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August 21, 2015 - ABJ Extra

Tips for August

(Courtesy of Joli Winer, The Bee Buzzer of the Northeastern
Kansas Beekeepers Association, August 2015)

•    Use the weed eater and mow around your hives so that the bees can get in and out.
•    After pulling off your supers check your hives to make sure they have laying queens.
•    Provide water for your bees—this will keep your bees alive in this heat.
•    Bees are hanging on the outside of the hives to help keep it cooler inside the hives—not much honey coming in so they are just keeping cool.
•    Harvest any fall honey & get it extracted. Any honey that you pull off to extract should be extracted within a few days; in this heat wax moth damage can happen in just a few days. Also, small hive beetle can also do a great deal of damage to your supers and your honey. Don't pull your honey off until you are ready to extract.
•    Check moisture on your honey.
•    Complete a fall inspection for each hive
•    Take an inventory at your bee yards to see what equipment you need to repair or replace over the winter.
•    Get your entrance reducers on towards the end of September to keep mice out of your hives. Check for mice before installing mouse guards. Check your bottom boards for holes big enough for a mouse to go through.
•    Store any frames with drawn comb with paradichlorobenze (moth crystals). Wax moth damage can be devastating to your combs. Store them in a cool ventilated area. Do not store your supers in plastic garbage bags as this acts as an incubator for the wax moth!
•    Update your record book—you won't remember in the spring!
•    Check your hives for stored honey. Most colonies will need 40-60 pounds of honey to winter successfully. The top deep super/hive body should be packed full of honey. If it isn't, you should feed the bees some syrup. If mixing your own syrup in the fall, the mixture should be 2:1 sugar to water by weight. That would be 4 lbs. of sugar to 2 lbs. of boiling water. You can also get high fructose corn syrup. However, you may not use corn syrup or any type of syrup that you purchase at the grocery store. It has things in it that can cause problems with your bees. NEVER feed honey purchased from the grocery store—it can spread diseases to your bees.
Here are the reasons bees die over the winter; make sure you take care of these problems in the fall:

  1. Bees run out of honey
  2. Too few bees to maintain the cluster
  3. The bees' digestive tracts compact with too much wasted matter
  4. They exhibit parasitic mite syndrome
•    Check your colonies to see if you need to treat for Varroa mites.
•    Combine a weak colony with a stronger colony.
•    Keep a vigilant eye out for small hive beetles. Inspect your hives to make sure you have a good laying queen. You should see brood in all stages (eggs, larvae, capped).
•    If treating for mites, get your treatments on as soon as possible. Mark your calendar with the date they went in and the date they should come out. The earlier you can get your treatments on for Varroa mites, the better chance you have of getting healthy young bees into the hive to make it through the winter.
•    Make sure your brood is in the center of the bottom hive body. Arrange honey frames on the sides and in the top hive body—it should be full of honey. If it isn't, feed your bees syrup.
•    Make sure your hives are tipped forward, just slightly, so water doesn't pool on the bottom board and cause moisture problems.


August 21, 2015 - ABJ Extra

Bee Health App

Dear Apiculturists
Alberta Agriculture has developed an app for “Bee Health”. Phase I of the “Bee Health” app is released. It focuses on bee diseases symptoms, diagnosis and treatment options. It is developed for iOS and Android platforms. It can be downloaded to iPhone, Samsung phone family and iPad. To download to iPad, you need to use the iPhone only option for down loading.

We are currently working on the second phase that will include diagnoses of diseases based on symptoms. It will also include an interactive feature to communicate with Alberta registered beekeepers. It will facilitate bee diseases diagnostics, and communication to provide recommendations on line. Pictures can be emailed to Alberta apiculture staff for assistance in diagnoses. Broadcasting warnings of pest outbreaks will also be included.  All reports and findings will be recorded in the provincial bee pest surveillance database.

Please help yourself and download the app.  To find the app, search App Store or Google Play store for "bee health" or follow this link: http://www.programs.alberta.ca/17713.aspx#ad-image-0

Please share with the beekeeper's community. Hey it is free for all.
If you have any comments please contact medhat.nasr@gov.ab.ca

Dr. Medhat Nasr
Provincial Apiculturist
Crop Research and Extension Division
Crop Diversification Centre North
17507 Fort Road
Edmonton, AB, Canada T5Y 6H3


August 20, 2015 - ABJ Extra

USDA Encourages Producers to Consider Risk

Protection Coverage before Fall Crop Sales Deadlines

Disaster Assistance is Available for Crops that are

Ineligible for Federal Insurance

WASHINGTON, Aug. 20, 2015 – Farm Service Agency Administrator Val Dolcini today encouraged producers to examine the available U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) crop risk protection options, including federal crop insurance and Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP) coverage, before the sales deadline for fall crops.

