'The Pollinators' Opens nationwide in November!

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The Pollinators is going into cinemas nationwide in November!  Woo Hoo!!!

November 6th is a national day of screening in the U.S. for The Pollinators with hundreds of cinema screenings on that day. 
 
In Canada, the day will be November 11th.  

The Pollinators will be available in cities and towns, big and small from coast to coast in movie theaters.  We’re excited about this new distribution model––it’s cinema screenings by crowd sourcing––Bringing films to the big screen and directly to the people who want to see them.  Watch The Pollinators trailer.  
                                            
Demand.Film is distributing The Pollinators theatrically and works with cinema chains and arthouses to book theaters.  You can find or request a screening near you.  Tickets are available on the Demand.Film website and people reserve tickets in advance.  Word is spread within your community and when the ticket reservation threshold is met (usually about 50 seats), the screening is confirmed and the movie screens as a single night event.  Tickets are charged only at that point, so there is no risk to the audience or the theater. 

There is a time limit however.

Reserve your tickets by October 28th so we can lock in the theaters.  If you are interested in going, please reserve your tickets today.  Once a venue is booked, tickets will still be available right up to the actual day of screening.
Because of your interest in the film, we would like to offer a limited time discount code.  Use the code Pollinator10 at purchase. 

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There is also another opportunity for you to help support The Pollinators.
Each screening page has a promoter and that could be you!
It's simple to do, it doesn't cost anything and you will probably meet some very cool people along the way.
Show your support for bees and our food system by sharing and promoting the screening in person and through your social media channels. Use the event to gather your friends and colleagues.
Be The Pollinators "ambeesador" in your community.
Contact us to find out how to put your name on a screening.

Check out The Pollinators website to see the latest updates and be sure to connect with us on social media. Please email us with any questions and feel free to share this with your friends and colleagues.
Many thanks for all your enthusiastic support of The Pollinators.
Best, Peter

U.C. San Diego Nieh Research Lab

The Los Angeles County Beekeepers Association was honored to have Dr. James Nieh, Professor/Chief Investigator and Amy Geffre, PhD Candidate, share their latest honey bee research at our meeting, Monday, October 7, 2019.

Following are links to the US Can Diego Nieh Lab:

Honey bee health - https://labs.biology.ucsd.edu/nieh/honeybee_health.html
What’s new - https://labs.biology.ucsd.edu/nieh/inthenews.html
All our publications - https://labs.biology.ucsd.edu/nieh/publications.html

James C. Nieh
Professor, Section of Ecology, Behavior, and Evolution
Division of Biological Sciences
UCSD

Office: Muir Biology Room 1116
(w) 858 822 5010
(fax) 858 534 7108

Mailing address for letters:
James C. Nieh
UCSD
9500 Gilman Drive, MC 0116
La Jolla, CA 92093-0116
USA

Mailing address for packages:
James C. Nieh
UCSD
Biology Building Rm1121
7835 Trade St. Suite 100
San Diego, CA 92121-2460
USA
http://labs.biology.ucsd.edu/nieh/

You can email Amy Geffre at: ageffre@ucsd.edu

You can also access links to the UC San Diego Nieh Lab on the LACBA Education & Research page.

The 2019 LA County Fair Bee Booth

The 2019 LA County Fair Bee Booth was a grand adventure with thousands of fair goers stopping by to learn about honey bees.

We’d like to say a big THANK YOU to all the volunteer members of the Los Angeles County Beekeepers Association and the Beekeepers Association of Southern California who worked countless hours to bring their adventures in beekeeping, knowledge of honey bees, and joy for this amazing creature to so many.

Fair goers love the Bee Booth at the LA County Fair.

Fair goers love the Bee Booth at the LA County Fair.

Fair goers enjoy listening to Nicole Medina, the 2019 American Honey Princess, share her experience and knowledge about honey bees at the LA County Fair Bee Booth.

Fair goers enjoy listening to Nicole Medina, the 2019 American Honey Princess, share her experience and knowledge about honey bees at the LA County Fair Bee Booth.

These are some of the many volunteer members of the Los Angeles County Beekeepers Association and the Beekeepers Association of Southern California who donated their time and expertise at the 2019 LA County Fair Bee Booth.

These are some of the many volunteer members of the Los Angeles County Beekeepers Association and the Beekeepers Association of Southern California who donated their time and expertise at the 2019 LA County Fair Bee Booth.

Enjoy more images in our 2019 LA County Fair Bee Booth Photo Album.

Go to our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/losangelesbeekeeping/ and share in our 2019 LA County Fair Bee Booth Photo Album what you learned about honey bees at the fair. We’d love to hear from you!

Canada's York University to Develop 'BEECSI' Tool to Help Canada's Rapidly Declining Honey Bees, and, BBKA on Guard for Asian Hornet

CATCH THE BUZZ October 2, 2019

Associate Professor Amro Zayed – York University, Asian Hornet

Associate Professor Amro Zayed – York University, Asian Hornet

TORONTO, September 18, 2019 – When Canada’s honey bees are thriving, they produce honey and pollinate valuable crops like blueberries, apples and hybrid canola seeds.

But the health of honey bees is declining, with more than a quarter of honey bee colonies dying each winter. These deaths have left beekeepers and government regulators struggling to find ways to quickly diagnose, manage and improve bee health.

The solution could be a new bee health diagnosis tool being created as part of a research project led by bee genomics expert Associate Professor Amro Zayed, of York University, along with Professor Leonard Foster, of the University of British Columbia. On October 1, they will launch a $10 million project to develop a new health assessment and diagnosis platform, supported by Ontario Genomics and Genome Canada.

“We need to think of innovative solutions to fix the bee health crisis. The current tools are just not cutting it,” said Zayed in the Department of Biology, Faculty of Science.

Honey bees produce 90 million pounds of honey each year and are needed to pollinate some of Canada’s most lucrative crops. Their pollination services are valued at $5.5 billion per year in Canada alone.

The causes of bee decline are complex, variable, and difficult to identify. But beekeepers and government regulators need to rapidly identify the stressors impacting specific populations before they can make changes to improve bee health. Currently, the industry uses post-mortem analysis to test for the presence of a few known pathogens or toxins in dead colonies. These tests are often expensive, time consuming, and provide an incomplete picture of the stressors affecting bee health.

The research team is looking to modernize the industry by delivering a tool to quickly assess bee health in living colonies that would allow loss-mitigating strategies to be implemented.

“You can identify the stressors affecting a colony, not by searching for the stressor itself, but by looking for specific signatures of stress in the bee – what we call biomarkers,” explained Zayed. “The biomarker approach has a lot of potential for quickly screening stressors affecting bees before colonies decline.”

The researchers will use genomic tools to measure stressor-induced changes in bees to identify biomarkers for specific stressors. By the end of the project, the researchers envision a system where beekeepers can send their samples for biomarker testing and receive a report with both a health assessment and information on the most effective management strategies, which can then be applied in the field to improve the health of their colonies.

The research team is comprised of 22 researchers from across Canada including researchers from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC), University of Manitoba, University of Guelph and University of Laval. The project is funded through Genome Canada’s Large-Scale Applied Research Project Competition: Genomics Solutions for Agriculture, Agri-food, Fisheries and Aquaculture. Funding partners include Genome Canada, AAFC, Genome British Columbia and Genome Quebec.

__________________________________

Dorset on the Front Line in Fight Against Asian Hornets

James Moules @DorsetEchoJames

DORSET has been described as on the “front line” of the threat that Asian Hornets pose to bee colonies.

The British Beekeepers Association (BBKA) promoted Asian Hornet Week from September 9 to September 15 to raise awareness of the danger of these insects.

Asian Hornets are predators to flying insects, including honey bees, which has caused a problem for beekeepers in areas where they have been found. They have been causing trouble on the island of Jersey, and a few sightings have been reported on mainland Britain in recent years.

Beekeepers have raised concerns of the effect these hornets could have on the pollinator population.

Mark White, the Asian Hornet Action Team coordinator for Dorset, said: “Being the Channel Islands gateway, Dorset is very much on the front line in the fight against the Asians Hornets.

“Bees make up a substantial part of their diet. Anything that will fly, they will try and catch it in mid-flight and decapitate it.”

People who suffer from anaphylaxis should be aware that the stings from Asian Hornets can trigger an anaphylactic shock.

Anyone trying to identify an Asian Hornet should look for insects that can be up to 30mm in length for a queen and 25mm for a worker, have a mostly black body with a small yellow band near the rear and have yellow legs and an orange face with brown-red compound eyes.

Anne Rowberry, the BBKA’s Asian Hornet coordinator, said: “We are asking everyone to be vigilant in looking out for this alien species, the Asian Hornet, Vespa velutina. It could decimate our pollinators, including our honey bees, it is important to have everyone actively looking for it. It’s not just a beekeeping problem.

“Now is the time for trapping and spending a little more time watching to see if hornets are hawking your hives in your apiary, put an hour aside to watch each day for hornets during Asian Hornet week and remember to look for them on late sources of nectar like ivy.”

A BBKA spokesman said that risk of Asian Hornet nests drops considerably during the winter months, but is greater during summer and autumn.

There have been a total of 15 confirmed sightings of Asian Hornets in England since 2016. Six nests have been destroyed. One of the confirmed sightings happened in Poole last year.

People are implored to report any sightings of Asian Hornets, along with photographs, to alertnonnative@ceh.ac.uk

For more information about Asian Hornets and how to identify them, visit bbka.org.uk

https://www.beeculture.com/catch-the-buzz-canadas-york-university-to-develop-beecsi-tool-to-help-canadas-rapidly-declining-honey-bees-and-bbka-on-guard-for-asian-hornet/?utm_source=Catch+The+Buzz&utm_campaign=ca942c1b77-Catch_The_Buzz_4_29_2015&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_0272f190ab-ca942c1b77-256252085

New Tool Improves Beekeepers' Overwintering Odds and Bottom Line

PHYS.org By Kim Kaplan, US Department of Agriculture September 18, 2019

Credit: Lilla Frerichs/public domain

Credit: Lilla Frerichs/public domain

A new tool from the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) can predict the odds that honey bee colonies overwintered in cold storage will be large enough to rent for almond pollination in February. Identifying which colonies will not be worth spending dollars to overwinter can improve beekeepers' bottom line.

Beekeepers have been losing an average of 30 percent of overwintered colonies for nearly 15 years. It is expensive to overwinter colonies in areas where winter temperatures stay above freezing. So a less expensive practice of overwintering bee colonies in cold storage is becoming popular.

This new tool calculates the probability of a managed honey bee colony surviving the winter based on two measurements: the size of colony and the percent varroa mite infestation in September, according to ARS entomologist Gloria DeGrandi-Hoffman, who headed the team. DeGrandi-Hoffman is research leader of the ARS Carl Hayden Bee Research Center in Tucson, Arizona.

