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2017 North American Beekeeping Conference & Tradeshow
We hope you are making plans to join us in Galveston for the 2017 North American Beekeeping Conference & Tradeshow, a joint conference of the American Beekeeping Federation, the American Honey Producers and the Canadian Honey Council. We look forward to seeing you all in January!
It has been brought to our attention that a Housing Company (which is not affiliated with the conference) is contacting potential conference attendees and advising that the conference hotel is almost sold out and that you need to make reservations with them immediately. This is not accurate and appears to be a SCAM! No one should or will be calling you to make your hotel reservation. All reservations must be made directly with the hotel via telephone or online link (please visit the conference website at www.nabeekeepingconference.com for reservation links). We are not sure how this organization obtained conference attendee contact information. It appears they may be phishing websites that attendees have visited (i.e. San Luis Resort, conference website, etc.). We are working with the San Luis Resort to see what can be done to protect conference attendees from this SCAM.
Should you be contacted by this organization, please try to get as much information as possible (name of caller, organization name, rate offered, etc.) and pass this information along to email@example.com. Please do not give them any of your personal or credit card information.
Seeking to reverse bee decline, Dayton orders limits on pesticide use
Dan Gunderson , Elizabeth Dunbar · Aug 26, 2016
Seeking to reverse a decline in bees and other pollinators, Gov. Mark Dayton issued an executive order Friday that limits the use of nicotine-based pesticides.
The governor's move won praise from environmentalists, but farm groups said it could hurt farmers financially.
Nicotine-based insecticides known as neonicotinoids are effective against a variety of pests, so they're widely used, but a growing body of research shows the insecticides harm bees.
After a two-year review of 300 scientific studies, the state Agriculture Department decided restrictions were necessary, said Agriculture Commissioner Dave Frederickson.
"Some of these are bold recommendations that have not been considered by any other state across the nation," Frederickson said at a Minnesota State Fair news conference.
Among other things, Dayton's order calls for:
• Demonstrated need for pest control before neonicotinoid insecticides can be applied. That means a there must be a level of pest infestation high enough to cause economic damage to the crops.
• Increased inspection and enforcement to make sure users follow label restrictions designed to protect bees.
These changes only affect commercial pesticide applications, not home use. The state will launch an education campaign on the proper use of pesticides for residential users.
Dayton also ordered state agencies to create and protect pollinator habitat on land they manage, and stop using neonicotinoids on state-managed lands.
Frederickson says the his department will ask the Legislature for authority to regulate seeds treated with pesticides before they're planted. Right now the federal Environmental Protection Agency doesn't regulate pesticides applied to seeds.
"Really nobody is regulating seed treatment and of course about 80 percent of the seeds that are planted today are treated with neonics," Frederickson said.
Studies show dust from planting treated seeds drifts off of fields and contaminates other flowering plants where bees feed. The insecticide stays in soil for months and can also be carried off of farm fields by water.
A Minnesota beekeeper is part of a federal lawsuit trying to force the EPA to regulate seeds treated with pesticide.
State Rep. Rick Hansen, DFL-St. Paul, pushed for the state review of neonicotinoids. He thinks the public will support expanded state regulation.
"I hear this when I'm door knocking. I hear this when I'm in the country, i travel around the state. People love pollinators, they understand, they get the connection with our food, our environment and our economy," he said.
The Legislature will also be asked to set up a dedicated pollinator protection account to support research and education on pollinators and pesticides.
Honeybees pollinate an estimated $17 billion worth of crops every year in the United States.
Environmental groups also cheered today's announcement.
"We know that pesticides are a huge factor in pollinator decline and Minnesota is the first agricultural state to take bold action on neonicotinoids including calling on the state to regulate the major issue of pesticide seed coatings," said Lex Horan of Pesticide Action Network, a group that's pushed neonicotinoid regulation in Minnesota and nationally.
However, some agriculture groups were disappointed with the move to restrict pesticide use.
An official with the Minnesota Soybean Growers Association called it "a knee jerk reaction". Research Director David Kee says limiting pesticide options might lead to pests that are resistant to treatment.
"Consequently we need flexibility in our chemicals. We've got to have choices," Kee said, "If we don't, we'll have a resistance issue develop."