“Deadlines are quickly approaching to purchase coverage for fall-seeded crops,” said Dolcini. "We remind producers that crops not covered by insurance may be eligible for the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program. The 2014 Farm Bill expanded NAP to include higher levels of protection. Beginning, underserved and limited resource farmers are now eligible for free catastrophic level coverage, as well as discounted premiums for additional levels of protection."

Federal crop insurance covers crop losses from natural adversities such as drought, hail and excessive moisture. NAP covers losses from natural disasters on crops for which no permanent federal crop insurance program is available, including forage and grazing crops, fruits, vegetables, mushrooms, floriculture, ornamental nursery, aquaculture, turf grass, ginseng, HONEY, syrup, bioenergy, and industrial crops.

USDA has partnered with Michigan State University and the University of Illinois to create an online tool at www.fsa.usda.gov/nap that allows producers to determine whether their crops are eligible for federal crop insurance or NAP and to explore the best level of protection for their operation. NAP basic coverage is available at 55 percent of the average market price for crop losses that exceed 50 percent of expected production, with higher levels of coverage, up to 65 percent of their expected production at 100 percent of the average market price, including coverage for organics and crops marketed directly to consumers.

Deadlines for coverage vary by state and crop. To learn more about NAP visit www.fsa.usda.gov/nap or contact your local USDA Service Center. To find your local USDA Service Centers go to http://offices.usda.gov.

Federal crop insurance coverage is sold and delivered solely through private insurance agents. Agent lists are available at all USDA Service Centers or at USDA’s online Agent Locator: http://prodwebnlb.rma.usda.gov/apps/AgentLocator/#. Producers can use the USDA Cost Estimator, https://ewebapp.rma.usda.gov/apps/costestimator/Default.aspx, to predict insurance premium costs.


August 20, 2015 - ABJ Extra

Apicultural Conference Tackles Neonic Issue

Italy Banned the Seed Treatments in 2008

by Jeffrey Carter

When neonicotinoid seed treatment insecticides were effectively banned in Italy in 2008, corn growers in the northwestern part of the country grumbled.

They feared yield losses to insect pests if the chemicals were to be taken away.

Those fears never materialized, according to Franco Mutinelli who spoke at the Eastern Apicultural Society (EAS) conference in Guelph, Ontario on August 12.

The scientist and government official described yield impacts as slight and today, seven years later, Italy’s bee industry is healthy.

“Corn producers were afraid but they did not experience any dramatic yield losses,” Mutinelli said, speaking just prior to participating in a panel discussion exploring issues surrounding the chemicals.

“Spring bee losses disappeared between March and June when corn is sown after the ban was enforced . . . Over the last three years our winter losses have been below 10 percent – a normal range.”

Mutinelli heads his government’s National Reference Laboratory for beekeeping, the Experimental Veterinary Sciences Division, and Diagnostic Services for Histopathology and Parasitology and has been involved with Italy’s national honey bee monitoring program which tracts pesticide residues along with honey bee pest and disease pressures.

He said there are about 50,000 beekeepers in Italy and 1.3 million honey bee colonies. Varroa mite along with nosema ceranae and nosema apis and other ailments are a concern. Most recently small hive beetle has been identified in two areas.

Colony losses reached 50 to 60 per cent in Northern Italy prior to 2009, Mutinelli said. That’s where most of the country’s grain corn is grown. As in North America today, the insecticides were automatically part of seed corn purchases in Italy prior to 2009.

There’s no data for the central part of the country. In Southern Italy losses ranged from 10 to 30 per cent prior.

While the restrictions amount to a ban when it comes to seed treatments, the insecticides continue to be used as foliar sprays for such crops as fruit and in greenhouses.

Mutinelli said both growers and beekeepers are now aware of the challenges posed by the insecticides and their use is regulated. With fruit trees, for instance, neonicotinoid sprays can only be used after the trees have bloomed and environmental persistence is far less of an issue.

Also part of the panel were: Ernesto Guzman, this year’s recipient of the James I. Hambleton Award for research excellence and director of the Honey Bee Research Centre at the University of Guelph; Nigel Raine with the University of Guelph’s School of Environment Sciences; and Purdue University entomologist Christian Krupke.

In contrast to Mutinelli, Krupke does not support a regulated approach to neonicotinoids. Instead, he suggested that farmers be allowed to know the true cost of the treatments and then decide whether or not to purchase them.

Usage would likely drop significantly with that type of system in place, he said.

Krupke referred to a three-year research study in Illinois showing no statistical yield benefit from the technology for corn production.

That’s a similar result to information in a leaked report from Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency. It cited trials showing only a small yield benefit for Canadian corn growers and essentially no benefit for soybean growers

“The biggest issue is that we are dramatically over using these compounds,” Krupke said.

