Saint Valentine - Patron of Beekeepers

Saint Valentine - Patron of Beekeepers

Saint Valentine - Patron of Beekeepers

The roots of Valentine’s Day date back to the year 496, when Pope Gelasius proclaimed that February 14 would be the feast day of St. Valentine of Rome, taking precedence over Lupercalia—a pagan Roman fertility festival long-celebrated February 13-15.

Besides couples, love and happy marriages, you might be surprised to know that St. Valentine is also the patron saint of beekeepers—charged with ensuring the sweetness of honey and the protection of beekeepers among many other things.

Saints are certainly expected to keep busy in the afterlife. Their holy duties include interceding in earthly affairs and entertaining petitions from living souls. In this respect, St. Valentine has wide-ranging spiritual responsibilities. People call on him to watch over the lives of lovers, of course, but also for interventions regarding beekeeping and epilepsy, as well as the plague, fainting and traveling. As you might expect, he’s also the patron saint of engaged couples and happy marriages.

Who knew beekeepers had so many patron saints....Saint Gobnait, Saint Ambrose, Saint Gregory as well as Saint Valentine.

While many beekeepers and their colonies are currently in California battling the rain and the cold to pollinate almond blossoms, we wish them a Happy Valentine's day! May St. Valentine keep your bees healthy and the honey in your honey pots plentiful.

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

CATCH THE BUZZ  By: Susan Milius     October 5, 2018

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

Susan Ellis,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Susan Milius for

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."

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

Jerry Hayes, Classroom Columnist

July 10, 2018

Longtime Classroom writer Jerry Hayes retired from Monsanto on July 6th, 2018. He had joined the agrochemical company 6 years ago, shortly after the company acquired Beeologics, an Israeli company that was pioneering RNAi technology to immunize honey bees against specific viruses. While at Monsanto, Jerry strove to inform beekeepers about the dangers of varroa, emphasizing the impacts this destructive parasite has on colony health.

The move from chief apiary inspector of Florida to Monsanto was viewed with trepidation by some beekeepers, and created a “Swarm of Controversy” described in exquisite detail by Wired magazine in a longform article that should be required reading for any lover of his Classroom column. It contends that “before he was a villain, Jerry Hayes was a hero. He considered himself one of the good guys. Many people did. They sought his advice. …Since the early 1980s Hayes has written “The Classroom,” an advice column for the American Bee Journal, America’s oldest bee magazine. He is Dear Abby for beekeepers, counseling readers on everything from capturing swarms to making shoe polish from beeswax.” Hayes joined Monsanto, because he saw that they had pockets deep enough to really help honey bee health. While there, he learned the RNAi technology of Beeologics was much further behind than he expected. The field trials were failing, as it’s much easier to kill varroa in a Petri dish than in a colony. Instead of pouring all their research dollars into stopping a single virus—Israeli Acute Paralysis Virus—he helped the agrochemical company focus its efforts on addressing the vector of the viruses—varroa. He was a frequent speaker at conferences, helping beekeepers understand how difficult it is to kill “a fist sized bug on another bug.”

Jerry will continue to write his much loved column for ABJ and we wish him much success in this next stage of his life. We will be interviewing Jerry in an upcoming issue, so stayed tuned as he reflects on what lies ahead.

Honey May Reduce Injury in Children Who Have Swallowed Button Batteries

    June 13, 2018


Ingestion of button batteries, which are frequently found in the household setting, can rapidly lead to caustic esophageal injury in infants and children. A new study published in The Laryngoscope found that drinking honey or Carafate® (a cherry- flavored duodenal ulcer prescription) may help reduce esophageal damage.

In experiments conducted on cadavers and live animals, both honey and Carafate® provided a physical barrier and neutralized the tissue pH increase associated with battery ingestion; they both reduced injury severity compared with other common household liquids, including apple juice, orange juice, sodas, sports drinks, and maple syrup.

"An esophageal button battery can quickly cause significant injury. We have identified protective interventions for both the household and hospital setting that can reduce injury severity," said co-principal investigator Dr. Kris Jatana, Associate Professor and Director of Pediatric Otolaryngology Quality Improvement at Nationwide Children's Hospital, in Columbus, OH. "Our results will change the practice guidelines for how medical professionals acutely manage button battery ingestion."

