, technical director at Vita, explained how the trap foils invaders, but not the hive’s inhabitants: “The hive’s honey bees don’t use the decoy side entrances because when the base is first installed the side entrances are blocked and the bees quickly learn to use the proper front entrance. They then guard the front entrance in their usual way. The side entrances are then opened.

“Asian hornets, wasps and even robber bees wanting to invade the hive find the front entrance guarded and opt for the undefended decoy side entrances. The hornets can smell the bees through the side entrances but when they enter they cannot reach them because of the wire mesh floor above them. The hornets are trapped and cannot exit because of the funnel design of the decoy entrances. They dehydrate and die and can be easily removed by the beekeeper.”

The trap, invented under the name of Apiburg® by Prof. Michael Ifantidis in Greece, has been rigorously tested in France and Greece where hornets are already decimating honey bee colonies.

Although designed specifically to trap the Asian hornet, field trials have proved it to be very effective in catching other honey bee pests and predators including many wasps, wax moth and other types of hornet. Robber bees, often the cause of transmitting Varroa or other disease between hives, also get fooled into using the trap entrances. In addition, ApiShield can act as a varroa screen to measure mite infestation levels.

Dr. Watkins added: “The ApiShield trap is elegant, simple, and requires little maintenance. Its proven efficacy goes far beyond protection against the Asian hornet. Even before the Asian hornet arrives in a region, it will be worthwhile installing a trap to act as an early-warning sentinel. At the end of the season, a trap is especially effective in trapping Asian hornet queens seeking winter shelter -- trapped queens in autumn reduce the population for the following season thereby acting as a severe brake on the hornet’s advance.”
Unlike bait traps, ApiShield does not trap non-target pollinators such as flies and butterflies. ApiShield is also far more effective than bait traps and does not require bait replenishment -- ever-present honey bee pheromones act as the bait.

Apishield is now available for all major hive types including British National, Dadant and Langstroth. Currently available in hard-wearing pine wood, a polystyrene version is also planned for the near future. (

Virtual Bees Help to Unravel Complex Causes of Colony Decline

New Computer Model to Help Scientists, Beekeepers and Regulators to Understand Multiple Environmental Effects on Honey Bee Colonies

Scientists have created an ingenious computer model that simulates a honey bee colony over the course of several years. The BEEHAVE model, published today in the Journal of Applied Ecology, was created to investigate the losses of honeybee colonies that have been reported in recent years and to identify the best course of action for improving honey bee health.

A team of scientists, led by Professor Juliet Osborne from the Environment and Sustainability Institute, University of Exeter (and previously at Rothamsted Research), developed BEEHAVE, which simulates the life of a colony including the queen’s egg laying, brood care by nurse bees and foragers collecting nectar and pollen in a realistic landscape.
Prof. Juliet Osborne said: “It is a real challenge to understand which factors are most important in affecting bee colony growth and survival. This is the first opportunity to simulate the effects of several factors together, such as food availability, mite infestation and disease, over realistic time scales.”

The model allows researchers, beekeepers and anyone interested in bees, to predict colony development and honey production under different environmental conditions and beekeeping practices. To build the simulation, the scientists brought together existing honey bee research and data to develop a new model that integrated processes occurring inside and outside the hive.

The first results of the model show that colonies infested with a common parasitic mite (varroa) can be much more vulnerable to food shortages. Effects within the first year can be subtle and might be missed by beekeepers during routine management. But the model shows that these effects build up over subsequent years leading to eventual failure of the colony, if it was not given an effective varroa treatment.

BEEHAVE can also be used to investigate potential consequences of pesticide applications. For example, the BEEHAVE model can simulate the impact of increased loss of foragers. The results show that colonies may be more resilient to this forager loss than previously thought in the short-term, but effects may accumulate over years, especially when colonies are also limited by food supply.

BEEHAVE simulations show that good food sources close to the hive will make a real difference to the colony and that lack of forage over extended periods leaves them vulnerable to other environmental factors. Addressing forage availability is critical to maintaining healthy hives and colonies over the long term.

Prof. Osborne added: “The use of this model by a variety of stakeholders could stimulate the development of new approaches to bee management, pesticide risk assessment and landscape management. The advantage is that each of these factors can be tested in a virtual environment in different combinations, before testing in the field. Whilst BEEHAVE is mathematically very complex, it has a user-friendly interface and a fully accessible manual so it can be explored and used by a large variety of interested people”.
BEEHAVE is freely available at

The project was funded by an Industrial Partnership Award from BBSRC with co-funding from Syngenta. It involved collaboration between ecologists and modellers from Exeter (Prof. Osborne, Dr Becher and Dr Kennedy, who started the project at Rothamsted Research), Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research - UFZ Leipzig (Prof. Grimm and Ms Horn) and Syngenta (Dr P Thorbek).

Prof. Osborne’s research group studies the behaviour and ecology of bees and other pollinators. They started the project when based at Rothamsted Research and moved to the University of Exeter in 2012. They work with beekeepers, conservation organisations, farmers and industry with the aim of conserving bee populations, and protecting and promoting wild flower and crop pollination.

Prof. Melanie Welham, BBSRC’s Science Director, said: “Healthy bees are vital to our food supply as they pollinate many important crops. This virtual hive is an important new research tool to help us understand how changes to the environment impact on bee health.”
Dr. Pernille Thorbek (Syngenta) adds: “Studying several stressors in multifactorial field trials is immensely complicated and difficult to do. BEEHAVE is an important new tool which can simulate and explore interactions between stressors and can improve understanding and focus experimental work.”

“BEEHAVE can help explore which changes to agricultural landscapes and beekeeping practices will benefit honey bees the most.”

Dr. David Aston, President of the British Beekeepers Association, commented that: “This model will be an important tool in helping us to understand the interactions and impact of the diverse stressors to which honey bee colonies can be exposed.

“Not only will it be invaluable for scientific research purposes but it will also be an important training tool to help beekeepers better understand the impacts of their husbandry and other factors on the health and survival of their colonies.

Historic Illinois Bee Castle

James Canty Morrison was born in Iredale County, North Carolina Nov. 21, 1813. In 1834 he came to Hillsboro and lived one year in the home of his sister, Elizabeth D. Witherspoon, and her husband . . . a year later he came to Christian County and settled here on this property.
James Canty did very well for himself and the community. Based on records from 1891 he owned a total of 772 acres, 319 acres to the North and 453 acres to the East.

Mr. Morrison built the Bee Castle here on his property. The Bee Castle was an original out-building of the Morrison Farm. The Bee Castle (which is about the size of a garage) has two rows of slots about one inch wide and six inches long running along the sides of the building. A board extends outward forming a runway for the bees. On the inside of the building there were bee hives for each of the entrances; the bees would enter from the outside through the slots, deposit the honey and thereby fill the hives. The hives would be protected from the weather and the beekeeper could walk down the center, extract the honey and repair hive bodies from the center inside the building.

April 2014


Managed Honey Bees Linked to New Diseases in Wild

Diseases that are common in managed honey bee colonies are now widespread in the UK’s wild bumblebees, according to research published in Nature. The study suggests that some diseases are being driven into wild bumblebee populations from managed honey bees.

Dr. Matthias Fürst and Professor Mark Brown from Royal Holloway University of London (who worked in collaboration with Dr. Dino McMahon and Professor Robert Paxton at Queen’s University Belfast, and Professor Juliet Osborne working at Rothamsted Research and the University of Exeter) say the research provides vital information for beekeepers across the world to ensure honey bee management supports wild bee populations.

Dr Fürst, from the School of Biological Sciences at Royal Holloway, said: “Wild and managed bees are in decline at national and global scales. Given their central role in pollinating wildflowers and crops, it is essential that we understand what lies behind these declines. Our results suggest that emerging diseases, spread from managed bees, may be an important cause of wild bee decline”.

This research assessed common honeybee diseases to determine if they could pass from honey bees to bumblebees. It showed that deformed wing virus (DWV) and the fungal parasite Nosema ceranae - both of which have major negative impacts on honey bee health - can infect worker bumblebees and, in the case of DWV, reduce
their lifespan. Honey bees and bumblebees were then collected from 26 sites across the UK and screened for the presence of the parasites. Both parasites were widespread in bumblebees and honey bees across the UK.

Dr. Fürst explained: “One of the novel aspects of our study is that we show that deformed
wing virus, which is one of the main causes of honey bee deaths worldwide, is not only broadly present in bumblebees, but is actually replicating inside them. This means that it is acting as a real disease; they are not just carriers.” The researchers also looked at how the
diseases spread and studied genetic similarities between DWV in different pollinator populations. Three factors suggest that honey bees are spreading the parasites into wild bumblebees: honey bees have higher background levels of the virus and the fungus than bumblebees; bumblebee infection is predicted by patterns of honey bee infection; and honey bees and bumblebees at the same sites share genetic strains of DWV. “We have known for a long time that parasites are behind declines in honey bees,” said Professor Brown. “What our data show is that these same pathogens are circulating widely across our wild and managed pollinators. Infected honey bees can leave traces of disease, like a fungal spore or virus particle, on the flowers that they visit and these may then infect wild bees.”

While recent studies have provided anecdotal reports of the presence of honey bee parasites in other pollinators, this is the first study to determine the epidemiology of these parasites across the landscape. The results suggest an urgent need for management
recommendations to reduce the threat of emerging diseases to our wild and managed

Professor Brown added: “National societies and agencies, both in the UK and globally, currently manage so-called honey bee diseases on the basis that they are a threat only to honey bees. While they are doing great work, our research shows that this premise is not true, and that the picture is much more complex. Policies to manage these diseases need to take into account threats to wild pollinators and be designed to reduce the impact of these diseases not just on managed honey bees, but on our wild bumblebees too.”

National Honey Board Funds New Honey Bee Research Projects Focusing on Honey Bee Health

Firestone, Colo., The National Honey Board has approved funding for eight new research projects focusing on honey bee health. The Board’s Research Committee, with input from an independent panel of experts, selected the projects from 25 proposals received from researchers around the world. The total dollar commitment for the eight projects is $235,646. In addition, the Board’s 2014 budget includes $50,500 for ongoing bee research projects from prior years.

The eight new projects approved for funding in 2014 include:

  • 1. “Are virus levels reduced in honey bees from propolis-stimulated hives?,” Dr. Kim Mogen, University of Wisconsin - River Falls.
  • 2. “Drought stressed sunflowers: Impacts on pollen nutritional value and concentrations of seed treated pesticides,” Dr. Dennis vanEngelsdorp, University of Maryland.
  • 3. “Probiotic use of Acetobacteriacea Alpha 2.2 for improving honey bee colony health,” Dr. Vanessa Corby- Harris and Dr. Kirk E. Anderson, USDA Carl Hayden Bee Research Center.
  • 4. “Evaluating potential of predatory mite (Stratiolaelaps scimitus) as a biological control agent for Varroa mites and testing Amitraz (Apivar) efficacy and mite resistance,” Dr. Ramesh Sagili and Ashrafun Nessa, Oregon State University.
  • 5. “A proteomic approach to evaluate effects of fumagillin and discover new target genes for treatment of Nosema ceranae in honey bees,” Dr. Leellen Solter, University of Illinois.
  • 6. “Characterizing the contribution of supplemental feeding to honey bee (Apis mellifera) colony strength, Nosema virulence, and detoxification gene activity,” Dr. Daniel Schmehl, University of Florida.
  • 7. “Community-based evaluation of a novel resistance mechanism of bees against Varroa,” Dr. Greg Hunt, Purdue University.
  • 8. “Field exposure and toxicity of neonicotinoid insecticides to honey bees via flowering field margins: The importance of continual pesticide exposure in bee forage,” Dr. Jonathan Lundgren and Dr. Christina Mogren, USDA-ARS, Brookings, SD. Scott Fausti, South Dakota State University.

Honey bee research projects funded by the National Honey Board are listed on the
Board’s website, Visitors can click on the “Honey Industry” tab and
then go to “Honey and Bee Research” for further information on ongoing and completed
projects. The call for proposals for  2015 funding is expected to be posted on
the Board’s website by the end of August, with proposals due by mid-November.

The National Honey Board is an industry-funded agriculture promotion group that works to educate consumers about the benefits and uses for honey and honey products through research, marketing and promotional programs.

March 2014

Pathogenic Plant Virus Jumps to Honey Bee

A viral pathogen that typically infects plants has been found in honey bees and could help explain their decline. Researchers working in the U.S. and Beijing, China report their findings in mBio, the online open-access journal of the American Society for Microbiology.
The routine screening of bees for frequent and rare viruses “resulted in the serendipitous detection of Tobacco Ringspot Virus, or TRSV, and prompted an investigation into whether this plant-infecting virus could also cause systemic infection in the bees,” says Yan Ping Chen from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, an author on the study.

“The results of our study provide the first evidence that honeybees exposed to virus-contaminated pollen can also be infected and that the infection becomes widespread in their bodies,” says lead author Ji Lian Li, at the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Science in Beijing.

“We already know that honey bees, Apis melllifera, can transmit TRSV when they move from flower to flower, likely spreading the virus from one plant to another,” Chen adds.

Notably, about 5% of known plant viruses are pollen-transmitted and thus potential sources of host-jumping viruses. RNA viruses tend to be particularly dangerous because they lack the 3’-5’ proofreading function which edits out errors in replicated genomes. As a result, viruses such as TRSV generate a flood of variant copies with differing infective properties.

One consequence of such high replication rates are populations of RNA viruses thought to exist as “quasispecies,” clouds of genetically related variants that appear to work together to determine the pathology of their hosts. These sources of genetic diversity, coupled with large population sizes, further facilitate the adaption of RNA viruses to new selective conditions such as those imposed by novel hosts. “Thus, RNA viruses are a likely source of emerging and reemerging infectious diseases,” explain these researchers.

Toxic viral cocktails appear to have a strong link with honey bee Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), a mysterious malady that abruptly wiped out entire hives across the United States and was first reported in 2006. Israel Acute Paralysis Virus (IAPV), Acute Bee Paralysis Virus (ABPV), Chronic Paralysis Virus (CPV), Kashmir Bee Virus (KBV), Deformed Wing Bee Virus (DWV), Black Queen Cell Virus (BQCV) and Sacbrood Virus (SBV) are other known causes of honeybee viral disease.

When these researchers investigated bee colonies classified as “strong” or “weak,” TRSV and other viruses were more common in the weak colonies than they were in the strong ones. Bee populations with high levels of multiple viral infections began failing in late fall and perished before February, these researchers report. In contrast, those in colonies with fewer viral assaults survived the entire cold winter months.

TRSV was also detected inside the bodies of Varroa mites, a “vampire” parasite that transmits viruses between bees while feeding on their blood. However, unlike honeybees, the mite-associated TRSV was restricted to their gastric cecum indicating that the mites likely facilitate the horizontal spread of TRSV within the hive without becoming diseased themselves. The fact that infected queens lay infected eggs convinced these scientists that TRSV could also be transmitted vertically from the queen mother to her offspring.

“The increasing prevalence of TRSV in conjunction with other bee viruses is associated with a gradual decline of host populations and supports the view that viral infections have a significant negative impact on colony survival,” these researchers conclude. Thus, they call for increased surveillance of potential host-jumping events as an integrated part of insect pollinator management programs.

Solving of 200-Year-Old Bee Puzzle Began at UC Davis

Arizona State University Provost Robert E. Page, Jr., emeritus professor and former chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology, and two other UC Davis-affiliated scientists are among the key members of a scientific team from the United States, Germany and France that cracked the 200-year secret of complementary sex determination in honey bees.
The research, “Gradual Molecular Evolution of a Sex Determination Switch in Honeybees through Incomplete Penetrance of Femaleness,” is published in the December edition of Current Biology. The research shows that five amino acid differences separate males from females.

The lead author, Martin Beye, an evolutionary geneticist at the University of Duesseldorf, Germany, was Page’s former UC Davis postdoctoral researcher. Bee breeder-geneticist Michael “Kim” Fondrk provided the genetic material from crosses using Page’s bees that he tends at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility, UC Davis.

“The story goes back to Johann Dzierson in the mid 1800s through Mendel, through Harry Laidlaw to me and to my former postdoc at Davis, Martin Beye,” Page said.

“Much of the work was done at UC Davis beginning in 1990,” Page said.  “From 1999-2000, Martin Beye was a Fyodor Lynen Fellow in my lab funded by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation.  During that year he began the sequencing and characterization of the csd gene; the paper was eventually published as a cover article in Cell.”

Said Fondrk: “This project was a long time in making; it began soon after our Cell paper was published in 2003. First we needed to assemble variation for alleles at the sex locus, by collecting drones from many different, presumably unrelated queens, and mating one drone each through an independently reared set of queens using instrumental insemination (which was Fondrk’s task). “Then a second set of crosses was made to identify and isolate individual sex alleles. The progeny that resulted from this cross were taken to Germany where Martin Beye’s team began the monumental task of sequencing the sex determination region in the collected samples.”

“It’s taken nearly 200 years, but scientists in Arizona and Europe have teased out how the molecular switch for sex gradually and adaptively evolved in the honey bee,” wrote ASU spokesperson Margaret Coulombe, director of academic communications for the ASU College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Silesian monk Johann Dzierson began studying the first genetic mechanism for sex determination in the mid-1800s. Dzierson knew that royal jelly determines whether the females will be queen bees or honey bee colonies, but he wondered about the males.

Dzierson believed that the males or drones were haploid – possessing one set of chromosomes, a belief confirmed in the 1900s with the advent of the microscope. In other words, the males, unlike the females, came from unfertilized eggs.

“However, how this system of haplodiploid sex determination ultimately evolved at a molecular level has remained one of the most important questions in developmental genetics,” Coulombe pointed out in her news release.

The collaborators resolved the last piece of the puzzle.

