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  November 2015 
Christi's Corner
November - the month to give thanks!  We are thankful for honey bees who provide us the delicious diversity of foods we enjoy at our Thanksgiving meal and every meal.  Our food is colorful thanks to the hard work of honey bees traveling from flower to flower in their tireless effort to pollinate crops.  And what would Thanksgiving dinner be without rolls, butter and honey?  Continue to be amazed and thankful for that process whereby the nectar of flowers is converted to the sweet goodness of honey.  For Project Apis m., I'm thankful for nearly 10 years of service to bees and the beekeeping industry and for our staff - Billy, Jean, Tara, Terri and Beth, who make the wheels of the organization go 'round.  At this time, I am particularly thankful that Danielle Downey, presently Apiary Section Chief, Hawaii Dept. of Agriculture, will be joining PAm's staff on January 1.  And who do we have to thank for this incredible industry that supports our agricultural systems?  The beekeeper - thank a beekeeper!

Christi Heintz
Executive Director  

Danielle Downey to be Director of Operations for PAm
 PAm has accomplished exactly what our Board originally intended - to infuse greater funding into enhancing the health of honey bees - and much more!  Now is the time to position ourselves for the next 10 years.  Danielle Downey has accepted the position of Director of Operations for PAm and will be instrumental in making our research program even more dynamic, in improving our organizational skills and effectiveness, and in creating even stronger relationships with our beekeeper, research, sponsor and stakeholder communities.   Danielle has over 20 years beekeeping experience, with roots in South Dakota, schooling in British Columbia and the University of Minnesota, and comes to us from her current position as Apiary Section Chief, Hawaii Department of Agriculture.  Her email is  Join me in welcoming her to Project Apis m.!

USDA - UC Davis Bee Lab
USDA-ARS bee lab
 A new USDA-ARS bee lab is one step closer to reality after a Nov. 3rd meeting with stakeholders at UC Davis.   Kevin Hackett, National Program Leader, USDA-ARS, was joined by representatives from our current bee labs, the Honey Producers, the American Beekeeping Federation, California State Beekeepers Association, several pollinated crops, UCD, and PAm to provide input on the research focus for the two USDA scientists to be positioned at UC Davis.  In opening stakeholder comments, Christi Heintz, PAm's executive director suggested Varroa and pesticides are the #1 and #2 USDA-ARS research gaps.  PAm board member Gene Brandi agreed, "There is no ARS lab that focuses solely on Varroa."  CSBA's Jackie Park-Burris further supplied emphasis, "If we don't control Varroa, nothing else matters."  The ARS is targeting April, 2016, to fill the first ARS position at UC Davis.

In Synk with Billy on Hedgerows
Annual cover crops are great.  It helps the soil.  It helps bees.  A large amount of forage can be planted and managed in a way that provides needed food for bees during a time of season when there is none. But this isn't the only way to provide high quality forage to honey bees.  One spot capable of providing such forage is hedgerows.  Often overlooked, these spaces bordering fields and crisscrossing our agricultural landscapes are a great, underutilized resource.
Simply defined as "shrubs and trees, typically bordering a road or field," hedgerows can be maintained in a way that is pollinator friendly.  Hedgerows provide nutrition and habitat for honey bees, native bees, monarchs, and beneficials (natural enemies).  These areas increase nesting and shelter opportunities for migratory and resident birds.  The deep roots and ground cover of typical hedgerow plant life filter ag runoff, reduce erosion, improve soil structure and increase water infiltration.  Noise reduction, windbreaks, shade and farm aesthetics are secondary benefits that should not be forgotten.  
I recently had a chance to visit a hedgerow while on the 2015 Sustainable Cotton Project tour.  Tended by Frank Williams and Mark Fickett at Windfall Farms, the hedgerow is a half mile long and is located on the western side of Fresno County.  Frank, who is a new enrollee in our Seeds for Bees program, is glad he put in the hedgerow.  We talked about the initial work needed for establishment in the first year and how he looked forward to multiple seasons of advantages.  "It's nice to have," Frank said.  "We started to see beneficial insects we had not seen before."