Full Citation

“pH‐neutralizing esophageal irrigations as a novel mitigation strategy for button battery injury.” Rachel R. Anfang, Kris R. Jatana, Rebecca L. Linn, Keith Rhoades, Jared Fry and Ian N. Jacobs. The Laryngoscope; Published Online: June 11, 2018. (DOI: 10.1002/lary.27312).

Newly Identified Bacteria May Help Bees Nourish Their Young     By Sarah Nightingale (University of Riverside)     April 13, 2018

UC Riverside researchers have identified three new species of bacteria that live on both wild flowers and bees. Credit: UC Riverside A team of researchers at the University of California, Riverside have isolated three previously unknown bacterial species from wild bees and flowers. The bacteria, which belong to the genus Lactobacillus, may play a role in preserving the nectar and pollen that female bees store in their nests as food for their larvae.

The results were published Thursday in the International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology. The study was led by Quinn McFrederick, an assistant professor of entomology in UCR's College of Natural & Agricultural Sciences.

Symbiotic bacteria that live in bee guts are believed to promote bee health by helping to digest food and boost immunity. Compared to honeybees and bumblebees, little is known about the microbial communities associated with wild bees, despite the important role these insects play in the pollination of flowering plants.

To study the bacteria associated with wild bees, McFrederick and co-authors collected wild bees and flowers from two sites in Texas and on the UCR campus. Genomic DNA sequencing coupled with traditional taxonomic analyses confirmed the isolation of three new Lactobacillus species, which are closely related to the honeybee-associated bacteria Lactobacillus kunkeei. The news strains are:

Lactobacillus micheneri, named after Charles D. Michener to honor his contributions to the study of bees in natural habitats.

Lactobacillus timberlakei, named after Philip Timberlake to honor his work on the taxonomy of native bees, especially at UC Riverside.

Lactobacillus quenuiae, named after Cécile Plateaux-Quénu to honor her contribution to our understanding of the social biology of halictid bees.

Lactobacilli are often used by humans to preserve dairy products, fermented vegetables and other foods. The study by McFrederick's group suggests the newly identified species may help bees in a similar way, inhibiting the growth of fungi inside pollen provisions. McFrederick's group is currently conducting research to further explore this hypothesis.

"Wild bees lay their eggs inside chambers filled with nectar and pollen," McFrederick said. Once an egg has been laid, it may take several days to hatch and an additional week for the larvae to eat through all the nectar and pollen, so it is important that these provisions don't spoil during this period."

McFrederick said it is interesting that the bacteria were able to live on both wild flowers and bees.

"The species we isolated have fairly small genomes and not as many genes as you would expect considering they survive in two different environments," McFrederick said.

More information: Quinn S. McFrederick et al, Lactobacillus micheneri sp. nov., Lactobacillus timberlakei sp. nov. and Lactobacillus quenuiae sp. nov., lactic acid bacteria isolated from wild bees and flowers, International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology (2018). DOI: 10.1099/ijsem.0.002758 

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Happy Birthday ~ Abraham Lincoln

“I don't like to hear cut and dried sermons. No—when I hear a man preach,
I like to see him act as if he were fighting bees.”
~Abraham Lincoln

 Historical Honeybee Articles - Beekeeping History

February 12, 2014 · 

Happy Birthday ~ Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln - Born February 12, 1809 
via: Historical Honeybee Articles - Beekeeping History
DID YOU KNOW?...Abraham Lincoln was "very fond of honey."