“Once again, the studies by Dr. Rob Page and his colleagues have unraveled another mystery of honey bee development,” commented Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, who was not involved in the study but knows the work of many of the collaborators. “It would be interesting if someone investigated the same type of sexual dimorphism in other hymenopterans to determine if they all use the same, ancient-based mechanism.”

The authors studied 14 natural sequence variants of the complementary sex determining switch (csd gene), for 76 genotypes of honey bees.

“While complex, the researchers had several tools at hand that their predecessors lacked to solve this sexual determination puzzle,” Coulombe wrote. “First, honey bees are ideal study subjects because they have one gene locus responsible for sex determination. Also, Page and former graduate student Greg Hunt identified genetic markers – well-characterized regions of DNA – close to the complementary sex determining locus to allow gene mapping. In addition, Hunt and Page found that the honey bees’ high recombination rate – the process by which genetic material is physically mixed during sexual reproduction – is the highest of any known animal studied, which helped Beye isolate, sequence and characterize the complementary sex determining locus. Page and Beye were also able to knock out an allele and show how one could get a male from a diploid genotype; work that was featured on the cover of the journal Cell in 2003.

“However, the questions of which alleles were key, how they worked together and in what combinations and why this system evolved were left unanswered, though tantalizing close. This compelled the current team of collaborators to step back to review what actually constitutes an allele.”

Page was quoted in the news release: “There has to be some segment of that gene that is responsible in this allelic series, where if you have two different coding sequences in that part of the gene you end up producing a female. So we asked how different do two alleles have to be? Can you be off one or two base pairs or does it always have to be the same set of sequences? We came up with a strategy to go in and look at these 18-20 alleles and find out what regions of these genes are responsible among these variants.”

“In this process,” Page said, “we also had to determine if there are intermediate kinds of alleles and discover how they might have evolved.”

“What the authors found,” wrote Coulombe, “was that at least five amino acid differences can control allelic differences to create femaleness through the complementary sex determiner (csd) gene – the control switch.”

Page explained: “We discovered that different amounts of arginine, serine and proline affect protein binding sites on the csd gene, which in turn lead to different conformational states, which then lead to functional changes in the bees – the switch that determines the shift from female to not female.”

The authors also discovered a natural evolutionary intermediate that showed only three amino acid differences spanned the balance between lethality and induced femaleness, Coulombe wrote. The findings suggest that that incomplete penetrance may be the mechanism by which new molecular switches can gradually and adaptively evolve. 

Other co-authors included Christine Seelmann and Tanja Gempe of the University of Duesseldorf; Martin Hasslemann, Institute of Genetics at the University of Cologne, Germany; and Xavier Bekmans with Université Lille, n France. Grants from the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft supported their work.

Page, who studies the evolution of complex social behavior in honey bees, from genes to societies, received his doctorate in entomology from UC Davis in 1980, and served as an assistant professor at Ohio State University before joining the UC Davis Department of Entomology in 1989. He chaired the department for five years, from 1999 to 2004 when ASU recruited him as the founding director and dean of the School of Life Sciences, an academic unit within College of Liberal Arts and Science (CLAS).

Recognized as one of the world’s foremost honey bee geneticists, Page is a highly cited entomologist who has authored more than 230 research papers and articles centered on Africanized bees, genetics and evolution of social organization, sex determination and division of labor in insect societies. His work on the self-organizing regulatory networks of honey bees is featured in his new book, The Spirit of the Hive: The Mechanisms of Social Evolution, published in June 2013 by Harvard University Press.

(by Kathy Keatley Garvey, UC-Davis Dept. of Entomology and Nematology)

Ancient Pheromones Keep Queens in Charge

Researchers have identified a particular class of structurally similar, queen-specific hydrocarbons that suppress the reproduction of ant, wasp and bumblebee workers alike -- and they suggest that these pheromones have been around, signaling fertility in social insects, for nearly 150 million years. Previous studies have shown that when it comes to such social insects, queens maintain their monopoly on reproduction by emitting chemical signals that render their loyal workers infertile. But, even though these signals, called pheromones, achieve the same end in various species, they are structurally diverse. Annette Van Oystaeyen and colleagues studied the chemical profiles of the outer skeleton, or cuticle, of the desert ant, the common wasp and the buff-tailed bumblebee and found several compounds that were specifically overproduced in the queens of each species. They tested those chemicals on workers and discovered that, even when their queens were gone, the presence of saturated hydrocarbons kept the workers infertile. (Meanwhile, however, control groups of the insect species rapidly developed ovaries in the absence of their queens.)
Van Oystaeyen and her colleagues compared their findings to those of 90 other published studies and investigated the chemicals that have been consistently overproduced by queens across 64 different species. Their findings reveal that saturated hydrocarbons are, by far, the most common class of chemicals overproduced by social insect queens. In fact, their study suggests that similar hydrocarbons were used by the solitary ancestors of ants, wasps and bumblebees to indicate their reproductive status millions of years ago. The study suggests that these chemicals have been evolutionarily stable, and that queen pheromones are honest signs of the queen’s fertility (not manipulative signals, variable over time, meant to actively suppress worker reproduction). A Perspective article by Michel Chapuisat explains this study in more detail and highlights its implications regarding the ancient origins of eusociality.

February 2014


A Unique Gift to UC Davis: One to ‘Bee Hold’

by Kathy Keatley Garvey
UC Davis Dept. of Entomology

DAVIS--It was a gift to bee-hold--and a gift meant to keep on giving. No, not a donor organ, tree, or a smile. In this case, the gift was for generations of honey bees at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility at the University of California, Davis.

During a pollinator education program, employees of Valent U.S.A. Corporation, based in Walnut Creek, wanted to do something significant, something that would help the troubled bee population, and something that would promote team building.

So more than 270 employees engaged in a beehive building exercise, constructing 26 Langstroth bee hives. They delivered them to the Laidlaw facility in early December where bee breeder-geneticist Michael “Kim” Fondrk, extension apiculturist Eric Mussen and staff research associate/Laidlaw manager Billy Synk, all of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, gratefully accepted them.

The gift is valued at $4290. Said Mussen: “This is an incredible gift.”
“They did a good job,” said Fondrk, who provided workshop tips on how to build the bee boxes, using the right materials and specifications.

“We are thrilled to donate these hives to the Laidlaw facility,” said Meg Brodman, manager of marketing communications for Valent. “We recognize the incredible work being done by your organization and we thank you for your commitment to supporting the needs of America’s farmers through pollinator research, particularly in California, where we are also headquartered.”

“Pollinator safety,” she said, “continues to be a focus within our organization, and we at Valent, along with our counterparts in crop protection, are keenly focused on efforts that will support education and research for pollinator safety in agriculture.”

The bee boxes will be used beginning in the spring of 2014, just in time for the seasonal population build-up. In the peak season, each hive will hold some 60,000 bees. Brian Johnson, assistant professor, keeps his research bees at the apiary; his lab studies the genetics, behavior, evolution, and health of honey bees. Fondrk, who also keeps his bees in a nearby apiary, manages the research bees of Robert E. Page Jr., emeritus professor and former chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology. Johnson and associate professor Neal Williams, pollination ecologist, are co-directors of the Laidlaw facility.

Making the trek to UC Davis were Eric Tamichi, manager of registration and regulatory affairs; Linda Obrestad, regulatory division; and Brodman. Brodman described Valent as a “growing crop protecting company, offering a diverse line of conventional and biorational products, including herbicides, insecticides, fungicide, seed protection and plant growth regulators that protect agricultural crops, enhance crop yields, improve food quality, beautify the environment and safeguard public health.”

As for the bees, a few buzzed down to investigate their new homes as the crew wheeled the boxes into the building.

Friendship Between Researcher, Teenager Benefits Honey Bees

by Kate Wilhite
College of Agricultural, Human &
Natural Resource Sciences
Washington State University

PULLMAN, Wash. – At just 16 years old, Sheridan Miller is already a veteran fundraiser. The Mill Valley, Calif., teenager recently donated $1,400 she raised to help support Washington State University’s honey bee stock improvement program. Over the past six years, she has raised more than $5,000 to help fund research aimed at combating colony collapse disorder (CCD) and saving the honey bee.

A bee ally is born
Miller first became interested in honey bees when she was 10. She heard her mom talking about how bees were disappearing and became concerned.

“I remember being incredibly worried, because she said most ice cream flavors would be gone along with their disappearance,” said Miller, referring to the vital role bees play in agriculture through the pollination of about 100 crops, including strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, cherries, pears, apples, cranberries and almonds.

About the same time, Miller had a school assignment to create a presentation on the topic of her choice. She chose to research honey bees and CCD. What she learned was far more disturbing than the disappearance of ice cream flavors, she said.

Energy and commitment

Energized by this new knowledge, Miller decided to help. She held her first fundraiser at age 10 and has made donations to bee research every year since. This year she organized and hosted a lecture for local honey bee enthusiasts and concerned citizens. The featured speaker was Sue Cobey, a WSU bee breeder-geneticist who Miller supported previously at the University of California, Davis.

“Sue was kind enough to come to Mill Valley to talk about her work with honey bees,” said Miller. “She really did an amazing job and continues to do amazing work each and every day.”
Miller’s parents are proud of their daughter’s commitment to the cause and her fund-
raising skills. Her father, Craig, describes Miller’s accomplishments as “remarkable.”
For this year’s fundraiser, she rented a clubhouse from the city of Mill Valley, got facility administrators to waive their insurance and down payment requirements, secured sponsors to pay for food and beverages and publicized the event. She also enlisted Cobey, who agreed to fly down and speak for more than two hours.

At the event, Miller sold hand-rolled beeswax candles, booklets about honey bees and raffle tickets for a donated gift basket.

“Sheridan cares so much about people and the earth,” said her father. “We are amazed at her energy level and the fact that, instead of burning out, she seems to be getting even more committed to her efforts. She often tells us of her next idea where she hopes to raise even more money than the last time.”

Developing high-level connections
Miller first met Cobey at UC Davis in 2009. Cobey was manager of the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility (, the largest and most comprehensive state-supported apiculture facility in North America. She gave Miller and her family a tour of the bee lab, with the goal to “enamor them with the bees and show what can be done,” said Cobey.

“Sheridan was excited about the breeding program we were working on as one piece of the puzzle in dealing with the collapse of colonies,” Cobey said. “She wanted to support this.”
After that first meeting, Miller kept in touch with Cobey, writing and asking questions. When Cobey came to work for WSU, Miller’s interest and donations followed.

“Sue has been generous with her time and her gratitude toward Sheridan,” said Craig. “She has instilled confidence in Sheridan and an incredible sense of pride.

“I guess an organization could simply send a thank-you note for a donation,” he said. “Sue, on the other hand, sent friendship, knowledge, encouragement – and even bees!”

Combating CCD with better breeding
Beekeepers first sounded the alarm about CCD when entire apiaries of bees began disappearing circa 2006. Researchers now believe that CCD may be caused by a variety and combination of factors, including pesticides, parasitic mites, pathogens, viruses and malnutrition resulting from the declining diversity and abundance of flowers.

The Natural Resources Defense Council estimates that nearly one-third of all honey bee colonies in the country die annually.

Miller’s donations, along with other funding, support Cobey, who is working with Steve Sheppard, chair of the WSU Department of Entomology (, to establish the first genetic repository of honey bee semen in the world. The project’s goal is to preserve and increase genetic diversity known to increase honey bee fitness and the ability to better cope with environmental challenges.

“Our project at WSU includes the importation of honey bee germplasm for breeding purposes in collaboration with U.S. honey bee queen producers who supply stock to beekeepers nationwide,” said Cobey.

Restrictions on honey bee importation into the United States have been in place since 1922 in an effort to protect domestic bees from imported mites and other dangers. The restrictions have resulted in a limited gene pool for U.S. honey bees.

“A million-and-a-half queens are commercially produced annually to supply the industry. These are descended from about 500 queen mothers – a relatively small number,” said Cobey.

“Lack of genetic diversity can lead to reduced fitness,” she said. “We look at genetic diversity as our tool box for selection toward more hardy strains of honey bees.”
Recent improvements in technology have made it possible for Cobey and fellow researchers to collect and successfully preserve honey bee semen. Germplasm imported from several races of honey bees in Europe is being crossed with domestic breeding stocks to create healthier, more robust bees.

Researchers are also collecting domestic strains of bees to preserve for future selection programs.

The outlook from a budding beekeeper
Miller’s passion for helping honey bees has led her to become a backyard beekeeper. Cobey set her up with her first hives.

“It’s been quite the experience, and I mean that in the best way,” said Miller. “Bees are such fascinating creatures; we as people can learn so much from the way they live.”
She offers the following tip for new beekeepers: “Don’t be tentative,” she said. “I was incredibly tentative the first few times around the hive, and it just holds you back from learning as much as you can about these insects.”

While Miller isn’t sure what she wants to be when she grows up, she will always maintain her love of bees.

“I want to continue in the field of science, whether that is in honey bee research or in the medical field,” Miller said. “I have so many things I want to pursue, and I am very excited to have fun learning where my biggest passions lie.

“I always want to be a backyard beekeeper, though,” she added. “I really sympathize with these tiny creatures’ plight and see them as ‘a canary in a coal mine’ for our somewhat ailing world.”

What advice does Miller have for others who are concerned about problems in the world?
“Honestly, and I know this sounds cliché, but every little bit counts,” she said. “CCD is an incredibly terrifying prospect … but it will only continue to keep getting worse if we just sit on the sidelines and let it happen.

“I have only made a tiny impact,” she said, “but if everyone made just as tiny an impact with this issue, or with other huge issues in the world, we would have 7 billion people making a gigantic impact – together.”

To learn more about honey bee research at WSU, visit

January 2014 Interactive Websites

Offered by National Honey Board

In an effort to provide food manufactures with information about the use of honey as an ingredient in products, the National Honey Board created the interactive websites. These five websites were launched to provide manufacturers with industry-specific technical, marketing and formulation assistance in the areas of baking, beverage, confectionery, dairy and snacking.
The National Honey Board encourages industry members to utilize the information and content found on these websites to stay up-to-date on the latest food product trends and innovation, as well as the most recent technical data available.
To find out more about these sites, the National Honey Board encourages you to visit This informative website contains information on baking with honey, including retail and wholesale baking formulas and technical specifications.  Some of the newer technical materials include Frequently Asked Questions from the retail and wholesale baking industries, and information on Honey Substitution. This website offers insight into the expanding beverage industry as manufactures realize the value of using an all-natural sweetener with exceptional flavor and marketing impact. This website provides confectionery manufacturers with new product ideas and stories about the latest candy industry trends. From ice cream to yogurt, this website offers dairy food and beverage manufacturers the latest information on honey and dairy products made with honey. An online guide to snack food products made with honey, as well as technical and marketing information for using honey in savory and salty snacks.

Texas Honey Broker Sentenced to Three Years in Prison for Avoiding $37.9 Million in Tariffs on Chinese-Origin Honey

U.S. Dept. of Justice News Release

CHICAGO — A Texas honey broker was sentenced Nov. 14, 2013 to three years in federal prison for illegally brokering the sale of hundreds of container loads of Chinese-origin honey, which was misrepresented as originating from India or Malaysia, to avoid anti-dumping duties when it entered the United States. The defendant, JUN YANG, pleaded guilty in March to facilitating illegal honey imports by falsely declaring that the honey originated in countries other than China to avoid $37.9 million in anti-dumping duties.
Yang, 40, of Houston, operated National Honey, Inc., which did business as National Commodities Company in Houston, and brokered the sale of honey between overseas honey suppliers and domestic customers. He was ordered to begin serving his sentence on Jan. 15, 2014, by U.S. District Judge Charles Kocoras, who cited the “inescapable harm” to the U.S. honey industry in imposing the sentence.
Yang has already paid financial penalties totaling $2.89 million to the government, including a maximum fine of $250,000, mandatory restitution of $97,625, and agreed restitution of $2,542,659.
“This is a significant sentence against a perpetrator of one of the largest food fraud schemes uncovered in U.S. history,” said Gary Hartwig, Special Agent-in-Charge of HSI Chicago. “Unbeknownst to Yang, he was dealing with an undercover HSI agent who was one step ahead of his illegal activities. Together with our partners at Customs and Border Protection, we will continue to protect American industries from deceptive import practices, while facilitating the lawful flow of goods across our borders that is so critical to the U.S. economy.”
According to court documents, Yang caused transportation companies to deliver to U.S. honey processors and distributors 778 container loads of honey, which were falsely declared at the time of importation as being from Malaysia or India, knowing that all or some of the honey had actually originated in China. As a result, the honey, which had an aggregate declared value of nearly $23 million when it entered the country, avoided anti-dumping duties and honey assessments totaling more than $37.9 million.
In addition, Yang admitted that he sold purported Vietnamese honey that tested positive for the presence of Chloramphenicol, an antibiotic not allowed in honey or other food products. After learning of the unfavorable test results, Yang obtained new test results that purported to show that the honey was not adulterated, and he instructed the undercover agent to destroy the unfavorable test results. This adulterated honey was seized by the government.
The sentence was announced by Mr. Hartwig and Zachary T. Fardon, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois.
Yang was among a group of individuals and companies who were charged in February of this year in the second phase of an investigation led by agents of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).
In December 2001, the Commerce Department determined that Chinese-origin honey was being sold in the United States at less than fair market value, and imposed anti-dumping duties. The duties were as high as 221 percent of the declared value, and later were assessed against the entered net weight, currently at $2.63 per net kilogram, in addition to a “honey assessment fee” of one cent per pound of all honey. In October 2002, the Food and Drug Administration issued an import alert for honey containing the antibiotic Chloramphenicol, a broad spectrum antibiotic that is used to treat serious infections in humans, but which is not approved for use in honey. Honey containing certain antibiotics is deemed “adulterated” within the meaning of federal food and drug safety laws.
In 2008, federal authorities began investigating allegations involving circumventing antidumping duties through illegal imports, including transshipment and mislabeling, on the “supply side” of the honey industry. The second phase of the investigation involved the illegal buying, processing, and trading of honey that illegally entered the U.S. on the “demand side” of the industry.
The government is being represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew S. Boutros.

