THE HIVE TOOL Volume XLI March 2014 PUBLISHED BY THE CENTRAL MARYLAND BEEKEEPERS ASSOCIATION FOUNDED 1973 President's Frame Wake-up Call Did you feel it? That slight shift as the green earth started to wake up? Not the shift of someone turning over in bed, no. Let's hope it doesn't come like that. Just that shift in awareness, in energy level. There is a sense of the earth being poised, ready. We will all be startled by how quickly the snowdrops appear now, the crocuses bringing their colorful blast of spring. No doubt we are all tired of the snows, the shoveling, the slips and falls. But the benefits of the blanket of snow is that moisture and earth heat are working in amongst the roots, waking up the myriad lives in the soil. Very soon, now, very soon. And as soon as the mid-day temperatures are over 50, you may see your ladies bringing in pollen from winter aconite or skunk cabbage. What better sign of spring than pollen! The earth is ready even if we are not. “Time and tide wait for no man.” Even with the ice and snow storms, hawks are back, sitting atop the I-83 lampposts. Flocks of robins and starlings have been flying past my house of late. The warm spate coming mid week in late February is just what the bees have been waiting for to get their cleansing flights. Yesterday, as the large thermometer in the shade of the north side of the deck post touched 50F, there was an aerial dance in front of the row of hives as the bees, so long kept inside, were languidly flying, facing the hive to reestablish their navigation sense and know how to get home again. With early spring already here, we have to be listening to the soothsayer's advice to Julius Caesar, “Beware the Ides of March”, a date said to be the 15th of the month. But we should listen more closely. He passed the soothsayer on his way to the Senate and said, “The Ides of March has come!”, implying her prophesy was false. She replied, “Aye, Caesar, but not gone”. Vigilance and awareness are crucial from now until you see dandelion blooms. Only then can you rest easy, knowing the bees can feed themselves from that point on. This is, in fact, one of the most delicate and dangerous times for our ladies, with hive population rising and stores falling. Any reasonably warm time now, it is worth lifting the outer cover to see if the bees are clustered at the hole in the inner cover. If they are clustered around that hole, it is time for emergency feeding. Now, not tomorrow. Get on your snow boots once again, scrape all that snow off the top and, particularly, away from the entrance, and take a look, what Jerry Fisher calls “a little look-see”. You'll be glad you did. So I'd better do it, right? Roger Williams, 20 February, 2014 Starving Bees? What to do when the cupboards run bare. By T’Lee Sollenberger Reprinted from ABJ February 2014 Beekeepers are often befuddled come early spring-a time of golden forsythia, soft fuzzy pussy willows, nodding daffodils and brilliant yellow dandelions-when their first colony inspections reveal not the joyous hum of thousands of well fed overwintered honey bees, but rather the horrors of winter starvation. Dead bees. Lots and lots of dead bees. Golden amber honey bees with their heads stuck deep into dark comb cells. Decaying bees crammed together between the frames in an attempt to stay warm, all in vain. Bottom boards overflowing with the rotting, carrion corpses of winter bees jamming shut the bottom entrance, wet and suffocated. Moldy combs, dampness, and stench-all the earmarks of colony death. Sometimes, the demise of a colony is not starvation, but from other causes, some manageable by the beekeeper during the late summer and fall, (like treating for Varroa mites, Nosema or replacing contaminated old foundation). Some not. Far more often, I hear about starved bees within inches of their honey, an avoidable situation had the beekeeper monitored his colonies throughout the winter and given the bees a helping hand when needed. So, why does this happen? What should the beekeeper be doing during the midwinter and early spring to keep his bees from starving? Not sitting around the fireplace with a glass of wine reading a beekeeping catalogue, I assure you. So, what should be in place before going into winter? GIVE 'EM SHELTER. L.L. Langstroth advocated, "Great care should be taken to shelter hives from the piecing winds, which in Winter so powerfully exhaust the animal heat of the bees." This can be anything from a hedge row, brush pile or a windbreak like snow fencing, hay bales or an erected shelter. Other options include using a root cellar, basement, garage or climate controlled building, (if you can afford the cost), but darkness must be absolute; air circulation continuous, humidity around 50-75% and an ambient air temperature between 39- 4l0F. For most of us, letting the bees do all this by themselves is the best option, but a little assist from the beekeeper can certainly help them achieve the ideal wintering conditions. WRAP 'EM UP with light weight tar paper, bubble wrap insulation or other rot proof material. How much you wrap depends on your location, the seasonal severity of your weather and the colony's exposure to the elements. As shown in photo I, I use a three-sided arrangement of silver bubble wrap insulation, which offers some light insulating value and acts as a wind block, without causing the colony to think it is summer during a warm winter day. This stuff is very durable, waterproof and reusable for a number of seasons. Note the partially opened black capped upper entrance enjoyed by the bees. This also serves as winter ventilation. I wrap the most vulnerable areas on this large colony, which was brought in from a house removal job done around Halloween. This put the colony at a substantial disadvantage having barely enough time to settle in, lay new brood and put up any winter stores, (mostly provided by me), to get them through an early winter. If needed, I could add additional wrap, but a recent check after a massive week-long ice storm and three days below freezing, (pretty cold for North Central Texas this early in the season), showed the bees to be coping just fine. FALL FEEDING & TREATMENT for Nosema, l feel has become a necessity now that two strains of it are floating around the USA infecting colonies. This is two-for-one, as it also adds extra, (augmented), sugar syrup stores in the fall, while advancing Nosema control. (Mix Fumidil® B with 2 parts sugar to I part hot water). Honey/sugar syrup is the carbohydrate that keeps the bees warm and strong through the tough temperature fluctuations of winter. Each gallon of 2: 1 sugar syrup equates to 7# of useable carbohydrates, convertible energy when processed by the bees. If there is a honey flow going on, the bees may refuse to eat the augmented sugar syrup. Not to worry. Keep monitoring their progress, until you reach your goal. What goal? How much honey and pollen do the bees need to successfully overwinter? This is where things get a wee bit murky. There are many opinions and research on this subject, but depending on your area, here are some suggestions: Northern regions 80-90# honey; temperate regions 40-60#; southern regions, (think Florida), 15-30#. In my area, I err on the high side of 40- 50# per strong colony. In mild winters, when the bees may be able to forage on dandelion and wild mustards, I can get away with less, but my crystal ball doesn't always specify which winter will be mild. This poundage translates thus: honey/sugar syrup and pollen surrounding the brood cluster in the brood box, (usually the bees have moved into the second box by late fall), a fully capped honey super above the brood nest and half a super of partially capped above that. Pollen stores are often difficult to ascertain as they may be capped off by honey in the combs. Pollen primarily supplies the proteins for brood rearing, which begins at the height of winter, usually in mid-January, (which many beekeepers fail to realize). Make sure to remove the queen excluder in the fall to allow your queen to move upward into the warmer well stocked honey supers throughout the winter. One year I forgot and froze-out several colonies in one out yard. Costly that! Ideally, a last Varroa mite treatment should be done in late summer after pulling honey. This also helps with Tracheal mites, especially if the miticide contains thymol. Knocking The Hive Tool back mites just before winter will help with the quality of early brood rearing and the survival of the colony. MERGING. Langstroth notes, "If the stocks are to be wintered in the open air, they should all be made populous, and rich in stores, even if to do it requires the number of colonies to be reduced one-half, or more." Merging using a double screened board is an important management tool for overwintering as it is not unusual to lose 50% of colony strength in a harsh winter, (see my article in ABJ, March 2012, Making & Using a Double Screened Division Board: Requeening Without Finding the Queen, Combining & Overwintering Methods). Weak colonies do not have the girl power to gather sufficient winter stores or to generate enough heat to survive. Merging is the best option here. Merging should be done in early fall. It