“This is not the way we should be growing these crops. This is absolute nonsense.”

Farmers have suggested that the repeated use of neonicotinoids, primarily clothianidin and thiamethoxam, have reduced pest pressure to the point that they’re no longer an issue. However, Krupke said that observation cannot be backed up with data.

The control offered by the neonicotinoids is limited in both corn and soybeans, likely because the window of control is far narrower than many farmers believe, he said.

Raine, who moved to Guelph from the School of Biological Sciences at the University of London in England a year ago, stressed the danger neonicotinoids pose to all pollinators, including the hundreds of native bee species in Canada along with butterflies, moths, wasps, hoverflies and other insects.

Globally, pollinators, including honey bees, provide around $425 billion in pollination services annually, he said. Of the food consumed by the human population, one-third requires pollination from insects other than honey bees.

There’s now clear evidence pollinators are declining globally to the point that food crop yields and quality could be impacted.

“If something isn’t done, it will come to a point when we will have a pollinator deficit,” Raine said.

Like other conference speakers, Raine said neonicotinoids are not the sole reason for pollinator decline. Rather, the insecticides appear to be just one aspect of the problem. Other factors include habitat loss, fragmentation and degradation.

With honey bees specifically, there is also a range of pathogens and parasites, including the varroa mite.

Guzman agreed with Raine’s assessment and referred to what may be a synergistic effect when two or more factors behind pollinator decline combine.

In Ontario, he said colony losses are at an unsustainable level. Only by splitting healthy hives and importing bees have beekeepers maintained colony numbers in the province.

While it’s now broadly recognized that honey bees can be killed outright by neonicotinoids, Guzman said the jury is still out as to whether they’re impacted on a sub-lethal level.

He cited the work led by two of his Guelph associates. David MacKay and Nuria Morfin both spoke earlier concerning the preliminary results from their research.

In a laboratory experiment, Morfin has linked sub-lethal levels of neonicotinoid exposure to reduced grooming and hygienic behavior in honey bees along with memory loss.

MacKay talked about differences in honey bee colonies placed on an organic farm and a conventional farm near Strathroy, both of which are in a corn-soybean rotation.

While honey production was strong at both sites, it was higher at the untreated site. In addition, there were fewer dead bees at the untreated site and foraging bees at the untreated site collected more nectar.

Hives were placed at the site at the beginning of May and left for the entire season.

Cynthia Scott-Dupree, another Guelph researcher, also spoke earlier. She cited her research conducted in Southwestern Ontario in 2012 and 2007 that showed no connection between neonicotinoid seed treatments and sub-lethal impacts on honey bees.

In 2012, Scott-Dupree placed honey bees in treated and untreated canola fields for two and a half weeks and then moved them to a non-agricultural location for the remainder of the year.

The EAS conference was last held in Ontario in 1992. The annual event attracts beekeepers from across the northeastern part of North America and around the world.

This year’s conference location was apt. Ontario, a significant corn and soybean growing area, is a focal point for those opposing neonicotinoid insecticides and those favoring their use.

Canada’s government continues to review the conditional registration of seed treatment insecticides – they’ve been widely used since 2006.

In Ontario, however, the provincial government imposed stringent restrictions – as opposed to a ban – on their use earlier this year. Their intent is to reduce usage of the neonicotinoids as seed treatments by 80 per cent by 2017.

The move is controversial and, in the eyes of many observers, has created a rift within Ontario’s farming community.

While not all its members may agree with their actions, the Grain Farmers of Ontario has vocally opposed the legislation.

The group launched legal proceedings asking for a stay of the regulations which were introduced on July 1. That action will be heard by the Ontario Superior Court of Justice on September 28.

The Ontario Beekeepers Association has recognized the seed treatments as a major concern since 2012 when major bee kills – since linked to the chemicals – were recorded around the time corn was planted.

The Ontario honey bee industry has been struggling for several years. Colony over-wintering losses recorded in the spring of 2014 were put at 58 per cent. This year’s losses were also high and beekeepers have noted losses at other times of the year, queen issues and poor colony health.

Guzman, asked about the situation, said the current levels of loss are unsustainable over the long term. Beekeepers in Ontario have been routinely splitting their healthy colonies and importing bees in an effort to maintain their businesses.


August 17, 2015 - ABJ Extra

IU Paleobotanist Identifies What Could Be

the Mythical 'First Flower'

New analysis represents major change in the presumed nature
of the planet's earliest angiosperms

Indiana University

This is a large intact specimen of the fossil, Montsechia. Usually only small
fragmentary pieces of the fossil are found. Credit Bernard Gomez

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Indiana University paleobotanist David Dilcher and colleagues in Europe have identified a 125 million- to 130 million-year-old freshwater plant as one of earliest flowering plants on Earth.

