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Archived Latest News July 2013




25 July 2013


Increasing antibiotic resistance drives expansion of Tetracyclines testing

Growing concern amongst regulatory bodies about human resistance to common antibiotics is driving expansion for veterinary residue testing. Amongst its findings the recent joint European Food Safety Authority / European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control Report on antimicrobial resistance data among zoonotic and indicator bacteria in 2011 indicated high resistance to Tetracycline’s in Salmonella isolates from humans.

In the wake of the report Randox Food Diagnostics will launch a generic Tetracyclines ELISA screening kit at the end of July to complement their established multiplex arrays, based on innovative Biochip Array Technology.

Tetracyclines are used globally to reduce bacterial infections across all food producing animals, but the firm will be releasing the ELISA firstly onto the honey market, with validations for Meat, Seafood and Dairy products to follow closely.

Within Apiculture, Tetracyclines are used in major markets such as China, India & Mexico so initial demand is expected to come from these key regions.

Randox Food Diagnostics Business Manager Aaron Tohill said, "Trends show over the last few years, that regulators have been increasingly concerned about developing human antibiotic resistance via the food chain. For example in 2010 the US FDA advised producers that antibiotics should be used solely for disease control, phasing out growth promotion. Following that, in 2011 the EU embarked on a major data study, and now with those findings published it is clear that industry can expect further action.

"Although Biochip Array Technology is trusted as a leading screening test for Tetracyclines within the honey sector, we are aware that this market, as well as others demands a lower volume solution. Reacting to that dynamic this new Immunoassay-based kit provides a cost-effective screening solution for a wide variety of laboratories and we are pleased to add it to our growing array of products.”

For more info visit

American Bee Journal 

Honey Bee Gene Targeting Offers System to Understand Food-related Behavior

On July 25th JoVE, the Journal of Visualized Experiments will publish a new technique that will help scientists better understand the genes that govern food-related behavior in honey bees. The impact of this study could take scientists one-step closer toward understanding — and perhaps changing — undesirable food-related behavior in humans via gene control.

"Our technique has already helped to unravel [the] complex gene networks behind biological processes and behavior, such as gustatory perception," said Dr. Ying Wang of Arizona State University. She and a team of scientists are behind the experiment, titled RNAi-mediated Double Gene Knockdown and Gustatory Perception Measurement in Honey Bees. "Honey bees are much less complex than mammals and humans, but [we] share many major genes," said Wang, "therefore, honey bees have become an emerging system for us to understand food related behavior in humans."

In Wang's previous study, she found that carbohydrate metabolism and insulin pathway genes were involved in honey bee gustatory perception. Her new article introduces two strategies for targeting and simultaneously down-regulating multiple genes in honey bees via RNA interference. This allows for further research in examining the role of insulin metabolism in gustatory perception. The team believes it will be important to understanding how insulin pathways play a role in food-related behavior.

Wang's multiple gene knockdown method is a first in entomology, and it overcomes the many shortfalls associated with typical single-gene targeting methods. A common problem associated with single gene suppression is that it is not sufficient to show the interrelationship of a gene network.

In the article published today, Wang's team has also provided a technique to measure the resulting changes in honey bee behavior, and this has led them to interesting observations. "Gustatory perception is a behavioral predictor for honey bee social behavior," said Wang. A honey bee's sensitivity to sugar predicts the food-choices and timing of foraging.

Wang's experiment opens the door for researchers to build upon her lab's techniques. "We believe our double knockdown approach will be more recognized and shared in the field when it is published in the video journal JoVE," said Wang.

With any luck, the impact will result in more than just high-tech pest control. It could instead provide insight into human insulin pathways, potentially giving us an opportunity to learn how to control human dietary behavior.