Make Sure You Don’t Buy Illegal Honey from China

Check Your Honey with a New Look-Up Tool on

Washington, D.C. – November 14, 2013 – A new search function on allows U.S. shoppers to be sure that they’re not mistakenly buying honey that has been illegally shipped from China. In one easy step they can help ensure the safety and quality of their honey, while also supporting U.S. honey producers and beekeepers. In addition, retailers and manufacturers are able to trace their product back to the hive.
By going to and clicking on the starburst at the top of the page, consumers can enter the UPC code on the back of their packaged honey to see if it is True Source Certified™.
Millions of pounds of illegally sourced honey may continue to enter the United States, despite continuing federal crack-down efforts. True Source Certification™ helps ensure honey’s safety and quality because it traces the source of that honey from hive to table. The program has been applauded by honey industry leaders, including the American Honey Producers Association and the American Beekeeping Federation.
“The True Source Certified logo tells you that the honey you’re buying was ethically and legally sourced,” says True Source Honey Executive Director Gordon Marks. “If you don’t see the logo, ask your retailer or honey company to join the program. And make sure that your favorite foods with honey – from breakfast cereals to snacks – are made by a manufacturer that purchases honey from a True Source Certified honey company.”
Earlier this year, two of the nation’s largest honey suppliers admitted to buying illegally imported Chinese honey, including some that was adulterated with unauthorized antibiotics.
About one-third of honey sold in North America today is now True Source Certified. Many large grocery retailers and club stores only use certified honey for store brands, including Costco (Kirkland Signature) and Target (Market Pantry and Simply Balanced).
The U.S. imports more than 60% of the honey it needs from other countries. Most is from high-quality, legal sources. But some honey brokers and importers illegally circumvent tariffs and quality controls, selling honey to U.S. companies that is of questionable origin. This threatens the U.S. honey industry by undercutting fair market prices and damaging honey’s reputation for quality and safety.
True Source Honey, LLC is an effort by a number of honey companies and importers to protect consumers and customers from illegally sourced honey; and to highlight and support legal, transparent and ethical sourcing. The initiative seeks to help maintain the reputation of honey as a high-quality, highly valued food and further sustain the U.S. honey sector. Visit Follow us on Facebook.

Queen Bee’s Honesty is the Best Policy for Reproduction Signals

Queen bees convey honest signals to worker bees about their reproductive status and quality, according to an international team of researchers, who say their findings may help to explain why honey bee populations are declining.
“We usually think of animals’ chemical signals (called pheromones) as communication systems that convey only very simple sorts of information,” said Christina Grozinger, professor of entomology and director of the Center for Pollinator Research, Penn State. “However, this study demonstrates that queen honey bees are conveying a lot of nuanced information through their pheromones.
“In addition, until now, no one knew if queen bees were manipulating workers into serving them or if they were providing valuable, honest information to workers. We have found that the information queens are conveying constitutes an honest message about their reproductive status and quality. The queens are ‘telling’ the workers that they are queens, whether or not they are mated and how well mated they are. In other words, whether or not they have mated with a lot of males.”
Why do worker bees care if their queen is well mated? According to Elina Niño, postdoctoral fellow, Penn State, previous research has shown that colonies headed by more promiscuous queens -- those who mate with many males -- are more genetically diverse and, therefore, healthier, more productive and less likely to collapse.
“Beekeepers have been very worried about their queens, since they seem to not be lasting as long -- a few weeks or months instead of one or two years,” said Niño. “We know that workers will replace their queens when they are not performing well. So if worker bees are able to detect poorly mated queens and take steps to remove them, that could be an explanation for the rapid rates of queen loss and turnover that beekeepers have been reporting.”
The researchers, who represent Penn State, North Carolina State University and Tel Aviv University, describe how they assigned queen bees to a variety of treatment groups. They reported their findings in the Nov. 13, 2013 issue of PLOS ONE.
In one group, they inseminated queens with a small volume of semen to mimic a poorly mated queen scenario. In a second group, the researchers inseminated queens with a large volume of semen to mimic a well-mated queen scenario. In a third and fourth group, they inseminated queens with low and high volumes of saline. A fifth group was an untreated control.
The researchers then dissected the queens, removing two glands that are known to produce pheromones -- the mandibular gland and the Dufour’s gland. Next, the team extracted the glands’ secretions and analyzed their chemical compositions using gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. Finally, the researchers presented the gland extracts to worker bees and observed the extent to which they were attracted to different extracts.
The team found that worker bees preferred pheromone extracts of queens that were inseminated with semen rather than saline. They also found that queens inseminated with higher volumes of semen or saline as opposed to those that were inseminated with low volumes of semen or saline were preferred by worker bees.
“These results suggest that queens are signaling detailed and honest information about their mating state and reproductive quality to workers, and workers are capable of adjusting their behavior accordingly,” Niño said. “When workers replace failing queens, it is particularly damaging to beekeepers since it can take up to three weeks for the new queen to begin laying eggs and another three weeks for the new workers to emerge as adults. This reduces the workforce and therefore reduces honey production and even pollination efficiency.”
The team also found that the mandibular gland and the Dufour’s gland differ in their functions.
“The Dufour’s gland seems to inform workers that queens have mated, while the mandibular gland seems to indicate the queen’s mating quality,” Niño said. “This also means that these glands are likely being regulated via different neurophysiological pathways.”
According to Grozinger, in addition to signaling queen bee reproductive status and quality, queen bee pheromones regulate how fast workers mature and transition from taking care of developing larvae to foraging outside the hive.
“It is possible that changing the quality of the pheromone could disrupt this and other processes, which could have large-scale effects on colony organization and survival,” she said.
Through funding from the Department of Agriculture, the researchers are beginning to examine the effects of viruses, pesticides and poor nutrition on queen pheromone quality to see if the queen also is providing workers with information about her health.
“The more we know about what affects the queen’s health the better chance we will have of creating high-quality queens and disease-resistant stocks of honey bees,” Niño said.

Beekeepers, Growers Laud Bayer Cropscience’s New Fluency Agent

Testimonies and Trials Confirm Seed Treatment Technology Lowers Dust
during Planting; Further Reducing Potential for Honey Bee Exposure

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. (Nov. 19, 2013) – Bayer CropScience conducted successful field trials of its new seed treatment application technology. The product is designed to further reduce potential dust exposure to honey bees during a typical planting process, while offering improved handling efficiencies for growers.
As an alternative to standard talc and graphite lubricants, the new Bayer fluency agent – made of a polyethylene wax substrate – was shown to significantly decrease dust and emissions during laboratory testing:

•    Ninety percent reduction in total dust versus talc
•    Sixty percent reduction in total dust versus graphite

Video testimonials from growers and beekeepers further illustrated the success of the large-scale field trials. The video captures the commercial viability of the new fluency agent under field conditions and features feedback from participants, such as:

•    Performed equal to or better than comparable talc or graphite lubricants;
•    Decreased level of dust during application and easier to avoid dust when checking boxes; and
•    Showed equivalent results at significantly lower use rates than talc when comparing planting uniformity.

The development of the new fluency agent is just the latest example of Bayer‘s dedication to crop protection and commitment to environmental stewardship and sustainable agricultural practices, including the protection of beneficial insects such as honey bees. For additional information and background on other sustainability initiatives please visit

New Product- Beeshield™

by Justin Jay Brown
head of research and development

The ways of the beekeeper have always been very simple; put your bees in a nice foraging area, move them to desired honey-flows and pollinating locations and then reap the benefits of having colonies: honey, pollen, wax, etc. The times have changed dramatically in the last 50 years, and in particular of the last ten years. Bees have been dying and disappearing at a rate that seems as unbelievable as it is mysterious. Beekeepers are losing anywhere from 30-99% of their hives in a single winter!  These are losses that are not acceptable or sustainable for the commercial beekeepers of the world.  Many different reasons have been thrown out to the community: mites, viruses, drought, starvation, brood disease and, of course, pesticides.  An important fact to keep in mind is that it isn’t just one of these factors, but the combination of them all that are smashing down on the busiest worker on the planet. The weight is just becoming too much for our little friends and we are seeing the effects of it the world over. 
Let’s start with starvation. Farmers have been using a modern agronomy program for crops that basically hasn’t changed since the 1950’s. The problem is that this standard NPK program is destroying the soil’s ability to hold water, resulting in a drought. On top of that, it destroys the natural organic life in the soil that allows the plant to absorb the nutrients it needs to produce nectar and pollen. Hence, the nutritional value of nectar and pollen has been declining since the 1950’s, some as much as 38%, so it makes sense that the bees are starving. They are eating food that is almost 40% less nutritious and, since the bee’s only source of food without supplementation is pollen and nectar, this is a large problem indeed. The more nutritious food the bee eats, the better its production of glycolipoprotein or its food storage/immune system. When the bees have an unhealthy food source, they no longer develop properly, their immune systems weaken and they die. Knowing this, it becomes apparent why these next factors are taking such a toll on the bee.
Viruses - there are around 14 different viruses that infect the honey bee in North America, some are tolerated while others destroy a colony. Mites - they are the transport vectors for many harmful viruses and, if the bees have a weakened immune system, these parasites can take over and destroy entire colonies. Last, but most certainly not least, are pesticides, which have been the most destructive factor for the honey bee since 1997. Nationwide protests to ban certain types of pesticides believed to be responsible for killing bees are ongoing.
Just one of any of these factors can be harmful to a colony. Unfortunately, all of these factors are now in play, resulting in a crisis for the health and lives of the honeybee. Something must be done and it must happen soon. There needs to be an increase in nutrient absorption for the honey bee so they have a fully developed immune system.
Hope is not lost, beekeepers are a resourceful lot and much can be done now to save an industry that provides for so many across the world. As a beekeeper and researcher for Shamrock Bees and, now, head of research and development at, a division of 1st Light Trading, LLC., I have been on a mission to find something to save our bees. BEESHIELD™ is an organic product, a supplemental spray and syrup additive, that prevents viruses from being able to infect healthy tissue, thus preventing viruses from harming a colony. The shield has been on the market since mid-January, with beekeepers ranging from California all the way to Alabama (Wood Creek Apiary, WA., Shamrock “S” Pollination, CA., and Wild West Honey, WY. to name a few), reporting promising results. BEESHIELD™ also binds to harmful pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides that are everywhere in the modern agricultural environment, dramatically reducing/eliminating the harmful effects of these on the bee. Another benefit we’ve seen is that it increases the transport of nutrients into the bee’s system, increasing the production of the vital component glycolipoprotein, making for a stronger and healthier hive.  I believe now that there is hope where there seemed to be none and that there is a powerful shield to protect our bees.


Raymond Klein

Raymond Michael Klein was born Jan. 6, 1912 to Nicholas and Frances (Wieber) Klein on a farm outside of Richmond, MN; he was the sixth of ten children. After attending country school, he helped operate  the family farm until he enrolled at the University of Minnesota, St. Paul Campus. He graduated in 1940 with a degree in apiculture. During the summer of 1940, he took a job with Tanquary Honey Farms in Marshall, MN, hoping it would be the warmest locale of the three oportunities he was offered.
In 1943 Ray went to California to assist in the war effort. He worked for Kaiser Shipyards building Liberty ships, as well as drove a San Francisco city bus, transporting sailors to and from Treasure Island Naval Base. During the 1940’s, Ray and his brother Eugene (Slim) were well known baseball players for the Marshall A’s. In 1950, Ray purchased Tanquary Honey Farms and renamed it Marshall Honey Farms. His lifelong love of beekeeping led to a successful business. In 1951, he established Klein’s Honey which is still available today, more than 60 years later.
On June 14, 1951, he was united in marriage to Cecilia (Haas) Klein in St. James Catholic Church in St. Paul, MN. They made their home in Marshall and were blessed with two children.
Ray died Wednesday, October, 2, 2013 in Marshall. Survivors include his children, Stephen (Kay) Klein of Marshall and Rosemary (Mark) Martin of Villa Hills, KY; 7 grandchildren, Caroline (Rob) Koska, Stephanie, Nicholas, Christian Klein; Jordan, Jacob and Matthew Martin; sister-in-law Rita Klein of Cold Spring and numerous nieces, nephews, relatives and friends.

December 2013


The Garden Club of America Board of Associates Centennial Pollinator Fellowship

Graduate Student Fellowship
Award: $4,000
Deadline: February 1, 2014

Purpose and History
The Garden club of America (GCA) Board of Associates Centennial Pollinator Fellowship provides funding to a current graduate student to study the causes of Pollinator decline, in particular bees, bats, butterflies and moths, which could lead to potential solutions for their conservation and sustainability. The selection criteria are based on the technical merit of the proposed work and the degree to which the work is relevant to this objective
Pollinators—bees, bats, butterflies and moths—help our prairies, gardens, orchards, blueberry barrens, farmers’ fields and desert cacti reproduce and maintain genetic diversity. One-third of the food we eat has been fertilized by pollinators. An alarming decline in the number of pollinators in recent decades—through chemicals, diseases, mites, loss of habitat, and global climate change—has international repercussions.
The GCA Board of Associates Centennial Pollinator Fellowship was established in spring 2013 to facilitate independent research in this field. This fellowship was made possible by generous gifts given in honor of the GCA Centennial by members of the Board of Associates.

The GCA Board of Associates Centennial Pollinator Fellowship annually funds one or more graduate students enrolled in U.S. institutions. funding may vary in amount, but normally will be in the range of $4,000 for study and research that will advance the knowledge of pollinator science and increase the number of scientists in the field. A recipient may reapply for an additional year of funding.

Research Categories
The categories under which applicants may apply are:

1. Effects of nutrition, genetics, pesticides, pathogens, parasites and disease on
2. Pollinator habitat development, assessment or monitoring
3. Plant-pollinator interactions and pollination biology
4. Research that examines other aspects of pollinator health, including cutting-edge, original concepts

1. Only one GCA scholarship may be applied for annually.
2. GCA fellow will provide an interim 250-word report, two high quality photos, and an expense summary to GCA and P2 by September 1st. A final report and final expense summary will be due
February 1st.
3. Research excerpts (text and photos) may be published in GCA’s and P2’s publications and websites.
4. GCA fellow agrees to share research with members of the Garden club of America.

Pollinator Partnership - 423 Washington St., 5th Floor - San Francisco, CA 94111-2339 - (415) 362-1137 - info@pollinator. org,

The Bee’s Natural Lactic Acid Bacteria Have Become Its Own medicine

Research discovery
In 2005 in Sweden, Dr. Tobias Olofsson and his beekeeper grandfather Tage Kimblad and fellow researcher Alejandra Vásquez made a discovery: honey bees carry the largest collection of beneficial lactic acid bacteria (LAB) found in their honey stomach. There are nine different types of lactobacilli and four kinds of bifidobacteria.

Research background
We started our own research group at Lund University, Sweden, in 2007 based on this discovery. Today, both Lund University Innovation System AB and SLU (Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences) Holding AB are partners in the company.
Our research has shown that these bacteria are always present in the honey stomach of honey bees worldwide. It is an on going symbiotic relationship between bees and their LAB during millions of years. The purpose of the LAB is to fight bee diseases and protect the nectar from destruction by other microorganisms while it is being converted into honey. The lactic acid bacteria are also involved in the fermentation and preservation of the beebread.

Development of bee medicine
Lactic acid bacteria require nutrients in order to grow and to combat other microorganisms that threaten them and their nutrients. The LAB and bees share the same nutritional source, nectar and pollen. We have developed an excellent product for bees and their LAB, called SymBeeotic. We strive to mimic nectar insofar as possible to attract the bees, while maintaining optimal nutrient composition for the bacteria and bees. The bee medicine ‘SymBeeotic’ (Figure 1) should be given shortly before and after the bees cluster for winter. The purpose of the active LAB is to prevent disease among bees and their larvae, or cure them, while providing a small nutritional supplement. These probiotic bacteria can hopefully replace antibiotics in the future.

Previous results and ongoing studies
Our research tests on diseases affecting bees and their larvae have to date demonstrated in the laboratory that LAB are effective against both American and European foulbrood disease.
In ongoing international collaborations we have tested SymBeeotic on colonies that were heavily infected with Nosema apis and N. ceranae. The colonies were given either SymBeeotic or placebo and the results were highly encouraging. The spore counts among almost all colonies that received SymBeeotic were sharply reduced after 2–3 months (forthcoming publication). These findings are as yet preliminary, but we are continuing to test SymBeeotic in the laboratory and in field studies against Nosema, American foulbrood, the parasitic mite Varroa destructor and deformed wing virus (DWV) virus.
More information about SymBeeotic is available online through
In the future it is planned to make the product available in beekeeping stores in US through a large and well-known bee medicine company.

IBRA Journals Receive International Recognition

At the XXXIIIth International Apicultural Congress (Apimondia) held in Kiev, Ukraine, which ended in September of 2013, IBRA’s two journals were honored with awards. The Journal of Apicultural Research won a Gold Medal, and Bee World won a Silver Medal.
The Journal of Apicultural Research is IBRA’s peer-reviewed scientific journal, which publishes original research papers, short notes and authoritative review papers on all aspects of research involving all species of bees. Recent highlights have included a Special Issue on bee colony losses, and the publication of the review papers which form the COLOSS BEEBOOK, the definitive guide to how to carry out research involving honey bees, written by 243 of the world’s key researchers from 34 countries worldwide. For 2014, a Special Issue on the interactions between honey bee genotype and environmental factors is planned. JAR is edited by a team from Argentina, Greece, Switzerland, Turkey, the UK and the USA. Over the last few years, the number of high quality submissions to the journal has increased, as has the journal’s Impact Factor.
Bee World is IBRA’s popular journal, and fills a unique niche, bringing science in an accessible form to the thinking beekeeper. It also features articles on beekeeping techniques, on the history of beekeeping and news and topical information. Again, a truly international journal, it brings contributions from authors in many countries, four times a year.
IBRA Science Director and JAR Senior Editor Norman Carreck says: “As a small independent publisher, IBRA is delighted that our two journals have been rewarded by our international audience in this way. We see this as recognition of the high standards that we try to attain, publishing in JAR only high quality original research of international interest. Bee World fully complements JAR, by bringing science to the beekeeper in an accessible form”.

