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  December 2015 
Christi's Corner
In this enewsletter you'll learn about our PhD Scholarship application and an RFP for a Nutrition Literature Review.  Plus opinion by Gordon Wardell and Billy Synk.  But first, I wanted to mention a book I recently read, The Wright Brothers by David McCullough.  With $1,000 of their hard-earned money from running a bicycle shop in Dayton, Ohio, the Wright Brothers financed their crazy idea of man in flight.  At the same time the U.S. government spent $70,000 on Samuel Langley's flying machine that crashed in the Potomac without ever flying.  The book is about innovation, dogged scientific pursuit, and persistence - all qualities that can help the beekeeping industry get where it needs to go (my presentation topic at last month's California State Beekeepers Convention).  When other reporters and even the U.S. military thought the Wrights were kooks, our own A.I. Root, editor of Gleanings in Bee Culture, gave us the first eyewitness account of the Wright Brothers flight to appear in print.  This flight occurred at Huffman Prairie Field in Ohio.  I'll share a few pictures I took in the newsletter below while visiting our daughter and family in the Dayton area this past year. Yes, it's the miracle of flight that gets our bees from flower to flower and us from place to place.  The Wright Brothers' story is an inspiring story, and I would recommend it for your 2016 reading list!

Christi Heintz
Executive Director  

In Synk with Billy on Seeds for Bees
2015 was an exciting year! The transition to the New Year will mark six months of working with Project Apis m.  I have accomplished a great deal - met so many great people that are invested in improving honey bee health and have presented information about PAm at a few conferences.  Networking and collaborating with various people at these events is my favorite part.  However, without hesitation, my favorite project has been Seeds for Bees

Seeds for Bees is simple, yet effective.  Without bureaucracy, or mandatory reporting, our program provides free cover crop seed to almond growers.  This year we also provided forage for blueberry growers in Washington.  They planted in-between the rows just like an almond orchard.  We had 145 growers enroll in our California/Washington program.  With our support they were able to plant over 3,000 acres of bee forage!  

Click here to read the complete version of Billy's Blog.

Billy Synk
Director of Pollination Programs

Notable Remarks from the CSBA Convention
The 2015 CSBA Convention was again a great success.  Because we have two national organizations and they meet at the same time, and because the nation's commercial beekeepers are starting their migration to California, this one state convention often has it all - the research presentations, the trade show, the side-bar meetings... Here are some take-aways from this year's meeting:  1) Dr. Kirk Anderson - Watch out for Frischella perrara; it may rival Nosema in bee problems, 2) Dr. Dennis vanEngelsdorp with his BIP database - Varroa just might be characterized and spread via "mite bombs," individual colonies that harbor an inordinate number of mites that serve as reservoirs to initiate mite explosions, 3) Randy Oliver - as long as Tactic is cheap, we will have trouble with resistance, 4) Dr. Dave Tarpy - his NC State Queen and Disease Clinic can provide beekeepers with a Queen Quality Report, 5) Dr. Judy Wu - first, we need to refine risk assessments to include not just physically dead bees, but ecologically dead bees, and second, neo-nicotinoids are not necessarily the problem, the bigger problem is our overuse and dependency on pesticides, 6) Dr. Jerry Bromenshenk - using Infra Red Technology will be the easiest way to pick out your dinks, 7) Dr. Marla Spivak - first, propolis envelopes do maintain healthy immune systems; and second, the majority of plants that bees visit are non-native; and third, the U Minn Bee Lab will be completed by November, 2016, and 8) Denise Qualls (pictured with Billy Synk and Christi Heintz) - in figuring number of colonies/ac of almonds, take into account the current trend toward denser plantings; many growers have gone from 100 trees/ac to 140. 

The Word From Wardell
Dr. Gordon Wardell
The Holiday Season is a joyous time of year and yet a nervous time for beekeepers.   This is the season when all of the efforts since the summer are realized.  If not managed correctly earlier in the fall, colonies will begin crashing this time of year for a number of reasons making the Holidays less than festive.  Wintering success starts in late summer.  The most obvious challenge is mite control.  If mites go unchecked too far into the fall, the bees that make up your winter cluster are compromised.  The bees' life expectancy will have been shortened by Varroa mites and the viruses they vector, reducing a bee's potential life by as much as half.  Summer bees have a life expectancy of approximately 6 weeks - they literally work themselves to death. But healthy bees destined for the winter cluster are different.  A winter bee's life expectancy can be as great as four to six months.  You can see why mite management in the fall is so critical.  Shortening a winter bee's life expectancy by half would predict its demise in December instead of February or March.  Early loss of population will make the colony susceptible to chill and even starvation because they can't move to the food when temperatures drop.  

