Caterpillar, Fungus In Cahoots To Threaten Fruit, Nut Crops, Study Finds

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign By Diana Yates November 5, 2018

 The Navel Orangeworm Caterpillar Works with a Fungus to Overcome Plant Chemical Defenses, a New Study Finds. Photo By: L. Brian Stauffer

The Navel Orangeworm Caterpillar Works with a Fungus to Overcome Plant Chemical Defenses, a New Study Finds. Photo By: L. Brian Stauffer

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — New research reveals that Aspergillus flavus, a fungus that produces carcinogenic aflatoxins that can contaminate seeds and nuts, has a multilegged partner in crime: the navel orangeworm caterpillar, which targets some of the same nut and fruit orchards afflicted by the fungus. Scientists report in the Journal of Chemical Ecology that the two pests work in concert to overcome plant defenses and resist pesticides.

“It turns out that the caterpillar grows better with the fungus; the fungus grows better with the caterpillar,” said University of Illinois entomologyprofessor and department head May Berenbaum, who conducted the study with entomology graduate student Daniel S. Bush and U.S. Department of Agriculture research entomologist Joel P. Siegel.

“The fungus is an incredibly opportunistic pathogen. It infects all kind of plants. It also infects animals on occasion, including humans,” Berenbaum said. “And it’s very, very good at breaking down toxins.”

The caterpillar, Amyelois transitella, also is an opportunistic feeder. Unlike most insect larvae, it somehow overcomes the defenses of a variety of host plants, including almonds, pistachios and figs. The caterpillar chews its way in and contaminates the fruits and nuts with its excrement and webbing. It also opens the door to A. flavus infection. Unlike many other insects, the navel orangeworm caterpillar can metabolize aflatoxin, making it immune to this toxic fungal byproduct, Berenbaum said.

 A research team including entomology professor and department head May Berenbaum, left, and graduate student Daniel Bush discovered an unusual partnership between a caterpillar and fungus that attack a variety of fruit and nut crops. Photo by L. Brian Stauffer

A research team including entomology professor and department head May Berenbaum, left, and graduate student Daniel Bush discovered an unusual partnership between a caterpillar and fungus that attack a variety of fruit and nut crops. Photo by L. Brian Stauffer

Prior to the new study, researchers and growers had observed coinfection with the fungus and the caterpillar, but did not know whether the two simply tolerated one another or worked together in a mutualistic partnership.

To find out, the team ran experiments to see how laboratory-reared navel orangeworm caterpillars responded to specific plant defensive compounds and pesticides in the presence or absence of the fungus. They measured caterpillar mortality and time to pupation in a variety of conditions. The tests included a caterpillar strain that was susceptible to pyrethroid pesticides and another that was resistant.

The tests revealed that the caterpillars developed much more rapidly in the presence of the fungus, regardless of the natural or man-made toxins that were also present. Larvae exposed to the plant defensive compound xanthotoxin developed nearly twice as fast when the fungus was also present. Larvae fed a diet containing xanthotoxin or bergapten – another phytochemical in the same class as xanthotoxin – also lived much longer in the presence of the fungus than when exposed to the chemicals alone.

The caterpillars differed in their response to pesticides – with and without their fungal partner. The pesticide-susceptible caterpillars had higher mortality in the presence of the pesticide and fungus than when exposed to the pesticide alone. Pesticide-resistant caterpillars were unaffected by the pesticide, whether or not the fungus was present.

 The navel orangeworm caterpillar grows up to be a nondescript-looking moth. Photo by Brian L. Stauffer

The navel orangeworm caterpillar grows up to be a nondescript-looking moth. Photo by Brian L. Stauffer

When the researchers incubated the fungus with the pesticide bifenthrin before the caterpillars came on the scene, however, caterpillar mortality went down. This suggests A. flavusdetoxifies bifenthrin, which helps the caterpillar, the researchers wrote.

“It’s very likely that this caterpillar has managed to colonize so many new crops because its partner fungus can break down the chemical defenses of the tree crops that it encounters,” Berenbaum said. “It’s also giving this caterpillar an extra edge because the fungus is breaking down some of the pesticides that growers are using to combat the caterpillar.”

The California Pistachio Research Board and the Almond Board of California funded this research.

https://news.illinois.edu/view/6367/713613

2018 LACBA Annual Holiday Dinner!

You’re Invited to Our
2018 LACBA Annual Holiday Dinner!

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Pickwick Gardens
1001 Riverside Drive, Burbank CA, 91506
(Conference Center - Directions & Map)
When: Monday, December 3, 2018
Time: 6-9pm
Cost: $10/person

PLEASE PURCHASE TICKETS ONLINE BY 11/26/18
(So we can get a dinner count.)

Bring your confirmation email to the dinner, it’s your ticket!
Thank you!

We do not plan on taking membership dues at the dinner,
so please
pay your membership dues online. Much more fun for everyone!

IF YOU PAY YOUR MEMBERSHIP DUES ONLINE BY 11/26/18
YOU’LL RECEIVE 10 FREE RAFFLE TICKETS AT THE DOOR!
Bring your Membership Confirmation email.

This is the time of year when we get to kick back, relax, and talk about anything and everything, especially… BEES! Our Holiday Dinner is a family-friendly open event - feel free to bring your spouse, partner, kids, and friends. We will hold our largest RAFFLE! of the year, and present our Golden Hive Tool Award.

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Thank you to LACBA Member, Doug Noland, for providing our wonderful holiday dinner which is catered by Outback Catering!


We ask you to bring:

  • An appetizer or dessert, to share (6-8 servings is plenty). A-M (Desserts), N-Z (Appetizers)

  • An item for our raffle!

We look forward to seeing everyone at our 2018 LACBA Annual Holiday Dinner!

2018 CSBA Convention UPDATE!

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HERE'S THE LATEST BUZZ ABOUT THE CSBA Convention! If you're not already at the convention, don't head down for the last day (Thursday). Due to the power company shutting off the electricity in the San Diego area, the rest of the convention had to be cancelled. Attendees and speakers are on their way home!

It's always a great convention so stay tuned for news of the 2019 CSBA Convention next November in Temecula.

