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The materials and information included in this Latest News page are provided as a service to you and do not reflect endorsement by the American Honey Producers Association (AHPA). The content and opinions expressed within the page are those of the authors and are not necessarily shared by AHPA. AHPA is not responsible for the accuracy of information provided from outside sources.

      



 

Agriculture Secretary Vilsack Names Members and Alternates to the National Honey Board

WASHINGTON, Dec. 5, 2016 -- Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today appointed four members and five alternate members to serve on the National Honey Board. The appointees will serve three-year terms beginning Jan. 1, 2017, and ending Dec. 31, 2019, except the additional alternate producer member, who will serve the remainder of a term expiring Dec. 31, 2018.

The producer member appointed is Blake Scott Shook, of Melissa, Texas, and the alternate producer member is Joan M. Gunter, of Towner, N.D, with Joseph M. Sanroma, of Lecompte, La., appointed as an additional alternate producer member.            

The first handler member appointed is Michelle Poulk, of Waxahachie, Texas, and Melissa Ashurst-Foott, of El Centro, Calif., is the alternate first handler member.

The appointed importer member is Andy Sargeantson, of New Canaan, Conn., with Gregory B. Olson, of Bloomington, Minn., as the alternate importer member.   

The marketing cooperative member appointed is Lisa L. Hansel, of Sioux City, Iowa, and Jeff Hull, of Battle Lake, Minn. is the alternate marketing cooperative member.

Board members selected by the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture administer the program. USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) provides oversight of the National Honey Board in accordance with the Commodity Promotion, Research, and Information Act of 1996 and the Honey Packers and Importers Research, Promotion, Consumer Education and Information Order.   USDA encourages board membership that reflects the diversity of the individuals served by the programs.

Since 1966, Congress has authorized the establishment of 22 research and promotion boards that are industry-funded and empower agricultural industries, including the forest products industry, with a framework to pool resources and combine efforts to develop new markets, strengthen existing markets, and conduct important research and promotion activities. AMS provides oversight, paid for by industry assessments, which helps ensure fiscal responsibility, program efficiency and fair treatment of participating stakeholders.

For more information about the National Honey Board, contact Patricia Petrella at (202) 720-9915, or email Patricia.Petrella@ams.usda.gov.

For more information about research and promotion programs, visit www.ams.usda.gov/rules-regulations/research-promotion.  

Get the latest Agricultural Marketing Service news at www.ams.usda.gov/news or follow us on Twitter @USDA_AMS. You can also read about us on the USDA blog.

USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Office of Adjudication, 1400 Independence Ave., SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call (866) 632-9992 (Toll-free Customer Service), (800) 877-8339 (Local or Federal relay), (866) 377-8642 (Relay voice users).

Varroa Mite IPM Videos

The Honey Bee Health Coalition released a series of videos today to help beekeepers promote colony health and combat costly and destructive Varroa mite (Varroa destructor) infestations. The videos can be found on the Coalition website at honeybeehealthcoalition.org/Varroa and provide detailed step-by-step instructions on how to monitor hives for Varroa and safely treat when levels get too high. The videos complement the Coalition’s wildly popular Tools for Varroa Management Guide.

“The Honey Bee Health Coalition’s Tools for Varroa Management Guide has provided beekeepers in the US and Canada with invaluable tools and techniques to confront destructive Varroa mite infestations,” said Mark Dykes, Apiary Inspectors of America. “These videos will show beekeeper real world application techniques that will help them correctly apply treatments.”

 

Local jewelry maker’s designs help honeybees

Posted on December 1, 2016 by Alli Marshall

Press release from Ilana Fiorenza:

Artist and jewelry designer Ilana Fiorenza is a metalsmith, a freeform beadweaver and makes wearable and often symbolic jewelry. Recently she was inspired by the beauty and industriousness of the honeybee when her parents began to keep bees at their West Asheville home, fascinated that the life’s work of a honeybee amounts to a 12th of a teaspoon of honey, and was inspired to create her line of “honeypot” jewelry. “I think it is poignant that the honeybee works so hard to create such a small amount of honey, and that they are now facing decline, so I think the honeypots help us to appreciate the beauty and sweetness in the smallest of things,” said Ilana. “I want my work to have social meaning and importance.”

