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

Kim & Jim Show: 9/21/18 and 9/25/18

Kim Flottum, Editor-in-Chief, Bee Culture Magazine and Dr. James "Jim" Tew, Emeritus Professor, Entomology, OSU will be bringing you their 21st "Live" and 22nd "Live" show. 

9/21 @ 5pm EST (2pm PST)- Jim Tew in Auburn, Kim in Ohio talk wintering, south and north: Register

9/25 @ 12pm EST (9am PST) - Next Generation of Beekeeping: Register

New Honey Nutrition Label Will Not Have Added Sugar On The Label

CATCH THE BUZZ    September 11, 2018

Statement from FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D., on an updated approach for including added sugar information on the Nutrition Facts labels of pure maple syrup and honey.

Advancing better nutrition is one of my top priorities and implementing the update to the iconic Nutrition Facts label — the first overhaul in 20 years — is a key part of that commitment.

We’re already seeing the new label on many products. This updated label is empowering consumers with accurate and science-based information to help them make more informed, healthier choices. As part of our updates to the Nutrition Facts label, we’ve leveraged the latest information we have on nutritional science with the intent to help reduce the burden of chronic diseases like diabetes, obesity, and heart disease.

Toward these goals, the final rule to update the Nutrition Facts label includes a listing of “added sugars.” The old label simply listed the total grams of sugar without distinguishing between sugars that are naturally occurring, such as in fruits and vegetables, and sugars that align with the definition of added sugars established by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. These guidelines for what constitutes added sugars, which inform the development of federal nutrition policies, define added sugars as caloric sweeteners that include, not only sugar, but also honey and maple syrup as well as other sweeteners.

While added sugars can be part of a healthy dietary pattern, the science underlying the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans demonstrates that meeting nutrient needs while staying within calorie limits is difficult when added sugars contribute more than 10 percent of a person’s total daily calories. There’s strong and consistent evidence that healthy dietary patterns characterized, in part, by lower intakes of sweetened foods and beverages, are associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease.

We’ve made it our goal to increase consumer awareness of the quantity of added sugars in food products consistent with recent dietary guideline recommendations. The updated Nutrition Facts Label is an important part of this effort. The new label also contains the new daily value for added sugars, so consumers can better understand how foods with added sugars can fit into a healthy dietary pattern.

While added sugars declared on the updated Nutrition Facts label include sweeteners added to processed foods, they also include foods that are “packaged as such” including a bag of table sugar, jar of honey or container of maple syrup. We recognized that this new labeling information on “packaged as such” products may inadvertently lead consumers to think their pure products, such as a jar of honey or maple syrup, may actually contain added table sugar or corn syrup because there are “added sugars” listed on the label.

That’s why in February 2018, we issued a draft guidance for industry open for public comment that would help clarify the added sugars declaration on the label of pure, single-ingredient “packaged as such” products like maple syrup and honey. This draft guidance was the FDA’s initial thinking about ways we can work to help ensure that the updated Nutrition Facts label is helpful to consumers. The guidance advised food manufacturers about our intent to allow the use of an obelisk symbol, “†,” immediately after the added sugars percent daily value information on containers of pure maple syrup or pure honey. This would direct consumers to language that provides information about what “added sugars” actually mean for these specific products.

As with any draft guidance, we carefully consider comments submitted to the public docket and feedback from stakeholder meetings and interactions to inform us in issuing our final guidance. In this case, the more than 3,000 comments we received on the draft guidance indicate that there are further opportunities to update our proposed approach. We’re grateful for this feedback. It has helped us identify a solution that we think will more adequately address concerns and provide needed clarity to consumers.

We’re currently drafting our final guidance, which we anticipate issuing by early next year, well in advance of the January 2020 compliance date for larger firms for the updated Nutrition Facts label. This guidance will provide a path forward for pure, single-ingredient “packaged as such” products that does not involve the standard “added sugars” declaration on the Nutrition Facts label. We are not considering changes to the required percent daily value for these products, including for products like pure honey and maple syrup. We believe that such a solution strikes the balance of addressing producer concerns that their products could be perceived as being economically adulterated while still informing consumers on how these products contribute to their daily added sugar intake.

Although we’re continuing to work on a revised approach, I believe that an updated approach will both clarify requirements to successfully implement the Nutrition Facts label and achieve the goal of empowering consumers to use the new label to make informed and healthy dietary choices. Through engaged dialogue and open public comment on our nutritional strategies, I’m committed to finding ways to advance our work in nutrition to improve the lives of all Americans by reducing the burden of preventable illness.

