The More Pesticides Bees Eat, The More They Like Them

Science Daily / Imperial College London     August 28, 2018

Bumblebee. Credit: © Jolanta Mayerberg / FotoliaBumblebees acquire a taste for pesticide-laced food as they become more exposed to it, a behaviour showing possible symptoms of addiction.

This study of bumblebee behaviour indicates that the risk of pesticide-contaminated food entering bee colonies may be higher than previously thought, which can have impacts on colony reproductive success.

In research published today in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, a team from Imperial College London and Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) have shown that bumblebee colonies increasingly feed on pesticide-laced food (sugar solution) over time.

The researchers tested the controversial class of pesticides the 'neonicotinoids', which are currently one of the most widely used classes of pesticides worldwide, despite the near-total ban in the EU. The impact of neonicotinoids on bees is hotly debated, and the ban is a decision that has received mixed views.

Lead researcher Dr Richard Gill, from the Department of Life Sciences at Imperial, said: "Given a choice, naïve bees appear to avoid neonicotinoid-treated food. However, as individual bees increasingly experience the treated food they develop a preference for it.

"Interestingly, neonicotinoids target nerve receptors in insects that are similar to receptors targeted by nicotine in mammals. Our findings that bumblebees acquire a taste for neonicotinoids ticks certain symptoms of addictive behaviour, which is intriguing given the addictive properties of nicotine on humans, although more research is needed to determine this in bees."

The team tracked ten bumblebee colonies over ten days, giving each colony access to its own foraging arena in which bees could choose feeders that did or did not contain a neonicotinoid.

They found that while the bees preferred the pesticide-free food to begin with, over time they fed on the pesticide-laced food more and visited the pesticide-free food less. They continued to prefer the pesticide-laced food even when the positions of the feeders were changed, suggesting they can detect the pesticide inside the food.

Lead author Dr Andres Arce, from the Department of Life Sciences at Imperial, said: "Many studies on neonicotinoids feed bees exclusively with pesticide-laden food, but in reality, wild bees have a choice of where to feed. We wanted to know if the bees could detect the pesticides and eventually learn to avoid them by feeding on the uncontaminated food we were offering.

"Whilst at first it appeared that the bees did avoid the food containing the pesticide, we found that over time the bumblebees increased their visits to pesticide-laden food. We now need to conduct further studies to try and understand the mechanism behind why they acquire this preference."

Dr Gill added: "This research expands on important previous work by groups at Newcastle and Dublin Universities. Here, we added a time dimension and allowed the bees to carry out more normal foraging behaviour, to understand the dynamics of pesticide preference. Together these studies allow us to properly assess the risks of exposure and not just the hazard posed.

"Whilst neonicotinoids are controversial, if the effects of replacements on non-target insects are not understood, then I believe it is sensible that we take advantage of current knowledge and further studies to provide guidance for using neonicotinoids more responsibly, rather than necessarily an outright ban."


Story Source:

Materials provided by Imperial College London. Original written by Hayley Dunning. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

Andres N. Arce, Ana Ramos Rodrigues, Jiajun Yu, Thomas J. Colgan, Yannick Wurm, Richard J. Gill. Foraging bumblebees acquire a preference for neonicotinoid-treated food with prolonged exposure. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 2018; 285 (1885): 20180655 DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2018.0655

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/08/180828204911.htm?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=facebook

Epigenetic Patterns Determine If Honeybee Larvae Become Queens Or Workers

Science Daily / Queen Mary University of London    August 22, 2018

Scientists at Queen Mary University of London and Australian National University have unravelled how changes in nutrition in the early development of honeybees can result in vastly different adult characteristics.

Queen and worker honeybees are almost genetically identical but are fed a different diet as larvae. The researchers have found that specific protein patterns on their genome play an important role in determining which one they develop into.

These proteins, known as histones, act as switches that control how the larvae develop and the diet determines which switches are activated. They found that the queen develops faster and the worker developmental pathway is actively switched on from a default queen developmental programme.

This change is caused by epigenetics -- a dynamic set of instructions that exist 'on top' of the genetic information, that encode and direct the programme of events that leads to differential gene expression and worker or queen developmental outcome.

The study, published in Genome Research, describes the first genome wide map of histone patterns in the honeybee and the first between any organism of the same sex that differs in reproductive division of labour.

Bees are also very important pollinators -- so it is crucial to understand their molecular biology, how they develop and the mechanisms that regulate this.

Lead author Dr Paul Hurd, from Queen Mary University of London, said: "The ability of an individual larva to become a worker or a queen is due to the way genes are switched on or off in response to the specific diet; this determines such differing outcomes from the same genome."

"We show that queens and workers have specific histone patterns even though their DNAs are the same. These proteins control both structural and functional aspects of the organism's genetic material and have the capacity to determine which part of the genome, and when, has to be activated to respond to both internal and external stimuli."

The histones have small chemical tags, or epigenetic modifications, that allow them to act differently to those that do not, usually by allowing access to the DNA and genes. This enables identical DNA to behave in different ways because it is wrapped around histones with different chemical (epigenetic) tags.

Co-author Professor Ryszard Maleszka, from Australian National University, added: "The extent of histone modifications uncovered by this study was remarkable and exceeded our expectations. We were able to identify where the important differences are in the genomes of workers and queen."

Epigenetic information can be altered by environmental factors, including diet. In the case of the honeybee, the queen larvae are fed a diet of royal jelly, a potent substance capable of changing developmental instructions.

Dr Hurd said: "Think of the genome as the instruction book of everything that is possible but the epigenetics is the way in which those instructions are read. Epigenetics is about interpretation and of course there are many different ways to interpret these instructions and when and in response to what."

The authors found that some of the most important epigenetic differences are in regions of the honeybee genome that are not part of genes. For the first time, these caste-specific regulatory DNA regions that are so important in making a queen or a worker have been identified.

Professor Maleszka said: "Our findings are important because a high level of similarity of epigenetic tool kits between honeybees and mammals makes this familiar insect an invaluable system to investigate the sophistications of epigenetic regulation that cannot be addressed in humans or other mammals."


Story Source:

Materials provided by Queen Mary University of London. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

Marek Wojciechowski, Robert Lowe, Joanna Maleszka, Danyal Conn, Ryszard Maleszka, Paul J. Hurd. Phenotypically distinct female castes in honey bees are defined by alternative chromatin states during larval development. Genome Research, 2018; DOI: 10.1101/gr.236497.118

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/08/180822130958.htm

And The (Bee) Beat Goes On…

Bug Squad    By Kathy Keatley Garvey    August 22, 2018

It was bound to happen.

A "real" honey bee flying alongside "fake" bees on a bee crossing sign.

We photographed this honey bee (below) at 1/1000 of second (with a Nikon D500 and a 105mm lens with  the f-stop set at 16 and ISO at 800), but honey bee flight is truly amazing.

Back in the 1934 French scientists August Magnan and André Sainte-Lague calculated that honey bees shouldn't be able to lift off, much less fly at all.  However, they presumed bee wings are stable, like airplane wings, when in fact, they're not. Honey bees flap and rotate their wings some 240 times per second, according to research, "Short-Amplitude High-Frequency Wing Strokes Determine the Aerodynamics of Honeybee Flight," published in December 2005 in the Proceedings of theNational Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

The researchers, from the California Institute of Technology, pointed out that a fruit fly is 80 times smaller than a honey bee and flaps its wings 200 times each second, while the much larger honey bee flaps its wings 240 times every second. To stay aloft, a honey bee uses short wing strokes of less than 90 degrees and a high number of flaps.

"This flapping, along with the supple nature of the wings themselves, allows a bee--or any flying insect, for that matter--to create a vortex that lifts it into the air," explained David Biello in a Nov. 29, 2005 piece in Scientific American.

Or, technically, as the researchers wrote in their abstract: "Most insects are thought to fly by creating a leading-edge vortex that remains attached to the wing as it translates through a stroke. In the species examined so far, stroke amplitude is large, and most of the aerodynamic force is produced halfway through a stroke when translation velocities are highest. Here we demonstrate that honeybees use an alternative strategy, hovering with relatively low stroke amplitude (≈90°) and high wingbeat frequency (≈230 Hz). When measured on a dynamically scaled robot, the kinematics of honeybee wings generate prominent force peaks during the beginning, middle, and end of each stroke, indicating the importance of additional unsteady mechanisms at stroke reversal.