Bees: A Natual History

There are more species of bees than birds and mammals combined. With at least 20,000 described species and with many new species being described annually, bees comprise a major component of our planet’s biodiversity. They play a vital role in human ecology, a fact underlined by the estimate that every third mouthful of our food is dependent on the pollination services of bees.

Bees: A Natural History (Firefly Books, $40,00 hardcover, November 2013) immerses readers in the world of a group of insects whose diversity of form and behavior is eloquent testimony to the fine-tuning of natural selection. This book aims to introduce readers to bees and their impressive diversity of size, form and behavior.
Sophisticated computing skills, fail-safe sun-compass orientation, a true sense of time and enviable fuel efficiency are just some of bee’s remarkable characteristics. They can be found in high alpine and sub-arctic regions, rainforest, savannahs, steppes and deserts. The greatest diversity of species occurs in shrub communities in regions with a Mediterranean-type climate: short mild winters, warm springs and hot dry summers.
Written by a respected entomologist and specialist in bees, the book’s topics include:

●    What are bees? (The Wasp Inheritance) - Bees as foragers, their nesting instinct, on-board computing facility, sun-compass orientation and sense of time
●    The many ways of being a bee - Solitary versus social, Miners and masons, Leafcutters and carpenters
●    Bees and flowering plants
●    The male of the species - Mating strategies, patrols, competition, territoriality, the role of scent
●    The enemies of bees - Cleptoparasites, cuckoo bees
●    Bees and People - historic and contemporary
●    Bees in Folk and Modern Medicine
●    The conservation of Bees - the decline of bees and honeybees, bees in human ecology, bee conservation, urban bees
●    Bee projects - the backyard bee scientist.

Bees can be found throughout history in roles poetic and military, in medicine and agriculture, in the kitchen and in the kit of a traditional healer. They have played a bigger role in human existence than is often recognized. This beautiffully illustrated, appreciative tribute will be welcomed by entomologists, students and all naturalist readers

About the Author:
Christopher O’Toole is an entomologist, author and speaker. Formerly based at the Hope Entomological Collections of the Oxford University Museum of Natural History, his research has centered on the systematics, biogeography and floral relations of solitary bees. He has published widely, including 20 books on insects for the general reader. His books include Bees of the World and for children, discovering Bees and Wasps.
Christopher O’Toole has been scientific consultant to many television projects, including The Birth of the Bees for the BBC and on the David Attenborough series Life on Earth and was scientific consultant on the feature film Angels and Insects.

Title: Bees: A Natural History
Christopher O’Toole
Specs: 240 pages, 8 1/2” x 11”, 125 color photographs, 3 appendixes, index; $40.00 Hardcover
EAN: 978-177085-208-2
Pub Date: November 23, 2013
Publisher: Firefly Books

Available at bookstores, online booksellers and

Monsanto Announces Clinton Global Initiative Commitment on Honey Bee Health

By Jerry Hayes

My goal in life and work is continuous improvement. And, it has happened here since coming to Monsanto with lots of help from like-minded people who have really engaged and seen the vision of what Monsanto can offer to honey bee health.
I’m a firm believer that everything should build on the previous effort. Back in June, we were able to sponsor a first-of-its-kind Honey Bee Health Summit, hosted by Project Apis m. (PAm) and Monsanto’s Honey Bee Advisory Council. The leaders in the world of honey bee health were here and shared how we could help them reenergize this industry. The presentations are available at the site. After most meetings, workshops and conferences, everybody leaves with optimism and excitement and then nothing happens. Well, after this meeting, building to the next goal was to get honey bees positioned in front of global leaders who create and implement innovative solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges. One of the only places where you can do that and stand in front of the world is at the Clinton Global Initiative. We did it.

Group Launches Coalition to Research the Challenges Facing Honey Bees

ST. LOUIS--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Monsanto recently announced its commitment to honey bee health at the 2013 Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting with support from the Keystone Center, American Honey Producers Association, American Beekeeping Federation, World Wildlife Fund, Project Apis m. (PAm), and commodity groups. The multi-stakeholder coalition will include individuals involved in honey bee health, as well as new stakeholders, which include agriculture commodity groups, industry groups, government agencies, environmental NGOs, and agriculture companies, all focused on improving honey bee health.
The coalition will have four priority areas of focus: 1) improving honey bee nutrition; 2) providing research investment in novel technology for varroa and virus control; 3) understanding science-based approaches to studying pesticide impacts on honey bees and increasing awareness of pesticide best management practices among growers and beekeepers; and 4) enabling economic empowerment of beekeepers.
“One-third of our diet is made up of vegetables, fruits and nuts that depend on pollinators like honey bees,” said Jerry Hayes, Monsanto’s Commercial Bee Health Lead. “Honey bees play an essential role in ensuring crop yields – a critical need for global food security. The coalition will take an action-oriented approach to improve and sustain honey bee health.”
A significant decline in the honey bee population is posing a threat to agricultural sustainability and food security, as well as to ecosystem health and biodiversity. In the United States, beekeepers have seen an average winter loss of more than 30 percent of honey bee colonies every year since 2006 as a result of CCD (Colony Collapse Disorder), a phenomenon in which bees disappear abruptly from an otherwise healthy colony. The low survival rate of honey bee colonies is leading to a significant decline in the overall honey bee population. Historically, approximately 6 million colonies existed in the United States; today approximately 2.5 million colonies exist.
Monsanto has been involved with bee research since 2011 when it acquired Beeologics, an organization focused on researching and testing biological products to provide targeted control of pests and diseases in order to provide safe, effective ways to protect the honey bee. Monsanto also has collaborated with PAm to assist in forage projects in order to provide more nutritious food for bees, and is doing extensive research on the varroa mite, which may be one factor in the decline of honey bee health.

New Hive Tool - The Shizel

You are probably asking yourself what’s a Shizel? A Shizel is one of the most useful multi-purpose hand tools ever invented! A Shizel is whatever you want it to be. It’s a scraper, pry tool, nail-puller, leveler, chisel, can opener, hammer, trowel, bee hive tool, putty knife, box opener, and whatever else you can find to do with it! The Shizel has been patented, tested, and proven. Use it with carpentry repairs and remodeling. Great for fixing doors, flooring, painting surfaces, and window repair. Ideal for the lawn and garden. Clean shovels, remove grass under lawn mowers, dig weeds, transplant flowers, straighten pavers and retaining wall brick. The tool is professionally manufactured and has a lustrous stainless steel satin finish that will last for years. That’s the Shizel!
The Shizel will not be ready for sale until late December or mid January.

P.O. Box 342
#14 Stockade Road
Chadron, NE 69337
Phone (308) 430-5099

Groeb Farms, Inc. Files for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy

Normal Business Operations to Continue Under Chapter 11 Process

ONSTED, Mich. – Groeb Farms, Inc., a major U.S. honey packer, has announced that it has reached an agreement with its lender, a private equity firm, to recapitalize the company and invest additional capital into the business. The transaction will be consummated through a plan of reorganization (the “Plan”) which was filed Oct. 1 along with the company’s voluntary Chapter 11 bankruptcy petition with the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Michigan. Upon confirmation of the proposed Plan, the company’s debt will be restructured, and the company’s capitalization will be dramatically improved. The Plan already has the support of the company’s major constituents, including its pre-petition lender and certain of its subordinated debt holders. The company expects to emerge from bankruptcy within 90 days, in a stronger, financially sound position.
The private equity pre-petition lender will financially support the company through the reorganization process. This lender was identified through an extensive marketing process conducted by Houlihan Lokey, an international investment banking firm.
Groeb Farms CEO Rolf Richter commented, “First and foremost, we want to indicate how pleased we are to be able to recapitalize the company.  We also want to assure customers, vendors, employees and all other stakeholders that the company will continue normal business operations during the reorganization process, which is expected to last approximately 90 days. This is a very desirable outcome for Groeb Farms. It allows us to restructure with strong financing in place. The bankruptcy is based on a prepackaged reorganization that releases the company from its legacy liabilities, allowing us to emerge as a strong, well-capitalized company, under new ownership, with a continued commitment to world class products and services, customer satisfaction and supply chain integrity.”
In conjunction with its filing, the company is seeking approval of its debtor-in-possession (DIP) financing. The DIP financing provides ample capital to successfully execute the Plan. It also provides greater liquidity such that the company expects to be able to satisfy all future customary obligations associated with the normal course of business, including employee wages and benefits and payment of post-petition obligations to vendors.

Calif. Honey Broker Sentenced To Three Years in Prison for Avoiding $39.2 Million in Tariffs on Chinese-Origin Honey

U.S. Department of Justice,
United States Attorney,
Northern District of Illinois

CHICAGO — A California woman was sentenced Sept. 30 to three years in federal prison for illegally transporting hundreds of container loads of Chinese-origin honey through the Chicago area after it entered the country illegally. The defendant, HUNG YI LIN, also known as “Katy Lin,” 42, of Temple City, Calif., pleaded guilty in May to three counts of violating U.S. importation laws by falsely declaring that the honey shipments contained sugars, syrups, and apple juice concentrate to avoid $39.2 million in anti-dumping duties.
Lin, who owns and operates KBB Express Inc., of South El Monte, Calif., and served as the U.S. agent for at least 12 importers that were controlled by Chinese honey producers and manufacturers, was sentenced to a year in prison on each of the three counts, to be served consecutively, by U.S. District Judge Milton Shadur. Lin was ordered to begin serving her sentence on Nov. 12. She was also ordered to pay restitution of $512,852 in unpaid tariffs.
“This sentence is the result of an extensive worldwide investigation that successfully dismantled the largest food fraud scheme in U.S. history,” said Gary Hartwig, Special Agent-in-Charge of HSI Chicago. “Lin’s illegal business practices cheated the U.S. government of nearly $40 million, while also inflicting damage on the domestic honey marketplace. We remain committed to protecting U.S. businesses from fraudulent trade practices, while fostering and facilitating the movement of legitimate trade across our borders that is critical to our economy.”
According to court documents, between 2009 and 2012, Lin schemed to falsify the importation documents for hundreds of containers of Chinese-origin honey by misrepresenting the contents as sugars and syrups. As a result, the honey, which had an aggregate declared value of nearly $11.5 million when it entered the country, avoided antidumping duties and honey assessments totaling $39.2 million.
The sentence was announced by Gary S. Shapiro, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois and Mr. Hartwig, as well as officials with Field Operations for U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) in Chicago, and the Chicago Field Office of the Food and Drug Administration’s Office of Criminal Investigations. Lin was among a group of individuals and companies who were charged earlier this year in the second phase of an investigation led by agents of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HIS).
In December 2001, the Commerce Department determined that Chinese-origin honey was being sold in the United States at less than fair market value, and imposed antidumping duties. The duties were as high as 221 percent of the declared value, and later were assessed against the entered net weight, currently at $2.63 per net kilogram, in addition to a “honey assessment fee” of one cent per pound on all honey. In October 2002, the Food and Drug Administration issued an import alert for honey containing the antibiotic Chloramphenicol, a broad spectrum antibiotic that is used to treat serious infections in humans, but which is not approved for use in honey. Honey containing certain antibiotics is deemed “adulterated” within the meaning of federal food and drug safety laws.
In 2008, federal authorities began investigating allegations involving circumventing antidumping duties through illegal imports, including transshipment and mislabeling, on the “supply side” of the honey industry. The second phase of the investigation involved the illegal buying, processing, and trading of honey that illegally entered the U.S. on the “demand side” of the industry.
The government is being represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew S. Boutros.


November 2013

Model of Dangerous Bee Disease in UK Provides Tool in Fight Against Honey Bee Infections

Scientists at the University of Warwick have modeled an outbreak of the bee infection American foulbrood in Jersey, using a technique which could be applied to other honeybee diseases such as European foulbrood and the Varroa parasite.
As well as modeling how bee infections spread, the method also allows scientists to simulate various disease control interventions in order to measure their efficacy.
The researchers used two sets of data gathered two months apart during an outbreak of American foulbrood in Jersey in the summer of 2010. This provided two ‘snapshots’ of the disease from which they attempted to reconstruct the entire epidemic.
Reconstructions like this are common for livestock infections, but this is the first time the method has been applied to bee disease.
The research is published in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface.
American foulbrood is caused by the bacterium Paenibacillus larvae, which affects the larval stage of honey bees. It can cause the death of an entire hive within a matter of months.
The Jersey data covered 450 honey bee hives, their location and their owners, from which the researchers built a computer simulation which modeled the speed at which the infection grew, as well as how it spread geographically.
Dr. Samik Datta of the WIDER group, based at the School of Life Sciences at the University of Warwick, said: “Honeybees are one of the most important bee species in the world in terms of their contribution to food production through pollination.
“But in the past 20 years there has been a marked increase in the level of disease among bee populations.
“American foulbrood is an unusually virulent disease which can wipe out a hive within a few months.
“By understanding how it is spreads from hive to hive, we then have a good basis to formulate interventions.
“This is the first rigorous statistical analysis carried out on a honeybee disease epidemic that we are aware of.”
The model suggests that just under half of the 2010 Jersey infection spread was attributed to transmission by owners between their own hives.
The researchers suggest that distance between colonies was another important factor in the spread of the disease, with the disease mostly spreading between hives less than 2km apart.
The model also simulated the impact of different control strategies on controlling the epidemic and found that the measures taken by authorities in Jersey at the time – to inspect and destroy infected colonies – were the most effective.
However, their model suggested an earlier intervention would have made disease extinction more likely.
The researchers hope now to expand their model to investigate the spread of European Foulbrood, a more common bee disease in the UK. They also believe the same technique can be applied to the Varroa parasite.
Dr. Datta said: “Using just two snapshots of data we have been able to reconstruct this epidemic, and we are confident that our technique can be applied to a wide range of other outbreak scenarios.”
Australian Bluebees brood Box Bottom Board Explained

“Prevention is better than cure”

The current traditional equipment and practices have catastrophic impact to both the honey production and to the vital protection of the healthy environmental sustainability of the honey bee habitat when interloping parasites and diseases invade the beehives.
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~ The BLUEBEES Boards allows optimal airflow, thereby dramatically reducing the humidity created by the natural condensation created by healthy bees colonies together with empowering the bees to eject pests, debris through the Bluebees bottom boards gaps. The water condensation, if any, runs out and the Bluebees Boards remain clean.
~ The need to use chemicals is also greatly reduced because the colonies now have the means to efficiently manage the health and cleanliness of their beehive
For more information, this company can be contacted via the information printed below.

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Proprietor: J-PF Mercader
Phone: 613 5474 8292 /// 0412 451 060

Keeping Bees With A Smile: A Vision and Practice of Natural Apiculture

by Fedor Lazutin,
edited by Dr. Leo Sharashkin
402 pages, over 100 illustrations and 32 full-color photographs
$34.95. ISBN 978-0-9842873-5-2
Deep Snow Press, September 2013.

“Fascinating! It will shake up your thinking.”

“Keeping Bees With a Smile is a valuable guide for independent-minded beekeepers who are seeking ways to keep bees without treating them with chemicals, disrupting their homes, and otherwise intruding on their lives. Fedor Lazutin, one of Russia’s foremost natural beekeepers, describes a beekeeping system based on a trust of a bee colony as a living being capable of solving life’s challenges without human assistance. Beginner-friendly and complete with fascinating photographs, it is a special book, and one that I expect will ‘shake up’ the thinking of the independent-minded beekeepers in North America and Europe.”

— Dr. Thomas D. Seeley,
Professor, Cornell University
author of Honeybee Democracy and The Wisdom of the Hive

Laid-back beekeeping for all, naturally!

While the media are awash with the news of bees disappearing on a global scale, Fedor Lazutin’s bees are healthy and happy, and the number of his hives naturally doubles every year. He uses no medicines or any unnatural methods, inspects his hives once per year, and harvests more honey than he can sell! His approach is fun, healthful, rewarding, and accessible to all. Discover his unique insights on
how to:

keep bees naturally without interfering in their lives;
start an apiary for free by attracting local bee swarms;
build maintenance-free hives that mimic how bees live in nature;
keep colonies healthy & strong without any drugs or gimmickry;
help bees overwinter successfully even in the harshest climate;
    enhance local nectar plant resources;
produce truly natural honey without robbing the bees;
reverse the global bee decline... right in your backyard!

An invaluable resource for beginners and professionals alike, this richly illustrated book is complete with plans for making bee-friendly, well-insulated horizontal hives with extra-deep frames—plus other fascinating advice you won’t find anywhere else.
You will gain a profound respect for the bees’ intelligence, the practical information for successfully starting and maintaining a few (or many!) colonies in your own backyard, and an appreciation of the bees’ harmonious cooperative ways—which may be key to creating a brighter future for our planet.

