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AHPA Attends 2017 National Pheasant Fest & Quail Classic
By Chris Hiatt
American Honey Producers Association
Kelvin Adee and I recently had the opportunity to represent the AHPA at the Pheasants Forever Convention in Minneapolis. They had an official pollinator plaza with Mann Lake, Honeybee Health Coalition, Pollinator Partnership, Bayer's BeeCare people, Dupont's bee program, monarch people and others.
Over the weekend it was great to meet so many farmers that are planting more CRP and pollinator habitat and were concerned about the bees. If you would have told me ten years ago that bees would have been the major focus at this convention, I would have told you that you were crazy. It was impressive to meet so many people concerned and doing something to help honeybees in general.
Australian researcher working to immunise honey bees, protect them from varroa mite
By Anna Vidot
The parasite has spread around the world, causing colony collapse and threatening agricultural industries that rely on bees for pollination.
Dr Emily Remnant, a research scientist based at the University of Sydney, has received the Agriculture Minister's science and innovation award in recognition of her work.
She said the viruses spread by varroa mites are just as big a problem as the parasites themselves.
So, Dr Remnant hopes to use the same bacteria that is currently being used to combat dengue fever in Cairns mosquitoes, to tackle bee viruses.
"Current research has identified that [while] varroa mites are a parasite, it is actually the viruses that they spread which cause colony loss and death in the bees," she said.
"So in isolation the viruses and the mite aren't problematic, but once you unite the two, that's when the problems start."
Dr Remnant is currently spending time at the University of Otago in New Zealand, learning how to inject honeybee eggs with the bacteria.
"As you may imagine, they're quite small.
"We use these tiny glass capillary needles that have very small tips, and we have the embryos under a microscope and we basically use a pressurised micro-injector to inject the bacteria into the eggs."
The Agriculture Minister's award comes with a $22,000 grant, which Dr Remnant says will allow her to buy the equipment she needs to continue her work back home in Sydney.
Preliminary tests will begin over the next few months, ramping up in spring when honeybee queens are laying most of their eggs.
Dr Remnant says the goal is to make bees more resilient to viruses, so they can survive if - or when - varroa mite finally makes it to Australian shores.
"We've got a unique opportunity to prevent the losses that the rest of the world are experiencing, and I feel like we have the chance to immunise our bees before they suffer the same fate.
"Australia's pretty lucky, and I'd like to help us stay the lucky country."
Scientists reveal core genes involved in immunity of honey bees
March 1, 2017
A core set of genes involved in the responses of honey bees to multiple diseases caused by viruses and parasites has been identified by an international team of researchers. The findings provide a better-defined starting point for future studies of honey-bee health, and may help scientists and beekeepers breed honey bees that are more resilient to stress.
"In the past decade, honey-bee populations have experienced severe and persistent losses across the Northern Hemisphere, mainly due to the effects of pathogens, such as fungi and viruses," said Vincent Doublet, postdoctoral research fellow, University of Exeter. "The genes that we identified offer new possibilities for the generation of honey-bee stocks that are resistant to these pathogens."
According to the researchers, recent advances in DNA sequencing have prompted numerous investigations of the genes involved in honey-bee responses to pathogens. Yet, until now, this vast quantity of data has been too cumbersome and idiosyncratic to reveal overarching patterns in honey-bee immunity.
"While many studies have used genomic approaches to understand how bees respond to viruses and parasites, it has been difficult to compare across these studies to find the core genes and pathways that help the bee fight off stressors," said Distinguished Professor of Entomology Christina Grozinger, Penn State. "Our team created a new bioinformatics tool that has enabled us to integrate information from 19 different genomic datasets to identify the key genes involved in honey bees' response to diseases."
Specifically, the team of 28 researchers, representing eight countries, created a new statistical technique, called directed rank-product analysis. The technique allowed them to identify the genes that were expressed similarly across the 19 datasets, rather than just the genes that were expressed more than others within a dataset.
The scientists found that these similarly expressed genes included those that encode proteins responsible for the response to tissue damage by pathogens, and those that encode enzymes involved in the metabolism of carbohydrates from food, among many others. A decrease in carbohydrate metabolism, they suggested, may illustrate the cost of the infection on the organism. The researchers report their findings in today's (Mar. 2) issue of BMC Genomics.
"Honey bees were thought to respond to different disease organisms in entirely different ways, but we have learned that they mostly rely on a core set of genes that they turn on or off in response to any major pathogenic challenge," said Robert Paxton, professor of zoology, German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research. "We can now explore the physiological mechanisms by which pathogens overcome their honey-bee hosts, and how honey bees can fight back against those pathogens."
