Bee Alert: Is a Controversial Herbicide Harming Honeybees?

Yale Environment 360 By Michael Balter May 7, 2019

A honeybee pollinates a blossom in an almond orchard in McFarland, California. DAVID KOSLING/ USDA

A honeybee pollinates a blossom in an almond orchard in McFarland, California. DAVID KOSLING/USDA

Recent court cases have focused on the possible effects of glyphosate, found in Monsanto’s Roundup, on humans. But researchers are now investigating whether this commonly used herbicide could also be having adverse effects on the health and behavior of honeybees.

Is one of the world’s most widely used herbicides a danger not only to annoying weeds, but also to honeybees? While debates rage over whether certain powerful insecticides are responsible for so-called colony collapse disorder — or even whether bee populations are declining at all — recent research suggests that glyphosate, the active ingredient in weed killers such as Monsanto’s Roundup, could be having subtle effects on bee health.

Glyphosate has been in the news in recent months, but not for its possible harm to bees. Rather, some studies have suggested an association between exposure to glyphosate and higher risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL), a cancer of the white blood cells. Glyphosate garnered headlines last August when a jury in California awarded groundskeeper DeWayne Johnson a massive judgement against Monsanto’s parent company, the German pharmaceutical giant Bayer. Johnson, along with more than 13,000 other plaintiffs, alleges that glyphosate caused his case of NHL.

But concerns about glyphosate are not limited to humans. Researchers have been accumulating evidence that glyphosphate may also be having deleterious effects on the environment and be harmful to fish, crustaceans, and amphibians, as well as to beneficial bacteria and other microorganisms in soil and water.

A University of Texas study reported evidence that glyphosate disrupts microorganisms in the guts of bees.

In recent years, a number of studies have concluded that glyphosate could also be hazardous to bees. Although the herbicide does not appear as toxic to bees as some other pesticides (notably neurotoxins known as neonicotinoids), researchers have found that glyphosate may impact bees in more subtle ways — for example, impeding the growth of bee larvae, diminishing bees’ navigational skills, altering their foraging behavior, or even disrupting their gut microorganisms, known as the microbiome.

The research is controversial because defenders of glyphosate use have long argued that it is benign in the environment. The herbicide is uniquely designed to target an enzyme that plants need to grow. That enzyme is essential to the so-called shikimate pathway, a metabolic process required for the production of certain essential amino acids and other plant compounds. However, the shikimate pathway is also used by some bacteria and other microorganisms, raising the possibility that glyphosate could have widespread and unexpected effects on a variety of natural organisms.

In a September study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Nancy Moran, an evolutionary biologist and entomologist at the University of Texas, Austin, and her coworkers found evidence that glyphosate disrupts microorganisms found in bees’ guts.

Monsanto's Roundup at a store in San Rafael, California. The product's manufacturer maintains that glyphosate is safe when used as directed.JOSH EDELSON/AFP/ GETTY IMAGES

Monsanto's Roundup at a store in San Rafael, California. The product's manufacturer maintains that glyphosate is safe when used as directed.JOSH EDELSON/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Mature bees have eight dominant gut bacterial species. Those strains are responsible for such benefits as promoting weight gain and providing resistance to harmful pathogens. The University of Texas team found almost all of them declined when the bees were exposed to concentrations of glyphosate commonly found in the environment. Young worker bees exposed to glyphosate were more susceptible to dying from infections. Moreover, the gut bacteria were more sensitive to the effects of glyphosate if the bacteria possessed an enzyme known to play a key role in the shikimate pathway.

Bayer disputes research findings suggesting Roundup or glyphosate is hazardous to bees. Utz Klages, Bayer’s head of external communications, says the “good news is that honeybee colonies are not in decline and rumors of their demise are greatly exaggerated.” Klages notes that regulatory authorities in a number of countries, including the United States, Canada, and the nations of the European Union, “have determined that glyphosate is safe when used as directed.”

A number of studies have suggested that glyphosate is not highly toxic to bees, including research performed by Monsanto and several other agrochemical companies. That research considered the “realistic worst-case” exposures to the herbicide and found no significant effect on bee mortality. Similarly, a series of studies led by Yu Cheng Zhu, a research entomologist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, concluded that glyphosate did not seem to kill bees outright. “We did not find an unusual number of dead bees after spraying a bee yard with Roundup a few times each year,” Zhu said.

Scientists have found that glyphosate appears to interfere with the growth and survival of honeybee larvae.

But Walter Farina, a researcher at the University of Buenos Aires in Argentina, says that the very fact that glyphosate is not immediately toxic to bees facilitates the harm it does. “Since glyphosate does not cause lethal effects, it can enter the colony and [be] assimilated by the younger individuals,” Farina says. “The negative effects of [glyphosate] are worse for younger bees, promoting an increased disorganization of the collective task within the hives.”

Farina and his team have looked at some of these effects in Argentina, where glyphosate is intensively used in agriculture. In a 2014 study, published in The Journal of Experimental Biology, they found that the “appetitive behavior” of honeybees — including how well they could detect sucrose and their ability to learn and remember where food sources were located — was significantly diminished after exposure to doses of glyphosate commonly found in farmlands.

In a second study, published in 2015 in the same journal, Farina’s team used harmonic radar to track how long it took honeybees to find their way back to their hives. They found that exposure to relatively low doses of glyphosate appeared to hinder the bees’ ability to navigate back to the hive, and concluded that glyphosate “impairs the cognitive capacities needed to retrieve and integrate spatial information for a successful return.”

A farmer in Argentina, where glyphosate is used intensively, sprays a soybean field in Entre Rios province in February 2018. PABLO AHARONIAN/AFP/ GETTY IMAGES

A farmer in Argentina, where glyphosate is used intensively, sprays a soybean field in Entre Rios province in February 2018. PABLO AHARONIAN/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

In other research, scientists have found that glyphosate appears to interfere with the growth and survival of honeybee larvae. For example, in a studypublished last year in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, Pingli Dai of the Institute of Apicultural Research in Beijing, China, and his colleagues found that elevated exposures to glyphosate can lower both the weight of bee larvae and the larval survival rate. This study also showed that glyphosate markedly decreased the diversity and richness of bacteria in the larvae’s intestines, indicators of reduced resilience.

As concerns about how glyphosate may be affecting honeybees mount, researchers are getting a boost from funding agencies that see this as an important research avenue. In March, the National Science Foundation awarded nearly $1 million in grant money to researchers at Virginia Tech and Eastern Washington University to further study the honeybee microbiome.

Meanwhile, Moran, at the University of Texas, says her lab has done follow-up confirmatory experiments using antibiotics to target the honeybee gut bacteria, with similar results on bee mortality as in the previous experiments. She emphasizes that these results have little to say so far about how important a factor glyphosate might be in the declines in bee populations. “We have to say that we don’t know at this point,” she says. “Our results suggest that it is worth studying further, which is what we are doing, and hope others will do also.”

https://e360.yale.edu/features/bee-alert-is-a-controversial-herbicide-harming-honeybees

Pesticide Cocktail Can Harm Honey Bees

PHYS.ORG University of California at San Diego April 10, 2019

A honey bee collects pollen. Credit: James Nieh, UC San Diego

A honey bee collects pollen. Credit: James Nieh, UC San Diego

A recently approved pesticide growing in popularity around the world was developed as a "bee safe" product, designed to kill a broad spectrum of insect pests but not harm pollinators.

A series of tests conducted over several years by scientists at the University of California San Diego focused on better investigating the effects of this chemical. They have shown for the first time that Sivanto, developed by Bayer CropScience AG and first registered for commercial use in 2014, could in fact pose a range of threats to honey bees depending on seasonality, bee age and use in combination with common chemicals such as fungicides.