"When challenged to fly in low-density heliox, bees responded by maintaining nearly constant wingbeat frequency while increasing stroke amplitude by nearly 50%. We examined the aerodynamic consequences of this change in wing motion by using artificial kinematic patterns in which amplitude was systematically increased in 5° increments. To separate the aerodynamic effects of stroke velocity from those due to amplitude, we performed this analysis under both constant frequency and constant velocity conditions. The results indicate that unsteady forces during stroke reversal make a large contribution to net upward force during hovering but play a diminished role as the animal increases stroke amplitude and flight power. We suggest that the peculiar kinematics of bees may reflect either a specialization for increasing load capacity or a physiological limitation of their flight muscles."

And the (bee) beat goes on...even with that heavy load of nectar or pollen...

http://ucanr.edu/blogs/blogcore/postdetail.cfm?postnum=28032

A honey bee flies in formation with “fake” bees on a bee crossing sign. Bees can flap their wings around 240 times per second. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)It’s almost flyover time again. Blue spike sage (Salvia uliginosa) is in the foreground. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

LACBA Presents Randy Oliver Workshop August 25th & 26th, 2018

RANDY OLIVER WORKSHOP August 25th & 26th, 2018

RESERVATIONS ARE REQUIRED,
if you didn't receive an Evite please contact
 lacba.membership@gmail.com

MAKE SURE YOU RSVP BY AUGUST 20TH.

Download and Print Flyer pdf

Randy Oliver regularly updates articles on his site as new information becomes available, and solicits constructive criticism or comments.  Perhaps the best venue for such discussion is at the Informed Discussion of Beekeeping Issues and Bee Biology.  Be sure to subscribe to updates, and you'll receive an email you monthly when content is added to the site http://scientificbeekeeping.com/scientific-beekeeping-newsletter/

LACBA Beekeeping Class 101 - #7, Sunday, August 19, 2018, 9AM-Noon, at The Valley Hive

The next Beekeeping Class 101 will be held Sunday, August 19, 2018, 9AM-Noon, at The Valley Hive apiary location: 9633 Baden Avenue, Chatsworth. Bee Suits Required for this class

 

TOPIC: To be provided by The Valley Hive.

Are you an experienced beekeeper? We welcome your help and are always happy to have volunteers.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION:

MEET AT OUR BEE YARD AT 9633 BADEN AVENUE.

Please be prompt - class is this Sunday at 9am.
Please respect our neighbors. We are guests on this property, and we are a very large group. Limited parking is available inside the gate and also on Baden Avenue. The bee yard is located off a dirt road; a short walk up a hill from the parking lot. 

PROPER ATTIRE IS A MUST!

Full suit with veil and gloves are required to attend class.
Closed shoes/boots are required.Bring bottled water. It is HOT!!
Bring your own labeled tools, smoker, and smoker fuel  for a chance to receive more hands-on learning opportunities.

NEED SUPPLIES:

Our store, located at 10538 Topanga Cyn Blvd, will open at 8am on Sunday.

REFRESHMENTS:

We will meet back at our Topanga location for refreshments after class, where you will have the opportunity to ask your beekeeping questions.

If you have any last minute questions or concerns, you can contact The Valley Hive at (818) 280-6500 or via email at info@thevalleyhive.com.

See you in class!
The Los Angeles County Beekeepers Association
The Valley Hive

UPDATE: LACBA Celebrates National Honey Bee Day by Setting Up the LA County Fair Bee Booth

UPDATE:

Thank you to all the volunteers from the Beekeepers Association of Southern California and the Los Angeles County Beekeepers Association for coming out today and helping to set up the Bee Booth.  Thanks to your efforts, we got it all done today, and we won't need to work on the booth tomorrow.
Thank to the following volunteer worker bees:
Eva Andrews, Chris Boswell, Cynthia Caldera, Manny Caldera, Joan Day, Steve Day, Jim Honodel,  Dave Lehmann, Jon Reese, Jay Weiss, Dave Williams.

CELEBRATE NATIONAL HONEY BEE DAY
AUGUST 18, 2018

Bee Booth Set Up
Saturday & Sunday (August 18 & 19)
9AM - Approximately 2PM
Pomona Fairgrounds
(The Bee Booth is across from the 'Big Red Barn')
1101 West McKinley Ave.
Pomona, CA 91768
http://lacountyfair.com/

 

Volunteer members of the
Los Angeles County Beekeepers Association
and the
Beekeepers Association of Southern California
will celebrate National Honey Bee Day
by setting up the Los Angeles County Fair - Bee Booth.

Enter through Gate 1. Drive to the Bee Booth across from the Big Red Barn.
On Bee Booth SET UP DAY ONLY you can park near the Bee Booth.
Lunch will be provided.
There's plenty to do and we have lots of fun!!!
For more information:
/bee-booth-la-county-fair/
/events/

The Super Bowl Of Beekeeping

The New York Times     By Jaime Lowe     August 15, 2018

Almond growing in California is a $7.6 billion industry that wouldn’t be possible without the 30 billion bees (and hundreds of human beekeepers) who keep the trees pollinated — and whose very existence is in peril.

Will Nissen’s bees north of Bakersfield, Calif. Credit Ilona Szwarc for The New York Times

Every February, white petals blanket first the almond trees, then the floor of the central valley, an 18,000-square-mile expanse of California that begins at the stretch of highway known as the Grapevine just south of Bakersfield and reaches north to the foothills of the Cascades. The blooms represent the beginning of the valley’s growing season each year: Almond trees are first to bud, flower and fruit. At the base of the trunks sit splintered boxes — some marked with numbers, some with names, some with insignias — stacked two boxes high on a wooden pallet that fits four stacks. Inside the boxes are bees, dancing in circles and figure-eights and sometimes just waggling. With almond season comes bee season. Everyone in the valley knows when it’s bee season. There are bee-specific truckers; motels occupied by seasonal workers; annual dinners to welcome the out-of-towners; weathered pickups with license plates from Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Texas and Florida parked in front of orchards at all hours of the night. And those ubiquitous boxes.

This year the beekeepers responsible for those bees gathered on a mid-February Saturday for a potluck lunch at a community center in Kerman, a small town of ranch houses wreathed by acres upon acres of almond orchards. The meeting was supposed to kick off the pollinating season, but the beekeepers, many of them wearing tucked-in plaid shirts and trucker caps with dirt-curled bills, had already been at work for a couple of weeks, summoned to the state early by a heat wave. The sun beckoned the blossoms, and the blossoms begged for the bees. Farmers have a window of just a few weeks when pollination has to happen, otherwise the nuts won’t set, which is what it’s called when blossoms are pollinated and kernels emerge. When the nuts don’t set, much of a crop can be lost. By the time of the potluck, it seemed as if the season were already at its midpoint.

The beekeepers lined up to fill their paper plates with pork chops, baked beans, chicken, rice, salad and three different kinds of cake. Teri Solomon, the organizer of the event and a longtime local beekeeper, collected $10 each for lunch. A list of speakers was taped to the table where she sat — respected beekeepers, bee brokers, scientists, a Fresno County sheriff’s police detective and a rep from the Almond Board of California. Topics of the day included the steady growth of the almond industry, the science of pollination, agricultural theft (hence the cop) and the ever-more-imperiled state of honeybees. That last item carried the most weight with the crowd, as they were all struggling to maintain the vast numbers of bees needed for almond pollination. Bees are central to an enormous agricultural industry — about one of every three mouthfuls of food we eat wouldn’t exist without bee pollination — and beekeepers’ custodianship of billions of these delicate animals is as much an art as it is a science. Beekeepers themselves, Solomon confided, are funny creatures: solitary in the field, trying to anticipate the needs of a finicky insect and, unlike that insect, social only once in a while. “We’re an odd bunch, very individualistic in nature,” she said. “But we’re in trouble.”

Honeybees on a removable frame from a bee box in the Central Valley. Credit Ilona Szwarc for The New York TimesMostly the beekeepers and bee brokers — the agents who negotiate contracts between beekeepers and farmers — were trying to get a sense from one another of how badly bee populations had been hit, how much each was charging per hive and how much they could increase that price for the next season. There was talk of disease, pesticides, drought, floods, suburban sprawl, parasites. They talked shop: Which menthol strips are you using to inoculate your bees? How often do you change the treatment-laced pad placed in the hive to keep your bees healthy? Are the wafers or quick strips more effective for mites? Where do you apply them in the box, and for how long? Does the medication affect the performance of the bees? Can you get rid of a mite infestation, or are preventive measures the only option?