Data-Driven Applications for Beekeepers

Pollinator Partnership By Dan Aurell November 12, 2018

With the withdrawal of Fumagillin from the market, there has been renewed interest among queen producers and honey producers alike in finding ways to control Nosema infection in their bees. The Texas BIP team recently helped a beekeeper look at whether essential oil patties or a sprayed-on probiotic would help reduce the Nosema load of spring splits. 30 colonies (8-12 colonies per group) were sampled for Nosema at time of check-back (mid-April 2018) and randomly selected to be part of one of three groups: untreated control, essential oil, or probiotic. When Nosema loads were sampled again (mid-May 2018), the levels had gone down in all groups in accordance with the usual seasonal pattern. However, there was no significant difference seen between the treatments.

Pollinator Partnership essential oil patties.jpg

Results of a small case study evaluating the effects of essential oil patties and sprayed-on probiotic on spring Nosema levels in a TX operation.

It is important to communicate non-conclusive results like these – as an antidote to the hype that often accompanies new products – and because it steers us toward testing the products in a different setting where they may actually work. Our ongoing sampling work with many operations puts us in a great position to collaborate with beekeepers on experiments, and to pursue questions that have immediate application among beekeepers. By donating today, you are enabling us to build on these strengths.

https://beeinformed.org/2018/11/12/data-driven-applications-for-beekeepers/

Welcome to the New Website for the Los Angeles County Beekeepers Association!

What’s New?

You Can Now Become a Member and Pay for Events Online!

Coming Soon!

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We now have a Calendar of Events! More Events are being added!

We will soon be connected on Social Media!

All the content that was on the old LACBA site is (or soon will be) on this site!

This new LACBA website is a work in progress. (A working hive, if you will.) Everything has been reorganized and should be easier to find. There’s new information added and some pages still need to be included. The entire Buzz Archives (2000+) have been uploaded but need to be re-categorized. Broken links are being repaired and missing links attended to. If you have difficulty with purchasing membership or events, please contact: lacba.webmaster@gmail.com. If you have questions about membership, please contact: lacba.membership@gmail.com. Thank you very much! Enjoy! ~Eva Andrews, LACBA Webmaster

2018 CSBA Annual Convention

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The 2018 CSBA Annual Meeting and Convention, is the largest state beekeeping convention in the nation, where new products, services, and research are often unveiled for the first time. 

The CSBA Annual Convention draws over 300 attendees per day, including commercial beekeepers, queen breeders, affiliated clubs, equipment manufacturers, leading honeybee researchers, suppliers, and vendors from across the country.
https://www.californiastatebeekeepers.com/event/2018-csba-annual-convention/

USDA Announces Update To National Road Map For Integrated Pest Management (Ipm)

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WASHINGTON, October 24, 2018 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced today the first update since 2013 of the National Road Map for Integrated Pest Management (IPM) (PDF, 340 KB).

The update culminates a yearlong review by the Federal Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Coordinating Committee (FIPMCC), a joint effort that is coordinated by the Office of Pest Management Policy in the Office of USDA’s Chief Economist with representatives of all federal agencies with responsibilities in IPM research, implementation, or education programs. These agencies include Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Department of the Interior (DOI), and Department of Defense (DoD).

Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is a science-based, sustainable decision-making process that uses information on pest biology, environmental data, and technology to manage pest damage in a way that minimizes both economic costs and risks to people, property, and the environment.

The National Road Map for Integrated Pest Management (IPM), first introduced in 2004, is periodically updated to reflect the evolving science, practice, and nature of IPM. The Road Map provides guidance to the IPM community on the adoption of effective, economical, and safe IPM practices, and on the development of new practices where needed. The guidance defines, prioritizes, and articulates pest management challenges across many landscapes, including: agriculture, forests, parks, wildlife refuges, military bases, as well as in residential, and public areas, such as public housing and schools. The Road Map also helps to identify priorities for IPM research, technology, education and implementation through information exchange and coordination among federal and non-federal researchers, educators, technology innovators, and IPM practitioners.

About OCE Office of Pest Management Policy

The USDA’s Office of Pest Management Policy (OPMP) is responsible for the development and coordination of Department policy on pest management and pesticides. It coordinates activities and services of the Department, including research, extension, and education activities, coordinates interagency activities, and consults with agricultural producers that may be affected by USDA-related pest management or pesticide-related activities or actions. OPMP also works with EPA on pesticide and water pollution issues and represents USDA at national and international scientific and policy conferences.

https://www.usda.gov/media/press-releases/2018/10/24/usda-announces-update-national-road-map-integrated-pest-management

What Do Bees Do During A Total Eclipse? Why They Quit Buzzing For One Thing!

CATCH THE BUZZ  By: Susan Milius     October 5, 2018

BEE TOTALITY During the solar eclipse over the United States in 2017, citizen scientists recorded bee sounds to help researchers find out what the insects do when day suddenly plunges into darkness. Susan Ellis, Bugwood.orgBEE TOTALITY During the solar eclipse over the United States in 2017, citizen scientists recorded bee sounds to help researchers find out what the insects do when day suddenly plunges into darkness.

Susan Ellis, Bugwood.org

When the 2017 Great American Eclipse hit totality and the sky went dark, bees noticed.

Microphones in flower patches at 11 sites in the path of the eclipse picked up the buzzing sounds of bees flying among blooms before and after totality. But those sounds were noticeably absent during the full solar blackout, a new study finds.

Dimming light and some summer cooling during the onset of the eclipse didn’t appear to make a difference to the bees. But the deeper darkness of totality did, researchers report Oct. 10 in the Annals of the Entomological Society of America. At the time of totality, the change in buzzing was abrupt, says study coauthor and ecologist Candace Galen of the University of Missouri in Columbia.

The recordings come from citizen scientists, mostly school classes, setting out small microphones at two spots in Oregon, one in Idaho and eight in Missouri. Often when bees went silent at the peak of the eclipse, Galen says, “you can hear the people in the background going ‘ooo,’ ‘ahh’ or clapping.”

LISTENING IN This fluffy white lump is a microphone protected from wind noise in a clover patch. Citizen scientists set up microphones like these to record the bees buzzing, or not, at 11 U.S. sites during the 2017 eclipse. C. Galen/Univ. of Missouri

There’s no entirely reliable way (yet) of telling what kinds of bees were doing the buzzing, based only on their sounds, Galen says. She estimates that the Missouri sites had a lot of bumblebees, while the western sites had more of the tinier, temperature-fussy Megachile bees.