The finding, reported Aug. 17 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, represents a major change in the presumed form of one of the planet's earliest flowers, known as angiosperms.

"This discovery raises significant questions about the early evolutionary history of flowering plants, as well as the role of these plants in the evolution of other plant and animal life," said Dilcher, an emeritus professor in the IU Bloomington College of Arts and Sciences' Department of Geological Sciences.

The aquatic plant, Montsechia vidalii, once grew abundantly in freshwater lakes in what are now mountainous regions in Spain. Fossils of the plant were first discovered more than 100 years ago in the limestone deposits of the Iberian Range in central Spain and in the Montsec Range of the Pyrenees, near the country's border with France.

Also previously proposed as one of the earliest flowers is Archaefructus sinensis, an aquatic plant found in China.

"A 'first flower' is technically a myth, like the 'first human,'" said Dilcher, an internationally recognized expert on angiosperm anatomy and morphology who has studied the rise and spread of flowering plants for decades. "But based on this new analysis, we know now that Montsechia is contemporaneous, if not more ancient, than Archaefructus."

He also asserted that the fossils used in the study were "poorly understood and even misinterpreted" during previous analyses.

"The reinterpretation of these fossils provides a fascinating new perspective on a major mystery in plant biology," said Donald H. Les, a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Connecticut, who is the author of a commentary on the discovery in the journal PNAS. "David's work is truly an important contribution to the continued quest to unravel the evolutionary and ecological events that accompanied the rise of flowering plants to global prominence."

The conclusions are based upon careful analyses of more than 1,000 fossilized remains of Montsechia, whose stems and leaf structures were coaxed from stone by applying hydrochloric acid on a drop-by-drop basis. The plant's cuticles -- the protective film covering the leaves that reveals their shape -- were also carefully bleached using a mixture of nitric acid and potassium chlorate.

Examination of the specimens was conducted under a stereomicroscope, light microscope and scanning electron microscope.

The age of the plant at 125 million to 130 million years is based upon comparisons to other fossils in the same area, notably the freshwater algae charophytes, which places Montsechia in the Barremian age of the early Cretaceous period, making this flowering plant a contemporary of dinosaurs such as the brachiosaurus and iguanodon.

The precise, painstaking analysis of fossilized structures remains crucial to paleobotany, in contrast to other biological fields, due to the current inability to know the molecular characters of ancient plants from millions of years ago, Dilcher said.

This careful examination was particularly important to Montsechia since most modern observers might not even recognize the fossil as a flowering plant.

"Montsechia possesses no obvious 'flower parts,' such as petals or nectar-producing structures for attracting insects, and lives out its entire life cycle under water," he said. "The fruit contains a single seed" -- the defining characteristic of an angiosperm -- "which is borne upside down."

In terms of appearance, Dilcher said, Montsechia resembles its most modern descendent, identified in the study as Ceratophyllum. Also known as coontails or hornworts, Ceratophyllum is a dark green aquatic plant whose coarse, tufty leaves make it a popular decoration in modern aquariums and koi ponds.

Next up, Dilcher and colleagues want to understand more about the species connecting Montsechia and Ceratophyllum, as well as delve deeper into when precisely other species of angiosperms branched off from their ancient forefathers.

"There's still much to be discovered about how a few early species of seed-bearing plants eventually gave rise to the enormous, and beautiful, variety of flowers that now populate nearly every environment on Earth," he said.


August 17, 2015 - ABJ Extra

Indiana University's Efforts to Help Beekeeping

by Amy Renee Toler, Indiana University

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – For the past decade, beekeepers in the U.S. and Europe have been reporting annual bee and hive losses that are considerably higher than what would be considered normal or sustainable.
U.S. beekeepers lost more than 40 percent of their colonies in 2014-15 -- the second-highest loss since the Bee Informed Partnership, a partnership with the USDA and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture that studies bee declines in the U.S. -- began recording losses nine years ago.
In Indiana, the total colony loss last year was 49 percent.
Ellie Symes, an Indiana University School of Public and Environmental Affairs graduate student, is one of a growing network of IU students, faculty and Bloomington residents who have taken up the plight of the bees.
“I explain it to people as humans and bees are totally in sync,” Symes said. “We need them for our survival, and they really need us because they have been groomed by us for hundreds of years. Who knows if they would still be on this planet without us?”
Check out the IU Newsroom's multimedia project: Keeper of the Bees.
Through Symes, dozens of IU students have joined the Beekeeping Club at IU to help establish hives on the Bloomington campus and raise awareness of the ongoing demise of bee colonies.
Retired IU microbiology professor and longtime beekeeper George Hegeman has served as a mentor to students and continues to educate others in the area.
In the lab, IU researcher Irene Newton and her team continue to study the role that gut bacteria play in the honey bee's metabolism, how commercial practices may or may not affect honey bee health and what this might mean for the big picture of honey bee colony loss.
Symes also inspired Julie James, career advisor and career development instructor at IU’s School of Public and Environmental Affairs, to install her own hives on the farm she lives on with partner Mark Blaney.
“Initially the goal was ‘I like beekeeping so let's do this and it will help our garden,’” Symes said. “Then it really evolved. Colony collapse disorder became a hot issue in the news, so it became more of ‘Now I want to share my passion with other students and I want other students and other people in the community to realize how easy it is.’ This is an opportunity for anyone in Bloomington who wants to try it out and see if it’s a hobby they want to take on.”