The study, led by former UC San Diego postdoctoral fellow Simone Tosi, now at ANSES, University Paris Est, and Biological Sciences Professor James Nieh, is published April 10 in Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

Pesticides are a leading health threat to bees. After years of growing concerns about systemic toxic pesticides such as neonicotinoids and their harm on pollinators, Sivanto was developed as a next-generation product.

Sivanto's "bee safe" classification allows it to be used on blooming crops with actively foraging bees. Currently, pesticides are approved for widespread use with only limited testing. Perhaps most importantly, the interactions between new pesticides and other common chemicals such as fungicides are not fully tested. Sivanto's product label does prohibit the pesticide from being mixed in an application tank with certain fungicides. However, bees can still be exposed to Sivanto and other chemicals (pesticide "cocktails") that are commonly used in adjacent crops or that persist over time.

Honey bee workers inside their nest. Credit: Heather Broccard-Bell

Honey bee workers inside their nest. Credit: Heather Broccard-Bell

Starting in 2016, after reviewing documents describing Sivanto's risk assessments, the scientists conducted several honey bee (Apis mellifera) studies investigating effects that were not previously tested, particularly the behavioral effects of chemical cocktails, seasonality and bee age. The scientists provided the first demonstration that pesticide cocktails reduce honey bee survival and increase abnormal behaviors. They showed that worst-case, field-realistic doses of Sivanto, in combination with a common fungicide, can synergistically harm bee behavior and survival, depending upon season and bee age. Bees suffered greater mortality—compared with control groups observed under normal conditions—and exhibited abnormal behavior, including poor coordination, hyperactivity and apathy.

The results are troubling, the researchers say, because the official guidelines for pesticide risk assessment call for testing in-hive bees, likely underestimating the pesticide risks to foragers. Honey bees have a division of labor in which workers that are younger typically work inside the colony (in-hive bees) and foragers work outside the colony. Foragers are therefore more likely to be exposed to pesticides.

"We found foragers more susceptible," said Nieh. "They tend to be older bees and therefore because of their age they can suffer greater harm."

The harmful effects of Sivanto were four-times greater with foragers than with in-hive bees, the UC San Diego study showed, threatening their foraging efficiency and survival. Both kinds of workers also were more strongly harmed in summer as compared to spring.

"This work is a step forward toward a better understanding of the risks that pesticides could pose to bees and the environment," said Tosi, a postdoctoral fellow and project manager at the Epidemiology Unit. According to the authors, the standard measurements of only lethal effects are insufficient for assessing the complexity of pesticide effects.

A honey bee forages on flower. Credit: Heather Broccard-Bell

A honey bee forages on flower. Credit: Heather Broccard-Bell

"Our results highlight the importance of assessing the effects pesticides have on the behavior of animals, and demonstrate that synergism, seasonality and bee age are key factors that subtly change pesticide toxicity," Tosi said. Cocktail effects are particularly relevant because bees are frequently exposed to multiple pesticides simultaneously.

"Because standard risk assessment requires relatively limited tests that only marginally address bee behavior and do not consider the influence of bee age and season, these results raise concerns about the safety of multiple approved pesticides, not only Sivanto," said Nieh, a professor in the Section of Ecology, Behavior and Evolution. "This research suggests that pesticide risk assessments should be refined to determine the effects of commonly encountered pesticide cocktails upon bee behavior and survival."

Sivanto is available in 30 countries in America, Africa, Asia and Europe, with 65 additional countries preparing to approve the product soon. Tosi points out that "because Sivanto was only recently approved, and no monitoring studies have yet investigated its co-occurrence with other pesticides after typical uses in the field, further studies are needed to better assess its actual environmental contamination, and consequent risk for pollinators."

"The idea that this pesticide is a silver bullet in the sense that it will kill all the bad things but preserve the good things is very alluring but deserves caution," said Nieh.
https://phys.org/news/2019-04-pesticide-cocktail-honey-bees.html

Explore further Pesticides and poor nutrition damage animal health

More information: S. Tosi et al. Lethal and sublethal synergistic effects of a new systemic pesticide, flupyradifurone (Sivanto ® ), on honeybees, Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences (2019). DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2019.0433

Journal information: Proceedings of the Royal Society B 

Provided by the University of California - San Diego https://phys.org/partners/university-of-california---san-diego/

Honey Bee Parasites Feed on Fatty Organs, Not Blood

Phys.org University of Maryland January 14, 2019

In this electron micrograph, a parasitic mite,  Varroa destructor , is wedged between the abdominal plates of a honey bee's exoskeleton. Credit: UMD/USDA/PNAS

In this electron micrograph, a parasitic mite, Varroa destructor, is wedged between the abdominal plates of a honey bee's exoskeleton. Credit: UMD/USDA/PNAS

Honey bee colonies around the world are at risk from a variety of threats, including pesticides, diseases, poor nutrition and habitat loss. Recent research suggests that one threat stands well above the others: a parasitic mite, Varroa destructor, which specializes in attacking honey bees.

For decades, researchers have assumed that varroa mites feed on blood, like many of their mite and tick cousins. But new University of Maryland-led research suggests that varroa mites instead have a voracious appetite for a honey bee organ called the fat body, which serves many of the same vital functions carried out by the human liver, while also storing food and contributing to bees' immune systems.

The research, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on January 14, 2019, could transform researchers' understanding of the primary threats to honey bees while pointing the way toward more effective mite treatments in the future.

"Bee researchers often refer to three Ps: parasites, pesticides and poor nutrition. Many studies have shown that varroa is the biggest issue. But when compromised by varroa, colonies are also more susceptible to the other two," said UMD alumnus Samuel Ramsey (Ph.D. '18, entomology), the lead author of the paper. "Now that we know that the fat body is varroa's target, this connection is now much more obvious. Losing fat body tissue impairs a bee's ability to detoxify pesticides and robs them of vital food stores. The fat body is absolutely essential to honey bee survival."

In addition to breaking down toxins and storing nutrients, honey bee fat bodies produce antioxidants and help to manage the immune system. The fatty organs also play an important role in the process of metamorphosis, regulating the timing and activity of key hormones. Fat bodies also produce the wax that covers parts of bees' exoskeletons, keeping water in and diseases out.

According to Ramsey, the assumption that varroa mites consume honey bee blood (more accurately called hemolymph in insects) has persisted since the first paper on the topic was published in the 1960s. Because this paper was written in Russian, Ramsey said, many researchers opted to cite the first English-language papers that cited the original study.

In this cross-section of a honey bee's abdomen, a parasitic varroa mite (orange) can be seen lodged between the bee's abdominal plates, where the mite feeds on honey bee fat body tissue. Credit: UMD/USDA/PNAS

In this cross-section of a honey bee's abdomen, a parasitic varroa mite (orange) can be seen lodged between the bee's abdominal plates, where the mite feeds on honey bee fat body tissue. Credit: UMD/USDA/PNAS

"The initial work was only sufficient to show the total volume of a meal consumed by a mite," Ramsey added. "It can be a lot easier to cite a recent summary instead of the original work. Had the first paper been read more widely, many folks might have questioned these assumptions sooner."

Ramsey noted several observations that led him to question whether varroa mites were feeding on something other than hemolymph. First, insect hemolymph is very low in nutrients. To grow and reproduce at the rates they do, varroa mites would need to consume far more hemolymph than they would be able to acquire from a single bee.

Second, varroa mites' excrement is very dry—contrary to what one would expect from an entirely liquid blood diet. Lastly, varroa mites' mouthparts appear to be adapted for digesting soft tissues with enzymes then consuming the resulting mush. By contrast, blood-feeding mites have very different mouthparts, specifically adapted for piercing membranes and sucking fluid.