The implications of the findings are not limited to honey bees. The team found that the core genes are part of conserved pathways—meaning they have been maintained throughout the course of evolution among insects and therefore are shared by other insects. According to Doublet, this means that the genes provide important knowledge for understanding pathogen interactions with other insects, such as bumble bees, and for using pathogens to control insect pests, such as aphids and certain moths.
"This analysis provides unprecedented insight into the mechanisms that underpin the interactions between insects and their pathogens," said Doublet. "With this analysis, we generated a list of genes that will likely be an important source for future functional studies, for breeding more resilient honey-bee stocks and for controlling emerging bee diseases."
Read more at: https://phys.org/news/2017-03-scientists-reveal-core-genes-involved.html#jCp
UMT Researchers Look to Honey Bees for Decision Making Guidance
A promising model for group decision making ROSSLYN, VIRGINIA, UNITED STATES, February 26, 2017 /EINPresswire.com/ -- Which is better: Decisions made by a group or by individuals? Humans are split on this issue. Half say groups and half individuals. But honey bees are unanimous: the way to go is to make group decisions.
J. Davidson Frame, a professor of decision science at the University of Management and Technology, explores this preference in his book, Framing Decisions: Making Decisions that Account for Irrationality, People, and Constraints (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass). He points out that the matter of group decision making vs. individual decision making has been debated endlessly over the decades, putting countless university students to sleep in the classroom. That is, until today. What makes the issue gripping these days is that the power of social media -- particularly crowd sourcing and "likes" registered on Facebook -- has focused attention on the actions and preferences of groups over individuals.
So how do bees do it? It turns out that in the spring, after passing the winter in torpor, bees often split into two groups in order to avoid over-populating the hive. The queen deposits several eggs that are destined to grow future queen bees for the existing hive. Then she and a large portion of worker bees leave the hive as a swarm and settle at a nearby site, often on the branch of a tree. A hundred or so scouts fan out to find a new home. When an individual bee encounters a likely site, she returns to the swarm and performs a waggle dance. This dance serves two functions. First, the dance reflects the quality of the site: the more energetic the dance, the better the site. The second function of the waggle dance is to indicate where the site is: the attitude of the dance indicates the direction of the site (for example, it can be located 20 degrees to the left of the sun), while the number of waggles indicates distance (for example, six waggles may indicate a distance of 300 meters).
This process encourages other bees to visit the site. If they like it, they return to the swarm, do their waggle dance and encourage more visitors. At a certain point, when a critical mass of visitors express favor with the site, they vibrate their wings vigorously, creating a loud hum. This indicates the decision has been made. "Debate" is ended. The swarm then flies collectively to the site and builds a new hive.
About UMT: University of Management and Technology is an accredited university located in Arlington VA. Since 1998, UMT has built a strong global higher learning community through its online and distance education. Geographical boundaries do not limit UMT and its students who reside in 50 states, the District of Columbia, 4 US territories in the United States, and in 77 countries worldwide. As of January 2017, more than 22,100 students have studied at UMT in various levels of education programs. Of these, 11,250 earned their degree(s) from UMT.
Honey Bee Genetics Sheds Light on Bee Origins
Published: February 17, 2017.
Released by University of California - Davis
Where do honey bees come from? A new study from researchers at the University of California, Davis and UC Berkeley clears some of the fog around honey bee origins. The work could be useful in breeding bees resistant to disease or pesticides.
UC Davis postdoctoral researcher Julie Cridland is working with Santiago Ramirez, assistant professor of evolution and ecology at UC Davis, and Neil Tsutsui, professor of environmental science, policy and management at UC Berkeley, to understand the population structure of honey bees (Apis mellifera) in California. Pollination by honey bees is essential to major California crops, such as almonds. Across the U.S., the value of "pollination services" from bees has been estimated as high as $14 billion.
"We're trying to understand how California honey bee populations have changed over time, which of course has implications for agriculture," Ramirez said.
To understand California bees, the researchers realized that they first needed to better understand honey bee populations in their native range in the Old World.
"We kind of fell into this project a little bit by accident," Cridland said. "Initially we were looking at the data as a preliminary to other analyses, and we noticed some patterns that weren't previously in the literature."
The new study combines two large existing databases to provide the most comprehensive sampling yet of honey bees in Africa, the Middle East and Europe.
Unrelated Bee Lineages in Close Proximity
Previously, researchers had assumed an origin for honey bees in north-east Africa or the Middle East. But the situation turns out to be more complicated than that, Cridland said.
"You might think that bees that are geographically close are also genetically related, but we found a number of divergent lineages across north-east Africa and the Middle East," she said.
