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May 20, 2015 - ABJ Extra

Chart Your Honey Bee Season with Vita’s Free Infographic

(a completed My Beekeeping Year infographic for publication can be downloaded here: http://www.vita-europe.com/wp-content/uploads/Beekeepingyear2014.jpg )
20 May 2015
A customizable infographic for beekeepers to record their honey bee season is now available for download from the website of Vita (Europe) Ltd, the honey bee health specialist.
My Beekeeping Year is a fun, A4-sized seasonal chart for beekeepers to note down memorable events during their beekeeping year. Anyone can register for free to download it here: www.vita-europe.com/gallery. (Existing users of the Vita Photo Gallery need not re-register.)
“As we travel around beekeeping countries, we frequently hear beekeepers speak of the strangest season or the biggest or the smallest harvest they’ve ever experienced. But seasons merge into one another and it’s difficult to keep track of what happened when”, said Sebastian Owen, Commercial Development Manager of Vita.  “So we are providing a simple, fun way for beekeepers to record each year and look back over the past to recall each season.”
Sebastian Owen continued: “Everyone has their own special season indicators – it may be the date of the flowering of the first nectar-producing plant, the first date they dare open their hives, or when they see the first swarm preparations. The infographic is flexible enough for people to enter whatever they like year by year.”
As seasons in each of the hemispheres come to a close Vita will invite beekeepers to share their infographics on the Vita website, so that beekeepers across the world can get a feel for what the season was like for their neighbors and how beekeeping seasons vary across the world.
The infographic template is available in the Vita Gallery www.vita-europe.com/gallery where registered users can also download the Vita 2015 Calendar as well as hundreds of bee-related photos for use in talks and for general learning.


May 19, 2015 - ABJ Extra

Honey Bee Health Coalition Ready to Provide Leadership in

Implementing National Pollinator Health Strategy

Strategy Highlights Coalition as Platform for Public-
Private Coordination to Accelerate, Achieve Task Force Goals

 [Keystone, Colorado, May 19, 2015] – The Honey Bee Health Coalition applauded the announcement of the National Strategy to Promote the Health of Honey Bees and other Pollinators and the accompanying Pollinator Research Action Plan, released today by President Barack Obama’s Pollinator Health Task Force.  The Strategy represents a critical step in improving the health of honey bees and other pollinators that support billions of dollars annually in U.S. and Canadian agriculture. The Strategy sets clear goals for pollinator health that underscore the importance of the Honey Bee Health Coalition’s ongoing work.  The Honey Bee Health Coalition commends the Task Force for its emphasis on public-private partnerships to improve pollinator health and stands ready to provide coordination and leadership.  The Strategy specifically cites the Coalition as an example of a public-private partnership and vehicle for collaboration, outreach, and education.
“The Strategy released by the National Pollinator Health Task Force underscore the importance of pollinator health for agriculture and the environment,” said George Hansen, a commercial beekeeper, past president of the American Beekeeping Federation, and a member of the Coalition’s Steering Committee. “As one of the largest and most diverse public-private partnerships already working to address honey bee health across agriculture, the Honey Bee Health Coalition is eager and ready to support the implementation of the Strategy.  In fact, the Coalition is already working to advance collaborative solutions and is poised to drive commitments and positive impacts on the ground.”
Agriculture, healthy lifestyles, and worldwide food security rely on honey bee health.  The Honey Bee Health Coalition works at the intersection of honey bee health and agriculture, bringing together stakeholders from across the agricultural supply chain as well as from government, academia, and conservation. The Coalition advances public-private solutions for honey bee health in four priority areas: hive management, forage and nutrition, crop pest management, and outreach, education, and communications.
“The Honey Bee Health Coalition appreciates the Task Force’s comprehensive, multi-factor approach recognizing the need for collective action on multiple fronts as well as the positive role that all stakeholders can play in this effort,” said Julie Shapiro, Coalition facilitator and senior policy director at Keystone Policy Center. “The Strategy accentuates the importance of the work that the Coalition is already undertaking that will help achieve goals related to reducing honey bee colony overwintering losses and restoring and enhancing pollinator habitat.  Coalition members look forward to working with the Task Force and other private and public partners in implementing the Strategy to achieve a vision of Healthy Bees, Healthy People, Healthy Planet.”



May 19, 2015 - ABJ Extra

White House Announces a National Strategy

to Promote Pollinator Health

On Tuesday, May 19, the White House announced the National Strategy to Promote Pollinator Health. The strategy released today and its accompanying Pollinator Research Action Plan outline needs and priority actions to better understand pollinator losses, improve pollinator health, and to enhance pollinator habitat.