About 10 years ago, the nation was seized with alarm when a Pennsylvania beekeeper lost 90 percent of his bees. He found that entire colonies had abandoned their queen. Losses like this were reported across North America and in Europe, but no one knows exactly what caused the die-off that came to be called colony-collapse disorder (C.C.D.). There hasn’t been a reported case of C.C.D. in years, but bee populations within colonies are still declining, and many scientists point to parasites as the cause. Since 2006, annual winter losses in colonies have averaged more than 28 percent, nearly double the historical winter mortality rate of 15 percent; in 2015, the U.S.D.A. reported more losses in the previous summer than the winter for the first time ever. According to Gene Brandi, a former president of the American Beekeeping Federation, the current plight of the bee population can be summed up in the four P’s: parasites, pathogens, pesticides and poor nutrition.

Pollination is a migratory practice now — more than two-thirds of America’s honeybees are mobilized for pollinating almond trees, and most come from out-of-state apiaries. One slide from the Almond Board rep showed the path of beekeepers who transport their colonies in semi-trucks around the nation seasonally — bees winter in Texas and Florida, head to California for almonds, then often summer in cooler states like North and South Dakota, where beekeepers will rebuild their colonies by splitting hives and feeding their bees manufactured protein patties and natural forage. The Midwest used to provide weeds, wildflowers and alfalfa for native and domesticated bees alike, but in the last couple of decades much of this food source has disappeared. Drought and suburban sprawl leave beekeepers with less open acreage for their bees to forage.

Last year, climate-intensified hurricanes and flooding along the Gulf Coast destroyed entire apiaries; they drowned blooms in Florida and led to the starvation of thousands of bees; wildfires in Santa Barbara and Ventura, Calif., killed more. And beekeepers need to worry not only about keeping their charges alive but also about keeping them from being stolen. Last year, just a few miles from Kerman, two men were arrested in association with what may be the largest bee heist ever, a three-year crime spree that added up to nearly a million dollars’ worth of stolen bees. A preliminary hearing is set for November. When one defendant was caught at a local bee yard with stolen boxes, local newspapers and major media outlets had fun with the bee heist, lacing copy with inevitable puns about sting operations. But the reality for beekeepers and bees is much more grave.

The worst of the woes is the Varroa mite, a pest that was identified in the mid-’80s. The mite has become increasingly associated with the spread of viruses, including deformed-wing virus. The size of a poppy seed, this parasite sucks blood from both adults and developing broods. Varroa leaves bees in a zombie state, unable to navigate.

Lyle Johnston, a Colorado-based beekeeper and bee broker, at an almond orchard in California. ‘‘A lot of guys go through hard times, get their butts kicked,’’ he said. Credit Ilona Szwarc for The New York TimesLyle Johnston, a beekeeper and broker based in Colorado, described his methods for keeping colonies healthy: Feed them protein patties to make up for the lack of forage, and place menthol strips in the brood chamber in early fall to stave off mites. And always reserve some of the honey that bees produce to feed them come winter. He learned that last tip in the early ’90s from Joe Traynor, a bee broker based in Bakersfield, who has been renting bees since 1959. The audience sat rapt. While most of Johnston’s peers were losing 40 percent of their bees every season, Johnston said he was losing only 10 percent. “Until you have a mite collapse and your bees actually go down, you don’t really learn how to treat for mites,” he said. “A lot of guys go through hard times, get their butts kicked” — losing thousands of colonies, sometimes all their bees.

“If cattlemen lost 50 percent of their cows, you know people would do something and react,” Chris Hiatt, vice president of the American Honey Producers Association, told me. “But since it’s bees and everyone thinks we can just breed more, nothing’s done. No one appreciates the stress we’re under.”

Domesticated honeybees and agriculture have been tethered to each other for millenniums. Egyptians floated hives up and down the Nile to pollinate flowers. Some honey jars were even found in Tutankhamun’s tomb. Highly refined apiculture techniques existed in prehistoric Greece, Israel, ancient China and Mayan civilizations. When colonists came to the New World, they brought bees in straw hives. When pioneers traveled west on the prairie, bees accompanied them in covered wagons. The biggest break in modern beekeeping came in the mid-19th century with the invention of a portable hive by Lorenzo Langstroth, a clergyman and apiarist. The bee box, with its suspended files of removable honeycomb, was so effective that its design has barely changed in all the years since. Langstroth allowed space for bees between and around combs — he calculated the optimal gap to be about three-eighths of an inch wide; less space is sealed with propolis and wax, while wider gaps are filled with comb. The box made it possible to move great distances with thousands of bees. Bees traveled by steamboat and rail, and once the Model T was invented, they were trucked from orchard to pasture and back again.

Frames of honeycomb in a portable hive. Since 2006, annual winter losses in bee colonies have averaged more than 28 percent. Credit Ilona Szwarc for The New York TimesNow they’re transported to Florida to pollinate watermelons, to Washington State for cherries or apples, to Maine for blueberries. And to California for almonds — the largest managed pollination event in the world. California grows more than 80 percent of the world’s almond supply. In 2014, the almond industry contributed $7.6 billion to California’s economy and was responsible for more than 100,000 jobs. A record total of 1.3 million acres in the state were devoted to almond production last year, an increase of 7 percent from the previous year.

The almond industry’s bullish expansion is not without controversy. It takes one gallon of water to produce a single almond; almond cultivation requires water year-round in a state where residential water usage has been restricted and some rural communities don’t have clean water at all.

On a hot February afternoon in Chowchilla, about 45 minutes north of Fresno, Johnston pulled up to an orchard in bloom. The trees appeared from afar to be still, but they were in fact vibrating with activity. “The almond pollination is the Super Bowl of beekeeping,” Johnston told me. His family has been in the bee business for 110 years. For decades, Johnston Honey Farms was primarily a business that sold honey. “I’d rather just do honey; it’d be a lot less stress,” he said. “We had to find another way to generate revenue. When I first started in the ’80s, we were probably 80 percent honey, 20 percent pollination, and now it’s the opposite.” In recent years, American beekeepers have been finding it increasingly difficult to compete against cheaper honey from China. As a result, most beekeepers turn to pollination events — especially the almond season — to make ends meet.

Many beekeeping operations are, like Johnston’s, third- and fourth-generation businesses. Johnston always knew he would be a beekeeper — on his first day of school, he left during recess to go home and tend to the bees. “Dad had Mom take me right back to school, but there was no question I was always going to work in bees.”

Beekeepers refilling sugar syrup (honey bee feed) on an almond orchard near Madera, Calif.CreditIlona Szwarc for The New York TimesAt 6-foot-5, Johnston towers over his hives, and he is scientific when it comes to his bees. He is beholden to his tiny insects, his mood dictated by their moods. Today they were happy, so he was happy. The bees, coated in pollen, flew from branch to hive and back again, with full pollen baskets, the part of the insect’s legs where they store loads for their brood. The bees clustered at the bottom of each box, pushing to deposit their pollen into a cell where larvae would eventually emerge, expanding the colony’s population. Johnston burned wood pellets in a gunny sack to work up mesquite smoke to pacify the bees, then pulled a frame out of one of his boxes. His bees looked fat and healthy and boisterous. A good beekeeper can immediately tell when a hive is unhealthy: The bees push to the outer edges of the frame as if they’re trying to escape.

As one of the biggest brokers in the nation, Johnston was running 73,000 hives with a rental value of roughly $14 million per year, distributed among his 22 beekeepers. According to the U.S.D.A.’s Cost of Pollination Survey, an annual tracking of honeybee health and pollination costs that started in 2016, 1.7 million colonies were used to pollinate almond trees in 2016; an estimated two million colonies were needed in 2018. “If almonds went down, we wouldn’t be running bees,” Johnston said — meaning the financial incentive of the pollination event would disappear. “The population of bees would change; it would drop by around a million hives.”

Honeybees used for managed pollination are domesticated; they are actually considered by a number of states to be livestock. Without their human keepers, honeybees might have faced extinction decades ago, as some of their native counterparts are beginning to now. Three bumblebees are believed to have gone extinct already: Bombus rubriventris, Bombus melanopoda and Bombus franklini; the rusty-patched bumblebee was listed under the Endangered Species Act just last year. The threat to both managed and wild bees is considered serious enough that in 2015 President Barack Obama established a task force to promote the health of honeybees. Its report called upon the Department of Agriculture to track honeybee-colony loss and to restore millions of acres of land to pollinator habitat.

At the potluck lunch, the Almond Board rep passed along a U.S.D.A. forecast that by 2020, 300,000 additional acres of almond trees would be blooming. Johnston said: “They’ve tripled the acreage since I started, and I remember an old-time grower telling me this thing is all going to go down; when they get to 400,000 or 500,000 acres, this thing is going to collapse like a crater. He was totally wrong: They blew right past that, and they’re going for more.” The problem is that there aren’t enough healthy bees to accommodate the growth of the almond industry.