There are two major lineages of honey bees in Europe - C, "Central European," including Italy and Austria and M, including Western European populations from Spain to Norway - which give rise to most of the honey bees used in apiculture worldwide. But although C and M lineage bees exist side by side in Europe and can easily hybridize, they are genetically distinct and arrived in different parts of the world at different times.
M lineage bees were the first to be brought to north America, in 1622. The more docile C lineage bees came later, and today many California bees are from the C lineage, but there is still a huge amount of genetic diversity, Ramirez said.
"You can't understand the relationships among bee populations in California without understanding the populations they come from," Cridland said.
In the Middle East, the O lineage hails from Turkey and Jordan, and Y from Saudia Arabia and Yemen. The main African lineage is designated A.
At this point, the researchers cannot identify a single point of origin for honey bees, but the new work does clear up some confusion from earlier studies, they said. In some cases, diverged lineages that happen to be close to each other have mixed again. Previous, more limited studies have sampled those secondarily mixed populations, giving confusing results.
"We're not making any strong claim about knowing the precise origin," Cridland said. "What we're trying to do is talk about a scientific problem, disentangling these relationships between lineages, the genetic relationships from the geography."
Journal reference: dx.doi.org/10.1093/gbe/evx009
The above story is based on materials provided by University of California - Davis.
AHPA NEEDS YOUR HELP -
Tell the FDA honey does not have "Added Sugars”
As you are likely aware by now, the FDA released a rule last year changing nutrition guidance on packaged products, including honey. They have since released more detailed guidance (attached here for your review, if needed).
As it stands, the FDA, beginning in 2018, will require packaged honey to include on the nutrition label both “Total Sugars” and “Added Sugars”. However, they do not distinguish between the two and so labels will need to include the same amount of grams of sugar under each category e.g. “17 grams of Total Sugar” and “17 grams of Added Sugars”.
To say this will confuse consumers is an understatement. What is “Added Sugars”? The FDA means added to your diet. What do you think consumers will think that means? We think consumers will think it means sugars have been added to the honey that are NOT naturally occurring in the honey. And thanks to the National Honey Board, we have studies to prove it. Studies we have presented to the FDA, but they have ignored.
Now is the time to let FDA know your thoughts. The guidance is subject to a comment period and agency review before being finalized.
Please take 5 or 10 minutes before March 6th to write to the FDA now and ask them to exempt honey from the “Added Sugars” labeling requirement!
o You can be as brief or elaborate as you want, but include:
- Who you are
- Where in the country you are located
- What you do? Beekeeper, commercial honey producer, packer etc.
- How long you have been in the business
- A statement that you believe putting “Added Sugars” on the packaged honey label will confuse consumers and harm the market for honey
- Any other points you think would be helpful, including from the below list of “Key Messages”
- The honey industry supports and applauds the FDA for its continued commitment to informing consumer food choices through the nutrition facts label.
- Made by bees from the nectar of flowers, honey adds a hint of sweetness with a distinct flavor to beverages and recipes.
- We recognize that honey is a source of sugar added to foods; however, there is nothing added to pure honey itself.
- Listing the sugar content in honey as “Added Sugars” on the nutrition facts label implies adulteration of honey in its natural form.
- As stated in 21 US Code §342 (b)(4), “A food shall be deemed to be adulterated… if any substance has been added thereto or mixed or packed therewith so as to…make it appear better or of greater value than it is.”
- If consumers are informed through the Nutrition Facts label that honey contains “Added Sugars” then consumers may be led to believe that honey is adulterated, by the regulatory definition, with sugars added to develop or enhance its sweetness.
- Consumers will be misled to believe that honey is sweetened by adding an external sugar source rather than the naturally occurring sugars inherent in honey.
- There is a risk of consumer confusion if the nutrition facts label notes “Added Sugars” but a separate area on the label notes “naturally occurring sugar.” By definition, something added cannot also be naturally occurring. Our research shows that this will cause consumer confusion that hinders their ability to make informed food choices.
- We realize that honey is added to foods in preparation or manufacturing and in that case it is clearly an added sugar in those foods and would therefore be labeled as “Added Sugars” on the Nutrition Facts label. However, pure honey, itself, does not contain added sugars.
- We share the desire for clear, understandable nutrition information to aid consumer choice.
- Our desire, as is the FDA’s, is to inform consumer food choices to promote public health without confusion or misbranding around pure honey
- To that end, we are asking that the FDA consider listing the naturally occurring sugar content of 100% pure honey as a “Total Sugar” and not “Added Sugars.”