Each unique locally-hand blown glass vessel holds approximately the amount of honey from Ilana’s family’s hives that a single honeybee can make in her lifetime. The vessel is sealed, so it will not go bad. “Honey lasts forever,” Ilana likes to say. Ilana also donates a portion of proceeds from the sale of the honeypots to a nonprofit called Bee City USA, which works to raise awareness about the plight of the honeybees and helps to create pollinator gardens and other bee-friendly infrastructure.

Ilana sells her honeypots online on Etsy and on her website ilanadesigns.com. Downtown shops Desirant and Kress Emporium carry Ilana’s honeypots as well, and you can find her selling those and other designs at the Portico Artists’ Market at the Grove Arcade on most weekends.

Scientists consider potential of honey bee brood as food source

"Honey bees and their products are appreciated throughout the world," said researcher Annette Bruun Jensen.

COPENHAGEN, Denmark, Nov. 28 (UPI) -- Honey bee brood -- a combination eggs, larvae and pupae -- is considered a delicacy in Mexico, Thailand, Australia and elsewhere. In a new study, scientist considered the potential of honey bee brood as a staple food and source of protein for the planet's ballooning population.

The obvious advantage of bee brood is its nutritional efficiency. It compares favorably to beef in terms of protein quantity and quality, but its production requires only a fraction of the space and energy.

Those who are already accustomed to eating bee brood appreciate the delicacy for its nutty flavor and crispy texture. It can be cooked or dried and is often added to egg dishes and soups.

Beekeepers already remove frames of bee brood from managed hives as a way to control the spread of Varroa mites, a harmful parasite.

Researchers at the University of Copenhagen see these frames as an untapped resource.

"Honey bees and their products are appreciated throughout the world," researcher Annette Bruun Jensen said in a news release. "Honey bee brood and in particular drone brood, a by-product of sustainable Varroa mite control, can therefore pave the way for the acceptance of insects as a food in the western world."

Bruun Jensen and her colleagues described the potential of bee brood as sustenance in a new paper published this week in the Journal of Apicultural Research.

Despite its promise, the finer points of bee brood farming and harvesting need to be worked out.

Though research suggest the brood can be frozen and stored for up to 10 months without sacrificing flavor, more research needs to be done to ensure the fragile foodstuff can be safely transported at scale. Scientists also need to further study the food safety risks.

 Another species of Varroa mite threatens European honeybees

November 17, 2016 WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – A sister species of the Varroa destructor mite is developing the ability to parasitize European honeybees, threatening pollinators already hard pressed by pesticides, nutritional deficiencies and disease, a Purdue University study says.

Researchers found that some populations of Varroa jacobsoni mites are shifting from feeding and reproducing on Asian honeybees, their preferred host, to European honeybees, the primary species used for crop pollination and honey production worldwide. To bee researchers, it's a grimly familiar story: V. destructor made the same host leap at least 60 years ago, spreading rapidly to become the most important global health threat to European honeybees.

While host-switching V. jacobsoni mites have not been found outside of Papua New Guinea, Purdue researchers Gladys Andino and Greg Hunt say vigilance is needed to protect European honeybees worldwide from further risk.

"This could represent a real threat," said Andino, a bioinformatics specialist with Information Technology at Purdue. "If this mite gets out of control and spreads, we might have another situation like V. destructor."

Varroa mites are obligate parasites, meaning their lifecycle is inextricably entwined with that of their bee hosts. The mites can do serious damage to their hosts' health due to their relatively large size – "think of a tick as big as your fist," Hunt said. Mites latch on to bees and feed on their hemolymph, insects' rough equivalent to blood, leaving behind open wounds that are susceptible to infection. They can also transmit diseases such as deformed wing virus and have been linked to colony collapse disorder.

