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 June 2016
Christi's Corner
After 10 years, $6 million in honey bee research and programs, 53 board meetings, and hundreds of presentations and articles, I am passing the baton for PAm 2.0 to Danielle Downey, PAm's new Executive Director.  PAm 1.0 was far more successful than any of us could have imagined.  Providing funds for scientists working to help honey bees, awarding scholarships to build the next generation of new scientists, purchasing equipment for bee labs, initiating habitat and BMP programs, gaining a solid reputation not only within the bee industry, but also among scientists, regulators and with corporate sponsors and then leaving PAm financially sound with an awesome new leader make me proud of what we have accomplished during the reign of PAm 1.0.  I still have many years of mountains to climb, grandchildren to love, and even some bee projects where I can assist, but running PAm is a big job and requires new vision with more youth and energy!  An overwhelming thanks to our great board, staff, science advisors, scientists, sponsors, donors and most of all to an industry where people are not just colleagues, but life-long friends.

Christi Heintz 

Danielle's Discourse
Let's give them something to talk about! 
Journalists tour Browning's Honey

Last weekend I traveled to Jamestown, North Dakota, to take a busload of journalists into the bee yard. For them, this experience--which is part of my routine--will not soon be forgotten. The excitement and fear as they suit up...the nervous questions about allergies as they anticipate entering unfriendly territory...and the moment all that gives way to fascination as they are drawn into the enchanted experience of a calm but busy beehive. That's the part they will remember, and, as a beekeeper, in that moment our greatest advocacy is done. Like it or not, we are all advocates. Even though the media has been crazy about bees for ten years now--there are still people who haven't been reached! Despite the repetition of this tour, this may be the only time in their lives that they meet a colony of bees and hear this message. It's my best chance to impart the abiding appreciation I have for honey bees and make people care. It is an honor and a pleasure to introduce people to bees, and I was grateful to guide these journalists to share the buzz!

Danielle Downey
Executive Director

Danielle Downey: How bees over-winter

Watch the video!

Billy's Blog

This past week I had a chance to visit Grassland Oregon in Salem.  They are a company that functions as a breeder, producer, and provider of a wide range of seed products and knowledge.  On their farm they evaluate more than 4,000 unique lines of multiple species annually.  It was helpful to compare these high vigor cover crop species.  When utilized correctly they will help farmers, dairies, orchardists and beekeepers everywhere.  One species of clover still in development is ZigZag.  I am excited for this variety to become commercially available because its prostrate form that lies flat on the ground might be the first perennial clover appropriate for almond orchards. 

Grassland Oregon also thinks about the bigger picture.  I commend them for taking the initiative to create a Pastures for Pollinators mix.  This seed mix is improving the soil quality of grazed lands, while also providing high quality feed for livestock and bees!  I met with Jon Bansen (photo below) of Double J Jerseys dairy.  He is part of the Organic Valley co-op and a grower of the Pastures for Pollinators mix.  

Billy Synk
Director of Pollination Programs

The Word From Wardell
How often do you get to talk about Dads and pollen in the same article?
Around beekeepers and others, my father would refer to himself a "bee-haver" not a beekeeper.  I would smile and say "sure dad" because I had a different perspective.  Yes, he was a hobbyist but he knew his colonies like pets.  He could tell you how old each queen was, which colonies had poor brood patterns, which colony was runny and who was a little too hot. Most importantly, he knew the local forage, when local plants would bloom and how they figured into his management schedule. That knowledge comes from living on the family farm his entire life.  I remember once he wrote to me, "spring is here; the bees are working the skunk cabbage in the valley."  Only beekeepers watch that sort of stuff.  Just before my dad passed away, he told me the bees weren't building up in the fall the way they used to.  We hypothesized about a dry summer, the mites, Nosema, or just his getting older and not paying as much attention to the bees.  He and I both figured it was the latter, but then recently I read an article in Bee Culture's Catch the Buzz,  See  "Changes in Goldenrod, a Key Source of Honey Bee Nutrition" and remembered our conversation.  The article cites climate change and rising atmospheric carbon dioxide levels as the root of a decrease in protein levels in a major fall build-up crop for bees, goldenrod.  Researchers believe that as CO2 levels increase, plants produce more starch and sugars and less protein.  It is certainly conceivable that poor fall nutrition could impact winter survivability.  

At the core of this study is USDA, ARS researcher Lewis Ziska from Beltsville, Maryland.  He has been looking at the effects of rising CO2 levels and climate change on plants and their communities since 1988.  He has been monitoring both critical agricultural crops and weeds alike.  Turning to honey bees and plants critical to bees prior to winter, Ziska was able to obtain goldenrod pollen from herbarium specimens at the National Museum of Natural History dating back as far as 1842.  He examined goldenrod protein levels over a 150-year period and correlated the results to atmospheric CO2 levels.  The largest decrease in protein levels occurred in the 1960s when CO2 levels began increasing dramatically.  He didn't stop there.  He went on to conduct controlled atmosphere studies where he grew goldenrod in chambers and systematically increased CO2 levels to observe the impact to the plants and their pollen.  Results demonstrated a corresponding decrease in pollen protein as CO2 levels increased.   Certainly there are a number of factors impacting bees prior to winter, but this study surely makes us stop and consider the colony's nutrition going into winter and really any other time of year for that matter.  For more reading see " Will plants and pollinator get out of sync?" and "Climate change threatens bees".

