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  May 2015 
Christi's Corner
One of our first PAm Board meetings



Project Apis m. (PAm) has a position available, Director of Pollination Programs (click here to apply).  The position announcement has only been out a few days and the interest is incredibly exciting and motivating.  "I want to work for PAm because I've always thought PAm has the right idea when it comes to helping bees - practical research within an efficient organization."  Wow.  That's what we set out to do 10 years ago, and it's rewarding to know we've hit the mark.  PAm is known and respected nationwide.  Our board of directors is forward-thinking.  Our bee scientists appreciate PAm's research commitment - we help build their research programs, purchase lab equipment, and provide funds so they can solicit even larger funding sources.  Our support has helped discover new pathogens, initiated new Tech Transfer Teams and maintains a legacy germplasm repository.  Our programs include building honey bee habitat, outreach on BMPs, and a concentrated effort to go after our #1 pest, Varroa.  We work to serve an underappreciated segment of agriculture, the nation's beekeepers and our country's honey bees.  My advice to recent graduates is pretty simple - find a niche where you can add value, and do it reasonably well.  Here at PAm, we do that and love what we do!


Christi Heintz

Executive Director  


Wanted: 1.8 Million Hives
Wanted Dead or Alive

Of course, what we want is 1,780,000 bee colonies, not hives.  But we thought "hives" made for a better title.  As you probably know, hive refers to the box and colony refers to the unit that contains all those wonderful insects that pollinate our food supply and make delicious honey.  We want colonies, not hives because the hives might be empty!  What IS needed is enough strong, healthy honey bee colonies to pollinate the new acreage estimate for almonds, which has now grown to 890,000 bearing acres.  The new acreage estimate for total almond acreage is over a million acres now, up 5% from last year's reporting period.  Another vocabulary lesson:  total acreage is, of course, total acreage planted to almonds.  Because it takes a new almond tree a few years to become productive, those young trees won't need bees.  Beekeepers are interested in the bearing acreage numbers - those acres that will require usually 2 honey bee colonies per acre to transfer pollen from one tree to another and set fruit (nuts).  For the full NASS report on almond acreage, click here.


For the Almond Board's explanation as to how this increase can be interpreted in light of the current drought conditions in California, click here.  


Annual Bee Loss Survey - Down and Up!

Preliminary results from the ninth annual national survey of honey bee colony losses are in and good luck interpreting results!  It will be interesting to keep up with the articles and explanations.  Over-wintering losses are down a bit to 23.1% from last year's 23.7%.  Summer colony losses, however, increased to 27.4% from the previous year's 19.8%.  Commercial beekeepers lost more colonies over the summer, compared to winter.  The survey was fairly robust, representing nearly 15% of the nation's 2.74 million colonies.  The bottom line?  Combined summer and winter losses are over 42%.  There's no other way to say it - that's just terrible. 


PAm Completes BMP Grant and Gains Insight into Outreach

We have just completed our Best Management Practices (BMP) grant we've been working on since October, 2012.   Highlights of the accomplishments under this 2-1/2 year grant are nothing short of amazing:  


  •  30 monthly enewsletters produced, each highlighting seasonal BMPs
  • Growth in enewsletter subscribers from 400 to over 1,600 recipients
  • 14 videos produced with total views of over 50,000
  • PAm's Facebook page followers grew from zero to over 800 followers
  • 45 in-person presentations given to regional, state and national meetings to attendees numbering over 4,000 and tradeshow attendance of over 12,500

    PAm's #1 Video, Transporting Colonies to California, was viewed by over 26,177 viewers!

    See PAm's website Blog for Lessons Learned about BMP Outreach.


    PAm Commits to Blueberry Research


    Yes, we talk a lot about almonds at PAm.  That's because almonds are the earliest blooming crop requiring pollination - just when bees are coming out of winter and have not had time for spring build-up.  Yet, almonds require more honey bee colonies than any other agricultural crop.  Many commercial beekeepers depend on almond pollination contracts to pay the bills.  If beekeepers meet the demand for almond pollination, then most other pollination-requiring crops will benefit from a good supply of bees.  But at PAm, we don't just work on almonds.  

    Photo by Frank Drummond

    PAm's board recently approved a $36,000 proposal to look at fungicide applications in blueberries. Unfortunately for honey bees, fungicide applications and bloom go hand-in-hand.  That's why our BMP's include recommendations for late afternoon or nighttime fungicide applications, when bees are not flying.  Beekeepers with blueberry pollination contracts have had a tough time of late, losing colonies during or shortly after blueberry pollination.  Dr. Dennis vanEngelsdorp, in collaboration with Kirsten Taylor, Andrew Garavito, Liana Tiegen and PAm's Scientific Advisor, Dr. Frank Drummond, will look at the true cost of blueberry pollination to the beekeeper, including evaluating the effect of fungicide applications that are currently labeled as safe for bees.