A beekeeper in an almond orchard in California’s Central Valley. Ilona Szwarc for The New York TimesHives north of Bakersfield, where bees are trucked in for the largest managed pollination event in the world: the annual pollinating of California’s almond groves. Ilona Szwarc for The New York Times

On a dry-erase board in an office in the back of a lab lined with experimental patches of wildflowers in the entomology department of U.C. Davis, the professor and researcher Neal Williams explained what he teaches to his undergraduate and graduate students and what he has found through decades of research. Pollinators can produce crops in a variety of ways — and sometimes, obviously, as nature intended, just by showing up. “Some of the work we’ve done is to determine whether some combination of wild bees with honeybees improves overall pollination,” Williams said. “If there is a synergy. If you want more pollination, you either need more bees or you need to make them better.” Williams found that planting wildflowers increases pollination in two ways: It attracts native pollinators, which create competition in managed honeybees, and the wildflowers vary bees’ nutritional intake. Several years ago, Williams conducted a study that monitored populations of bees for two consecutive seasons when growers planted wildflowers on the borders of their orchards. The results established that the wildflowers had not distracted honeybees from almond pollination.

Farmers have worried that flowering plants compete for pollination with almond blossoms, so they’re reluctant to allow for any other plantings. The bases of almond trees are usually stripped clean, with mounds of bare soil protecting the roots. To persuade growers to adopt new techniques, Williams and a colleague developed an algorithm to determine the exact cost-effective plants to suit the specific needs of each crop. But almond growers are reluctant to change standard practices, especially when there’s financial risk involved.

Agricultural entities — including California’s Almond Board — pour money into pollinator research, but they are simultaneously anticipating the end of bees. There was talk in Kerman about a new variety of almond tree that is self-pollinating. One almond grower and distributor said a lot of new orchards were buying the self-pollinating plants, but no one could tell if the trees were actually self-pollinating or if the bees from neighboring orchards were slipping into their blooms. Either way, the same farmer added, the almonds tasted bad, and he wouldn't be planting them anytime soon. Outside the ag labs, extreme measures to address the apocalyptic world-without-bees scenario include the deployment, in China, of armies of workers to hand-pollinate crops. In March, Walmart filed a patent application for a drone pollinator. “Robot bees would be a major challenge,” said Nigel Raine, a University of Guelph pollinator researcher. “I would be really nervous about putting our faith in robot bees.”

Driving outside Bakersfield, Will Nissen of Five Star Honey Farms pointed out the orchards owned by the Mormon Church, the Wonderful Company and retirement and investment funds. Then he pointed to his colorful and branded boxes at the base of almond trees. It was the end of the day, and his bees were all heading to the hives for the night. After releasing a plume of smoke, he pulled open one of their roofs (“You’d be angry too, if someone took the roof off your house!”) — then delicately exposed a hanging frame. Nissen showed me the filled honeycomb where larvae would start poking through, workers waggling and the queen, bigger and colored a deeper orange than her drones. After almond season, Nissen and his wife, Peggy, would spend several months breeding queens for future broods. He asked if I’d ever tasted fresh honey and handed me a chunk of wax with liquid dripping from the sides. I could taste the pollen, a texture like dust, and then the honey. I couldn’t tell if the honey tasted like almonds or if almonds taste like bees.

Randy Verhoek, former president of the American Honey Producers Association, in an almond orchard near Madera, Calif. Credit Ilona Szwarc for The New York Times

Nissen had been deployed by his broker, Joe Traynor, who was too busy during bee season to leave his office. For the first few months of every year, Traynor, 82, sends a flurry of emails to a list of all the beekeepers and brokers and scientists he has encountered — updates, research reports, weather forecasts and long-winded exchanges about the nature of bees. Sometimes he’ll forward a poem — like the one he sent after frost threatened this year’s crop written from the perspective of a farmer praying for rain and debating suicide. Traynor studied agriculture at U.C. Davis and by his own admission wasn’t a great student. “I got a C in economics at U.C.D. — all I learned was the law of supply and demand,” he said. Now, after nearly 50 years of renting bees, the demand is wearing on him. He barely sleeps during almond season and spent hours creating aerial crop maps, color-coded to indicate which acres he’s responsible for pollinating.

At his office in downtown Bakersfield, Traynor shared his collection of bee research and theories on pollination. The hallway to his office was shedding paint; on his door, a simple brass plate read “Scientific Ag Co.,” as if he were a private investigator. Inside the office — where he catches whatever sleep he can during the season — files, books and papers were stacked on every conceivable surface. Traynor’s shy, studied demeanor shifts at the mention of bees. He becomes laser-focused. Every year, he gets the same anxiety about whether he’ll have enough bees for his growers, whether his bees will perform, whether the almonds will set and how fast he can get the boxes out of the fields before farmers start working their crops with pesticides. There is a lot of tension between beekeepers and growers about timing. Once blooms are pollinated, growers will start spraying their orchards, and bees have to be removed quickly.

That night 130 people gathered at the annual beekeepers’ dinner Traynor hosts with Mike Mulligan, another area bee broker. A sudden frost had set in, and they stood around open-pit fires at Mulligan’s house, adjacent to an almond orchard. Beekeepers and brokers and scientists talked about the same issues discussed at the meeting in Kerman a week earlier. How do we treat hives for Varroa mites? What do we do to feed our bees when there’s no forage? How do we keep up with pollination? How can we raise prices if the frost affects almonds? How do we continue on as beekeepers without going broke? All the questions added up to one big question that hovers over every meeting and every dinner and every potluck: What is the future of bees?

Mulligan stood in front of the crowd to say a prayer for friends and for the season. He talked about how at the beginning of pollination he was worried he would be short a thousand hives. “The bees aren’t looking good, the weather is lousy, we just have to cancel,” one of his beekeepers called and told him from Texas. Mulligan reminded himself of a passage from Philippians 4:6: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” Within a couple of days, he made up the loss with last-minute hives from local keepers whose plans had fallen through and who needed to place their bees. Many other beekeepers short on hives did not have the same luck.

Each year the beekeepers compare notes on whether to raise prices for pollination in the coming season — a decision that might depend on drought or frost or how big the almond crop would be. But one thing they didn’t anticipate, back at that dinner in February, was a tariff war. Beekeepers are now negotiating contracts with almond growers for next season. This season’s yield, which will be harvested in September, is projected to be a record crop. But trade disputes that have been initiated by the Trump administration are likely to affect most large-scale nut distributors, because both China and Europe are major buyers. If President Trump’s policies are carried out, almonds sold to China will be subjected to an additional 15 percent retaliatory tariff starting Aug. 23.

“Beekeepers are pushed into the margins,” said Randy Verhoek, former president of the American Honey Producers Association. “We’re doing things we never imagined would even be a factor in beekeeping. We’re just trying to do everything we can to keep them healthy, because there’s nowhere to go. Where are we going to go?” Verhoek, a migratory beekeeper based in Texas, has dealt with one almond grower in California for 17 years. This past season, he dropped 9,000 hives on 4,000 or so acres. He’ll gross $1.4 million from pollinating almonds, but when I asked him about profits, he said, “Well, that’s the problem with beekeepers; we don’t crunch the numbers. We just put everything back in the business and hope we’ll be here next year.”

Jaime Lowe is a frequent contributor to the magazine and the author of “Mental.” She previously wrote a feature about the incarcerated women who fight California wildfires.

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/15/magazine/the-super-bowl-of-beekeeping.html

National Honey Bee Day 2018: Brush Up On Your Knowledge of Bee Protection

University of California - Kearney News Updates    By Stephanie Parreira    August 15, 2018

Honey bee on almond blossom. Photo by Jack Kelly Clark.Celebrate National Honey Bee Day by brushing up on your knowledge of bee protection—check out the newly revised Best Management Practices to Protect Bees from Pesticides and Bee Precaution Pesticide Ratings from UC IPM. These resources will help you strike the right balance between applying pesticides to protect crops and reducing the risk of harming our most important pollinators.

The best management practices now contain important information regarding the use of adjuvants and tank mixes, preventing the movement of pesticide-contaminated dust, and adjusting chemigation practices to reduce bee exposure to pesticide-contaminated water. The Bee Precaution Pesticide Ratings have also been updated to include ratings for 38 new pesticides, including insecticides (baits, mixtures, and biological active ingredients), molluscicides (for snail and slug control), and fungicides.