The strategy's broad-reaching goals are to:
•    Restore colony health to sustainable levels by 2025.
•    Increase Eastern monarch butterfly populations to 225 million butterflies by year 2020.
•    Restore or enhance seven million acres of land for pollinators over the next five years.

For more information:

White House blog announcing the National Strategy to Promote Pollinator Health

Read the National Strategy to Promote Pollinator Health

Read about EPA’s role in the national strategy and EPA's actions to protect pollinators


May 18, 2015 - ABJ Extra

Remembering and Celebrating!

(Courtesy of the National Honey Board Honey Feast Newsletter)

Memorial Day is quickly approaching, and here at the National Honey Board we want to remember and celebrate all of our fallen military. We thank you for your sacrifice and appreciate everything our military does to keep us safe here at home.
That being said, Memorial Day also marks the beginning of summer, which brings us to one of our favorite times of year – grilling season! Whether you are spending the day with family, friends or neighbors, we’ve got many great honey-inspired Bee-Bee-Q recipes to make your summer sweet!

Asian Grilled Pork Tenderloin

•    2 - pork tenderloins (about 3/4 lb. each)
•    Chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish
•    1/3 cup - soy sauce
•    1/4 cup - honey
•    1/4 cup - fresh lime juice
•    2 Tablespoons - olive or vegetable oil
•    3 cloves - garlic, finely chopped
•    1 Tablespoon - curry powder
•    1 Tablespoon - grated fresh ginger
•    1/2 teaspoon - ground black pepper

In a small bowl, combine soy sauce, honey, lime juice, oil, garlic, curry powder, ginger and black pepper; mix until well blended. Place pork tenderloins in a plastic bag; pour marinade over pork in bag. Close bag tightly; marinate in refrigerator for 1 hour or up to overnight. Remove pork from marinade; reserve marinade. Grill over medium coals 20 to 25 minutes for medium doneness, turning after first 10 minutes. Meanwhile, place reserved marinade in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes. Serve with sliced pork; garnish with cilantro.
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Grilled Garlic Shrimp with Fresh Heirloom Tomato Sauce

For the Marinated Shrimp
•    ½ cup - extra-virgin olive oil
•    ¼ cup - red wine vinegar
•    2 - garlic cloves, minced
•    36 - large shrimp, peeled and deveined
•    12 - (6-inch) wooden skewers

For the Tomato Sauce
•    3 pounds - assorted large heirloom tomatoes
•    1 - small sweet onion, minced
•    1 - garlic clove, minced
•    ½ teaspoon - sea salt\
•    ¼ teaspoon - freshly ground black pepper
•    1 tablespoon - honey, preferably sourwood honey
•    Sea Salt
•    Freshly ground black pepper
•    ¼ cup - fresh basil leaves, cut into thin strips (chiffonade is the formal name for this cut), plus more for garnish

To marinate the shrimp, combine the olive oil, red wine vinegar, and garlic in a large bowl. Stir to combine. Add the shrimp and allow to sit, covered, for 1 hour. Stir occasionally.
Prepare a medium fire in a charcoal or gas grill. Soak the skewers in water for at least 30 minutes to prevent them from burning.

To make the tomato sauce, bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Place one or two tomatoes at a time into the boiling water. Watch them and, as you see the skin split, remove with a slotted spoon and place in a bowl of cool water. At this point, it will be very easy to slip off the skins.

Cut the peeled tomatoes into a small dice. Put the cut tomatoes into a large bowl. Add the onion, garlic, salt, pepper, and honey. Stir gently to combine.

Skewer the shrimp, 3 per skewer. Grill the skewered shrimp for 1 to 2 minutes on each side, until they are pink. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt and a couple of grinds of fresh pepper.

Just before serving, add the basil leaves to the tomato sauce. Taste and add more salt if necessary.

Ladle the tomato sauce onto a serving platter and arrange the skewers on top of the sauce. Garnish with more basil leaves and enjoy!
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Grilled Tofu Kabobs

•    (14 oz.) pkgs. - extra firm tofu
•    2 cups - Chipotle Marinade, see recipe below
•    3 medium - zucchini, cut into 1-inch circles
•    1 medium - red bell pepper, cut into 1-inch chunks
•    1 medium - red onion, cut into 1-inch wedges
•    12 - cherry tomatoes
•    1 cup - pineapple cubes