Kee says farmers might be overusing neonicotinoid insecticides and he supports using them only when needed, but he worries state regulations will limit farmers' options.
The Minnesota Corn Growers Association said in a statement "pollinators play a crucial role in the health of our agricultural economy" but "restrictions on the use of neonicotinoids that adversely affect farmers ability to make a living should be evaluated and implemented carefully."
Bayer Crop Science, which makes two of the most common neonicotinoids said in a statement it supports efforts to protect pollinators and "while there are some science-based actions in the Governor's Executive Order that will benefit pollinator health, taking tools from farmers without an open and transparent public discussion rooted in sound science does a disservice to everyone."
The state recommendations come the same day another study from University of Minnesota researchers was published showing the effects neonicotinoid insecticides have on bees.
Marla Spivak, who co-authored the study, calls the state proposal to use insecticides only when needed a common sense approach.
"That in itself is a huge statement that nobody else in the nation is making", said Spivak. "So it's a big correction, it's drawing a line in the sand and saying no, we're going to use our pesticides in Minnesota responsibly."
The state will set up a 15-member committee to oversee pollinator protection policy and advise the governor.
Read the full executive order: https://mn.gov/governor/assets/2016_08_25_EO_16-07_tcm1055-253931.pdf
Sub-lethal effects of dietary neonicotinoid insecticide exposure on honey bee queen fecundity and colony development
Judy Wu-Smart & Marla Spivak
Scientific Reports 6, Article number: 32108 (2016
Many factors can negatively affect honey bee (Apis mellifera L.) health including the pervasive use of systemic neonicotinoid insecticides. Through direct consumption of contaminated nectar and pollen from treated plants, neonicotinoids can affect foraging, learning, and memory in worker bees. Less well studied are the potential effects of neonicotinoids on queen bees, which may be exposed indirectly through trophallaxis, or food-sharing. To assess effects on queen productivity, small colonies of different sizes (1500, 3000, and 7000 bees) were fed imidacloprid (0, 10, 20, 50, and 100 ppb) in syrup for three weeks. We found adverse effects of imidacloprid on queens (egg-laying and locomotor activity), worker bees (foraging and hygienic activities), and colony development (brood production and pollen stores) in all treated colonies. Some effects were less evident as colony size increased, suggesting that larger colony populations may act as a buffer to pesticide exposure. This study is the first to show adverse effects of imidacloprid on queen bee fecundity and behavior and improves our understanding of how neonicotinoids may impair short-term colony functioning. These data indicate that risk-mitigation efforts should focus on reducing neonicotinoid exposure in the early spring when colonies are smallest and queens are most vulnerable to exposure.
Honey bees, Apis mellifera L., provide pollination services to over 150 different crops worldwide1,2. In recent years, beekeepers in the US, Canada, and parts of Europe have experienced unsustainably high colony losses3,4,5,6 highlighting a serious threat to global food security, agricultural productivity, and trade7. A number of factors contribute to managed bee losses, including: Varroa mites, bacterial and viral infections, poor nutrition, migratory stress, queen failure, and pesticides3,8,9. Neonicotinoid insecticides are a cause for concern due to their toxicity and pervasive use in agricultural and urban areas worldwide10,11,12,13. Currently, there is heavy scrutiny of and debate over the field relevance of laboratory-based results, accuracy of field studies, determination of environmentally-realistic exposure levels and relevant experimental dosages, and the interpretation of reported adverse effects of neonicotinoids on bees, other wildlife, and whole ecosystems11,13,14,15,16,17,18.
Neonicotinoids are systemic broad-spectrum insecticides that target sucking and chewing insect pests. These insecticides may translocate, at varying concentrations, to all parts of treated plants including the nectar and pollen. Bees may become unintentionally exposed through dust from seed coatings created during planting and through foraging on contaminated pollen, nectar, water, and sap exudates of treated plants19,20,21. Neonicotinoids are currently registered in over 120 countries and represent 24% (valued at US $2.6 billion) of the global insecticide market as of 2008. Imidacloprid, the first registered active ingredient within the neonicotinoid class is considered “highly toxic” (LD50oral: 13 ng bee−1)8 to bees. In addition, imidacloprid (valued at US $1.1 billion) represents 41.5% of the total neonicotinoid market and is the largest selling insecticide in the world22, rendering the potential for exposure to bees high.