American Bee Journal

Common Agricultural Chemicals Shown to Impair Honey Bees' Health

First study of real world conditions for crop-pollinating honey bees

In a study of real-world conditions encountered by honey bees as they pollinate crops, researchers gathered pollen from commercial beehives placed in farm fields in the Northeastern US. Here the scientists take pollen samples from bees pollinating Maine blueberries. Credit: Michael Andree

COLLEGE PARK, MD - Commercial honey bees used to pollinate crops are exposed to a wide variety of agricultural chemicals, including common fungicides which impair the bees' ability to fight off a potentially lethal parasite, according to a new study by researchers at the University of Maryland and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The study, published July 24 in the online journal PLOS ONE, is the first analysis of real-world conditions encountered by honey bees as their hives pollinate a wide range of crops, from apples to watermelons.

The researchers collected pollen from honey bee hives in fields from Delaware to Maine. They analyzed the samples to find out which flowering plants were the bees' main pollen sources and what agricultural chemicals were commingled with the pollen. The researchers fed the pesticide-laden pollen samples to healthy bees, which were then tested for their ability to resist infection with Nosema ceranae – a parasite of adult honey bees that has been linked to a lethal phenomenon known as colony collapse disorder.

On average, the pollen samples contained 9 different agricultural chemicals, including fungicides, insecticides, herbicides and miticides. Sublethal levels of multiple agricultural chemicals were present in every sample, with one sample containing 21 different pesticides. Pesticides found most frequently in the bees' pollen were the fungicide chlorothalonil, used on apples and other crops, and the insecticide fluvalinate, used by beekeepers to control Varroa mites, common honey bee pests.

In the study's most surprising result, bees that were fed the collected pollen samples containing chlorothonatil were nearly three times more likely to be infected by Nosema than bees that were not exposed to these chemicals, said Jeff Pettis, research leader of the USDA's Bee Research Laboratory and the study's lead author. The miticides used to control Varroa mites also harmed the bees' ability to withstand parasitic infection.

Beekeepers know they are making a trade-off when they use miticides. The chemicals compromise bees' immune systems, but the damage is less than it would be if mites were left unchecked, said University of Maryland researcher Dennis vanEngelsdorp, the study's senior author. But the study's finding that common fungicides can be harmful at real world dosages is new, and points to a gap in existing regulations, he said.

"We don't think of fungicides as having a negative effect on bees, because they're not designed to kill insects," vanEngelsdorp said. Federal regulations restrict the use of insecticides while pollinating insects are foraging, he said, "but there are no such restrictions on fungicides, so you'll often see fungicide applications going on while bees are foraging on the crop. This finding suggests that we have to reconsider that policy."

In an unexpected finding, most of the crops that the bees were pollinating appeared to provide their hives with little nourishment. Honey bees gather pollen to take to their hives and feed their young. But when the researchers collected pollen from bees foraging on native North American crops such as blueberries and watermelon, they found the pollen came from other flowering plants in the area, not from the crops. This is probably because honey bees, which evolved in the Old World, are not efficient at collecting pollen from New World crops, even though they can pollinate these crops.

The study's findings are not directly related to colony collapse disorder, the still-unexplained phenomenon in which entire honey bee colonies suddenly die. However, the researchers said the results shed light on the many factors that are interacting to stress honey bee populations.



Floral Fidelity Out The Window When Species Decline

By Kim Flottum 

'Alarming' trend suggests global declines in pollinators could have a bigger impact on food crops than previously realized

Remove even one bumblebee species from an ecosystem and the impact is swift and clear: Their floral "sweethearts" produce significantly fewer seeds, a new study finds.

The study, to be published by theProceedings of theNational Academyof Sciences, focused on the interactions between bumblebees and larkspur wildflowers in Colorado's Rocky Mountains. The results show how reduced competition among pollinators disrupts floral fidelity, or specialization, among the remaining bees in the system, leading to less successful plant reproduction.

"We found that these wildflowers produce one-third fewer seeds in the absence of just one bumblebee species," says EmoryUniversityecologist Berry Brosi, who led the study. "That's alarming, and suggests that global declines in pollinators could have a bigger impact on flowering plants and food crops than was previously realized."