By consulting the probability table for the likelihood of a colony having a minimum of six frames of bees—the number required for a colony to be able to fulfill a pollination contract for almond growers come February—beekeepers can decide in September if it is economically worthwhile to overwinter the colony in cold storage.

"The size of a colony in late summer or early fall can be deceiving with respect to its chances of making it through the winter. Even large colonies with more than 12 frames of bees (about 30,000 bees) have less than a 0.5 probability (50 percent chance) of being suitable for almond pollination if they have 5 or more mites per 100 bees in September," DeGrandi-Hoffman said.

Even with this cost-cutting help, the research team found that revenue from pollination contracts by itself is not likely to provide a sustainable income to a beekeeper anymore. They followed 190 honey bee colonies and recorded all costs.

Considerable resources were expended to feed colonies and on varroa mite and pathogen control. Costs were about $200 per colony.

Almond pollination contracts paid an average of $190 per colony in 2019.

One way for beekeepers to remain economically viable as a business, is to produce a honey crop from their bees. This is most often facilitated by moving colonies to the Northern Great Plains where bees can forage for nectar and pollen from a wide variety flowering plants.

"The situation has changed a lot. It is more expensive to manage honey bees with costs to feed colonies when flowers are not available and to control varroa mites. And it is more difficult to find places for honey bee colonies that provide the diverse nutrition they need," said DeGrandi-Hoffman. "Pollination revenue alone is just not adequate for beekeepers to stay in business. But we need beekeepers because managed bees are a lynchpin in agricultural production today."

Successfully using cold storage will help beekeepers' bottom line, but we are really just learning what the best management practices should be with cold storage," she added.

https://phys.org/news/2019-09-tool-beekeepers-overwintering-odds-bottom.html

MSU Economist's Research on Colony Collapse Disorder Published in National Journal

PHYS.org By Montana State University October 4, 2019

The work of a Montana State University professor examining the economic impacts of colony collapse disorder among commercial honeybees was published in the Journal of the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists last month.

Randy Rucker, a professor in the Department of Agricultural Economics and Economics in the MSU College of Agriculture, began looking into colony collapse disorder several years ago with colleagues from North Carolina State University and Oregon State University, for the purpose of estimating its economic impacts. The onset of the disorder was an unexpected shock to commercial beekeeping and pollination markets that first received national attention in the winter of 2006-07 when mortality rates were estimated to be almost 30%.

Colony collapse disorder is still a poorly understood phenomenon, wrote Rucker and his co-authors in the paper's introduction. Since its onset, along with other pollinator health issues such as the Varrona mite, which feeds on developing bees, it has caused significant concern among beekeepers and the public.

"With colony collapse disorder, a beekeeper goes out and virtually all the worker bees are gone," said Rucker. "Twenty thousand, 30,000, 40,000 worker bees, just gone. There are very few dead worker bees on the ground near the colony, and the queen, the brood and all the food are still there. But the bees are just gone."

With so little known about what causes colony collapse disorder, Rucker and his team set out to identify its economic ripple effects by examining trends in four categories: number of commercial honeybee colonies nationwide, honey production, prices of queens and packaged bees and pollination fees charged by commercial beekeepers to growers. The team found some surprising results.

Bee population is known to fall during the winter, said Rucker. Prior to the onset of colony collapse disorder, the average winter mortality rate was about 15%. Beekeepers have long known how to replace dead hives and are prepared to deal with losses, typically in one of two ways.

The first method of offsetting winter losses is called splitting, where a beekeeper takes half the bees in a healthy colony, moves them to a struggling colony and adds a newly fertilized queen, purchased for $18-25 and received through the mail. After about six weeks, there are once again two healthy hives.

The other way to increase colony numbers after winter losses is to simply buy a package of bees, also through the mail, which includes a fertilized queen and several thousand worker bees. Beekeepers place the bees in the dead hive and then watch as a healthy hive develops. Both methods are relatively easy and inexpensive for beekeepers—and have remained so after the onset of colony collapse disorder, the study found.

"Beekeepers know how to replace dead hives," said Rucker. "As winter mortality increased after CCD appeared and beekeepers worried about having enough hives to meet their pollination contracts in the spring, they responded by splitting more hives in mid- to late summer and would then end up with the number they needed."

Even with more hives split and more bees purchased, the prices of queens and packaged bees have not increased dramatically, the study found. From this result, the authors infer that "the supply of queens and packaged bees is sufficiently elastic that any increases in demand associated with CCD have not resulted in measurable increases in price."

The team found similar results when they examined trends in colony numbers and honey production. While there were pre-existing downward trends in both metrics before the onset of colony collapse disorder, the rate of decline has not increased, said Rucker. In fact, colony numbers in 2018 were higher than they had been over the last 20 years.

The sole instance of a pronounced negative impact came when the team studied trends in pollination fees for commercial crops. Even there, however, only one commercially important crop showed a significant increase in price: almonds.

"Almonds get pollinated in February or March, and it's really the only major crop that requires pollination during that time of year," said Rucker. With about a million acres of almonds in need of pollination each year, it takes about 70% of U.S. managed honeybee colonies to get the job done.

Pollination fees for almonds rose from roughly $70 to almost $160—adjusted for inflation—over the winters of 2004-05 and 2005-06, but Rucker and his co-authors noticed something unusual about the timing. Those increases happened before colony collapse disorder appeared on the scene over the winter of 2006-07.

"Almond pollination fees did go up substantially, but they went up before CCD hit," said Rucker. "You can't attribute those increases to colony collapse disorder."

The bottom line, he said, is that while there have been changes in the commercial pollinator markets, few can be directly linked to colony collapse disorder or any other recent pollinator health concerns. This is good news for beekeepers and consumers alike, he added.

"When we started this project, we expected to find huge effects, but we found very small ones," said Rucker. "The only effects we found on consumers, for example, is that they probably pay about 10 cents more for a $7, one-pound can of almonds at the grocery store."

The reason the disorder's impacts are so small, said Rucker, is directly linked to the fact that most beekeepers know that bees and honeybee colonies are going to die over the course of the year, and they have developed methods of dealing with those fluctuations. As a result, they have been able to react quickly to disruptions like CCD. But there are still a lot of unknowns about the disorder, and the paper focused on the particular overlap of colony collapse disorder and economics.

"The bottom line is that beekeepers are savvy [businesspeople]," he said. "Our research provides reason for optimism about the future ability of commercial beekeepers to adapt to environmental or biological shocks to their operations and to pollination markets. It says nothing, however, about non-managed pollinators. Data on those pollinators' populations are sparse, and the impacts of maladies like CCD on their populations are not well understood. There is definitely much more work to be done to grasp the effects of CCD and other threats to bee health."

https://phys.org/news/2019-10-msu-economist-colony-collapse-disorder.html

Researchers Determine Pollen Abundance and Diversity In Five Major Pollinator Dependent Crops

Oregon State University Lab Manager September 2, 2019

Ramesh Sagili, Oregon State University associate professor of apiculture and Extension specialist, examines honeybees in Madras, Oregon.CREDIT: LYNN KETCHUM, OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY

Ramesh Sagili, Oregon State University associate professor of apiculture and Extension specialist, examines honeybees in Madras, Oregon.CREDIT: LYNN KETCHUM, OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY

CORVALLIS, Ore. — A new study provides valuable insights into pollen abundance and diversity available to honeybee colonies employed in five major pollinator-dependent crops in Oregon and California, including California’s massive almond industry.

The study, a collaboration between Oregon State University (OSU) and Texas A&M University, found that almond, cherry, and meadowfoam provide ample pollen to honeybees, but highbush blueberry and hybrid carrot seed crops may not. In addition, California almonds don’t provide as much pollen diversity as other crops, according to the findings, published in the Journal of Economic Entomology.

The western honeybee is the major pollinator of fruit, nut, vegetable, and seed crops that depend on bee pollination for high quality and yield. The findings are important because both pollen abundance and diversity are critical for colony growth and survival of the western honeybee, said study corresponding author Ramesh Sagili, associate professor of apiculture and honeybee Extension specialist in OSU’s College of Agricultural Sciences.

“Pollen diversity is important for the growth and development of bees, and low amounts of pollen availability to honeybee colonies can dramatically affect brood rearing,” Sagili said. “Beekeepers that employ their colonies for pollination of crops like hybrid carrot seed and highbush blueberry should frequently assess the amount of pollen stores in their colonies and provide protein supplements if pollen stores are low.”

Nectar and pollen provide essential nutrients for honeybees. A honeybee colony’s protein source is pollen, which has varying amounts of amino acids, lipids, vitamins, and minerals. These nutrients obtained from pollen are essential for honeybee larval development. Pollen largely contributes to the growth of fat bodies in larvae and egg development in the queen.

Well-nourished individuals in a honeybee colony are able to withstand the effects of other stressors such as parasites and insecticides, in addition to the long-distance transport of colonies known as “migratory management.” Bees are trucked across the county to pollinate various cropping systems—more than 1 million hives are transported to California each year just to pollinate almonds.

A diet low in pollen diversity hurts a colony’s defense system, which consequently increases disease susceptibility and pesticide sensitivity. During critical crop bloom periods, growers rent large numbers of honeybee colonies to pollinate their crops. Approximately 2.5 million commercially managed honeybee colonies are used for crop pollination in the United States every year.

Some cropping systems may put bees at risk for temporary nutritional deficiency if the crop plant’s pollen is deficient in certain nutrients and bees are unable to find an alternative source of these nutrients, Sagili said.

“It’s crucial for beekeepers and crop producers to understand the pollen abundance and diversity that honeybees encounter during crop pollination,” he said, adding that blueberry and hybrid carrot seed producers can mitigate nutritional deficiencies by providing supplemental food or forage, including commercially available protein supplements for bees.

Renting colonies to growers for pollination services is a significant source of income for commercial beekeepers, but it also requires them to repeatedly transport the colonies between crops throughout the growing season. In this study, the research team collaborated with 17 migratory commercial beekeepers for pollen collection from honeybee colonies in five different cropping systems from late February to August of 2012.

They installed pollen traps on at least five colonies at each site and collected pollen from the colonies at the height of the blooming season.

They found that California’s vast almond footprint—1 million acres and counting—provides more than enough pollen for the nearly 2 million honeybees employed to pollinate the orchards, but pollen diversity was low when compared with other crops.

“We think the reason for that is almonds bloom early in the year when there are so few plant species in bloom, so bees have few other forage options and primarily rely on almond pollen,” Sagili said. “There are parts of the northern and southern ends of California’s San Joaquin Valley where there are no other crops in bloom when almond trees bloom, which may further contribute to poor availability of diverse pollen.”

Study co-authors are Ellen Topitzhofer, Hannah Lucas, Priyadarshini Chakrabarti, and Carolyn Breece—all researchers at OSU’s Honey Bee Lab—and Vaughn Bryant at Texas A&M’s Palynology Laboratory.