To gain insight into the biology behind V. jacobsoni's host switch, Andino and Hunt, professor of behavioral genetics and honeybee specialist, studied the differences in gene expression between V. jacobsoni mites that fed and reproduced on Asian honeybees and those that parasitized European honeybees. Knowing which host cues mites respond to and the genes involved could lead to potential control strategies, the researchers said.

"If we can understand the mechanism, we might be able to disrupt, block or manipulate that," Andino said. "But first we have to understand what is happening and which genes are involved in allowing the mites to shift to a new host."

Andino and Hunt sequenced and assembled the first V. jacobsoni transcriptome, a catalog of all of the proteins made by an organism that shows which genes are actively being expressed. They then used the transcriptome to compare gene expression in populations of V. jacobsoni.

They found 287 differentially expressed genes between the mite populations that only parasitized Asian honeybees and those that successfully fed and reproduced on European honeybees. A change in gene expression is often a sign that an organism is reacting to a change in its environment – in this case, a new host species.

Of these 287 genes, 91 percent were up-regulated in the host-switching mites. Many of these genes were related to stress responses, "which makes sense," Andino said.

"If you're feeding on a new host, you're going to be stressed. You have to adapt. The food is different and might not be optimal for development," she said. "Potentially, European honeybees are not fulfilling the requirements these mites are used to getting from Asian honeybees."

Some genes involved in reproduction and egg production were overexpressed while some genes linked to digestion genes showed reduced expression, compared with the same genes in V. jacobsoni mites that exclusively parasitized Asian honeybees.

Andino and Hunt said the mites' leap to European honeybees likely occurred within the last decade. Previously, V. jacobsoni mites were occasionally found on European honeybees but seemed unable to produce healthy offspring, limiting their destructive capacity.

Catching the host transition in its early stages will allow researchers to continue to investigate the complex genetic details behind the shift and monitor infected European honeybees, Hunt said.

"This happened once with one species of mite, and it looks like it's happening again. Maybe if we catch this as it's beginning, we'll be able to figure out why it's happening or, down the road, stop it."

The paper was published in BMC Genomics on Wednesday (Nov. 16) and is available at http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12864-016-3130-3.

Funding for the study and an ongoing genome-sequencing project was provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service and the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture.           

Writer: Natalie van Hoose, 765-496-2050, nvanhoos@purdue.edu 
Sources: Gladys Andino, 765-494-0935, gandino@purdue.edu
Greg Hunt, 765-494-4605, ghunt@purdue.edu

Courts ignore risks of neonic seed coatings, leadership left to states

San Francisco, CA - Earlier today a federal court determined that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is not required to evaluate and regulate seeds coated with pesticides linked to bee declines.                       

At issue are over 150 million acres of crops -- particularly corn and soybeans and primarily in the Midwest -- that are planted with neonicotinoid (“neonic”) insecticide seed coatings. Beyond exposure to toxic airborne dust at the time of planting with these seeds, bees are also vulnerable to the insecticides that persist throughout crops and in the soil and water many months later. Neonics, including products manufactured by Bayer and Syngenta, not only kill bees outright but are also linked to problems with reproduction, navigation and communication in the pollinators. And according to EPA, in most cases the coatings don’t even have much benefit in preventing pest problems.

The case challenging the lack of seed coating oversight was brought forward by the Center for Food Safety on behalf of Pesticide Action Network (PAN), along with concerned farmers and beekeepers.

In his conclusion, District Court Judge William Haskell Alsup stated: The Court is most sympathetic to the plight of our bee population and beekeepers. Perhaps the EPA should have done more to protect them, but such policy decisions are for the agency to make.          