Most tree and row crops are finished blooming by now, but it is a good idea to learn about bee protection year-round. Visit these resources today to choose pesticides that are least toxic to bees and learn how you can help prevent bees from being harmed by pesticide applications.

http://ucanr.edu/blogs/blogcore/postdetail.cfm?postnum=27973

Honeybee Hive-Mates Influenced To Fan Wings To Keep Hive Cool

Phys.org  University of Colorado at Boulder  By Kenna Bruner    August 3, 2018

Credit: University of Colorado at Boulder

Rachael Kaspar used to be scared of bees. That was before she studied their behavior as an undergraduate at CU Boulder. Since learning their secret lives and social behaviors, she has developed an appreciation for the complex, hard-working bees.

Honeybees fan their wings to cool down their hives when temperatures rise, but a new study shows that an individual honeybee's fanning behavior influences individual and group fanning behavior in hive-mates.

Kaspar graduated in 2016 with a bachelor's degree in ecology and evolutionary biology, and in environmental studies with a minor in atmospheric and oceanic sciences. While a sophomore, she joined the lab of ecology and evolutionary biology professor Michael Breed to work with then-doctoral student Chelsea Cook and became interested in organized behavior and responses to environmental stress.

She is the lead author of a scientific article in Animal Behaviour based on her undergraduate honors thesis about honeybee behavior, which shows experienced fanner honey bees influence younger, inexperienced bees to fan their colony to cool it down. Her study tested the hypothesis that an individual bee can influence group members to perform thermoregulatory fanning behavior in the western honey bee, Apis mellifera L.

Building upon this behavior is Kaspar's finding that shows young nurse bees are influenced by seeing older, more experienced worker bees fanning their wings—also known as fanners. The younger nurse bees then join in to help regulate the hive's temperature. The fanners influenced the nurses' thermal response threshold and probability to fan, but most notably, fanners had the greatest influence when they were the initiators—the first to fan in the group.

"The older workers are definitely influencing the younger nurse bees," Kaspar said. "I was interested in how different age groups socially interacted, what are the variances between age groups and how are they interacting to have a proper homeostatic response to environmental stressors."

In the paper, she states that the survival of an animal society depends on how individual interactions influence group coordination. Interactions within a group determine coordinated responses to environmental changes. This behavior is exemplified by honeybee worker responses to increasing ambient temperatures by fanning their wings to circulate air through the hive. Their previous research demonstrated that groups of workers are more likely to fan than isolated workers, which suggests a coordinated group response.

Hive temperatures that exceed 96.8 degrees Fahrenheit put larvae at risk of death or developing abnormalities. This is just one reason why it is crucial that individual bees have a coordinated group fanning response to properly regulate the temperature of the hive.

Credit: University of Colorado at BoulderHoneybees divide their tasks among female age groups. Nurses, who are between zero and 10 days old, take care of the larvae and the brood. Middle-aged worker bees, who are 10 to 20 days old, can be found on the front porch, as well as on the inside of the hive guarding and cleaning the hive, and fanning to cool the hive. The more outwardly visible bees are the foragers, which are 20–30 days old and fly from flower to flower collecting nectar and pollen.

Researchers marked bees with water-soluble paint to identify them in the hive. When researchers warmed groups of bees, they would observe the bees' fanning behavior and record the temperature at which individuals and groups began to fan.

"When I was down there with my face right in front of the hive, I could feel the air moving from their wings fanning," she said.

This social and influential behavior, Kaspar says, can be seen in a variety of organisms throughout the biological index, from elephants to chimpanzees to fish. And perhaps not surprisingly, in humans as well.

"You would think that bees as insects wouldn't have the capability to learn, remember or have these social influences. But, in fact, they do. Bees are a great model to use for studying other societies, like us."

Kaspar got the idea of an influencer or an initiator of hive behavior when she observed human behavior unfolding at a cross walk on campus. A group of people were waiting for the light to change so they could cross. Too impatient to wait, one person strode across the street. A second or two later, the rest of the pedestrians crossed too, influenced by the behavior of the first person to cross against the light.

"When I saw that I was shocked," she said. "This is exactly what I was studying in honeybees and there I was seeing it in people on campus."

Kaspar is a professional research assistant in the Department of Anesthesiology at the CU Anschutz Medical Campus. She is working in Eric Clambey's laboratory, where they are identifying unique cell phenotypes and interactions in human lungs and the gastrointestinal tract to better understand the effect of micro-environments on viruses and inflammation. Her goal is to start graduate school in 2020 and continue her studies into how organisms come together to improve their chances of survival.

"I love bees, though," she said. "I would very much like to continue studying honeybees in some way."

Explore further: Honeybees more likely to regulate hive's 'thermostat' during rapid temperature increases

More information: Rachael E. Kaspar et al. Experienced individuals influence the thermoregulatory fanning behaviour in honey bee colonies, Animal Behaviour (2018). DOI: 10.1016/j.anbehav.2018.06.004

Read more at: https://phys.org/news/2018-08-honeybee-hive-mates-fan-wings-hive.html#jCp

The Valley Hive 3rd Annual Honey Competition & Recipe Contest

The Valley Hive
10538 Topanga Canyon Blvd.
Chatsworth, CA 91311
Sunday, August 12th 4-7pm
https://www.facebook.com/thevalleyhive/

https://www.facebook.com/events/471608013283828/

Looking for a little old fashioned summertime fun? Stop by The Valley Hive on Sunday, August 12th from 4-7pm for the 3rd Annual Honey Competition & Recipe Contest. Taste honey from local backyard beekeepers and sample dishes made with honey. Kids activities, workshops, and local vendors will be on hand as well. To enter the competition or submit a recipe, send an email to info@thevalleyhive.com. This event is FREE to the public.

LACBA Meeting: Monday, August 6, 2018


Our next meeting will be held Monday, August 6, 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!

Meeting Agenda:

Please bring something for the RAFFLE!

1.  Committee Meetings
     A.  Fair
     B.  Randy Oliver
2. Monthly Meeting 7pm
     A.  Welcome, flag salute, introduce the board, sell raffle tickets, index cards for questions, introduce new members, thank yous
     B.  Old Business & Treasurer's Report
     C. New Business - Renew Liability Insurance
     D. Events, Committees & Announcements - Membership, Fair Literature needed, Beekeeping 101, Observation booth at Fair, Cindy with fair info, Randy Oliver Workshops, The Valley Hive Honey Competition
     E.  What are you seeing in your hives?
     F.  What is Flowering in your area?
     G.  Q&A
     H.   Review for next month
     I.  Raffle

SAVE THE DATE(S):  SEE EVENTS PAGE

General Meeting:  Monday August 6, 2018 Committee Meetings 6:30pm General Meeting 7pm

Beekeeping 101:  August 19, 2018 9am-12pm

LA County Fair Set up:  August 18th & 19th - look for an e-mail coming soon to sign up to volunteer 

Special Workshop with Guest Speaker RANDY OLIVER:  August 25, 2018  @ Cal Poly Pomona

Special Workshop with Guest Speaker RANDY OLIVER:  August 26, 2018  @ The Valley Hive

LA County Fair Bee Booth:  August 31st to September 23rd - look for an e-mail coming soon to sign up to volunteer 

CSBA Convention:  November 13th - 15th Harrah's Southern California

Beekeeping 101
PLEASE NOTE: Beekeeping 101 classes will be held at the 9633 Baden Ave, Chatsworth, CA 91311, (The Valley Hive Apiary/Bee yard location).   Full bee suits with veil, gloves and closed toed shoes will be required.  Watch your e-mail for more details about this class as it gets closer to the date.

BEE ON THE LOOKOUT!

For an e-mail to sign up for to work the LA County Fair Bee Booth (Sign Up Required)

An Evite e-mail to attend the Randy Oliver Workshop at Cal Poly Pomona (Reservation Required)

An Evite e-mail to attend the Randy Oliver Workshop at The Valley Hive (Reservation Required)

MEMBERSHIP: 

Have you updated your contact information with us this year?

To get the latest information regarding what is going on in the club, please complete the online membership form now!

Dues can be paid at a monthly meeting, Beekeeping 101, or by mail.

Please update your records. 
We have a new mailing address this year:
LACBA
PO Box 8051
La Crescenta, CA 91224

CLICK HERE TO UPDATE YOUR MEMBERSHIP FORM

Join Us on Instagram:
Follow us and tag us @lacbahive

The purpose of this account and platform is to share flowering plants throughout the month to announce during the 'What's Flowering' portion of the General Meeting each month.

How To Use 'LACBA Hive' Account on Instagram
To follow 'LACBA Hive' account for frequent updates of what is flowering and where:

Create an instagram account for yourself

Click the 'follow' button on the 'LACBAHive'Instagram page.

To contribute 'what's in bloom' from your area, follow these steps:

Create a new post with a photo or video of a flower (you can either import from your library or snap a photo using the instagram app).

Leave the filter on 'normal' in the second step.