The greater longevity of winter bees is largely due to a storage protein sequestered in the bee's abdomen called vitellogenin.  This protein, carbohydrate, lipid complex is the currency that keeps the colony going and rearing brood even in the middle of the winter.  

This buildup of vitellogenin doesn't happen by accident; it's a delicate balance between colony population, available food stores, the queen's egg production and emerging workers.  In the fall, as days begin to shorten, the queen's egg production begins to decrease. Soon the nurse bee-to-brood ratio shifts.  There are still numerous workers emerging from brood cells, eating stored pollen (or protein supplement), becoming nurse bees and producing royal jelly as nurse bees do so well.  But alas, there aren't enough larvae to accept all the royal jelly being produced because the queen is shutting down egg laying, so the surplus royal jelly is passed around the colony and internalized by the newly emerged bees.  They "fatten up" much like a bear preparing for winter, but instead of hibernating, the bees are active, calling on the vitellogenin as added food stores, and it proves an essential resource when the queen resumes egg-laying in January.    

Too many times we hear about the doom and gloom of what is wrong with our colonies but no suggestions about what we can do to help remediate the situation.  So I'll take a stab at what we can do to help colonies that are sliding backwards this time of year.  It's not easy, and there is no guaranteed fix.  There are so many factors that could be playing into the colony's drop in population, but we do know a few things that can help.  You can reduce the colony down to a size the remaining bees can manage.  Help them conserve heat.  Feed them and make the food available to the cluster.  A high carbohydrate (sugar) protein supplement patty or candy board placed near the cluster can provide the energy needed to keep the cluster warm, and the small amount of protein in the mix helps extend the life of the bees in the cluster.  In bees, as in most animals, protein equals longevity.  You can combine colonies as well, if you are worried about their survival.   Stacking weak colonies over stronger colonies separated with a double screen can help the weaker colony by sharing heat with the stronger colony.  Later in the spring they can be split apart again.  

Another thing to watch for this year is starvation.  The central and eastern parts of the country are currently experiencing unseasonably warm temperatures.  This sounds counter intuitive but warmer than normal temperatures could lead to colonies consuming their honey stores faster than expected leading to starvation when the cold temperatures do return.  The problem is that when it is unseasonably warm bees are out foraging for resources that aren't there, burning up their honey reserves only to be caught short later.  Monitor your colonies closely.  Practice lifting the back of the colony to judge its weight and stores inside without having to open the colony.   

Many experienced beekeepers will say that a colony is weak for a reason, and there is not much you can do to bring them back especially this time of year.  However, when we are able to bring that colony back from the brink it makes us feel like the stewards of the bees that we want to be.   I hope you all have a great Holiday Season and prosperous colonies in the New Year.

Dr. Gordon Wardell
Chairman, Project Apis m.

In This Issue:
Quick Links
We THANK our Recent Donors!
The Shilling Family Foundation, Inc.
Root Candles
Syngenta Crop Protection, LLC
Baize & Sons Farming
St. Croix Beekeepers Assn.
The Pollination Connection & Stueve Family Farms
California State Beekeepers Assn.
Joe/Patricia Vived
Strachan Apiaries, Inc.
Idaho Honey Industry Assn., Inc.
Grimm Farms and Fabrication, Inc.
John Bayer/Christina Mello
Bradley Oyler
Leonard & Linda Pankratz
Mark Delano
El Peco Ranch, LLC
Brad Morgan
Sequoia Stephens 
Laurel Przybylski
Lockhart Fine Foods
Veronica Swarens

PhD Scholarship Available -
Apply Now!
Are you enrolled in a PhD program studying honey bee health?  If so, how does a 3-year, $50,000/year scholarship sound?  If you are pursuing a career desiring to solve honey bee health challenges, visit our website at , and click on News to find the application.  January 15, 2016, 5 pm PST is the application deadline.  Should you have any questions, email   
Laura Brutscher, PAm's first Costco Apis Scholar. 

Honey Bee Nutrition Literature Review RFP

The Honey Bee Health Coalition is requesting proposals to conduct a comprehensive literature review on honey bee nutrition.  Click here for the RFP.

 Bee Husbandry
Beekeeper's Goal: Strong 8+ frame colonies by February 1st for pollination services.
- Continue supplemental feeding and hydration
- Order packages, nucs and queens for coming year
- Secure a pollination contract to protect both grower and beekeeper
- Determine pollination fees that are realistic relative to your operation costs
- Develop contingency plans for the unexpected
- Read past year's records and prepare for the coming year
- Attend national and regional bee meetings

Bee colonies at the first airport. Huffman Prairie Field, Dayton, OH. Home to the Wright Brothers' first airplanes.

The beginning of man-made flight.


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

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