Slice each block of tofu in half horizontally, and, in cross-hatch pattern, make two slices vertically and two slices horizontally for total of 36 tofu cubes. Place tofu in nonreactive 9x13-inch baking dish. Pour marinade over tofu, cover and refrigerate for 1 to 24 hours. Set and light fire using coals or mesquite about 30 minutes before cooking time. Soak bamboo skewers in hot water for 20 minutes. Alternating ingredients, thread tofu, vegetables and pineapple cubes on skewers. Place kabobs over hot coals on well-oiled grill rack. Cook about 10 minutes, or until done, turning once and taking care that vegetables don’t burn.
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Roasted Eggplant with Feta and Honey Drizzle

•    1 large  - eggplant, about 1¼ pounds
•    6 tablespoons - extra-virgin olive oil
•    1½ cups (about 8 ounces)  - mild-tasting feta cheese, crumbled
•    freshly ground  - black pepper
•    Approximately ½ cup - honey, or as needed
•    1 tablespoon  - fresh thyme or oregano leaves, chopped, for garnish

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Trim each end from the eggplant. With a vegetable peeler, partially remove the skin in alternating wide strips, leaving the eggplant with a striped appearance. Cut the eggplant into 3/4-inch-thick rounds.

Place the eggplant slices in rows on a rimmed sheet pan. Generously brush both sides of the slices with the olive oil.
Roast for 10 to 12 minutes, until the bottoms are lightly browned. Remove the pan from the oven and turn the slices with a wide spatula. Return the pan to the oven and roast for about 10 minutes longer, or until the eggplant is lightly browned and tender.

Remove the pan from the oven and mound a rounded tablespoon of cheese on top of each eggplant slice. Add a grinding of black pepper to each. Return the pan to the oven for about 5 minutes, or until the cheese softens.

Transfer the slices to a serving platter. Drizzle each with the honey and sprinkle with a few fresh thyme leaves. Serve hot.
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Honeyed Fuji Apple Pasta Salad

•    16 oz. - small shell pasta, dry
•    3/4 cup - honey
•    3/4 cup - mayonnaise
•    1/2 cup - lemon juice
•    1/4 cup - Dijon mustard
•    1/2 teaspoon - salt
•    1/4 cup - Parsley, stems removed
•    1-1/2 teaspoons - dried thyme
•    2 - Fuji apples, cored and chopped in 1/4-inch dice
•    2-1/2 cups - fully cooked boneless ham, chopped in 1/4-inch dice
•    3/4 cup - celery, chopped in 1/4-inch dice
•    1/2 cup - coarsely chopped walnuts, toasted

Cook pasta according to package directions; drain very well and set aside to cool. Meanwhile, make dressing: Put honey, mayonnaise, lemon juice, mustard and salt in blender jar and whirl on medium for 1 minute or until smooth and creamy. Add parsley and thyme; pulse to chop herbs. In large bowl, gently toss together pasta, apples, ham, celery and dressing. Cover and chill for one hour. Stir in walnuts and serve.
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May 15, 2015 - ABJ Extra

Study: Gene Regulation Underlies the Evolution

of Social Complexity in Bees

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

A new study offers insights into the genetic changes that accompany the evolution of

social complexity in bees, including honey bees. Credit L. Brian Stauffer

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- Explaining the evolution of insect society, with sterile society members displaying extreme levels of altruism, has long been a major scientific challenge, dating back to Charles Darwin's day. A new genomic study of 10 species of bees representing a spectrum of social living - from solitary bees to those in complex, highly social colonies - offers new insights into the genetic changes that accompany the evolution of bee societies.

The new findings are reported in the journal Science.

By sequencing and comparing the genomes of ten bee species that vary in social complexity, the researchers made three important discoveries.

"First, there is no single road map to eusociality - the complex, cooperative social system in which animals behave more like superorganisms than individuals fending for themselves," said Gene Robinson, a lead on the study who is a professor of entomology and director of the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology at the University of Illinois. "In this study, we found that independent evolutionary transitions in social life have independent genetic underpinnings."

The second insight involved changes in the evolution of gene regulation: As social complexity increased, so did the speed of changes to parts of the genome involved in regulating gene activity, located in the promoters of the genes, the researchers report.
By contrast, evolution seems to have put the brakes on changes in many parts of the genome that code for the actual proteins, Robinson said. Similarly, there was an increase in DNA methylation as social complexity increased, which also means enhanced gene regulatory capacity, he said.

"It appears from these results that gene networks get more complex as social life gets more complex, with network complexity driving social complexity," Robinson said.
A third major finding was that increases in social complexity were accompanied by a slowing, or "relaxation," of changes in the genome associated with natural selection. This effect on some genes may be a result of the buffering effect of living in a complex, interdependent society, where the "collective genome" is less vulnerable to dramatic environmental changes or other external threats, Robinson said.