is difficult to merge in mid to late winter and have the colony survive, but if desperate circumstances dictate ... well, it is probably worth the risk. I prefer not to open my colonies, if the temperature is below 60°F, but if there's a darn good reason, then they may be opened at no less than 45°F. Keep in mind you risk damaging any brood and chilling your bees at this temperature. Another method of fixing weak colonies is requeening in late summer. This usually keeps the colony strong enough to avoid merging situations as a young productive queen will produce more winter bees increasing colony vigor in time for overwintering. No guarantee that the new queen will be better than the old queen, but usually, the colony will remain queenright into the spring flow all things being equal. (Does that really ever happen in beekeeping?). OVERWINTERING SURVIVAL TECHNIQUES WINTER WATER & VENTILATION In the 1850's, L.L. Langstroth made the realization through trials, tribulations and observations, that bees needed fresh water, usually by mid-winter to help them liquefy crystallized honey deep inside the honeycomb cells and to support early brood rearing. This is not to be confused with metabolic water produced, as Langstroth put it, by "the breath of bees." To provide fresh water inside the bee hive in winter place a sponge inside a plastic food storage bag and add water to the top edge of the sponge. Press all the air out of the bag and seal. The baggie is laid across the top bars, (photo 2). A small "X" is cut in the center of the baggie over the sponge to allow the bees access to the water without flooding the hive. The water allows the bees 2 March 2014 to process any carbohydrates existing or supplied by the beekeeper into immediately usable food. Additionally, Langstroth discovered the importance of ventilating metabolic water in winter. As bees breathe, eat and digest carbohydrates, water is the waste byproduct, which condenses on the interior and inside top of the hive. As Langstroth observed in January 30, 1857, "In a hive ... which had no upward ventilation, the vapor or breath of bees, which had frozen in it, having melted in consequence of a sudden thaw, both combs and bees were in a wretched condition." The bees had become too cold and wet to forage on their honey stores and hence starved to death. To avoid this problem, provide an upper entrance by drilling a small hole, (3/4-1"), in a honey super above the brood nest, (see black capped upper entrance in photo 1). A telescoping outer cover with a notched inner cover will also give adequate ventilation or as Langstroth suggests, "its roof should be slightly elevated, to allow the escape of moisture." A small chunk of wood under the cover works well here. Although it seems contradictory, fresh water must be provided inside a hive even though the bees produce metabolic water. It is imperative that the bees remain warm and dry in order to break their winter cluster to utilize the fresh water to process the crystallized honey or any beekeeper supplied carbohydrates. Which brings me to the crux of the matter, what to do when the bee's reserves run dry? EMERGENCY WINTER RATIONS are comprised of sugar based feeds, high in carbohydrates, but low in protein, that can be placed on the bees to save them from eminent death. Unfortunately, it doesn't always work. If the colony is significantly weakened and cold, the bees may not be able to break cluster to eat the emergency rations. In the following rations, fresh water must be provided, (see above method), to aid the bees in digesting the carbohydrates, except when sugar syrup is being offered. A Winter Patty, (available through Dadant), containing 97% carbohydrates and 3% protein, is one of the easiest and best emergency rations available without stimulating early brood rearing. Depending on the strength of the colony, one or two patties is placed directly over the brood nest above the clustering bees. A I 1/2" rim shim, (photo 2), is needed to keep from squashing the patty and attending bees between the brood box and honey super. Once started on this feeding regimen, the winter patty must be replaced as the bees consume it; after all, this is an emergency ration only to be used until naturally occurring pollen and nectar are available. The Hive Tool It is important to note that some beekeepers have had problems with Small Hive Beetles snacking on winter patties along with the bees. To avoid a build-up of beetles in warmer weather, remove the remains of winter patties as soon as the bees are no longer eating them. Fondant is another emergency ration that can be whipped up in the kitchen and placed on a candy board-an inner cover with a l" rim shim attached to give space between the fondant and the clustering bees, (photo 5). RECIPE FOR ONE CANDY BOARD 2 cups sugar 1/8 tsp. cream of tartar I 1/2 cups boiling water Method: Add boiling water to the sugar in a 1 1 /2 qt. sauce pan. Stir well. Heat until just starting to boil. Add cream of tartar by tapping the measuring spoon against the sauce pan. Stir well. Allow the mixture to boil without further stirring until it reaches 238°F, (soft ball stage on a candy thermometer, photo 3). Remove from heat. Pour syrup onto a cold plate or into a frozen bowl. Cool to touch, (your finger will leave an imprint). Then beat with electric mixer until it turns creamy white, (photo 4). Pour onto a candy board, (photo 5); allow to harden. Invert the candy board and place over the brood nest cluster. Photo 4. Use a hand held electric mixer to beat the cooled fondant until it turns white. Photo 5. Pour the finished fondant onto the candy board-an inner cover with rim shim attached. Once the fondant hardens, the candy board is inverted over the brood nest. A water baggie should be underneath the candy board to aid the bees in digesting the candy into useable carbohydrates. 3 March 2014 If desired or a candy board is not available, the fondant sustain your bees until proper forage is available! may be poured into silicone, glass or metal molds. Unmold WINTER EXAMINATION when hard. Use a rim shim and place the molded fondant Honey bees need five major items for winter survival: shelter, directly on the top bars near the cluster. Replace the honey ventilation, water, carbohydrates and protein. Additionally, they super above the candy board or rim shim and close up the must be queen-right and disease free. colony like usual. Even if you think all these things have been supplied in the fall, it is crucial to do mid-winter checkups as the weather permits Granulated sugar may also be poured onto a candy board as emergency rations and placed directly over the cluster. In to examine the bees' food supply and its proximity to the brood this case, the candy board is not inverted. The inclusion of nest. Remember, the brood cluster should be constantly in contact water at the time of feeding is paramount to the success of this with their food frames both laterally and vertically or starvation method. Many beekeepers report that the bees remove may occur despite having the food physically available. A winter granulated sugar rather than eat it, which is obviously checkup allows the beekeeper to move honey and pollen frames counterproductive. next to the brood cluster. He may also replenish dwindling supplies or augment additional carbohydrates as needed. Marshmallows, another emergency ration suggested by In all regions, the queen will start her egg laying marathon by Jerry Hayes, author of The Classroom, are placed over the mid-January. She will normally confine her egg laying to the midbrood cluster. A rim shim must be used to avoid smashing the section of the boxes, constantly moving upward as the honey and marshmallows into hard lumps. Replace super and cover as pollen are consumed and open cells become available, (at least usual. that has been my observation). The temperature in the middle of Queen candy made from powdered sugar, honey and the brood nest will be increased from 57°F to about 94°F, all enough water to form a stiff but slightly tacky dough is yet generated by vibrating winter bees in the brood cluster. This another quick emergency ration. The candy can be formed into causes a sharp increase in food consumption, not only to keep the discs or ropes. Like the marshmallows, use a rim shim and lay cluster and developing brood warm, but to feed the larvae as well. the candy directly over the top bars near the brood cluster or This is also when fresh water and ventilation needs are at their place on a candy board. highest. Sugar syrup, (2: 1 ), can also be fed, but avoid offering it The need for early brood production by the bees is simple in a division board feeder until the nighttime temperature economics-the colony is replacing its worn out winter bees with remains above 50°F. This trough-type feeder replaces one or new spring foragers necessary for hive expansion. This is done two frames and is placed next to the brood nest to take five to six weeks, i.e. mid-January in most regions before natural advantage of the colony's heat. Make sure to stuff a float of pollen and nectar become available. This is the most crucial time some kind inside the feeder. This helps the bees climb out if