The National Science Foundation (NSF) funded the study, co-authored by ecologist Heather Briggs of theUniversity ofCalifornia-Santa Cruz.

About 90 percent of plants need animals, mostly insects, to transfer pollen between them so that they can fertilize and reproduce. Bees are by far the most important pollinators worldwide and have co-evolved with the floral resources they need for nutrition.

During the past decade, however, scientists have reported dramatic declines in populations of some bee species, sparking research into the potential impact of such declines.

Some studies have indicated that plants can tolerate losing most pollinator species in an ecosystem as long as other pollinators remain to take up the slack. Those studies, however, were based on theoretical computer modeling.

Brosi and Briggs were curious whether this theoretical resilience would hold up in real-life scenarios. Their team conducted field experiments to learn how the removal of a single pollinator species would affect the plant-pollinator relationship.

"Most pollinators visit several plant species over their lifetime, but often they will display what we call floral fidelity over shorter time periods," Brosi explains. "They'll tend to focus on one plant while it's in bloom, then a few weeks later move on to the next species in bloom. You might think of them as serial monogamists."

Floral fidelity clearly benefits plants, because a pollinator visit will only lead to plant reproduction when the pollinator is carrying pollen from the same plant species. "When bees are promiscuous, visiting plants of more than one species during a single foraging session, they are much less effective as pollinators," Briggs says.

The researchers conducted their experiments at the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory near Crested Butte, Colorado. Located at 9,500 feet, the facility's subalpine meadows are too high for honeybees, but they are buzzing during the summer months with bumblebees. The experiments focused on the interactions of the insects with larkspurs, dark-purple wildflowers that are visited by 10 of the of the 11 bumblebee species there.

The researchers studied a series of 20-meter square wildflower plots, evaluating each one in both a control state, left in its natural condition, and in a manipulated state, in which they used nets to remove the bumblebees of just one species.

The researchers then observed the bumblebee behavior in both the controlled plots and the manipulated plots. "We'd literally follow around the bumblebees as they foraged," Briggs says. "It's challenging because the bees can fly pretty fast."

Sometimes the researchers could only record between five and 10 movements, while in other cases they could follow the bees to 100 or more flowers.

"Running around after bumblebees in these beautiful wildflower meadows was one of the most fun parts of the research," Brosi says. Much of this "bee team" was made up of Emory undergraduate students, funded by the college's Scholarly Inquiry and Research at Emory (SIRE)grantsand NSF support via the Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program.

The Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory is exacting about using non-destructive methodologies so that researchers don't have a negative impact on the bumblebee populations. "When we caught bees to remove target species from the system, or to swab their bodies for pollen, we released them unharmed when our experiments were over," Brosi says. "They're very robust little creatures."

No researchers were harmed either, he adds. "Stings were very uncommon during the experiments. Bumblebees are quite gentle on the whole."

Across the steps of the pollination process, from patterns of bumblebee visits to plants, to picking up pollen, to seed production, the researchers saw a cascading effect of removing one bee species. While about 78 percent of the bumblebees in the control groups were faithful to a single species of flower, only 66 percent of the bumblebees in the manipulated groups showed such floral fidelity. The reduced fidelity in manipulated plots meant that bees in the manipulated groups carried more different types of pollen on their bodies than those in the control groups.

These changes had direct implications for plant reproduction: Larkspurs produced about one-third fewer seeds when one of the bumblebee species was removed, compared to the larkspurs in the control groups.

"The small change in the level of competition made the remaining bees more likely to 'cheat' on the larkspur," Briggs says.

While previous research has shown how competition drives specialization within a species, the bumblebee study is one of the first to link this mechanism back to the broader functioning of an ecosystem.

"Our work shows why biodiversity may be key to conservation of an entire ecosystem," Brosi says. "It has the potential to open a whole new set of studies into the functional implications of interspecies interactions."



EU bans yet another pesticide harmful to bees


The European Union on Tuesday restricted the use of the insecticide Fipronil, the latest move to protect honey bees after a May ban on three other insecticides.