In this experiment, concentrations of imidacloprid fed to honey bee colonies were based on plant residue studies and selected to simulate potential exposure on foraging bees collecting contaminated and uncontaminated nectar over a typical bloom period in nature. The lower doses, 10 and 20 ppb, approximate residues that are characteristically found in the nectar and pollen of agricultural crops, such as apples and cucurbit vegetables, that are treated by soil-drench and foliar spray applications following label rates23,24. However, 10 and 20 ppb may be underestimates, as some crops such as cucurbits can have higher residue levels (60–80 ppb in pollen) when neonicotinoids are applied via drip irrigation, foliar spray, or through transplant water24. The higher doses, 50 and 100 ppb, represent residues found in urban landscape plants such as shadbush and rhododendron shrubs (Amelanchier spp., Rhododendron spp.) and Cornelian cherry (Cornus mas), which are treated by soil-drench or trunk injections and can express residues in the ppm range25,26,27. Therefore, the concentrations of imidacloprid treatments represent environmentally relevant exposure rates for bees foraging in both rural and urban settings.
The body of knowledge on the effects of neonicotinoids is vast and includes an increasing number of studies on sub-lethal effects, particularly on neurophysiological and behavioral impairments28 including metabolic changes to brain activity, impaired foraging and learning performance, and motor functions in worker honey bees28,29,30. Notably, little is known about the effects of neonicotinoids on queen bees. One study has reported negative effects of neonicotinoids on honey bee queen development and mating success31. Other laboratory and field studies on bumble bees have shown that sub-lethal exposure to neonicotinoids (imidacloprid, clothianidin, and thiamethoxam) can reduce queen production and disrupt colony initiation16,32,33,34,35,36. Field studies examining colony-level effects on honey bees also have reported higher queen failure and supercedure rates when colonies were exposed to neonicotinoids35,37. In those studies the behaviors of the exposed queen bees were not recorded. The queen bee is the only individual in the colony that lays fertilized eggs that develop into worker bees necessary for colony growth and survival. Therefore, it is important to study the potential effects of neonicotinoids on this key reproductive individual and the subsequent indirect effects on colony development.
Read Results and Full Report Here: http://www.nature.com/articles/srep32108
Nearly two decades of data reinforce concerns that pesticides are really bad for bees
By Chelsea Harvey August 16
Nearly two decades of data reinforce concerns that pesticides are really bad for bees
New research has provided some of the strongest evidence yet that pesticides can do serious, long-term damage to bee populations. And the findings may help fuel the ongoing debate about whether certain insecticides should be permitted for agricultural use at all.
The new study, published Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications, examines the question of whether the use of a common (and highly controversial) class of pesticides called neonicotinoids can be linked to wild bee declines in England. The results suggest that this could be the case.
Using 18 years of data collected on more than 60 bee species in England, the researchers found that species foraging on pesticide-treated crops have experienced much more severe losses than species foraging on other plants. The study provides some of the first evidence that the effects of neonicotinoid exposure can scale up to cause major damage to bees.
“It’s nice to see the use of long-term data to look at trends in pesticide impacts over longer time scales,” said Dara Stanley, a plant ecology lecturer at the National University of Ireland Galway, by email. (Stanley has previously conducted research on the effects of neonicotinoids in bees, but was not involved with the new study.) “That is something that has been missing in the debate on bees and pesticides so far, and there have been many calls to look at effects over time.”
The use of neonicotinoid pesticides has become hotly contested in recent years, due largely to concerns about their effects on bees and other pollinators. Numerous studies have indicated that exposure to these pesticides can have adverse effects in insects they were not intended for, hindering their ability to pollinate or reproduce or leading to increases in mortality.
In fact, in 2013, the European Union placed a ban on the use of multiple neonicotinoid pesticides, citing their potential danger to bees, although a few exemptions have since been allowed in the United Kingdom. Neonicotinoids are still widely used in many other places around the world, including in the United States. They’re produced by a number of different manufacturers and include household names such as Bayer’s Admire Pro insecticide, which includes a neonicotinoid called imidacloprid, or Syngenta’s Actara insecticide, which contains thiamethoxam.