for colony examinations and supplementary feeding to keep this they fall into the cold syrup. The object here is to save the bees momentum going. not drown them with kindness. In the more southern climes, beekeepers think their bees are A larger plastic storage bag and sponge method used for keeping up with the dietary needs of this expansion because many bee watering may also be tried for dispensing sugar syrup. (See early flowering plants and trees are available to the bees above). My only caveat would be not to make the access hole throughout late winter. In reality, the bees are most likely so large that the bees can climb into the baggie itself and get outstripping their food reserves. The early nectar and pollen stuck. sources are only able to keep the bees at or below the status quo. Other dispensing systems for sugar syrup are gravity There is no net gain on brood rearing and often the queen will feeders, (an inverted jar with numerous punch holes in the lid), slow down egg laying and workers may even cannibalize placed on the top bars, directly over the brood nest. A deep box developing larvae to sustain themselves. surrounds the feeder and then the inner and outer covers are Results. No expansion; starvation imminent. This is why so replaced. Insulating the jar is necessary. many colonies are lost unnecessarily before the spring flow. Setting the feeder over the opening on an inner cover is a Winter examination is a task every beekeeper must perform not possible strategy during winter to allow bee feeding and proper once, not twice, but at least every two weeks, ifthe weather will insulation of the feeder provided the cluster is in the center of allow, from mid-winter to spring flow or lose his colonies to the brood box where they can reach the feed. With all gravity starvation. feeders there is possible failure and flooding of the brood Feed often until the bees will no longer accept your offerings. cluster due to atmospheric changes or freezing. Diligent winter management equals strong, healthy bees ready for Hive top feeders are not recommended unless there is no the spring flow. other option. If used, then like the gravity feeder, they would References need to be heavily insulated on top. Because they disperse the Crane, Eva. Bees and Beekeeping, Science, Practice and World feed across a large surface area, the feed often freezes, Resources. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1990. desiccates or crystallizes. (Don't ask me how I know)! If the Delaplane, Keith S. Honey Bees & Beekeeping, A Year in the feeder is designed with end only access instead of middle Life of an Apiary, 2nd edition. Athens, GA: The University of access to the feed, the bees are unlikely to break cluster to feed Georgia, 1996. on it unless it is a very warm day. Finally, the feeder must be Graham, Joe, Editor. The Hive and the Honey Bee. Hamilton, IL: placed directly over the brood cluster, which eliminates any Dadant & Sons, Inc. 1997. supers, (hence storage or colony expansion space). Hayes, G. W. Jr. The Classroom, Beekeeping Questions and Likewise, boardman feeders cannot be used as the bees will Answers. Hamilton, IL: Dadant & Sons, lnc. 1998. not leave the brood cluster to climb downstairs to eat cold or Langstroth, L.L. A Practical Treatise on the Hive and the Honeyfrozen food at the hive entrance. Bee. Philadelphia, MA: J.B. Lippincott & Co., 1881. Keep in mind, these are emergency rations, designed to The Hive Tool 4 March 2014 Sammataro, Diana and Alphonse Avitabile. The Beekeeper's Handbook, 4th edition. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2011. Shimanuki, Hachiro, Kim Flottum and Ann Harman, Editors. The ABC & XYZ of Bee Culture, 4lst edition. Medina, OH: The A.I. Root Company, 2007. Methods of Making Increase Colonies By Larry Connor ABJ February 2014 My first beekeeping book, Increase Essentials, was first published in 2006. A great deal has happened since then. Colony Collapse Disorder appeared. Many beekeepers moved away from package bees to increase nucleus production, and developed a wide array of amazing methods to make increase nuclei. Many routinely winter these colonies with different levels of success. So, as we work to produce a second edition of Increase Essentials, we will put both new and updated materials out to the thousands of people who have purchased the book. For them, I hope that they will see it as an upgrade, and for those who have not read the book, I hope it will incentivize them to read it. In this issue we continue the discussion about making increase nuclei. Selecting colonies for increase production At the first hive inspection in late winter or early spring, select the colonies that are thriving and growing rapidly. In Florida, southern Texas and the Southwest, this may be in January, while in the northern tier of states and Canada this may not happen until March or early April in average years. While you may feed all your colonies to keep them alive, select certain colonies you want to "push" brood and bee production, to make new increase colonies. Give them constant sugar syrup stimulation and pollen patties or pollen substitute. This allows the bees and the queen to produce a large amount of brood, and this will grow your bee population. The bees will respond to the push in February or early March in northern states and in lower Canada. Deciding which colonies in your apiary will be used for increase production depends upon your objective and your beekeeping conditions as expressed as potential nectar flows. Here are three strategy examples: Every colony will be used to provide brood and bees adequate to produce one or more increase nuclei. This is an ideal program when all hives are about equal in strength and you have been successful at keeping winter loss low and the colonies are responding well to stimulative feeding. If your The Hive Tool colonies go to California for almond pollination, you can remove a nucleus or two from each colony when the hives are successfully returned to you. By doing this, you accomplish two goals: first you will make new colonies at a point in the colony cycle when they are producing surplus bees, and second, removing bees and brood will seriously discourage these hives from swarming. Only certain colonies will produce increase nuclei. While you might use just the strongest colonies to make increase nuclei, beekeepers like Vermont's Mike Palmer routinely sort out the lower quality colonies and use only these to form increase nuclei. These are 'C' level colonies that will require effort and still only produce a below average honey crop. He uses only the strongest colonies for clover honey production, following a rigorous swarm prevention program of adding supers early and other methods. Keep your 'A' and 'B+' strength colonies for honey production or pollination and put the rest of the hives into making increase. All colonies are converted to nuclei.The most severe system of making increase nuclei is commonly used by larger sideline and most commercial beekeepers. All colonies are completely dismantled at some point in the seasonal management cycle and made into a number of new increase nuclei colonies. Each colony receives a minimum of three frames of brood, food frames, and left-over comb. This is an excellent time to remove old combs and add new foundation or starter strips. Some beekeepers set up an assembly-line production facility at the base apiary or in the field to collect colonies, pull frames and add queens. There are an amazing variety of methods commercial beekeepers use to accomplish this extensive colony manipulation. The advantages are clear-you end up with colonies with all new queens, potentially new brood combs, and have entirely eliminated swarming as a major management focus, in addition to setting back the varroa mite build up in the original colonies. Timing increase nucleus production Timing management manipulations is a key part of learning beekeeping. If you have been feeding colonies, but make increase colonies too early, you will set back both the parent colony and the new colony. If the size of the unit is too small, it will require additional food for energy to keep the colony warm which may slow growth. Remember, it takes much more energy for several small colonies to build up than one large colony. Wait until nighttime temperatures are above freezing before you start the production of increase nuclei. Watch nighttime low temperatures and wait to make up nuclei increase colonies until nighttime temperatures moderate and there is abundant food coming in. This is late April and early May in the northern states, but every year is slightly different. Watch the weather! Increase nuclei made too early in the season often have spotty dark brood areas where the brood was chilled (and killed) when the small colony cluster drew in on a cold night and abandoned the fringes of the brood area. While sealed brood is rather resilient to brief exposures to cold, I have also seen entire frames of sealed brood that were killed when left out in a strong and chilling wind before they were added to the new hive. Such early, and somewhat clumsy efforts, are totally counterproductive. Waiting for further