The Fresh Honey Cookbook

Storey Publishing, August 2013
Full-color; photographs and illustrations throughout
208 pages; 7 x 9 Softcover
ISBN: 978-1-61212-051-5; Order # 622051
Paper: $14.95

Honey is one of nature’s most versatile ingredients. Prized as a natural sweetener and also known for boosting energy, strengthening the immune system, and alleviating ailments from insomnia to sore throats and allergies, it’s a bonus that honey also tastes so good.
The Fresh Honey Cookbook celebrates the subtle flavors of honey with a seasonal calendar of 84 recipes that focus on what’s fresh each month. Honey varietals, from orange blossom to tupelo to avacodo are featured in recipes such as Papa’s Salad with Clementines, Pork Tenderloin with Orange Blossom Honey-Mustard, Coconut Macaroons with Dried Cherries, Laurey’s Sweet Potato Salad with Sourwood Honey, Vermont-style Summer Squash Casserole, and Broiled Summer Peaches. From winter to summer, spring to fall, honey adds a lovely floral note to sweet and savory dishes.
The Fresh Honey Cookbook gives honey bees their due with informative sidebars about bees and beekeeping. Readers will learn why bees make honey, how it’s harvested, and what they can do to help the bee population. This is an appreciation of both bees and the honey they produce, making it the perfect gift for cooks, beekeepers, or anyone who wants to enjoy the benefits of eating honey. Laurey Masterton is a beekeeper, café owner, caterer, and chef/spokesperson for The National Honey Board. She teaches the benefits of using and eating local ingredients in her speaking engagements, cooking demonstrations, and classes. She lives in North Carolina, where she runs Laurey’s Café.

Flight of the Honey Bee

by Raymond Huber
Illustrations by Brian Lovelock

This handsome, respectful volume deserves a place on the shelf … it succeeds in accurately dramatizing honey bee behavior. – Kirkus Reviews

Buy in United States via Amazon - or Candlewick Press - http://candle

It’s rare to find a book which is so inextricably tied to events children can relate to while at the same time presenting a story so unlike theirs.– Peta Andersen

“A honey bee crawls out of the hive, takes to the skies, and finds a sea of flowers. After escaping from a bird, she visits one blue blossom after another, sipping nectar while spreading pollen. Rain and hail ground her for a bit, but soon she heads home. When a wasp attacks her outside the hive, guard bees come to her rescue. Back inside the hive, she shares her nectar and does a dance to show her sister bees where to find more. This brightly illustrated picture book achieves a good deal. The lively, realistic story is enhanced with apt imagery and vivid turns of phrase. Meanwhile, small-type sentences on each spread add intriguing related facts about honey bees. Huber, a science writer from New Zealand, who has been a primary-grade teacher as well as a beekeeper, shows a good understanding of both honey bees and of what will interest young children. Lovelock’s illustrations, watercolor paintings with acrylic and colored-pencil elements, offer distinctive bee’s-eye views of the world, whether showing landscapes from the air or close-ups of falling hail and bee-to-wasp combat. One of the most informative picture books about honey bees, this is surely among the most beautiful as well.” — Carolyn Phelan, Booklist (American Library Association)
I was scared of bees until I got a real beehive for my 40th birthday. After watching their fascinating, intricate lives, I came to love bees (but I do still wear a protective suit). Honey bees and humans have been partners for 20,000 years: we give them homes and they pollinate our food. But the world’s bees are now endangered, so I wrote this book to show how intelligent and essential (even appealing) bees are. I imagined all the challenges a bee would face out in the world – for added thrills Scout meets a few more dangers than an average bee on an average day! Writing a picture book is a bit like creating a poem – every word has to work hard in a confined space (like a bee) to suggest character and story, and remain true while still delighting the ear. — Raymond Huber -


James Charles Bach
December 23, 1941 - August 30, 2013

Jim was the Washington State Apiarist for more than 25 years, then worked in the Pesticide Investigation Section at WSDA until his retirement in 2005. Since then he has remained active in the beekeeping industry he loved so much -- running his own bees, acting as mentor and teacher anywhere he was needed, providing a website where beekeepers could ask questions, inspecting colonies going into certified seed pollination projects in Washington, Montana and North Dakota, and serving on the board of both WSBA (secretary) and the Western Apicultural Society (treasurer). His commitment to the industry was absolute.
The suddenness of Jim’s passing has hit all of us hard, both family and friends, and it will be a while until the world comes right side up again. Despite that, he would want no long faces and so I encourage you all to honor his memory by your cooperative efforts to better the industry. Some of you have asked if there is a charity you can donate to in his name. The charity of his choice would be beekeeping. There are programs needing funding that can benefit everyone. Any of them would be a fitting beneficiary of those gifts. A lot is happening right now and funding will be vital. Think about it.
The kindness of the entire beekeeping community, the cards, emails, calls and memories you have shared have been a wonderful tribute to my husband. I appreciate it and so would he. On behalf of myself and our family, thank you.

Fran Bach


Ted Jansen

Ted Jansen, 87, of Chesterfield, Missouri, a long-time beekeeper and mentor to so many, passed away on Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2013. Ted’s contribution to beekeeping in Eastern Missouri and the St. Louis region is legendary, having guided many as they made their way learning about beekeeping and honey bees. His beekeeping knowledge, influence and inspiration to beekeepers throughout the area is well-known; but it’s his warm, soft and gentle approach to teaching so much to so many that can never be replaced. To many, Ted was the heart and soul of their beekeeping experience. He was an active member of Eastern Missouri Beekeepers Association, Missouri State Beekeepers Association, and Three Rivers Beekeepers, for which he was a founding member.
Ted was a dear husband of 50 years to Marlene; beloved father, grandfather, great-grandfather, brother, uncle, cousin and friend. (John Timmons, President, Missouri State Beekeepers Association)


Joseph L. McCoy

Joseph L. McCoy Sr., 92, of Minden City, MI passed away June 30, 2013 surrounded by his family at his home. He was born Dec. 21, 1920 in Minden City to the late Dr. John P McCoy and Alma (Broadbeck) McCoy. He married Gloria M. Schock on Dec. 21, 1940; she preceded him in death April 9, 2013. Joe was a lifelong resident of Minden City; he started working bees as a teenager after school and during the summer for Garnett Puett. Garnett was a beekeeper and queen breeder who owned and operated Gold Leaf Apiaries in Hahira, Georgia. In the 1930’s and early 1940’s Garnett sent bees to three locations in the thumb of Michigan to produce honey. Joe started working full time for Garnett after he graduated from high school in 1939 and eventually ran the business in Minden City. In 1946 Joe and his wife Gloria purchased the honey business and home from Garnett and Faye Puett and McCoy Honey Co was established.
Over the years, Joe was not only a beekeeper, but he worked for the Sanilac County Courthouse as a court clerk and public guardian. He sold real estate for Century 21. Joe served as a Minden township Clerk and Supervisor. He was also an active volunteer fireman for the Minden City Fire Department. Joe was a parishioner at Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic Church where he was a member of the Ushers Club. Joe enjoyed gardening, keeping his lawn looking its best, flowers and birds. He loved to go for rides in the country with his family members. In his later years Joe never missed Lawrence Welk and listening to the Sunday polka party. He truly loved spending time with his family. Joe will be sadly missed by all who loved and cared for him.
Joseph is survived by 11 children: John H. McCoy of Harbor Beach, MI; Deanna Jo Lautner of Madison Heights, MI; Joseph W. (Cindy) McCoy of Harbor Beach, MI; Steven J. (Sarah) McCoy of Chicago; Mary Louise (Paul) Buckham of Alexandria, LA; Alan G. (Esther) McCoy of Oak Park, MI; Paul L. (Mary Anne) McCoy of Bloomfield Hills, MI; Timothy M. McCoy and Tracy Lahair of Kinde, MI; Terri (Arthur) Trese of Athens, Ohio; Mark J. (Elaine) McCoy of Loxahatchee, FL; Lauri (Randy) Halifax of Minden City, MI; 39 grandchildren and 30 great grandchildren.

 September 2013

Losses of Honey Bee Colonies Over the 2012/13 Winter In Europe

Preliminary Results from anInternational Study

The honey bee research network COLOSS has announced the preliminary results of an international study to investigate winter colony losses. Data were collected from 19 countries from Europe, Israel and Algeria. In total, more than 15,000 beekeepers provided overwintering mortality and other data of their colonies. Collectively, they managed more than 280,000 colonies. A preliminary analysis of the data shows that the mortality rate over the 2012-13 winter varied between countries, ranging from 6% in Israel to 37% in Ireland, and there were also marked regional differences within some countries. These figures compare with losses over the same period of 31% and 34% recently reported from the USA and the UK, respectively.
The protocol used to collect this COLOSS data has been internationally standardized to allow comparisons and joint analysis of the data. A more detailed analysis of risk factors calculated from the whole dataset, as well as further colony loss data from other countries will be published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Apicultural Research later in the year. The data show that Poland and Finland have each year experienced losses of about 17%. Countries in south eastern Europe (Slovakia, Bosnia Herzegovina, Croatia) have had average losses of less than 10%, but in 2012 losses were slightly higher. In central Europe (Germany, Switzerland, Austria) losses rose to above 20% in 2012, but went back to around 15% in 2013. In the neighboring Netherlands, losses were above 20% for five years, but decreased in 2013 to a level comparable with Germany and Switzerland. Interestingly, we now see losses rising to substantially higher levels in northern countries (Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Ireland, UK) whose losses were around the 15% in the previous years.
Co-ordinator of the COLOSS Monitoring and Diagnosis Working Group Dr Romée van der Zee from the Dutch Center for Bee Research says: “We have observed an interesting pattern in honey bee colony losses over the last 3 years. These results emphasize that losses in many countries remain greater than beekeepers consider are acceptable. We believe that many factors including the weather are responsible for these losses, which show patterns over the years which are not bound to administrative borders.”


Bees in the U.K. Under Threat From Disease-carrying

Bumblebee Imports, Research Reveals

Stricter controls over bumblebee imports to the UK are urgently required to prevent diseases spreading to native bumblebees and honeybees, scientists have warned. The call follows the discovery of parasites in over three-quarters of imported bumblebee colonies they tested. The study - the first of its kind in the UK - is published in the Journal of Applied Ecology.
While wild species of bees and other insects pollinate many crops, commercially-reared and imported bumblebees are essential for pollination of greenhouse crops such as tomatoes. They are also used to enhance pollination of other food crops such as strawberries, and are now marketed for use in people’s gardens. The trade is large and widespread: 40-50,000 commercially-produced bumblebee colonies – each containing up to 100 worker bees – are imported annually to the UK, and more than one million colonies are sold each year worldwide.
The team of researchers from the universities of Leeds, Stirling and Sussex bought 48 colonies of buff-tailed bumblebees (Bombus terrestris) from three European producers. Some colonies were a subspecies native to the UK and others were non-native. All were meant to be disease-free, but when they were tested using DNA technology, 77% of the colonies were found to be carrying parasites. Parasites were also found in the pollen food supplied with the bees.
Screening revealed that the imported bumblebee colonies carried a range of parasites including the three main bumblebee parasites (Crithidia bombi, Nosema bombi and Apicystis bombi), three honeybee parasites (Nosema apis, Ascosphaera apis and Paenibacillus larvae), and two parasites which infect both bumblebees and honeybees (Nosema ceranae and deformed wing virus).
After the screening tests, the team conducted a series of carefully controlled laboratory experiments to find out whether the parasites carried by the commercially-produced bumblebee colonies were viable and able to infect other bees.
Lead author of the study, Peter Graystock of the University of Leeds explains: “We found that commercially-produced bumblebee colonies contained a variety of microbial parasites, which were infectious and harmful not only to other bumblebees, but also to honeybees.”
The results suggest current regulations and protocols governing bumblebee imports are not effective. Currently, Natural England licences are only required for the non-native subspecies. Although the licences require colonies to be disease free, colonies arriving in the UK are not screened to ensure compliance and the regulations do not apply to imports of the native subspecies.
The study argues that producers need to improve disease screening and develop a parasite-free diet for their bees, while regulatory authorities need to strengthen measures to prevent importation of parasite-carrying bumblebee colonies, including checking bees on arrival in the UK and extending regulations to cover imported colonies of the native subspecies.
As well as increasing the prevalence of parasites in wild bumblebees and managed honeybees near farms using the commercially-produced bumblebees, continuing to import bumblebee colonies that carry parasites is also likely to introduce new species or strains of parasites into some areas, the authors warn.
According to co-author of the study Prof. William Hughes of the University of Sussex: “If we don’t act, then the risk is that potentially tens of thousands of parasite-carrying bumblebee colonies may be imported into the UK each year, and hundreds of thousands worldwide. Many bee species are already showing significant population declines due to multiple factors. The introduction of more or new parasite infections will at a minimum exacerbate this, and could quite possibly directly drive declines.”
Although this is the first study of its kind in the UK, research in North America, South America and Japan suggests that parasites introduced by commercial bumblebees may be a major cause of population declines of several bumblebee species, including Bombus dahlbomii in Argentina, and Bombus terricola and Bombus pensylvanicus in North America.

Bees ‘Betray’ Their Flowers When Pollinator Species Decline


‘Alarming’ trend suggests global declines in pollinators could have a bigger impact on flowering plants and food crops than previously realized

Remove even one bumblebee species from an ecosystem and the impact is swift and clear: Their floral “sweethearts” produce significantly fewer seeds, a new study finds.
The study, to be published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, focused on the interactions between bumblebees and larkspur wildflowers in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains. The results show how reduced competition among pollinators disrupts floral fidelity, or specialization, among the remaining bees in the system, leading to less successful plant reproduction.
“We found that these wildflowers produce one-third fewer seeds in the absence of just one bumblebee species,” says Emory University ecologist Berry Brosi, who led the study. “That’s alarming, and suggests that global declines in pollinators could have a bigger impact on flowering plants and food crops than was previously realized.”
The National Science Foundation (NSF) funded the study, co-authored by ecologist Heather Briggs of the University of California-Santa Cruz.
About 90 percent of plants need animals, mostly insects, to transfer pollen between them so that they can fertilize and reproduce. Bees are by far the most important pollinators worldwide and have co-evolved with the floral resources they need for nutrition.
During the past decade, however, scientists have reported dramatic declines in populations of some bee species, sparking research into the potential impact of such declines.
Some studies have indicated that plants can tolerate losing most pollinator species in an ecosystem as long as other pollinators remain to take up the slack. Those studies, however, were based on theoretical computer modeling.
Brosi and Briggs were curious whether this theoretical resilience would hold up in real-life scenarios. Their team conducted field experiments to learn how the removal of a single pollinator species would affect the plant-pollinator relationship.
“Most pollinators visit several plant species over their lifetime, but often they will display what we call floral fidelity over shorter time periods,” Brosi explains. “They’ll tend to focus on one plant while it’s in bloom, then a few weeks later move on to the next species in bloom. You might think of them as serial monogamists.”
Floral fidelity clearly benefits plants, because a pollinator visit will only lead to plant reproduction when the pollinator is carrying pollen from the same plant species. “When bees are promiscuous, visiting plants of more than one species during a single foraging session, they are much less effective as pollinators,” Briggs says.
The researchers conducted their experiments at the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory near Crested Butte, Colorado. Located at 9,500 feet, the facility’s subalpine meadows are too high for honeybees, but they are buzzing during the summer months with bumblebees. The experiments focused on the interactions of the insects with larkspurs, dark-purple wildflowers that are visited by 10 of the of the 11 bumblebee species there.
The researchers studied a series of 20-meter square wildflower plots, evaluating each one in both a control state, left in its natural condition, and in a manipulated state, in which they used nets to remove the bumblebees of just one species.
The researchers then observed the bumblebee behavior in both the controlled plots and the manipulated plots. “We’d literally follow around the bumblebees as they foraged,” Briggs says. “It’s challenging because the bees can fly pretty fast.”
Sometimes the researchers could only record between five and 10 movements, while in other cases they could follow the bees to 100 or more flowers.
“Running around after bumblebees in these beautiful wildflower meadows was one of the most fun parts of the research,” Brosi says. Much of this “bee team” was made up of Emory undergraduate students, funded by the college’s Scholarly Inquiry and Research at Emory (SIRE) grants and NSF support via the Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program.
The Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory is exacting about using non-destructive methodologies so that researchers don’t have a negative impact on the bumblebee populations. “When we caught bees to remove target species from the system, or to swab their bodies for pollen, we released them unharmed when our experiments were over,” Brosi says. “They’re very robust little creatures.”
No researchers were harmed either, he adds. “Stings were very uncommon during the experiments. Bumblebees are quite gentle on the whole.”
Across the steps of the pollination process, from patterns of bumblebee visits to plants, to picking up pollen, to seed production, the researchers saw a cascading effect of removing one bee species. While about 78 percent of the bumblebees in the control groups were faithful to a single species of flower, only 66 percent of the bumblebees in the manipulated groups showed such floral fidelity. The reduced fidelity in manipulated plots meant that bees in the manipulated groups carried more different types of pollen on their bodies than those in the control groups.
These changes had direct implications for plant reproduction: Larkspurs produced about one-third fewer seeds when one of the bumblebee species was removed, compared to the larkspurs in the control groups.
“The small change in the level of competition made the remaining bees more likely to ‘cheat’ on the larkspur,” Briggs says.
While previous research has shown how competition drives specialization within a species, the bumblebee study is one of the first to link this mechanism back to the broader functioning of an ecosystem.
“Our work shows why biodiversity may be key to conservation of an entire ecosystem,” Brosi says. “It has the potential to open a whole new set of studies into the functional implications of interspecies interactions.”

Widely Used Pesticides Toxic to Honey Bees

PENSACOLA, Fla. - Research in the journal Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry analyzes the physiological effects of three separate pesticides on honey bee (Apis mellifera). An international research team - Drs. Stephan Caravalho, Luc Belzunces and colleagues from Universidade Federal de Lavras in Brazil and Institut Nationale de la Recherche Agronomique in France - conclude that the absence of mortality does not always indicate fuctional integrity.
Deltamethrin, fipronil and spinosad, widely used pesticides in agriculture and home pest control, were applied to healthy honey bees and proved toxic to some degree irrespective of dosage. At sublethal doses, the pesticide modulated key enzymes that regulate physiological processes, cognitive capacities and immune responses, such as homing flight, associative learning, foraging behavior and brood development. Sensitivity to these insecticides and foraging range (as far as 1.5 to 3 km) make A. mellifera an optimal candidate for monitoring the environmental impacts of pesticides.