August 11, 2015 - ABJ Extra

Honey Bee Health Coalition Releases Guide to Help

Beekeepers Detect, Control Varroa Mite Infestations

Guide Equips Beekeepers of All Types with Tools to Tackle
Parasite, Strengthen Hive Health

The Honey Bee Health Coalition, a diverse coalition dedicated to improving the health of honey bees and other pollinators, released a guide today aimed at helping beekeepers strengthen hive health by controlling the Varroa mite (Varroa destructor). This parasitic mite undermines honey bee health by literally draining the life from honey bees, spreading viral diseases, and wiping out vast numbers of hives along with the pollination services these bees provide. As a result, these tiny mites are one of the biggest threats to honey bees and global food production.
“Varroa mites are one of the most serious threats to honey bee health and hives across North America,” said Bob Sears, president of the Eastern Missouri Beekeepers Association. “This straightforward guide, compiled using the best available scientific and commercial information, will equip beekeepers — from hobbyists to commercial — with effective and environmentally sensitive approaches to monitoring as well as control techniques to ensure their colonies can endure.”
“These problematic parasites have demonstrated a startling resiliency and ability to spread to other honey bee colonies,” said Christi Heintz, executive director of Project Apis m. “This guide, developed by leading honey bee health experts, will ensure beekeepers can more easily confront the problem of Varroa mite infestations, better protect their own bees, and mitigate the parasites’ abilities to move into other nearby apiaries.”
The Honey Bee Health Coalition worked with Dr. Dewey Caron, emeritus professor of Entomology and Wildlife Ecology at the University of Delaware and affiliate professor at Oregon State University’s Department of Horticulture, to gather input from leading experts on Varroa mite control. The resulting guide identifies straightforward, proactive, and flexible monitoring methods and guidelines to help beekeepers detect and control Varroa mites.
The guide, which can be found at http://honeybeehealthcoalition.org/Varroa, lays out an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) strategy for managing Varroa mite infestations; including how to monitor mite levels, chemical and non-chemical methods to control the mites, and methods to determine which treatment is appropriate for a beekeeper to use at different phases in a colony’s life cycle.

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. Its 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 Coalition fosters new partnerships, leverages existing efforts and expertise, and incubates and implements new solutions. The Coalition brings together diverse resources to promote communication, coordination, collaboration, and investment to strategically and substantively improve honey bee health in North America.
More information, including a list of Honey Bee Health Coalition members, can be found at: http://honeybeehealthcoalition.org.


August 10, 2015 - ABJ Extra

Some Honey Bee Colonies Adapt in Wake of Deadly Mites


by Krishna Ramanujan

A worker bee with two Varroa mites. (Tom Seeley photo)

An exposed nest of a colony of honeybees living in a tree. (Tom Seeley photo)

A new genetics study of wild honeybees offers clues to how a population has adapted to a mite that has devastated bee colonies worldwide. The findings may aid beekeepers and bee breeders to prevent future honeybee declines.

The researchers genetically analyzed museum samples collected from wild honeybee colonies in 1977 and 2010; the bees came from Cornell University’s Arnot Forest. In comparing genomes from the two time periods, the results – published Aug. 6 in Nature Communications – show clear evidence that the wild honeybee colonies experienced a genetic bottleneck - a loss of genetic diversity - when the Varroa destructor mites killed most of the honeybee colonies. But some colonies survived, allowing the population to rebound.

“The study is a unique and powerful contribution to understanding how honeybees have been impacted by the introduction of Varroa destructor, and how, if left alone, they can evolve resistance to this deadly parasite,” said Thomas Seeley, the Horace White Professor in Biology at Cornell and the paper’s senior author. Sasha Mikheyev ’00, an assistant professor of ecology and evolution at Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology (OIST) in Japan, is the paper’s first author.

“The paper is also a clear demonstration of the importance of museum collections, in this case the Cornell University Insect Collection, and the importance of wild places, such as Cornell’s Arnot Forest,” Seeley added.