The first and most straightforward experiment Ramsey and his collaborators performed was to observe where on the bees' bodies the varroa mites tended to attach themselves for feeding. If the mites grabbed on to random locations, Ramsey reasoned, that would suggest that they were in fact feeding on hemolymph, which is distributed evenly throughout the body. On the other hand, if they had a preferred site on the body, that could provide an important clue to their preferred meal.

"When they feed on immature bees, mites will eat anywhere. But in adult bees, we found a very strong preference for the underside of the bees' abdomen," Ramsey said. "More than 90 percent of mites we found on adults fed there. As it happens, fat body tissue is spread throughout the bodies of immature bees. As the bees mature, the tissue migrates to the underside of the abdomen. The connection was hard to ignore, but we needed more evidence."

Ramsey and his team then directly imaged the wound sites where varroa mites gnawed on the bees' abdomens. Using a technique called freeze fracturing, the researchers used liquid nitrogen to freeze the mites and their bee hosts, essentially taking a physical "snapshot" of the mites' feeding habits in action. Using powerful scanning electron microscopes to visualize the wound sites, Ramsey saw clear evidence that the mites were feeding on fat body tissue.

This microscopic image shows a varroa mite that has consumed honey bee fat body tissue tagged with Nile red, a fat-soluble fluorescent dye. Observing this red fluorescence in the mites' digestive systems helped researchers determine that varroa mites feed on honey bee fat body tissue--not blood, as previously assumed. Credit: UMD/USDA/ PNAS

This microscopic image shows a varroa mite that has consumed honey bee fat body tissue tagged with Nile red, a fat-soluble fluorescent dye. Observing this red fluorescence in the mites' digestive systems helped researchers determine that varroa mites feed on honey bee fat body tissue--not blood, as previously assumed. Credit: UMD/USDA/PNAS

"The images gave us an excellent view into the wound sites and what the mites' mouthparts were doing," Ramsey said. "We could see digested pieces of fat body cells. The mites were turning the bees into 'cream of honey bee soup.' An organism the size of a bee's face is climbing on and eating an organ. It's scary stuff. But we couldn't yet verify that blood wasn't also being consumed."

To further shore up their case, Ramsey and his colleagues fed bees with one of two fluorescent dyes: uranine, a water-soluble dye that glows yellow, and Nile red, a fat-soluble dye that glows red. If the mites were consuming hemolymph, Ramsey expected to see a bright yellow glow in the mites' bellies after feeding. If they were feeding on fat bodies, on the other hand, Ramsey predicted a telltale red glow.

"When we saw the first mite's gut, it was glowing bright red like the sun. This was proof positive that the fat body was being consumed," Ramsey said. "We've been talking about these mites like they're vampires, but they're not. They're more like werewolves. We've been trying to drive a stake through them, but turns out we needed a silver bullet."

To drive the proverbial final nail into the coffin of the idea that mites feed on hemolymph, Ramsey performed one last experiment. First, he painstakingly perfected the ability to raise varroa mites on an artificial dietary regimen—hardly an easy task for a parasite that prefers meals from a live host. Then, he fed them diets composed of hemolymph or fat body tissue, with a few mixtures of the two for good measure.

The results were striking: mites fed a diet of pure hemolymph starved, while those fed fat body tissue thrived and even produced eggs.

"These results have the potential to revolutionize our understanding of the damage done to bees by mites," said Dennis vanEngelsdorp, a professor of entomology at UMD and a co-author of the study, who also served as Ramsey's advisor. "Fat bodies serve so many crucial functions for bees. It makes so much more sense now to see how the harm to individual bees plays out in the ways that we already know varroa does damage to honey bee colonies. Importantly, it also opens up so many new opportunities for more effective treatments and targeted approaches to control mites."

Read more at: https://phys.org/news/2019-01-honey-bee-parasites-fatty-blood.html#jCp

More information: Samuel D. Ramsey el al., "Varroa destructor feeds primarily on honey bee fat body tissue and not hemolymph," PNAS (2018). www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.1818371116 

Journal reference: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 

Provided by: University of Maryland

How the Hell Do You Vaccinate a Bee?

HAARETZ By Ruth Schuster December 18, 2018

a bee Credit: AMR ABDALLAH DALSH/ REUTERS

a bee Credit: AMR ABDALLAH DALSH/ REUTERS

Scientists propose to inoculate bees against deadly diseases
reportedly decimating their colonies lest we all starve, and no,
vaccines don’t cause autism in insects either

Many and myriad a solution has been touted for the catastrophes reportedly afflicting bee colonies around the world, spurring fears that the loss of their pollinating powers will lead to massive crop losses.

Honeycomb with bees. credit: philippe wojazer, reuters

Honeycomb with bees. credit: philippe wojazer, reuters

The latest wrinkle is to vaccinate the insects against diseases implicated in colony collapse disorder, a method (dubbed PrimeBEE) developed by two scientists in the University of Helsinki, Dalial Freitak and Heli Salmela, and reported by AFP and ZME Science.

Dead bees killed by mite infestation. Credit: Getty Images IL

Dead bees killed by mite infestation. Credit: Getty Images IL

There is no consensus about the extent of the problem, or even whether bee colony collapse disorder is a thing, let alone a worsening thing. Some experts claim that declines in world bee populations is a natural fluctuation or that, in any case, it is reversible. The cause of the declining bee populations is variously ascribed to pesticides, geomagnetic disturbances (impairing the bees’ navigation), vampire-like mites, viruses, sunspots (navigation again), bacteria, fungi, climate change, and malnutrition. Or a combination of some or all of these. Some even claim that although there is a problem, its dimensions have been egregiously overstated.

The one thing we’re sure of is that bees are good, certainly since we have abandoned a life of hunting and grubbing for roots in favor of industrial farming. Around a third of the plants people eat require pollination (grains don’t), and while fruit bats and other living beings play their part, bees are estimated to be responsible for about a third of that. No question, the insect is crucial to food security.

Fruit bats are lovely but no replacement for bees. credit: Tomer Appelbaum

Fruit bats are lovely but no replacement for bees. credit: Tomer Appelbaum

So, whether or not colony collapse is a thing, clearly prevention is worth an ounce of honey. A riot of flower species are being planted or just allowed to grow between European crop fields, to vary the bees’ sources of nectar for the sake of their nutrition; in England, farmers have been planting hedgerows and trees because honey bees prefer them to “just” flowers.

Scientists have experimented with fighting mite infestations by a method involving exposing the bees to cold (by, er, shutting them in the fridge), while others are monkeying around with rich solutions to augment their feed.

Some people propose to replace the humbled honeybee with other more robust bee species, bats or whatever. (Robot bees don’t seem to be the answer.) And now Finnish scientists have invented the first-ever vaccines for bees. One gets a mental picture of a nimble-fingered scientist armed with an extremely fine needle and infinite patience. But one would be wrong.

bees in a hive. credit: chris o’meara, ap

bees in a hive. credit: chris o’meara, ap

The inoculating chemical is put into a sugar cube that is fed to the queen bee, who passes the immunity onto her offspring. The scientists have begun their testing process with a sugar-coated vaccine against so-called “American foulbrood” – a fatal bacterial condition that actually affects bees around the world. Unhappily for our friends the bees, foulbrood is caused by sporulating bacteria, meaning hardy ones, and it’s highly infectious. It infects and kills bee larvae, not adults, hence the name.

The bee vaccination technique will take some four to five years to perfect, lead researcher Freitak told AFP.

Intriguingly, bee vaccination isn’t about injecting an antigen that provokes production of antibodies. Insect immune systems don’t have antibodies, but as the University of Helsinki explains, Freitak had noticed (in moths) that if the parents eat certain bacteria in their food, their offspring show elevated immune responses to that germ. Ultimately, this led to the thought of a delivery system of the vaccination via food. They started with foulbrood because it’s so deadly and infectious. Right now, the technique is being tested for safety, following which commercialization can ensue.