The Oregon State Beekeepers Association provided funding for the study.

https://www.labmanager.com/news/2019/08/researchers-determine-pollen-abundance-and-diversity-in-five-major-pollinator-dependent-crops?fbclid=IwAR25BLUNpAsa1gGhpLtLh-uuzDQu_La7RHMeRBFGy28H6cCJWH0yeKoKHgk#.XYveelVKjIW

Related: https://academic.oup.com/jee/article/112/5/2040/5522909

Male Honeybees Inject Queens With Blinding Toxins During Sex

SciTechDaily University of California Riverside By Jules Bernstein September 10, 2019

Queen honeybee in a hive. Credit: Barbara Baer-Imhoff / UCR


Queen honeybee in a hive. Credit: Barbara Baer-Imhoff / UCR

They say love is blind, but if you’re a queen honeybee it could mean true loss of sight.

New research finds male honeybees inject toxins during sex that cause temporary blindness. All sexual activity occurs during a brief early period in a honeybee’s life, during which males die and queens can live for many years without ever mating again.

UC Riverside’s Boris Baer, a professor of entomology, said males develop vision-impairing toxins to maximize the one fleeting opportunity they may ever get to father offspring.

“The male bees want to ensure their genes are among those that get passed on by discouraging the queen from mating with additional males,” said Baer, senior author of the study that discovered these blinding findings published today in the journal eLife. “She can’t fly if she can’t see properly.”

The toxins identified by the team are proteins contained in male bees’ seminal fluid, which is a substance that helps maintain sperm. Earlier work by Baer’s team also discovered honeybee seminal fluid toxins that kill the sperm of rivals. All honeybees make these proteins, though some may make more of it than others.

Baer first became interested in bees’ seminal fluid years ago as a doctoral student. During early projects, he noticed that if bumblebee queens were injected only with the fluid and not the sperm during insemination, the queens stopped mating and became increasingly aggressive toward males. He wanted to understand why.

Roughly 10 years ago, Baer and his international team began analyzing which proteins could be found in honeybees’ fluids.

“We found at least 300 of these ‘James Bonds,’ little secret agents with specific missions,” he said.

It isn’t easy being queen. Queens can mate with as many as 90 males during a single, brief mating flight. Credit: Markus Imhoff / UCR


It isn’t easy being queen. Queens can mate with as many as 90 males during a single, brief mating flight. Credit: Markus Imhoff / UCR

The team was not entirely surprised to find a protein that attacks the sperm of other males, as this behavior can be found in other insects. But they were surprised to find the protein that impacts genes responsible for vision in the queen’s brains.

To test whether the protein had this effect, Baer’s team presented inseminated queens with a flickering light, and measured her response to it via tiny electrodes in her brain. The vision and corresponding flight-impairing effects kick in within hours, but Baer notes that it is likely reversible in the long term because queens do tend to fly successfully later in life when they establish new colonies.

Studying the seminal fluid proteins required an interdisciplinary team of entomologists, biologists, biochemists, and more to identify them and examine their effects on the queens.

This team included Baer’s wife and co-author, Barbara Baer-Imhoof, a UC Riverside pollination specialist. As part of this project, Baer-Imhoof conducted experiments in which she installed tiny tags on queen bees’ backs read by scanners at the hive entrances.

“The tags were similar to those at the self-checkout counter in grocery stores,” Baer-Imhoof said. The experiment showed queens had difficulties finding their way back to their colonies if they had been inseminated.

A molecular understanding of honeybee mating habits could eventually be used to improve breeding programs and help insects that pollinate many of the foods we eat.

“More than a third of what we eat depends on bee pollination, and we’ve taken bees’ services for granted for a very long time,” Baer said. “However, bees have experienced massive die-offs in the last two decades. Anything we can do to help improve their numbers will benefit humans, too.”

Reference: “Seminal fluid compromises visual perception in honeybee queens reducing their survival during additional mating flights” by Joanito Liberti, Julia Görner, Mat Welch, Ryan Dosselli, Morten Schiøtt, Yuri Ogawa, Ian Castleden, Jan M Hemmi, Barbara Baer-Imhoof, Jacobus J Boomsma, and Boris Baer, 10 September 2019, eLife.
DOI: doi.org/10.7554/eLife.45009

https://scitechdaily.com/male-honeybees-inject-queens-with-blinding-toxins-during-sex/

Come Find the Queen at the LA County Fair Bee Booth

LOS ANGELES COUNTY FAIR
August 30 - September 22, 2019

LA County Fair 2019 logo 480.jpg

Pomona Fairgrounds
1101 West McKinley Avenue
Pomona, CA 91768
(The Bee Booth is located across from the “Big Red Barn”)
https://www.lacountyfair.com/

Fair Runs August 30 - September 22, 2019
(Closed Mondays & Tuesdays)
Fair Times & Schedule for the General Public



The Bee Booth at the LA County Fair is all a buzz about bees this week. Nicole Medina, the 2019 American Honey Princess, has been busy teaching fair goers about honey bees. Come find out about the fascinating life inside a bee hive. You’ll learn about the different jobs bees have, about the worker bees, the drones, and the queen bee. Nicole will explain how bees communicate, forage for nectar and pollen, how bees make honey, and the importance honey bees play in our lives. Head over to the Bee Booth and see if YOU can FIND THE QUEEN!

2019 American Honey Princess, Nicole Medina, and Los Angeles County Beekeepers Association, President, Jon Reese.

2019 American Honey Princess, Nicole Medina, and Los Angeles County Beekeepers Association, President, Jon Reese.

princess and lttle boy.jpg
princess fair goers and hive.jpg
princess and fair goers and hive.jpg

Scientists Use Honey and Wild Salmon to Trace Industrial Metals in the Enviroment

ScienceMag August 21, 2019

Credit: Dominique Weis

Credit: Dominique Weis

Scientists have combined analyses from honey and salmon to show how lead from natural and industrial sources gets distributed throughout the environment. By analysing the relative presence of differing lead isotopes in honey and Pacific salmon, Vancouver-based scientists have been able to trace the sources of lead (and other metals) throughout the region. Scientists in France, Belgium and Italy are now looking to apply the same approach to measure pollutants in honey in major European cities. The research* is being presented at the Goldschmidt conference in Barcelona.

Scientists have long known that honey bees pick up small amounts of metal elements (i.e., iron, zinc, and pollutants such as lead, and cadmium) when they alight on flowers and leaves. They carry these metals back to the hive where tiny amounts are incorporated into the honey. However, this is the first time researchers have been able to establish clearly the sources of the metals carried by the bees and their products, making them reliable biomarkers for environmental pollution.

“We’ve found that we can let the bees do the hard the work for us: they go to thousands of sites where metal-containing dust particulates might land, then bring samples back to a central hive. From there we can take the honey to have it analysed and begin to identify the source of pollutants like lead” said Ph.D. candidate Kate Smith, part of a team working at the Pacific Centre for Isotopic and Geochemical Research (University of British Columbia).

Once they have sampled the honey gathered by the bees, it is taken to a specialised geochemistry lab to be analysed using a high-resolution ICP-MS (Inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry) instrument. This allows scientists to distinguish between different types (isotopes) of certain metal pollutants, like lead.

Smith continued, “Looking at the lead isotopic composition of the honey samples, we can tell the difference between honey gathered in the city centre of Vancouver and honey gathered in rural areas. We see that the trace amounts of lead in urban honey samples contain higher 208Pb/206Pb ratios that have no local natural equivalent, indicating that they come from man-made sources like aging city infrastructure and fuel combustion (e.g. cars and ships). Lead ratios measured in rural honey, on the other hand, reflect those of natural sources, like the local geology or particulates from nearby forest fires.”

Presenting the work on salmon, postdoctoral researcher Dr. Miling Li added “This work with honeybees is mirrored in initial findings from shellfish and salmon. Juvenile salmon breed and live in remote freshwater ecosystems in British Columbia, and their lead composition reflects that found in nature, e.g. the nearby Garibaldi volcano range. Adult salmon that forage in the open ocean off the BC coast reveal isotopic compositions consistent with downtown Vancouver honeys. This indicates that Pacific salmons were exposed to lead during their sea life mostly from anthropogenic sources in the Northeast Pacific Ocean.”

Although we can identify the sources of lead, the lead concentrations in both the honey and salmon from Vancouver and the surrounding areas are extremely low and well below the reported world-wide average of lead in honey.

Following the proof of concept work in Metro Vancouver (and similar work in Australia, in Sydney and the site of the vast Broken Hill lead mines, the main source of lead added to gasoline in Europe, Asia and many other places in the world), the UBC team has now developed standardised protocols for measurement of lead isotopes in honey to apply the technique to other cities. Experiments are now being set up in Paris, Brussels, and Piacenza, with interest also coming from the U.S. Simultaneously, the UBC team is confirming the efficacy of the Vancouver honey data by monitoring topsoil and air quality near the hives.

Kate Smith said, “Honey is particularly useful because honeybees can be found pretty well everywhere, so we believe that using honey as a proxy measurement for lead pollution may become an important urban geochemistry and environmental tool. This means we need to make sure that we have a framework that gives results of consistent quality from year to year and city to city. This is what we are now testing.”

Research team leader Professor Dominique Weis said “Urban geochemistry has become an important discipline in understanding the spread of heavy metal pollutants in cities, as long as the natural background is well characterized. Lead isotopic analysis is a standard geochemical method that for decades provided a signal dominated by lead that was used as an additive in gasoline. Honey is an effective biomonitor, and allows us to identify the source of some pollutants even at very low levels; we think that this method could become an internationally accepted way of assessing metal sources and distribution in urban environments”.

Airborne lead pollution varies significantly from area to area. It is found naturally at low levels. Major sources of pollution are metal processing, incinerators, and other industrial processes. Lead in gasoline was banned in the 1990s in North America, which caused a significant decrease in airborne lead levels (98% in the USA). Depending on the level of exposure, lead can have significant health effects**.

Commenting, Professor Mark P Taylor***, Macquarie University, Australia, leader of the Australian group working on honey said,

“This research is emblematic of contemporary science because it touches on two emerging key public interests in an increasingly urbanised world: it examines environmental quality by way of assessing anthropogenic changes to trace element sources in the wider environment and it engages citizens directly through the collection and sharing of honey for geochemical analysis. Nothing could be sweeter for science.”

This is an independent comment; Professor Taylor was not involved in this work.

https://scienmag.com/scientists-use-honey-and-wild-salmon-to-trace-industrial-metals-in-the-environment/?fbclid=IwAR0zbMwynvYS6sGZdYdGS8ZQtkleI8Jw19Ub64BrYyprWC063kdDM_DcUYo

Bees: How Important Are They and What Would Happen If They Were Extinct?

