September 2015


Dr. Connor Awarded Honor at HAS

At the Heartland Apicultural Society 2015 meeting in Albion, keynote speaker Dr. Lawrence John Connor received a pleasant surprise. He was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award given on behalf of the Michigan Beekeepers Association and the Heartland Apicultural Society for his work, “Mentoring the Next Generation of Queen Breeders”. A lifelong advocate of sustainable, practical and informed beekeeping practices, Dr. Connor continues  to advise, educate and present on all subjects of beekeeping, including his acclaimed queen rearing workshops, regular articles authored for industry trade magazines and books that he continues to author and publish as senior partner at his publishing company, Wicwas Press LLC. After graciously accepting his award, Dr. Connor returned to the work at hand, guiding eager minds toward their aspirations and paving the way for future generations of beekeepers.

Losses of Honey Bee Colonies Over the 2014/15 Winter

Preliminary results from an  international study
The honey bee research association COLOSS(1) has today announced the preliminary results of their international study of colony losses over the 2014-15 winter. Data were collected from 31 countries. Egypt, Russia and the Ukraine participated for the first time in this initiative, which is the largest and longest running international study of honey bee colony losses. In total 23,234 respondents provided overwintering mortality and other data of their colonies.

Collectively, all responding beekeepers managed 469,249 honey bee colonies. 67,914 of these colonies were dead after winter and an estimated 3 % of these colonies were lost because of unsolvable queen problems after winter. A preliminary analysis of the data shows that the mortality rate over the 2014-15 winter varied between countries, ranging from 5 % in Norway to 25 % in Austria, and there were also marked regional differences within most countries. The overall proportion of colonies lost (including colonies with unsolvable queen problems after winter) was estimated as 17.4 %, which was twice that of the previous winter.

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 later in the year.

International Data Coordinator for the COLOSS Monitoring and Diagnosis Working Group Romée van der Zee from the Dutch Centre for Bee Research says: “North European countries have traditionally had lower losses, compared to west and central European countries. This can partly be explained by the later start of the breeding season of their honey bee colonies due to low temperatures in March/April, as was the case in 2014. This later start limits the number of brood cycles of the varroa mite, one of the main parasites of honey bees. However, honey bee colony loss is a multifactorial problem. There is clearly also a variation in losses between areas, which is not dependent on the varroa mite. One of the main aims of our network is to identify and describe such areas.”

1. COLOSS is a honey bee research association formerly funded by the European Union COST Programme (Action FA0803) and currently by the Ricola Foundation – Nature & Culture, which aims to explain and prevent massive honey bee colony losses. COLOSS does not directly support science, but aims to coordinate international research activities across Europe and worldwide, promoting cooperative approaches and a research program with a strong focus on the transfer of science into beekeeping practice. COLOSS has 552 members drawn from 78 countries worldwide. Its President is Prof. Peter Neumann of the University of Bern, Switzerland.


New Information About Stingless Bee Diversity in El Salvador

So called “stingless” bees have been managed by man in Mesoamerica since the time of the Mayan civilization, but are threatened by deforestation and urbanization, and traditional beekeeping using stingless bees has declined due to greater use of the more easily managed western honey bee. Despite this, there has hitherto been little information available about stingless bees in El Salvador. A new study published today in the Journal of Apicultural Research for the first time provides us with comprehensive information about stingless bee diversity in the country.

Stingless bees (Meliponinae) are a very diverse group of social bees native to areas of the world, (the Americas and Australia) where the more common social Apis honey bees are not naturally found. In this new study, Dr Carlos Iraheta and colleagues from the University of El Salvador studied bee diversity in each department of the country, the smallest in Central America. They located both wild and managed colonies of stingless bees. Greatly exceeding any previous records, they concluded that at least 20 species of stingless bees are found in the country. They found that the most common wild species was Tetragonisca angustula known locally as Jetaí, and the most common managed species was Melipona beecheii, known locally as Xunan Kab or the Royal Lady bee.

They found that the stingless bee species richness was associated with the vegetation cover, increasing with increased coniferous forest and fruit trees, also increasing with temperature, but decreasing with altitude. The authors found that coastal areas deforested for agriculture in the 1930s had no stingless bees present, whether wild or managed.

IBRA Science Director Norman Carreck says: “It is clear that populations of stingless bees are often fragile and easily influenced by land use changes. This new paper increases our knowledge of the native stingless bees present in this important country. We can only develop efficient strategies for conserving bee diversity if we have reliable information about present abundance.”

Oriental Honey Buzzards Might Stop to Smell the Pollen

Buzzard identifies food by the pollen smell, yellow color


Oriental honey buzzards, birds of prey, likely use a combination of their senses of smell and sight to identify nutritious pollen dough balls found in Taiwanese beehives, according to a study published July 15, 2015 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Shu-Yi Yang from National Pingtung University of Science and Technology, Taiwan, and colleagues.

Scientists think that raptors, birds that hunt and feed on other animals, may use their sense of smell to detect food, but ...


 The 2012 American Bee Research Conference was held February 7-8 at APHIS Headquarters in Greenbelt, MD in conjunction with the annual meeting of the Apiary Inspectors of America.  The twenty-sixth American Bee Research Conference will be held in Hershey, PA in conjunction with the annual meeting of the American Honey Producers Association in January 2013.  To access these abstracts now, click on the link below. These abstracts represent some of the latest bee research being conducted in the United States.  Enjoy!

icon 2012_Proceedings_ABJ.pdf (565 KB)