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  Jun 2015 
Christi's Corner


The last month has been a banner month for PAm.  First, we are very fortunate to have Billy Synk joining staff as Director of Pollination Programs.  He's been UC Davis' staff research associate and beekeeper.  Billy will be a great asset to PAm.  He knows bees, the beekeeping industry, apiculture research, and has the skills to expand not only our habitat projects but also our research program.  Secondly, the Federal Strategy to improve honey bee health was released.  PAm was part of the process since the initial meeting in Washington D.C. and was mentioned twice in the final document.  PAm is poised to take full advantage of the multi-agency focus on honey bees and will work hard to pursue opportunities that can help bees and beekeepers as a result of this effort.  Lastly, six new studies on Varroa control  were approved for funding.  We are very excited to get this research underway and prevent that anniversary party for Varroa when September, 2017 rolls around and the pest has been in the country 30 years. We committed to several innovative studies that also held a good chance for success.  This week is Pollinator Week, but every day is Honey Bee Day at Project Apis m.!



Christi Heintz

Executive Director  


Our New Hire is 'in Synk'
Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey
As Director of Pollination Programs, BBillyilly Synk will manage PAm's 'Seeds for Bees' project and work with Pheasants Forever on the Honey Bee and Monarch Butterfly Partnership.  You'll see Billy representing PAm at several of our upcoming bee meetings.  "I've always been really passionate about bees, and I care about this industry," states Billy.  "I'm enthusiastic and energized by the opportunity to work with PAm while developing and implementing programs that benefit honey bees and beekeepers."  Christi Heintz, PAm's executive director adds, "Hiring Billy is a commitment to PAm's future and we are excited about taking PAm to the next level."

Billy comes to us from UC Davis, where he managed bees and participated in bee research projects with Drs. Brian Johnson and Neal Williams.  He was trained in beekeeping by noted bee breeder-geneticist Sue Cobey at Ohio State University, where he received a BS in environmental policy and management.  More recently, Billy played a prominent role in the photography exhibited in the "Quest for a Superbee" article published in the May 2015 edition of National Geographic.  He also worked with photographer Anand Varma on the honey bee metamorphosis video featured below. 



A Must See - Watch a Bee Develop in a Minute!

The entire 6 minutes of this TED talk is very good. If your time is limited, at least watch the segment between minute 2 and 3, time-elapsed photography of a bee developing from an egg.  It's so perfect and beautiful, no wonder we are concerned with larval exposure to pesticides and other introduced chemicals or elements that might affect this incredible process.  Isn't nature awesome! 

Yellow Sweet Clover - Summertime Gold!



Photo by Christi Heintz

Honey bee on yellow sweet clover - summertime yellow gold for honey bees!


PAm Commits to Varroa Research


The PAm Board and Scientific Advisors reviewed 13 Varroa research study proposals requesting more than $525,000 in research funds.  With generous funding from CoBank, American AgCredit and bee brokers Lyle and Brian Johnston, we were able to fund $162,000 in research projects at this time.  


Six new studies were selected.  Evidence suggests that there are several innovative 

compounds that warrant attention for Varroa control - including spider venom, extracts from the seeds of a particular Asian flower, and oil from the seeds of an evergreen tree found in India that is already being used as a biopesticide in farming.  One study will look at cost-effective mass production of natural mite predators.  Another will identify the DNA markers associated with reducing mite loads via hygienic behaviors.  Finally, we will try to prove whether Varroa actually does feed on the hemolymph in bees, a long-time assumption that has never been adequately proven.  Look for updates on these studies and PAm's complete research program by visiting the Research Tab on


EPA Actions to Protect Pollinators
EPA logo

In accordance with the White House's National Pollinator Health Strategy, EPA has published their actions to help protect pollinators from pesticides. EPA is proposing a plan to prohibit the use of all highly toxic pesticides when crops are in bloom and bees are under contract for pollination services.  The plan also recommends that states and tribes develop pollinator protection plans and best management practicesRead more here.


The Word From Wardell
Dr. Gordon Wardell


"And who art thou? said I to the soft-falling shower,
Which, strange to tell, gave me an answer, as here translated:
I am the Poem of Earth, said the voice of the rain." 


So begins The Voice of the Rain by Walt Whitman. I think we all have talked to the rain at one time or another.  In California, we talk to the lack of rain. 


In other parts of the country they have gotten too much rain. I've heard disappointing reports out of Texas that the tallow honey crop was very poor this year primarily because of the wet weather.  Canola in Oklahoma was a washout as well. Similarly, gallberry and tupelo didn't do well this year in Northern Florida and Georgia, however the bees are looking good and built up well, they just didn't make significant amounts of surplus honey.  The upper Midwest has received sufficient moisture to set up a good clover crop this year, if the fair weather will hold.  Reports are that yellow sweet clover has started to bloom, so we're keeping our fingers crossed.  I talked to two beekeepers in Montana and it sounds like a mixed bag; some areas are good but other areas are too dry. Fickle as the weather is, that too could change.


Favorable reports are heard about bees coming out of Maine blueberries.  Last year a late season freeze hit the bees hard and set them back, but good weather this year made a big difference.  At present, bees are just going into cranberries in New England and we are hoping fair weather will follow their pollination as well.


In California, beekeepers are scrambling for any forage they can find - or they are heading out of state.  The drought continues to hammer California agriculture with unprecedented water restrictions being imposed.  The prediction of an El Nino fall and winter couldn't come soon enough. 


But no matter where you reside, if you have the opportunity to plant flowers for bees, every little bit helps.


Dr. Gordon Wardell

Chairman, Project Apis m.


In This Issue:
Links to Learn More:
Thank you to our recent donors!

Steve E. Park Apiaries, Inc.

Lane County Beekeepers

The Bee Ranchers

Root Candles (from Dick Rogers)

Glenn Nease

Veronica Swarens

Laurel Przybylski

Gene Brandi 

Pollinator Week



Coalition News

"The Honey Bee Health Coalition is a centralized effort to improve honey bee health that includes many stakeholders and outstanding management by the Keystone Policy Center.  The Coalition can take us places we couldn't go alone.  Project Apis m. is proud to be a member and to have a role on the steering committee."  (Christi Heintz, Executive Director, PAm.)


For more information, please visit their website.


'Seeds for Bees': Your Images 

Project Apis m. is doing everything it can to put habitat on the ground for honey bees and other pollinators. Thank you for sending in your images!
Merna Chance
Les McEvers (Wild Adventure) 
Les McEvers (Wild Adventure)
Maddox Farms
Bert Baker
Bert Baker
Dennis Sargent
Dennis Sargent


If you are an interested landowner in either CA or WA, please contact us at and we will put you on the list to receive Seeds for Bees this coming fall! 

June Bee Husbandry
-  Be aware that strong colonies in mid-summer can be highly infested with Varroa mites and can crash in late-summer and fall.
-  Check often for mites. Conduct a random sampling of hives.
-  Use biotech methods to suppress mite populations when surplus honey is being produced.
-  Exercise judicious treatment and use soft chemicals. Follow recommended label instructions.
-  Rotate treatments to prevent resistance.
-  Recheck for efficacy. Don't assume your treatments are working.
-  See Project Apis m.'s elearning module and YouTube video on Varroa control here.  
Project Apis m. | |
6775 Chardonnay Rd
Paso Robles, CA 93446

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