Greetings from the NC State Apiculture Program, and I trust everyone’s summer has been going well. You can now access our latest issue of the our program’s newsletter, the Wolfpack’s Waggle, which can also be found as usual through:This summer is as busy as it has ever been, and with the most colonies (~200) that we’ve ever had. James’ project on the collective decision-making process during queen rearing has been going well, and he will stay busy this fall and winter analyzing his many samples in the genetics lab. Mike’s projects using in vitro rearing continue to excel, although we’ve once again had some set backs with the instrumental insemination component of the breeding program. Margarita has been busy sampling native bees from all over the Triangle and making tremendous progress on her projects, and Hongmei continues to keep multiple balls in the air with the migratory stress project and others. It’s also been a busy time with travel, with David going to several beekeeper meetings, Hongmei going to Germany to learn microinjections, and Mike presently in Seattle for a bioinformatics workshop. We’re also fortunate to have two guest researchers in the lab, Igor de Mattos Medici from Brazil (see profile in April) and Danica Fine from the University of Pennsylvania. Danica has been doing her own undergraduate independent study on micronutrients in artificial diet and has been working hard since May.I hope everyone else has been having a great bee season! Sincerely, David
There’s buzz in Durham at Bee Downtown, a nonprofit that seeks to increase public awareness of the importance of honeybees through urban beekeeping. See what’s new in North Carolina’s “Our State” magazine. https://www.ourstate.com/urban-beekeeping/
The NCSBA is gearing up for the Honey for Disabled American Veterans (HDAV) program. We are accepting monetary donations and donated honey will be collected at the NCSBA Summer Conference. Chapters will be recognized at the Summer Meeting for their contributions to this program.
100% of all honey sales and 100% of all monetary donations will go directly to the DAV
By SETH BORENSTEIN Associated Press Science Writer
WASHNGTON The Obama administration hopes to save the bees by feeding them better.
A new federal plan aims to reverse America’s declining honeybee and monarch butterfly populations by making millions of acres of federal land more bee-friendly, spending millions of dollars more on research and considering the use of fewer pesticides.
While putting different type of landscapes along highways, federal housing projects and elsewhere may not sound like much in terms of action, several bee scientists told The Associated Press that this a huge move. They say it may help pollinators that are starving because so much of the American landscape has been converted to lawns and corn that don’t provide foraging areas for bees.
“This is the first time I’ve seen addressed the issue that there’s nothing for pollinators to eat,” said University of Illinois entomologist May Berenbaum, who buttonholed President Barack Obama about bees when she received her National Medal of Science award last November. “I think it’s brilliant.”
Environmental activists who wanted a ban on a much-criticized class of pesticide said the Obama administration’s bee strategy falls way short of what’s needed to save the hives.
Scientists say bees — crucial to pollinate many crops — have been hurt by a combination of
declining nutrition, mites, disease, and pesticides. The federal plan is an “all hands on deck” strategy that calls on everyone from federal bureaucrats to citizens to do what they can to save bees, which provide more than $15 billion in value to the U.S. economy, according to White House science adviser John Holdren.
“Pollinators are struggling,” Holdren said in a blog post, citing a new federal survey that found beekeepers lost more than 40 percent of their colonies last year, although they later recovered by dividing surviving hives. He also said the number of monarch butterflies that spend the winter in Mexico’s forests is down by 90 percent or more over the past two decades, so the U.S. government is working with Mexico to expand monarch habitat in the southern part of that country.
The plan calls for restoring 7 million acres of bee habitat in the next five years. Numerous federal agencies will have to find ways to grow plants on federal lands that are more varied and better for bees to eat because scientists have worried that large land tracts that grow only one crop have hurt bee nutrition.
The plan is not just for the Department of Interior, which has vast areas of land under its control. Agencies that wouldn’t normally be thought of, such as Housing and Urban Development and the Department of Transportation, will have to include bee-friendly landscaping on their properties and in grant-making. That part of the bee plan got praise from scientists who study bees.
“Here, we can do a lot for bees, and other pollinators,” University of Maryland entomology professor Dennis van Englesdorp, who led the federal bee study that found last year’s large loss. “This I think is something to get excited and hopeful about. There is really only one hope for bees and it’s to make sure they spend a good part of the year in safe healthy environments. The apparent scarcity of these areas is what’s worrying. This could change that.”
University of Montana bee expert Jerry Bromenshenk said the effort shows the federal government finally recognizes that land use is key with bees.
“From my perspective, it’s a wake-up call,” Bromenshenk wrote in an email. “Pollinators need safe havens, with adequate quantities of high-quality resources for food and habitat, relatively free from toxic chemicals, and that includes pollutants as well as pesticides and other agricultural chemicals.” Berenbaum said what’s impressive is that the plan doesn’t lay the problem or the solution just on agriculture or the federal government: “We all got into this mess and we’re going to have to work together to get out of it,” she said.
The administration proposes spending $82.5 million on honeybee research in the upcoming budget year, up $34 million from now.
The Environmental Protection Agency will step up studies into the safety of widely used neonicotinoid pesticides, which have been temporarily banned in Europe. It will not approve new types of uses of the pesticides until more study is done, if then, the report said.
“They are not taking bold enough action; there’s a recognition that there is a crisis,” said Lori Ann Burd, environmental health director for the advocacy group Center for Biological Diversity. She said the bees cannot wait, comparing more studies on neonicotinoids to going to a second and third mechanic when you’ve been told the brakes are shot.
“Four million Americans have called on the Obama administration to listen to the clear science demanding that immediate action be taken to suspend systemic bee-killing pesticides, including seed treatments,” Friends of the Earth food program director Lisa Archer said in statement. “Failure to address this growing crisis with a unified and meaningful federal plan will put these essential pollinators and our food supply in jeopardy.”
But CropLife America, which represents the makers of pesticides, praised the report for its “multi-pronged coordinated approach.”
Sherlock Holms “Absconded” a beekeeper mystery/drama will be shown tonight (5/7) on WRAL at 8:00 PM. Enjoy!
Holmes and Watson investigate the death of a member of Holmes’ online beekeeping community. Captain Gregson solicits Watson’s services for an off-book investigation that helps him make a life-changing decision.
Senate Bill 225 – The Birds and Bees Act. An Act to Clarify The Authority of Local Governments to Adopt Ordinances Related to Bee Hives and to Require the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to Study Strategies for Protecting and Supporting Pollinators.
Read and follow the progress of the Bill through the NC Senate: http://www.ncleg.net/Sessions/2015/Bills/Senate/HTML/S225v0.html
Long time beekeeper Rudy Hoffmann passed away April 23, 2015. He instructed and shared his knowledge with many new beekeepers and will be missed by many. More information can be found at the following site: http://lancasterfcs.com/book-of-memories/2116315/Hoffmann-Rudy/leave-condolence.php
What is blooming in your area now? In the Coastal Plains and Piedmont area it is Tulip Poplar & Holly.
The Tulip Poplar tree provides pollen and nectar. This large tree is over 80 feet tall and is valued for its wood. Although the tree is considered a major source of nectar it can be unreliable depending on the weather. Honey produced from the nectar flow is reported to have a red-amber color, is slow to granulate, and has a distinct flavor.
Holly bushes and trees also provide a wonderful source of nectar and pollen this time of year. Honey from holly is reported to be light amber in color. Insect pollination is required for the red berries the holly bush produces. Therefore, the more proficient berries are on the bush or tree, the more pollinators visited the site.
The 2015 Queen marking color is BLUE! If you find a queen with a green mark, she is now 1 year old. A queen marked with the color red is now 2 years old.