Before you post your photo or video on your own Instagram feed, select 'tag people'

Tap anywhere on your photo, then search and select 'lacbahive' 

It's nice to include the location of the flowering plant too

We'll periodically repost photos and videos of flowers that we are tagged in onto our feed.

 

Randy Oliver Workshop August 25 & 26, 2018 presented by the Los Angeles County Beekeepers Association

 Download and Print Flyer pdf

Randy Oliver regularly updates articles on his site as new information becomes available, and solicits constructive criticism or comments.  Perhaps the best venue for such discussion is at the Informed Discussion of Beekeeping Issues and Bee Biology.  Be sure to subscribe to updates, and you'll receive an email you monthly when content is added to the site http://scientificbeekeeping.com/scientific-beekeeping-newsletter/

Mark Your Calendars! Randy Oliver Workshop August 25 & 26

 

Randy Oliver:

Randy is a regular contributor to the American Beekeeping Journal, owner/author of scientificbeekeeping.com, and one of the premier beekeeping speakers in the US. We are very fortunate to have him share his knowledge with us. This is a rare chance to ask questions of one of the most respected researchers in the field ! Join us and enjoy an informal presentation on Randy's latest research projects and hive management.

“I started keeping bees as a hobbyist around 1966, and then went on to get university degrees in biological sciences, specializing in entomology.  In 1980 I began to build a migratory beekeeping operation in California, and currently run around 1000-1500 hives with my two sons, from which we make our livings.

In 1993, the varroa mite arrived in California, and after it wiped out my operation for the second time in 1999, I decided to “hit the books” and use my scientific background to learn to fight back.  I started writing for the American Bee Journal in 2006, and have submitted articles nearly every month since then (see “Articles by Publication Date”–scroll to the bottom for the most recent).

My writing for the Journal brought me requests to speak at beekeeping conventions, which has also allowed me the chance to visit beekeepers from all over North America and several other continents.  I read most every scientific study relating to beekeeping, and regularly correspond with beekeepers and researchers worldwide.

What I try to do in my articles and blogs is to scour scientific papers for practical beekeeping applications, and to sort through the advice, opinion, and conjecture found in the bee magazines and on the Web, taking no positions other than to provide accurate information to Joe Beekeeper.

I regularly update the articles on this site as new information becomes available, and solicit constructive criticism or comments.  Perhaps the best venue for such discussion is at the Informed Discussion of Beekeeping Issues and Bee Biology.  Be sure to subscribe to updates, and I’ll email you monthly when I add content to the sitehttp://scientificbeekeeping.com/scientific-beekeeping-newsletter/

Envisioning the Future of Beekeeping - A 3 Part Series

Pollinator Stewardship Council / Pollinator News                       August 3, 2018

Envisioning the Future of Beekeeping- a 3 part series 

Tammy Horn Potter, Kentucky State Apiarist, and Michele Colopy, Pollinator Stewardship Council collaborated on a series of articles discussing the future of beekeeping. The co-authors interviewed a dozen beekeepers across the US for the June, July, and August issues of the American Bee Journal.  You can read the three articles at:  Articles 1 & 2      Article 3  

To read the discussion, to continue the discussion, to participate in the discussion begun by these interviews, go to our Facebook page. Select the FORUM page on the left side of our Facebook page at  https://www.facebook.com/PollinatorsStewardship/   or at  https://www.facebook.com/PollinatorStewardshipCouncil/

How do you envision the future of beekeeping?

http://pollinatorstewardship.org/

(The Los Angeles County Beekeepers Association is a proud supporter of the Pollinator Stewardship Council.)

BUZZ: The Science and Necessity of Bees by Thor Hanson

Scientific American     By Andrea Gawrylewski     August Issue

The Irreplaceable Bee, an Epic Physics Experiment, and Other New Science Books

Book recommendations from the editors of Scientific American

Credit: Getty ImagesThe Science and Necessity of Bees
by Thor Hanson

Bees have been in the spotlight since the emergence about a decade ago of a mysterious bee ailment dubbed “colony collapse disorder,” now responsible for the loss of millions of U.S. hives. The crisis brought attention to the benefits bees bring to humans, but long before they received such notice, the insects were vital to our own species. Through his engaging first-person narrative, biologist Hanson tells the full story of bees: They evolved from carnivorous wasps during the time of dinosaurs, opting for the protein-rich pollen of flowers with which they coevolved. Bees developed fuzz to better trap and transport pollen from flower to flower, and the structure of many flowers evolved to suit specific pollinators. The insects' honey has been an essential food source since the dawn of humankind and has been adapted to everything from alcohol to medicine.

Scientific American August 2018 Issue

https://www.thorhanson.net/buzz.html

2018 American Honey Queen Visits the Bee Booth at the LA County Fair

The Los Angeles County Beekeepers Association is once again honored and priviledged to host the American Beekeeping Federation's National Spokesperson, the American Honey Queen.

Kayla Fusselman, the 2018 American Honey Queen, will be at the Los Angeles County Fair Bee Booth on Wednesday, September 19th, from 9:00 - 12:30.  Kayla's very knowledgeable about honey bees and will be available to answer questions and help educate the thousands of school children who come to the bee booth to learn about bees. Welcome, Kayla!


AMERICAN BEEKEEPING FEDERATION -Press Release-

AMERICAN HONEY QUEEN PROGRAM

Kayla Fusselman, the 2018 American Honey Queen, will visit Los Angeles, California, September 18-19, as part of her National Honey Month Tour.  She will be a guest of the Los Angeles County Beekeepers Associations at the Los Angeles County Fair, speaking to fairgoers about the importance of honeybees to California agriculture and how honeybee pollination directly shapes our livelihood.  She will also share information how honey’s beautiful spectrum provides endless possibilities and the many treats that honeybees provide.  Kayla’s trip is sponsored by the Los Angeles County Beekeepers Association.

Kayla is the 23-year-old daughter of Brian and Diane Fusselman of Kempton, PA.  She is a graduate of Kutztown University, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in art education.  Kayla is an active alumna with the Kutztown High School FFA chapter and the Kutztown University Presidential Ambassadors.

As the 2018 American Honey Queen, Kayla serves as a national spokesperson on behalf of the American Beekeeping Federation, a trade organization representing beekeepers and honey producers throughout the United States.  The American Honey Queen and Princess speak and promote in venues nationwide, and, as such Queen Kayla will travel throughout the United States in 2018.  Prior to being selected as the American Honey Queen, Kayla served as the 2017 Pennsylvania Honey Queen.  In this role, she promoted the honey industry at fairs, festivals, and farmers’ markets, via media interviews, and in schools.

The beekeeping industry touches the lives of every individual in our country.  In fact, honeybees are responsible for nearly one-third of our entire diet, in regards to the pollination services that they provide for a large majority of fruits, vegetables, nuts and legumes. This amounts to nearly $19 billion per year of direct value from honeybee pollination to United States agriculture.  

(The Los Angeles County Beekeepers Association is a proud supporter of the American Beekeeping Federation and the American Honey Queen Program.)  

Is the Key to Saving Pollinators … Honey Bee Semen?

Smithsonian.com    By Simran Sethi   July 19, 2018

In the hopes of preserving their genetic diversity, entomologists are collecting and freezing this valuable fluid

A male bee releasing its seminal fluid at the USDA bee lab in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The male does not survive the process. (Anand Varma) The first question everyone wants to know is: how?

“I’m surprised it took you so long to ask,” Brandon Hopkins says with a laugh. The 35-year-old entomologist is preparing samples to be sent to the USDA Agricultural Research Service National Laboratory for Genetic Resources Preservation in Fort Collins, Colorado, a facility dedicated to securing our food supply by collecting genetic material from agricultural species. “You pretty much just squeeze them, and the stuff pops out,” he says.

Hopkins is the apiary and lab manager of Washington State University’s Apiary Program, and the “stuff” he’s referring to is honey bee semen.

Yes, semen. Hopkins spends a lot of his time visiting beekeepers and collecting seminal fluid from drones, the male honey bees that exist primarily to impregnate queen bees. Or, as Hopkins puts it: “They’re flying genitalia. They don’t collect nectar; they don’t collect pollen. The only thing they do is mate.”

He prefers to capture drones during flight, when they are on their way back from their daily attempts to mate with a queen. Between 1 and 5 p.m.—their flight time—he sets mesh screens in front of the entrances to hives. Worker bees are small enough to get through the screens and back into their dwelling, but drones can’t. As they cling to the dividers, Hopkins springs into action, gathering the stinger-less bees in cages and placing them, one by one, under the microscope.

