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The Great Bee Marathon

If you are an almond grower, a beekeeper or simply live in Northern California, you know where to find most of America’s honey bee colonies in late January through February. Close to two million honey bee colonies come from all over the United States to pollinate the almond blooms each year. But then what? If getting bees to California is like a sprint for beekeepers, what happens after is more like a marathon. When the last almond petals fall, the beekeepers’ most intensive work period begins. Lightning Speed Honey Bee Biology and their Life Cycle In nature, honey bees reproduce on two levels. At the…

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What Does The New Ruling On Oxalic Acid In Honey Mean?

Update: The original post showed an image of oxalic acid being used for vaporization that was not labeled for use on honey bee colonies. Using oxalic acid that is not labeled for use for treating honey bee colonies is not recommended or endorsed by Bee Informed Partnership. Guest Blogger and Collaborator: Dr. Meghan Milbrath, Michigan State University On February 23, 2021, the FDA finalized a ruling that establishes an exemption from the requirement of a tolerance for residues of oxalic acid in honey and honeycomb.  For many, this was no surprise, as it has been in the works (and open for public comment) for several…

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Field Testing the Benefits of Probiotic Supplementation in Real World Commercial Beekeeping Operations

In light of the rise in probiotic supplementation's popularity among beekeepers, the California State Beekeepers Association (CSBA) awarded Bee Informed Partnership (BIP) funding to test the colony health benefits of probiotic supplementation in commercial beekeeping operations. To do so, we tested two commercially available probiotic products: SuperDFM, manufactured by Strong Microbials, and Mann Lake's ProDFM. Field trials were conducted between fall 2019-spring 2020 and included colonies from commercial operations in Oregon and California. For each region, three bee yards were selected, and within each yard, four colonies were randomly assigned to one of three groups: SuperDFM; ProDFM; or No supplementation Negative Control, (2 regions x…

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Sentinel Apiary Program 2020 Wrap-Up and 2021 Sign-Up

Happy New Year! The beginning of 2021 marks the end of the Sentinel Apiary Program's sixth successful year—and the beginning of an exciting new one. In 2020, beekeepers with 76 apiaries representing 394 colonies participated in the Sentinel Program. The University of Maryland lab processed almost 2,000 Sentinel samples over the season to monitor Varroa and Nosema! You can see in the map of Sentinel Apiary Locations shown below that we worked with beekeepers from six of the nine NOAA climatic regions (the regions with the most consistent climates across the US). The newly released Sentinel 2020 End of Year Report details 2020's seasonal data…

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The Bee Informed Partnership Field Specialists’ Report on 2020 Commercial Beekeeping Trends

The Bee Informed Partnership's Tech Transfer Team offers a honey bee colony health monitoring program tailored to meet the specific needs facing commercial beekeepers. The Tech Transfer Team program's Field Specialists follow commercial beekeeping operations during their yearly migrations across the country, to provide pollination services and producing honey (Figure 1). Field Specialists perform colony health inspections, on-site testing for several important honey bee pests and diseases, including the destructive Varroa mite, collect samples if additional laboratory testing is required, and consult with the participating beekeepers regarding their colony health management plan. In 2020 alone, BIP's Tech Transfer Team collectively inspected over 13,000 colonies, put…

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Happy Holidays from Bee Informed Partnership!

Season’s Greetings! As the Holiday season approaches, The Bee Informed Partnership team would like to express our sincere gratitude to all of you for the support you’ve shown throughout this year! You have helped us push through many obstacles that the global pandemic has put in front of so many nonprofits, and we can’t thank you enough. With your support, BIP serves the U.S. beekeeping community through several programs: The Technical Transfer Team Program offers commercial beekeepers access to a wide range of resources and reports on the health of their colonies to help them improve on their management practices to strengthen the health of…

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Beekeeper Best Management Practices

Every spring, The Bee Informed Partnership (BIP) administers the Annual Colony Loss and Management Survey to beekeepers across the country. The survey was begun in 2006 to keep close track of US honey bee colony mortality rates after many of the country’s beekeepers began reporting alarmingly high overwinter colony losses. The survey was amended a few years later to include questions about beekeeper management practices, in order to record trends in management strategies and evaluate the link between those practices and risk of colony mortality. As part of her Ph.D. thesis at University of Maryland’s Bee Research Lab, BIP’s Science Coordinator, Dr. Nathalie Steinhauer, in…

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One Colony or Two? How Hives Can Share

One of the first things beekeepers learn, often even before getting bees, is that a colony has many bees but just a single queen. While this is surely true in the vast majority of colonies, I have seen two queens coexisting enough times—and even once found three in a single brood box—to know that the things we beekeepers know as rules may only be viewed as guidelines by the bees themselves. Another thing you learn very early in beekeeping is that a single stack of boxes represents a single colony. The colony is the unit, living in a hive of its own, discrete from the…

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The Bee Health Collective, A Fantastic New Bee Health Tool

Are you a beekeeper looking to find or post a job? Are you a student looking for bee-related scholarships? Are you an educator or concerned citizen looking for accurate, up-to-date U.S. honey bee colony health statistics? If you answered yes to any or all of the above, then you should visit the Bee Health Collective’s website https://beehealthcollective.org and have a look around! The Bee Health Collective has designed a “one-stop shop” for all of your U.S. honey bee information needs, presented in a well-organized, easily navigated set of menus. In About Honey Bees you can find recent, accurate, peer-reviewed information on a range of honey…

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Chalkbrood Disease Primer

When I started inspecting colonies for honey bee diseases in Pennsylvania in 2008, the first and most prevalent disease I found was chalkbrood. I observed this disease a few weeks into the spring season while inspecting a few colonies. I had seen the disease on several other occasions, so it was very easy to identify by the hard “chalk-like” mummies inside the cells. Ascosphaera apis is the fungus responsible for this bee disease. The exact origin of chalkbrood is unknown, but it most likely arrived from Europe with the alfalfa leafcutter bee (Megachile rotundata), when the bee species was introduced to assist with pollination demands…

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