Also, given that vaccinations do not cause autism in people (with all due respect to the lunatic fringe), there’s no reason to think they cause mental acuity or behavioral issues in bees.

Although much work remains to be done – including to adapt the technique to a lot more bacteria, fungi and other nasties – as Freitak stated: “If we can save even a small part of the bee population with this invention, I think we have done our good deed and saved the world a little bit.”

It isn't clear if colony collapse syndrome is a huge problem or hype: Meanwhile, here are some bees flying around. credit: bloomberg

It isn't clear if colony collapse syndrome is a huge problem or hype: Meanwhile, here are some bees flying around. credit: bloomberg

Scientists Create Edible Honey Bee Vaccine To Protect Them From Deadly Diseases

Honey bees pollinate a variety of crops, such as apples and melons.

Honey bees pollinate a variety of crops, such as apples and melons.

FOX News By Madeline Farber December 6, 2018

The first-ever vaccine for insects now exists, thanks to scientists at the University of Helsinki in Finland hoping to save one of the most crucial pollinators in the world: the honey bee.

The vaccine, which is edible, “protects bees from diseases while protecting global food production,” the university said in a news release. The goal, researchers said, is to protect the bees against American foulbrood, “a bacterial disease caused by the spore-forming Paenibacillus larvae ssp. Larvae.”

The disease is the “most widespread and destructive of the bee brood diseases,” the university added.

Bloomberg reported the disease can kill “entire colonies” while its “spores can remain viable for more than 50 years.”

To distribute the vaccine, scientists place a sugar patty in the hive, which the queen then eats over the course of about a week. Once ingested, the pathogens in the patty are then passed into the queen’s eggs, “where they work as inducers for future immune responses,” the university explained in the statement.

The vaccine — which is not yet sold commercially, according to Bloomberg — is also significant because it was once not thought possible to develop a vaccine for insects, as these creatures’ immune systems do not contain antibodies.

"Now we've discovered the mechanism to show that you can actually vaccinate them. You can transfer a signal from one generation to another," Dalial Freitak, a University of Helsinki scientist who worked to create the vaccine, said in a statement.

Honey bees are important to the U.S. crop production, contributing an estimated $20 billion to its value, according to the American Beekeeping Foundation. The species pollinate a variety of crops, including apples, melons, blueberries and cherries — the latter two are “90 percent dependent on honey bee pollination,” according to the foundation.

“One crop, almonds, depends entirely on the honey bee for pollination at bloom time,” the American Beekeeping Foundation added.

The honey bee population in North America has been affected by Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) disease, mites and possibly the use of neonicotinoid pesticides, according to the Harvard University Library.

On average, beekeepers in the U.S. lost an estimated 40 percent of their managed honey bee colonies from April 2017 to April 2018, according to Bee Informed, a nationwide collaboration of research efforts to better understand the decline of honeybees.

"We need to help honey bees, absolutely. Even improving their life a little would have a big effect on the global scale. Of course, the honeybees have many other problems as well: pesticides, habitat loss and so on, but diseases come hand in hand with these life-quality problems,” Freitak said.

“If we can help honey bees to be healthier and if we can save even a small part of the bee population with this invention, I think we have done our good deed and saved the world a little bit," Freitak added.

Fox News' Emilie Ikeda contributed to this report.

Related: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-12-06/world-s-first-honey-bee-vaccine-seeks-to-save-dying-pollinators

American Foulbrood Disease

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

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

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

The Ultimate Guide to British Bees: How to Protect Their Declining Population

DIY Garden (UK)    By Clive Harris    January 9, 2018  

(NOTE: Good reading out of the UK from DIY Garden.)

Bees are a part of our landscapes and gardens, we know what they are and we know they make honey, but our bees are in danger of disappearing due to habitat destruction, chemicals and disease.

Without bees the human race will struggle to harvest enough food. That sounds dramatic but our pollinators are responsible for the fruiting of our harvest. In short, we have to change bee fortunes not only for their sake but for our own.

Bee numbers are a good indication of environmental health. Like our native hedgehogs and butterfliesthey are in decline and this points to environmental problems – but there are ways you can help reverse their fortunes.

The majority of people know bees make honey and they sting, but there is so much more to this fascinating creature – did you know they have five eyes? Two standard ones and then three on top of their head, and were you aware there are hundreds of different types in the UK alone?

Here’s the ultimate guide to bees and how we can help them survive.

Continue reading: https://diygarden.co.uk/wildlife/ultimate-guide-to-bees/?msID=615f1a74-c9a6-4763-8ee2-56c24bb2a7f5

EPA Needs to Hear from Beekeepers

The following is a FB post from Virginia Bee Supply dated 2/12/18:

"This message is for all beekeepers having problems with their honeybee colonies collapsing failing to build up etc.

Tom Steeger EPA 703-305-5444 (email: steeger.thomas@epa.gov) would like to hear from you. He would to hear from as many beekeepers as he can. His comment to me was a few days ago if we don't hear from beekeepers and many of them we EPA can't began to fix the problem.
 
Send this to fellow beekeepers as well as encourage them to call. Don't put it off Do it today!!
If Tom doesn't answer leave him a message with your phone number and best time to contact you and which time zone you are in.

Tom will get back to you. He is concerned. I have known Tom for over 10 years and one of few people at EPA trying to help.

This message was sent to me this weekend for me to spread the word."

National Honey Bee Day - August 19, 2017 - Dr. Elina Nino Reminds Us to Help Honey Bees Cope with Pests

Green Blog    By Stephania Parreira    August 17, 2017

National Honey Bee Day is celebrated on the third Saturday of every August. This year it falls on Saturday the 19th. If you use integrated pest management, or IPM, you are probably aware that it can solve pest problems and reduce the use of pesticides that harm beneficial insects, including honey bees. But did you know that it is also used to manage pests that live inside honey bee colonies? In this timely podcast below, Elina Niño, UC Cooperative Extension apiculture extension specialist, discusses the most serious pests of honey bees, how beekeepers manage them to keep their colonies alive, and what you can do to help bees survive these challenges.

https://soundcloud.com/ucipm/help-honey-bees-cope-with-pests

To read the full transcript of the audio, click here.

Successful IPM in honey bee colonies involves understanding honey bee pest biology, regularly monitoring for pests, and using a combination of different methods to control their damage.

 

Visit the following resources for more information

For beekeepers:

The California Master Beekeeper Program

EL Niño Bee Lab Courses

EL Niño Bee Lab Newsletter

For all bee lovers:

EL Niño Bee Lab Newsletter

Haagen Dazs Honey Bee Haven plant list

UC IPM Bee Precaution Pesticide Ratings and video tutorial

Sources on the value of honey bees:

Calderone N. 2012. Insect-pollinated crops, Insect Pollinators and US Agriculture: Trend Analysis of Aggregate Data for the Period 1992–2009.

Flottum K. 2017. U.S. Honey Industry Report, 2016.

http://ucanr.edu/blogs/blogcore/postdetail.cfm?postnum=24914

Probiotics Could Improve Survival Rates in Honey Bees Exposed to Pesticides, Study Finds

Science Daily     Source: Lawson Health Research Institute    June 19, 2017

In a new study from Lawson Health Research Institute (Lawson) and Western University, researchers have shown that probiotics can potentially protect honey bees from the toxic effects of pesticides.

Honey bees are critical to agriculture as they pollinate approximately 35 per cent of the global food crop, contributing an estimated $4.39 billion per year to the Canadian economy. Pesticides are currently used to maximize crop yields, but the most common pesticides, neonicotinoid insecticides, are a major factor in colony collapse disorder which is killing honey bee populations.