He explains his process: “When you squeeze a male, if he’s mature, his genitalia pops out. And then, floating on a bit of mucus, is about one microliter of semen.” Sadly, in nature, drones put so much blood and energy into reproduction that they die after successful mating. And this is what Hopkins mimics in the lab: “We squeeze them to the point where they die,” he says. It takes Hopkins about an hour to process 300-500 drones and fill a single 100-microliter tube with their reproductive fluid.

The follow-up question, of course, is: why? That is: why in the world are scientists collecting bee semen?

 

In short, as a hedge for the future. “There could be unique and valuable [variants of a gene] that may not be noticeably valuable at this point,” but could become incredibly important in the face of a yet-unknown future threat, Hopkins says of the genetic material he collects. Most of the semen is frozen, catalogued and stored in Fort Collins, where the hope is that it will stay viable for years, perhaps decades, just waiting to be thawed out so it can impregnate a honey bee far in the future.

Or not so far in the future. Honey bees already face plenty of threats: pests and diseases, pesticides and fungicides, nutrition and the way colonies are managed, both in terms of beekeeping and breeding and genetics. Topping the list is a parasitic mite called Varroa destructor, which reproduces in honey bee colonies and lives up to its sinister name by sucking the blood from adults and developing larvae. It has been devastating bee populations since it was first detected in the United States in 1987.

By the numbers, the situation is dire. According to the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service, in the late 1940s, we had nearly 6 million managed beehives in the United States. By 2008, that number dropped to just over 2 million—and has stayed there ever since. The semen Hopkins collects, then, could help protect, or even expand, future generations of honey bees—which means safeguarding billions of dollars in agricultural crops and an inestimable wealth of biodiversity for the planet.

Brandon Hopkins, hard at work collecting bee semen. (Steve Sheppard)

While the United States is home to around 4,000 native bees, our agricultural pollinator of choice is the non-native honey bee, which hails from South and Southeast Asia. That’s because honey bees are prolific and multipurpose pollinators, says Bob Danka, the research leader of the USDA Honey Bee Lab in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. While some bees pollinate a single species of plant, honey bees forage on over 100 commercial cropsdelivering nearly $3,000 worth of pollination services per hectare per crop.

In the U.S., honey bees handle “something like 90 percent of pollination,” Danka explains, and one colony averages a peak summer population of upwards of 60,000 bees. “Other bees can’t exist in large enough numbers to pollinate vast acreages of crops,” he says. The bees can also be moved in and out of various locations with relative ease, which is essential for crops like almonds, which require cross-pollination.

Between February and March of each year, 80 to 90 percent of the country’s available commercial bees—about 1.8 million colonies—are trucked to California to pollinate almond blossoms. But the work doesn’t end there. These bees are used year-round for their labor, writes Ferris Jabr writes in Scientific American:

“After the almond bloom, some beekeepers take their honeybees to cherry, plum and avocado orchards in California and apple and cherry orchards in Washington State. Come summer time, many beekeepers head east to fields of alfalfa, sunflowers and clover in North and South Dakota, where the bees produce the bulk of their honey for the year. Other beekeepers visit squashes in Texas, clementines and tangerines in Florida, cranberries in Wisconsin and blueberries in Michigan and Maine. All along the east coast migratory beekeepers pollinate apples, cherries, pumpkins, cranberries and various vegetables. By November, beekeepers begin moving their colonies to warm locales to wait out the winter: California, Texas, Florida and even temperature-controlled potato cellars in Idaho.”

This overreliance on honey bee labor, however, has its dangers. “We, in North America, have painted ourselves into this corner using honey bees because of modern agricultural practices and our need to produce large amounts of crops efficiently,” Danka says. And the work is starting to stress the bees out: “The pressure on them is very real, and it seems to be getting worse.”

Today, you might think of these bees as fully dependent on humans. “When Varroa mites came to the U.S., it eliminated 99 percent of the feral population of honey bees,” Hopkins says. “Some are saying there are no wild honey bees now because they can’t survive without human intervention. They’re like a domestic species.”

This codependent relationship with humans is revealed in changes in bee nutrition. Bees are just like us: They need a varied diet in order to thrive. As our diets have become less diverse, so have theirs. The expansion of industrialized agriculture and increase in monocrops grown in monoculture means there is little diversity in the plants from which bees source pollen and nectar. The habitats where they forage have turned into what Marla Spivak, a professor of entomology at the University of Minnesota, describes as “food deserts.”

The challenge is exacerbated, Spivak explains in a 2012 TED talk, by the convergence of supply and demand. At the same time we’re experiencing a decline in bee populations, we’re also growing an increasing number of crops that rely on them. In the last half-century, she says in her talk, “there has been a 300 percent increase in crop production that requires bee pollination.” Just last year, American beekeepers lost approximately 40 percent of their honey bee colonies.


Cryopreserved tubes of honey bee semen stored at the USDA’s genetic preservation center in Fort Collins, Colorado. (Simran Sethi)

That’s why, in 2016, the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service decided to add honey bee semen to its Fort Collins collection, which also stores a range of other materials—from seeds and stems to animal blood and embryos—that are essential for sustaining our domestic food supply. “It is part of [our] response to the ongoing crisis that the country’s beekeepers are facing,” the institution wrote in its online post announcing the launch.

The man tasked with the glamorous job of collecting the semen? Brandon Hopkins.

In 2008, the modern-day honey bee sperm collector was wrapping up a master’s degree in biology at Eastern Washington University focusing on the reproductive biology of frogs and mice. When Hopkins learned about the challenges bee populations were facing, however, he decided to explore a method that has been used to preserve the semen of cows and other animals: cryogenic freezing. Traditionally, bee semen specimens were extracted, stored at room temperature and stayed viable for about two weeks.

“I had never even really seen a honey bee hive,” Hopkins says. “But, fortunately, my master’s advisor had been [working] long enough in the mammalian world—with cattle and sheep and goats and all that stuff—and he said, ‘It doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to work.’ Rather than waiting to get a perfect system, we went ahead and did it.”

In fact, Hopkins explains, they set about freezing honey bee semen despite the fact that one of the last papers written about cryopreservation from the 1980s stated the results weren’t good enough and that researchers should stop pursuing that method of storage. Nevertheless, Hopkins extracted a single capillary tube of semen (100 microliters), froze it and had “pretty good success.”

This was happening at the same time that Washington State University researcher Steve Sheppard, head of the WSU Apis Molecular Systematics Laboratory, was out in the field, collecting fresh material of the same variety. That year, he had been awarded the only permit given by USDA to import semen from global bee populations into the United States. Those samples became the foundation of what has become the largest collection of bee germplasm in the world, stored at WSU and containing subspecies native to Europe, Western Asia and Central Europe.

Sheppard subsequently became Hopkins’ PhD advisor, and the two of them started traveling together, collecting bee semen and freezing it on-site. The work came with unique challenges. “The problem with fresh semen is that you only get that one shot,” Hopkins explains. “It’s very expensive and time-consuming to collect overseas. Then you use it and may have a queen that doesn’t even produce any progeny.”

But it also paid off: Hopkins says the material collected and frozen five years ago is “the same as if it had been frozen for five days.”

When asked if he ever envisioned this as his life’s work, Hopkins was clear: “No. For sure not.” But he sees the incredible value in the work he’s doing. “The cool thing about the incorporation of cryopreservation in bee breeding is that it will allow us to breed across space and time,” Sheppard said in an email. “We can retrieve genetics years after it’s been placed in storage. So, you can envision that, in 2030, we could cross the bees back to material from 2015 that we have [stored] in the liquid nitrogen tank.”

And that’s why it’s important to preserve material that’s both commercially viable and diverse. “While I don’t really think that we’re going to suddenly lose all our honey bees and need to tap into this frozen stock to repopulate the planet with bees, it is too bad that we weren’t doing this before, say, Varroa mites came,” Hopkins says. “We lost a huge amount of genetic diversity in the U.S. population that we can’t really get back because we didn’t have any frozen material.”

To get back to that level of diversity, he says, there is more work to be done. “Honey bees are an agricultural domestic species now,” says Hopkins. “They need the same research and attention that cattle, for example, get. It would be great if they were better recognized—in conservation, breeding techniques, selection, all [it takes] to improve them.”

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/key-honey-bee-conservation-bee-semen-180969676/#zA0C9FlfCp313gU4.99

Woman In Critical Condition After Being Stung By Swarm Of Bees In Lake Forest

ABC News    By Eileen Frere   July 16, 2018 

LAKE FOREST< Calif. (KABC) A woman is in critical condition after being stung hundreds of times by a swarm of bees in Lake Forest Monday morning.

The woman is believe to be in her early 50s and works as a housekeeper in the 23000 block of Buckland Lane, where the attack occurred, according to the Orange County Fire Authority. Authorities said she was stung about 200 times.