Download: Draft Guidance for Industry Questions and Answers on The Nutrition and Supplement Facts Labels Related to the Compliance Date, Added Sugars
The Bee & Butterfly Habitat Fund Addresses Importance of Pollinator Habitat at Pheasant Fest
(Salt Lake City, Utah) The Bee & Butterfly Habitat Fund recently addressed the importance of pollinator habitat and why it is critical to wildlife at the 2017 National Pheasant Fest & Quail Classic (February 17-19) in Minneapolis, Minn.
During the conference, the group showed a revolving video featuring habitat tips each day; presented “Bees, Butterflies, Birds & You” – a symposium focusing on the importance of habitat and the role of the organization in this critical issue; officially launched The Bee & Butterfly Habitat Fund with a short video and presentation; and presented “Pollinators: The Glue that Binds Birds, Habitat, Precision Agriculture and Water Quality” – which tied it all together with a discussion on the importance of pollinator habitat and why it is critical to pheasants and quail. The Bee & Butterfly Habitat Fund also highlighted strategies and tools for establishing critical habitat for pollinators and wildlife at their booth during the event.
What Is The Bee & Butterfly Habitat Fund?
A collaboration of Pheasants Forever, Project Apis m. and Browning’s Honey Co., The Bee & Butterfly Habitat Fund raises critical dollars to identify and establish NextGen Habitat Projects that help make a difference in pollinator populations by increasing and improving pollinator forage and habitat. The group seeks to raise funds from corporate and individual donors to support further expansion of NextGen Habitat Projects among landowners, thereby making a measurable difference in pollinator populations.
Why Is This Important?
Critical wildlife habitat is disappearing in the United States. As a result, honey bees and other pollinators like monarch butterflies are in serious decline. These pollinators are essential to life as we know it. In fact, about one-third of global food production and billions of dollars in agriculture are dependent on pollinators to some degree.
Peter S. Berthelsen, director of habitat partnerships at Pheasants Forever, Inc. and Quail Forever, discussed this further. “The Bee & Butterfly Habitat Fund is unique in that it has found the way to plant cost-effective pollinator habitat that establishes quickly and provides great pollinator benefits. It’s the trifecta of providing great pollinator benefits on a landscape level while also improving the same habitat for the benefit of pheasants, quail and other wildlife. If we try to solve the critical problems for pollinators using the same tools and methods we have used for the last decade, we won’t be successful. The Bee & Butterfly Habitat Fund brings new strategies, methods and partners together to help save monarch butterflies, honey bees and other pollinators, not to mention the nation’s food supply and beautiful landscapes.”
How Can Creating a Better Habitat Help?
Nutrition is the most basic and fundamental requirement for healthy pollinators. The Bee & Butterfly Habitat Fund works to give honey bees and monarch butterflies access to abundant, diverse and pesticide-free floral resources to help them live longer and healthier, so that they can become more productive at the same time. By facilitating the precise development of honey bee and monarch butterfly habitat, the team provides resources for all other pollinators and wildlife as well.
“The Bee & Butterfly Habitat Fund is a unique conservation effort, targeting acres in regions where conversion to soy and corn is happening very fast,” Danielle Downey, executive director of Project Apis m., explained. “By identifying places where habitat makes the most sense, the bottom line improves for the grower, beekeeper, monarch, upland songbirds and game birds, honey bees and native pollinators – it’s a program that can’t lose!”
How Did The Bee & Butterfly Habitat Fund Develop?
In response to the long-term, continued loss of high-quality, nutritious forage for honey bees and critical habitat for monarch butterflies, The Bee & Butterfly Habitat Fund was formed as Honey Bee and Monarch Butterfly Partnership in 2014. Over the last two years, a pilot program was opened to landowners in North and South Dakota. The program intended to demonstrate how critical habitat could be developed by identifying NextGen Habitat Projects – those areas where habitat can make the most difference for pollinators. This program creates critical habitat that can be cost-effective and highly diverse, while producing outstanding results.
What Are Future Plans?
Currently, 124 projects from North and South Dakota have enrolled in the program. The average project size is 15 acres for six years, with more than 6.5 million milkweed seeds planted to date. The program will expand to four more states (Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri and Nebraska) this year.
“The Bee & Butterfly Habitat Fund is the bees’ buzz!” Zac Browning, co-owner of Browning’s Honey Co., Inc., said. “The effort is integrating the very best performing habitat solutions where they are most needed, by bringing landowners and beekeepers together in a program where everyone benefits. It’s our goal to make every available acre the best it can be. It’s truly amazing just how much difference an acre can make when the habitat is engineered for maximum productivity!”
The Bee & Butterfly Habitat Fund identifies opportunities to establish critical pollinator habitat to help honey bees, monarch butterflies and other wildlife populations thrive. The organization works together to build healthy, sustainable pollinator habitat by using science-based proven results. The Fund brings together landowners, conservationists, scientists and beekeepers to precisely target pollinators’ needs by engineering projects that provide appropriate floral diversity, density and bloom duration to optimize forage potential. Learn more at www.beeandbutterflyfund.org.