"The demise of honey bees would be disastrous for humankind. A current dilemma in agriculture is how to prevent bee decline while mitigating crop losses," says Dr. Gregor Reid, Director for the Canadian Centre for Human Microbiome and Probiotic Research at Lawson, and Professor at Western's Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry. "We wanted to see whether probiotics could counter the toxic effects of pesticides and improve honey bee survival."

The study was performed by trainees Brendan Daisley and Mark Trinder in Dr. Reid's lab at St. Joseph's Hospital in London, Ontario. The researchers utilized fruit flies as a well-known model for studying pesticide toxicity in honey bees. Both insects are affected similarly by neonicotinoids, have very similar immune systems, and share many common microbes present in their microbiota -- the collection of microorganisms found in each insect.

The researchers found that fruit flies exposed to one of the world's most commonly used pesticides, imidacloprid (IMI), experienced changes to their microbiota and were more susceptible to infections. The flies were exposed to a comparable amount of pesticide as honey bees in the field.

By administering a specific strain of probiotic lactobacilli, survival among fruit flies exposed to the pesticide improved significantly. The mechanism involved stimulating the immune system through a pathway that insects use to adapt to infection, heat and other stresses.

"Our study showed that probiotic lactobacilli can improve immunity and potentially help honey bees to live longer after exposure to pesticides," says Daisley, an MSc candidate. He notes that probiotic lactobacilli could be easily administered through pollen patties, which are used by beekeepers to provide nutritional support and anti-pesticide effects to honey bees.

Over the winter months, honey bee mortality has been steadily increasing with ranges of 38 to 58 per cent in recent years, two to three times higher than the sustainable level. In Ontario alone, 340 bee keepers reported an abnormally high number of bee deaths, with over 70 per cent of dead bees testing positive for neonicotinoid residues (Government of Ontario).

"While cessation of pesticide use would be ideal, farmers currently have little alternative to obtain the yields that keep their businesses viable," says Dr. Reid. "Until we can cease using pesticides, we need to find ways to protect humans and wildlife against their side effects. Probiotics may prove as an effective protective intervention against colony collapse disorder."

The researchers hope to further study the mechanisms involved in this process and perform field tests on honey bee populations in Ontario.

Story Source: Materials provided by Lawson Health Research Institute. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Journal Reference: Brendan A. Daisley, Mark Trinder, Tim W. McDowell, Hylke Welle, Josh S. Dube, Sohrab N. Ali, Hon S. Leong, Mark W. Sumarah, Gregor Reid. Neonicotinoid-induced pathogen susceptibility is mitigated by Lactobacillus plantarum immune stimulation in a Drosophila melanogaster model. Scientific Reports, 2017; 7 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41598-017-02806-w

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/06/170619101827.htm

To Save Honey Bees, Human Behavior Must Change

Science Daily    Source: Entomological Society of America    April 6, 2017

Poor management practices have enabled spread of bee pathogens, bee researcher argues

In the search for answers to the complex health problems and colony losses experienced by honey bees in recent years, it may be time for professionals and hobbyists in the beekeeping industry to look in the mirror.

In a research essay to be published this week in the Entomological Society of America's Journal of Economic Entomology, Robert Owen argues that human activity is a key driver in the spread of pathogens afflicting the European honey bee (Apis mellifera) -- the species primarily responsible for pollination and honey production around the world -- and recommends a series of collective actions necessary to stem their spread. While some research seeks a "magic bullet" solution to honeybee maladies such as Colony Collapse Disorder, "many of the problems are caused by human action and can only be mitigated by changes in human behavior," Owen says.

Owen is author of The Australian Beekeeping Handbook, owner of a beekeeping supply company, and a Ph.D. candidate at the Centre of Excellence for Biosecurity Risk Analysis (CEBRA) at the University of Melbourne. In his essay in the Journal of Economic Entomology, he outlines an array of human-driven factors that have enabled the spread of honey bee pathogens:

  • Regular, large-scale, and loosely regulated movement of bee colonies for commercial pollination. (For instance, in February 2016 alone, of the 2.66 million managed bee colonies in the United States, 1.8 million were transported to California for almond crop pollination.).
  • Carelessness in the application of integrated pest management principles leading to overuse of pesticides and antibiotics, resulting in increased resistance to them among honey bee parasites and pathogens such as the Varroa destructor mite and the American Foul Brood bacterium (Paenibacillus larvae),
  • The international trade in honey bees and honey bee products that has enabled the global spread of pathogens such as varroa destructor, tracheal mite (Acarapis woodi), Nosema cerana, Small Hive Beetle (Aethina tumida ), and the fungal disease chalkbrood (Ascosphaera apis).
  • Lack of skill or dedication among hobbyist beekeepers to adequately inspect and manage colonies for disease.

Owen offers several suggestions for changes in human behavior to improve honey bee health, including:

  • Stronger regulation both of global transport of honey bees and bee products and of migratory beekeeping practices within countries for commercial pollination.
  • Greater adherence to integrated pest management practices among both commercial and hobbyist beekeepers.
  • Increased education of beekeepers on pathogen management (perhaps requiring such education for registration as a beekeeper).
  • Deeper support networks for hobby beekeepers, aided by scientists, beekeeping associations, and government.

"The problems facing honeybees today are complex and will not be easy to mitigate," says Owen. "The role of inappropriate human action in the spread of pathogens and the resulting high numbers of colony losses needs to be brought into the fore of management and policy decisions if we are to reduce colony losses to acceptable levels."

Story Source: Materials provided by Entomological Society of America.

Journal Reference: Robert Owen. Role of Human Action in the Spread of Honey Bee (Hymenoptera: Apidae) Pathogens. Journal of Economic Entomology, 2017; DOI: 10.1093/jee/tox075

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/04/170406121535.htm

Providing an Additional Source of Minerals Might Be Just the Thing for Honey Bees

CATCHE THE BUZZ     February 25, 2017

Despite having few taste genes, honey bees are fine-tuned to know what minerals the colony may lack and proactively seek out nutrients in conjunction with the season when their floral diet varies.

This key finding from a new study led by Tufts University scientists sheds light on limited research on the micronutrient requirements of honey bees, and provides potentially useful insight in support of increased health of the bee population, which has declined rapidly in recent years for a variety of complex reasons.

The research, published in Ecological Entomology, suggests that beekeepers should provide opportunities for their bees to access specific nutrients, possibly through a natural mineral lick, to support their balanced health because the bees will search for the minerals when they need them. It is also an opportunity for the general public to support the bee population by planting a diverse range of flowers that bloom throughout the year.

“Currently, there are micronutrient supplements for managed bee hives on the market but there is little research backing up which minerals the bees actually need,” said Rachael Bonoan, the lead study author and a Ph.D. candidate in biology in the School of Arts and Sciences at Tufts. “The fact that honey bees switch their mineral preferences based on what is available in their floral diet is really exciting. This means that somehow, honey bees know which nutrients the colony needs. This insight helps us support honey bees and other pollinators by providing access to diverse nutrient sources all year long.”

The findings show that honey bees forage for essential minerals that aid their physiological health, even though they have relatively few taste genes. In the fall, when floral resources dwindle, the study showed that bees seek out specific nutrients — calcium, magnesium, and potassium, all commonly found in pollen — by foraging in compound-rich or “dirty” water. When flowers and pollen are abundant in the summer, the bees prefer deionized water and sodium, ultimately suggesting that bees are foraging for minerals in water based on what is lacking in their floral diet.

Bonoan and her research team studied eight honey bee hives that were located about 100 yards from the research area. The bees were trained to come to the research site because researchers placed jars of sugar water at staged intervals until the worker bees became accustomed to the ready food supply.