development and better weather will pay dividends. I try to use biological timing systems, based on key plants in bloom that will contribute to buildup. I delay the production of the very first increase nuclei until the soft maples 5 March 2014 are in bloom. This is the earliest I would attempt to make such increase. Of course, there are many reasons to wait even longer, and I suggest you wait so the parent colonies get stronger. To think of it another way, push your colonies to the point they will soon start building swarm cells. Then make increase nuclei as quickly as you are able. If you are one week late, there will be a lot of your bees hanging in the nearby trees, and that is NOT the focus of this article. The queen bank Too often, the determining factor for making increase colonies is the pre-scheduled arrival of queen bees from the South, West or Hawaii. In the northern tier states, many beekeepers attempt to rush the season by scheduling queens for arrival in early April, when environmental conditions may or may not have supported full colony growth and brood rearing. If you find that your queens have arrived too early or you cannot delay their arrival from the queen producer, you are wise to set up a queen bank to store them rather than rush to make up nuclei too early. A queen bank is just like a queen cell finisher used in queen rearing-a queen-less hive body with several frames of open and sealed brood, positioned over a queen excluder, situated over a strong hive containing a highly productive queen. Surplus queens are kept in separate cages without attendant bees on a holding frame so they receive food. Feed this colony with sugar syrup. If you have tested and find a high level of Nosema apis or ceranae, add medication to the syrup. There is no point in medicating queens if there is no Nosema in the hive-this requires frequent sampling and examination under a high powered compound microscope. Queen banks may be used at any time in a beekeeping operation to store queens that are not needed today. Banks are better than leaving queens in mailing cages on the woodshop table, since the worker bees in a hive will better attend to their needs than worker bees shipped in mailing cage. Banks are also used to finish or 'ripen' sealed queen cells, to hold virgin queens, and to store mated queens before sale or use in the operation. By waiting until weather conditions improve, you can make increase nuclei with safety and confidence. First-time increase nuclei makers are advised to wait until the weather conditions are stable for the season. This is mid May or early June in the northern USA, and should anticipate the appearance of swarm cells-or allow you to use swarm cells on brood frames-and reduce the population of bees and brood in each strong hive. (Continued in March issue.) Check www.wicwas.com for the new book Swarm Essentials by Steve Repasky and Larry Connor. Watch for the second edition of Increase Essentials on this same website. Tank Mix Troubles By Susan Kegley Pollinator Stewardship Council Reprinted from Bee Culture February 2014 Pesticide label restrictions based on tests of a single pesticide active ingredient are not likely to provide sufficient protection for honey bees from the effects of tank mixtures. Pesticide applications are always something beekeepers would like their bees to avoid, but there is a general assumption that if you keep your bees clear of insecticide applications, you're home free. This assumption is backed up by the fact that laboratory studies tell us that most herbicides and fungicides are not acutely toxic to bees. However, several recent bee kill incidents have involved application of a "tank mix" of several herbicides or a fungicide and an herbicide that was not so benign. The "tank mix" is an agricultural practice where multiple pesticide products are loaded into the spray tank at once. This could be a fungicide and an insecticide, several different herbicides, or a mix of an insecticide and an insect growth regulator. It almost always includes spray adjuvants that are added to help the pesticide's active ingredients penetrate leaf surfaces, act as de-foaming agents, reduce drift, or ensure that the mixture of dissimilar chemicals and the carrier (usually water or diesel oil) all stay in solution. Tank mixing has advantages for the farmer, allowing a single pass with the tractor where two or more would be required otherwise, and plays a role in resistance management of pests. To the farmer, it represents a savings in energy and time and potentially better pest control, but for the beekeeper, it could spell disaster. From a chemist's point of view, the tank mix is reminiscent of doing experiments in the organic chemistry lab to find out what happens when you mix chemical X with chemical Y and some solvent. The end product? Well, that was the puzzle to be figured out. Pesticide chemicals can and do react with each other, creating new compounds that we know nothing about, in terms of toxicity or efficacy against the target pest. In fact, little is known about mixtures of pesticides even if they don't react with each other U.S. EPA doesn't require toxicity testing of mixtures, even for the mixtures of active ingredients contained in a single product. U.S. The Hive Tool 6 March 2014 EPA currently only evaluates the toxicity of pesticides one at a time, which can produce an inaccurate estimate of anticipated adverse effects on bees. Pesticide label restrictions based on tests of a single pesticide active ingredient are not likely to provide sufficient protection for honey bees from the effects of tank mixtures. Tank mixes can be particularly deadly to bees for several reasons: Additive effects If the bee is exposed to two chemicals that act on the same biological pathway, the toxicity of the mixture is the sum of the toxicity of each component. For pesticides that react with each other to form a new compound, the toxicity of the mixture may actually be less than the sum of the toxicity of the component pesticides. Synergistic effects For certain mixtures of chemicals, the toxicity is greater than the sum of the toxicity of the two chemicals alone. For example, a new study of mixture toxicity to aquatic insects (which are very much like bees in their susceptibility to pesticides) show that the toxicity of a chlorpyrifos / imidacloprid mixture is 10- 12 times greater than that predicted by simple additive toxicity. The fungicide propiconazole may increase the toxicity of the insecticide lambda-cyhalothrin to bees. In fact, tank mixes can be used to accentuate the effectiveness of a pesticide active ingredient. Synergistic effects can be caused by the activation of enzyme systems that metabolize the chemicals to produce highly toxic intermediates, by the deactivation of enzymes that metabolize the chemicals to low-toxicity degradation products, or by the formation of a new compound that is more toxic than the two starting pesticides. Surfactant effects Surfactants are like soap - they act as emulsifiers, allowing dissimilar substances like oils and water-soluble chemicals to mix. They also enhance the penetration of the pesticide into the bodies of insects, increasing the rate of absorption of the active ingredient in exposed insects. While most surfactants aren't acutely toxic to bees, recent work out of the Mullin and Frazier labs at Penn State's Entomology Department shows that doses of organosilicone surfactants of 20 micrograms per bee impair the proboscis extension reflex in honey bees, an essential behavior bees use to extract nectar from plants. One more cause for concern is that tank mixing is not wellregulated. Occasionally, there is information on a pesticide label that indicates what products can be mixed or should not be mixed, but not often. Considering the fact that there are 16,667 currently registered pesticides on the market, about 7,000 of which are agricultural use products, the lack of definitive label guidance from EPA or manufacturers on tank mixing is surprising. The Departments of Agriculture in Wisconsin and Oregon2 recommend against tank mixing because of potential adverse effects, but some extension offices actually encourage it. The Illinois Pesticide Applicator Training Manual (IPATM) has an entire chapter on tank mixes and promotes the practice, noting: The correct tank mix of two or more pesticides may save time and labor and may reduce equipment and application costs. In addition, such a mixture might also control a range of pests or enhance the control of one or a few pests. Pesticide manufacturers also recommend tank mixing as a general strategy for resistance management. Example label language includes statements like the following: Because resistance development cannot be predicted, the The Hive Tool use of this product should conform to resistance management strategies established for the crop and use area. Such strategies may include rotating and/ or tank mixing with products having different modes of action. The IPATM also provides guidance on how to test for product compatibility in tank mixes, instructing the applicator to mix products together in a jar to watch for any reactions or adverse effects. Really? If tank mixes are to be part of agricultural practices, it seems that compatibility testing would be better done in the lab by the manufacturer, with clear directions on the label as to what products can and cannot be safely mixed. EPA could also improve the situation by requiring the pesticide manufacturers to conduct toxicity testing of mixtures for pollinators, humans, and wildlife. This information would provide a way for growers to make informed application decisions that would better protect honey bees and other wildlife. In the meantime, it's worth keeping your bees away from all pesticide applications as much as possible. References: LeBlanc HMK, Culp JM, Baird DJ, Alexander AC, Cessna AJ. 2012. Single Versus Combined Lethal Effects of Three Agricultural Insecticides on Larvae of the Freshwater Insect Chironomus dilutus. Arch Environ Contam Toxicol 63:378390; doi: 10.1007 /s00244-012-9777-0. 