Lex Horan, midwest organizer with PAN released the following statement:

“States will need to fill the void created by EPA’s lack of leadership. EPA has failed to address repeated concerns about the issues of pesticide seed coatings and the threats to bees, beekeepers and our food system. As EPA shirks its responsibility, states can do their part to stem pollinator decline by following Minnesota’s lead: implementing science-based plans created through a transparent public process to protect bees by reducing neonicotinoid use.”

Gail Fuller, a Kansas grain farmer and a plaintiff in the case on the ruling:

"This decision does nothing to alter my resolve. My local beekeeping group has spent the last few meetings doing nothing but trying to figure out how to keep their hives alive. Harvest was poor, and losses are mounting. EPA and the states must address the issue of pesticide seed coatings rather than hide their head in the sand."

Media Contacts:

Paul Towers, PAN, 916-216-1082 or ptowers@panna.org (link sends e-mail)
Lex Horan, PAN, 651-245-1733 or lex@panna.org


Market Probe, Inc., a marketing research firm, is conducting an online survey among beekeepers and would like to invite you to share your opinions. This is not an effort to sell you anything.  We are interested in your input regarding current bee health. Please be assured that your individual responses will be strictly confidential, being reported only in aggregate with other beekeepers.

This online survey will take approximately 15 minutes to complete. If you qualify and complete the survey, we will send you a check for $75 in appreciation of your time and opinions.

It will take only a couple minutes to determine if you fit into one of the groups for this study.

To determine qualification and to participate, please click on the following link, or copy-and-paste the link into your browser:

http://survey.us.confirmit.com/wix/p3081446965.aspx
To ensure the study is not closed before you have an opportunity to take part, please logon at your earliest convenience.

Thank you in advance for your cooperation!

Market Probe, celebrating more than 30 years in business.

**This survey and the Market Probe company are not affiliated with American Honey Producers Association**

New Federal Grants For Connecticut Research On Honeybee Health, Better Strawberries, Hops

Gregory B. Hladky 

Breeding parasite-resistant honeybees and improving crops like strawberries and hops are some of the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station projects being targeted with $240,000 in new federal grants.

The money is coming through a U.S. Department of Agriculture program designed to fund new research targeting specialty crops like fruits, vegetables, honey and maple syrup.

One of the projects being funded is an attempt to develop honeybees capable of resisting the ravages of the varroa mite, one of the key suspects in massive bee die-offs in recent years.

A state survey found that 60 percent of Connecticut's honeybees died over the summer of 2014 and the winter of 2015. Various scientific studies indicate that such die-offs are likely the result of a combination of pesticides, poor diet and parasites like the varroa mite and the diseases they transmit to bees.

Existing efforts to breed varroa-mite resistant honeybees can lead to "excessive inbreeding," according to Connecticut scientists. The new $59,254 USDA grant will help pay for a program to collect feral bees living in state forests "to produce queens that will support populations of [varroa-mite resistant] and genetically diverse workers within each colony," according to state officials.

At the project's conclusion, the queen-rearing and breeding program will be handed off to a new, local non-profit association.

A separate grant of nearly $60,000 will go to an effort to help farmers and beekeepers to create habitats that provide the sort of varied and healthy flowers and plants that honeybees and other pollinators like butterflies need for good nutrition.

"Each of these projects will help Connecticut growers produce valuable specialty crops and enhance the viability of agriculture in our state," said James LaMondia, chief scientist at the agricultural experiment station.

Connecticut Agriculture Commissioner Steven K. Reviczky said the agricultural station research is a response "to new challenges facing farmers today."

Another of the studies being paid for with the federal grants involves determining if tiny "nanoscale" particles of copper and zinc in fertilizer can improve disease resistance in crops like pumpkins and strawberries. $60,000 in federal money is being used for this project.

Deformed wing virus: Major risk to bee colony collapse

By Tim Sandle     Nov 18, 2016 in Environment

Bee populations are in decline globally. There are several reasons: pesticides, habitat loss, mite infestation and viruses. New research has focused on a pathogen called deformed wing virus, and offers some hope.