For questions or to set up an interview, please contact:
Director of Public Relations,
Darren Cox, Past President of AHPA
featured in March 2017 issue of Discover Magazine
Buzzkill: Will America's Bees Survive?
The science and politics of saving America’s bees gets messy. And the bees continue to die.
By Steve Volk
Despite all the years, and all the troubles, Darren Cox still likes to put on his bee suit. A big, block-shaped man in his 50s, Cox sports a bowlish blond haircut and serious demeanor. But when he slips into his protective gear, his netted hat in hand, he offers a rare smile. “Time to get out there,” he says. It’s a summer day in Cache Valley, an agricultural center set among the mountains of northern Utah. The skyline, composed of peaks popping with shimmering green, ………Read More http://discovermagazine.com/2017/march/buzzkill
How food fraud can get into your kitchen
An ABC 7 I-Team Investigation By Chuck Goudie and Christine Tressel
Thursday, February 23, 2017 10:36PM
CHICAGO (WLS) -- There are protections in place to safeguard the U.S. food supply, but as with sham designer purses and knock-off watches, there are billions of dollars to be made with counterfeit cuisine.
Those counterfeit foods include milk, some cheeses and even expensive wine.
In June 2016, there was a massive seizure of counterfeit honey in the Chicago suburbs. Homeland Security Investigations and Customs and Border Protections seized 60 tons of fake honey, which is now stored in a government warehouse on the Texas/Mexico border. It was the largest food fraud investigation in U.S. history.
"It's a crime in which a lot of people have made a lot of money smuggling it into the United States," Special Agent Matthew Gauder, Homeland Security Investigations - Chicago.
The illegal honey was from China, some tainted with antibiotics prohibited in food. The lost revenue for taxpayers tallies in the hundreds of millions.
"Honey is not that innocent food we all like to think it is," Gauder said.
"It could be 10 percent of the entire U.S. food supply is fraudulent one way or another," said John Spink, Ph.D., director of the Food Fraud Initiative at Michigan State University.
Spink said the range of fraudsters is wide. Figuring out who's to blame can be difficult, but necessary.
"It's a crime of opportunity it's a crime that is complex so definitely organized crime is involved, but also some of those larger groups are affiliated with other types of crimes such as terrorism," he said.
Watch the video: http://abc7chicago.com/food/counterfeit-cuisine-how-food-fraud-can-get-into-your-kitchen/1770252/
Bees Learn Soccer from Their Buddies
The insects show sophisticated learning for non-bee–related tasks, and can even improve on what they are taught
Bees quickly master an insect version of football — with a sweet reward at the end — just by watching another bee handle the ball, suggesting that the tiny pollinators are capable of sophisticated learning, says a study in Science1.
Bumblebees watched a fellow bee tugging a ball into a goal, which earned the athlete a gulp of sugar water. The observing bees could soon do the task themselves. They even figured out how to nab the reward with less effort. “They’re not just blindly copying. They’re doing something better,” says study co-author and behavioural ecologist Olli Loukola of Queen Mary University of London.
Previous research has shown that insects are capable of advanced cognitive tasks. But this is the first time that insects have shown they can become adept at actions far removed from the job of being a bee, the study authors say. The fact the creatures learned a complex skill by watching their fellow bees rather than by undergoing long, incremental training was also another first.
Loukola and his colleagues schooled a select group of buff-tailed bumblebees (Bombus terrestris) to move a wooden ball to the centre of a platform to earn a sweet treat. These bees then strutted their stuff while observed by test bees. After three observation sessions, a test bee was allowed to control the ball. They achieved their goal almost every time, implying that they had picked up on social cues while watching the trained bees. Bees without the benefit of instruction scored around 30% of the time.
To push the bees’ abilities, the researchers presented each instructor bee with three balls. Two had been glued in place and only one — the farthest from the goal — rolled freely. The instructors lugged that one to the goal. Test bees watched these sessions and were then presented with three freely rolling balls. Instead of copying the instructors by moving the farthest ball, test bees took the easy way out: they moved the closest one.
That impresses neuroethologist Ken Cheng of Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia. “It sure looks like what would be called goal emulation,” or actions in pursuit of a goal rather than rote imitation, he says. If so, “that’s fairly sophisticated”.
Study co-author Clint Perry, a cognitive neuroethologist at Queen Mary, points out that bees tutored by a fellow insect outperformed bees without role models: one group watched as the ball was moved by a magnet, and another group was given no demonstration at all. “Social information helped tremendously,” he says.