2 0regon State University, 2013. How to reduce bee poisoning from pesticides. http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/xmlui/handle/1957/42829 3 Ciarlo TJ, Mullin CA, Frazier JL, Schmehl DR. 2012. Learning Impairment in Honey Bees Caused by Agricultural Spray Adjuvants. PLoS ONE 7:e40848; doi:l0.1371/journal. pone.0040848. "For example, see the Bayer Crop Science label for Balance® Flexx, EPA Reg No. 264-1067, http://www.cdms.net/LDat/ld8QS012.pdf. 5 US EPA 2013. Pesticide Product Information System. US Environmental Protection Agency. http://www.epa.gov/pesticides/PPISdata/. 6 University of Wisconsin, 2013. Aphid Management Recommendations 2013. http://fyi.uwex.edu/fieldcroppathology/soybean_pests_diseases/so ybean_aphid_management/ 7 Illinois Pesticide Applicator Training Manual 39- 7, Private Applicator, 1999. http://web.extension.illinois.edu/psep/facts/calibration/preparing_ tank_mixes.pdf 8 Bayer Crop Science, label for Absolute® 500 SC, EPA Reg No. 264-849. http://www.cdms.net/LDat/ld80E000.pdf. 1 Winners & Losers In Todays Enviroment Where Do Honey Bees Fall? By Jim Tew Reprinted from Bee Culture February 2014 I'm not qualified I don't have the training and/or the academic background to write the following article. Population dynamics, societal shifts, epidemiology, disease etiology, outbreak investigation, disease surveillance and screening, bio-monitoring, statistics, social sciences and exposure assessment are some of the areas beyond my pay grade. The only attribute I have to offer is that I have lived 65 years. I have seen cycles come and go. I know what my world once looked like and I know it does not look as it once did. 7 March 2014 A North Carolina farm in the late 1930s. Photo from: www.loc.gov/pictures/resource/fsa.8b33997/ I caught the tail end of something In my early life, many roads were unpaved. A kid could ride on the tailgate of a pickup truck and knew enough not to fall off. Yards were swept clean. In fact, grass in the yard was unacceptable. A "short" Coca Cola cost 5¢ and came in a bottle that had to be returned. Cracker Jacks™ had real prizes that could readily be swallowed by kids who should have known better. A Western Flyer bicycle was your gateway to the world. The "rolling store" came by the farm one day per week and crop dusters landed in the road to reload. There were no general herbicides but there were some other serious insecticides that were readily available. Even a kid could buy them. All chickens were free range and I personally knew the cow that provided my raw milk. This is a quick, somewhat dirty written snapshot of my early world in the 1950s and it was the world in which U.S. beekeeping attained its highest numbers at around 5.7 million colonies. That world is gone and with it, about 50% of our bee colonies; but our bee numbers were already declining before Africanized honey bees, neonicotinoids, predaceous mites, and Colony Collapse Disorder (whatever that was ... ). Why? The answer remains elusive No one has been able to show clear reasons why honey bees are in trouble. Clearly, it's more than a sin gle reason. In academic worlds outside mine, it has frequently been said that honey bees are an environmental indicator species. This has been defined as "a species whose presence, absence, or relative well-being in a given environment is indicative of the health of its ecosystem as a whole1." As passionate bee people, we have a myopic view of bee health. Clearly something is wrong with our bees, but even if we did not have all our present problems, bee colonies would (seemingly) still be declining. Should not the proper question be more along the lines of what's up with the general health of our environment? It's a bit like realizing that our "mine canary" is unhealthy so we begin aggressively studying canary diseases. We need to be finding out what's wrong within the mineshaft. Upon correcting that, the canary should improve. Things change - then quickly begin to look normal Gasoline prices, airport security, mobile phones, and automobiles with air conditioners are some disassociated examples of things that have experienced radical changes in the past decades. Things change and then those changes quickly become the new normal. Today's normalcy would certainly not be normal in the 1950s. I have written time and again about the use of herbicides to clean our lawns, The Hive Tool roadsides, playgrounds, farm fields, airfields, and access areas. Indeed, in Ohio, only about 10 years ago, our springtime lawns were beacons of yellow dandelions. Not now. My point is not that honey bees do not have access to that Spring food resource, but that we have successfully removed that plant and many others in the process of de-weeding our world. If we could restore our bee colony numbers to the peak 5. 7 million, are there presently enough environmental resources to support them? I don't know but I suspect there is not (See my first paragraph). As simple as fence rows Ostensibly, fences were to keep farm animals restrained and delineated property boundaries. But from my youthful perspective, that's where the quail, pheasants and rabbits hid. Blue birds nested in rotting fence posts cavities that woodpeckers hollowed out. It was an artificial ecosystem that worked well at the time. That simple farming procedure fencing - has undergone significant changes. Modern fencing is just that - fencing. It is no longer a haven. Some of the non-honey bee losers The plight of the blue bird is well known. I have several bird boxes set out but it is a struggle to keep other birds out and to fend raccoons and the neighbor's cats. I do try. Rattlesnakes who wants them? But I never thought they would essentially disappear from our Alabama farm. My grandmother's primary lecture was to watch for snakes, but I have not seen one in nearly 40 years. It's a' bit like being told to watch for sharks in Ohio. In the early 1980s, I went to the monarch butterfly wintering site in the volcanic mountains of central Mexico. Apparently, that stunning population is now 1/1 S'h of what it was when I was there. I saw not a single monarch in my yard this past year. Bats with white nose disease are losers. Many species of amphibians are in dire straits. Stocks of both trophy fish and food fish are stressed. Most of us have increased difficulty trying to find supplies of wholesome oysters and small Maine shrimp. I had to cut down my only Ash tree thanks to the intrusion of the Emerald Ash Borer. Ash trees everywhere are losers. White pines in the Pacific Northwest are under attack. Losers seem to be everywhere. Virginia fence row, 1930s. special-collections.nal.usda.gov/photographfarrn-fencing-usda-history-collection. The sting of Bob White quail But I am particularly stung by the precipitous decline of the 8 March 2014 Bob White quail population - particularly in the Southeastern U.S. That bright, piercing "BOB WHITE" would ring across the country side on those halcyon days now long gone2• It was Spring time and all things were good and always would be - or so it seemed all those years ago. Many times, I have climbed over a fence only to have a dozen half-chicken-sized birds explode from their covey right at my feet. The confusion that explosion caused was clearly a defensive procedure that usually worked well on me. My relationship with these wild birds was exhilarating. I didn't think about them or worry about their numbers. They were just always there. Now, they are not. There is an unexpected comparison between quail populations and honey bee populations. Quail populations peaked early in the 1900s3. In 1950s and 1960s, the time period to which I am referring, the population had already begun to decline at about 2% per year. At the time, I thought they were abundant. In the early 1970s, the decline accelerated to more like to more like 10% per year. Now, in most areas, there is Alabama fence row, 2012. essentially not a remaining hunting population. During the great blizzard of 1977, quail populations died in Ohio and were subsequently caught in the general quail decline across the region. They have never made a meaningful comeback in Ohio. I incorrectly thought that coyotes and armadillos (two of the present ecological winners) were the cause of the quails' decline, but apparently the real reason is drastically modified