SAVING AMERICA’s BEES (News & Observer)

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.”

Beekeeper Mystery Tonight – “Absconded”

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.

The Birds & Bees Act

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.  

Write up on WRAL:

Read and follow the progress of the Bill through the NC Senate:


Rudy Hoffmann – 1942-2015

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:

What is blooming now?

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.

Queen Color for 2015

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.

2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
Red Green Blue White Yellow

International Queen Honeybee Marking Color Codes ( or remember the saying

Color Year Ending In Example
White or Gray 1 or 6 2011 or 2016
Yellow 2 or 7 2012 or 2017
Red 3 or 8 2013 or 2018
Green 4 or 9 2014 or 2019
Blue 5 or 0 2014 or 2020
2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
Red Green Blue White Yellow

NC Honey Bee License Plate Update

Bee plateOver 300 pre paid applications for the North Carolina “Save The Honey Bee” specialty plate have been delivered to DMV.  This specialty plate, designed to honor our state insect, the honey bee and to promote the NCSBA, has also passed the 1st reading in the house.  More updates will be posed as the information becomes available.  You may also visit the Franklin County Beekeepers Association website for additional information.

Trivia question:  What does 1917 mean?
Trivia answer:  The year NCSBA was chartered.

Thank you for your support.
Sandy Carlson
FCBA Treasurer

A Message to NCSBA Membership on Dr. Ambrose

Bees!!! Perspectives Spring 2001To the beekeepers of the North Carolina State Beekeepers Association;

On this difficult and somber occasion, I find that my first duty as NCSBA President is to acknowledge the passing of our elected President, the late Dr. John Ambrose. It is an unfamiliar role that is cast for me; one for which I might not be particularly so well versed in and I trust that my friends, Dr. Ambrose’s friends, his family and all who read my thoughts will understand that I express them to all with the sincerest of intentions, knowing that Dr. Ambrose was perhaps the most important and influential person to ever serve in the NCSBA.

I have come to realize during the course of my own years that anyone of us shall be best remembered for what we gave to others and not for what we kept for ourselves. In this measure, Dr. Ambrose distinguished himself in his work with our organization and his influence will be evident for many years to come. He gave generously of his time and thought as the author of the Master Beekeeping Program, the Certified Honey Standard and the permanent honeybee exhibit at the North Carolina Zoological Park; a project of the NCSBA which was championed by himself and the late Mr. Ervin Rackley. Dr. Ambrose spent countless hours advising beekeepers of all levels, speaking with and teaching the members of our association and touching the lives of so many of us. No one man was ever more widely known and respected within the NCSBA.

Throughout our lives, it is not about how well we live or how well educated we become but more importantly it is how well we love that matters the most. Dr. Ambrose certainly loved his family, his friends, his university and his work with the NCSBA. Many of us came to know him as a kind and thoughtful man and became endeared to Dr. Ambrose regardless of how long or brief a time that we knew him. He was loved and respected by many people.

From this point forward, Dr. Ambrose’s fingerprints will be found on much of what the NCSBA accomplishes. I hope that I can express my feelings and the sentiments of many of us as I recall the last conversation between he and I, during which time I said to him,

Thanks for everything, Dr. Ambrose.

Rick Coor, NCSBA President 2015

State Fair Honey Sales!

Make sure to stop by the NCSBA booth in the Exposition Building at this year’s NC State Fair! We have over 3000 pounds of honey that has been collected and bottled by members of the Stanley County Beekeepers, the Chatham County Beekeepers and the Neuse Regional Beekeepers, and is available for sale.