More western samples, with the fussier bees, might have let researchers see an effect on the insects of temperatures dropping by at least 10 degrees Celsius during the eclipse. The temperature plunge in the Missouri summer just “made things feel a little more comfortable,” Galen says.

This study of buzz recordings gives the first formal data published on bees during a solar eclipse, as far as Galen knows. “Insects are remarkably neglected,” she says. “Everybody wants to know what their dog and cat are doing during the eclipse, but they don’t think about the flea.”

Susan Milius for ScienceNews.org

Beekeeping Class 101 - #8 October 21, 2018 9AM-Noon, The Valley Hive (Store Location)

NOTE: CHANGE OF LOCATION for Beekeeping Class 101 - #8 Sunday, October 21, 2018, 9AM-Noon, will be at The Valley Hive Store location: 10538 Topanga Canyon, Chatsworth, CA. It will not be at the apiary location.

Are you an experienced beekeeper and looking for a way to share your bee knowledge with others?  Or, are you new to beekeeping and looking for a place to learn more about bees?

COME JOIN US FOR BEEKEEPING 101!!!

PLEASE BE ON TIME 
Class begins at 9am, and runs until approx. noon

MEET AT THE VALLEY HIVE LOCATED AT:
10538 Topanga Canyon Blvd, CHATSWORTH, CA 91311

Parking is available on both sides of Topanga Canyon.  If you park on the south side of the street please use the crosswalk at Chatsworth St.

CLASS AGENDA
WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED THIS YEAR?

  • Equipment Essentials
  • Honeybee Basics
  • A Beekeeper's Year
  • Testing  & Treating for Varroa Mites
  • Winterizing your hive
  • What to expect come spring time

THE COST FOR CLASS:
Free!  With a paid membership to the Los Angeles County Beekeepers Association

2018 Membership Fees: 

$20 per year for household membership, or

$45 per year for a contributing membership

FUTURE CLASS DATES:

THIS IS THE LAST CLASS FOR 2018

Be sure to attend the monthly Monday meeting and check the website for upcoming events in 2019.

All the information you need in order to attend the LACBA Beekeeping Class 101 is posted on our website: /beekeeping-classes-losangeles/.

OUR NEXT MONTHLY MEETING WILL BE HELD ON
Monday, November 5, 2018

Board Meeting: 6:30pm

General Meeting: 7:00pm 

Location: Mount Olive Lutheran Church (Shilling Hall)
                 3561 Foothill Boulevard
                 La Crescenta, CA 91214

       Please bring something for the raffle

THE BOARD WANTS TO HEAR FROM YOU

The LA County Fair is our largest fund raiser of the year.  Your board of directors would like your suggestions as who we should have come speak to us in 2019.  Come to the Board Meeting @ 6:30pm on Monday November 5, 2018 to give your opinion.  This is your chance to be heard.

How The Mushroom Dream Of A ‘Long-Haired Hippie’ Could Help Save The World’s Bees

Seattle Times     By Evan Bush   October 4, 2018

A study published Thursday details a promising and novel approach to help stop the viruses killing honeybees, which pollinate much of the food we rely on: mushrooms.

1 of 2 Paul Stamets, an expert on mushrooms and owner of Fungi Perfecti, had an epiphany: Something in mushrooms could help keep bees healthy. (John Lok / The Seattle Times, 2010)

The epiphany that mushrooms could help save the world’s ailing bee colonies struck Paul Stamets while he was in bed.

“I love waking dreams,” he said. “It’s a time when you’re just coming back into consciousness.”

Years ago, in 1984, Stamets had noticed a “continuous convoy of bees” traveling from a patch of mushrooms he was growing and his beehives. The bees actually moved wood chips to access his mushroom’s mycelium, the branching fibers of fungus that look like cobwebs.

“I could see them sipping on the droplets oozing from the mycelium,” he said. They were after its sugar, he thought.

Decades later, he and a friend began a conversation about bee colony collapse that left Stamets, the owner of a mushroom mercantile, puzzling over a problem. Bees across the world have been disappearing at an alarming rate. Parasites like mites, fast-spreading viruses, agricultural chemicals and lack of forage area have stressed and threatened wild and commercial bees alike.

Waking up one morning, “I connected the dots,” he said. “Mycelium have sugars and antiviral properties,” he said. What if it wasn’t just sugar that was useful to those mushroom-suckling bees so long ago?

In research published Thursday in the journal Scientific Reports, Stamets turned intuition into reality. The paper describes how bees given a small amount of his mushroom mycelia extract exhibited remarkable reductions in the presence of viruses associated with parasitic mites that have been attacking, and infecting, bee colonies for decades.

Mites contribute to colony collapse

In the late 1980s, tiny Varroa mites began to spread through bee colonies in the United States. The mites — which are parasites and can infect bees with viruses —  proliferate easily and cause colony collapse in just years.

Over time, colonies have become even more susceptible, and viruses became among the chief threats to the important pollinators for crops on which people rely.

“We think that’s because the viruses have evolved and become pathogenic and virulent,” said Dennis vanEngelsdorp, a University of Maryland professor in entomology, who was not involved in the mycelium research. “Varroa viruses kill most of the colonies in the country.”

He likened the mites to dirty hypodermic needles; the mites are able to spread viruses from bee to bee.

The only practical solution to date has been to keep the number of Varroa mites within beehives “at manageable populations.”

Stamet’s idea about bee-helping mycelium could give beekeepers a powerful new weapon.

At first, mushrooms were a hard sell.

When Stamets, whose fascination with fungi began with “magic mushrooms” when he was a “long-haired hippie” undergraduate at The Evergreen State College, began reaching out to scientists, some laughed him off.

“I don’t have time for this. You sound kind of crazy. I’m gonna go,” he recalled a California researcher telling him. “It was never good to start a conversation with scientists you don’t know saying, ‘I had a dream.’”

When Steve Sheppard, a Washington State University entomology professor, received a call in 2014 from Stamets, however, he didn’t balk. He listened.

Sheppard has heard a lot of wild ideas to save bees over the years, like harnessing static electricity to stick bees with little balls of Styrofoam coated in mite-killing chemicals. Stamets’ pitch was different: He had data to back up his claims about mycelium’s antiviral properties and his company, Fungi Perfecti, could produce it in bulk. “I had a compelling reason to look further,” Sheppard said.