farming practices. Fire ants certainly have not helped. But quail numbers were only as high as they were in the 1900s because pioneers had earlier cleared so much land into small acre age plots. Before that, quail numbers were lower, but no one knows how much lower. I have no way of knowing, but I wonder if the quail population today is approximately what the population was within old growth forests. I have not found anyone who expects the high quail population to return. Too much has changed. So I must ask - is it realistic to think that bee colony numbers could ever be expected to reach the 1950 high numbers? So long as pesticides and Varroa are here, our bee herd is going to be restricted. Quail are not near extinction but their numbers are probably lowered forever. Comparably, honey bees are not near extinction, but their numbers are also probably lowered forever. As with quail, too much has changed for bee colonies to be expected to come roaring back. Ecosystem dynamics We have seen it time and time again. If changes are made in our ecosystem, sometimes those changes have unintended consequences. At the outset, the class of chlorinated hydrocarbon pesticides seemed too good to be true. We know how that ended. We just about eliminated our national symbol the bald eagle. Flooding and soil erosion are frequent issues in The Hive Tool parts of the U.S. We got all those old growth forests cut down. If fact, in the 1600s our fore-parents casually introduced the honey bee to the virginal early American ecosystem. That could never happen today. As I write, the polar caps are receding at record rates. If global warming predictions are accurate, will future bee populations thrive due to longer blooming seasons or will some areas become so dry that they become useless to bee foragers? That is how it has always been - good times and bad times sometimes good and sometimes very bad. Right now, honey bees are in the struggling category - between good and bad. Some present day winners In all my early years, roaming the forests of Southeast Alabama, I never once - not a single time - saw a deer. There were essentially none to be seen. Recall the high population of quail in the 1900s. At the same time, there was a dramatic decline in deer populations due to overhunting and the screw worm fly. The screw worm eradication program finally pushed the pesky fly out in the late 1950s and hunting restrictions were implemented. Since then, the deer herd has been steadily recovering. In the mid1940s, there were an estimated 4,000,000 deer in the U.S 4• Today, the herd is around 32,000,000 or about an 800% increase since the 1940s. Presently there are more deer in the U.S. than when Columbus sailed here in the 1400s. Alligators have recovered cur rently showing a 400% increase. Turkeys and Canadian Geese are now common. Beaver, raccoons and wild pigs have shown significant recovery to the point of becoming pests. Even gray wolf populations are looking better. Starlings, House Sparrows, Kudzu and Autumn Olive are on the winning list - not necessarily desirable in our view - but these organisms are winning. And right now, Varroa is a big winner in the bee world. I get about 2000 words Editors Kim and Kathy allocate me about 2000 words per month to talk to you. My comments here can only serve as an introduction (or a rant) to the broader world in which we and our bees live. It's not just bees that are besieged. Many other species are losing while others are in a good place. Also, it is important for me to clearly say that my comments are not an indictment of any industry or any philosophy. Herbicides are here for the foreseeable future. Modern production agriculture cannot be expected to go backwards. Our human U.S. population is growing. More space and food production will be required. Generally, our quality of life remains high. I am trying not to rigidly compare today's beekeeping to yesterday's beekeeping. At a recent Idaho Honey Industry Association meeting, George Hanson, noted bee industry leader, casually said that over time, honey production per colony seems to be declining. If that is true (and I sense that it is), I can't say why. Reduced floral sources? Over populating? Decreased genetic vigor? Beekeeper incompetence? We have correctly picked out the most logical suspects - pests and pesticides - as being our primary villains. They probably are much of the cause, but we have other more insidious issues that are more difficult to decipher. Beekeepers and their bees are part of a much bigger and constantly evolving environmental picture. I thoroughly enjoyed my early outdoor life, but I like my present life much better. I really like the computer on which I am presently typing, the iPhone in my pocket, the pickup that is parked just outside my shop, my DVR recorder and the worldwide-web. I hope I never see another rotary-dial, party line phone again. I just really wish my bees would stop dying so 9 March 2014 easily. It hasn't always been that way. Dr. James E. Tew, State Specialist, Beekeeping, The Alabama Cooperative Extension System, Auburn University; [email protected] http://www.onetew.com http://www.facebook.com/tewbee2 [email protected] http://www.youtube.com/user/onetewbee From: The National Honey Bee Advisory Board Effects on non target organisms not understood http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/28/business/energyenvironment/genetic-weapon-against-insects-raises-hope-andfear-in-farming.html?hp The National Honey Bee Advisory Board and beekeeping industry has greatly benefited from independent scientific input. Beekeepers and farmers hope, and yet have concerns about RNA technology, as described in the recent New York Times article, “Genetic weapon against insects raises hope and fear in farming,” Link Above (1-27-14). We agree with the findings of the EPA Scientific Advisory Panel (SAP) concerning RNAi technology that “not all aspects of the fate of dsRNA in the environment and potential effects on nontarget organisms are necessarily understood.” EPA asked this panel of scientists to provide them with their expertise concerning this new pesticide technology. The scientists stated in their White Paper of Sept. 30, 2013, “Better understanding of the mechanisms influencing uptake, particularly if they can be extrapolated to other organisms, would reduce uncertainty in exposure assumptions and help to focus risk assessments on the most appropriate organisms.” The SAP includes scientists working in entomological fields to human studies from acclaimed universities across the United States. FIFRA SAP Chair Daniel Schlenk, Ph.D. Professor of Aquatic Ecotoxicology Department of Environmental Sciences University of California, Riverside Riverside, CA Members K. Barry Delclos, Ph.D. Pharmacologist Division of Biochem. Tox (HFT-110), FDA National Center for Toxicol. Research 3900 NCTR Road Jefferson, AR Marion F. Ehrich, Ph.D. Co-director, Laboratory for Neurotoxicity Studies Professor, Pharmacology and Toxicology Department of Biomedical Sciences & Pathobiology Viginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine Blacksburg, VA Stephen Klaine, Ph.D. Professor, Department of Biological Sciences Director, Institute of Environmental Toxicology Clemson University Clemson, SC The Hive Tool James McManaman, Ph.D. Professor Departments of Obstetrics & Gynecology, Physiology and Biophysics Universoty of Colorado Aurora, CO Prakash Nagarkatti, Ph.D. Vice President for Research Carolina Distinguished Professor Pathology, Micobiology and Immunology 202 Osborne Administration Building University of S.C. Columbia, SC Martha S. Sandy, Ph.D. Senior Toxicologist and Chief Cancer Toxicology and Epidemiology Section Reproductive and Cancer Hazard Assessment Branch Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment California Environmental Protection Agency Oakland, CA The FIFRA SAP concluded in their report, “The new categories of dsRNA products, however, will present additional hazard and risk assessment challenges due to their unique modes of action and other toxicological endpoints that cannot be measured using the traditional testing paradigm.” The EPA welcomed public comment concerning the White Paper and the National Honey Bee Advisory Board was pleased to provide input. Honey bees, as the Scientific Advisory Panel stated, could be greatly impacted by the RNAi pesticide technology. They expressed their concerns that “not all aspects of the fate of dsRNA in the environment and potential effects on nontarget organisms are necessarily understood.” They advised that it is unclear how RNAi technology can translocate throughout the environment, but possible transmission may include dust from degraded plant material, soil, plant pollen taken to bee hives, and even mammals consuming the plants and depositing the digested food far from the initial treatment area. The nontarget exposure opportunities present many concerns. For honey bees specifically, “The factors influencing the possibility of exposure by this pathway (e.g. longevity of dsRNA once consumed, concentration resulting within the herbivorous insect) are not known.” The National Honey Bee Advisory Board supports the findings of these noted researchers. We