“It really pushes the idea that small brains aren’t necessarily simpler,” Perry says. “These miniature brains can accomplish a lot more than we thought.”
Independent science to help reimagine our food production system is needed today more than ever. Scientific censorship in the federal system has become blatant as science messaging is harmonized by bureaucrats that are dependent on industry funds. There are good scientists in large institutions, but these establishments are dependent on large sources of funds to keep running, and that money influences the scientific dialogue.
One year ago, farmers (croppers, beekeepers, ranchers), people who buy food, and those who care about our natural resources stepped forward. Through small donations of money, labor, and supplies, you helped to support a research facility in regenerative agriculture. That has never happened before!
To keep our science independent and continue serving you, please consider supporting us again!
Consider making a tax deductible gift!
Make checks payable to:
Ecdysis Foundation (5019(c)(3)) or Blue Dasher Farm
46958 188th Street
Estelline, SD, 57234, USA
Or donate through our website
(The word Ecdysis means metamorphosis- shedding the old skin- and is our non-profit company)
We certainly have not been idle; the contributions in 2016 were used to support some amazing accomplishments. Thanks to your support, Blue Dasher Farm was able to:
- Built a world-class research facility to service the needs of innovative farmers. There were four walls, a floor and a ceiling, but not much else. There are up to a dozen projects ongoing at any one time in our facility.
- Established a demonstration farm in regenerative agriculture. Farm equipment was purchased and maintained, crops were established and harvested, orchard trees planted, and poultry started.
- Raised 25 bee hives. Hive boxes were purchased, assembled, branded and painted. Then we experienced the “bee problem” first hand...
- Employed 10 young, enthusiastic scientists who are going to change the world.
- Published 12 peer-reviewed papers, three of which are in the top 3% of all scientific papers ever written in their social media impact.
- Presented 23 invited talks to farmer and scientific groups in five countries (Australia, Canada, Ireland, Mexico, and the U.S.), discussing agriculture-based solutions to the bee problem and regenerative food systems. At these events, we reached 5,000 face-to-face contacts.
- Keynoted the 2017 National Bee Conference.
- Presented on risks of GM crops to the United Nations Conference on Biodiversity.
- Was awarded the “Friend of the Farmer Award” by the Northern Plains Sustainable Agriculture Society.
- Blue Dasher Farm was featured in three documentary films.
- Amidst many other things…
Our agenda for 2017 that needs your support includes:
- Expanding our crop diversity, and establishing the orchard.
- Integrating sheep and additional poultry into our operation.
- Expanding to 100 bee hives (any nucs you can spare would be appreciated).
- Making progress toward building the education facility.
Research projects will include:
- Assess the risks of fungicide-insecticide synergisms on beneficial insects.
- Develop predators and essential oils as stop gaps to hive losses caused by Varroa.
- Evaluate the risks of neonicotinoid insecticides on grasslands and natural areas used by endangered butterflies.
- Examine the systems-level benefits of intercrops in corn fields on biodiversity and farm profitability.
- Assess the role of flowering Brassica cover crops on subterranean pests of soybeans.
- Determine the benefits to honey bees and native pollinators of a flowering oilseed crop (Brassica carinata) that is considered a potential revenue stream for farmers.
- Link nutritional status of honey bees with landscape features.
- Implement a farmer-driven, national research program on cover crop diversity and beneficial insect conservation.
Please consider supporting our ambitious agenda. The science that you produce will be delivered to you with transparency and integrity.
Dr. Jonathan Lundgren
Jenna Lundgren and the Blue Dasher Farm/Ecdysis Foundation team
Beekeepers and Farmers Oppose Pesticide Company Mergers
For Immediate Release: February 13, 2017
Michele Colopy, Pollinator Stewardship Council, 832-727-9492, firstname.lastname@example.org
Jeannie Economos, Farmworker Association of Florida, 407-886-5151, Farmworkerassoc@aol.com
Lisa Griffith, National Family Farm Coalition, 773-319-5838, email@example.com
Linda Wells, PAN, 563-940-1242, firstname.lastname@example.org
Kate Colwell, Friends of the Earth, 202-222-0744, email@example.com
Angela Huffman, Organization for Competitive Markets, 614-390-7552, firstname.lastname@example.org
Over 300 food and farm groups Urge Jeff Sessions to oppose agricultural mega- mergers
Call on new DOJ leader to put farmer, consumer, worker interests above corporations
(Washington, D.C.)— Nearly 325 farming, beekeeping, farmworker, religious, food safety, and conservation advocacy groups today urged the U.S. Department of Justice to conduct a thorough investigation into the proposed mergers of the world’s largest agrochemical and seed companies. Groups urged Jeff Sessions, the new Attorney General, to enjoin the mergers of Dow Chemical with DuPont, Monsanto with Bayer AG, and Syngenta with ChemChina on the grounds that they will drive up food and farming costs, threaten global food security, curtail innovation, threaten the health of farmworkers, and limit farmer choice. This letter comes on the heels of the Senate’s vote to confirm Senator Sessions to be the head of the Department of Justice. The letter was also delivered today to members of Congress and state attorneys general.