The ban on the insecticide produced by Germany's BASF was agreed by 23 of the 28 EU states, with only Spain and Romania voting against, EU sources said.

A scientific risk assessment carried out by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) in May said seeds treated with pesticides containing Fipronil pose an acute risk to Europe's honey bee population.

The restrictions, to apply from December 31, will ban the use of Fipronil on maize and sunflower seeds but may allow its use for the treatment of seeds that will only be sown in greenhouses.

That exception will not apply to leeks, shallots, onions and vegetables such as Brussels sprouts, cauliflower or broccoli.

BASF criticised the decision, saying the EU executive, the European Commission, would do better to study the real reasons behind the decline in bees rather than limit the use of new technologies in farming.

In May the Commission banned for two years beginning in December three insecticides made by chemicals giants Bayer and Syngenta. Read More


American Bee Journal

Widely Used Pesticides Toxic to Honey Bees

PENSACOLA, Fla. - Forthcoming research in the journal Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry analyzes the physiological effects of three separate pesticides on honey bee (Apis mellifera). An international research team - Drs. Stephan Caravalho, Luc Belzunces and colleagues from Universidade Federal de Lavras in Brazil and Institut Nationale de la Recherche Agronomique in France - conclude that the absence of mortality does not always indicate fuctional integrity.

Deltamethrin, fipronil and spinosad, widely used pesticides in agriculture and home pest control, were applied to healthy honey bees and proved toxic to some degree irrespective of dosage. At sublethal doses, the pesticide modulated key enzymes that regulate physiological processes, cognitive capacities and immune responses, such as homing flight, associative learning, foraging behavior and brood development. Sensitivity to these insecticides and foraging range (as far as 1.5 to 3 km) make A. mellifera an optimal candidate for monitoring the environmental impacts of pesticides.


  Great Sunflower Project Expands Scope to Determine Best Plants for Supporting Pollinators

San Francisco State University News Release

The Great Sunflower Project is moving beyond the backyard this summer.

Professor of Biology Gretchen LeBuhn.

The popular project is encouraging its corps of more than 100,000 volunteers to observe bees and any other pollinators they see, on all kinds of plants and in all kinds of places. Participants can now report their bee counts from a walk on a nature trail, a thorough search of a local park or even a casual encounter with a bumblebee flying by.

"We’ve opened up the project to new ways of sampling pollination,” said San Francisco State Professor of Biology Gretchen LeBuhn, who started the project six years ago. She said the new sampling methods were driven in part by the data already collected, and in part by requests from the citizen scientists.

The project’s data are beginning to reveal how pollination happens in gardens, and people can check to see how well backyards in their state stack up against others, when it comes to bee visits per hour. "But one of the things we realized as we've been analyzing our data is that we can't speak to what's happening in natural areas,” LeBuhn said. The new sampling can help fill in the blanks, she explained, in wild environments such as desert, chaparral and coastal habitats.

"If people can tell us where they were when they observed the bees, we can convert that into latitude and longitude information and start to build up some information about which natural habitats are doing well and poorly” in terms of pollination, LeBuhn said.

The new sampling also moves beyond sunflower observations to help the scientists determine how well certain plants do at supporting pollinators. LeBuhn says there is a lot of anecdotal evidence about this, but surprisingly little research.

"A lot of people came to us and said, ‘now I know that I have three bees per hour in my garden, so what should I do next?’” LeBuhn said. To answer this question, her team began a habitat assessment project this year to discover what kinds of plants and other garden features—from water to mulching—could improve the habitat for pollinators. "Once we started doing this,” she explained, "we realized how little data we have on what the key plants are.”

LeBuhn hopes to have a set of habitat assessment tools online next year, but she suggests that people collect data on their backyard pollinators and plants now, so that they can be ready to make changes that bring in more bees.

The Great Sunflower Project will hold its annual Great Bee Count on August 17 to encourage users to upload their observations. The project’s data has been requested by federal agencies, classrooms, and the Weather Underground forecast website. "My biggest dream is to have the data used as many times and in as many ways as possible," LeBuhn said.