Researchers set up water vials with different minerals such as sodium, magnesium or phosphorus and catalogued the number of bees that visited each vial. At the end of the day, they also measured how much the bees drank from each vessel to determine which minerals were most in demand.

The researchers also tracked the hive each bee belonged to by dusting worker bees with different colored powders as they left the hives. The team noted which colored bees were drinking from which mineral-laden water source, and later measured the amount of brood to determine whether there is a connection between bee health and specific minerals.

The study results related to hive health were inconclusive. While stronger colonies do tend to visit more minerals than weaker colonies, it was difficult to determine which came first, being a stronger colony or accessing mineral resources. Additional data is necessary to assess colony fitness.

Journal Reference:

Philip T. Starks et al. Seasonality of salt foraging in honey bees (Apis mellifera). Ecological Entomology, 2016; DOI: 1111/een.12375

http://www.beeculture.com/catch-buzz-providing-additional-source-minerals-might-just-thing-honey-bees/?utm_source=Catch+The+Buzz&utm_campaign=24a177c97d-Catch_The_Buzz_4_29_2015&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_0272f190ab-24a177c97d-256242233

Organosilicone Adjuvant, Sylgard 309, Increases the Susceptibility of Honey Bee Larvae to Black Queen Cell Virus

CATCH THE BUZZ    By Alan Harman    January 19, 2017

Healthy bee larva developing on day six. (Penn State photo by Julia Fine)A chemical that is thought to be safe and widely used on crops such as almonds, wine grapes and tree fruits to boost the performance of pesticides, makes honey bee larvae significantly more susceptible to a deadly virus.

Researchers at Penn State and the U.S. Department of Agriculture found that in the lab, the commonly used organosilicone adjuvant, Sylgard 309, negatively impacts the health of honey bee larvae by increasing their susceptibility to a common bee pathogen, the Black Queen Cell Virus.

“These results mirror the symptoms observed in hives following almond pollination, when bees are exposed to organosilicone adjuvant residues in pollen, and viral pathogen prevalence is known to increase,” says Julia Fine, graduate student in entomology at Penn State.

  “In recent years, beekeepers have reported missing, dead and dying brood in their hives following almond pollination, and exposure to agrochemicals, such as adjuvants,  applied during bloom, has been suggested as a cause.”

Chris Mullin, Penn State professor of entomology, says adjuvants in general greatly improve the efficacy of pesticides by enhancing their toxicities.  Organosilicone adjuvants are the most potent adjuvants available to growers.

“Based on the California Department of Pesticide Regulation data for agrochemical applications to almonds, there has been increasing use of organosilicone adjuvants during crop blooming periods, when two-thirds of the U.S. honey bee colonies are present, Mullin says.

 Fine says the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency classifies organosilicone adjuvants as biologically inert, meaning they do not cause a reaction in living things.

“As a result,” she says, “there are no federally regulated restrictions on their use.”

To conduct their study, reported in the journal Scientific Reports, the researchers reared honey bee larvae under controlled conditions in the laboratory. During the initial stages of larval development, they exposed the larvae to a low chronic dose of Sylgard 309 in their diets. They also exposed some of the larvae to viral pathogens in their diets on the first day of the experiment.

“We found that bees exposed to the organosilicone adjuvant had higher levels of Black Queen Cell Virus,” Fine says.

“When they were exposed to the virus and the organosilicone adjuvant simultaneously, the effect on their mortality was synergistic rather than additive, meaning that the mortality was higher from the simultaneous application of adjuvant and virus than from exposure to either the organosilicone adjuvant or the viral pathogen alone, even if those two mortalities were added together.

“This suggests that the adjuvant is enhancing the damaging effects of the virus.” The researchers also found that a particular gene involved in immunity – called 18-wheeler – had reduced expression in bees treated with the adjuvant and the virus, compared to bees in the control groups.

“Taken together, these findings suggest that exposure to organosilicone adjuvants negatively influences immunity in honey bee larvae, resulting in enhanced pathogenicity and mortality,” Fine says.

Mullin says the team’s results suggest that recent honey bee declines in the U.S. may, in part, be due to the increased use of organosilicone adjuvants.

“Billions of pounds of formulation and tank adjuvants, including organosilicone adjuvants, are released into U.S. environments each year, making them an important component of the chemical landscape to which bees are exposed,” he says.

“We now know that at least Sylgard 309, when combined at a field-relevant concentration with Black Queen Cell Virus, causes synergistic mortality in honey bee larvae.”

Other authors on the paper include Diana Cox-Foster, USDA-ARS-PWA Pollinating Insect Research Unit.

http://www.beeculture.com/catch-buzz-organosilicone-adjuvant-sylgard-309-increases-susceptibility-honey-bee-larvae-black-queen-cell-virus/?utm_source=Catch+The+Buzz&utm_campaign=16ac922e26-Catch_The_Buzz_4_29_2015&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_0272f190ab-16ac922e26-256242233

Honey Bee Health Coalition Unveils Videos to Help Beekeepers Combat the Devastating Parasites

 ABJ Extra   December 1, 2016
Videos Complement Coalition’s Tools for Varroa Management Guide, Provides Step-By-Step Demonstrations of Utilizing an Integrated Pest Management Strategy of Monitoring, Treatment
 
[KEYSTONE, Colorado, Dec. 1, 2016] — The Honey Bee Health Coalition released a series of videostoday to help beekeepers promote colony health and combat costly and destructive Varroa mite (Varroa destructor) infestations. The videos can be found on the Coalition website at honeybeehealthcoalition.org/Varroa and provide detailed step-by-step instructions on how to monitor hives for varroa and when levels get too high, safely treat. The videos complement the Coalition’s wildly popular Tools for Varroa Management Guide.
 
“The Honey Bee Health Coalition’s Tools for Varroa Management Guide has provided beekeepers in the US and Canada with invaluable tools and techniques to confront destructive Varroa mite infestations,” said Mark Dykes, Apiary Inspectors of America. “These videos will show beekeeper real world application techniques that will help them correctly apply treatments.”
 

The videos provide helpful visual aids and step-by-step directions on how beekeepers can monitor and control Varroa mites through an Integrated Pest Management strategy. The videos cover a range of strategies and tools, including the uses of formic acid, essential oils, and other synthetic miticides.

“Healthy bees support our world’s food supply and farmers everywhere. A single untreated colony can transmit Varroa mites to other nearby hives and threaten honey bee health across large geographic regions,” said Danielle Downey, Project Apis m. “Beekeeping is becoming very popular, and often keeping the bees healthy is a mysterious learning curve. These important 'how to' videos bring the Coalition’s Tools for Varroa Management Guide to life — and will amplify its impact in the United States, Canada, and around the globe.”
 
The Coalition’s Tools for Varroa Management has given beekeepers the tools they need to measure Varroa mite infestations in their hives and select appropriate control methods. The guide, which has been downloaded more than 5,500 times since its release, has been updated 4 times with continued refinements and details.

 

Starting in January, Honey Producers Will Have to Turn to Veterinarians for their Antimicrobial Drugs

CATCH THE BUZZ-Bee Culture By Katie James, dvm360 Associate Content Specialist  November 29, 2016

Veterinarian Chris Cripps works with bees. Photo courtesy of Chris Cripps.When the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)’s Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD) regulations take effect in January to combat overuse of antimicrobial drugs in food animals, veterinarians will be in charge of an uncommon patient: honey bees.

That’s right—honey bees are considered a food animal and will be subject to the same regulations as cows, chickens and other animals raised for food production. The antibiotics beekeepers use will no longer be available over the counter and will require a VFD order from a veterinarian to be administered.

With a rise in beekeeping’s popularity—especially in backyard hives—in the last few years, veterinary clinics may see increased calls to examine hives once the regulations take effect.