Until now, most of the research on their effects has been limited to short-term, small-scale studies, many of them performed in laboratory settings, said Ben Woodcock, an ecological entomologist at the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology in the U.K. and the paper’s lead author. They’ve also tended to focus on just a few species. The new study, on the other hand, relies on field data collected on many species over nearly two decades.
The researchers focused on the different responses between bee species that forage on pesticide-treated oilseed rape crops — the same plants commonly used to make canola oil — and bees that forage on other plants. Oilseed rape crops are widely treated with neonicotinoids around the world, and the practice began on a wide scale in the U.K. starting in 2002. It’s the biggest mass flowering crop in the U.K. where neonicotinoids have been widely applied, according to Woodcock, making it an ideal subject for the study.
The researchers were interested in finding out whether bee species that forage on oilseed rape plants have experienced greater declines than bee species that don’t. So they gathered nearly 20 years’ worth of data, mostly collected in surveys by citizen scientists between 1994 and 2011, on where bee species have been spotted and what plants they foraged on. Different species often prefer to snack on different plants, and some of the included species visited oilseed rape plants while others didn’t do so at all. The researchers incorporated all the data, along with information on oilseed rape cover and pesticide use in the U.K., into a model that helped them analyze all the information.
Using the model, the researchers zeroed in on individual plots of land. Using all the survey data they’d compiled, they were able to note which species had been observed in each plot and which ones disappeared from those plots over the course of the study period. To be clear, the researchers weren’t able to say whether the number of individual bees in any given plot decreased or increased in abundance. Rather, they simply took note of which species vanished, or went locally extinct, in any given area over time.
“The way we look at it is whether or not a species was present in a location and not present in the next year,” Woodcock said.
Overall, the researchers found that these little extinctions were three times more severe in bees that foraged on oilseed rape plants than in bees that didn’t. It’s impossible to say for sure that the neonicotinoids were responsible for this difference, but the results suggest a link. The findings support the previous research which indicates that neonicotinoids can have damaging effects on bees — and they also suggest that these effects could result in serious population declines on a large scale in the long term.
Looking at these mini extinctions rather than overall population abundance has its advantages, said Christian Krupke, an entomologist at Purdue University, who was not involved with the new study.
“When you take an extinction-type event, you have more confidence that what you’re seeing is a true effect,” he said. “We know populations go through ebbs and flows, but when there are no insects there, it’s a lot more difficult to make the case that this is an ebb.”
In the future, though, “it would also be interesting to see whether abundances (or populations) of particular species were affected,” said Stanley, the National University of Ireland scientist, in her email. And Woodcock agreed that long-term population monitoring programs, which sample the same species in the same locations with the same intensity year after year, would be ideal in the future — they just haven’t been implemented yet.
In the meantime, scientists from Bayer Crop Science, a major manufacturer of neonicotinoid pesticides, took issue with the study’s correlational findings, which they’ve pointed out cannot be used to argue with certainty that pesticides cause declines in bees. A statement from the company, sent to The Washington Post by Bayer spokeperson Jeffrey Donald, summarized their complaint.
“The authors chose to investigate only one potential factor, namely neonicotinoid insecticides,” the statement said. “This was chosen out of many different factors which may have an influence on the development of wild bees, for example landscape structures, climatic conditions, availability of specific foraging plants and nesting habitats. It is a well-known fact that the structure of agricultural landscapes in large parts of Europe has changed substantially in the last decades. The area of landscape structures available for nesting or foraging, especially for specialized species, has significantly declined, resulting in fewer habitats for pollinators.”
A statement from Ray McAllister, senior director of regulatory policy at CropLife America, a trade association representing the manufacturers of pesticides and other agricultural chemicals, expressed similar concerns.
The authors of the new study acknowledged that pesticides are by no means the only factor contributing to bee declines — and were likely not the only factor at play even in this individual study.
“Bees have been undergoing declines for a long time and it’s been linked to a number of things — habitat fragmentation, climate change,” Woodcock said. “This is a contributing factor to bee declines, it’s not the sole cause. If you stop using neonicotinoids tomorrow, you wouldn’t solve the problem.”
But many experts feel that limiting their use would certainly help.
“I think it’s still the case that when people talk about population declines, there’s broad agreement that there are many effects — it’s multifactorial — and it depends on the species you’re talking about,” said Krupke, the Purdue entomologist. “But I think in areas where pesticides are used extensively…that pesticides are high on the list of concern.”