agree with EPA’s Scientific Advisory Panel, that “the unique nature of dsRNA and RNAI raise several issues of concern with respect to the typical data set submitted for nontarget effects:” “1) The potential influence of latent effects on results of nontarget testing.” “Some studies, such as nontarget insect studies, are carried out for sufficient time to observe effects on reproduction, and latent effects would more likely be observed.” “2) The appropriate life stage for testing.” “However, given the range of possible unexpected effects, it is conceivable that an effect could occur in the field that would not be observed in the lab.” “3) The possibility of chronic effects.” “Suppression of genes without overt signs of toxicity may be considered insignificant following a single exposure; however, long-term exposure and continuous or repeated knockdown could result in chronic effects.” The SAP’s White Paper sums up their concerns succinctly, exclaiming EPA “has not, to date, assessed the hazards or risks of 10 March 2014 dsRNA applied directly to the environment as components of end-use products intended for pest control under Section 3 of FIFRA.” The “screening level assessments currently used for traditional chemical pesticides may not be applicable due to the unique modes of action of dsRNA active ingredients.” The FIFRA SAP and the National Honey Bee Advisory Board (NHBAB) acknowledge EPA’s goal is to “ensure that unreasonable effects do not occur to nontarget populations.” The SAP White Paper references sixty-four RNA/DNA/RNAi/gene studies which made it clear this new technology “will present additional hazard and risk assessment challenges due to their unique modes of action and other toxicological endpoints that cannot be measured using the traditional testing paradigm.” The NHBAB agrees with the EPA’s Scientific Advisory Panel and the review of research by Lundgren and Duan (2013) observing “that the current tiered hazard assessment approach used by the Agency, is inappropriate to address the following unique hazards potentially posed by dsRNA products: Off target gene silencing Silencing the target gene in unintended organisms Immune stimulation Saturation of the RNAi machinery in cells.” The NHBAB agrees with the FIFRA SAP “that accurate, standardized methods for measuring and assessing the aforementioned hazards will be necessary to conduct robust nontarget species risk assessments on dsRNA products.” However, we express our concern that EPA granted an experimental use permit in 2013 for a 20,000 acre field study of RNAi corn to study the Snf7 gene directed at the corn root worm before “standardized methods for measuring and assessing the aforementioned hazards” were developed. The FIFRA Scientific Advisory Panel White Paper appears to have been ignored when EPA approved a field test, without applicable testing protocols for this technology. EPA’s goal is to “ensure that unreasonable effects do not occur to nontarget populations.” This experimental use permit puts nontarget organisms at risk. The Scientific Advisory Panel White Paper defined some of those risks: “. . .double stranded RNA (dsRNA) was 10 times or more potent in its effect on gene expression.” “Why some miRNAs trigger transitivity and some do not is not well understood at this time.” “. . . the silencing of a gene targeted in one cell can lead to the silencing of a second gene in a distinct cell type.” “Although the details of the RNAi pathways and their outcomes may differ among organisms, what is clear is that the influence of small RNAs on growth, development, defense and even transient heritability of traits is substantial.” “It is unclear at this point whether a dsRNA PIP also would be incidentally present in root exudates, guttation droplets, or nectar, providing additional on-field sources of nontarget exposure.” While RNAi technology may be a useful tool, “uncertainties clearly exist with respect to a complete understanding of all current and future applications of this technology.” “ . . . The current testing paradigm for nontarget species characterizations, which emphasized limited dose testing and use of mortality as an endpoint, likely will not be adequate to assess adverse effects resulting from off-target gene silencing, silencing of the target gene in unintended organisms, The Hive Tool immune stimulation, and saturation of the RNAi machinery in cells.” This RNAi technology is thought to be a possible control of Varroa, an insidious pest of honey bees. However, as the Varroa is basically a virus-filled-syringe in the guise of an arachnid, using RNAi upon Varroa or in bees to get at Varroa will subject honey bees to unknown gene silencing. As the FIFRA SAP committee succinctly stated RNAI “uncertainties clearly exist with respect to a complete understanding of all current and future applications of this technology.” RNAi technology must be researched fully to protect bees, to protect human health, and to protect the environment. The National Honey Bee Advisory Board supports the findings of the EPA Scientific Advisory Panel, and expresses concern the EPA would ignore the recommendations of their own panel of scientific experts. The experimental use permit for RNAi technology on 20,000 acres clearly violates EPA’s mandate to “ensure that unreasonable effects do not occur to nontarget populations.” Contact: National Honey Bee Advisory Board Single Gene Separates Queen From Workers Jan 29, 2014 Scientists have identified how a single gene in honey bees separates the queens from the workers. A team of scientists from Michigan State University and Wayne State University unraveled the gene's inner workings and published the results in the current issue of Biology Letters. The gene, which is responsible for leg and wing development, plays a crucial role in the evolution of bees' ability to carry pollen. "This gene is critical in making the hind legs of workers distinct so they have the physical features necessary to carry pollen," said Zachary Huang, MSU entomologist. "Other studies have shed some light on this gene's role in this realm, but our team examined in great detail how the modifications take place." The gene in question is Ultrabithorax, or Ubx. Specifically, the gene allows workers to develop a smooth spot on their hind legs that hosts their pollen baskets. On another part of their legs, the gene promotes the formation of 11 neatly spaced bristles, a section known as the "pollen comb." The gene also promotes the development of a pollen press, a protrusion also found on hind legs, that helps pack and transport pollen back to the hive. While workers have these distinct features, queens do not. The research team was able to confirm this by isolating and silencing Ubx, the target gene. This made the pollen baskets, specialized leg features used to collect and transport pollen, completely disappear. It also inhibited the growth of pollen combs and reduced the size of pollen presses. In bumble bees, which are in the same family as honey bees, queens have pollen baskets similar to workers. In this species, Ubx played a similar role in modifying hind legs because the gene is more highly expressed in hind legs compared to front and mid legs. Besides honey bees, which aren't native to North America, there are more than 300 species of other bees in Michigan alone. These include solitary leaf cutter bees, communal sweat bees and social bumble bees. 11 March 2014 from Florida - and the results were not promising5. Amanda Ellis and her co-workers dusted the top bars of brood combs every two weeks from April until the following February and found no difference in colony strength or mite populations between dusted colonies and nondusted controls. When I read these results, I was ready to write off powdered sugar once and for all, but that was not to be. "The pollen baskets are much less elaborate or completely absent in bees that are less socially complex," Huang said. "We conclude that the evolution of pollen baskets is a major innovation among social insects and is tied directly to morecomplex social behaviours." Future research by Huang may pursue investigating how bees could be improved to become better pollinators. While this won't provide a solution to bee colony collapse disorder, it could provide an option for improving the shrinking population of bees' pollen-collecting capacity. The Rise and Fall of the Dust-ructor By Keith Delaplane Reprinted from ABJ February 2014 It was an idea whose time had come. Varroa mites were raging as the front-runner of beekeeping problems; the synthetic chemicals used to control them were coming under scrutiny as problems in their own right, and non-chemical alternative remedies were looking smarter and better all the time. And what could be a safer alternative than powdered sugar? The idea of treating bees (and mites) with finely ground dusts such as wheat flour or confectioner's sugar had been around a while, the idea being that dust impedes temperature sensing organs on the mite's forelegs that it uses to locate bee hosts, or impairs the mite's ability to keep its grip on the bee, or induces a grooming response from bees that dislodges mites . Moreover, once a mite is dislodged and falls