What and why?

The FDA’s VFD regulations became final in 2013, allowing three years for the industry to come into compliance. They’re intended to change how antibiotics considered medically important in human medicine are used in food-producing animals in order to combat concerns of drug resistance. The FDA wants to eliminate the use of such drugs for things like growth promotion and feed efficiency and bring the therapeutic uses of these drugs under the supervision of licensed veterinarians. These changes are meant to ensure that antimicrobials are used only when appropriate for specific animal health purposes—and the veterinarian is the one who makes that call.

A VFD, sometimes called a “VFD order,” is a written statement from a practicing veterinarian authorizing the use of a VFD drug or combination VFD drug in animal feed, according to the FDA. This statement also authorizes the client who owns the animals to obtain and use animal feed containing a VFD drug or combination VFD drug according to the indicated use.

A VFD drug is one that is intended for use in or on animal feed under the supervision of a veterinarian. A combination VFD drug is a combination product that includes at least one VFD drug.

Why not a prescription?

While all VFD and prescription medications require the supervision of a veterinarian with an established veterinary-client-patient relationship, VFD medications fall into a separate regulatory category from prescriptions. When the medication is approved for use in or on feed, it is a VFD drug. When it is approved for use in animals but not in feed, it is a prescription drug. Medications designed to be administered in water require a prescription, not a VFD. The antibiotics used for honey bees come in two forms. One has a VFD label and three have prescription labels. They are all fed to bees by mixing with sugar and sprinkling the mixture in the hive.

A small subset of the industry

One of the diseases beekeepers use antibiotics to treat is American foulbrood (AFB). AFB is very hard to get rid of—the most effective way is to burn the hive—and spores can be reactivated as many as 70 years later. Antibiotics eliminate clinical signs of the disease, but if the treatment is stopped the disease can recur.

“Antibiotics are not something that a lot of people are using, but the big producers have been using them for several years to decrease signs of AFB. If they stop using antibiotics, and don’t get a veterinarian involved because of the new regulations, then there might be a big outbreak of AFB for some people,” says Chris Cripps, DVM, co-owner of Betterbee, the Northeast Center for Beekeeping. “An outbreak can be very frustrating and demoralizing. The beekeeper may just walk away from the bees, leaving them contagious to the other bees in the area. Then the rest of the community could be affected.”

Most commercial keepers know what AFB is and know to prevent or treat it, but less-experienced hobbyists may not, Cripps says. One source of infection can be secondhand beekeeping equipment, because the spores live for such a long time. Backyard keepers just starting out may think they’re getting a great deal when buying used equipment, but they run the risk of an AFB flare-up once a new hive starts up in contaminated equipment.

The Varroa mite is actually more of a concern than AFB, Cripps says. The mites carry viruses that can wipe out a hive. Hives require treatment to keep the pest under control, but those treatments are under Environmental Protection Agency regulations and are available over the counter.

“The mites were first found in 1987 and they have spread throughout the country since then. I’d bet that every beekeeper has mites, but maybe 1 percent have AFB,” he says.

People starting hives now because of the heightened awareness that the bee population is trouble are of the mindset that they want to help the environment. They aren’t looking to use antibiotics, Cripps says. They want to use as little chemical as possible on their hives.

An opportunity, not a burden

Though the new regulations mean more steps on the part of beekeeping clients and their veterinarians, there’s also an opportunity for education.

“The beekeepers are wondering why veterinarians are getting into it. Is it just about money? Meanwhile the veterinarians are also wondering why they have to get involved. Neither group is really set up well to work together, but the FDA wants it so,” Cripps says. “A lot of beekeepers are saying they’re not going to call a veterinarian, so veterinarians need to educate the community and say, ‘We’re here and we know what we’re doing.’”

A lot of beekeeping regulation is handled by state inspectors who generally work in the plant side of the department of agriculture and not in the animal area, Cripps says. “Veterinarians and regulators will need to work with the USDA or the state veterinarian for some sort of marriage of the systems that the state uses for disease reporting—similar to how the state veterinarian tracks cattle inspections and health charts,” he says.

There’s an opportunity for veterinarians who already know about bees and beekeeping and who can handle hives and work bees to step up and help educate, Cripps says. He and the staff at Betterbee have been working to create Beevets.com, an online resource where veterinarians who are interested in bees can list their contact information and beekeepers can find veterinarians in their area.

“It’s interesting, because I thought I left practice as I started getting into bees, but there have been a lot of questions from veterinarians and beekeepers,” Cripps says.

For more information about VFD regulations, click here.

http://www.beeculture.com/catch-buzz-starting-january-honey-producers-will-turn-veterinarians-antimicrobial-needs/

Varroa Destructor

BeesInfo.com   November 25, 2016

It is an external parasite that attacks the bee species Apis cerana and Apis mellifera. The disease caused by mites called varroa. Varroa destructor can only be played in a bee colony. It adheres to the body of the bee and weakens sucking hemolymph. In this process, RNA viruses such as deformed wing virus (DWV) propagates between bees.

A significant mite infestation will lead to the death of a hive if the beekeeper does not remedy some kind of treatment, usually in late fall through early spring.The Varroa mite is the parasite with the economic impact more pronounced in the beekeeping sector. It is a factor contributing to colony collapse disorder, since research conducted in recent years point to a number of triggers for the disappearance of bees, including the varroa.  The adult mite is reddish brown, is shaped flat button is 1-1.8 mm long and 1.5-2 mm wide, and has eight legs.
Continue reading: http://beesinfo.info/?p=337

A New Organic Acid Varroa Mite Medication

CATCH THE BUZZ    October 15, 2016

At its October meeting, the Committee for Medicinal Products for Veterinary Use (CVMP) of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) recommended the granting of a marketing authorization in the European Union (EU) for VarroMed (oxalic acid dihydrate / formic acid). This antiparasitic medicine treats the Varroa mite infestation in honey-bee colonies, which is considered to be the most significant parasitic health concern affecting honey bees worldwide.

Honey bees are essential for pollination of crops and wild plants in Europe. The European Commission estimates that pollinators, including honey bees, bumble bees and wild bees, contribute at least 22 billion euros each year to European agriculture and pollinate over 80% of crops and wild plants on the continent.

However, beekeepers around the world have reported losses of honey-bee colonies, which are considered to be caused by a combination of different factors such as habitat loss, climate change, pesticide use, and also diseases affecting bee health. A continued decline of these pollinators could lead to serious biological, agricultural, environmental and economic difficulties.

The main parasite affecting honey bees is the Varroa mite (Varroa destructor), an invasive species from Asia that has affected bee colonies worldwide. The Varroa mite feeds on the circulatory fluid of bees and brood (bee larvae) and can also contribute to the spread of viruses and bacteria.

VarroMed is intended to kill Varroa mites and is a liquid which is trickled onto bees in the hive. It contains as active substance a fixed combination of two organic acids, oxalic acid dihydrate and formic acid. Both substances have been known in veterinary medicine for a long time and are either naturally present in foods or accepted for use in foods. The medicine is not expected to pose a risk to human or animal health or the environment, if used according to the product information.

VarroMed is intended to be used as part of an integrated Varroa control programme, which includes not only treatment with medicines but also non-chemical techniques like queen trapping or drone brood removal. It can be used either as a single-dose treatment during the broodless period (winter treatment) or in the presence of brood (spring or autumn), which will usually require repeated treatments.

Treatment should only be given at times when honey is not produced by bees.