As a child in Indiana Abraham Lincoln was used to eating honey, and a biography quoted the following from a letter written shortly after his death: "Mr. Lincoln was very fond of honey. Whenever he went to Mr. Short's house he invariably asked his wife for some bread and honey. And he liked a great deal of bee bread in it. He never touched liquor of any kind." - 68. N. W. Branson to William H. Herndon. Petersburg Ill Aug 3. 1865

“I don't like to hear cut and dried sermons. No—when I hear a man preach, I like to see him act as if he were fighting bees.”
― Abraham Lincoln

"It is an old and a true maxim, that a "drop of honey catches more flies than a gallon of gall." So with men. If you would win a man to your cause, first convince him that you are his sincere friend. Therein is a drop of honey that catches his heart, which, say what he will, is the great highroad to his reason,..." -Abraham Lincoln, Temperance Address of February 22, 1842 -Springfield, Illinois

Image: Abraham Lincoln photographed holding his glasses and a newspaper on August 9, 1863.

Black Beekeepers Are Transforming Detroit’s Vacant Lots Into Bee Farms

Huffington Post     By Philip Lewis     January 10, 2018

“Work hard, stay bumble” is their nonprofit motto.

A pair of Detroit natives have decided to combat neighborhood blight in a pretty sweet way — by transforming abandoned vacant lots in their city into honeybee farms. 

Detroit Hives, a nonprofit organization founded by Timothy Paule and Nicole Lindsey in 2017, purchases vacant properties and remodels them into fully functioning bee farms. 

“These properties are left abandoned and serve as a dumping ground in most cases,” Paule told HuffPost. “The area can be a breeding ground for environmental hazards, which creates a stigma around the city.” 

Paule, a photographer, and Lindsey, a staff member for the health care provider Henry Ford OptimEyes, had been dating for some time before launching the nonprofit. Paule attributes their inspiration to a cold that he just couldn’t get rid of.

“I went to the local market that I normally go to, and he suggested that I try some local honey for my cough,” Paule said. “He said you consume local honey because it has medicinal properties.” 

After he started to feel better, the couple also began to think about how urban blight contributed to allergies through overgrown ragweeds in abandoned areas. They put producing local honey and erasing urban blight together, and Detroit Hives was born.

Detroit Hives

To become certified beekeepers, Paule and Lindsey took two courses at Green Toe Gardens and Keep Growing Detroit. The duo bought their first vacant space on Detroit’s East Side for $340 with the help of the Detroit Land Bank Authority, an agency that works to redevelop abandoned properties.

“The land bank offers a community partnership program for nonprofits and faith-based organizations to purchase structures or vacant land from the land bank to put back to productive use,” Darnell Adams, director of inventory at the land bank, told HuffPost. “We encourage them to bring their visions and their proposals to the land bank so that we can give them access to land to implement them.” 

Currently, Detroit Hives owns just the one farm, but they’re looking to expand in 2018. 

Besides raising honeybees, the nonprofit aims to spread awareness about bees by hosting public tours of the farm ― they encourage community members to schedule an appointment ― and by traveling to schools in the Detroit area to speak with students.

“It was a little hard at first because most high-schoolers are afraid of bees or they really don’t care,” Paule said. “So I had to find a unique way to introduce bees to them. One thing they found intriguing is how each honeybee had a unique job.”

Detroit Hives

And of course, Detroit Hives sells honey to the public and to local vendors that use it to create products such as handcrafted beer and sauces. They’ve even created Bee Moji, an emoji sticker app.

While you’d think people would be concerned about thousands of bees in the area, the local community loves the bee farm, according to Paule and Lindsey. 

“The neighbors love it. They say they wish we were there 10, 20 years ago,” Lindsey said. “That area has always been a place where people dump trash, so when we came there, we gave that area a sense of purpose. The neighbors keep an eye on the area to make sure that people aren’t dumping anymore.”

Detroit Hives’ tagline is “Work Hard, Stay Bumble,” fitting for a city that knows all about perseverance.

“We’re hustlers, innovators and thinkers,” Paule said. “Bees work really hard, and they’re humble. In Detroit, you have to work hard and be humble. It’ll take you far.”

WAS Blog | FDA, VFD, and VCPR – What Does this All Mean to Beekeepers?