    Dr. Elina Niņo 


    You'll want to make sure you are subscribed to Dr. Elina Niņo's enewsletter.   As long as we are discussing proper grammar and vocabulary in this enewsletter, I asked Dr. Niņo for a shortcut to the "n" with a tilde (that's the squiggly line over the "n").   So that we can all spell her name correctly and quickly, type alt+164 to get the "ņ".  On some computers, it might be a different sequence, like alt+0241.  


    Oh, the things you can learn in a bee newsletter.....


    The Word From Wardell
    Dr. Gordon Wardell


    "Hope springs eternal in the human breast." If you didn't know better you'd swear Alexander Pope is writing about today's beekeepers in his 1743 "Essay on Man."  This week, the Bee Informed Partnership (BIP), with the Apiary Inspectors of America, released colony loss estimates for 2014.  They revealed that 42.1% of America's colonies perished last year.  Now go back and read that number again.  It's not a typo, really; 42.1% of the colonies in this country died last year.  What other industry could sustain those losses and keep coming back year after year?  Obviously, with beekeepers, hope springs eternal.

    If that is not amazing enough; wait there's more.  Winter losses went down slightly from 23.7% to 23.1% while summer losses went up from 19.8% to 27.4%.  What the heck is going on?  Let me preface this by saying that I don't have the answers, but we can try to tease apart the complexities of the problem... finish reading here!



    Dr. Gordon Wardell

    Chairman, Project Apis m.


    In This Issue:
    Thank you to our recent donors!
    Stuart Fleming*
    Dewey Caron*
    Lockhardt Foods**
    Costco Wholesale**
    John Miller*
    Veronica Swarens**
    Brian Johnston, Brian's Bee Haven***
    Oregon Honey Festival*
    Bees Business*
    Whidbey Beekeepers Assn*

    * $45 for Forage supporters
    ** recurring donors
    *** Varroa research contributor

    CDFA's New Webpage


    Honey bees now have their own page within CDFA's website.  The web page features links to programs detailing CDFA's commitment to protecting pollinators in the course of its work controlling and eradicating invasive species, a link to information for beekeepers bringing bees through Border Inspection Stations into California, and information about permit requirements, county apiary services and the Africanized honey bee.


    Planting Honey Bee Forage is Smart

    Project Apis m. is doing everything it can to put habitat on the ground for honey bees and other pollinators.  Our "Seeds for Bees" project in California and Washington and our Honey Bee and Monarch Butterfly Partnership with Pheasants Forever are a couple of examples.  This July, we will be gearing up for the Fall, 2015 planting season in CA and WA.  If you are an interested landowner in either of these states, please contact us at and we will put you on the list to receive Seeds for Bees this coming fall! 

    Varroa Research Fund Gets a Boost from Another Johnston

    Brian Johnston, Brian's Bee Haven, and nephew to Lyle Johnston (featured in our last enewsletter), has generously contributed $20,000 to our Varroa Research project.  Brian, like the other donors for this project, realize the true devastation caused by this nasty pest and are helping PAm fight back!  Next enewsletter we hope to print the funded projects.


    Honey Bee Health Coalition's Incident Reporting Guide



    Accurate information on bee loss incidents is key to understanding the real-world experience of pollinators and to inform best practices to prevent or mitigate future losses.  All key stakeholders from the beekeeper to local, state and federal stakeholders benefit from the information garnered from reported bee loss incidents.  The Honey Bee Health Coalition (HBHC) has published an article in Bee Culture Magazine and an accompanying Incident Reporting Quick Guide to help increase understanding in this important area.  A laminated Quick Guide can be ordered through Pollinator Stewardship Council


    May Bee Husbandry
    - Requeen, maintaining genetic quality to meet your objectives.
    - Select stocks that are productive and disease & pest resistant.
    - Encourage high drone densities during mating season to provide well-mated queens and genetically diverse crops.
    - Discourage stocks that are excessively defensive.
    - Control swarming by making nucs and/or splits.
    - Check hives for pests and diseases.  Early detection is key!
    - Use diagnostic services for objective colony assessment.
    - Follow regional guidelines for action thresholds for Varroa and Nosema control.
    Where to See Us Next
    CDFA Healthy Pollinators Workshop
    June 4, 2015
    CDFA Headquarters
    1220 N Street
    Sacramento, CA
    Project Apis m. | |
    6775 Chardonnay Rd
    Paso Robles, CA 93446

    Project Apis m. is a 501 (c) (5) non-profit organization.