Together with other researchers, the unlikely pair have produced research that opens promising and previously unknown doors in the fight to keep bee colonies from collapsing.

“This is a pretty novel approach,” vanEngelsdorp said. “There’s no scientist who believes there’s a silver bullet for bee health. There’s too many things going on. … This is a great first step.”

Beekeepers from the WSU Honey Bee lab are shown setting up a field experiment in 2017 in an almond orchard in California. They fed mushroom extract to commercial honeybee colonies to see if it could help the pollinators resist catastrophic diseases carried by mites. (Courtesy of Washington State University)Experiments, more research planned

To test Stamets’ theory, the researchers conducted two experiments: They separated two groups of mite-exposed bees into cages, feeding one group sugar syrup with a mushroom-based additive and the other, syrup without the additive. They also field-tested the extract in small, working bee colonies near WSU.

For several virus strains, the extract “reduced the virus to almost nothing,” said Brandon Hopkins, a WSU assistant research professor, another author of the paper.

The promising results have opened the door to new inquiries.

Researchers are still trying to figure out how the mushroom extract works. The compound could be boosting bees’ immune systems, making them more resistant to the virus. Or, the compound could be targeting the viruses themselves.

“We don’t know what’s happening to cause the reduction. That’s sort of our next step,” Sheppard said.

Because the extract can be added to syrups commercial beekeepers commonly use, researchers say the extract could be a practical solution that could scale quickly.

For now, they are conducting more research. On Wednesday, Hopkins and Sheppard spent the day setting up experiments at more than 300 commercial colonies in Oregon.

Meanwhile, Stamets has designed a 3D-printable feeder that delivers mycelia extract to wild bees. He plans to launch the product, and an extract-subscription service next year, to the public.

Stamets said he hopes his fungus extract can forestall the crisis of a world without many of its creatures, including bees. He is alarmed at how fast species are going extinct.

“The loss of biodiversity has ramifications that reverberate throughout the food web,” he said, likening each species to parts of an airplane, that hold the earth together — until they don’t.

“What rivet will we lose that we’ll have catastrophic failure? I think the rivet will be losing the bees,” he said. “More than one-third of our food supply is dependent on bees.”

Evan Bush: 206-464-2253 or ebush@seattletimes.com; on Twitter: @EvanBush.

https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/science/how-the-mushroom-dream-of-a-long-haired-hippie-could-help-save-the-worlds-bees/

Beesharing – An Online Network That Combines Beekeeping And Agriculture. A Digital Pollination Brokerb

Catch The Buzz     October 3, 2018

BEEsharing: Using bees to produce more fruit and vegetables. 

Senator Frank Horch, in a conversation with start-up BEEsharing, on bees in fruit and vegetable growing as well as ideas for solutions to worldwide bee mortality.

Bees are good money makers. Honey and other bee products are popular and they sell well. But above all, the pollination performance of bees is of enormous importance. They make a huge difference in the fruit and vegetable industry, as they can enlarge the yields. And it is exactly there where the BEEsharing’s business model of ties in. An online network that combines beekeeping and agriculture. Beekeepers offer bee colonies for pollination, and farmers and growers then buy their services. Consulting, mediation and logistics are handled by BEEsharing. The apiary in Hamburg is currently experiencing a tremendous upswing, now with more than 1,000 beekeepers.

Senator Frank Horch emphasized: “Sharing bees means looking after them. BEEsharing uses the opportunities offered by digitization and combines beekeepers with agricultural partners. A great business idea that also keeps an eye on plant and species diversity. Hamburg needs people who recognize opportunities and push their ideas forward with courage and passion. Startups like these deserve our attention because they create innovation and are the guarantor of tomorrow’s economic successes. We want to support them with good framework conditions.”

Otmar Trenk, CEO and Founder BEEsharing P.A.L.S. GmbH, said: “We are pleased that we have the opportunity to present our young, innovative company to representatives from politics and business and to enter into a pragmatic discourse with them. This discourse is necessary to maintain the competitiveness of beekeeping and agriculture, and to make it a promising endeavour.”

Bees are among the most important farm animals; they play a key role in nature and agriculture. The economic output of beekeeping in Germany is around 1.7 billion euros per year, of which 1.6 billion euros are accounted for by pollination alone. In Hamburg, there are more than 400 horticultural businesses for which bees are indispensable. In order to be able to use these bees in the future as well, a good environment is needed. The numerous beekeepers contribute to this. The developments in Hamburg have been very positive in recent years. The Beekeeper Association Hamburg e. V. currently has more than 1,000 bee friends, while in 2005 there were only about 250 members.

https://www.beeculture.com/catch-the-buzz-beesharing-an-online-network-that-combines-beekeeping-and-agriculture-a-digital-pollination-broker

 

LACBA Meeting: Monday, October 1, 2018

Our next meeting will be held Monday, October 1, 2018.
Open Board Meeting/Committee Meeting: 6:30PM
General Meeting: 7:00PM Location: 
Mount Olive Lutheran Church (Shilling Hall)
3561 Foothill Blvd.
La Crescenta, CA 91214


Meetings of the Los Angeles County Beekeepers Association are open to the public. All are welcome!

Special Talk on beeswax processing and products.  Please bring your own products to show the group and maybe some of your own tips on processing, procedures and uses for beeswax.

American Foulbrood Disease

Thank you to Jaime E. Garza, Apiary/Agricultural Standards Inspector, Department of Agriculture, Weights & Measures, County of San Diego for the following:

"To help improve the overall health of our honey bee community it is important for beekeepers to familiarize themselves with healthy brood conditions and types of brood diseases.

I have attached a helpful resource on American Foulbrood Disease which is a highly contagious bacteria with no cure. The disease weakens and in most cases kills a bee colony. During times of dearth a weakened infected bee colony may be susceptible to robbing by other honey bees from other colonies which can cause the bacteria to be spread. The disease can be spread by bees, honey, propolis, hive tools, frames and other beekeeping equipment."

How to Autopsy a Honey Bee Colony

Beverly Bees     By Anita Deeley

 Looking through a hive that died for clues.