Common Agricultural Chemicals Shown to Impair Honey Bees’ Health

COLLEGE PARK, MD - Commercial honey bees used to pollinate crops are exposed to a wide variety of agricultural chemicals, including common fungicides which impair the bees’ ability to fight off a potentially lethal parasite, according to a new study by researchers at the University of Maryland and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The study, published July 24 in the online journal PLOS ONE, is the first analysis of real-world conditions encountered by honey bees as their hives pollinate a wide range of crops, from apples to watermelons.
The researchers collected pollen from honey bee hives in fields from Delaware to Maine. They analyzed the samples to find out which flowering plants were the bees’ main pollen sources and what agricultural chemicals were commingled with the pollen. The researchers fed the pesticide-laden pollen samples to healthy bees, which were then tested for their ability to resist infection with Nosema ceranae – a parasite of adult honey bees that has been linked to a lethal phenomenon known as colony collapse disorder.
On average, the pollen samples contained 9 different agricultural chemicals, including fungicides, insecticides, herbicides and miticides. Sublethal levels of multiple agricultural chemicals were present in every sample, with one sample containing 21 different pesticides. Pesticides found most frequently in the bees’ pollen were the fungicide chlorothalonil, used on apples and other crops, and the insecticide fluvalinate, used by beekeepers to control Varroa mites, common honey bee pests.
In the study’s most surprising result, bees that were fed the collected pollen samples containing chlorothonatil were nearly three times more likely to be infected by Nosema than bees that were not exposed to these chemicals, said Jeff Pettis, research leader of the USDA’s Bee Research Laboratory and the study’s lead author. The miticides used to control Varroa mites also harmed the bees’ ability to withstand parasitic infection.
Beekeepers know they are making a trade-off when they use miticides. The chemicals compromise bees’ immune systems, but the damage is less than it would be if mites were left unchecked, said University of Maryland researcher Dennis vanEngelsdorp, the study’s senior author. But the study’s finding that common fungicides can be harmful at real world dosages is new, and points to a gap in existing regulations, he said.
“We don’t think of fungicides as having a negative effect on bees, because they’re not designed to kill insects,” vanEngelsdorp said. Federal regulations restrict the use of insecticides while pollinating insects are foraging, he said, “but there are no such restrictions on fungicides, so you’ll often see fungicide applications going on while bees are foraging on the crop. This finding suggests that we have to reconsider that policy.”
In an unexpected finding, most of the crops that the bees were pollinating appeared to provide their hives with little nourishment. Honey bees gather pollen to take to their hives and feed their young. But when the researchers collected pollen from bees foraging on native North American crops such as blueberries and watermelon, they found the pollen came from other flowering plants in the area, not from the crops. This is probably because honey bees, which evolved in the Old World, are not efficient at collecting pollen from New World crops, even though they can pollinate these crops.
The study’s findings are not directly related to colony collapse disorder, the still-unexplained phenomenon in which entire honey bee colonies suddenly die. However, the researchers said the results shed light on the many factors that are interacting to stress honey bee populations.

Honey Bee Gene Targeting Offers System to

Understand Food-related Behavior

JoVE, the Journal of Visualized Experiments has published a new technique that will help scientists better understand the genes that govern food-related behavior in honey bees. The impact of this study could take scientists one-step closer toward understanding — and perhaps changing — undesirable food-related behavior in humans via gene control.
“Our technique has already helped to unravel [the] complex gene networks behind biological processes and behavior, such as gustatory perception,” said Dr. Ying Wang of Arizona State University. She and a team of scientists are behind the experiment, titled RNAi-mediated Double Gene Knockdown and Gustatory Perception Measurement in Honey Bees. “Honey bees are much less complex than mammals and humans, but [we] share many major genes,” said Wang, “therefore, honey bees have become an emerging system for us to understand food related behavior in humans.”
In Wang’s previous study, she found that carbohydrate metabolism and insulin pathway genes were involved in honey bee gustatory perception. Her new article introduces two strategies for targeting and simultaneously down-regulating multiple genes in honey bees via RNA interference. This allows for further research in examining the role of insulin metabolism in gustatory perception. The team believes it will be important to understanding how insulin pathways play a role in food-related behavior.
Wang’s multiple gene knockdown method is a first in entomology, and it overcomes the many shortfalls associated with typical single-gene targeting methods. A common problem associated with single gene suppression is that it is not sufficient to show the interrelationship of a gene network.
In the article published recently, Wang’s team has also provided a technique to measure the resulting changes in honey bee behavior, and this has led them to interesting observations. “Gustatory perception is a behavioral predictor for honey bee social behavior,” said Wang. A honey bee’s sensitivity to sugar predicts the food-choices and timing of foraging.
Wang’s experiment opens the door for researchers to build upon her lab’s techniques. “We believe our double knockdown approach will be more recognized and shared in the field when it is published in the video journal JoVE,” said Wang.
With any luck, the impact will result in more than just high-tech pest control. It could instead provide insight into human insulin pathways, potentially giving us an opportunity to learn how to control human dietary behavior.

Newly Described Behavior Shows How Asian Honey Bees

Apis cerana Defend Themselves Against Hornets

In a paper published recently in the Journal of Apicultural Research, the Asian honey bee Apis cerana, is shown to swarm and abscond to successfully elude a range of predatory hornet species. This newly described behavior used together with an armory of other defensive tactics helps to limit the damage hornets can inflict on colonies.
A. cerana is native and widespread through South and South East Asia where it endures predation by a range of hornets including Vespa velutina (now found in France), V. tropica and V. affinis. Their hunting techniques differ and elicit different reactions from the bees. These bees have previously been observed defending themselves from hornets by “shaking” (where the outer layer or “mantle” of bees shake which makes a whooshing sound), “heat balling” (clustering around the predator and heating them to a lethal temperature) and protean flight which is an evasive zig-zagging flight of worker bees returning to their colonies under attack. Unlike the European honey bee A. mellifera whose speed slows in protean flight, A. cerana bees fly quickly when under hornet attack.
In this new study of A. cerana bee swarms made in Thailand by Dr Willard Robinson of Casper College, USA, the bees were found to make a series of short or “saltatory” swarming flights to effectively rid themselves of attacking hornets. Where the bees settled it is thought they marked the site with an attractant which left some hornets clinging to the site after the swarm flew away. Relieved of these predators, the colony then absconded by taking a much longer flight to a new area. When hornets were absent, despite the presence of colonies of the giant honey bee A. dorsata which would normally attract hornets to the area, only one Apis cerana swarm was observed indicating that they only abscond to evade hornets when hornets are abundant.
Prior to swarming and under constant hornet attack, the swarms also formed downward aerial extensions, called “tails,” together with “arm” extensions formed along their support (such as a tree). The bees in these tails and arms did not fly to defend themselves and were targeted by the attacking hornets. This left the main bulk of the colony free from attack. It is thought, in effect, that these tail and arm bees were expendable decoys sacrificed to preserve the main colony. The main colony was then able to continue functioning and select the next appropriate action to take such as swarming.
IBRA Scientific Director and JAR Senior Editor Norman Carreck says: “Honey bees normally swarm to reproduce by making new colonies and sometimes to find new food sources. This study is important because for the first time it shows bees also use swarming to defend themselves from predators.”



On May 15, 2013, Randy Oliver issued a call through the popular on-line BEE-L forum for local beekeeping clubs to participate in a “crowdsourcing” funding effort on behalf of Project Apis m (PAm). The Treasure Valley Beekeepers Club ( promptly rose to Randy’s challenge. Immediately following the TVBC’s June meeting, Chad Dickinson, TVBC President, proudly announced that thanks to the generosity of Southwest Idaho beekeeper, Mike Morrison and participating Club members, the TVBC was able to generate $400 in proceeds during a single raffle dedicated to PAm.
For the raffle during the Club’s regular June meeting, Mike Morrison kindly donated new woodenware, pollen supplement and equipment. The monthly meeting was attended by nearly 100 beekeepers from across Southwest Idaho. Local club members bought hundreds of raffle tickets and pitched in to do their part in making this significant contribution to PAm.
The TVBC, based in Idaho’s capitol city of Boise, was formed in 2008, and enjoys a thriving membership of over 250 beekeepers. The Club emphasizes beekeeper education and serving local Treasure Valley communities in all their beekeeping needs. Members participate in teaching classes for community groups, helping new beekeepers get established, managing bee colonies, and annually participating in the Western Idaho State Fair.

Archbishop Becomes Patron of Bees Abroad

The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has agreed to become a patron of Bees Abroad, the charity seeking to reduce poverty in developing countries worldwide through beekeeping.
This is a particularly appropriate move as his official residence, Lambeth Palace, has its own bee colony producing honey and also wax for scented candles — and Justin Welby has a long association with helping to relieve poverty in developing countries.
“I am delighted to lend my support to Bees Abroad by becoming a patron,” said the Archbishop.  “Through its imaginative and wholly practical work, the charity promotes the skills of beekeeping in a way that empowers and educates the communities in which it operates.
“In investing in people in some of the poorest and under-developed areas, Bees Abroad creates opportunities for this local enterprise to flourish at a sustainable and manageable level.
“I am sure that those who are trained in beekeeping under Bees Abroad’s guidance and encouragement will find it an interesting and satisfying experience.  I send my best wishes to all involved with the charity in whatever role.”
John Home, chairman of Bees Abroad said, “I am delighted that Justin Welby has agreed to become a patron. His awareness of the challenges that are faced in the developing countries and his understanding about how the work of Bees Abroad can help small communities improve their lives, is an asset to our organization. He joins the team of our existing patrons whose support we much value in the work that we do using indigenous bees and techniques appropriate to the local environment”.
Bees Abroad offers training and support in beekeeping including making hives and protective clothing from local materials, managing honeybees, collecting honey safely, and handling and storing it hygienically.
Home-based production of honey and other saleable goods from the by-products of beekeeping is introduced, together with marketing and business skills to ensure the sustainable generation of new income by poor rural communities in developing countries.
Bees Abroad’s projects are normally self-sustaining after five years and no longer dependent on external finance and mentoring.  It has projects which need funding and enquiries from community groups in Kenya, Uganda, Cameroon, Nepal, Ghana, Nigeria, Malawi, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Rwanda and Sierra Leone.
For further information, please visit: or contact:
John Home 01926 612322 Bees Abroad (Chairman)
Veronica Brown 0117 230 0231 Bees Abroad (Administrator)
Roger Ranson 0845 402 6527 BHR


BJ Sherriff, a British protective beekeeping clothing company, is celebrating its 45th anniversary this July.
Dissatisfied with the protection available in the 1960s, beekeepers Brian and Pat Sherriff utilized their knowledge of clothing manufacture from their lingerie factory to create the first lightweight, self-supporting hood with Clear View veiling. The innovative hood not only protected from bee stings but offered exceptional visibility.
Fast-forward 45 years and the family company continues to revolutionize the world of beekeeping from its base near Falmouth in Cornwall where Brian, with a life time of experience, still pattern designs and cuts the clothing.
Working alongside him is his daughter, Angela Sherriff, who runs a small team of staff as well as a network of eight local machinists.
She said: “It is amazing that something that started out as a hobby in 1968 has become a thriving commercial enterprise, and is a key part of beekeeping around the world.
For more information visit, email: or call 01872 863304.

Honey-Maker: How the Honey Bee Worker Does What She Does

Title: Honey-Maker: How the Honey Bee Worker Does What She Does
ISBN: 978-0-9851625-0-4
Paperback: 215 pages, perfect bound, black and white interior with illustrations, glossary, bibliography, and index
Price: $19.95
Descripton: Honey-Maker: How the Honey Bee Worker Does What She Does is an invitation to take a closer look at what goes on inside the beehive—and beyond.
Uniquely focused on the worker, the familiar bee that we see on our lawns and in our gardens, the book simply asks: How? The explorations involved in answering this question not only speak to our long-term relationship with the honey bee, but also suggest ways in which we all might help the bee that is in so much trouble these days.
Beginning with an overview of the colony comprising the queen, workers, and drones, the book homes in on the worker: how she constructs honeycomb, tends the queen, raises all of the colony’s inhabitants, grooms and feeds herself and others, makes honey and bee bread, and dances. As the worker flies away from the hive, we learn how she searches for resources, collects nectar and pollen, defines a beeline, and, sometimes, swarms and stings. We also glimpse this insect’s enormous capacity to work cooperatively and meet the ever-changing needs of her colony as a whole.
Richly illustrated, engagingly written, and containing a glossary, bibliography, and index, Honey-Maker provides the nitty gritty that serves as an introduction, guide, and reference to both the honey bee and the millions of known and yet-to-be-described other insects on the planet today.

Publisher: Beargrass Press
4207 SE Woodstock Ste 517
Portland OR 97206

Distribution: Beargrass Press
4207 SE Woodstock Ste 517
Portland OR 97206

In addition to Beargrass Press, available at local storefronts and online through:

Online Bookstore
Powell’s Books:

Online Bee Supply
Bee Thinking:
Ruhl Bee Supply:


August 2013


Researchers Find  Genetic Diversity Key to Survival of Honey Bee Colonies

When it comes to honey bees, more mates is better. A new study from North Carolina State University, the University of Maryland and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) shows that genetic diversity is key to survival in honey bee colonies – a colony is less likely to survive if its queen has had a limited number of mates.
“We wanted to determine whether a colony’s genetic diversity has an impact on its survival, and what that impact may be,” says Dr. David Tarpy, an associate professor of entomology at North Carolina State University and lead author of a paper describing the study. “We knew genetic diversity affected survival under controlled conditions, but wanted to see if it held true in the real world. And, if so, how much diversity is needed to significantly improve a colony’s odds of surviving.”
Tarpy took genetic samples from 80 commercial colonies of honey bees (Apis mellifera) in the eastern United States to assess each colony’s genetic diversity, which reflects the number of males a colony’s queen has mated with. The more mates a queen has had, the higher the genetic diversity in the colony. The researchers then tracked the health of the colonies on an almost monthly basis over the course of 10 months – which is a full working “season” for commercial bee colonies.
The researchers found that colonies where the queen had mated at least seven times were 2.86 times more likely to survive the 10-month working season. Specifically, 48 percent of colonies with queens who had mated at least seven times were still alive at the end of the season. Only 17 percent of the less genetically diverse colonies survived. “48 percent survival is still an alarmingly low survival rate, but it’s far better than 17 percent,” Tarpy says.
“This study confirms that genetic diversity is enormously important in honey bee populations,” Tarpy says. “And it also offers some guidance to beekeepers about breeding strategies that will help their colonies survive.”
The paper, “Genetic diversity affects colony survivorship in commercial honey bee colonies,” was published online in June in the journal Naturwissenschaften. Co-authors of the study are Dr. Dennis vanEngelsdorp of the University of Maryland and Dr. Jeffery Pettis of USDA. The work was supported by the USDA Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service, the USDA Agricultural Research Service, the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and the National Honey Board.
(Courtesy Matt Shipman, North Carolina State University)

Pollinators Easily Enhanced by Flowering Agri-environment Schemes

Agri-environment schemes aimed to promote biodiversity on farmland have positive effects on wild bees, hoverflies and butterflies. Effects on diversity and abundance were strongest when agri-environment schemes prescribed sowing wild-flowers, the more flowering species the better. Organic farms, set-aside land or fields receiving reduced amounts of fertilizer and pesticides generally hosted more wild pollinators than conventionally farmed land. Jeroen Scheper of Alterra Research Institute and colleagues demonstrated this by analyzing the results of 71 studies that had looked at the effects of implementing agri-environment schemes in various European countries.
“There has been a lot of debate about the effectiveness of agri-environment schemes so the results were a bit of a surprise” said co-author David Kleijn. “We don’t know whether the results indicate that agri-environment schemes boost pollinator populations or that they temporarily attract pollinators from surrounding areas. Positive effects were restricted to very common species. However, recently there has been a lot of concern that the decline of pollinators might result in pollination limitation of insect-pollinated crops. Wild bees are excellent pollinators and common species do just the trick. All you have to do to enhance the wild pollinators of crops on farmland is increase flower abundance in field margins roadsides or crop edges.”
The examined agri-environment schemes seem less effective in enhancing endangered pollinator species. Endangered species were rarely observed during the field studies. “Most of the studies used for the analyses were carried out in North-western Europe where farming is relatively intensive. In these areas endangered species are restricted to semi-natural habitats and nature reserves. Also, endangered bee species often specialize on flowers that cannot easily be established on farmland, such as heather or bilberry.”
Rachael Winfree, a leading pollination scientist from Rutgers University, New Jersey, USA comments “This is an interesting, timely and comprehensive study that tests several ecological hypotheses to answer an important question: Where and how should we restore pollinators on agricultural lands? Given the global interest in pollinator declines, and the considerable government funding going into pollinator restorations in the USA and EU, this work will have important policy implications.”