Catch The Buzz: New Honey Nutrition Label Will Not Have Added Sugar on the Label

What's a Buzzin at the LA County Fair Bee Booth?

LOS ANGELES COUNTY FAIR - BEE BOOTH
Pomona Fairgrounds
(The Bee Booth is across from the 'Big Red Barn')
1101 West McKinley Ave.Pomona, CA 91768
http://lacountyfair.com/

Fair Runs August 31- September 23, 2018 (Wed-Sun)
FAIR HOURS

 

 Lot's of fun at the Bee Booth! Gather round our Observation Hive and Learn about bees!
See if you can FIND THE QUEEN!
Enjoy delicious HoneyStix!


Members of the Los Angeles County Beekeepers Association and the Beekeepers Association of Southern California are educating thousands of school children and the general public about honeybees and their importance in our lives. The LA County Fair is one of the largest county fairs in the country and the most-visited event in the Los Angeles region in September. It's an end-of-summer tradition for many.

Get Ready For The Mite-A-Thon! September 8 - 15, 2018

CATCH THE BUZZ     August 29, 2018

Spread The Word - Local Beekeeping Clubs And Associations Are Key To Making The Mite-A-Thon A Success!

GET READY FOR THE MITE-A-THON!
September 8 to 15, 2018      

The Mite-A-Thon is a tri-national effort to collect mite infestation data and to visualize Varroa infestations in honey bee colonies across North America within a one-week window.  All beekeepers can participate, creating a rich distribution of sampling sites in Canada, the United States, and Mexico.       

OBJECTIVE: 1) To raise awareness about honey bee colony Varroa infestations in North America through effective monitoring methods. 2) Management strategies will be made available for discussion within bee organizations utilizing Mite-A-Thon partner developed information and outreach materials.     

PARTICIPANTS: All beekeepers in North America are encouraged to participate.

WHAT YOU NEED TO DO: 

Encourage your members to participate in September, through meetings, newsletters, emails, social media etc. 

Teach new beekeepers how to monitor for mites in August.

Help your members prepare their monitoring materials.

Support your members in making sure they are able to monitor mites effectively and report their data.

DATA COLLECTION: Varroa monitoring data will be uploaded to www.mitecheck.com.  

CONTACT: miteathon@pollinator.org or 415 362-1137

Get resources and stay up to date at www.pollinator.org/miteathon!

Thank you,

The Mite-A-Thon Partners

https://www.beeculture.com/catch-the-buzz-local-beekeeping-clubs-and-associations-are-key-to-making-the-mite-a-thon-a-success/

LA County Fair Opening Weekend!

LOS ANGELES COUNTY FAIR - BEE BOOTH
Pomona Fairgrounds
(The Bee Booth is across from the 'Big Red Barn')
1101 West McKinley Ave.
Pomona, CA 91768
http://lacountyfair.com/

Fair Opens Labor Day Weekend (Fri-Mon)
Fair Runs August 31- September 23, 2018 (Wed-Sun)
FAIR HOURS

 

From August 31 through September 23, 2018, volunteer members of the Los Angeles County Beekeepers Association and the Beekeepers Association of Southern California will be on hand at the Los Angeles County Fair Bee Booth educating thousands of school children and the general public about honeybees and their importance in our lives. The LA County Fair is one of the largest county fairs in the country and the most-visited event in the Los Angeles region in September. It's an end-of-summer tradition for many. 

OBSERVATION HIVE:

Gather round our fabulous HONEY BEE OBSERVATION HIVE. See if you can FIND THE QUEEN! Let us spark your interest in honey bees, their amazing lifestyle and social structure, how they help feed the world, how they have survived for millions of years, and learn what you can do to help the bees.

Honeybees are responsible for nearly 1/3 of our entire diet in regards to the pollination services they provide for a large majority of fruits, vegetables, nuts and legumes.



HONEY! HONEY! HONEY!

Delicious pure, natural, 100% raw local honey direct from Los Angeles County beekeepers
is available for purchase. 
Pick up HONEY STIX in YUMMY flavors and vibrant colors. 

VOLUNTEERS LACBA AND BASC MEMBERS:

Experienced beekeepers educate our community about bees! You'll learn more than you could ever imagine about bees by joining us at the LA County Fair Bee Booth. 

Read more: /bee-booth-la-county-fair/

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.