So your hive died, now what do you do?  The first thing to do after you discover a dead hive is to autopsy a honey bee colony and look for signs of disease, varroa and anything else you think may have caused the colony’s demise.

Continue reading: https://www.beverlybees.com/how-to-autopsy-a-honey-bee-colony/

(Note: Thank you to Jaime E. Garza, Apiary/Agricultural Standards Inspector, Department of Agriculture, Weights & Measures, County of San Diego, for the link and comments: “If your bee colonies are weak or if they die off this fall/winter here is a helpful resource to help you review what could have led to the colonies demise.”)

The Signs of Mite Damage - How to Identify Progressed Varroosis?

Bee Informed Partnership    September 26, 2018

BIP Tech Transfer Team Member, University of Minnesota, Written by Garett Slater, posted by Anne Marie Fauvel

Varroa infested colonies entered the United States in ~1987, and changed beekeeping forever. Beekeeping has always been time consuming, difficult and experience oriented; however, beekeeping became even more challenging when beekeepers were called to eradicate a bug on another bug. Since its introduction in the US, beekeepers have reported high annual colony losses due to mites. In fact, some beekeepers report 60% losses due to this troublesome pest. While beekeepers have faced devastating challenges before, including American Foulbrood, Varroa mites has presented damages never before seen.

Varroa have become more difficult to manage since their introduction. The mites are seemingly embedded within the honey bee industry reality as nearly, if not all, colonies have Varroa. Like many beekeepers say: ” all my colonies have mites, I just cannot see them”. Even if alcohol washes do not reveal mites, Varroa is present in the brood or will be present soon due to infestation from surrounding colonies. As mites have become more widespread, they became a vector for a variety of viruses. In fact, researchers are finding more and more variants of Deformed Wing Virus (DWV), a virus that affects the honey bee’s essential flight capabilities. Research has shown that DWV-B (Deformed Wing Virus variant B) can be responsible for high over-winter losses.

The point here is that Varroa devastates colonies.  It would also seem that Varroa are transmitting more virulent strains of viruses with each passing year. Because of this, I recommend to keep mite levels below 1 mite/ 100 bees in the spring and below 3 mites/100 bees in the fall. With Varroa loads any higher, beekeepers risk high colony losses.

Monitor, Monitor, Monitor

Beekeepers must consistently monitor mites if they expect to have strong and healthy colonies. Beekeepers can monitor their mites in various ways, but I recommend both of these two methods: perform an alcohol wash (or other monitoring method) and observe the overt signs of mite damage. It is ideal to perform monitoring methods once a month, but we realize this is not always possible. Because of this, combining both monitoring and observation methods are recommended. Ideally, mites should be monitored at least 4 times a year.  As seen in Figure 1: population increase, population peak, population decrease, and fall dormant; it is essential to understand the seasonal changes. For example, brood density varies throughout the year, so certain treatments can be less effective at different times. By understanding seasonal cycles, beekeepers can better manage their mites. I understand Figure 1 does not reflect the reality of every region but it gives a good overall general idea.  Some regions have multiple population peaks due to large honey flows, so you will need to understand the honey bee seasonal phases in your region. But essentially, as the bee and brood population increase, so do the mites.

Figure 1: Honey bee seasonal phases – Beekeepers should monitor mites once a month, but if this is not possible, mites should be monitored at least 4 times a year: during the late winter-early spring dormant, population increase, population peak, population decrease, and fall dormant phases. I recommend alcohol washes (or another monitoring method) during these periods. Photo courtesy of the Honey Bee Health Coalition.

Mite Monitoring Techniques

I attached a chart outlining the 3 major mite monitoring techniques I recommend. Perform one of these techniques 4 times a year: Early spring, late spring, late summer and early fall. Each beekeeper has their preference, so use the method you feel the most comfortable with. I use alcohol washes, but I feel comfortable with sugar rolls or CO2 as well. As long as you monitor, there is not a wrong method!


Advantages 

Disadvantages 

Sugar Rolls

Known research on accuracy

Common method

May not kill bees

Messy

Hard to do on windy, rainy or humid days

More time consuming

Less accurate

Alcohol Wash

Well documented

Quicker than sugar rolls

Can be more accurate than sugar roll

Can be messy

Kills bees

CO2

Quickest method

Easy to do with multiple colonies

Kills the bees (most likely)

When monitoring for mites, beekeepers should review mite thresholds. I outline my recommended thresholds for each monitoring method below. If your colony is above threshold, I recommend taking actions. Mite thresholds are not an exact science, even if you have levels below the threshold, it is no assurance that your colonies will be healthy and successful. For example, I have sampled many commercial beekeepers with mite levels <0.5 mites /100 bees in the spring, and they eventually had huge losses. I typically see mite levels spike in the late summer because: A) summer treatment with honey supers are limited, B) Mites are often lurking in the brood, and C) Mites from other beekeepers nearby can (re)infest colonies. Because of this, always monitor and monitor again. Once mite levels do spike, they may be difficult to bring down. Too often, when you notice, the mite damage is already done. I should note that I recommend alcohol washes, powdered sugar rolls or CO2 over a sticky board. Sticky boards are not nearly as accurate, because they do not quantify the level of infestation. If a sticky board is your only option, you can attest that you have some mites or more mites, but you are not able to assess the level of infestation (1, 2, 3 mites/100 bees). Use other monitoring method options for more accurate results and an infestation level to compare with suggested thresholds. *These thresholds may vary per US regions. These are the threshold I recommend in the Midwest (MN & ND)

Monitoring Method

# of mites in early-spring

# of mites in mid-spring

# of mites in late-spring

# of mites in early-fall

# of mites in late-fall

Alcohol Wash

 

1 mite/100 bees

1 mite/100 bees

1 mite/100 bees

3 mite/100 bees

3 mite/100 bees

Powdered sugar roll

1 mite/100 bees

1 mite/100 bees

1 mite/100 bees

3 mite/100 bees

3 mite/100 bees

CO2

1 mite/100 bees

1 mite/100 bees

1 mite/100 bees

3 mite/100 bees

3 mite/100 bees

Sticky Board

9 mites/24 hours

9 mites/24 hours

9 mites/24 hours

12 mites/24 hours

12 mites/24 hours

Mite related Disease Progression 

I inspect and observe hundreds of colonies annually. When I enter a colony, I often immediately know whether it has (or did) have high mite levels simply by observing progressed signs of mite damage. Just observing progressed mite damage does not suffice, but it is a good start. By noting visual signs of Varroa, you will know just how important your mite levels are and the need for action. Monitoring is best but if you can recognize some of the visual signs, you will better understand the extend of the mite damage to your colony.