Few commercial beekeepers manage their colonies today without using protein supplements.  Soon protein patties may be more important than ever if protein levels in pollen continue to decrease.  Monitoring whether bees have pollen coming into the colony is important but now we need to stop and ask, what are the bees able to do with the pollen they are getting?  The only way to know for certain is to monitor what is going on in the brood nest.  What stages of brood are present, are they healthy, do we have a sufficient number of young healthy bees going into winter?  

For years, PAm has been promoting supplemental forage for honey bees prior to and after almond pollination, and the results have been awesome.  Good beekeeping is anticipatory not reactionary.  Supplemental plantings may help your bees overcome any paucity encountered from decreasing protein levels or simply lack of plant diversity.  Also, check out the PAm forage link on the website for ideas on supplemental plantings.  More than ever, we have to be "bee-keepers" today! 

Dr. Gordon Wardell
Chairman, Project Apis m.

Project Apis m. Announces PAm-Costco Fellowship Award
Rodney Richardson, recipient of a 3 year PAm-Costco Fellowship award
Project Apis m. and Costco could not be more impressed with the caliber of applicants we received for the PAm- Costco Scholar Award, we would like to fund them all! Congratulations to the new PAm-Costco Fellowship awardee, Rodney Richardson. Rodney is a PhD candidate under Dr. Reed Johnson at Ohio State University.  His research includes using pollen bar-coding techniques to study bee immunology and nutrition, integrating human health expertise and applying these cutting-edge tools to study honey bee health. We anticipate great things from this young scientist and are pleased to support his development!

Project Apis m. and Costco Support Bee Research Student
Cameron Jack, recipient of the PAm-Costco award
We are fortunate this year to be able to help support the research work being done by Cameron Jack. Cameron is working on his PhD with Dr. Jamie Ellis at the University of Florida. His project focuses on IPM of Varroa mites and specifically developing an in-vitro method to rear Varroa mites.

Quick Links
December's Almond Conference
We THANK our Recent Donors!
Idaho Honey Industry Assn.
Veronica Swarens
Bayer Crop Science
Lockhart Fine Foods 
Kelly Drinkwater

The BIP Box

Honey flows start, supers are going on and that means a bounty of samples

The summer field season is hard upon us, and all of our tech teams are sampling their beekeepers to complete health assessments before honey supers go on. This means that our University of Maryland Lab is deep into sample processing. Our lab is the central processing facility for all of the BIP tech teams and for the USDA/APHIS National Survey samples. This year, we are on target to process >14,000 Varroa and Nosema samples. June and September are traditionally our 'killer' months in the lab where it is not unheard of to have both Varroa shaker units (Burrell Scientific wrist action shakers for those who are interested) going in parallel while our team of 6 full-time, trained technicians and a cadre of >15 undergraduates. Systematically and methodically, they log hundreds of arriving samples, enter all field notes from the tech teams, count bees, count mites, count Nosema spores, enter those data into logbooks, double and triple check, sign off on accuracy and finally generate a report that can be sent to beekeepers and tech teams in usually less than a week from the time it was received at our lab. We then wash those bottles, fill them up and send them back out. It is our version of the circle of life. To make all this happen, a delicate and precise dance must occur. and it is only after years of developing field protocols by our amazing tech teams and lab protocols by our equally dedicated lab staff, that that dance can be achieved and maintained with precision. Averages for Nosema and Varroa loads across all tech teams thus far in June are at 0.70 million spores/bee and 1.1 mites/100 bees, respectively.

Newly arrived sample bottles from the field wait on a bed of samples in queue for processing in our UMD lab

See the BIP report on our website.
NHB and PAm to Merge Research Efforts
Project Apis m. and the National Honey Board (NHB) are pleased to announce that PAm will be administering the NHB production research funds starting in 2017.  This collaboration will streamline efforts to support the beekeeping industry, by merging the NHB funding opportunities with several other efforts which PAm coordinates. The NHB funds are collected by a federal research and promotion program ($0.015/lb) with one of the focuses to conduct research which includes maintaining the health of honey bee colonies. In 2016, these funds were $416,000. Read more...

 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. At least a few hives from each apiary should be tested.
-  Use the appropriate methods to suppress mite populations when honey supers are on. Always read the label.
-  Exercise judicious treatment and try using softer chemicals. Use your most effective treatment in the fall. Follow recommended label instructions.
-  Rotate treatments to prevent resistance.
-  Recheck for efficacy. Don't assume your treatments are working.
-  Make sure your hives remain cool.  Place in afternoon shade and/or change to screened bottom boards.  Always provide clean water.  
-  See Project Apis m.'s elearning module and YouTube video on varroa control here

PAm's Christi, Billy and Danielle

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

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