The Conversation - I Need to Know August 19, 2019

How important are bees and what will happen when they go extinct? Is there research into what is killing them? I’ve been told it’s weed killers… – Tink, aged 18, Cornwall, UK.

Bees – including honey bees, bumble bees and solitary bees – are very important because they pollinate food crops. Pollination is where insects move pollen from one plant to another, fertilising the plants so that they can produce fruit, vegetables, seeds and so on. If all the bees went extinct, it would destroy the delicate balance of the Earth’s ecosystem and affect global food supplies.

There are more than 800 wild bee species within Europe, seven of which are classified by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as critically endangered. A further 46 are endangered, 24 are vulnerable and 101 are near threatened. While it’s unlikely that all bee species will be wiped out anytime soon, losing these threatened species would still have a big impact on pollination around the world, wiping out plant species, some of which we rely on for our food.


I Need To Know is a series by The Conversation, which gives teenagers the chance to have their questions about the world answered by experts. Send your questions – along with your first name, age and the area where you live – to ineedtoknow@theconversation.com, or find out more ways to get in touch at the end of this article.


But the problem goes far beyond bees. In fact, honeybees are responsible for only one third of crop pollination and a very small proportion of the wild plant pollination. There are a diverse range of other insects including butterflies, bumblebees and small flies that do the rest of the work – and it looks like these insects are in trouble too.

A bumblebee, pulling it’s weight. Emily L Brown, Author provided

A bumblebee, pulling it’s weight. Emily L Brown, Author provided

A recent study suggests that as many as 40% of the world’s insect species are in decline. Insects are facing extinction rates that are eight times higher than vertebrates. In Germany, scientists have recorded losses of up to 75% of the total mass of insects in protected areas.

These trends lead scientists to believe that about a third of all insect species – that’s nearly 2m – may be threatened with extinction. And that figure is growing by over 100,000 species every year. Yet hard data on threatened insect species is lacking, with only 8,000 records actually assessed by the IUCN.

Here’s a rundown of what scientists believe to be the top causes of declines in insect diversity and abundance.

Invasive species

Invasive predators, parasites and disease-causing bacteria called “pathogens” have been blamed for the collapse of honeybee colonies around the world.

Recently, the spread of the Asian Hornet in Europe has caused great concern. This species preys on honey bees, and a single hornet is capable of killing an entire hive.

There is some evidence that wild bees in North America have declined in the face of fungal and bacterial diseases.



Of course, in the past bees have coexisted with these pathogens. The fact that scientists have seen more bees lost to these diseases in recent times is probably linked with the bees’ increased exposure to pesticides, which can damage their immune systems.

Pesticides

Pollution – particularly from exposure to pesticides – is a key cause of pollinator decline. There are three types of chemical pesticide widely used in the UK: insecticides targeting insect pests, fungicides targeting fungal pathogens of crops and herbicides targeting weeds.

Insecticides contain chemicals that can kill pollinators, so they’re clearly a threat. But they may not be the greatest problem pollinators experience. Herbicides are actually used five times as much in farming as insecticides. These weed killers target a huge variety of the wild plants that bees need to forage.

Environmentally-friendly farming schemes recommend planting wildflower strips on the edge of crops, to provide safe refuge and food sources for pollinators. Yet drifting clouds of herbicide from growing fields can contaminate these wildflower strips.

Wildflowers border farmland in Sussex, UK.  Shutterstock.

Wildflowers border farmland in Sussex, UK. Shutterstock.

The most cutting-edge research suggests glyphosate (the most commonly used weed killer) can impact the gut microbes of bees, which can have devastating implications for their health.

Although exposure to herbicides and pesticides used by farmers is likely to be one of the main causes of pollinator decline, the chemicals used by city authorities and civilian gardeners might also be harming bees and other insects. So, for the bees’ sake, it’s best to avoid using them where possible.

Climate change

Global warming is believed to be a major driver of wild bee declines. Some wild bees can only survive in a narrow range of temperatures. As their habitats get warmer, the places where they can live grow smaller. For example, some might be forced to live at higher altitudes, where it’s cooler, reducing the space they have to live in.

Habitat destruction

The way land is farmed has been associated with declines in biodiversity and pollination. Farming destroys the kinds of spaces that bees use to nest, it takes away the diversity of food that bees use to forage on and it even has wider impacts on other animals like wild birds, mammals and amphibians.

While countless insect species are currently going extinct, those that remain are taking their place, so it’s unlikely that crops will stop being pollinated any time soon. Generalist species such as the buff-tailed bumblebee, the European honey bee and common small black flies, which can survive in a huge range of temperatures and conditions, will become the main species pollinating our food sources, while rarer, more specialist species will decline.

But as generalist species move in to take the place space left by the losses of specialists, and complex ecosystems become dominated by a couple of generalists, the whole system becomes far more susceptible to a single sudden change. Insects form the base of many intricate food webs, their decline will result in a complex cascade of impacts on vertebrates, threatening ecological stability.

https://theconversation.com/bees-how-important-are-they-and-what-would-happen-if-they-went-extinct-121272

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OPENING WEEKEND - Los Angeles County Fair - Buzz By the Bee Booth!

LA County Fair 2019 logo 320.jpg

LOS ANGELES COUNTY FAIR
BEE BOOTH
August 30 - September 22, 2019

Pomona Fairgrounds
1101 West McKinley Avenue
Pomona, CA 91768
(The Bee Booth is located across from the “Big Red Barn”)
https://www.lacountyfair.com/

Fair Opens Labor Day Weekend (Fri-Mon)
Fair Runs August 30 - September 22, 2019
(Closed Mondays & Tuesdays except Labor Day, Sept. 2)
Fair Schedule for the General Public


VISIT THE BEE BOOTH!

Bee Booth at the LA County Fair.jpg

From August 30 through September 22, 2019, volunteer members of the Los Angeles County Beekeepers Association and the Beekeepers Association of Southern California will be on hand at the Los Angeles County Fair Bee Booth educating thousands of school children and the general public about honeybees and the importance they play in our lives. The LA County Fair is one of the largest county fairs in the country and is the most-visited event in the Los Angeles region in September. It's an end-of-summer tradition for many. 

OBSERVATION HIVE!

LA County Fair Bee Booth Observation Hive.jpg

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

HONEY! HONEY! HONEY!

LA County Fair Bee Booth Local Honey.jpg

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

MEET THE 2019 AMERICAN HONEY PRINCESS!

2019 AMERICAN HONEY PRINCESS, NICOLE MEDINA.

2019 AMERICAN HONEY PRINCESS, NICOLE MEDINA.

Nicole Medina
The American Beekeeping Federation
2019 American Honey Princess

Nicole Medina, the 2019 American Honey Princess, will visit Los Angeles, California, September 3-8, as part of her National Honey Month Tour.  She will be a guest of the Los Angeles County Beekeepers Association at the Los Angeles County Fair, speaking to fair goers about the importance of honeybees to California agriculture and how honeybees drive the quantity and quality of our food.  She will also share information about the bonuses that honeybees provide beyond honey.  Nicole’s trip is sponsored by the Los Angeles County Beekeepers Association.

Nicole is the daughter of Joel and Nolvia Medina of Green Township, New Jersey.  She is a sophomore at Sussex County Community College studying business administration.  Nicole has been keeping bees for five years with her family and is an active volunteer in the Sussex County Beekeepers Association. 

As the 2019 American Honey Princess, Nicole serves as a national spokesperson on behalf of the American Beekeeping Federation, a trade organization representing beekeepers and honey producers throughout the United States.  The American Honey Queen and Princess speak and promote in venues nationwide, and, as such, Princess Nicole will travel throughout the United States in 2019.  Prior to being selected as the American Honey Princess, Nicole served as the 2018 New Jersey Honey Queen.  In this role, she promoted the honey industry at fairs, festivals, and farmers’ markets, via media interviews, and in schools. 

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

VOLUNTEER MEMBERS OF THE LACBA AND BASC

The following information, schedule, and times is for the LACBA and BASC Bee Booth Volunteers. Schedule and times for the General Public can be found here: https://lacountyfair.com/.

2018 Bee Booth Observation Hive.jpg

Hello Fellow Beekeepers:

The Los Angeles County Fair is upon us. All
E-vites were sent out Aug 5. Your email will come through Sign-up.com (Copy Los Angeles fair). If you did not receive your E-vite, check your spam, if not, call me (323) 243-0756 and I will be happy to either resend or help you schedule a day and shift time.

Some points to be aware of:

The day that you’re scheduled for, please plan to come early as I understand that security is going to be tight. Please bring your patience.

Your entry pass and parking pass will be at Gate 1 on McKinley at the "Will Call" window. Parking is only for 15 minutes, you'll then need to move your vehicle to the parking gates noted on your parking pass. Give them your name and tell them that you’re gong to the Bee Exhibit. Both these passes are good for the entire day.

The Bee Booth is located in the Heritage area. The last little red building before the farm area.

If you wish to purchase an LACBA green shirt they will be available at the venue. The cost is $15.00. If you already own one, please wear it. This helps our guests know who to go to with questions.

If you want to schedule a same day or next day time and shift, please call me so I may make arrangements to have your passes at the "Will Call" window.

Come help educate your community about bees! Mingle with fellow beekeepers! You'll learn more than you could ever imagine about bees by being a part of the LA County Fair Bee Booth. This is a great opportunity to share what you've learned in Beekeeping Class 101. We guarantee you won't be bored - and we could use your help at the Honey Table and with the Observation Hive.

Your presence helps to make the fair successful. Please remember that much of the funds that we raise goes to bee research. So, please come out and volunteer to help make this another successful year with your other fellow beekeepers.

If you have any questions please feel free to call or email me (323) 243-0756 or cynthia.alvarado56@yahoo.com.

Bee Booth Set Up - Saturday (August 24th) 9AM-2PM: Come help set up the Bee Booth. Enter through Gate 1. Drive to the Bee Booth across from the Big Red Barn. On Bee Booth SET UP DAY ONLY you can park near the Bee Booth. Lunch will be provided. There's plenty to do and we have lots of fun!!!

Bee Booth Volunteer Fair Days: The fair runs from August 30 - September 22 (Wed thru Sun) except for Labor Day Weekend (Fri thru Mon). We have 3 shifts per day (no less than 4 volunteers per shift). Shifts available: All Labor Day Weekend and all Saturdays and Sundays: 9:30-1:00, 12:30-5:00, 4:30-10:00. On Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays: 9:00-1:00, 12:30-5:00, 4:30-10:00.

Bee Booth Take Down - Sunday, (September 22rd): We start taking down the Bee Booth in the evening. The more help we have, the quicker we're done. We need to be finished and off the fairgrounds by 10PM.

Parking for Bee Booth Volunteers:
Lot 9
(across the street from the fair): Walk across the street, enter through the gate, go under the tunnel, turn right. We're across from the Big Red Barn.