I outlined the 5 stages of mite damage, which I relay to my beekeepers. In the spring during population increase, I want to see colonies within the Stage 1- 2. While I hate to see mites in the spring, this is not always a bad sign. Even if I observe mites, the colony may be below the recommended threshold, so just continue to monitor that colony. During the late spring, summer and fall, I like to see colonies within Stage 1-3. Even if Chewed Down brood (CDB) (outlined below) and phoretic mites are seen, it does not mean that beekeepers have high levels. However, a combination of phoretic mites and CDB can signal worse mite issues. If these signs are seen, continue to monitor these colonies. As for Stage 4-5, I never want to see these stages, regardless of temporal period. Deformed Wing Virus (DWV) and Varroa Mite Syndrome (formerly Parasitic Mite Syndrome or PMS) can signify high mite levels.  Specifically for Varroa Mite Syndrome, it signifies very progressed mite damage, which often results in colony deterioration and eventual colony death. If colonies are in stage 4 or stage 5, monitor immediately to determine extent of damage. Action is often required, but may be too late.

 Stage

Visual Signs

Notes

Stage 1

Zero signs of mites, brood diseases or viruses


Stage 2

Visual signs of phoretic mites on either workers or drones.

 

This does not necessarily mean a mite issue exists, but if mites are seen, monitor to determine extent of varroosis.

 

Stage 3

Chewed Down Brood and/or phoretic mites

 

 

Stage 4

Deformed Wing Virus (DWV) and/or Chewed Down Brood and/or signs of phoretic mites.

Visual signs of Deformed Wing Virus (DWV) can mean larger varroa issues. Obviously, this depends upon the number of bees with DWV and the number of phoretic mites seen, but mite monitoring is recommended to determined extent of varroosis. These signs signal a more progressed form of varroosis.

Stage 5

Varroa Mite Syndrome (VMS) and/or Deformed Wing Virus (DWV) and/or Chewed Down Brood and/or Phoretic mites

Visual signs of Varroa Mite Syndrome usually signal extreme issues with varroasis. If Varroa Mite Syndrome is seen, then mite levels are often a significant issue and has advanced to the most progressed stage of varroosis.

Visual signs

Phoretic Mite

Phoretic mites are Varroa mites seen on the abdomen of worker (or drone bees). Most phoretic mites, however, are found underneath the bee, more precisely tucked between the abdomen’s sclerites where they latch on and feed. Because of this, I typically inspect the ventral abdomen of several worker bees during inspections. This is why beekeepers “never see mites”, even if these beekeepers have higher mite levels. Visually inspect phoretic mites just on the workers, not the drones. If phoretic mites are seen on worker bees, then this represents a more progressed infestation of mites. Signs of phoretic mites indicate the colony is in Stage 2-5. Visually inspect other signs to further pinpoint extent of damage.

Phoretic mite on the thorax of a worker bee. Photo by Rob Snyde Chewed Down Brood (CDB)

Bees can sense mites in the brood. If sensed, bees will uncap and cannibalize the pupae. If CDB is seen, then mites may be at a high level, especially within the brood. CDB can indicate progressed mite damage, so continue to monitor and assess colony health.

Deformed Wing Virus (DWV)

Deformed Wing Virus (DWV) represents the next stage of varroosis progression. Bees with DWV are kicked out of the colony so if bees with DWV are seen than Varroa has become an issue. DWV does not signify un-manageable mite levels for the colony, but it is a more progressed sign of mite damage.

The bottom right corner contains a cell with chewed down brood (CDB). Bees begin chewing brood when they sense mites within the cell, so this can indicate larger mite issues. Photo by Rob Snyder

This bee has deformed wing virus, a debilitating virus than can easily deplete a colony. Oftentimes, bees with the virus are removed from the colony. So if bees with Deformed Wing Virus are seen, than this can indicate larger issues. Photo by Rob Snyder

Symptoms

Spotty brood and Varroa present on adult

Mites may be present on brood

Mites seen on open brood cells

Small population size

No odor present, just sunken brood

Varroa Mite Syndrome (VMS) is the most progressed sign of mite damage. If VMS mite is seen, than the damage is done. These colonies will likely collapse, and there is nothing a beekeeper can really do. At this stage, the colony has already dwindled and deteriorated. Photo by Rob Snyder

Varroa Mite Syndrome (VMS)

A pathogen has not been identified for this diseased, however mites are always present when this disease is seen. This brood symptom looks similar to other brood diseases except the larvae do not rope like foulbrood. Larvae do appear sunken to the side of the cell. If Varroa Mite Syndrome is observed, then colony has likely dwindled and deteriorated. Varroa Mite Syndrome is the most progressed sign of mite damage, and truly at a stage of no return. Even if low phoretic mites are seen, Varroa mite syndrome often means an end to your colony, even if treatment is applied.



Summary

All beekeepers should consistently monitor mites throughout the year. Even if mite levels are low at one point, it does not mean they will stay low. Mite levels can easily spike, so always be aware and monitor and re-monitor. Beekeepers should learn how to monitor and visually inspect for mites. By doing so, varroa mites can effectively be managed. Varroa mites are the most challenging issue beekeepers face, so make sure you know where your colonies stand. If you don’t, then you risk losing your colonies.

https://beeinformed.org/2018/09/26/the-signs-of-mite-damage-how-to-identify-progressed-varroosis/

(Note: Thank you to Jaime E. Garza, Apiary/Agricultural Standards Inspector, Department of Agriculture, Weights & Measures, County of San Diego for the link and his quote, “With the lack of floral resources this year, Varroa mites may put more stress on your colonies. Hopefully the information will help give you a better idea of how to look for signs of Varroa mite infestations and encourage you to monitor and control them if you are currently not doing so.”)

Ground Bees of Satwiwa

 

Ground Bees of Satwiwa (w/text info) - feat. Melibea from james carey on Vimeo.