In the 1970s, Seeley surveyed the population of wild colonies of honeybees (Apis mellifera) in Arnot Forest, and found 2.5 colonies per square mile. By the early 1990s, V. destructor mites had spread across the U.S. to New York state and were devastating bee colonies. The mites infest nursery cells in honeybee nests and feed on developing bees while also transferring virulent viruses.

A 2002 survey of Arnot Forest by Seeley revealed the same abundance of bee colonies as in the late 1970s, suggesting that either new colonies from beekeepers' hives had repopulated the area, or that the existing population had undergone strong natural selection and came out with good resistance.

By 2010, advances in DNA technology, used previously to stitch together fragmented DNA from Neanderthal samples, gave Mikheyev, Seeley and colleagues the tools for whole-genome sequencing and comparing museum and modern specimens.

The results revealed a huge loss in diversity of mitochondrial genes, which are passed from one generation to the next only through the female lineage. This shows that the wild population of honeybees experienced a genetic bottleneck. Such bottlenecks arise when few individuals reproduce, reducing the gene pool. “Maybe only four or five queens survived and repopulated the forest,” Seeley said.


August 7, 2015 - ABJ Extra

How Bees Naturally Vaccinate Their Babies

by Kathy Keatley Garvey

A pollen-laded honey bee heading toward pear blossoms.
(Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

DAVIS, CA --“Truth or Myth: Neonicotinoids and Their Impact on Pollinators: What Is the Science-Based Research?”

That's the topic of a special conference--open to the public –set from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 9 at the UC Davis Conference Center, 550 Alumni Lane. UC Davis researchers and state officials will address the crowd, announced conference coordinator Dave Fujino, director of the UC Davis-based California Center for Urban Horticulture.

“We are pleased to have such a knowledgeable lineup of UC Davis researchers who will clarify the issue of impact of neonicotinoid impacts on pollinators by summarizing and presenting the past and current science-based research,” Fujino said. “We are also fortunate to have additional presentations on the regulation guidelines on neonicotinoids and their role in controlling invasive pests in California, and a diverse group of stakeholders participating in a panel discussion on the neonicotinoid issue.”

Neonicotinoids, recently implicated in the worldwide die-off of pollinators, including honey bees, are a class of neuro-active insecticides chemically similar to nicotine. Considered important in the control of many significant agricultural and veterinary pests, they target the central nervous system of insects, resulting in paralysis and death. “Neonics,” as they're called, are commonly used on farms, and around homes, schools, and city landscapes.

Michael Parrella, professor and chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology, will provide an overview of the current use of neonicotinoids and the role of honey bees in California agriculture. Six other speakers are scheduled, along with a panel discussion.
The speakers include:

•    Brian Leahy, director of the California Department of Pesticide Regulation, who will discuss “California Pesticide Regulation of Neonicotinoids”
•    Nick Condos, director of the Plant Health and Pest Prevention Services Division, California Department of Food and Agriculture, “Neonicotinoid Risks Associated with Invasive Species Management”
•    Karen Jetter, associate project economist, UC Agricultural Issues Center, “Trends in Neonicotinoid Usage in California Agriculture and the Control of Invasive Species”
•    Margaret “Rei” Scampavia, a doctoral candidate who studies with major professors Neal Williams and Ed Lewis of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, “Past Neonicotinoid and Bee Research”
•    Elina Lastro Niño, Extension apiculturist based at the Harry H. Laidlaw Honey Bee Research Facility, UC Davis, “Current Neonicotinoid and Bee Research.”

The California Center for Urban Horticulture (CCUH) will co-host the event with the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology and the UC Agriculture and Natural Resources.

Sponsors include California Association of Nurseries and Garden Centers (CANGC), a trade organization founded in 1911 to promote and protect the California nursery industry; Four Winds Growers, based in Winters, Calif.; Scotts Miracle-Gro, a company headquartered in Marysville, Ohio, and known as the world's largest marketer of branded consumer lawn and garden products; and Monrovia, a horticultural craftsmen company headquartered in Azusa, Calif.

At the close of the conference, Fujino will preside over a panel discussion on neonicotinoid issues and concerns. Questions and answers from the audience will follow. The panel is to include a UC Cooperative Extension farm advisor, and representatives from the California Association of Nurseries and Garden Centers, Home Depot, Scotts Miracle-Gro, Bayer CropScience and the American Beekeeping Federation.

The registration fee of $50 will include lunch, as well as the post-conference social hour. To register, access the CCHU website at http://ccuh.ucdavis.edu/public/copy_of_public/neonicotinoid-pollinator-conference-2015/neonic or contact CCUH representative Kate Lincoln at (530) 752-6642.