Lot 17 Go across the race track to the far side of the Big Red Barn.

Tickets for Bee Booth Volunteers: Tickets will be at WILL CALL at the McKinley Entrance (Gate 1). They will be under Bee Booth Exhibit under your name. Please allow approx. 15 min. to get your tickets.

We had a great time at last year's fair. See our 2018 Bee Booth Photo Album on Facebook.

JUST SOME OF THE MANY VOLUNTEERS FROM THE LOS ANGELES COUNTY BEEKEEPERS ASSOCIATION AND THE BEEKEEPERS ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA! THANK YOU ALL FOR YOUR MANY HOURS HELPING THE HONEY BEES!

JUST SOME OF THE MANY VOLUNTEERS FROM THE LOS ANGELES COUNTY BEEKEEPERS ASSOCIATION AND THE BEEKEEPERS ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA! THANK YOU ALL FOR YOUR MANY HOURS HELPING THE HONEY BEES!

The Los Angeles County Beekeepers Association is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. 100% of the funds raised through donations and all profit from honey sales go to honey bee education and research. Thank you!

Honey Bees: A Critical Component of Our Agriculture System

EDM Digest (from American Military University) August 5, 2019

By Dr. Brian Blodgett: Faculty Member, Homeland Security, American Military University

Honey Bee EDM.jpg

To many Americans, the sound of a bee’s buzzing results in a swift swipe of the air to shoo the bee away. Finding a hive of bees in a wall of your house will usually result in a call to an exterminator, rather than to the local beekeeping club to have an apiarist safely remove the hive. 

Bee Stings Are Painful and Could Be Deadly

The fear of bees, or melissophobia, is common, often the result of having been stung as a child. However, some people are so allergic to a bee’s sting, they can have a dangerous reaction such as anaphylaxis that could cause death if not immediately treated.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently published data showing that hornet, wasp and bee stings were the underlying cause of death for 1,109 individuals between 2000 and 2017. That equates to an average of 62 deaths a year. The lowest number of deaths, 43, occurred in 2001 and the highest number was 89 in 2017. Male victims accounted for approximately 80% of the deaths.

A 2016 report by The Ohio State University stated that an estimated one to two million people in the U.S. are allergic to insect venom. Up to one million individuals visit emergency departments each year. The cost for an emergency room visit varies considerably depending on the severity of the reaction and the patient’s insurance plan.

While honey bee stings can be deadly, the bees will rarely attack you unless you threaten their hive or if they are seriously disturbed outside their nest.

When honey bees are threatened, they take a protective stance and extend their stinger, stinging their victim. Once the stinger punctures the skin, it pumps out venom and alarm pheromones, attracting other bees. If a bee decides to attack someone, it will be its last act because its stinger is left in the skin of its victim. In attempting to fly away, the bee disembowels itself.

The African honey bee, found in the southern areas of the United States, is no deadlier than the other six primary species of honeybees found in the United States. Instead, they are much more sensitive to the alarm pheromone, resulting in a considerably faster response to danger and their clustering in large groups. They will attack nearly anything in sight that is moving; they will pursue a person much farther than the other bee species.

Honey Bees Make a Significant Contribution to Agriculture

While the honey produced by bees is wonderfully useful and healthy, the bees’ contribution to agriculture is much more significant. A single bee in one flight can visit up to 50 or more flowers, pollinating each as it flies along.

If you enjoy fresh fruits such as strawberries, blueberries, cherries, grapefruit and apples, thank the honey bee. If you like broccoli, nuts, cucumbers, onions and asparagus,  thank the honey bee again. While honey bees are not the only pollinators, they are the most well-known and among the most prolific. Honey bees are estimated to support about $20 billion worth of American crop production annually.

Also, consider the importance to wildlife of our flowering plants and fruit trees. Without the bees, our herbivores and frugivores (animals that feed on fruit) would have a much harder time finding food. According to the U.S Department of Agriculture (USDA), pollinators are responsible for one of every three bites of food we eat and they increase our nation’s crop value by more than $15 billion a year.

In fact, honey bees are so important to agriculture, they are often trucked around the country during pollination season to help farmers grow their crops.

Each winter, beekeepers send their hives to California to pollinate the almond trees. Growers rent nearly two million colonies, over 60% of the nation’s domestic bees. The annual cost for renting the bees is about $300 million, but the California almond economy is worth around $11 billion.

Colony Collapse Disorder and the Plight of Domestic Honey Bees

However, bee colonies are dying in large numbers. According to the June 2019 Bee Informed Partnership's survey, “U.S. beekeepers lost nearly 40% of their honeybee colonies last winter — the greatest reported winter hive loss since the partnership started its surveys 13 years ago. The total annual loss was slightly above average.”

According to the survey, there are multiple causes for what has been called “colony collapse disorder.” Those causes include the Varroa destructor mite, decreasing crop diversity, poor beekeeping practices, loss of habitat, the use of certain pesticides on plants and stress.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), colony collapse disorder (CCD) occurs when most of the worker bees in a hive disappear for any of several reasons. That leaves the queen with plenty of food for the unhatched bees, but only a few bees to take care of them.

Since hives cannot sustain themselves without worker bees, the entire colony dies. CCD occurrences have diminished considerably since the winter of 2006-2007 when beekeepers reported losses of 30 to 90 percent of their hives. Nevertheless, the EPA states CCD remains a concern, and scientists are working on several theories for the phenomenon:

Honey bees are being attacked by the small invasive Varroa destructor mites that can destroy an entire colony. Since the introduction of the Varroa destructor in Florida in the mid-1980s, they had spread northward to almost every state by 2017. A study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) stated that the “Varroa destructor is the greatest single driver of the global honey bee health decline.”

The use of pesticides is also a concern. The EPA took steps in 2016 to limit the use of sulfoxafor, an insecticide that is highly toxic to bees and other pollination insects. However, just last month the EPA removed many of the restrictions on the use of sulfoxafor.

Farmers can now use the insecticide on about 190 million acres of arable land, nearly twice the size of California. The crops that can be sprayed with sulfoxaor include soybeans, cotton, alfalfa, millet, oats, pineapple, sorghum, tree plantations, citrus, squash and strawberries.

According to an article in Mother Jones, the transportation of honey bees around the nation, their attacks by parasites, the use of insecticides and the vast number of single-crop areas needing pollination are causing stress to the honey bee.

Just as data continue to show the decline of domestic honey bees, the USDA, citing budgetary shortfalls, announced in July that it would no longer fund its National Agriculture Statistics Service to collect data on honey bee colonies. The report helped scientists and farmers determine if honey bee populations were declining and by how much.

Honey Bees and Our Food and Agriculture Sector

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), under Presidential Policy Directive 21, is responsible for ensuring that our critical infrastructure “must be secure and able to withstand and rapidly recover from all hazards.”

In the 2015 Food and Agriculture Sector-Specific Plan, facilities primary engaged in raising insects, such as bees, fall under DHS purview in the animal production category. A decrease in the number of domestic honey bees can be costly not only for farmers to “rent” them, but also for all Americans because the loss of bees could lead to steeper food prices.

Our nation’s honey bees are not thought of as a target of violent extremists or terrorists. Nevertheless, individuals are attacking them in their hives. In April, someone deliberately set fire to a large number of beehives in Alvin, Texas, just south of Houston. Each hive contained around 30,000 bees. The destruction of the hives resulted in the loss of 500,000 to 600,000 bees.

In January 2018, outside Prunedale, California, over 100 beehives were destroyed when someone knocked over the hives and then sprayed gasoline on them, killing over 200,000 bees. On December 28, 2017, 50 beehives outside Sioux City, Iowa, were destroyed, resulting in approximately 500,000 dead, frozen bees.

DHS needs to recognize the importance and criticality of our nation’s bees and the role they play as a primary contributor to our ecosystem. An attack against bees is an attack against Americans’ wellbeing in general.

Due to our nation’s extreme dependence on honey bees, action is needed to ensure we have enough bees to sustain our crops. There are several steps that we can take to ensure our bee population is not decimated:

  • Ban the use of pesticides that are harmful to bees is a main step

  • Providing shallow sources of water and providing the bees with plenty of bee-friendly flowers, plants and trees

  • Allow leafy vegetables to go to seed after harvest

  • Support local beekeepers by buying their honey

  • Teach children about the importance of bees and the interdependence of living animals

About the Author 

Dr. Brian Blodgett is an alumnus of American Military University who graduated in 2000 with a master of arts in military studies and a concentration in land warfare. He retired from the U.S. Army in 2006 as a Chief Warrant Officer after serving over 20 years, first as an infantryman and then as an intelligence analyst. He is a 2003 graduate of the Joint Military Intelligence College where he earned a master of science in strategic intelligence with a concentration in South Asia. He graduated from Northcentral University in 2008, earning a doctorate in philosophy in business administration with a specialization in homeland security.

Dr. Blodgett has been a part-time faculty member, a full-time faculty member and a program director. He is currently a full-time faculty member in the School of Security and Global Studies and teaches homeland security and security management courses.

https://edmdigest.com/resources/education/honey-bees-critical-agriculture-system/?utm_source=inhomelandsecurity&utm_medium=blog&utm_content=IHS-article-link&utm_campaign=Blog%20-%20In%20Homeland%20Security%20-%20BT%20-%20AMU

That Big Rig You're Passing Might Just Be Full of Bees

Jalopnik By Andrew P. Collins June 25, 2019

Illustration: GMG Art Department/Peter Nelson (The Pollinators)

Illustration: GMG Art Department/Peter Nelson (The Pollinators)

There are still cowboys driving livestock across America in 2019. While most of us are snoozing, they’re rolling up to dark fields with trucks full of creatures that are critical to our nation’s agriculture: thousands and thousands of bees.

“Very few people know that this happens, and it happens as a necessity of the way our agriculture’s done,” Apiarist and filmmaker Peter Nelson explained to me. “I see bee trucks when I’m on the road, but most people don’t recognize them because it looks like a truck with boxes covered by a net.”

Nelson’s new movie The Pollinators is all about the bee industry, its huge role in our food system and the dire situation it’s in today. After months embedded with beekeepers documenting the complicated logistics of hauling bees from one end of the country to another, and years raising bees in his own backyard, he’s become something of an authority on the subject.

After watching his film myself, I have a whole new appreciation for this fascinating biological and economic ecosystem. I will now impart some of this wonder to you, before getting back to the part about trucks filled with bees driving down the highway at night.

Bees: We Fear Them, But We Must Love Them (Or We Starve)

Crops that make some of our favorite foods—almonds, broccoli, blueberries, avocados, apples—all need to be pollinated, and they’re pollinated by bees. But it takes armies of the insects to tend the immense commercial farms that get those foods to grocery stores. Since pollination only happens in certain seasons, it’s not practical for most farmers to stock and feed their own bees year-round. There definitely aren’t enough wild bees to get it done. And that’s why we’ve got a bee industry.