By Jerry J. Bromenshenk, Ph.D.; 10/18/2017

Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD), January 1, 2017 Proposed in 2013, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) published a revised Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD) on January 1, 2017. This new Act applies to any food-producing animals (cattle, pigs, poultry, fish, etc.), including honey bees! The overall goal is to limit and decrease the amount of antibiotics in the food that we consume. Simply stated: (1) Bees and their beekeepers now need veterinarians, (2) Antibiotics can only be obtained by prescription or a veterinary food directive on written order by a veterinarian, (3) Over-the-counter sales of antibiotics have more or less been removed (antibiotics are no longer available at farm and ranch supply stores), and (4) Advertising of antibiotics and claims of growth promotion are prohibited.

The VFD applies specifically to three antibiotics used to treat bees, other animals, and humans. These include: (a) oxytetracycline for control of European Foul brood, (2) tylosin for treatment to control oxytetracycline-resistant foul brood, and (3) lincomycin. Depending on individual state regulations, beekeepers may be able to use antibiotics to treat colonies with low levels of American Foul Brood, or they may be required to burn affected colonies. Although previously little used by beekeepers, the third listed antibiotic, lincomycin apparently has been approved for use in beehives since 2012. Depending on the antibiotic and method of administration, a beekeeper either needs a prescription for water soluble forms (oxytetracycline, tylosin, or lincomycin) or a Veterinary Feed Directive for dry, powdered forms (oxytetracyline as a sugar dust) of the antibiotic. The prescription or VFD must be issued by a licensed veterinarian. The actual antibiotic products can only be obtained from the veterinary clinic, a licensed pharmacist, or a licensed and approved supplier. Montana beekeepers can have their prescription or VFD filled by Western Bee in Polson, which is especially useful to large scale beekeepers.

What is not commonly known or clearly explained in the FDA Directive is that each beekeeper needs to set up a formal patient relationship with a veterinarian (VCPR). FDA says: In “order for a VFD to be lawful, the veterinarian issuing the VFD must: (I) Be licensed to practice veterinary medicine; and (2) Be operating in the course of the veterinarian’s professional practice and in compliance with all applicable veterinary licensing and practice requirements, including issuing the VFD in the context of a veterinarian-client-patient-relationship (VCPR) as defined by the State.

Clearly, most beekeepers, as well as veterinarian’s and the state licensing boards never anticipated having bees as patients. Typically, veterinarians providing service for herd animals like cattle use VCPRs. We found that others often asked – what should be in a VCPR for bees? Ohio has an online example for all animals, and I obtained permission to modify it to better fit Montana state directives. I have asked that my example VCPR be posted on the WAS Facebook and Web page. Please note, neither beekeepers nor veterinarians anticipated that the federal directive would include bees. Regardless, it is unlikely to be rescinded, changed, or modified to exclude bees. The goal is to ensure that antibiotics, and only the proper antibiotic, at correct dosage and application, for the appropriate bacterial disease are authorized by a licensed veterinarian; when needed, for the proper purpose, and in the amounts needed. Hoarding of antibiotics and carry-over from year to year should not occur. The beekeeper receives the amount needed for the time specified and for the number of colonies that require treatment. To meet the requirements of the FDA directive, each and every beekeeper needs to establish a patient (client) relationship with a veterinarian. Finding a veterinarian to provide service to bees can be difficult, especially in rural areas. All of this is new to them, and many are justifiably concerned that their license could be suspended or revoked if they inadvertently break the rules. For all small scale beekeepers and for the local bee clubs and associations, I recommend visits to local veterinarians by your more experienced beekeepers, each taking along a copy of an example VCPR. Use that as a starting point toward establishing a veterinarian-client-patient-relationship. In addition, our Montana Board of Veterinary Medicine emphasized: Do not call a veterinarian and start the conversation by stating that you ‘need a prescription or a VFD for antibiotics for your bees and you need it right away’. In essence, you are asking the veterinarian to violate the new FDA directive, especially if the veterinarian doesn’t know you.

Finally, few veterinarians have any training in bees, bee diseases, bee colony inspection, or how to safely work bees. The advice from our state Veterinary Board was that the beekeeping community may have to ‘train’ the veterinarian. That seems to be a rather risky approach – having beekeepers of unknown experience teach their veterinarians. As such, in Montana the I, the University of Montana’s School of Extended and Lifelong Learning, the State Board of Veterinary Medicine, and the State Veterinary Association are working to develop and provide appropriate training to veterinarians willing to provide their services to bees and beekeepers. I’ve always thought that bees need veterinarians – I just didn’t think this was how it would happen.