Through the participation of over 100,000 citizen scientists the Great Sunflower Project aims to collect information about the whereabouts and activities of pollinating bees, and to provide those bees with more pollen resources. To join The Great Sunflower Project, visit the website at or follow the project on Twitter or Facebook.



 Beekeeping Industry Files Appeal Against EPA For Full Registration Of Sulfoxaflor

Sulfoxaflor is a new chemistry, and the first of a newly assigned sub-class of pesticides in the neonicotinoid class of pesticides.

July 8, 2013

National Beekeeping organizations along with the National Honey Bee Advisory Board have come together in an attempt to protect the bee industry by an appeal against EPA for its approval of the pesticide sulfoxaflor, shown to be "highly toxic” to honey bees, and other insect pollinators.

Sulfoxaflor is a new chemistry, and the first of a newly assigned sub-class of pesticides in the neonicotinoid class of pesticides, which scientists across the globe have linked as a potential factor to widespread and massive bee colony collapse. The case is filed as the beekeeping industry across the country struggles for survival, and faces the costly effects of pesticides upon their businesses.

The National Pollinator Defense Fund, American Honey Producers Association, National Honey Bee Advisory Board, the American Beekeeping Federation, and beekeepers Bret Adee, Jeff Anderson and Thomas R. Smith have filed an appeal against the EPA in the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, requesting changes needed in the sulfoxaflor label, the Biological Economic Assessment Division (BEAD) assessment of the value of pollinators and their established habits and the EPA’s Risk Assessment Process. These changes would acknowledge pollinator’s critical role in the U.S. food supply, and ensure that decisions regarding new pesticides comply with applicable laws. Read More



Oregon Temporarily Restricts Pesticide Use Following Bee Deaths

Oregon is banning the use of more than a dozen pesticide products, after Portland witnessed a staggering 50,000 bumblebee deaths in one month.


Jul 08 2013

By Devin Kelly, LA Times

State officials in Oregon are temporarily restricting the use of more than a dozen pesticide products following the deaths of an estimated 50,000 bumblebees in the Portland area this month.

The measure, effective immediately, will last for 180 days while the Oregon State Agricultural Department investigates incidents of a mass bee die-off in the Portland suburb of Wilsonville, and a much smaller die-off in neighboring Hillsboro.

Eighteen pesticide products containing the active ingredient dinotefuran and used for ornamental, turf and agricultural applications have been banned for now.

"I have directed the agency to take this step in an effort to minimize any potential for additional incidents involving bee deaths connected to pesticide products with this active ingredient until such time as our investigation is completed and we have more information,” the agency’s director, Katy Coba, said in a statement released Thursday.

"Conclusions from the investigation will help us and our partners evaluate whether additional steps need to be considered.” Read More



Honey Bee Genes Changed By Pesticide? Seems so.

By Alan Harman

New research by UK scientists finds exposure to neonicotinoid insecticides causes changes in honeybee genes.

The University of Nottingham study, published in the scientific journal Plos One, was conducted under field realistic conditions and showed that a very low exposure of just two parts per billion has an impact on the activity of some of the honeybee genes.

The research, led by Reinhard Stöger, associate professor in epigenetics in the university's School of Biosciences, is the first comprehensive study to look at changes in the activity of honeybee genes linked to one of the recently banned neonicotinoids, imidacloprid.

The researchers found that cells of honeybee larvae had to work harder and increase the activity of genes involved in breaking down toxins, most likely to cope with the insecticide. Genes involved in regulating energy to run cells were also affected.

Such changes are known to reduce the lifespan of the most widely studied insect, the common fruit fly, and lower a larva's probability of surviving to adulthood.

"Although larvae can still grow and develop in the presence of imidacloprid, the stability of the developmental process appears to be compromised,” Stöger says. "Should the bees be exposed to additional stresses such as pests, disease and bad weather then it is likely to increase the rate of development failure.”