She was transported to Saddleback Hospital.

Four firefighters and the owner of the home where the possible hive was were also stung. Two of those firefighters, who were stung multiple times, are in stable condition at a hospital.

The homeowner, who only went by the name Sara, recalled the attack that sent her housekeeper Maria to the hospital.

"She was screaming and I was telling her, 'Move from the bees. Come over here.' But she was covering her head," she said.

Witnesses said another house cleaner grabbed a water house to try to get the bees off Maria, but it didn't work. That's when Sara's son called 911.

Another witness said Maria tried covering her head and face, but at one point the bees began stinging her head. Orange County Fire Authority Capt. Tony Bommarito said when crews arrived, she was completely covered in bees.

"Her face was completely covered with bees," he said. "They grabbed the first thing they could, which was a carbon dioxide extinguisher, sprayed the patient, tried to get as many bees as they could off her."

He added that the firefighters had no time to put on protective gear before trying to save Maria.

"It was so horrendous. It was awful. And I felt so powerless. There was nothing I could do," neighbor Cynthia Emmets said.

She said her dog ended up being stung as well.

A bee company arrived on the scene to determine the location of a hive and discovered 30,000 to 80,000 bees.

The beehive was discovered inside a gas meter next to Sara's home, according to Matthew Kielsmeier with Bee Busters, which removed a 10-pound hive from the location. Experts said it wasn't clear what prompted the attack, but that the hive had been at the home for about six months.

Sara, who had swollen marks on her forearms from the stings, said she'd noticed bees in the area, but didn't think anything of it at the time.

Experts warn that anyone who sees bees congregating for a period of time in a particular area should call a bee company to get it checked out.

The community HOA had not received any reports of bee problems in the area until this incident.

http://abc7.com/pets-animals/woman-in-critical-condition-after-bee-stings-in-oc/3772737/

For more info on Africanized Honey Bees (aka Killer Bees), visit:  /africanized-bees/

 

LACBA Beekeeping Class 101 - #6: July 15, 2018, 9AM-Noon, at The Valley Hive

UPDATE: From The Valley Hive, Saturday, 7/14/18, 12:09AM

The next Beekeeping Class 101 will be held Sunday, July 15, 2018, 9AM-Noon, at The Valley Hive apiary location: 9633 Baden Avenue, Chatsworth. Bee Suits Required for this class.

TOPIC: VARROA MITE PART II

Last month we tested for varroa mites in the bee yard. Hopefully, many of you have had the chance to perform a varroa mite test on your own hives. We look forward to having you share your experience and hearing about the results.

This month we will be discussing the various types of treatments available to control this pesky pest! 

Are you an experienced beekeeper? We welcome your help and are always happy to have volunteers.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION:

MEET AT OUR BEE YARD AT 9633 BADEN AVENUE.

Please be prompt - class is this Sunday at 9am.  

Please respect our neighbors. We are guests on this property, and we are a very large group. 

Limited parking is available inside the gate and also on Baden Avenue.

The bee yard is located off a dirt road; a short walk up a hill from the parking lot. 

PROPER ATTIRE IS A MUST!

Full suit with veil and gloves are required to attend class.

Closed shoes/boots are required.

Bring bottled water. It is HOT!!

Bring your own labeled tools, smoker, and smoker fuel  for a chance to receive more hands-on learning opportunities.

NEED SUPPLIES:

Our store, located at 10538 Topanga Cyn Blvd, will open at 8am on Sunday.

REFRESHMENTS:

We will meet back at our Topanga location for refreshments after class, where you will have the opportunity to ask your beekeeping questions.

If you have any last minute questions or concerns, you can contact The Valley Hive at (818) 280-6500 or via email at info@thevalleyhive.com

See you in class!
The Valley Hive

New Technology Makes Commercial Beekeeping More Efficient, Profitable

 CATCH THE BUZZ     July 13, 2018

In an effort to provide beekeepers with a more effective and comprehensive management system, two Healthy Hives 2020 grant recipients recently announced a new collaboration that could help transform commercial beekeeping practices by using Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) technology, combined with web and mobile apps, to track and manage honey bee colonies.

Hive Tracks, an apiary management software provider, and its chief executive officer, James Wilkes, PhD., have been an integral part of the Healthy Hives 2020 research conducted by Joseph Cazier, PhD., professor and director of the Center for Analytics Research and Education at Appalachian State University. Both Cazier and Brandon Hopkins, PhD., assistant research professor in the Department of Entomology at Washington State University, received research grants in 2016 that focused on how to improve management practices for commercial beekeepers.

To view a current KIM&JIM Show webinar produced in June, 2018, about this program featuring Dr. Hopkins, click on the link below or paste it into your browser –

https://register.gotowebinar.com/recording/recordingView?webinarKey=1843148016502893057&registrantEmail=Kim%40beeculture.com

“There are currently not a lot of management tools for commercial beekeepers. Many of them are still managing their operations with notebooks, pencil and paper, or trying to keep track of treatments and issues with objects like thumb tacks, cattle ear tags and wax pencils,” said Hopkins. “For our project, we’ve been developing a way to transform those systems into digital information that can be gathered without adding additional work or time in the field.”

By using RFID technology, that information can be analyzed to inform best practices in commercial beekeeping. Beekeepers can then use those practices to develop decision support tools that can provide timely data on their hives, ultimately decreasing losses.

But to do this, Hopkins needed to be able to collect the data. This led him to research RFID technology, which he eventually implemented with individual hives. RFID tags are used in a wide range of industries, from retail stores tracking inventory to airlines tracking baggage. Hopkins’ team began placing the tags on individual hives and worked with a software development company to create a platform that would enable beekeepers to monitor their hives for such basic beekeeping management duties as when and where the hives were checked, as well as the location of each hive.

While Hopkins was developing his RFID technology, Cazier, Wilkes and the Hive Tracks team were using their Healthy Hives 2020 grant to put the finishing touches on the second version of its innovative Hive Tracks Apiary Management System.

“Many of the major concerns of a commercial beekeeper involve the day-to-day management of the hives in an operation,” said Wilkes. “They want to know, ‘Where are my hives? How many hives do I have, and what are their conditions? Who was the last person to touch them, and what did they do?”

According to Wilkes, Hive Tracks began as a software system for hobbyists and sideliners. “However, we knew there was a huge gap in technology that could benefit commercial beekeepers,” said Wilkes. “We recognized the challenge of adopting new technology within the commercial beekeeping space, so the system had to be simple to use, and our software system provides a framework that can evolve from a super simple foundation to more complex hive level data.”

That’s where Hopkins’ research came in. “Our system is designed to focus on the bee yard level to make it accessible for adoption by commercial beekeepers,” said Wilkes. “But RFID enables you to include the hive level and opens the door for a wide range of additional information that all of us believe is important, but is often difficult to collect.”

Both Hopkins and Hive Tracks were exhibitors at the 2017 American Bee Federation conference, and it did not take long for them to consider the possibility of working together. Hopkins and Wilkes then began to talk about leveraging their respective research focuses for a more collaborative effort, which could help them accelerate their technology development and reach more beekeepers.

Hive Tracks and Hopkins are well on their way to integrating the RFID technology into the Apiary Management System. “We have begun the integration process and hope to have an RFID option tested and available for beekeepers in the spring of 2019,” said Wilkes.

“For the Healthy Hives 2020 initiative, this partnership really serves beekeepers by building one integrated platform instead of using two separate ones,” said Danielle Downey, executive director of Project Apis m. which manages the program. “One of the things we hoped would come out of this research program was innovative collaboration between the researchers, and Brandon and James are doing exactly that.”

Funded by Bayer, Healthy Hives 2020 is a $1 million research effort to improve the health of honey bee colonies in the U.S. by the end of 2020. Over the past three years, Healthy Hives 2020 has provided grants to fund 10 honey bee health research projects being conducted by 20 universities and other organizations, as well as six collaborating apiaries.

“The goal of Healthy Hives 2020 has always been to identify measurable and tangible solutions to improve colony health through enhanced collaboration and communication,” said Daniel Schmehl, Pollinator Research Scientist with Crop Science, a division of Bayer. “The collaboration between Hive Tracks and Brandon is doing just that – bringing two innovative research projects together to identify a targeted approach for beekeepers to better manage their bees.”

https://www.beeculture.com/catch-the-buzz-new-technology-makes-commercial-beekeeping-more-efficient-profitable/?utm_source=Catch+The+Buzz&utm_campaign=039cf387e9-Catch_The_Buzz_4_29_2015&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_0272f190ab-039cf387e9-256252085