The European Union recently adopted a proposal to restrict the use of three pesticides belonging to the neonicotinoid family (clothianidin, imidacloprid and thiametoxam) for a period of two years.  In addition, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that by January 2016, it will ban the use of seeds treated with neonicotinoid pesticides and the use of crops improved through biotechnology throughout the 150 million acres managed by the National Wildlife Refuge System.


August 5, 2015 - ABJ Extra

Sweet Family Time!

Here we are – it’s August already! Can you believe it? Soon it will be time to go out and get new pencils, crayons, backpacks, clothes and new school shoes, if you haven’t already. While these thoughts may be in the back of all our minds, let’s not forget that there is still plenty of summer left. Let’s get out and enjoy what hot days and warm nights we’ve got left. Grab the kids and take a trip to the pool, on a summer picnic, a fun day at the zoo, or a backyard drive in.
In the spirit of family we have compiled a list of some of our favorite family treats, from lazy morning breakfast to movie night popcorn, these honey-inspired eats are sure to bring the family together for one last hurrah!

Honey Glazed Kiwi-Berry Pancake Sandwich

(Recipe courtesy of Fitness Expert Bárbara Trujillo Gómez)

•    1 tbsp - honey
•    6 mini - whole grain cooked pancakes
•    1 - kiwi, peeled and cut into round slices
•    3 - strawberries, cut into round slices
•    1 small box - golden raisins
Take three of the mini whole grain pancakes and place on a dish. Next, stack each one with a slice of kiwi, another pancake and top off with a slice of strawberry. Once you’re done building your three pancake sandwiches, insert a toothpick through each one to hold them together. Set aside.

In a small saucepan, add the honey and raisins and heat them over medium heat, stirring slowly until they blend together to form a glaze. Remove the glaze from heat and allow to cool. Drizzle each fruit sandwich with the glaze and serve.
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Doughy Honey-Coconut Granola Bars

•    1 cup - old-fashioned oats
•    1 cup - shredded coconut, unsweetened
•    1 tablespoon - oat flour
•    1/2 cup - ground flaxseed
•    1/4 cup - pecans, halved
•    1/4 cup - pecans, roughly chopped
•    1/4 teaspoon - salt
•    1/3 cup - coconut oil , melted
•    1/3 cup - honey
•    1/4 teaspoon - vanilla
•    3 tablespoons - mashed banana
•    1/4 cup - mini chocolate chips

In a large bowl, combine oats, coconut, flour, flaxseed, pecans and salt.  Stir everything until well combined. In a microwave-safe bowl, add coconut oil and honey. Microwave for 20 seconds, stirring after 10 seconds, until melted and thin.  Stir in vanilla and mashed banana. Pour coconut oil mixture into dry ingredients and stir until a dough forms.  Stir in the chocolate chips. Line an 8-by-8-inch dish with parchment paper. Scoop dough into the dish and firmly press. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours before cutting.  Cut into 10 to 12 bars. Wrap individually in parchment paper and store in the fridge for up to 1 week.
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Honey Sesame Chick Nuggets

•    1/3 plus 1/2 cups - honey, divided
•    1/3 cup - soy sauce
•    3/4 cup - rice vinegar, divided
•    1 Tablespoon - ginger, freshly grated
•    1 teaspoon - onion powder
•    1-1/2 lbs. - boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into nuggets
•    3/4 cup - dried apricots, finely diced
•    Salt and pepper, to taste
•    2/3 cup - sesame seeds

In a medium bowl, combine 1/3 cup honey, soy sauce, 1/4 cup rice vinegar, ginger and onion powder. Add chicken; cover and refrigerate to marinate 30 minutes. To make dipping sauce, in a small saucepan over medium-high heat, bring remaining 1/2 cup honey and 1/2 cup rice vinegar to a boil. Add apricots and return to a boil. Simmer 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat; cool slightly, then purée to desired consistency in a blender or food processor. Season with salt and pepper; set aside. Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place sesame seeds in a shallow dish. Coat nuggets with sesame seeds and place on prepared baking sheet. Bake 15 to 20 minutes, or until fully cooked. Serve warm nuggets with Honey Apricot Dipping Sauce.
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Honey-Hibiscus Orange Punch

(Recipe Courtesy of Chef David Guas, Owner of Bayou Bakery, Coffee Bar & Eatery in Arlington, VA.)

•    2 cups - boiling water
•    1/2 cup - dried hibiscus blossoms
•    1 1/4 cup - Orange Blossom Honey Syrup, (recipe follows)
•    1 cup - orange juice, fresh squeezed
•    2 1/2 cups - cold water
•    Ice cubes, for serving
•    1 bunch - mint leaves, fresh
•    Orange peel, for garnish

For Orange Blossom Honey Syrup:
•    1 cup - orange blossom honey
•    1/4 cup - hot water

Pour boiling water over the hibiscus, cover and allow to steep for 30 minutes. During this time, make the orange blossom honey syrup: in a small saucepan, slowly bring honey and water to a boil. Remove from the heat and allow to cool (this can also be made ahead of time and refrigerated until use). Strain the hibiscus tea base into a 2-quart pitcher; add the orange blossom honey syrup, orange juice and cold water; stir until dissolved.