The study was funded by The Co-operative Group, as part of its Plan Bee campaign.

"This is a very significant piece of research, which clearly shows clear changes in honeybee gene activity as a result of exposure to a pesticide, which is currently in common use across the UK,” coop sustainable development manager Chris Shearlock says.

"As part of our Plan Bee campaign launched in 2009 we have adopted a precautionary approach and prohibited the use of six neonicotinoid pesticides, including imidacloprid, on our own-brand fresh and frozen produce and have welcomed the recent approach by the European Commission to temporarily ban three neonicotinoid pesticides as this will allow for research into the impact on both pollinators and agricultural productivity."



By Kim Flottum


Two FREE Events All About Honeybees on Wednesday, August 7, 2013, 7 to 9 pm

Well Bee-ing: Your Move and Kids ‘n’ Bees at West Chester University Sykes Theater

Free Kids’ Activities • Learn How Honeybees Make Many Foods Possible & How to Help Them!

West Chester, PA – What does the price of an apple, your backyard, and children’s health have in common? Honey bees! Everyone’s invited to two free family events, Wednesday, August 7, 2013 from 7 – 9 pm, at West Chester University’s Sykes Student Union to learn about honey and honeybees, when the Eastern Apicultural Society (EAS) presents Well-Bee-ing: Your Move as well as Kids ’n’ Bees. Hear from experts about how you can help honeybees stay happy and healthy, just as they do the same for us. Families can choose either simultaneous event, or kids can enjoy the supervised Kids ’n’ Bees activities while adults attend Well-Bee-ing: Your Move.

Without honeybees, many of your favorite foods would cost a lot more – or disappear altogether. Honeybees are vital to our economy and food supply. By pollinating, they make everything from apples to pumpkins possible; the multi-billion dollar almond industry alone is totally dependent upon honeybees. Jim Bobb, Chairman of the EAS, notes that these honeybee happenings are a great way to enjoy a summer evening out while learning a little, "People ask me all the time, ‘How are the honeybees doing?’ These two events on August 7th are a fun way for everyone to find the answer and learn a few simple things anyone can do to help the honeybees stay healthy.”

Well-Bee-ing: Your Move is a program and conversation to update us all on the progress of solving the mystery of Colony Collapse Disorder, responsible for a worldwide decline in the honeybee population. The panel for this event includes: Brian Snyder, Executive Director of the PA Association for Sustainable Agriculture; Douglas Tallamy,professor and author ofBringing Nature Home which helps us understand how simply adding native plants to our yard welcomes so many more birds, butterflies and bee s;and Dennis vanEngelsdorp, world-renowned honey bee expert. All three will be in town for the EAS Annual Conference on Beekeeping being held August 5 – 9, 2013.

Free Baby Sitting? Sort of! Kids ’n’ Bees: Also from 7 to 9 pm, hands-on fun for kids aged 5 to 13 to learn: How does a bee make honey? Why do bees buzz? What does a beekeeper wear so she doesn’t get stung? Grown-ups take part or check in their children to enjoy these activities (while adults attend Well Bee-ing: Your Move). Outstanding young women selected as Honey Queens by the Pennsylvania Honey Queen program will supervise children through activities they’ve designed to share their knowledge about beloved honeybees. All this fun is free of charge, thanks to the generous sponsorship of Brushy Mountain Bee Farm, Dutch Gold Honey, Giant and the Pennsylvania Honey Queen Program. Contact Rachel Bryson, at for more information about the Kids’n’Bees event.

Eastern Apicultural Society is the largest noncommercial beekeeping organization in North America, with 26 member states/provinces in the eastern U.S. and Canada. Founded in 1955, EAS is an international nonprofit educational organization for the education of beekeepers, Master Beekeeper certification, and excellence in bee research.

ADDRESS FOR BOTH EVENTS: West Chester University, Sykes Student Union Theater, 110 West Rosedale Avenue, West Chester, PA 19383


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