With the deformed wing virus, scientists have, for the first time, managed to simulate the course of disease using artificial genetic material of the virus. Understanding this process is key to helping bee colonies in many regions of the world. Bees are major contributors to global agriculture.

Deformed wing virus is associated with Varroa mites. Varroa mites can only reproduce in a honey bee colony. It attaches to the body of the bee and weakens the bee by sucking hemolymph.

The virus is concentrated in the heads and abdomens of infected adult bees. The virus is suspected of causing the wing and abdominal deformities. The lifespan of an infected bee is reduced to under 48 hours. Although the virus is most probably carried by mites, the virus has been found to be present in many hives where there are no mites.

Then new study into the disease has come from the Institute of Virology at the University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna. To track the spread of the virus, the research group developed a molecular clone and this has allowed for study of the disease under laboratory conditions.

The essential reagent is an infectious DNA clone, a double-stranded DNA copy of the viral genome carried in a bacterial plasmid (a plasmid is a small, circular, double-stranded DNA molecule which naturally exists in bacterial cells).To generate the viral clone required a complex process. The scientists amplified genetic RNA material of a virus and saved it as a DNA copy. In tests on honey bees (Apis mellifera), the viral clone produced the same disease symptoms discoloration, dwarfism, and later death. The tests were conducted on adult bees, larvae and pupae.

The model showed how the virus targets neural, gland and connective tissue cells. It is hoped that testing the model will allow for the future strategies to be developed and to protect colonies.

The research has been published in the journal PLOS One and the research is reported to “Construction and Rescue of a Molecular Clone of Deformed Wing Virus (DWV).”

Read more: http://www.digitaljournal.com/news/environment/offering-bees-hope-by-tackling-deformed-wing-virus/article/479925#ixzz4QfH7meXH



Another species of Varroa mite threatens European honeybees

November 17, 2016

A sister species of the Varroa destructor mite is developing the ability to parasitize European honeybees, threatening pollinators already hard pressed by pesticides, nutritional deficiencies and disease, a Purdue University study says.

Researchers found that some populations of Varroa jacobsoni mites are shifting from feeding and reproducing on Asian honeybees, their preferred host, to European honeybees, the primary species used for crop pollination and honey production worldwide. To bee researchers, it's a grimly familiar story: V. destructor made the same host leap at least 60 years ago, spreading rapidly to become the most important global health threat to European honeybees.

While host-switching V. jacobsoni mites have not been found outside of Papua New Guinea, Purdue researchers Gladys Andino and Greg Hunt say vigilance is needed to protect European honeybees worldwide from further risk.

"This could represent a real threat," said Andino, a bioinformatics specialist with Information Technology at Purdue. "If this mite gets out of control and spreads, we might have another situation like V. destructor."

Varroa mites are obligate parasites, meaning their lifecycle is inextricably entwined with that of their bee hosts. The mites can do serious damage to their hosts' health due to their relatively large size - "think of a tick as big as your fist," Hunt said. Mites latch on to bees and feed on their hemolymph, insects' rough equivalent to blood, leaving behind open wounds that are susceptible to infection. They can also transmit diseases such as deformed wing virus and have been linked to colony collapse disorder.

To gain insight into the biology behind V. jacobsoni's host switch, Andino and Hunt, professor of behavioral genetics and honeybee specialist, studied the differences in gene expression between V. jacobsoni mites that fed and reproduced on Asian honeybees and those that parasitized European honeybees. Knowing which host cues mites respond to and the genes involved could lead to potential control strategies, the researchers said.

"If we can understand the mechanism, we might be able to disrupt, block or manipulate that," Andino said. "But first we have to understand what is happening and which genes are involved in allowing the mites to shift to a new host."

Andino and Hunt sequenced and assembled the first V. jacobsoni transcriptome, a catalog of all of the proteins made by an organism that shows which genes are actively being expressed. They then used the transcriptome to compare gene expression in populations of V. jacobsoni.