To serve: Pour 10 ounces of the punch into a cocktail shaker half-filled with ice cubes and 2 to 3 mint leaves; close tightly and shake. Pour into a tall glass; garnish with orange peel and fresh mint leaves. Serve immediately.

To view this recipe demonstration by Chef Guas, click here.
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Honey-Whiskey Popcorn

•    Roughly 1/2 cup, depending on your pot - Popcorn kernels
•    1/4 cup - vegetable oil
•    1/4 cup - honey, such as clover
•    1 1/2 tablespoons - whiskey
•    1 teaspoon - vanilla
•    1/2 tablespoon - sea salt, large crystals

Add ¼ cup vegetable oil to a pot with a lid. Add 1 kernel of popcorn and cover the pot with the lid. Set heat to medium-high. When the kernel pops, add enough kernels to the pot so they cover the bottom of the pot in one layer. Close the lid and gently shake the pot. When the popping slows, remove from heat. In a large bowl, whisk honey, whiskey and vanilla together. Add popcorn and use a spatula to evenly coat. Pour the popcorn onto a silicone baking mat on a baking sheet. Sprinkle on sea salt. Place in the oven at 350°F for 10 minutes, or until the popcorn dries and develops a thin, crisp shell.
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August 5, 2015 - ABJ Extra

How Bees Naturally Vaccinate Their Babies

Study by UC Riverside entomologist and colleagues shows
flowers serve as parasite-dispersing hubs

University of California - Riverside

Photo shows a honey bee (Apis mellifera) and a bumblebee (Bombus spp.) foraging
on a purple coneflower. Credit: Kathy Keatley Garvey, UC Davis.

RIVERSIDE, Calif. - Despite their beauty, flowers can pose a grave danger to bees by providing a platform of parasites to visiting bees, a team of researchers has determined.

"Flowers are hotspots for parasite spread between and within pollinator populations," said Peter Graystock, a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Entomology at the University of California, Riverside and a member of the research team. "Both the flower and bee species play a role in how likely parasite dispersal will occur."

The study, published online in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, is the first to show that not only can bees disperse parasites around the environment but also that flowers are platforms for a host of pollinator parasites subsequently dispersed onto visiting bees.

"By showing that visits from parasite-carrying bees can turn flowers into parasite platforms, we can say that it is likely that heavily visited flowers may become more 'dirty' with bee parasites," said Graystock, the research paper's first author. "Planting more flowers would provide bees with more options, and parasite spread may thus be reduced."

The researchers found four common honey bee and bumblebee parasites dispersed via flowers: Nosema apis (causes a honey bee disease), Nosema ceranae (causes an emergent disease in honey bees and bumblebees), Crithidia bombi (causes a bumblebee disease) and Apicystis bombi (mostly found in bumblebees). These parasites are known to cause, lethargy, dysentery, colony collapse, and queen death in heavily infected bees.

Currently, bees are frequently transported across state and international territories. Quarantine and parasite screening usually cover only the screening of host-specific diseases. But bumblebees can transport honey bee parasites, and vice versa, the research team has now shown, and proposes that increased screening protocols be employed to protect pollinator diversity.

"With some 20,000 bee species, it is a surprise that only recently has research in pollinator health considered the interactions between bee species," Graystock said. "Our finding may also affect the national and international trade of flowers unless sterilization of parasites on these flowers can be guaranteed. Otherwise flower movements may also be moving pollinator parasites to new territories."

He explained that commercially imported bumblebees have been found to contain a cocktail of parasites that are harmful to both bumblebees and honeybees.

"We know these commercially imported bumblebees, when given the opportunity, will forage on the same flowers as wild bees and honeybees," he said.

In their experiments, Graystock and his colleagues allowed one species of bee (honey bees or bumblebees) from hives containing parasites to forage on flowers for three hours. The bees were then removed and a second group of flowers were added to the foraging arena along with colonies of a second bee species (a species not used before). The new bees then foraged upon both the new and previously foraged flowers for three hours. All flowers were then sampled to see if parasites had dispersed onto them. Parasites found in the original patch confirmed parasite dispersal by the original hosts. Parasites found in the new group of flowers confirmed the non-target bee was able to disperse the parasites.

Next, Graystock, who works in the lab of Quinn McFrederick, an assistant professor of entomology, is looking at how flowers may also be hubs for transmitting not just parasites but also potentially beneficial microbes. He is looking, too, at the role different flowers play on bee survival and development.