"These results demonstrate once again that important new insights into evolution can be obtained by using genomes as history books," Robinson said. "We have now learned what genetic changes have occurred during the evolution of the bees, notable for their elaborate societies and essential pollination services."


May 13, 2015 - ABJ Extra

Nation's Beekeepers Lost 40 Percent of Their Bees in 2014-15

Summer losses eclipse winter losses for the first time on record


Beekeepers across the United States lost more than 40 percent of their honey bee colonies during the year spanning April 2014 to April 2015, according to the latest results of an annual nationwide survey. While winter loss rates improved slightly compared to last year, summer losses--and consequently, total annual losses--were more severe. Commercial beekeepers were hit particularly hard by the high rate of summer losses, which outstripped winter losses for the first time in five years, stoking concerns over the long-term trend of poor health in honey bee colonies.

The survey, which asks both commercial and small-scale beekeepers to track the health and survival rates of their honey bee colonies, is conducted each year by the Bee Informed Partnership in collaboration with the Apiary Inspectors of America, with funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). A summary of the 2014-2015 results is available upon request prior to May 13, 2015; thereafter the results will be added to previous years' results publicly available on the Bee Informed website.

"We traditionally thought of winter losses as a more important indicator of health, because surviving the cold winter months is a crucial test for any bee colony," said Dennis vanEngelsdorp, an assistant professor of entomology at the University of Maryland and project director for the Bee Informed Partnership. "But we now know that summer loss rates are significant too. This is especially so for commercial beekeepers, who are now losing more colonies in the summertime compared to the winter. Years ago, this was unheard of."


Beekeepers who responded to the survey lost a total of 42.1 percent of their colonies over the course of the year. Winter loss rates decreased from 23.7 percent last year to 23.1 percent this year, while summer loss rates increased from 19.8 percent to 27.4 percent.

Among backyard beekeepers (defined as those who manage fewer than 50 colonies), a clear culprit in losses is the varroa mite, a lethal parasite that can easily spread between colonies. Among commercial beekeepers, the causes of the majority of losses are not as clear.

"Backyard beekeepers were more prone to heavy mite infestations, but we believe that is because a majority of them are not taking appropriate steps to control mites," vanEngelsdorp said. "Commercial keepers were particularly prone to summer losses. But they typically take more aggressive action against varroa mites, so there must be other factors at play."

This is the ninth year of the winter loss survey, and the fifth year to include summer and annual losses in addition to winter loss data. More than 6,000 beekeepers from all 50 states responded to this year's survey. All told, these beekeepers are responsible for nearly 15 percent of the nation's estimated 2.74 million managed honey bee colonies.

The survey is part of a larger research effort to understand why honey bee colonies are in such poor health, and what can be done to manage the situation. Colony losses present a financial burden for beekeepers, and can lead to shortages among the many crops that depend on honey bees as pollinators. Some crops, such as almonds, depend entirely on honey bees for pollination. Estimates of the total economic value of honey bee pollination services range between $10 billion and $15 billion annually.

"The winter loss numbers are more hopeful especially combined with the fact that we have not seen much sign of Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) for several years, but such high colony losses in the summer and year-round remain very troubling," said Jeffery Pettis, a senior entomologist at U.S. Department of Agriculture and a co-coordinator of the survey. "If beekeepers are going to meet the growing demand for pollination services, researchers need to find better answers to the host of stresses that lead to both winter and summer colony losses.


May 6, 2015 - ABJ Extra

Newly Named Bacteria Help Honey Bee Larvae Thrive

by Kim Kaplan

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists have identified a bacterium that appears to give honey bee larvae a better chance of surviving to become pupae.

Molecular biologist Vanessa Corby-Harris and microbial ecologist Kirk E. Anderson at the Carl Hayden Bee Research Center in Tucson, Arizona, have named the new species Parasaccharibacter apium. The bee research center is part of the Agricultural Research Service, USDA’s chief intramural scientific research agency.

Honey bees have been under nearly constant and growing pressures from a whole host of stressors—diseases, poor nutrition, sublethal effects of pesticides and many others, especially for the last 30 years. It has been known that a number of different bacteria live within adult bees and in the hive, and scientists have been studying if and how these bacteria help deal with some of these stresses.

This is the first bacteria found to offer a benefit to bee larvae. In laboratory experiments, bee larvae fed P. apium had about an average of 30 percent better survival compared to those fed a sterile control.