onto a dusty hive floor, it may have trouble moving around and eventually die of starvation. A handful of early studies suggested a degree of efficacy in dislodging mites with dust, either for diagnostic purposes or outright control, but these references were for the most part bidden away in non-English literature or obscure conference proceedings. But by the early 2000s there were new studies giving the matter more exposure in mainstream journals. Mite dislodging rates between 77%3 to more than 90% 4 were being reported, and American beekeepers and bee scientists were taking notice. But no one can pretend that it was a revolution taking place. For starters, there was no consensus on such details as mode of delivery, quantity of dust, timing and intervals of treatment, or even the basic question whether dusting worked. A convincing field-scale study finally came out in 2009 The Hive Tool The Dust-ructor is a shop vac with a hose modified to pass through a PVC chamber accommodating 120 g powdered sugar. My intrepid staffers Brett Nolan, Ohad Afik, and Jennifer Berry weren't quite as pessimistic as I and reasoned that several questions remained unresolved. To begin, they argued that (I) the efficacy of dusting had not been adequately tested in the context of a brood-free period (bee colonies in Florida are rarely broodfree), and it was exactly a brood-free period when one could expect maximum control when the whole mite population was on adult bees and vulnerable to dislodgement. They also argued that (2) more than one delivery method should be tested - especially one that could work at a commercial scale, and finally, they thought that (3) more than one treatment interval should be tested. In short - they dreamed up a whole new experiment6, and who was I to resist such youthful initiative? But before we could do any work, we had to come up with something about that point #2 - dust delivery at a commercial scale. Brett and Jennifer had an idea about a forced-air device that would blow sugar dust into the hive entrance, avoiding the need to open and manipulate individual colonies. Realizing the vision ultimately involved a shop vac, a few PVC plumbing parts, and several trips to the home improvement store. Beta testing and refinements led to a contraption with the likeness of a vacuum cleaner. The shop vac hose was modified to pass through a PVC chamber which accommodates 120 g powdered sugar (Figures 12). The device could deliver dust to hive interiors when applied either in the hive entrance or through the bottom if the hive was fitted with a bottom screen (Fig. 3). And with a final flair of panache it was named the Dust-ructor in a nod to the scientific name of its target, the mite Varroa destructor. Excitement was in the air. In rapid succession we put together 64 single-story Langstroth colonies, divided them between two apiary sites, and assigned each colony one of 8 treatment combinations: (I) beginning powdered sugar treatment in January (broodless) or in 12 March 2014 March (brood increasing), (2) applying treatment every other month for 9 days ( 4 treatments 3 days apart) or applying one treatment every 2 weeks, and (3) applying powdered sugar with a sifter on frame top bars then brushing it down between frames or blowing powdered sugar in the hive entrance with the Dustructor. The experiment ran from January to the following October, and we regularly took measurements of colony strength and mite levels. A parallel apiary of 8 colonies was set up and run as a nontreated control group. UGA Bee Lab personnel Brett Nolan and Charlie Gwyn run the Dustructor through one of its many beta tests. Our first question was simply whether powdered sugar works. Our treatment numbers in multiples of 8 let us perform essentially 8 independent comparisons between treated colonies and non-treated. In only 2 of these 8 independent comparisons did powdered sugar significantly reduce colony mite levels. Not exciting. Our next step was to look at the balanced 64colony experiment to see whether we could detect any effects from the date of initiating treatment, mode of application, and treatment intervals. In one month (October), mite levels were lower in colonies in which treatment had begun the previous January instead of March, suggesting that powdered sugar works better when Blowing powdered sugar into a treatment is started early hive through the bottom screen. to exploit a winter brood-free period. In another month (May), colony bee populations were higher in colonies treated with the Dust-ructor, suggesting that applying powdered sugar with forced air at the entrance was less disruptive to bees than exposing and dusting frame top bars. When it comes to the most important thing - colony survival - things weren't very promising. Among the 8 nontreated control colonies, three (38%) were still alive by The Hive Tool October. Average survival among treated colonies was virtually the same at 39%. In summary, we found: 'Powdered sugar reduced mite levels in only 25% of independent tests. 'Efficacy may be better if treatment begins early during a brood-free period. 'Dusting with forced air at the entrance may be less disruptive to bees than manually dusting and brushing frame tops. 'Powdered sugar did not improve colony survival rates. In short, the rising star of the Dust-ructor was plateaued. But I have belabored this non-remarkable experiment because I think it captures a lot of the state of modern bee health science and the kinds of beekeeping practices we'll be seeing in the future. Powdered sugar seems to fall under that category of remedies that "won't hurt and might help." It appears to be relatively harmless to bees4• In my opinion, powdered sugar joins bottom screens, drone brood trapping, and genetic honey bee resistance on the list of "soft" remedies for Varroa mites practices that individually cannot be expected to keep this serious parasite at bay, but when used together might do the trick. Who knows? The Dust-ructor may still have its place in the world. But bee health can no longer be understood as a linear chain of one cause > one effect > one cure - that "cure" (more often than not) being an antibiotic or acutely toxic synthetic miticide. Bee health management will become more knowledge based and less chemical-based, and research like this is where it comes from. Footnotes 1 References cited in Fakhimzadeh 200 I. PhD dissertation, Univ. Helsinki, Dept. Appl. Biol. Publication no. 3 2 Macedo et al. 2002. J. Apic. Res. 41: 3-7 3 Aliano and Ellis 2005. J. Apic. Res. 44: 54-57 4 Fakhimzadeh 200 I. J. Apic. Res. 40: 105-109 5 Ellis et al. 2009. J. Apic. Res. 48: 72- 76 6 Berry et al. 2012. J. Apic. Res. 51: 367- 368 Recipe Corner Spiced Rubbed Salmon on a Cedar Plank (serves four) Ingredients Rub 3 tablespoons brown sugar 1 tablespoon kosher salt 1 tablespoon ancho chili powder 2 teaspoons ground cumin 1 teaspoon ground black pepper Salmon 1 1/2 pounds fresh salmon filets with skin on 2 cedar planks Honey for drizzling Soak the planks in water for one to two hours before starting. Preheat your grill to 350 to 375 degrees, medium-low heat. In a small bowl combine all the rub ingredients. Rub the salmon with a moderate amount of the prepared rub and set aside. Place the planks on the grill and heat for a few minutes. Using tongs turn over the planks and place one piece of salmon on each plank. Close the lid and cook for 13 to 18 minutes depending on thickness of the salmon. You are looking for an internal temp of 135 degrees. You can also judge by touch and sight. It will be flaky, opaque and fairly firm to the touch. Drizzle with honey and devour immediately. 13 March 2014 IMPORTANT PHONE NUMBERS Roger Williams, President 410-374-5574 Ted Gattino,V. Pres. 240-375-4919 Arnie Breidenbaugh, Secretary 410-472-4620 Mary Gamper, Treasurer 410-337-2290 Jerry Fischer, State Bee Insp. 410-562-3464 Oregon Ridge Nature Center 410-887-1815 Lloyd Snyder, Editor 410-329-6671 Editors E-Mail - [email protected] The Hive Tool is always looking for articles to print. Please submit articles that you have written or items that you have found elsewhere to the Editors email address above or contact the editor for more information. CMBA Nuc Program is sold out of nucs. Check out the CMBA website http://www.centralmarylandbees.org/ Lloyd Snyder – Editor 4747 Norrisville Road White Hall, MD 21161 DATES TO REMEMBER Honey Bee Night - February 27, 2014 7:00 PM ait Oregon Ridge Nature Center Q&A on keeping bees. All are welcome. This will be the LAST REGISTRATION DATE for the Short Course General Meeting – March 4, 2014 – 7:00 PM at Oregon Ridge Nature Center. Our speaker is Charlie Brandts, Beekeeper, 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. Washington DC. Talking about the White House bees. Short Course – Oregon Ridge Nature Center March 13, March 20, March 27, April 3, April 10 7:15 PM to 9 PM- April 12 9 AM to 3 PM. See the attached flyer for more details. CMBA Snow Cancellation Policy In case of snow or ice on the meeting date, listen to WBAL radio before 7:00 PM. If Baltimore County's snow emergency plan is in effect at 6:00 PM, then the meeting is automatically canceled.
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