Photo: Peter Nelson ( The Pollinators )

Photo: Peter Nelson (The Pollinators)

Wild and farm-raised bees have slightly different lifestyles, but they have a lot of the same problems. Wild bees have to contend with their feeding grounds being paved and plowed for crops they can’t eat. Bees that work for humans for a living are at risk of being poisoned by pesticides designed to protect the plants that the bees are hired to pollinate. And all of them can succumb to parasitic varroa mites. These are tiny bugs that ride on bees and drink their blood, identified by the USDA as one of a bee’s biggest threats.

The importance of both natural and commercial pollination is well documented, as are the threats to their systems. If you want to dive deeper into the science of the situation, The Center for Biological Diversity’s paper Pollinators In Peril from 2017 might be a good place to start.

More recently, the plight of pollinators is starting to sneak its way into pop culture. Even PornHub is using its platform to make people realize how important bees are. But to truly appreciate what’s happening, you’ve got to wrap your head around the scale and significance of the bee industry.

Why Are We Trucking Bees Around, Exactly?

There are more than 90 million almond trees in California. They need to be pollinated every year, and it takes over 31 billion bees to make that happen.

Since there aren’t enough natural pollinators to take care of today’s commercial crops, just like there’s not enough rain to water them without the help of irrigation, the rental bees are brought in. Those same bees could get booked in every other corner of the country too, pollinating different crops in different seasons.

Photo: Peter Nelson ( The Pollinators )

Photo: Peter Nelson (The Pollinators)

After almond season, the bees might get shipped up to the pacific northwest for apples. Then Massachusetts for cranberries, Maine for blueberries, or, some go to North and South Dakota to relax and focus on making honey, as highlighted by an article in The Conversation that notes many beekeepers are based there.

Nelson told me there are approximately 2,000 beekeepers with “more than 300 hives,” which he also explained was about the threshold from where a hobbyist or sideliner beekeeper becomes a serious commercial player. “The biggest beekeeper in the country is about 100,000 hives,” he added.

And how many bees does that entail? The typical hives Nelson had seen tended to house about 25,0000 bees. But bee colonies expand and contract over the course of a year. An Oregon State University paper cited by GrowOrganic stated that you could have between 10,000 and 60,000 bees living together.

If bees are comfortable, they can multiply fast. A typical worker bee only lives for about 40 days, but population growth can be fast in the right conditions. A queen can lay up to 1,500 eggs a day when the environment is optimized. So a beekeeper renting hives to farmers could be working with many generations of the insects, at the same hive, over the course of a year.

Photo: Peter Nelson ( The Pollinators )

Photo: Peter Nelson (The Pollinators)

Today beekeepers at big scale make most of their money from pollination services, as opposed to 20 years ago, Nelson told me, when honey production was more lucrative. But as farms expanded and natural bee habitats have contracted, the demand for rental bees has gone up.

Pollination fees vary. “Last year ranged from $175 to $225 per hive for almond pollination,” said Nelson. “And that’s the biggest pollination in the country. Honeybees are essential to almonds, so they command a higher price.”

Almond crops need two hives per acre to be pollinated completely, so the dollar figure starts to swell pretty quickly. The Center for Biological Diversity says “more than $3 billion dollars” changes hands for fruit-pollination services in the U.S. every year.

And yet, sometimes commercial beekeeping business relationships are pretty old-school. “a lot of these contracts or agreements are made on a handshake,” Nelson explained. “Dave Hackenberg, [well-known professional beekeeper, credited as the first to raise awareness about colony collapse disorder] he’s been keeping bees my whole life, and he has some of his regular clients that go back 30 years.”

OK, So Here’s How You Haul Bees

Bees are considered livestock, so people charged with moving them are supposed to be comfortable working with animals. Still, transporting bees presents some unique challenges. Like, if you stop on a warm day, your cargo might just buzz away. That, or get trapped in the net covering the truck’s cargo deck, and that’s just a bad day for everybody.

Photo: Peter Nelson ( The Pollinators )

Photo: Peter Nelson (The Pollinators)

If a bee truck crashes, “it’s a mess,” Nelson told me. It happens, and when it does, beekeepers will try to save their wares. If the queen bee stays in the hive, which they normally do, the rest of the bees will buzz back. But the insects can only get back to their hive if it’s in the same place they left it. If a cleanup crew has to move the hives, or replace them, rounding up all the loose bees can be impossible.

Most bee hauling runs don’t end in that kind of disaster, but they are a lot of work. Let’s say a big rig’s worth of bees need to get from Georgia to California early in the year, for the start of the almond season.

Bees are generally loaded up for transportation at nighttime. That’s partially because the cold slows them down, but mainly on account of that geolocation phenomenon I just mentioned. If the bees go to bed in one place and wake up in another, they apparently don’t care, and go about their business pollinating in the new spot. But if you move the hive while the bees are active, they get confused and lost.

Photo: Peter Nelson ( The Pollinators )

Photo: Peter Nelson (The Pollinators)

Before being heaved onto the deck of an empty flatbed trailer, bees are often calmed down with smoke. (Bees: They’re just like us!) The trick is that beekeepers go around their hives with smoke-dispensing canisters to make the insects think there’s a forest fire.

You might imagine that would send them into an apocalyptic panic, but apparently it has the opposite effect. Kind of. The bees gorge themselves on honey, either in preparation for evacuation or just resignation that doomsday is near, and become significantly more docile than they usually are.

Smoke also “blocks pheromones and makes it harder for them to sting,” says Nelson.

With the bees toked out, about 400 to 425 palletized hives can be stacked onto a semi-truck trailer with a forklift. Multiply that by 25,000 bees per hive, and yeah, you could have more than 10,000,000 on a truck easily.

Once the bees are rolling, their humans like to keep them in motion as much as possible during the day since the wind discourages them from going outside. If beekeepers do have to stop, they try to do it at high elevation where it’s cooler and bees will be more motivated to stay indoors. Once again, I am realizing how bee-like my own existence is... I don’t like to leave the house unless the weather’s soft, either. Also, if my house moved I would definitely get lost.

Photo: Peter Nelson (The Pollinators)

Photo: Peter Nelson (The Pollinators)

Speaking of weather, that’s the last, and most critical, factor bee haulers have to worry about. If it’s too warm, the bees will escape and die. If it’s too cold, the bees will die. If it rains or snows, that presents its own set of problems.

“The thing that they’re all watching is weather... The almond pollination, that’s probably the riskiest one,” Nelson explained, “because a lot of the distances they cover are long. From Florida, Georgia, Alabama, all the way to Central Valley, California. And then also because of the weather that time of year (January and February) is a little more volatile.”

Beekeepers will even pre-run their hauling routes, just like Baja racers, to scout good spots to stop and plan their pacing. “A lot of beekeepers will go these exact routes beforehand,” Nelson added, “so they’ll know places where, ‘OK if you need to pull off, this is a good place, because it has an elevation that’s a little bit higher, so it might be cooler and better for the bees to stay in the hive,’” for example.

A 2018 Agweek article cited Miller Honey Farms Vice President Jason Miller as stating his companies hives “lose about two percent of their bees each time they’re moved,” and also mentioned that bee farmers sometimes have to get creative when it comes to finding places to park the bees in down time. The Miller operation apparently rents potato cellars in Idaho as their bees’ winter home.

Photo: Peter Nelson ( The Pollinators )

Photo: Peter Nelson (The Pollinators)

But even if beekeepers manage to keep their bees alive through the cold months, and get them on-and-off trucks safely, they still have to deal with bee bandits.

Yes, beehive theft is a thing. National Geographic recently reported that $70,000 worth of buzzing gold (bees) was heisted from a California farm. In 2016, somebody made off with $200,000 worth of bees in Canada and similar crimes have happened in England, New Zealand and elsewhere.

In the U.S., California’s Rural Crime Prevention Task Force deals with this kind of thing. “These cases are hard to crack because bees don’t have VIN numbers like cars, and we can’t track them by their DNA,” Detective Isaac Torres of the Task Force is quoted saying in that Nat Geo article. But stolen bees do get found, and the California State Beekeepers Association apparently “offers a $10,000 reward for information resulting in the arrest and conviction of a bee rustler.”

How Do We Befriend The Bees, And Earn Their Trust And Respect?

If you’ve read this far, you’ve got an understanding of how hard bees and their keepers have it. Some even say forcing bees to work for us at all is exploitive and wrong. But short of trying to topple the bee industry, it is possible for people to proactively be part of a pollination solution.

Photo: Peter Nelson ( The Pollinators )

Photo: Peter Nelson (The Pollinators)

“One of things I like to suggest to people is to support their local beekeepers,” Nelson told me when I asked him how I could help the bees. “Buy[ing] honey locally, certainly buy[ing] U.S. honey,” helps our bee economy, but planning a garden that’s pollinator-friendly if you have the space for it, and minimizing the use of pesticides around your house goes a long way too.

Not all pollinating bees are honeybees that can fly five miles or get carted thousands of miles across the country. Some local pollinators might just hang out in your yard.

Making good food choices, as in buying food that’s pollinated sustainably, can be difficult to do. It’s a very positive step in helping the environment, though. And now that you know that, you might have some more research to do. But at least, next time you see a truck with stacks of boxes covered by a net, you’ll know what it’s up to!

For a longer look at the life of bees on the road and the people making a lot of your food happen, you really should try to see The Pollinators movie, which you might be able to catch at a film festival soon.

https://jalopnik.com/that-big-rig-youre-passing-might-be-full-of-bees-1834383949

Pollinator Week Proclamations Span The United States And Galvanize Citizens

Catch The Buzz June 19, 2019

Pollinator Partnership.jpg

Pollinator Partnership (P2), which founded Pollinator Week in 2007, announced today that the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and the U.S. Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt, as well as ALL 50 state governors (and many mayors), have signed proclamations supporting the observance of National Pollinator Week. In addition, more than 350 events (breaking all previous records) across North America and the world are registered through P2’s Pollinator Week web site.

Bees, butterflies, birds, and beetles that support 90% of flowering plants – including over 1000 crop plants that humans rely on for their food, are facing threatened futures that require immediate human intervention.  Across the planet, celebrations, planting sessions, garden and farm walks and marches mark Pollinator Week 2019 (June 17-23), the thirteenth consecutive year of bringing greater awareness to the critically important issue of pollinator conservation.

Laurie Davies Adams, President and CEO of Pollinator Partnership, noted that ” Pollinator Week gets people talking and acting – making sure that every landscape is shared with pollinating species everywhere and that we provide habitat, eliminate all chemical impacts, and reduce the pathogens, parasites, and climate challenges that contribute to the deaths of pollinating species.”