Story about one of several species of Native Bees living in the Western Santa Monica Mountains of Southern California in the shadow of "Satwiwa", a beautiful set of bluffs held sacred but the Chumash First Nation Edlers.

Military Site Also Home To Honeybees

Northwest Arkansas Democrat Gazette   By The Associated Press    September 22, 2018

Credit: Austin American-Statesman via AP. Military contractor BAE Systems in Austin, Texas, lets the nonprofit American Honey bee Protection Agency keep 10 permanent hives on its property and says its environmental work dovetails with the company motto: “We protect those who protect us.” AUSTIN, Texas -- In a dense bit of East Austin forest, beneath a long abandoned helicopter-blade test pad and a pair of cottonwood trees, hundreds of honeybees are going about their honey-making business.

The Austin American-Statesman reports the land belongs to military contractor BAE Systems -- part of the 140 acres on which the company builds components for missiles and other military hardware -- and the bees belong to the nonprofit American Honey Bee Protection Agency, which aims to integrate bees into cities and educate the public about their importance as pollinators.

The unusual partnership is part of an effort by United Kingdom-based BAE to burnish its image as it attracts and retains young talent, according to corporate officials.

"We see younger folks have stronger beliefs, and it's easy to be on board with conservation -- it just inherently sounds good and is well received," said Steve Ford, the company's director of electronic systems survivability, targeting and sensing solutions.

A few years ago, the company, which has operations in places as far-flung as Saudi Arabia and Australia, turned to environmental stewardship at its Austin site, which employs roughly 500 people.

It elected to be a corporate sponsor of Texan by Nature, founded by former first lady Laura Bush, which promotes the conservation work of businesses -- the company donates $10,000 to that nonprofit annually -- and began planting monarch butterfly-friendly milkweed around its premises. It began taking out bits of lawn and seeded the ground with switchgrass and bluestem and wildflowers to promote healthier ecosystems. Employee volunteers set up a sustainability committee and directed the company cafeteria to increase its recycling and composting. The company ended use of a copper algaecide on a retention pond, set up rainwater collection systems, and donated land and office space to the bee protection group.

Company officials say the environmental work dovetails with their motto: "We protect those who protect us." Among other things, the company develops the flares that fighter planes eject to protect themselves from heat-seeking missiles.

"We rely on pollinators to prove 70 percent of our food crop," said Dan Wiegrefe, BAE's Western region operations director for electronic systems. "What's the point of protecting our country if we have no country to protect?"

Inside the walls of the largely windowless buildings at the corporate office park, just east of U.S. 183 and south of Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., BAE is assembling circuit cards for the company's Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System, according to company documents.

"The [Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System], rocket redefines precision by hitting the target with pinpoint accuracy and minimal collateral damage -- critical for air-to-ground missions when you only have one shot," the company says on its webpage.

The company touts that "the rocket has achieved over a 93 percent hit rate."

In June, the U.S. Naval Air System Command announced a $224.3 million order to BAE for 10,175 air-to-ground rockets, which are intended to blow up armored vehicles and bunkers.

Also put together there are parts of the Target Reconnaissance Infrared Geolocating Rangefinder, or TRIGR, a laser targeting device that looks like a set of high-tech binoculars.

"Our [Target Reconnaissance Infrared Geolocating Rangefinder] system gives our deployed war fighters a decisive advantage in locating enemy targets on today's battlefields," Bruce Zukauskas, a BAE program manager, said in 2012, when the U.S. Army placed a $23.5 million order for the devices.

The U.S. subsidiary of the British company had sales of roughly $10 billion in 2016; the company's board chairman is Michael Chertoff, who served as secretary of Homeland Security in the George W. Bush administration -- during Chertoff's tenure, the Homeland Security Department spent billions of dollars on contracts with BAE and other military contractors.

Outside these facilities, a wildflower field is set to bloom next spring. Bobcats, red-tailed hawks, red foxes and deer make their homes on parts of the property.

The company wanted to promote its environmental work because "it's part of our culture here in Austin," company spokesman Anthony DeAngelis said. "Spreading information about the good we all can do is important for us."

The bee group manages hives on at least 20 properties around Austin and tends to at least 10 permanent hives on BAE Systems property; each hive yields at least 60 pounds of honey a year.

Ten to 20 percent of the honey is left with BAE Systems, which distributes it to employees; the rest is sold by the bee group at grocery stores and can be purchased online through Epic Honey Co.

Pests, pesticide, urban development and parasites are all threats to bees, said Jon Ray, director of operations for the bee group.

The area around BAE Systems is a "huge desert land that bees no longer populate. We're trying to put them in BAE, on rooftops and in backyards and open up forage paths in urban areas," Ray said.

Ray said the bee group works with property owners such as BAE to win an agricultural tax exemption on acreage that's home to the hives.

Ray waxed philosophical about the proximity of the bee cultivation to the assembly of military armaments.

"The way I look at all of those things, no matter what kind of defense system you're trying to build -- whether it's bees sending out 10 percent of their population to protect the hive or BAE Systems constructing weapons systems -- they're all designed to create a sense of relief in the overall population. They're looking not for destruction, but for relief to avoid destruction."

http://www.nwaonline.com/news/2018/sep/22/military-site-also-home-to-honeybees-20/

Here’s How Clumps Of Honeybees May Survive Blowing In The Wind

Science News    By Emily Conover     September 17, 2018

In lab tests, the insects adjust their positions to flatten out the cluster and keep it stable.

BEE BALL Certain types of bees tend to arrange into clusters on tree branches. Bees move around within a clump to maintain its stability, a new study finds.

A stiff breeze is no match for a clump of honeybees, and now scientists are beginning to understand why.

When scouting out a new home, the bees tend to cluster together on tree branches or other surfaces, forming large, hanging clumps which help keep the insects safe from the elements. To keep the clump together, individual honeybees change their positions, fine-tuning the cluster’s shape based on external forces, a new study finds. That could help bees deal with such disturbances as wind shaking the branches.

A team of scientists built a movable platform with a caged queen in the center, around which honeybees clustered in a hanging bunch. When the researchers shook the platform back and forth, bees moved upward, flattening out the clump and lessening its swaying, the team reports September 17 in Nature Physics.

The insects, the scientists hypothesized, might be moving based on the strain — how much each bee is pulled apart from its neighbors as the cluster swings. So the researchers made a computer simulation of a bee cluster to determine how the bees decided where to move.