Back the bees and friends: Big agriculture has the chance to help or hinder our most important pollinators, research argues
Date: August 9, 2016
Source: University of Royal Holloway London
Summary: New research has identified future threats to, and opportunities for insects, birds, mammals, and reptiles that pollinate wild flowers and crops. 35% of global crop production, and 85% of wild flowering plants rely on hard-working pollinators to thrive. Researchers are therefore calling for proactive prevention not reactive mitigation, and continuation of positive steps to reduce chemical use across landscapes.
New research published in PeerJ has identified the most serious future threats to, but also opportunities for pollinating species, which provide essential agricultural and ecological services across the globe.
From the expansion of corporate agriculture, new classes of insecticides and emerging viruses, pollinators are facing changing and increasingly challenging risks. In response, researchers are calling for global policies of proactive prevention, rather than reactive mitigation to ensure the future of these vital species.
The study was conducted by an international group of scientists, government researchers, and NGOs led by Professor Mark Brown from Royal Holloway University of London, supported by the EU-funded network SuperB.
Prevention, not panic
They used a method of horizon scanning to identify future threats that require preventative action, and opportunities to be taken advantage of, in order to protect the insects, birds, mammals, and reptiles that pollinate wild flowers and crops.
"35% of global crop production, and 85% of wild flowering plants rely on hard-working pollinators to thrive. We are increasingly adopting practices that damage these species. Then, we rather absurdly look to mitigate their loss, rather than prevent it in the first place," explained Professor Brown.
"This is an expensive and back-to-front solution for a problem that has very real consequences for our well-being," Brown continued, "Most research focuses on the battles already being fought, not on the war to come."
Priority pollinator challenges
Out of a long-list of sixty risks to, and opportunities for pollinators the team identified 6 high priority issues, including:
1) Corporate control of agriculture at the global scale
2) Sulfoximine, a novel systemic class of insecticides
3) New emerging viruses
4) Increased diversity of managed pollinator species
5) Effects of extreme weather under climate change
6) Reductions in chemical use in non-agricultural settings
The research highlights consolidation of the agri-food industries as a major potential threat to pollinators, with a small numbers of companies now having unprecedented control of land.
The rise in transnational land deals for crop production, for example the use of large areas of Brazil for soybean export to China, now occupies over 40 million hectares.
"The homogenization of agriculture effectively means that corporations are applying blanket production systems to landscapes that are vastly different, significantly reducing the diversity and number of native pollinators," explained Sarina Jepsen, Director of Endangered Species and Aquatic Programs, The Xerces Society and Deputy Chair, IUCN Bumblebee Specialist Group.
Positives on the horizon
Professor Brown continued, "However, it is not all doom and gloom. For example, such global domination provides an opportunity to influence land-management to make it favourable for pollinators at huge scales, but this would require the agri-food industry to work closely together with NGOs and researchers."
Speaking about the influence of new insecticides, co-author, Lynn Dicks from the Department of Zoology at the University of Cambridge said, "Identifying environmental issues in advance, before they become large scale, allows society to plan responses and reduce environmental risks before they are upon us. It is a routine part of strategic planning in financial management, and it should also be routine in environmental planning and policymaking. Many of the pollinator issues we identified on the horizon can be responded to right now, for example by working with corporations already controlling large areas of agricultural land to develop pollinator management strategies, or by planning research on the sub-lethal effects of sulfoxaflor before it is widely used."
However the study also found more explicitly positive opportunities for pollinators. For example, the current and future reduction of chemical use in non-agricultural land, gardens and parks, could be fruitful for pollinating populations.
"We must continue to encourage these practices across industry, government, and the public, so that we give our important pollinating species the support they need to do their vital work," concluded Professor Brown.
The above post is reprinted from materials provided by University of Royal Holloway London. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.