The effectiveness and safety of the product in the protection of honey bees against Varroa mites was tested in laboratory and field studies in different European climate conditions. VarroMed was effective in killing more than 80% of mites, which is below the effectiveness level of 90% recommended by the CVMP Varroa guideline. However, CVMP agreed that a lower level of 80% could be accepted when integrated Varroa control techniques are put in place. Repeated treatment of VarroMed might also result in increased bee mortality, and careful dosing is recommended to avoid overdosing.

The medicine has been classified as MUMS (minor use minor species/limited market), and, therefore, reduced data requirements apply, and these have been considered in the assessment. EMA’s MUMS policy aims to stimulate the development of new veterinary medicines for minor species and for diseases in major species for which the market is limited and that would otherwise not be developed under current market conditions.

The CVMP opinion will now be sent to the European Commission for the adoption of a decision on an EU-wide marketing authorization.

http://www.beeculture.com/catch-buzz-new-organic-acid-varroa-mite-medication/?utm_source=Catch+The+Buzz&utm_campaign=6021dd0365-Catch_The_Buzz_4_29_2015&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_0272f190ab-6021dd0365-256242233

Beekeeping Tips for August

ABJ Extra    August 15, 2016
Courtesy of Joli Winer, editor
The Northeastern Kansas Beekeepers' Association,
The Bee Buzzer, August, 2016
  • Use the weed eater and mow around your hives so that the bees can get in and out.
  • After pulling off your supers check your hives to make sure they have laying queens.
  • Provide water for your bees if they do not have a water source.
  • Bees are hanging on the outside of the hives to help keep it cooler inside the hives — not much honey coming in so they are just keeping cool.
  • Harvest any fall honey & get it extracted. Any honey that you pull off to extract should be extracted within a few days. In this heat wax moth damage can happen in just a few days. Small hive beetles can also do a great deal of damage to your supers and your honey. Don't pull your honey off until you are ready to extract.
  • Check the moisture in your honey — moisture is running very high in some states.
  • Complete a fall inspection for each hive
  • Take an inventory at your bee yards to see what equipment you need to repair or replace over the winter.
  • Get your entrance reducers on towards the end of September to keep mice out of your hives. Check for mice before installing mouse guards. Check your bottom boards for holes big enough for a mouse to go through.
  • Store any frames with drawn comb in paradichlorobenze (moth crystals). Wax moth damage can be devastating to your combs. Store them in a cool ventilated area. Do not store your supers in plastic garbage bags as this acts as an incubator for the wax moth!
  • Update your record book - you won't remember in the spring!
  • Check your hives for stored honey. Most colonies will need 40 - 60 pounds of honey to winter successfully. The top deep super/hive body should be packed full of honey. If it isn't you should feed the bees some syrup. If mixing your own syrup in the fall the mixture should be 2:1 sugar to water by weight. That would be 4 lbs. of sugar to 2 lbs. of boiling water. You can also get high fructose corn syrup. However, you may not use corn syrup or any type of syrup that you purchase at the grocery store. It has things in it that can cause problems with your bees. NEVER feed honey purchased from the grocery store - it can spread American Foulbrood disease to your bees. 
Here are the reasons bees die over the winter. Make sure you take care of these problems in the fall:
  1. Bees run out of honey.
  2. Too few bees to maintain the cluster.
  3. The bees' digestive tracts compact with too much waste matter.
  4. They exhibit parasitic mite syndrome.
Check your colonies to see if you need to treat for Varroa mites.
  • Combine a weak colony with a stronger colony. Colonies may be split again in the spring.
  • Keep a vigilant eye out for small hive beetles. Inspect you hives to make sure you have a good laying queen. You should see brood in all stages (eggs, larvae, capped).
  • If treating for mites get your treatments on as soon as possible. Mark your calendar with the date they went in and the date they should come out. The earlier you can get your treatments on for Varroa mites the better chance you have of getting healthy young bees into the hive to make it through the winter.
  • Make sure your brood is in the center of the bottom hive body. Arrange honey frames on the sides and in the top hive body — it should be full of honey. If it isn't, feed your bees syrup.
  • Make sure your hives are tipped forward, just slightly, so water doesn't pool on the bottom board and cause moisture problems.

    http://us1.campaign-archive2.com/?u=5fd2b1aa990e63193af2a573d&id=a65e2bd38f&e=cb715f1bb5

Pesticides Used to Help Bees, May Actually Harm Them

ABJ Extra  August 9, 2016

In general, honey bee health has been declining since the 1980s, with the introduction of new pathogens and pests. Credit: Photo by Rob Flynn.Pesticides beekeepers are using to improve honey bee health may actually be harming the bees by damaging the bacteria communities in their guts, according to a team led by a Virginia Tech scientist.

The discovery, published in the journal Frontiers in Microbiology, is a concern because alterations can affect the gut's ability to metabolize sugars and peptides, processes that are vital for honey bee health. Beekeepers typically apply pesticides to hives to rid them of harmful parasites such as Varroa mites.

"Although helpful for ridding hives of parasites and pathogens, the chemicals in beekeeper-applied pesticides can be harmful to the bees," said Mark Williams, an associate professor of horticulture in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and lead author. "Our research suggests thatC pesticides could specifically impact the microbes that are crucial to honey bee nutrition and health."

For the project, the team extracted genomic data from honey bees that lived in hives that were treated with pesticides (three different kinds) with those that were not. Samples were pulled from hives in three separate Blacksburg locations.

Honey bees from chlorothalanil-treated hives showed the greatest change in gut microbiome, said Williams, who is also affiliated with the Fralin Life Science Institute.

Looking ahead, the team plans to investigate the specific changes in gut microbiota activities that affect honey bee survival. Honey bees are the foundation of successful high-value food production.

"Our team wants to better describe the core microbiota using bioinformatics to help best characterize the microbes that support healthy honey bees and thus stave off disease naturally," said co-author Richard Rodrigues, a postdoctoral researcher at Oregon State University and formerly a graduate student in Williams' lab.

Other authors include Troy Anderson, a former assistant professor of entomology at Virginia Tech; Madhavi Kakumanu, a postdoctoral scientist at North Carolina State University and former Virginia Tech graduate student in Williams' lab; and Alison Reeves, a former graduate student in Anderson's lab.

In Virginia, the approximate rate of hive loss is more than 30 percent per year, and continued losses are expected to drive up the cost for important crops that bees make possible, such as apples, melon and squash.

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Neonicotinoid-Contaminated Pollinator Strips Adjacent to Cropland Reduces Honey Bee Nutritional Status

CATCH THE BUZZ    By: Christina L. Mogren & Jonathan G. Lundgren     July 28, 2016

Worldwide pollinator declines are attributed to a number of factors, including pesticide exposures. Neonicotinoid insecticides specifically have been detected in surface waters, non-target vegetation, and bee products, but the risks posed by environmental exposures are still not well understood. Pollinator strips were tested for clothianidin contamination in plant tissues, and the risks to honey bees assessed. An enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) quantified clothianidin in leaf, nectar, honey, and bee bread at organic and seed-treated farms. Total glycogen, lipids, and protein from honey bee workers were quantified. The proportion of plants testing positive for clothianidin were the same between treatments. Leaf tissue and honey had similar concentrations of clothianidin between organic and seed-treated farms. Honey (mean±SE: 6.61 ± 0.88 ppb clothianidin per hive) had seven times greater concentrations than nectar collected by bees (0.94 ± 0.09 ppb). Bee bread collected from organic sites (25.8 ± 3.0 ppb) had significantly less clothianidin than those at seed treated locations (41.6 ± 2.9 ppb). Increasing concentrations of clothianidin in bee bread were correlated with decreased glycogen, lipid, and protein in workers. This study shows that small, isolated areas set aside for conservation do not provide spatial or temporal relief from neonicotinoid exposures in agricultural regions where their use is largely prophylactic.

Click on this link for the rest of this article – http://www.nature.com/articles/srep29608