Will hedgerows become a common sight?  Could future Best Management Practices include restoring hedgerows around your farm?  I can only hope.  But what I can guarantee is: this will not be the last time you read about hedgerows in Billy's Blog.

Billy Synk
Director of Pollination Programs

The Word From Wardell
Dr. Gordon Wardell
As usually happens this time of year, reports start coming in about the state of bee health around the nation.  The focus is always whether there will be sufficient strong colonies for almond pollination come February.  Every year it seems the reports are varied and 2015 is no different.  Reports of colony health coming out of the Midwest are mixed.  I've heard conflicting reports of high mite levels in bees from the Dakotas, Minnesota, Montana and Nebraska and because of the mites, colony populations are suffering.   Conversely, I've also heard from several Midwest beekeepers that the bees have never looked better.  Texas is coming out of its drought but the heavy rains can't be helping the colonies that need to build their populations this time of year.  Reports out of the Southeast are that colonies continue to build strongly, fall pollen was plentiful and late season storms didn't set the bees back at all.  Mite control strategies appear to be working well and barring any severe cold snaps the bees coming out of the South should be a strong complement to almond pollination in February.  

Here in California, we are still in a four-year drought, little fall forage to speak of and the critical months for bee health are still ahead of us.  The most important factors in bee health come into play in December and January when the photo period begins to lengthen; the queen begins laying eggs again, protein levels (pollen or patties) are crucial for brood rearing and honey stores (carbohydrates) are must for maintaining brood nest temperature and to stave off starvation.  None of the above will do you any good unless you have sufficient numbers of healthy bees in the colony to rear brood and maintain brood nest temperature.  At this point we are all crossing our fingers and feeding our colonies as much as they will take to keep those adult populations healthy.  

The California State Beekeepers Association meetings are next week.  I'm sure there will be a lot of interesting discussions about the state of bee health and what we can expect come almond bloom.  Don't miss the Almond Panel discussion on Thursday, 11/19, 2:15 pm. 

Dr. Gordon Wardell
Chairman, Project Apis m.

In This Issue:
Quick Links
El Niņo Lab Newsletter
NC State Wolfpack Waggle (Tarpy) 
We THANK our Recent Donors!
Montana State Beekeepers Assn.
Wonderful Orchards
Bill Lewis 
Clyde Steese
Lockhart Fine Foods
Veronica Swarens

PhD Scholarship Available 
Apply Soon
Pictured here is Laura Brutscher, our current PAm-Costco Scholar.  She is now completing her third year under this scholarship at Montana State University.  Before the end of this year, we will be taking applications for our next PAm-Costco Scholar.  This is a 3-year $50,000 per year scholarship for a PhD student.  If you are pursuing a PhD in entomology, microbiology, biochemistry, toxicology or related field and will be studying honey bees and pursuing a career desiring to solve honey bee health challenges, please email to be put on the list to receive the application packet. 

Bee Aware 
CA Dept. of Pesticide Regulation Sponsors Meeting

PAm's Billy Synk and board chairman Dr. Gordon Wardell both attended the DPR's Bee Aware meeting in Stockton on November 10th.  The purpose of the meeting was to foster cooperation and communication with the stakeholder community.  The approximately 150 attendees heard presentations from state officials on the regulations that protect honey bees and the challenges in implementing these laws.  Dr. Wardell presented issues facing honey bees today as well as the importance of protecting crops and protecting honey bees.

Canadian Nutrition Proposals 
Due Dec. 4th
PAm is seeking research proposals from Canadian institutions and scientists under the category of bees and nutrition.  The financial sponsor for this RFP is from Canada and has specified that the PI's be from a Canadian research or academic institution.  The intended outcome of the research would be to benefit and better manage commercial honey bee colonies in Canada.  Interested parties should contact to receive the RFP.  The announcement will also be posted shortly on Project Apis m.'s website.

happy thanksgiving

Project Apis m. | |
6775 Chardonnay Rd
Paso Robles, CA 93446

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