2 Boys Charged With Felonies After Half-Million Bees Killed

MSN / USA Today    Stephen Gruber-Miller     January  18, 2017

© Sioux City (Iowa) Police DepartmentDES MOINES — Two minors are facing charges after an Iowa honey farm was vandalized last month, killing a half-million bees.

The Sioux City (Iowa) Police Department said in a news release Wednesday that the incident happened Dec. 27 at Wild Hill Honey in Sioux City. Sioux City is about 156 miles northwest of Des Moines.

"All of the beehives on the honey farm were destroyed and approximately 500,000 bees perished in the frigid temperatures," the release said.

The estimated cost of the damage was $60,000, police said.

On Wednesday, police arrested two boys, ages 12 and 13, each of whom faces charges of first-degree criminal mischief and agricultural animal facilities offenses, both felonies; third-degree burglary, a felony; and possession of burglar's tools, an aggravated misdemeanor.

Police have not released the names of the juveniles. No further arrests are expected.


UPDATE FROM Wild Hill Honey

200,000 Honey Bees Killed In Prunedale

KSBW US     Reporter Sierra Starks    January 17, 2018

PRUNEDALE, Calif. — A bee killer toppled 100 beehives in Prunedale and sprayed hundreds of thousands of honey bees with gasoline over the weekend.

The honey bees were being kept on Mike Hickenbottom's Prunedale property along Echo Valley Road during the winter. The bees are owned by a man who lives in the Central Valley, where it's too cold during winter months, and they like feeding from eucalyptus trees that flower on the Central Coast during this time of year.

Hickenbottom believes his neighbors were behind the incident, partially because they had complained to him three times.

The bees are allowed to fly freely around the property, and Hickenbottom's neighbors said their children were too scared to go outside.

Hickenbottom said the Italian and Russian honey bees are not aggressive.

"I go up around the bee boxes without any protective clothing on. I've never been stung," he said. 

The vandals struck sometime between 10:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. Saturday.

"Somebody came here, and tipped over all the boxes, and sprayed them with diesel fuel. It killed a whole bunch of bees," beekeeper Alfonzo Perez.

An estimated 200,000 bees died.

Perez leases the hives to pollinate almond trees growing on farms across Californian.

The bee killing cost Perez more than $50,000, a huge chunk of his annual salary.


"I just feel really bad for Alfonzo because he work so hard to support his family. Then somebody goes and does something like this," Hickenbottom said.

DONATE: If you want to donate to beekeeper Alfonzo Perez, click here

A police report was filed with the Monterey County Sheriff's Office. No arrests have been made.

Vandals Destroy 50 Beehives In Iowa, Killing At Least 500,000 Bees

Valley News (CBS)   December 31, 2017

By CBS | Posted: Sun 7:40 AM, Dec 31, 2017 | Updated: Sun 7:43 AM, Dec 31, 2017

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (CBS) -- The future of a honey business in Sioux Falls is uncertain after vandals destroyed dozens of their beehives.

The owners of Wild Hill Honey said they discovered that 50 beehives were destroyed when they went to clear off snow on Thursday.

The owner, Justin Engelhardt, told The Associated Press that at least 500,000 bees were killed, and that the estimated cost of damage was between $50,000 and $60,000.

Engelhardt said the vandalism wipes out his business and it will be impossible to recover.

"I knew it was going to be bad when we went around the shed and every hive was knocked over, dead bees in the snow, it was terrible," Englehardt said, adding that the couple's shed was also damaged in the incident.

He said a window was broken and the lock was damaged.

Engelhardt said there was a security camera installed but it was stolen during the vandalism.

Police found fingerprints at the scene and an investigation is ongoing.

Happy New Year!

New Years Eve advice from;
Historical Honeybee Articles - Beekeeping History
Honey For Your New Years Celebration. 