The letter points to the adverse and wide-ranging consequences of these mergers stating that, “Conglomerates of such massive scale, breadth and reach, such as those proposed by these mergers, pose a real risk to our economy, to our agricultural sector, to public health, to food security, to the environment and to the general health of the agricultural and food business climate. Dominance of this magnitude can pose both domestic and international consequences that would be irreversible, once set in motion.”
Farmers and their allies across the country implored the new Attorney General to block the merger.
"Farmers across the country know that these mergers will result in fewer options and higher prices for the inputs we rely on. Already, a third of what a farmer makes for a corn harvest goes to pay for the seed alone; in the end there is nothing left for the farm family. We’ve seen what happens when too few companies control too much of the market, and these mergers would only make a bad situation worse,” said Mike Weaver, president, Organization for Competitive Markets.
"The decline in the quality of plant breeding for conventional varieties and the corresponding increase in the use of crop chemicals will continue, as the merged companies narrow their interests yet further to a few number of products likely to bring in the greatest profit for those biotech companies. The past two decades have shown us that herbicide-resistant GMO seeds have been the favorite for companies like Monsanto, Dow and Syngenta because they boost the sale of pesticides, "said Aaron Lehman, a grain farmer and president of Iowa Farmers Union.
“These agrichemical company mergers would be harmful for our environment, farmers and the American public,” said Tiffany Finck-Haynes, food futures campaigner, Friends of the Earth. “We call on Sessions to put the interests of the American people, workers and farmers above the interests of mega corporations and conduct an independent review process free of political interference.”
“These mergers will hurt honey bees and native pollinators by making it harder for farmers to secure diverse seeds that are not coated in bee-killing pesticides or engineered to withstand multiple doses of herbicide applications,” said Michele Colopy, program director, Pollinator Stewardship Council, a national group representing beekeepers and beekeeping organizations. “This merger makes it harder for farmers to gain access to the seeds they need to farm more sustainably. Seeds produced by a pesticide company may be engineered to cope with the pesticides, but honey bees cannot take increased pesticide exposure.”
“These mergers pose an ever greater threat to the health, livelihoods and human rights of farmworkers who are on the front lines of toxic agricultural chemical exposure,” said Jeannie Economos, Pesticide Safety and Environmental Health Project Coordinator, Farmworker Association of Florida. “These proposed mergers only puts more power and influence on the side of agribusiness, which contributes to but does nothing to pay for the health impacts on families of the chemicals they produce. People should not pay with their health and lives for the profits of these mega-corporations.”
"The concentrated corporate control of seed markets threatens farmers’ traditional practices of developing, saving and exchanging locally-adapted seed in the United States and around the world, practices that support the biological diversity and ecological resilience critical to addressing local and global food needs," said farmer Denise O'Brien, founder of Women's Food and Agriculture Network and Pesticide Action Network (PAN) North America board vice-president.
If all three deals were to close, the newly created companies would control nearly 70 percent of the world’s pesticide market, more than 61 percent of commercial seed sales and 80 percent of the U.S. corn-seed market.
“A Bayer AG-Monsanto company would control 70 percent of the Southeast cottonseed market, which would increase the price by over 18 percent. Soy and corn prices would also rise, putting farmers’ livelihoods at risk even more,” said Mississippi farmer Ben Burkett, National Family Farm Coalition president and Federation of Southern Cooperatives representative.
Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee questioned Senator Sessions about his views on these mergers and his approach to anti-trust matters during his confirmation hearings. His answers were evasive and vague.
Groups expressed concern during the confirmation process that Senator Sessions would allow politics to interfere with the review of these mergers; especially given Donald Trump’s meeting with Bayer and Monsanto Executives in January and Trump’s appointment of Dow CEO Andrew Liveris to lead the American Manufacturers Council in December.
Despite few taste genes, honey bees seek out essential nutrients based on floral resources
February 9, 201
Despite having few taste genes, honey bees are fine-tuned to know what minerals the colony may lack and proactively seek out nutrients in conjunction with the season when their floral diet varies.
This key finding from a new study led by Tufts University scientists sheds light on limited research on the micronutrient requirements of honey bees, and provides potentially useful insight in support of increased health of the bee population, which has declined rapidly in recent years for a variety of complex reasons.