They found 287 differentially expressed genes between the mite populations that only parasitized Asian honeybees and those that successfully fed and reproduced on European honeybees. A change in gene expression is often a sign that an organism is reacting to a change in its environment - in this case, a new host species.

Of these 287 genes, 91 percent were up-regulated in the host-switching mites. Many of these genes were related to stress responses, "which makes sense," Andino said.

"If you're feeding on a new host, you're going to be stressed. You have to adapt. The food is different and might not be optimal for development," she said. "Potentially, European honeybees are not fulfilling the requirements these mites are used to getting from Asian honeybees."

Some genes involved in reproduction and egg production were overexpressed while some genes linked to digestion genes showed reduced expression, compared with the same genes in V. jacobsoni mites that exclusively parasitized Asian honeybees.

Andino and Hunt said the mites' leap to European honeybees likely occurred within the last decade. Previously, V. jacobsoni mites were occasionally found on European honeybees but seemed unable to produce healthy offspring, limiting their destructive capacity.

Catching the host transition in its early stages will allow researchers to continue to investigate the complex genetic details behind the shift and monitor infected European honeybees, Hunt said.

"This happened once with one species of mite, and it looks like it's happening again. Maybe if we catch this as it's beginning, we'll be able to figure out why it's happening or, down the road, stop it."

Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2016-11-species-varroa-mite-threatens-european.html#jCp

Bacterial Imbalances Can Mean Bad News for Honey Bees

By Jan Suszkiw
November 16, 2016

A team of U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists and their collaborators have established a strong link between honey bee health and the effects of diet on bacteria that live in the guts of these important insect pollinators.

In a study published in the November issue of Molecular Ecology, the team fed caged honey bees one of four diets: fresh pollen, aged pollen, fresh supplements, and aged supplements. After seven days, the team euthanized and dissected the bees and used next-generation sequencing methods to identify the bacteria communities that had colonized the bees' digestive tract.

The team also compared the thorax (flight muscle) weight and size of each group's hypopharyngeal glands as measures of the diets' effects on bee growth and development. The glands enable nurse bees to produce "royal jelly," a substance that's fed to developing larvae, ensuring the hive's continued survival. The flight muscle weight represents the potential for work after the nurse bee transitions into the role of forager.

In general, bees given fresh pollen or fresh supplements fared better than bees given pollen or supplements that had first been aged for 21 days, reports Kirk Anderson, senior author and a microbial ecologist with USDA's Agricultural Research Service (ARS) in Tucson, Arizona.

Bees fed fresh diets suffered fewer deaths, made better use of energy for growth, and had lower levels of gut pathogens such as Nosema ceranae, according to Anderson and co-authors University of Arizona graduate student Patrick Maes, ARS lab technician Brendon Mott, and Randy Oliver of Scientificbeekeeping.com.

In the study, the nutritional value of pollen lasted longer than that of supplement. Bees consumed significantly more aged supplement than aged pollen, but this didn't translate into long-term benefits. For example, bees consuming aged supplement had plump nurse glands but suffered significant losses in flight muscle, suggesting that nutrition diverted to feed developing larva came at a significant cost to the bees' own adult development. Poor development, in turn, can translate to early mortality or inefficient food collection when these nurse bees transition to the role of foragers.

Anderson says the effects of diet on gut bacteria populations (or "gut microbiome") are poorly understood but warrant study because of the implications for honey bee health and the insect's importance as a chief pollinator of 100-plus flowering crops. Put another way, consumers owe one in every three bites of food they eat to the work of honey bees and other pollinators.

Other key findings include -

  • Bees fed fresh pollen or fresh supplements had more beneficial gut bacteria, like Snodgrassella alvi, whose presence was correlated with increased health, and decreases in gut pathogens Nosema and F. perrara bacteria.
  • Five to eight types of gut bacteria were consistently found in bee gut.
  • Dysbiosis was systemic, occurring throughout the honey bee gut.