Green Roof at Minneapolis City Halland Courthouse Building is Home Sweet Home for Honeybees

Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community donates bees, hives

(MINNEAPOLIS) - The green roof at the Minneapolis City Hall and Courthouse building is now buzzing with honey bees, thanks to a donation from the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community, which donated the bees from its own apiaries. Bees on rooftops are common in cities, and the green roof provides critical, protected habitat – especially in a commercial area such as Downtown. The two hives are expected to grow to about 50,000 bees each.
The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community donated the bees and equipment as part of its commitment to a sustainable environment and to help the City with its environmental goals. The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community’s own beehives have brought benefits including pollination of the fruits and vegetables at the tribe’s Wozupi (garden), honey production, and increased public awareness of the importance of pollinators through Wozupi classes and tours.
The beehive installation promotes awareness of urban ecosystems and furthers City goals, including locally grown food available and chosen; and livable communities, healthy lives. It is also intended to serve as an example of urban and rooftop beekeeping since the City recently relaxed its beekeeping rules for rooftop hives.
The bees’ foraging distance is about 28 square miles; from this location that includes ample resources for a flourishing hive such as areas around Lake of the Isles; parts of Lake Calhoun, Cedar Lake and Brownie Lake; about six miles of Mississippi shoreline; extensive parkland including Loring Park; and portions of the University of Minnesota. Honey bees are not aggressive; furthermore, their presence on rooftops is a safe distance from human traffic.
Honey bee populations have been declining because of several factors including loss of habitat, use of pesticides, bee diseases and parasites. Minneapolis is one of many cities around the country promoting beekeeping. From Washington, D.C., to Chicago to San Francisco, municipal governments and beekeeping organizations are working to reverse the trend of disappearing honey bees.
The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community Wozupi (garden) manages more than 4.8 million honey bees in 120 hives in six apiaries. The honey bees provide important pollination for the Wozupi fruits and vegetables, and they feed throughout the season on tree blossoms, flowers, and other plants around the Community. The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community is a federally recognized, sovereign Indian tribe located southwest of Minneapolis/St. Paul. With a focus on being a good neighbor, good steward of the earth, and good employer, the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community is committed to community partnerships, charitable donations, a healthy environment, and a strong economy. For more information, visit and

Monsanto Company Forms Honey Bee Advisory Council, Pledges Support For Honey Bee Health At First-Of-Its-Kind Summit

Monsanto Commits To Collaboration With Beekeeping Industry Partners To Improve Honey Bee Health

ST. LOUIS, June 13, 2013 -- A first-of-its-kind Honey Bee Health Summit concluded at Monsanto Company’s Chesterfield Village Research Center. The three-day event hosted by Project Apis m. (PAm) and Monsanto’s Honey Bee Advisory Council (HBAC) included nearly 100 members of the bee community representing academics, beekeepers, industry associations and government sectors.
Summit attendees heard from some of the nation’s top apiculture researchers on the challenges facing honey bees, an important ecosystem service provider and natural


Learning from the Honey Bee Community
“Healthy honey bees are essential for productive agriculture and the environment,” said Jerry Hayes, who runs Monsanto’s bee industry efforts as the Beeologics commercial lead. “As a company focused on sustainable agriculture, Monsanto has made significant investments in collaborations and R&D for the betterment of honey bee health, including the formation of Monsanto’s Honey Bee Advisory Council.”
Monsanto joined forces with beekeeping industry experts to form the HBAC. Through the counsel of these experts from the beekeeping industry, Monsanto has learned a great deal about the complex challenges facing beekeepers. Members of Monsanto’s HBAC include:

-- Diana Cox-Foster, Ph.D., professor, entomology, Penn State University
-- David Mendes, commercial beekeeper and past president of American Beekeeping Federation
-- Gus Rouse, honey bee queen breeder and owner of Kona Queen Hawaii, Inc.
-- Larry Johnson, row crops grower and commercial beekeeper

In addition to working with the honey bee community, Monsanto, alongside other agriculture industry leaders, supports best management practices that are beneficial to honey bee health. Monsanto supports The Guide to Seed Treatment Stewardship, which the American Seed Trade Association (ASTA) and CropLife America (CLA) recently released. The Guide is an industry-wide initiative that promotes the safe handling and management of treated seeds.

Forage for Pollinating Bees
Year-one results of a three-year partnership between PAm and Monsanto also were provided during the summit. The goal of the partnership is to educate and provide forage with growers and landowners in California about the value of planting honey bee forage on land they would otherwise leave unused. The selected flowering plants provide pollen diversity to keep pollinating bees strong.
Almond pollination is extremely important and it demands more colonies than any other crop. It takes approximately 800 commercial beekeepers and 1.6 million honey bee colonies to pollinate California almonds.
“To ensure strong colonies and healthy honey bees for pollination, they need access to varied forage,” said Christi Heintz, executive director, PAm. “This partnership signifies a strong commitment to helping find sustainable solutions to improve bee health by providing honey bee forage,” said Heintz.
130 percent of the first year’s goal was achieved, yielding an area of 450 acres of forage.

Working to Control the Varroa Mite

Based largely on HBAC’s counsel, Monsanto has focused its bee health research efforts on finding a way to control the Varroa mite, which is a carrier of various viruses that are harmful to honey bees. The Varroa mite is considered to be a potential leading contributor to Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD).
“If beekeepers let mite pressure get out of control, it becomes an uphill battle and they usually lose,” said Hayes.
Monsanto’s BioDirect(TM) technology has the potential for sustainable benefits to beekeepers, growers and consumers in the form of biological solutions. The technology has the potential to control a problem insect on a beneficial insect without harm to the beneficial insect. BioDirect technologies may ultimately be used to identify new and additional opportunities for current herbicides, create better insect control options and offer new virus-control tools.

Vita Launches Smartphone App about Keeping Healthy Bees

The first-ever smartphone app about keeping healthy honeybees has been launched by Vita (Europe) Ltd, the world’s largest dedicated bee health company. The app is free and gives beekeepers easy mobile access to information and photographs about honeybee disease identification and treatment.
The app, suitable for nearly all smartphones and tablet devices, can be downloaded free from It runs on Apple or Android, on iPhones, iPads, Samsungs and Blackberrys and the full range of smart mobiles.
Seb Owen, commercial development manager at Vita who has led the development of the app, said: “Beekeepers often need information at a moment’s notice in their apiaries, so we devised this app to be used anywhere they can receive a mobile signal.
“We introduced this first-ever honeybee health smartphone app to a small number of beekeepers earlier this spring and the first reactions have been very positive indeed, so we are now ready to go fully live.
“The Disease Identification section with its photographs and descriptions is already proving very useful in alerting beekeepers to potential problems – and with their smartphone they will even be able to take photographs to compare later or send to fellow beekeepers.”
The main sections of the app cover disease identification and treatment, where to buy treatments, plus sections on the very popular Vita Photo gallery, a beekeeping calendar and links to Vita’s website, Facebook, Twitter and Google+ pages.
To access the free Vita web app from your smartphone, simply use your internet browser to go to The app requires an internet connection, is not available from app stores and will not store information on your phone.

Foundation Offering 5 Graduate Student Scholarships:
Deadline September 15, 2013

The Foundation for the Preservation of Honey Bees is again offering scholarships of $2,000 each to five graduate students in apiculture. This is the Foundation’s ninth year to award such scholarships.
The Foundation is a charitable research and education foundation affiliated with the American Beekeeping Federation (ABF). The Foundation has benefited from a generous gift from the Glenn and Gertrude Overturf estate, and is sustained by ongoing gifts from ABF members and other supportive individuals.
The Foundation Trustees have chosen to use a portion of the grant to offer graduate student scholarships to foster professional development for young apicultural scientists. The purpose of the scholarships is to allow the recipients to attend the American Beekeeping Research Conference during the 2014 North American Beekeeping Conference in Baton Rouge, Louisiana January 7-11, 2014. The recipients will have an opportunity to meet other researchers and beekeepers and to present their research at the meeting. The Board of Trustees looks forward to their contributions to the conference. The scholarships are available to all graduate students.  Graduate students enrolled in universities outside the United States are invited to apply.
Applications for the scholarships will be accepted until September 15, 2013.
Applicants should submit to the Board for consideration:
1. A cover letter from their University advisor outlining the student’s progress toward their graduate degree (Masters or PhD), tentative graduation date, and any other information about the student and their research that would help the committee “get to know” the student. 
2. The student’s curriculum vitae, or resume, not to exceed 2 pages. 
3. A research proposal (not to exceed 3 pages), written by the graduate student. This proposal should outline the specific research experiments the student is conducting for their degree. The proposal should clearly state how the research benefits bees and/or beekeeping. The proposal can describe research that the student is planning to perform, or the progress the student already has made toward that research. The proposal should begin with an introduction to the research problem, and should follow with clear goals and objectives that state the research questions and hypotheses. The student should then discuss the methods that will be used to answer their research questions, and the expected results or results to date.
Recipients will be selected in October 2013.
Applications must be submitted electronically, preferably as one pdf document to: Marla Spivak at the University of Minnesota; e-mail:
If you have questions or need more information about the scholarship program, contact: Marla Spivak, Scholarship Program Coordinator, Foundation for the Preservation of Honey Bees,

What Debbie Jamison of DAR Did for UC Davis Bee Research

DAVIS, CA—For Debra “Debbie” Jamison of Fresno, it’s always been about the bees. The honey bees.
“I have had a lifelong love and respect for bees and I spent a lot of my childhood watching them, attracting them with sugar water, catching and playing with them and even dissecting them during a time when I imagined myself to be a junior scientist,” Jamison said. “Back in those days, there was an abundance of bees, usually observed by this kid in her family’s backyard full of clover blossoms—something you rarely see any more due to spraying of pre-emergents and other weed killers.”
So when Jamison became state regent of the California State Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), she adopted the motto, “Bees are at the heart of our existence” and vowed to support research to help the beleaguered bees. Her project resulted in DAR members raising $30,000 for bee research at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility, University of California, Davis.
“Every state regent has a fund-raising project; I chose honey bees,” said Jamison, whose first name, Debra, means “bee” in Hebrew. Fresno, in the heart of San Joaquin Valley, is “The Food Basket to the World,” Jamison said, and  “a place where we grow a large variety of crops that require bees for pollination.”
“When the California State Society Board of Directors approved this project, we knew that it was an important one,” she told the crowd at a recent ceremony at UC Davis. “However, we did not know just how vital this project would be until we began talking to staff at UC Davis.  We hope that our contribution helps provide needed funding for the extremely important research going on at this well-known and well-respected facility.”
The funds will be used in the Johnson lab. His graduate student, Gerard Smith, researches the effect of pesticide exposure in the field on honey bee foraging behavior, and graduate student Cameron Jasper studies the genetic basis of division of labor in honey bees.
Johnson and fellow UC Davis bee scientists Neal Williams and Robbin Thorp discusssed their work and the importance of bees as pollinators. Williams, an assisant professor, researches wild or non-managed bees. Thorp, a native pollinator specialist and emeritus professor of entomology, does research on bumble  bees and other bees.
Jamison thanked Fresno beekeeper Brian Liggett and Cooperative Extension specialist Eric Mussen of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology for helping educate them about the bees. Among the others she acknowledged were Christi Heintz, director of Project Apis m., “who provided information on the plight of bees and helped us get in contact with UC Davis.”
(Courtesy of Kathy Keatley Garvey, UC-Davis Bee Research)

Thompson Bequest Benefits Foundation

The Foundation for the Preservation of Honey Bees is the beneficiary of a bequest from the estates of Victor and Margaret Thompson of Hesston, Kans.
Victor Thompson retired in 1981 from Ohio State University where he had been a professor and honey bee researcher for nearly 40 years. He was involved in Dr. Walter Rothenbuhler’s research into hygienic behavior in honey bees. He had a BS in entomology from Kansas State and an MS in apiculture from Iowa State.
Dr. Larry Connor, who had worked as an Ohio State extension specialist, said, “Vic was a quiet, unassuming person, who went about his business and did his job without a lot of fanfare. Margaret was much the same.”
In retirement, the Thompsons moved back to Kansas. In 2006, writing to the American Beekeeping Federation to express appreciation for a 50-year membership recognition, he said they felt they “should return to ‘our roots’ in Kansas where many of our relatives still live.” At that time, both at age 85, he said he enjoyed woodworking in the retirement center’s workshop and gardening and “Margaret enjoys painting – mainly watercolors.”
Until his last years Mr. Thompson attended Kansas beekeepers meetings, said ABF Vice President Tim Tucker of Niotaze, Kans., who remembers him as “a kind man.” Mr. Thompson died in December 2012; Mrs. Thompson had died in March 2011.
The Thompson bequest is expected to total nearly $200,000, according to Foundation Executive Director Troy Fore. The funds have been invested along with the Foundation’s endowment -- an earlier gift from the estates of Glenn and Gertrude Overturf.
The Foundation for the Preservation of Honey Bees is a 501(c)(3) research and education foundation; all contributions are tax deductible. For more information, contact the Foundation at P.O. Box 1445, Jesup, GA 31598, ph. 912-427-4018, on the web at

 July 2013


Winter Loss Survey 2012-2013: Preliminary Results

by Dennis vanEngelsdorp1*, Nathalie Steinhauer1, Karen Rennich1, Jeffery Pettis2, Eugene J. Lengerich3, David Tarpy4, Keith S. Delaplane5, Angela M. Spleen3, James T. Wilkes6, Robyn Rose7, Kathleen Lee8, Michael Wilson9 , John Skinner9, and Dewey M. Caron10 for the Bee Informed Partnership.

Note: This is a preliminary analysis. A more detailed final report is being prepared for publication at a later date.
The Bee Informed Partnership (, in collaboration with the Apiary Inspectors of America (AIA) and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), is releasing preliminary results for the seventh annual national survey of honey bee colony losses. For the 2012/2013 winter season, a total of 6,287 U.S. beekeepers provided validated responses. Collectively, responding beekeepers managed 599,610 colonies in October 2012, representing about 22.9%1 of the country’s estimated 2.62 million colonies.
Preliminary survey results indicate that 31.1% of managed honey bee colonies in the United States were lost during the 2012/2013 winter. This represents an increase in loss of 9.2 points or 42% over the previous 2011/2012 winter’s total losses that were estimated at 21.9% (Figure 1). This level of loss is on par with the 6 year average total loss of 30.5%2.
On average, U.S. beekeepers lost 45.1% of the colonies in their operation during the winter of 2012/2013. This is a 19.8 point or 78.2% increase in the average operational loss compared to the previous winter (2011/2012), which was estimated at 25.3%. The difference between average loss and total loss is explained by the respondent pool: while a majority of the respondents (95%) were backyard beekeepers, they managed a small fraction of the colonies represented in the survey (6%). For this reason total loss (which is more heavily influenced by commercial beekeeper losses) is more representative of national losses.
Survey participants indicated that they considered a loss rate of 15% as “acceptable,” but 70% of them suffered losses greater than this.

1 Based on NASS 2012 figures
2 Previous survey results found a total colony loss in the winters of 21.9% in the winter of 2011/2012, 30% in 2010/2011, 34% in 2009/2010, 29% in 2008/2009, 36% in 2007/2008, and 32% in 2006/2007 (see figure below)

The Bee Informed Partnership is funded by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, USDA.

1. University of Maryland; 717-884-2147;
2. USDA-ARS Bee Research Laboratory
3. The Pennsylvania State University,
4. North Carolina State University
5. University of Georgia
6. Appalachian State University
7. Robyn Rose, USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service,
8. University of Minnesota
9. University of Tennessee
10. Oregon state University
*Corresponding author

Georgia Offers A Super Bee to Help Ailing American Bee

by Molly Corso

When it comes to relations between the United States and Georgia, outsiders usually focus on what the US has done for its tiny South Caucasus ally. But, now, it looks like Georgia might have a valuable item for the US – a super bee that could provide some much-needed variety to dwindling American bee colonies.
In 2012, commercial beekeepers in the United States lost between 40 to 50 percent of their hives, the worst year for bee-colony collapse since 2005, according to a March article in The New York Times. A lower bee count reduces the supply of fruit, vegetables, nuts, and beans dependent on pollination, which, consequently, increases prices, the article noted.
While there is no evidence that Caucasus bees are more resilient either to the mites or the pesticides that could be causing the deaths of American bees, scientists like Washington State University entomologist Walter S. Sheppard have started taking bee semen from Georgia to create more variety in American bee populations.
The gray Caucasus mountain honey bee, one of the world’s three types of honey bees, has a legendary ability to produce large amounts of honey despite cold weather and bad conditions. Georgia is the “central homeland” for the species, although the bees also can be found in eastern Turkey, Armenia and Azerbaijan.
“The Caucasus honey bee has a long, strong history of importance to beekeeping worldwide,” said Sheppard, who has traveled to Georgia three times from Pullman, Washington to purchase bee semen for the artificial insemination of bees. “The Caucasus honey bee is good at eating less and producing more.”
Information was not immediately available about the quantity of Caucasus bee exports from Georgia. The bees were first sent to the United States for commercial production in the late 19th century, along with Carniolan bees from the Austrian Alps and Italian bees. (North America itself has no native honey bees.)
But American beekeepers’ access to the Caucasus bees was cut short by a 1922 law that blocked the import of live honey bees from any country the US Secretary of Agriculture had not deemed clear of diseases or parasites harmful to bees, among other conditions.
That meant that, for decades, while American beekeepers selectively bred other types of bees for honey production, Georgia’s Caucasus bee, also known as Apis mellifera caucasica, was studied and cultivated primarily by Soviet entomologists. The scientists were amazed by its ability to out-produce other bee types, even in non-native habitats, and by its long tongue, or proboscis.
A Soviet-era report found that honey production by Georgia’s Caucasus bees exceeded that of the Russian Krasnopoliansk bee by 30 to 40 percent, rendering a sweet total of 25 to 30 kilograms of honey per season.
Its proboscis played a role there. At an average length of 7.1 millimeters, over half a millimeter longer than that of other honey bees, the Caucasus bee’s proboscis can reach nectar that its competitors cannot.
Ever mindful of production quotas, Soviet officials were so concerned about preserving the purity of this Stakhanovite species that they outlawed any transport of Caucasus bee colonies without special permission.
Those rules, however, fell by the wayside in the chaotic years following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Until recently, Georgian entomologists feared that the years of unrestricted movement and breeding might have wiped out the four Georgian varieties (Abkhazian, Cartaline, Gurian and Megrelian) of the Caucasus bee.
“After the Soviet Union collapsed, the state did not have time for bees and beekeepers continued as best they could,” commented entomologist Marina Barvenashvili. Some Georgian beekeepers mixed species in an effort to increase productivity, but the result meant the potential loss of some of the bee’s traits, she added.
In 2012, Barvenashvli, together with four colleagues, won a 19,000-lari ($11,508) grant from the Agriculture University of Georgia to travel to the western region of Samegrelo, where the scientists hoped the region’s high mountains might have preserved the Megrelian bees, the most distinct of Georgia’s Caucasus bees.
While foreign scientists are more interested in the bees’ productivity and ability to withstand the cold, the Georgian entomologists were keen to determine if the species’ legendary gray coloring and long tongue had survived.
After months of research and testing in three different villages in Samegrelo, they determined that they had. Now, the group is hoping for an additional grant to let them try selective breeding of Caucasus bees.
Yet local concern about the bees lives on. While “the mountains are protecting them,” said research project manager Maia Peikrishvili, “people definitely need to pay attention” to making sure that Georgia’s Caucasus bee, with its unusually robust production levels, remains a pure species.
With no easy rebound in sight for the US bee populations the Caucasus bee is meant to help, American food consumers most likely can only agree.
Editor’s note: Molly Corso is a freelance journalist who also works as editor of, a monthly publication by the American Chamber of Commerce in Georgia.
Originally published by,

USDA and EPA Release New Report on Honey Bee Health

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today released a comprehensive scientific report on honey bee health. The report states that there are multiple factors playing a role in honey bee colony declines, including parasites and disease, genetics, poor nutrition and pesticide exposure.
“There is an important link between the health of American agriculture and the health of our honeybees for our country’s long term agricultural productivity,” said Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan. “The forces impacting honeybee health are complex and USDA, our research partners, and key stakeholders will be engaged in addressing this challenge.”
“The decline in honey bee health is a complex problem caused by a combination of stressors, and at EPA we are committed to continuing our work with USDA, researchers, beekeepers, growers and the public to address this challenge,” said Acting EPA Administrator Bob Perciasepe.  “The report we’ve released today is the product of unprecedented collaboration, and our work in concert must continue. As the report makes clear, we’ve made significant progress, but there is still much work to be done to protect the honey bee population.”
In October 2012, a National Stakeholders Conference on Honey Bee Health, led by federal researchers and managers, along with Pennsylvania State University, was convened to synthesize the current state of knowledge regarding the primary factors that scientists believe have the greatest impact on managed bee health.