Pollinators bring us 1 in 3 bites of food; promote ecosystem health; and lay the foundation for a sustainable future. While we are seeing some signs of the benefits of conservation efforts, many species of pollinators are in grave peril. Communities throughout the world celebrate Pollinator Week by organizing local events such as native plants sales, beekeeping classes, pollinator themed meals or mixers, and more! As a result of P2’s coordination, eleven major landmarks will be lit up in pollinator colors this week including The Baltimore City Hall, the San Francisco City HallNiagara Falls, and CN Tower. In addition, P2 is co-hosting a variety of events in Washington, D.C., including a Congressional briefing held by the Congressional Pollinator Protection Caucus, and a reception at the American Society of Landscape Architects headquarters, with its beautiful rooftop garden as a focal point. Get more information and resources at http://www.pollinator.org/pollinatorweek.

Flowers Can Hear Buzzing Bees - And It Makes Their Nectar Sweeter

National Geographic By Michelle Donahue January 15, 2019

The bowl-shaped flowers of evening primrose may be key to their acoustic capabilities. PHOTOGRAPH BY DENNIS FRATES/ ALAMY

The bowl-shaped flowers of evening primrose may be key to their acoustic capabilities. PHOTOGRAPH BY DENNIS FRATES/ ALAMY

“I’d like people to understand that hearing is not only for ears.”


EVEN ON THE quietest days, the world is full of sounds: birds chirping, wind rustling through trees, and insects humming about their business. The ears of both predator and prey are attuned to one another’s presence.

Sound is so elemental to life and survival that it prompted Tel Aviv University researcher Lilach Hadany to ask: What if it wasn’t just animals that could sense sound—what if plants could, too? The first experiments to test this hypothesis, published recently on the pre-print server bioRxiv, suggest that in at least one case, plants can hear, and it confers a real evolutionary advantage.

Watch a Garden Come to Life in This Absolutely Breathtaking Time-Lapse

RELATED: TIME-LAPSE VIDEO SHOWS A GARDEN COMING TO LIFE - Journey through a blooming garden of dancing flowers in this incredible four-minute short film. Visual effects artist and filmmaker Jamie Scott spent three years shooting the stunning springtime imagery in this continuous motion time-lapse. The Short Film Showcase spotlights exceptional short videos created by filmmakers from around the web and selected by National Geographic editors. The filmmakers created the content presented, and the opinions expressed are their own, not those of National Geographic Partners.

Hadany’s team looked at evening primroses (Oenothera drummondii) and found that within minutes of sensing vibrations from pollinators’ wings, the plants temporarily increased the concentration of sugar in their flowers’ nectar. In effect, the flowers themselves served as ears, picking up the specific frequencies of bees’ wings while tuning out irrelevant sounds like wind.

The sweetest sound

As an evolutionary theoretician, Hadany says her question was prompted by the realization that sounds are a ubiquitous natural resource—one that plants would be wasting if they didn’t take advantage of it as animals do. If plants had a way of hearing and responding to sound, she figured, it could help them survive and pass on their genetic legacy.

Since pollination is key to plant reproduction, her team started by investigating flowers. Evening primrose, which grows wild on the beaches and in parks around Tel Aviv, emerged as a good candidate, since it has a long bloom time and produces measurable quantities of nectar.

A brown and yellow hoverfly rests on a dewdrop-covered evening primrose in the U.K. PHOTOGRAPH BY MICHAELGRANTWILDLIFE/ ALAMY

A brown and yellow hoverfly rests on a dewdrop-covered evening primrose in the U.K. PHOTOGRAPH BY MICHAELGRANTWILDLIFE/ ALAMY

To test the primroses in the lab, Hadany’s team exposed plants to five sound treatments: silence, recordings of a honeybee from four inches away, and computer-generated sounds in low, intermediate, and high frequencies. Plants given the silent treatment—placed under vibration-blocking glass jars—had no significant increase in nectar sugar concentration. The same went for plants exposed to high-frequency (158 to 160 kilohertz) and intermediate-frequency (34 to 35 kilohertz) sounds.

But for plants exposed to playbacks of bee sounds (0.2 to 0.5 kilohertz) and similarly low-frequency sounds (0.05 to 1 kilohertz), the final analysis revealed an unmistakable response. Within three minutes of exposure to these recordings, sugar concentration in the plants increased from between 12 and 17 percent to 20 percent.

A sweeter treat for pollinators, their theory goes, may draw in more insects, potentially increasing the chances of successful cross-pollination. Indeed, in field observations, researchers found that pollinators were more than nine times more common around plants another pollinator had visited within the previous six minutes.

“We were quite surprised when we found out that it actually worked,” Hadany says. “But after repeating it in other situations, in different seasons, and with plants grown both indoors and outdoors, we feel very confident in the result.”

Flowers for ears

As the team thought about how sound works, via the transmission and interpretation of vibrations, the role of the flowers became even more intriguing. Though blossoms vary widely in shape and size, a good many are concave or bowl-shaped. This makes them perfect for receiving and amplifying sound waves, much like a satellite dish.

To test the vibrational effects of each sound frequency test group, Hadany and her co-author Marine Veits, then a graduate student in Hadany’s lab, put the evening primrose flowers under a machine called a laser vibrometer, which measures minute movements. The team then compared the flowers’ vibrations with those from each of the sound treatments.

“This specific flower is bowl- shaped, so acoustically speaking, it makes sense that this kind of structure would vibrate and increase the vibration within itself,” Veits says.

And indeed it did, at least for the pollinators’ frequencies. Hadany says it was exciting to see the vibrations of the flower match up with the wavelengths of the bee recording.

“You immediately see that it works,” she says.

To confirm that the flower was the responsible structure, the team also ran tests on flowers that had one or more petals removed. Those flowers failed to resonate with either of the low-frequency sounds.

What else plants can hear

Hadany acknowledges that there are many, many questions remaining about this newfound ability of plants to respond to sound. Are some “ears” better for certain frequencies than others? And why does the evening primrose make its nectar so much sweeter when bees are known to be able to detect changes in sugar concentration as small as 1 to 3 percent?

LILACH HADANY, TEL AVIV UNIVERSITY

LILACH HADANY, TEL AVIV UNIVERSITY

Also, could this ability confer other advantages beyond nectar production and pollination? Hadany posits that perhaps plants alert one another to the sound of herbivores mowing down their neighbors. Or maybe they can generate sounds that attract the animals involved in dispersing that plant’s seeds.

“We have to take into account that flowers have evolved with pollinators for a very long time,” Hadany says. “They are living entities, and they, too, need to survive in the world. It’s important for them to be able to sense their environment—especially if they cannot go anywhere.”

This single study has cracked open an entirely new field of scientific research, which Hadany calls phytoacoustics.

Veits wants to know more about the underlying mechanisms behind the phenomenon the research team observed. For instance, what molecular or mechanical processes are driving the vibration and nectar response? She also hopes the work will affirm the idea that it doesn’t always take a traditional sense organ to perceive the world.

“Some people may think, How can [plants] hear or smell?” Veits says. “I’d like people to understand that hearing is not only for ears.”

Richard Karban, an expert in interactions between plants and their pests at the University of California Davis, has questions of his own, in particular, about the evolutionary advantages of plants’ responses to sound.

“It may be possible that plants are able to chemically sense their neighbors, and to evaluate whether or not other plants around them are fertilized,” he says. “There’s no evidence that things like that are going on, but [this study] has done the first step.”

Editor's Note: This story has been updated to correct the percent increase in nectar's sugar concentration.

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/2019/01/flowers-can-hear-bees-and-make-their-nectar-sweeter/

Thefts Continue to Trouble Beekeepers

AgAlert By Christine Souza February 20, 2019

Butte County Sheriff’s Deputy Rowdy Freeman checks on commercial apiaries in an almond orchard near Oroville. Freeman says law-enforcement agencies around the state have received reports of bee-colony thefts, suggesting potentially tight supplies of bees for pollination.  Photo/Christine Souza

Butte County Sheriff’s Deputy Rowdy Freeman checks on commercial apiaries in an almond orchard near Oroville. Freeman says law-enforcement agencies around the state have received reports of bee-colony thefts, suggesting potentially tight supplies of bees for pollination.
Photo/Christine Souza

For some commercial beekeepers, California's almond bloom ended before it officially started.

Early last week, Tulare County beekeeper Steve Godlin of Visalia learned that about 100 honeybee colonies he was managing had disappeared from an almond orchard west of Visalia.

"We got hit. It's a nightmare," said Godlin, who had been managing the colonies for a fellow beekeeper from North Dakota. "It's very discouraging, obviously, to get the bees this far to a payday and then have them stolen."

Citing a shortage of bees for almond pollination, which this year requires about 2.14 million apiaries for more than 1 million bearing acres of almonds, Godlin said the bees were likely stolen Feb. 10.

Deputies from the Tulare County Sheriff's Department Agricultural Crimes Unit also took a report of a likely related theft the next day: Just a few miles from the Godlin location, Gunter Honey reported a second theft of another 96 hives.

Godlin said 100 beehives would be valued at $20,000 for the bees alone and another $20,000 for the pollination services—and that to steal that many hives would require a one-ton truck and forklift. His advice to farmers?

"Know your beekeepers, and if you or anybody in the public sees somebody loading bees up in an almond orchard, call the police. That's not the way it works. Bees should be going into the almonds, not out," Godlin said.

Butte County Sheriff's Deputy Rowdy Freeman, who investigates rural and agricultural crimes, said a theft of 100 or 200 hives at a time would likely be committed by someone who is a beekeeper.

"They know what they are doing. They have beekeeping equipment. They know how to go in and take them and have the means to do it. It could be a beekeeper who lost a lot of hives and can't fulfill his contract. Desperation leads to theft, so they will steal the hives from someone," Freeman said, noting that other bee thefts had been reported already this year in Kern County and in Southern California, with a total of 300 hives lost.

"What we typically see is they steal hives from one area and then drive several hours to put them on a contract, because the people there won't necessarily know that they are stolen," Freeman said. "Almond growers need to know whose bees are going into their orchards, what markings are going to be on those hives, and if they see anything different, they need to report it."

Early this month, Freeman investigated reports of a small number of bees stolen from Butte and Glenn counties. He later recovered about half of the bees, after deputies spotted some of the stolen hives loaded onto a small utility trailer parked in a driveway in Biggs.

Two adults were arrested for the alleged crime and for felony possession of stolen property. The recovered bees were returned to the beekeeper-owner in Glenn County.

The sheriff's department said the suspects planned to place the hives in an almond orchard in exchange for payment for pollination services.

Freeman said smaller apiary thefts could be carried out by people who aren't beekeepers, but are just looking to make quick cash.

"In a recent case I worked, they saw an ad on Craigslist, and they responded to that and came to an agreement," he said. "The farmer doesn't know who they are really dealing with, and that guy comes out and drops off a bunch of boxes that look like beehives and the farmer is happy he has bees. But he doesn't look inside of them. One case, there weren't any bees in the boxes, and they weren't beekeepers."