 Anderson says that with continued research, new supplement formulations or usage practices could be created to improve not only the health of honey bees but also the bacteria that live within them.

ARS is USDA's principal in-house scientific research agency.

North American Pollinator Protection Campaign Report

By Chris Hiatt
Executive Board Member, AHPA

Darren Cox, Chuck Kutik, and I attended the 16th annual North American Pollinator Protection Campaign in October at the APHIS headquarters in Belstville, MD.  It also included a tour of the Beltsville Bee Lab.  It's always fun to see everyone in action running bee and wax samples and talking to the staff that are on the front lines of bee research.  

Speaking at the meeting was Bruce Rodan from the Biotechnology and Science Office of the White House, Rick Keigwuin from EPA, officials from Fish and Wildlife and myself, giving the beekeeper's perspective of our challenges.

Dennis Van Englesdorph from the Bee Informed Partnership had an interesting slide in his talk showing the cost of replacing dead-outs at current national mortality levels. The partnership painted worker bees in collapsing hives and then checked 4 beeyards within a 2 mile radius. They found the painted bees in 3 of the 4 yards, showing that mites can easily be brought in to your hives from outside sources.  Dr. David Inouye from the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory presented a table which showed a 3-fold increase in pollinator publications over the last 20 years.  James Strange from the ARS Logan lab related data showing that viruses such as Isreali Acute Bee Paralysis Virus are being passed from bumblebees to honeybees and vice-versa. A model presented by Gloria de Grandi-Hoffman from ARS Tuscon showed that warmer fall temperatures might result in higher mite loads.  Danielle Downey from Project Apis M. had an interesting stat saying that 75% of the nations' hives spend the summer in eight midwestern states:  North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Kansas and Iowa.  This coincides with the nationally designated monarch flyway, which is trying to improve and set aside more pollinator habitat and plant milkweed.  

Every year NAPPC sponsors 6 studies on bee research, some of which are done by upcoming entomology students.   Hongmei Li-Byarlay from North Carolina St. presented the first-ever study done on bees using CRISPR, a genome editing method which aims to get rid of viruses. Her use of CRISPR could be looked back on as an historic moment in bee research. Google CRISPR to educate yourself on this new technology. 

Elisa Bernklau from Colorado St. showed her studies on bee longevity using phytochemicals.  Her control bees lived 23 days longer with infusions of caffeine and 12 days longer with kaempferol. Beekeepers just need recommendations to start adding some to our syrup feedings!  

Overall, it's always good to see so many people from diverse backgrounds working together trying to improve the habitat and health of pollinators.  

 

Postdoctoral Position on Plant-Pollinator Interactions at Penn State's Center for Pollinator Research 

Penn State’s Department of Entomology and Center for Pollinator Research seeks a Postdoctoral Research Associate to lead a USDA-SCRI funded project examining pollinator interactions with ornamental plant species.  The candidate should have extensive experience in (1) working with honey bees (2) evaluating foraging behavior of bees (3) palynology and (4) use of molecular tools to identify plant species from pollen samples.  The candidate should have excellent written and oral communication skills, the ability to collaborate with and coordinate the efforts of a large team of researchers from different universities, and a track record of publishing his/her work in scientific journals and presenting to broad audiences.  Preference will be given to candidates with a PhD in Entomology, Biology, or related field.  This is a one-year appointment, with possibility of extension.  For more information, please contact Christina Grozinger, Professor, Department of Entomology, Penn State University, cmg25@psu.edu.  

Apply at  https://psu.jobs/job/67504

Beekeepers Accuse EPA of Hiding Pesticide Files

By NICHOLAS IOVINO 

SAN FRANCISCO (CN) — Beekeepers and environmentalists on Thursday accused the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency of withholding documents they say will prove the agency has a "pattern and practice" of shirking its duty to regulate bee-killing pesticides.