Mark J.F. Brown, Lynn V. Dicks, Robert J. Paxton, Katherine C.R. Baldock, Andrew B. Barron, Marie-Pierre Chauzat, Breno M. Freitas, Dave Goulson, Sarina Jepsen, Claire Kremen, Jilian Li, Peter Neumann, David E. Pattemore, Simon G. Potts, Oliver Schweiger, Colleen L. Seymour, Jane C. Stout. A horizon scan of future threats and opportunities for pollinators and pollination. PeerJ, 2016; 4: e2249 DOI: 10.7717/peerj.2249
CATCH THE BUZZ
Insecticide can hamper yield increase from bees in soybeans
By Andy Michel and Reed Johnson, Ohio State University
Although soybean aphids remain at low levels, Reed Johnson and Andy Michel, two Ohio State University researchers are concerned that many growers are going to add insecticides to spray tanks when applying fungicides.
“Well, I’m going over the field anyway so I thought I’d add an insecticide for insurance purposes! The insecticide is relatively cheap and soybeans are worth so much!” is what researchers say they hear from farmers this time of year.
The researchers are clear that they do not recommend this practice, and feel an IPM approach is much better for everyone and everything, including the environment. They do not recommend an insecticide application unless there is a need.
However, the researchers realize that this is being done. Both agree that growers and custom applicators need to protect bees when spraying insecticides on soybeans (or any crop or insect pest for that matter).
The need to do this is present whether the insecticide is being sprayed for an actual pest, or when being sprayed for “insurance purposes!”
Remember that most insecticides have a caution statement on their label about spraying around bees and blooming crops. The typical statement is: “This product is highly toxic to bees exposed to direct treatment or residues on blooming crops or weeds. Do not apply this product or allow it to drift to blooming crops or weeds if bees are actively visiting the treatment area.”
How often do bees visit soybeans? Soybeans bloom flowers produce a very sweet nectar that, depending on conditions, can be highly attractive to bees.
However, it can be difficult to appreciate how much foraging is really occurring because both the bees and flowers are hidden below the canopy. In a survey of honey produced in the summer of 2014 soybean pollen was found in nearly half of honey samples—a strong indication that bees are indeed foraging in soybean fields.
Further, bee pollination has been shown to increase soybean yield by as much as 18 percent in some studies, so it really can be counterproductive to risk killing bees visiting soybeans with an “insurance” application of insecticide.
Many states address this concern. In Ohio, the department of agriculture by making it clear that no one should apply or cause to be applied any pesticide that is required to carry a special warning on its label indicating that it is toxic to honey bees, over an area of one-half acre or more in which the crop-plant is in flower unless the owner or caretaker of any apiary located within one-half mile of the treatment site has been notified by the person no less than twenty-four hours in advance of the intended treatment; provided the apiary is registered and that the apiary has been posted with the name and telephone number of the owner or responsible caretaker.
The ODA also makes it clear that producers should not apply pesticides which are hazardous to honey bees at times when pollinating insects are actively working in the target area; however, application of calyx sprays on fruits and other similar applications may be made.
Growers and applicators are encouraged to maintain good communications with bee keepers near their fields to prevent and limit unintended problems.
Explore the BIP Database
Written By: Michael Wilson
There is a new link on our homepage titled “Explore!”. Click here to explore the ever growing Bee Informed Partnership Database. Here we have new, interactive pages that allow you to view detailed honey bee health data from survey and sample efforts. You can view yearly, state loss data for the annual loss survey in an interactive map. Then, you can look at differences in loss levels based on management practices, filtering to any year or state of interest. Interested in pest levels found in your state? On our ‘State Reports’ page you can explore USDA APHIS honey bee survey data to find out varroa and nosema levels, viruses found, and pesticide sample analysis nationally, yearly, or by sampled state. Finally, you can enter your own varroa levels in a new interactive program called MiteCheck. These new features are just the beginning of a new strategy to turn the Bee Informed Partnership data collection and reporting system into a self service, online, interactive experience to both collect data and provide insight into the forces effecting honey bee health on a national scale.
Colony Loss Map
Stay tuned for the 2015-2016 state loss data, but until then explore state loss levels at this link all the way back to 2007-08 when the honey bee winter loss survey began with the Apiary Inspectors of America.
The state loss map with Tennessee selected for total loss, in the winter of 2014-15.
The interactive map shows state losses as a heat map with higher losses being darker red. You can select the year of interest and if you want to look at winter loss, annual loss, or summer loss. You can also look at either Average Loss or Total Loss. Total loss looks at the number of colonies reported on and gives you a percent of all reported colonies lost while Average Loss is a calculation of the loss experienced by an ‘average beekeeper’ in that state.