According to the National Institute of Neurological and Communicative Disorders and Stroke, honey speeds up alcohol metabolism, which means that it will help your body break down the alcohol more quickly. - Source: What Women Need to Know - 2005, page 14, By Marianne Legato, Carol Colman

Eating toast and honey after a long evening's drinking will help prevent the morning-after hangover headache. -Source: Better Homes and Gardens - 1977, page 61

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!
Image: American Bee Journal, December, 1944
Image not related to article..
Via. Historical Honeybee Articles - Beekeeping History

circa. 1903 - Christmas Folklore in the Ozarks

At the birth of Christ on Christmas eve, the bees are said to stir in their hives and hum a great song of praise, but one must not disturb them, for, as they are careful not to intrude upon the celebrations of mankind, so man must not interfere with their celebration of the birth of the Christ child. Bees hummed the Old Hundredth Psalm at midnight. Several hives set together sent a satisfying praise booming far across the garden. 

The cattle in the byres joined the bees celebration of Christmas by turning to the east at midnight in imitation of the beasts at Bethlehem. Some believed they could also speak on this night and would bellow their adoration, but tradition was held that the animals must never be disturbed during the eve of Christmas. 

Some skeptics did not head the warnings. One Ozarks man closely watched his father's oxen but his father insisted that human observer broke the spell. Guernsey farmers provided extra hay but never dared to loiter to see it eaten. One did test his courage but the cowshed door slammed shut, he dropped dead and no one repeated the experiment. A Nova Scotia farmer heard his cattle say: "Tomorrow we'll be drawing wood to make our master's coffin." The shocked farmer dropped dead on the spot, and as late as 1928 no one on this farm went near the cattle on Christmas Eve. They were fed in the afternoon.

Encyclopedia of Superstitions, Folklore,
and the Occult Sciences of the World (1903)
edited by Cora Linn Morrison Daniels, Charles McClellan Stevens
Page 1506

Discovering Christmas customs and folklore: 
a guide to seasonal rites - Page 25 
Margaret Baker - 1992

Congratulations to Apiary Inspector II Scott Wirta - Unsung Hero Award

The Los Angeles County Beekeepers Association would like to congratulate Apiary Inspector II Scott Wirta for receiving the "Unsung Hero" Award for 2017. We'd also like to thank Inspector Wirta for all his good work with bees and bee keepers. When we requested a few words about his award, Inspector Wirta replied:

"It was an honor to be selected Unsung Hero this year by the Los Angeles County Agricultural Commissioner’s Department for my work with feral bees. I do believe, however, a group of bee keepers are truly the unsung heroes. I am talking about the bee keeper who will help when an unwanted swarm shows up. Many a bee keeper has stepped in and helped with their neighbors’ bee issues. Whether it is helping a neighbor with a removal, helping the poor who cannot afford services, or just talking to a distressed individual with a swarm on the property,
bee keepers are an asset to the community and the real unsung heroes."

Thousands of Honey Bees Die After Truck Crash on California Highway

CBS News    November 3, 2017

AUBURN, Calif. -- Thousands of honey bees were killed when a semi truck crashed after avoiding a slow down on a freeway in California.

CBS Sacramento reports the crash happened around 7 p.m. Thursday night along Interstate 80. 

Police said traffic quickly backed up and the driver had to ditch the freeway, which caused the fatal accident for the honey bees. Boxes of beehives were crushed and the driver was sent to the hospital.  

"When they have an impact like that, they are usually sprung or damaged and really hard to salvage," said John Miller, a beekeeper in Newcastle.

He heard the news and quickly came to assess any chance of survival.

The Auburn Fire Department was forced to drown the bees, which created a dangerous situation for the public. Miller said he'd seen this happen before and there were no other options.

"It's a loss for the owners of the bees and it's a tragedy for the hives themselves. These bees were destined to do some pollination work next spring, fruits, vegetables, nuts. It's a tragedy, it's sad," he said.

If the crash were to have happened during the day, Miller says there might have been a better chance for survival.

The mess ultimately took hours to clean up. Authorities said the crash could have been an absolute disaster had the driver not bailed off of the freeway. 