Lead plaintiff Jeff Anderson, a beekeeper who owns honey farms in California and Minnesota, sued the EPA this past January, claiming a guidance document the agency issued in 2013 illegally widened exemptions for pesticide-coated seeds and their resulting dust-off.

Anderson says a particularly toxic strain of pesticides known as neonicotinoids has killed hundreds of thousands of bees in recent years, poisoned birds and contaminated large swaths of soil and water. He says the EPA has failed to regulate neonicotinoids in the form of coated seeds and seed dust-off, even though it is required to under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA).

During a summary judgment hearing Thursday, plaintiffs' attorney Adam Keats said the EPA only turned over 200 pages of internal emails and documents, many of which were "riddled with redactions," and withheld an additional 5,000 pages of germane material.

"The administrative record is woefully incomplete," Keats said. "It left us in the dark on many issues we feel would be relevant to the case."

After the plaintiffs moved to compel the EPA to produce more documents in September, U.S. District Judge William Alsup ordered the agency to turn over 5,000 pages of court-sealed files for him to review behind closed doors.

In their cross-motion for summary judgment, the plaintiffs urged the judge to keep two questions in mind as he sifts through the 5,000-plus pages of internal EPA files.

The plaintiffs asked Alsup to assess whether those documents address a link between neonicotinoid-coated seeds and harms to bees or if the EPA took a position on whether neonicotinoid-coated seeds and their dust-off are exempt under FIFRA.

Alsup suggested Thursday that the government could be withholding relevant documents, based on his prior experience as a Justice Department attorney in the 1970s. During his time there, Alsup said he routinely witnessed government lawyers try to exclude pertinent files from disclosure in lawsuits.

"I was jaded by that experience," Alsup said.

Addressing the merits of the parties' motions for summary judgment, U.S. government attorney Rochelle Russell argued the guidance document issued in May 2013 merely conveyed recommended guidelines for investigating bee deaths and did not equate to a final agency action reviewable by the court under the Administrative Procedure Act.

The document, titled "Guidance for Inspecting Alleged Cases of Pesticide-Related Bee Incidents," states in part that "treated seed (and any resulting dust-off from treated seed)" may be exempt from registration under FIFRA.

On claims the EPA adopted a "wholesale" policy of not regulating pesticide-coated seeds and dust-off as required under FIFRA, Russell said "decisions to enforce or not enforce" are left up to the discretion of federal agencies and are not subject to judicial review under the 1985 Supreme Court ruling Heckler v. Chaney.

However, Keats cited an exception to the Heckler presumption of non-reviewability as articulated by the Ninth Circuit in its May 2016 ruling Garcia v. McCarthy. That ruling held courts may review an agency's action or inaction if the agency "consciously and expressly adopted a general policy that is so extreme as to amount to an abdication of its statutory responsibilities."

Briefly addressing another motion for summary judgment filed by intervening farming industry groups, attorney Karen Carr argued all pesticides approved for use in American agriculture are already subject to a "rigorous regulatory process."

"They want EPA to regulate the seeds as well," Carr declared. "Granting the relief plaintiffs seek would have a crushing effect on American agriculture."

Keats replied that the unregulated spread of "incredibly toxic and incredibly deadly" pesticide-coated seeds has already cost beekeepers billions of dollars in financial damage.

Keats works for the Center for Food Safety, one of Anderson's co-plaintiffs in the lawsuit, in Sacramento.

Carr is with Arent Fox in Washington D.C., representing a cadre of pesticide and farming industry groups including CropLife America, Agricultural Retailers Association and American Soybean Association.


Before the hearing started, Alsup said he was leaning toward granting the EPA's motion for summary judgment, but the judge also suggested the plaintiffs might benefit from additional discovery materials he is still reviewing behind closed doors.

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Cassie Cox
Executive Secretary
PO Box 435
Mendon, UT 84325
office:281-900-9740
cassie@AHPAnet.com