There is a table below the map that filters out to the states surrounding any state you select. Here you can find details about how many beekeepers reported, the number of colonies represented, and the number of colonies exclusive to that state. For migratory operations, their loss gets reflected in each state they operate in, so use these numbers to weigh in on if the state’s Total Loss is heavily influenced by a few large beekeepers. In those cases, you may want to look at Average Loss where each beekeeper carries the same weight, irregardless of how many colonies they operate
For years now with the honey bee loss survey, we have been asking beekeepers what they do to bring insight into why losses are so high. We can’t really prove any causative effects through a survey, but we can look at patterns and correlations to give us good directions on where we should direct our efforts as beekeepers and researchers. In the past, those reports have been generated from the database in static .pdf files here. That worked out OK to look at individual issues in a single year, but is cumbersome to look at the same question over multiple years. We have now rectified that by providing a new, database explorer linked here to interactively filter based on year, state, operation size, and a number of questions.
The survey database explorer comparing the level of colony loss based on operation size for all years and all states. Changing the check boxes to fewer years or states will filter the graph based on your selections.
Now, you can select a number of products beekeepers use and compare beekeepers that use those selected products to those whom did not. You can then filter that to any year, or only the states you are interested in. In addition to getting the level of loss, you can also simply see how many people use a particular product or feeding practices. If you’re a backyard beekeeper and don’t see how commercial beekeepers are comparable to what you are doing, then just filter to backyard beekeepers only. However, as you can see in the screenshot I pasted in here, backyard beekeepers often have higher losses than commercial and sideline beekeepers. Therefore, you might also try filtering only on those groups to see what they are using as well.
You won’t see the checkbox filters as the page loads to save on space. You will need to click on the button to ‘Show Filters’ to see them, so be sure to do that if you want to explore more deeply. Also, be sure to note that these loss levels are reported as Average Loss, or the loss experienced by the average beekeeper of the selected filters. Therefore, the loss you see can be quite different and higher the the usual Total Loss numbers we usually use to report overall national losses. The ‘Survey Year’ is the year in which we conducted the survey. So, 2015 is the winter of 2014-15.
The newest addition to the new database experience, is the USDA APHIS State Reports page here. This page provides a very in-depth look at APHIS National Honey Bee Survey data collected since 2009 in collaboration with state apiary inspectors. I hope to provide a more detailed article about this feature at a later date, but for now here are the basics.
Pesticide effects on honey bees is an area of great interest, but relatively little information perhaps due to the expense surrounding taking samples. In the APHIS survey, to date, 763 samples have been processed giving us the most comprehensive look at the level of pesticides found in colonies that we have. You now have access to what pesticides have been found, their prevalence, and where they were found through the individual state reports. Since these samples were not taken as a response to a loss event, we consider this data, and all the data in the APHIS survey, random samples, or the average levels found, providing baseline information about what US colonies experience.
I hope you learn a lot exploring our database, but why not go a little further? You too can provide data through our surveys, sample monitoring programs, and now in collaboration with the University of Minnesota and Michigan State, you can enter varroa level information and compare it to other respondents in a new interactive page called MiteCheck linked here.
MiteCheck refers to sample kits developed by the Bee Squad of University of Minnesota. These kits provide everything you need to take a varroa sample and conduct a powdered sugar shake to asses the level of varroa infestation. To complement that, we now have this page to collect that data you are generating with your MiteCheck kit. If you don’t have a MiteCheck kit, you can still enter powdered sugar varroa assessments anyway, but the kit provides instructions to do it right.
We are looking for funding to expand the MiteCheck program, so hopefully you will see an increase in the functionality of this page in the future. MiteCheck is the first example of the Bee Informed Partnership Database as a platform for additional interactive bee health initiatives funded through other sources. The original USDA-NIFA grant funding the Bee Informed Partnership expires in December of this year. One of its legacies is a platform for new and continued bee health data collection and dissemination. Your participation and support will continue that effort with rewards in more depth and data based understanding of bee health.
Leading insecticide cuts bee sperm by almost 40%, study shows
Discovery provides possible explanation for increasing deaths of honeybees in recent years, according to scientists
Wednesday 27 July 2016 01.00 EDT