The cause of the crash remains under investigation.

Bees Will Be The Saviors Of Coffee Drinkers With Areas In Latin America Suitable For Growing Coffee Facing Predicted Declines

Catch The Buzz    September 22, 2017

David RoubikBees will be the saviors of coffee drinkers with areas in Latin America suitable for growing coffee facing predicted declines of 73% – 88% by 2050.

Research, co-authored by David Roubik, senior scientist at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, finds diversity in bee species may save the day, even if many species in cool highland regions are lost as the climate warms.

“For my money, we do a far superior job of predicting the future when we consider both plants and animals – or in this case the bees – and their biology,” Roubik says. “Traditional models don’t build in the ability of organisms to change. They’re based on the world as we know it now, not on the way it could be as people and other organisms adapt.”

The research team modeled impacts for Latin America, the largest coffee-growing region under several global-warming scenarios – considering both the plants and the bees.

The team consisted of bee experts from the Smithsonian in Panama; the International Center for Tropical Agriculture in Vietnam; the Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center in Costa Rica; Conservation International and the University of Vermont in the U.S.; CIRAD in France; and CIFOR in Peru.

Despite predicted declines in total bee species, in all scenarios at least five bee species were left in future coffee-suitable areas; in about half of the areas, 10 bee species were left.

For land no longer suitable for coffee production, the team recommended management strategies to help farmers switch to other crops or production systems.

In areas where bee diversity is expected to decrease, but coffee can still be grown, adaptation strategies may include increasing bee habitat and maintaining native bees.

Many coffee types prefer to grow in the shade of tall trees. Choosing tree species that favor bees is a win-win strategy, the researchers say.

Roubik’s favorite example of a potentially huge environmental change that did not play out as predicted is the case of Africanized honey bees, which were accidentally released in Brazil in 1957.

Roubik’s studies in Panama of coffee pollination taking native rainforest bees into consideration began in the 1970s as the aggressive non-native Africanized honey bees swarmed north through Latin America.

Doomsayers predicted the worst – the killer bees would disrupt the delicate balance between tropical forest species and their native pollinators.

Roubik discovered the opposite to be true.

In lowland tropical forests in Mexico, plants pollinated by very busy Africanized bees ended up producing more flowers, thus making more pollen and nectar available to native bees.

“Africanized honey bees in the Western Hemisphere both regulate their nest temperature and their own body temperature using water,” Roubik says. “When the climate is hotter – unless it’s too dry – they’re better adapted to endure climate change and pollinate coffee, an African plant””

The research, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, suggests that by paying attention to biological processes and managing coffee for maximum pollination depending upon the effects of climate on both the plants and the bees, as well as strategically adjusting shade, rotating crops and conserving natural forests, it may be possible for coffee producers to adapt to climate change.

Read at

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2017 Solar Eclipse Honey Bee Watch - August 21, 2017

Historical Honeybee Articles has started a group so those in the path of solar eclipse totality can share their observations, pictures and video of bee behavior with all interested- please come join us at 2017 Solar Eclipse Honey Bee Watch Facebook Group.

Throughout history, observations on the behavior of honeybees during solar eclipses have been written down by observant beekeepers. This group was created:

1. To provide a place where beekeepers in the in the United States who are in path of the solar eclipse can record observations of their bees behavior during the eclipse, weather written or by video and share them with others.

2. To share ideas with other beekeepers on what observations should also be noted, i.e. hive entrance activity, flower reaction, wildlife and farm animal behavior etc.

3. To publicize this event so we may have beekeepers all across the United States sharing video to this group so others not fortunate enough to be in the path of the solar eclipse can experience this wonderful event.

4. And most importantly, to have fun and meet friends from across the country.

The path of totality for the Aug. 21, 2017, total solar eclipse is about 70 miles wide and stretches from Oregon to South Carolina. It will pass through Idaho, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina. It will begin in Columbia, South Carolina at 01:03 p.m. and end at Madras, Oregon at 11:41 a.m.

2017 Solar Eclipse Honey Bee Watch Facebook Group