How P. apium confers this survival advantage to the larvae is not yet known, according to Corby-Harris.
So far, the researchers have found P. apium only in honey bees and their hives. While P. apium found in honey bee hives is a distinct and new species from any previously identified, it has very close, naturally occurring relatives found in the nectar of many flowers, including cactus flowers, daisies, thistles and apple blossom

The genome of P. apium has been sequenced and they are beginning to dissect the functional properties that distinguish flower-living Acetobacteraceaefrom those that have coevolved with the honey bee hive. Pinpointing these ecological differences will be key to understanding the function of P. apium in honey bee hives, Anderson explained.

With minimal sampling effort, P. apium was found in nearly every one of the healthy managed bee colonies examined by the researchers. A future study will explore the abundance of P. apium in weak or struggling managed bee colonies.

While the mechanism by which the bacteria benefit the larvae remains to be studied, the importance is clear enough that Corby-Harris and Anderson are already field testing its use along with a number of other bacteria that may benefit the pollination and honey-production industry as potential management tools.

Read more about this research in the May 2015 issue of AgResearch magazine.


May 5, 2015 - ABJ Extra 

Celebrating the Queen Bee!

(Courtesy of the National Honey Board Honey Feast Recipe Newsletter)

She’s the one who is always there, always cares, and loves you unconditionally. She is a nurse, therapist, chauffeur, chef and all-around Superwoman. She is Mom!

Mother’s Day is right around the corner, so we want to give you some fresh ideas on how to treat mamma right! Whether it’s an at-home spa day or brunch on the patio, these recipes will have mom feeling like royalty!

Morning Buzz Body Scrub


  • 1/4 cup - freshly ground coffee
  • 1/4 cup - buttermilk
  • 2 Tbsp. - wheat germ
  • 2 Tbsp. - honey
  • 1 Tbsp. - grapeseed oil
  • 1 - egg white

In mixing bowl, combine buttermilk, honey, grapeseed oil and egg white, mix thoroughly. Slowly add coffee and wheat germ being careful not to clot or clump. Scrub should be smooth and creamy but with a slight grit. Allow to stand. Apply all over in shower or bath using a washcloth or body sponge to aid in exfoliation. Rinse completely. Towel dry and apply moisturizer. Chill remaining scrub if necessary.

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 Body Moisturizer with Honey

•    5 tablespoons - honey
•    2 tablespoons - rose oil
•    2 cups - almond oil
In a medium sized amber bottle, add honey, rose oil and almond oil. Cover tightly and mix by gently shaking the bottle; if necessary, uncover and stir with a thin utensil. Use moisturizer in the shower by applying onto wet skin, especially concentrating on dry areas.

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Vitalizing Scalp and Hair Rinse with Honey

  • 4 tablespoons - honey
  • 10 tablespoons - white vinegar
  • 2 cups - water


In a large bowl, add honey, white vinegar and water. Mix until thoroughly combined. Apply this solution as a last step to usual hair regimen when showering. Leave on for 5 minutes and rinse out with warm water to achieve vitalized and radiant hair. Dry and style hair per usual.

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Firewood Honey French Toast with Powdered Sugar and Lime

  • 12 slices (3/4 inch) - Challah bread
  • 1 cup - whole milk
  • 1/3 cup - Fireweed honey (or any light-bodied honey such as Clover), plus additional for drizzling
  • 3 - eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon - ground cinnamon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon - vanilla extract
  • 4 to 6 Tablespoons - butter, divided
  • 2 - limes, each sliced into 4 wedges lengthwise (8 wedges total)
  • Powdered sugar, for dusting

Preheat oven to 300°F. Lay bread on a cutting board or other surface to dry out slightly. To prepare the French toast batter, heat the milk with the honey over medium heat until the honey dissolves; cool slightly. With a fork, lightly whisk the eggs. Add the milk mixture, cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla; continue mixing until uniform in color. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add 1/2 Tablespoon of butter and melt. Quickly dip 4 bread slices into the egg batter, coating both sides. Add to hot skillet and cook for about 3 minutes on each side or until golden brown and cooked through. Place French toast on a plate and keep warm in the oven. Wipe out the skillet with a paper towel and repeat with the remaining butter and bread.

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Peach Freeze

  • 1 oz. - peach schnapps
  • 2 oz. - Honey Simple Syrup
  • 2 to 3 oz. - fresh peach pulp or cling peaches
  • 2-1/2 oz. - sweet & sour

Blend with crushed ice until frozen. Serve in a stemmed glass and garnish with a sprig of mint.

Printer Friendly Version - Peach Freeze