When the simulated bees were programmed to move to areas of higher strain, the simulation reproduced the observed flattening of the cluster, the researchers found. As a bee moves to a higher-strain region, the insect must bear more of the burden. So by taking one for the team, the bees ensure the clump stays intact.

O. Peleg et al. Collective mechanical adaptation of honeybee swarms. Nature Physics. Published online September 17, 2018. doi:10.1038/s41567-018-0262-1.

https://www.sciencenews.org/article/heres-how-clumps-honeybees-may-survive-blowing-wind

THE BUZZ—Me and the Bee Playground Now Open at Smithsonian’s National Zoo

The Smithsonian     Press Release     September 19, 2018

Photo Credit: Roshan Patel, Smithsonian’s National Zoo

The Smithsonian’s National Zoo is buzzing over a new pollinator-themed playground: Me and the Bee, sponsored by Land O’Lakes Inc. Adjacent to the Kids’ Farm and Conservation Pavilion, Me and the Bee encompasses 4,900 square feet of space where children of all ages can climb atop honeycomb steps, slide down a tree stump overflowing with golden honey and crawl inside hollow trees where bees make their abodes. The playground was made possible by support from farmer-owned cooperative Land O’Lakes Inc. Open to the public during regular Zoo hours, Me and the Bee is an inclusive playground with ADA-accessible features.

The Zoo is throwing a “pollinator party” to celebrate the opening of the playground from 11 a.m. to noon Sunday, Sept. 23, as part of ZooFiesta, a free public event from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. that includes live music and educational activities, including animal demonstrations, about conservation in Central and South America. The first children to visit the playground will receive a bee antennae.

“Land O’Lakes’ gift will teach future generations of zoogoers why wildlife matters, including the pollinators we find in our own backyards,” said Steve Monfort, John and Adrienne Mars Director, Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute. “In Me and the Bee, we have created a magical and fun experience that will show children and their families how bees live, their important role in the food chain and how they affect the health of an ecosystem. I hope this attraction inspires visitors to appreciate these animals and take action to conserve them.”

Zoo visitors will “shrink” to the size of a bee and step through a honeycomb to discover larger-than-life-sized figures of European honeybees and blue orchard mason bees. The rubberized play surface is painted with yellow pollen particles, which children can follow from decorative flowers to the bees’ hives. Adding to the immersive experience are two interactive sound projectors; children can turn a rotary crank to hear a group of buzzing bees or push a button to hear a variety of pollinators, including hummingbirds, bats and insects. Honeycomb steppers—platforms for climbing, jumping and resting—are painted to mimic cells filled with pollen and honey. Leaf-shaped signage around the playground tells the story of pollination from the hive to the table, addressing the importance of pollinators and illustrating ways that visitors can help protect the bees in their own backyards. 

“Pollinators are critical for producing much of the food we eat every day, and as a farmer-owned cooperative, Land O’Lakes is passionate about helping to protect and spread awareness about these important creatures,” said Autumn Price, vice president of government relations at Land O’Lakes Inc. “We are excited to support the Smithsonian’s National Zoo’s educational efforts for families, especially through this dynamic playground that presents bees’ crucial role in food production in a fun and accessible way. The Zoo’s mission to save species perfectly aligns with Land O’Lakes’ own work to improve the health and well-being of pollinators and cultivate habitats where they can flourish and thrive.”

The Zoo strives to be a conservation leader in everyday operations and has incorporated elements of green design into the Me and the Bee playground that support sustainable practices. The porous play surface absorbs water and drains into a bioretention area; the collected water then hydrates a vibrant pollinator garden. Lining the perimeter of the playground wall are a mix of pollinator-friendly plants, including blueberry bushes, flowering perennials such as common milkweed, purple coneflower and smooth blue aster and a mini orchard featuring golden delicious and honey crisp apple trees. Nearby, visitors can indulge in waffle cones with honey drizzle and cinnamon granola at the Zoo’s new Honeybee Ice Cream cart.

Nearly 70 percent of all flowering plants reproduce because of pollination by bees and other pollinators. About one-third of the human food supply depends on insect pollination, most of which is accomplished by bees. Beyond agriculture, pollinators are keystone species in most terrestrial ecosystems. Fruits and seeds derived from insect pollination are a major part of the diet of approximately a quarter of all birds and mammals. While more research is necessary to fully understand the threats facing native bee populations, many native bees are at risk from the effects of habitat loss and fragmentation, climate change, pesticides and introduced pests and disease. Additional research will help scientists understand which species are more susceptible to these threats and where conservation efforts will be most beneficial.

The Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute’s Virginia Working Landscapes conducts biodiversity surveys to identify birds, plants and pollinators that are significant to the Shenandoah Valley region. One of their most exciting finds was a rusty patched bumblebee in 2014—a species that has declined from an estimated 87 percent of its range and had not been seen in the eastern United States in five years. On Jan. 10, 2017, the species was classified as ‘endangered’ by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. It is the first bee in the continental U.S. to be listed under the Endangered Species Act.

Through mid-November, Zoo visitors can observe artist Matthew Willey create a mural of large honeybees on the entrance to the Great Ape House. The finished piece will exist as a part of Willey’s growing series of murals created through The Good of the Hive initiative, which strives to raise awareness about the importance of honeybees and other pollinators while celebrating the beauty and power of humans’ connection to nature. Also on view near the Me and the Bee playground and the Zoo’s Conservation Pavilion is a permanent installation by Willey. Designed to spark curiosity and imagination, “Bending Hives” features four curved bee hive sculptures made of wood and metal that invite the viewer to look closer, with different perspectives, at a world shared with the bees. Willey has made a personal commitment to hand-paint 50,000 honeybees—the number necessary for a healthy, thriving hive—in murals around the world.

For information about Me and the Bee, sponsored by Land O’Lakes Inc. visit the Zoo’s website. Follow the Zoo on FacebookTwitter and Instagram  for the latest updates about exhibits, amenities and animal news.

Photo Credit: Roshan Patel, Smithsonian’s National ZooPhoto Credit: Roshan Patel, Smithsonian’s National Zoo

https://nationalzoo.si.edu/news/buzz-me-and-bee-playground-now-open-smithsonians-national-zoo