Freeman, who also became interested in beekeeping after investigating a theft in 2013 and now maintains about 50 hives of his own, said the thefts this season are likely related to a limited supply of bees.

Whether or not almond growers will have enough bees remains to be seen.

Mel Machado, director of member relations for the Blue Diamond Growers cooperative, said he hadn't heard "any issues related to a shortage of bees."

Almond grower Dave Phippen of Travaille and Phippen Inc. in Manteca said one of the beekeepers he works with was unable to bring the truckload of bees that he had agreed upon, but was able to deliver 400 bee colonies for Phippen's almonds.

"I got what I needed, but just by the skin of my chinny-chin-chin," Phippen said, adding, "It's a challenge every year."

Phippen said he expects the cost of pollination services this year will be approximately $190 per colony.

"The trees are excited and trying to open," he said. "The weather's been cool, so it held them back, but with this warm storm, I'm afraid they are going to progress quicker than they have been."

Machado said it would take a while to gauge the impact of last week's rains on the almond bloom.

"We just don't know yet," he said.

Freeman offered suggestions for preventing bee theft:

Beekeepers should place bees out of sight and off the road, and mark hives, lids and frames with identifying information so that recovered bees can be traced back to the owner.

Growers paying for pollination services should verify that colonies in the orchard or field match with the contract they have with the beekeeper.

Though it is not cost-effective for every hive, beekeepers should strategically place GPS trackers in certain hives.

Beekeepers and farmers should maintain a close working relationship.

The California State Beekeepers Association offers up to $10,000 for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of persons responsible for stealing bees and/or beekeeping equipment; information may be sent to calstatebeekeepers@agamsi.com.

The Tulare County Sheriff's Department asked anyone with information regarding the stolen apiaries there to contact its Agricultural Crimes Unit: 559-802-9401.

(Christine Souza is an assistant editor of Ag Alert. She may be contacted at csouza@cfbf.com.)

Permission for use is granted, however, credit must be made to the California Farm Bureau Federation when reprinting this item.

http://www.agalert.com/story/?id=12734

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.

Different Types of Honey Bees

The Different Types of Honey Bees

Introduction

Honey bees, like all other living things, vary among themselves in traits such as temperament, disease resistance, and productivity. The environment has a large effect on differences among bee colonies (for example, plants in different areas yield different honey crops), but the genetic makeup of a colony can also impact the characteristics that define a particular group. Beekeepers have long known that different genetic stocks have distinctive characteristics, so they have utilized different strains to suit their particular purpose, whether it be pollination, a honey crop, or bee production.

What Is a Bee Stock?

The term “stock” is defined as a loose combination of traits that characterize a particular group of bees. Such groups can be divided by species, race, region, population, or breeding line in a commercial operation. Many of the current “stocks” in the United States can be grouped at one or more of these levels, so the term will be used interchangeably, depending on the particular strain of bees in question.

Wide variation exists within stocks as well as among them. Any generalities about a particular stock should be treated with caution, since there are always exceptions to the rule. Nonetheless, the long and vast experience of beekeepers allows some oversimplifications to be made in order to better understand the different types of bees available. The following is a brief overview of some of the more common commercially available honey bee stocks in the United States.

Comparison of bees and their traits

Comparison of bees and their traits

The Italian Bee

Italian honey bees, of the subspecies Apis mellifera ligustica, were brought to the United States in 1859. They quickly became the favored bee stock in this country and remain so to this day. Known for their extended periods of brood rearing, Italian bees can build colony populations in the spring and maintain them for the entire summer. They are less defensive and less prone to disease than their German counterparts, and they are excellent honey producers. They also are very lightly colored, ranging from a light leather hue to an almost lemon yellow, a trait that is highly coveted by many beekeepers for its aesthetic appeal.

Despite their popularity, Italian bees have some drawbacks. First, because of their prolonged brood rearing, they may consume surplus honey in the hive if supers (removable upper sections where honey is stored) are not removed immediately after the honey flow stops. Second, they are notorious kleptoparasites and frequently rob the honey stores of weaker or dead neighboring colonies. This behavior may pose problems for Italian beekeepers who work their colonies during times of nectar dearth, and it may cause the rapid spread of transmittable diseases among hives.

The German Bee

Honey bees are not native to the New World, although North America has about 4,000 native species of bees. Honey bees were brought to America in the 17thcentury by the early European settlers. These bees were most likely of the subspecies A. m. mellifera, otherwise known as the German or “black” bee. This stock is very dark in color and tends to be very defensive, making bee management more difficult. One of the German bees’ more favorable characteristics is that they are a hardy strain, able to survive long, cold winters in northern climates. However, because of their defensive nature and their susceptibility to many brood diseases (such as American and European foulbrood), this stock lost favor with beekeepers well over a century ago. Although the feral bee population in the United States was once dominated by this strain, newly introduced diseases have nearly wiped out most wild honey bee colonies, making the German bee a rare stock at this time

The Carniolan Bee

The subspecies A. m. carnica, from middle Europe, also has been a favored bee stock in the United States for several reasons. First, their explosive spring buildup enables this race to grow rapidly in population and take advantage of blooms that occur much earlier in the spring, compared to other stocks. Second, they are extremely docile and can be worked with little smoke and protective clothing. Third, they are much less prone to robbing other colonies of honey, lowering disease transmission among colonies. Finally, they are very good builders of wax combs, which can be used for products ranging from candles, to soaps, to cosmetics.

Because of their rapid buildup, however, carniolan bees tend to have a high propensity to swarm (their effort to relieve overcrowding) and, therefore, may leave the beekeeper with a very poor honey crop. This stock requires continued vigilance to prevent the loss of swarms.

The Caucasian Bee

A. m. caucasica is a race of honey bees native to the foothills of the Ural mountains near the Caspian Sea in eastern Europe. This stock was once popular in the United States, but it has declined in regard over the last few decades. Its most notable characteristic is its very long tongue, which enables the bees to forage for nectar from flowers that other bee stocks may not have access to. They tend to be a moderately colored bee and, like the Carniolans, are extremely docile. However, their slow spring buildup keeps them from generating very large honey crops, and they tend to use an excessive amount of propolis—the sticky resin substance sometimes called “bee glue” that is used to seal cracks and joints of bee structures—making their hives diffi- cult to manipulate.

The Buckfast Bee

In the 1920s, honey bee colonies in the British Isles were devastated by acarine disease, which now is suspected to have been the endoparasitic tracheal mite Acarapis woodi. Brother Adams, a monk at Buckfast Abby in Devon, England, was charged with creating a bee stock that could withstand this deadly disease. He traveled the world interviewing beekeepers and learning about different bee strains, and he created a stock of bees, largely from the Italian race, that could thrive in the cold wet conditions of the British Isles, yet produce good honey crops and exhibit good housecleaning and grooming behavior to reduce the prevalence of disease. Bees of this stock are moderately defensive. However, if left unmanaged for one or two generations, they can be among the most fiercely defensive bees of any stock. They also are moderate in spring population buildup, preventing them from taking full advantage of early nectar flows.

The Russian Bee

One of the newer bee stocks in the United States was imported from far-eastern Russia by the US Department of Agriculture’s Honey Bee Breeding, Genetics, and Physiology Laboratory in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The researchers’ logic was that these bees from the Primorski region on the Sea of Japan, have coexisted for the last 150 years with the devastating ectoparasite Varroa destructor, a mite that is responsible for severe colony losses around the globe, and they might thrive in the United States. The USDA tested whether this stock had evolved resistance to varroa and found that it had. Numerous studies have shown that bees of this strain have fewer than half the number of mites that are found in standard commercial stocks. The quarantine phase of this project has been complete since 2000, and bees of this strain are available commercially.

Russian bees tend to rear brood only during times of nectar and pollen flows, so brood rearing and colony populations tend to fluctuate with the environment. They also exhibit good housecleaning behavior, resulting in resistance not only to varroa but also to the tracheal mite.

Bees of this stock exhibit some unusual behaviors compared to other strains. For example, they tend to have queen cells present in their colonies almost all the time, whereas most other stocks rear queens only during times of swarming or queen replacement. Russian bees also perform better when not in the presence of other bee strains; research has shown that cross-contamination from susceptible stocks can lessen the varroa resistance of these bees.

Other Notable Stocks

Many other honey bee stocks are worth noting:

The Minnesota Hygienic stock has been selected for its exceptional housecleaning ability, significantly reducing the negative effects of most brood diseases.

The VSH, or the "Varroa Sensitive Hygiene" stock (used to be named the SMR stock, referring to “Suppression of Mite Reproduction”), also was developed by the USDA honey bee lab in Louisiana by artificially selecting commercial stocks for mite resistance. While not an independently viable stock on its own (because of inbreeding), the VSH trait has been incorporated into other genetic stocks so that these stocks may also express this highly desired characteristic.

The Cordovan bee is a type of Italian bee that has a very light yellow color, which is more attractive to many beekeepers.

Numerous hybrid stocks are also available commercially:

The Midnite bee was developed by crossing the Caucasian and Carniolan stocks, hoping to maintain the extreme gentleness of both strains while removing the excessive propolis of the Caucasians and minimizing the swarming propensity of the Carniolans.

The Starline was developed from numerous strains of the Italian stock by Gladstone Cale of the Dadant Bee Company. It was once favored by commercial beekeepers because of its tremendous honey yields, particularly in clover, but the popularity of this stock has declined in recent decades.

The Double Hybrid is a cross of the Midnite and the Starline.

Conclusion

While a tremendous amount of variation remains within and among the different bee stocks, some generalities still can be made. Bee differences can be used to advantage by beekeepers, depending on what traits interest them, so using different stocks can be a powerful tool at the beekeeper’s disposal. There is no “best” strain of bee, as the traits favored by one beekeeper may differ significantly from another’s choice. Thus, it is best for each beekeeper to experience the characteristics of the different bee strains first hand and then form an opinion about which stock best fits his or her situation.

For more information on beekeeping, visit the Beekeeping Notes website.

https://content.ces.ncsu.edu/the-different-types-of-honey-bees

David R. Tarpy
Professor and Extension Apiculturist
Department of Entomology, Campus Box 7613
North Carolina State University
Raleigh, NC 27695-7613
TEL: (919) 515-1660
FAX: (919) 515-7746
EMAIL: david_tarpy@ncsu.edu

Jennifer J. Keller
Apiculture Technician
Department of Entomology, Campus Box 7613
North Carolina State University
Raleigh, NC 27695-7613
TEL: (919) 513-7702
FAX: (919) 515-7746
EMAIL: jennifer_keller@ncsu.edu

NC State Extension
Author David Tarpy,
Professor and Extension Apiculturist
Entomology