Key findings include:
Parasites and Disease Present Risks to Honey Bees:
The parasitic Varroa mite is recognized as the major factor underlying colony loss in the U.S. and other countries. There is widespread resistance to the chemicals beekeepers use to control mites within the hive. New virus species have been found in the U.S. and several of these have been associated with Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD).

Increased Genetic Diversity is Needed:
• U.S. honeybee colonies need increased genetic diversity. Genetic variation improves bees thermoregulation (the ability to keep body temperature steady even if the surrounding environment is different), disease resistance and worker productivity.
• Honey bee breeding should emphasize traits such as hygienic behavior that confer improved resistance to Varroa mites and diseases (such as American foulbrood).

Poor Nutrition Among Honey Bee Colonies:
• Nutrition has a major impact on individual bee and colony longevity. A nutrition-poor diet can make bees more susceptible to harm from disease and parasites. Bees need better forage and a variety of plants to support colony health.
• Federal and state partners should consider actions affecting land management to maximize available nutritional forage to promote and enhance good bee health and to protect bees by keeping them away from pesticide-treated fields.

There is a Need for Improved Collaboration and Information Sharing:
• Best Management Practices associated with bees and pesticide use exist, but are not widely or systematically followed by members of the crop-producing industry. There is a need for informed and coordinated communication between growers and beekeepers and effective collaboration between stakeholders on practices to protect bees from pesticides.
• Beekeepers emphasized the need for accurate and timely bee kill incident reporting, monitoring, and enforcement.

Additional Research is Needed to Determine Risks Presented by Pesticides:
The most pressing pesticide research questions relate to determining actual pesticide exposures and effects of pesticides to bees in the field and the potential for impacts on bee health and productivity of whole honey bee colonies.

Those involved in developing the report include USDA’s Office of Pest Management Policy (OPMP), National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), Agricultural Research Services (ARS), Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), National Resource Conversation Service (NRCS) as well as the EPA and Pennsylvania State University. The report will provide important input to the Colony Collapse Disorder Steering Committee, led by the USDA, EPA and the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS).
An estimated one-third of all food and beverages are made possible by pollination, mainly by honey bees. In the United States, pollination contributes to crop production worth $20-30 billion in agricultural production annually. A decline in managed bee colonies puts great pressure on the sectors of agriculture reliant on commercial pollination services. This is evident from reports of shortages of bees available for the pollination of many crops.
The Colony Collapse Steering Committee was formed in response to a sudden and widespread disappearance of adult honey bees from beehives, which first occurred in 2006. The Committee will consider the report’s recommendations and update the CCD Action Plan which will outline major priorities to be addressed in the next 5-10 years and serve as a reference document for policy makers, legislators and the public and will help coordinate the federal strategy in response to honey bee losses.
To view the report, which represents the consensus of the scientific community studying honey bees, please visit:

Comments On the E.U. Restriction On Neonics

by Eric Mussen
From March/April 2013 University of California at Davis, Bee News

For many years, beekeepers and environmentally interested individuals have expressed the opinion that the use of neonicotinoid insecticides (“neonics”) have interfered with the ability of honey bees and native bees to conduct their life activities properly. Since laboratory studies have detailed the disruptive effect on those insects, it was suggested that the same things were happening in the field. Unanticipated losses of formerly strong honey bee colonies, and easily observable decreases in bumble bee sightings, correlated well with increased use of neonics.
In Europe, registration and use of various pesticides are based on the “precautionary principle.” Basically, that means that a chemical is rated on its innate toxicity to honey bees and other non-targets, similar to the requirements of the U.S. EPA. Then, a second component enters the equation: likelihood of honey bees and non-targets to become exposed to the toxicant. This second factor is considered by EPA, but not as strongly as it is in Europe. If the sum of the toxicity and likely exposure is large enough, then the European Commission can restrict or prohibit the product’s use. A report published by the European Food Safety Agency (EFSA) concluded that the neonicotinoid pesticides posed a “high acute risk” to pollinators, including honey bees, but that a definitive connection between the chemicals and loss of colonies in the field remained to be established.
The complaint against the neonics was brought to the European Commission a while ago, and the members originally voted that not enough scientific information existed to warrant a ban on the products. In the following appeal, the members voted to allow the Commission to prepare new restrictions concerning the use of the products. The restrictions are intended to accomplish two goals: 1) prevent large-scale environmental contamination by dust from agricultural planting equipment and 2) reduce exposure of honey bees and other flower-visiting insects to residues of neonics in nectars and pollens.
Beginning in December of 2013 or sooner, no more neonic-treated crop seeds will be sold or planted in the E.U. Neonics will be withdrawn from use by the general public. Neonics still may be used on plants that are not attractive to honey bees, or other foraging bee species, as forage plants (such as winter cereals).
What might we expect to see as results from this large-scale experiment? First, if large-scale contamination of the air through which bees are flying, contamination of weeds in agricultural fields, along the borders of the fields, and out in the environment no longer happens, then we would anticipate no longer hearing complaints about honey bees and bee colonies dying shortly after the plantings have taken place. Second, we might anticipate the problems of colony population depletion, sometimes to the point of colony loss, proposed to be due to exposure of bees to residues of neonics in nectars and pollens, would no longer be seen.
However, it is not likely to be that simple. The substantial losses, closely following neoniccoated seed planting, might drop off. But, other colony population problems may not become better for some time. Analyses of residues of pesticides in beeswax, stored pollens, and bees themselves in the U.S. suggest that there are myriad chemicals stored in the hives that are likely to be impacting honey bee physiology negatively already, including a few detections of very low levels of neonics. Since the neonics tend to persist in soil and woody perennials for prolonged periods of time, it is likely that bee exposure at low levels will persist. If the dosage levels of neonics that induce physiological impacts on honey bees are below current levels of detection (LOD), then it will be extremely difficult to determine this effect.
Additionally, removal of neonics from a significant segment of the market suggests that other compounds are likely to be substituted to control pests currently kept subdued by the neonics. Some of the older chemistries that no longer are available were losing their effectiveness against the pests due to selection for resistance, anyway. They are likely to be replaced by newer chemistries that may or may not have detrimental effects on exposed pollinators, including honey bees. The inadequacies in the U.S. to demand definitive, long-term studies on honey bee brood development and adult longevity, following exposure to sublethal doses of the compounds, means that we may find things will not be a whole lot better when we remove uses of neonics from our registrations. It will be interesting to watch this experiment unfold from a distance.

 June 2013


Bee Industry Hosts U.S. EPA for Tour of Almond Pollination Sites

Dead Bees and Empty Hives Show the Extent of the Losses

Oakdale, CA — U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Assistant Administrator, Jim Jones spent a day in early April with beekeepers and almond growers to learn more about this year’s massive colony losses, and beekeepers’ concerns about the role of pesticides in the decline. The National Pollinator Defense Fund (NPDF) Board provided Jones with a view of the disaster from inside the hive. It was not a pretty picture. Dead hives littered the landscape at one bee yard, and even the hives with bees in them were not at full strength.
“I started out last spring in the Midwest with 3,150 healthy bee colonies; of which 992 still survive, and most of those are very weak.  More than 2,150 of my valuable bee colonies are now just gone,” said Jeff Anderson, third generation beekeeper, and owner of California-Minnesota Honey Farms where the tour began.
Escalating colony losses are making replacement difficult.  In the meantime, without bees, they are unable to fulfill pollination contracts or make honey.  Beekeepers are not alone—growers of almonds, cherries, apples, pears, berries, melons, and other fruits, vegetables, and field crops stand to lose as well, since their yields will be lower without good pollination.  Almond growers are paying a premium price this year for bees.  The supply isn’t enough to ensure good pollination and fruit set.  “The industry’s ability to pollinate almonds this year is severely compromised because of colony failures.   I expect that next year may be worse,” said Bret Adee, National Pollinator Defense (NPDF) president, and owner of Adee Honey Farms. “Many beekeepers will just not be able to recover from these losses.”
This is EPA’s second visit this year to the almond orchards. In early March, Anita Pease, associate director of Environmental Fate and Effects Division with the Office of Pesticide Programs, spent the day touring beekeeping operations with NPDF board members Bret Adee, Jeff Anderson, Darren Cox, and Zac Browning. They were joined by U.S. Department of Agriculture bee researchers Jeff Pettis and Dennis Van Englesdorp;  American Honey Producers President, Randy Verhoek, and American Beekeeping Federation President, George Hansen, and Board member, Gene Brandi.
The National Honey Bee Advisory Board (NHBAB) and the Almond Board helped the NPDF coordinate Jim Jones’ visit.  Jones is head of the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention (OCSPP) at U.S. EPA in Washington, D.C., one of the 12 main offices under the head of the EPA.  OCSPP is the part of EPA that oversees the Office of Pesticide Programs (OPP) that is responsible for registering pesticides, and ensuring that “no unreasonable adverse effects” will result from pesticide use.
In spite of OPP’s mandate, pesticides continue to kill bees.  Acute kills from illegal sprays on blooming crops or weeds are part of the problem.  Jeremy Anderson, fourth-generation beekeeper, noted “Many insecticide labels disallow spraying blooming crops; but if it happens, penalties for violating the rules are few and far between.  Just an acute exposure is enough to kill honey bees.”
After opening many of the hives and viewing sick honey bees, Jones was able to discern the difference between healthy honey bees, and a sick hive.  He also heard from beekeepers there is a serious need for better enforcement of label restrictions.  “There are no consequences for applying pesticides near beehives—state lead agencies responsible for enforcement usually do not investigate honey bee kills,” Anderson said.
“We’re pleased to see Jim Jones visit the almond orchards, growers, and beekeepers.  He understands the need for sustainable pollinators.  The EPA understands that the bee industry is in extreme critical condition at a tipping point.  He is evaluating the way EPA enforces pesticide laws.  Pollinators and beekeepers can’t continue to be on the receiving end of the losses, or the U.S. won’t have a beekeeping industry,” said Darren Cox, a fourth-generation beekeeper from Utah who brings bees to California for almond pollination.  Jim Jones stated he wants to bring all of the stakeholders together to work on this issue.
Beekeepers are also concerned about pesticide exposures that don’t kill the bees outright, but may affect their ability to thrive.  The bee industry is concerned several classes of insecticides, including systemic neonicotinoids and pyrethroids, and some fungicides and  growth regulators may impair the immune system, causing queen or brood failure, compromising homing abilities of forager bees, and/or disrupting communications within the hive, all of which contribute to colony loss.  We strongly urge the EPA to re-evaluate these compounds long term using tier testing protocols that can give us the answers we need to mitigate losses.
Some pesticides are long-lived and persistent in the environment. The pyrethroid pesticides are found in the wax of most hives that have spent time in agricultural areas. Neonicotinoids are more frequently found in the nectar and pollen stores in the hive.  A recent study of more than 800 hives from Pennsylvania State University found an average of six different pesticides, and as many as 39 in a single hive.  In the paper, the authors noted: “We concluded that the 98 pesticides and metabolites detected in mixtures up to 214 ppm in bee pollen alone represented a remarkably high level for toxicants in the food of brood and adults.  While exposure to many of these neurotoxicants elicits acute and sublethal reductions in honey bee fitness, the effects of these materials in combinations, and their direct involvement in Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) remain to be determined.”
The National Pollinator Defense Fund’s mission is to defend managed and native pollinators vital to a sustainable and affordable food supply from the adverse impacts of pesticides.  For more information contact us at

Syngenta and Bayer CropScience Propose a Comprehensive  Action Plan to Help Unlock EU Stalemate on Bee Health

Syngenta News Release

Syngenta and Bayer CropScience recently proposed an action plan to help unlock the EU stalemate on bee health. This follows the failure of the European Commission to reach agreement with Member States on an appropriate response to EFSA’s report on the theoretical risk to bee health from neonicotinoid pesticides.
John Atkin, Syngenta’s chief operating officer, said: “This comprehensive plan will bring valuable insights into the area of bee health, whereas a ban on neonicotinoids would simply close the door to understanding the problem. Banning these products would not save a single hive and it is time that everyone focused on addressing the real causes of declining bee populations. The plan is based on our confidence in the safety of our products and on our historical commitment to improving the environment for bees.”
Dr. Rüdiger Scheitza, member of the Board of Management of Bayer CropScience and Head of Strategy & Business Management, said: ”Even though all the evidence points to various parasites and diseases being the true cause of poor bee health, we are keen to do everything in our power to give consumers confidence in our products. The significant lack of agreement between the European Commission and the Member States needs a bold plan so that farmers in Europe can continue to produce the high quality affordable food, in a way that promotes the health of bees and other pollinators. We believe that such a plan as this can be delivered.”
The key features of the action plan are:

1. Significantly scale up the creation of pollen rich, flowering field margins across the EU to provide essential habitat and nutrition for bees.
2. Support for the establishment of a comprehensive field monitoring program for bee health including the detection of neonicotinoid crop protection products – particularly in maize, oilseed rape, sunflower and cotton.
3. Mandatory implementation of strict measures to mitigate the exposure risk to bees; these are currently already recommended by the manufacturers and effectively applied by most farmers as good agricultural practice.
4. Investment in and implementation, at the earliest opportunity, of new technologies which further reduce dust emissions from the planting of seed treated with neonicotinoid crop protection products.
5. Further investment in the research and development of new solutions for the main factors impacting bee health, which include parasites and viruses, and establishment of area-wide long-term pilot studies which demonstrate their effectiveness.

In further detail, the key features of the action plan are:

Significantly scale up the provision of pollen rich flowering field margins across the EU to be sown alongside bee attractive crops treated with neonicotinoids to provide habitat and nutrition.

  • This would build on Syngenta’s 10-year Operation Pollinator program which has demonstrated that these margins dramatically increase pollinator populations, including honeybees.
  • This would address one of the main factors identified by the European Commission in the decline in bee health.

Support for the establishment of a comprehensive field monitoring program for bee health including the detection of crop protection chemicals.

  • A comprehensive program, following the guidelines for surveillance projects by the EU Reference Laboratory for honey bee health, shall be established.
  • The current monitoring work of the EU reference laboratories on bee health, supported by national bee institutes, should be reinforced and extended.
  • Within this new scope the detection of chemicals from crop protection, particularly neonicotinoids, and veterinary products should be included.

Mandatory implementation of strict measures to mitigate the exposure risk to bees.

  • High quality treatment of seed to take place only in certified production sites which participate in a Quality Assurance Scheme.
  • Strict rules governing the use of treated seed, such as the mandatory use of deflectors in planting machinery, application only by professional and certified users, and improved information exchange between farmers and beekeepers.
  • Bayer Crop Science recently developed “SweepAir”, a new air-cleaning technology for maize sowing equipment offering a significant improvement in comparison to standard technology; first field tests with the prototype indicate a dust reduction well above 95%.

Invest in and roll out new technologies which further reduce the dust emissions from the planting of seed treated with neonicotinoid crop protection chemicals.

  • Bayer CropScience and Syngenta are both working on new solutions to further improve the coating of seeds treated with crop protection chemicals and the way they are planted to ensure that dust emissions are minimized.
  • Some of these solutions are ready to be deployed and we commit to continuing our investment in the research and development of these risk mitigation measures.

Further invest in the research and development of new solutions for the main factors impacting bee health.

  • The European Commission identifies disease and viruses such as Varroa destructor, American foulbrood, European foulbrood, Nosema spp., and honey bee viruses as the main cause of the decline in bee health.
  • Bayer CropScience and Syngenta have both invested in the research and development of new solutions to these parasites, diseases and viruses and commit to stepping up our activities in this area.
  • Bayer CropScience and Syngenta commit to supporting area-wide long-term pilot studies which demonstrate their effectiveness.