November 2016
PAm monthly news & updates
We are excited to update the look of our eNewsletter, but don't be disappointed, you'll still find Danielle's Discourse, The BIP Box, Billy's Blog & the Word From Wardell below!
Danielle's Discourse

It is a time of year to be grateful for our loved ones and the bounty that surrounds us. It’s also meeting season, and I think the two connect very nicely! I have been travelling nearly every week to meet with industry colleagues, and even if there are few familiar faces in the crowd, there is always PAm family. What I mean by that is on any given meeting agenda, there are always presenters who are part of PAm’s sponsored projects. In ten years, over $6 million will extend your research family quite a bit, and it is marvelous to see these groups and projects continue to develop value of PAm’s investment in the industry! I want to take this opportunity to welcome our latest addition to the PAm-ly tree. We are pleased to announce the first Canadian PAm-Costco Scholar, Sarah Wood. As you would expect, Sarah has a very good academic record, she is successful and driven and has accomplished much already. However, what you might not expect to learn is that she is a veterinarian! Sarah is pursuing her Ph.D. at Western College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon. During finalist interviews this month at the Alberta Beekeepers AGM, it was clear that she has a strong commitment to beekeeping and bee research and has played a key role assembling a lab group with over 200 colonies for their studies which she maintains without a technician (a remarkable undertaking!). It is also worth mentioning that bridging the fields of veterinary science and bee science could not come at a better time, as regulations are changing for the use of antibiotics to treat honey bee maladies.  Veterinarians and beekeepers will have to find a way to do business together.  

PAm-Costco Canadian Scholar Sarah Wood. 

This has never happened in the past, but Sarah's work to offer veterinary students elective courses in apiculture is of great long term value to develop a new facet of that profession and bring veterinary animal science experts' attention to honey bee health. Sarah's chosen research project : “The histopathology of worker honey bees (Apis mellifera) exposed to sublethal doses of the neonicotinoids”  has great potential to apply techniques that could offer standard, low-tech methods to assess honey bee health and toxicity of agrochemicals, something our industry has been requesting for years. Well-spoken and pleasant, and full of great questions, we believe Sarah will be an excellent representative for the PAm-Costco Scholar award.  Make sure to congratulate her if you get the chance! 

Danielle Downey
Executive Director
The BIP Box

A Time of Thanks and Giving

The Bee Informed Partnership is entering into a time of growth. We are receiving requests from commercial beekeepers to expand the technical transfer teams to other areas of the country. For this, we are grateful. We are excited to continue to serve some beekeepers who have been with us for more than 5 years and we are thrilled to meet new participants. We truly have the best job in the world. As our teams try to service as many beekeepers as possible, additional funds are needed to create new teams, get them on the ground and working with more operations because we know that they have a measurable impact. For the first time, we are trying our hand at a crowdfunding campaign to raise money in support of the new and current teams. As the holiday season approaches, if you have someone in your family who has everything and cannot think of what to give them, think of us. Your gift to support our teams will also have a measurable impact. Every dollar will go into the support of one of our teams and since we are a nonprofit, your gift is fully tax deductible. Here is the link to donate or share our campaign:

We all want to make a difference and now you can. Thank you from all of us.

Link to more BIP Box on our website

Ben Sallmann (CA tech team) trains new tech team members to assess a colony in Texas. Photo courtesy of the Bee Informed Partnership.

BIP Data hot off the press:

Averages for nosema and varroa loads across all tech teams thus far in November are at 0.18 million spores/bee and 0.79 mites/100 bees respectively.

We thank our recent supporters!
A.I. Root Candles 
CA Almond Pollination Service, Inc.
Costco Wholesale 
Syngenta Crop Protection  
LA County Beekeepers Assn.
Glenn Nease
Judine Hearn
Beekeeping Insurance Services
Veronica Swarens
Billy's Blog

This month I attended the Delta Bee Club monthly meeting in Modesto.  I spoke about Seeds for Bees, hedgerows, Varroa-sensitive hygiene stock improvement, and the Honey Bee & Monarch  Partnership. Before I spoke I had the privilege of listening to a presentation by the Hickman Brickmen. They are a homeschooled group--part of the Hickman Charter School in Hickman, California. These students, grades 5-8, decided to focus their latest project on investigating the issues surrounding the decline in honey bee health. They concluded a feasible way they can help improve bee health is through education and planting more bee forage. It’s like they are doing my job for me!

During this past year, they have presented their work to kindergarteners at the Hickman Charter School, Delta Bee Club members, and local almond farmers.  They informed the young students about the alarming statistics that display the loss of hives beekeepers are experiencing each year. They also shared how essential bees are to our agricultural food system.  The team returned 2 weeks later and planted wild flowers in the garden on campus.  

To date, the Hickman Brickmen have spoken to growers that represent over 300 acres of farmland in the Central Valley.  This research project was done in preparation for a FIRST Lego League competition.  The Hickman Brickmen received two trophies for their achievements at the qualifier and have advanced to the championship which is scheduled for January 2017. Good luck to the Hickman Brickmen and thanks for all your hard work in supporting honey bees!

Billy Synk                                                      Director of Pollination Programs

Word From Wardell

A quote from W.J. Vogel, “To shorten winter, borrow some money that is due in the spring.”

This is the time of year when commercial beekeepers begin holding their breath, time is flying, the colonies look good today but we really don’t know how the bees are going to look tomorrow.  Most reports from across the country are that the bees are looking good; populations are strong, the bees look healthy and stores are good.  Many of the Midwest colonies have already been moved to holding yards in the Central Valley or on the coast, and that is why the beekeepers are holding their breath.  If anything can go wrong, it will happen between now and February.  

So why is it so difficult to maintain healthy colonies prior to almond pollination?  In short, it’s winter--a time of year when the bees are typically hunkered down until spring…a time when they don’t normally raise a lot of young bees.  But that is what is needed to replace the bees lost during the warm winter days in California.  The next challenge is when almonds bloom.  Almonds are the first commercial crop of the year, beginning to bloom in mid- February.  And,as it so happens, almonds are the largest commercial bee pollinated crop in the country--demanding three quarters of the nation’s commercial colonies to pollinate a crop worth more than 4 billion dollars.  Building colonies up to pollination strength in the middle of the winter is a difficult task to say the least.  We have to remember, our bees evolved in a temperate climate where their natural instinct is to call a halt to brood rearing (young bees) in the fall as the day length gets shorter.  The energy they would normally put into rearing brood is instead stored in their bodies in the form of fat. That, along with less flight activity, extends their longevity until the queen starts laying eggs again in January as the day length increases.   


Because the bees are slowing their growth and there is little or no natural forage (pollen and nectar), it makes them vulnerable to problems that otherwise wouldn’t be a problem: pests, parasites, and pathogens being the most obvious challenges.  Like most animals, bees are healthiest when they are growing rapidly.  So most beekeepers will begin feeding their colonies through the winter and prior to almond bloom to have the strongest colonies possible.  While that may build colony population, it doesn’t come without risk, because colonies in a growth phase don’t store as much fat in their bodies and consequently aren’t prepared for cold weather.  A hard freeze could damage the population and the expanding brood nest.  You can see that beekeeping is really a study in colony population management.  It is absolutely a fascinating undertaking that never gets boring.  

To wrap it up, bee supplies in the coming year appear to be adequate for the needs of the almond industry.  Most beekeepers are optimistic that their bees will be ready come February.  Like all farmers, we are always optimistic about the coming year.  Happy Holidays. 

Gordon Wardell
Chairman, Project Apis m. 

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