The research, published in Ecological Entomology, suggests that beekeepers should provide opportunities for their bees to access specific nutrients, possibly through a natural mineral lick, to support their balanced health because the bees will search for the minerals when they need them. It is also an opportunity for the general public to support the bee population by planting a diverse range of flowers that bloom throughout the year.
"Currently, there are micronutrient supplements for managed bee hives on the market but there is little research backing up which minerals the bees actually need," said Rachael Bonoan, the lead study author and a Ph.D. candidate in biology in the School of Arts and Sciences at Tufts. "The fact that honey bees switch their mineral preferences based on what is available in their floral diet is really exciting. This means that somehow, honey bees know which nutrients the colony needs. This insight helps us support honey bees and other pollinators by providing access to diverse nutrient sources all year long."
The findings show that honey bees forage for essential minerals that aid their physiological health, even though they have relatively few taste genes. In the fall, when floral resources dwindle, the study showed that bees seek out specific nutrients - calcium, magnesium, and potassium, all commonly found in pollen - by foraging in compound-rich or "dirty" water. When flowers and pollen are abundant in the summer, the bees prefer deionized water and sodium, ultimately suggesting that bees are foraging for minerals in water based on what is lacking in their floral diet.
Bonoan and her research team studied eight honey bee hives that were located about 100 yards from the research area. The bees were trained to come to the research site because researchers placed jars of sugar water at staged intervals until the worker bees became accustomed to the ready food supply.
Researchers set up water vials with different minerals such as sodium, magnesium or phosphorus and catalogued the number of bees that visited each vial. At the end of the day, they also measured how much the bees drank from each vessel to determine which minerals were most in demand.
The researchers also tracked the hive each bee belonged to by dusting worker bees with different colored powders as they left the hives. The team noted which colored bees were drinking from which mineral-laden water source, and later measured the amount of brood to determine whether there is a connection between bee health and specific minerals.
The study results related to hive health were inconclusive. While stronger colonies do tend to visit more minerals than weaker colonies, it was difficult to determine which came first, being a stronger colony or accessing mineral resources. Additional data is necessary to assess colony fitness.
More information: RACHAEL E. BONOAN et al, Seasonality of salt foraging in honey bees, Ecological Entomology (2016). DOI: 10.1111/een.12375
Journal reference: Ecological Entomology
Provided by: Tufts University
Bees give up searching for food when we degrade their land
Jess Reid (UWA Media and Public Relations Adviser)
Wednesday, 8 February 2017
A new study into honey bees has revealed the significant effect human impact has on a bee’s metabolism, and ultimately its survival.
Researchers from The University of Western Australia in collaboration with Kings Park and Botanic Garden, Curtin University and CSIRO have completed a world-first study on insect metabolism in free flying insects, focusing on the honey bee. The study funded by an Australian Research Council linkage award has revealed the significant effect human impact on the environment had on bees, which are crucial for the planet, pollinating one-third of everything we eat.
Landscapes that have been degraded mean a reduction in the availability of resources which affects the metabolic rate of the honey bee and puts more strain on its body’s ability to function.
Emeritus Professor Don Bradshaw from UWA's School of Biological Sciences said the researchers wanted to find out how honey bees’ metabolism was impacted by human made changes to the environment such as clearing of land.
To do this they used a unique method to measure the energy expenditure of bees, originally developed by Professor Bradshaw and used in his research on honey possums. Through this method they were able to measure the metabolic rate of bees when they are in their natural environment, and compare pristine environments rich in resources to degraded environments.
“Before conducting the experiment we thought the bees would have a much higher metabolism in degraded areas because they would need to travel further in search of food," Professor Bradshaw said.
"Surprisingly we found the opposite. The metabolic rate of bees in natural woodland was actually significantly higher than in a degraded environment," Professor Bradshaw said.
"Rather than travel in search of food in degraded areas, the bees foraged less and depended on stored resources inside the hive."
"We were also able to measure their intake of nectar which showed that the bees in the degraded landscape were feeding less." The research has important implications for understanding environmental impacts on bees which will help preserve bee populations in the future and may offer insight into the way other insects’ metabolism works and how it affects their behaviour. This is the first time the metabolic rate and feeding rate of a free-flying insect has been measured in its natural environment and paves the way for future research on pollinators other than bees.
"Bees are vital for human beings, the environment and agriculture," Professor Bradshaw said.
"They pollinate one sixth of flowering plants world-wide and help to produce a third of what we eat, but unfortunately over the past few decades there has been a dramatic decline in global bee populations.
"Continual research in this area is vital in understanding their behaviour, how we as humans can impact their survival, and what we can do in the future to protect them."
The research has been published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society