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Waxing Poetic – A reminder of the BIP survey

Bee Informed Partnership’s Easter Basket By Selina Bruckner, Auburn University Dear beekeepers of America, Easter Sunday is so close; but before celebrating we would propose, For you to read this piece of poetry; which is much more than pure pleasantry. April is almost coming to an end; most of which our bees have spent Foraging on blooming flowers; while you invested all your powers In adding boxes and catching swarms; because now that the weather warms Bees get busy and buzz around; making their beekeepers really proud. The question is: Have those bees, survived last winters’ freeze? Or did you lose a colony? What an…

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Observations of Forager Deaths in Almonds this past February

This February while traveling around the almond orchards in central California, I observed many instances of dead pollen foragers at the entrances of colonies. In addition, many beekeepers reported being approached by their growers, who were concerned by the number of dead bees they were seeing along with the lack of flight activity in the orchards. Because of past issues with bees getting sprayed, some beekeepers suspected pesticide poisoning. However, after observing a number of these cases first hand, I concluded that most of the time environmental conditions were the main factor causing bee death. In many cases, I noticed that North-facing colonies on each…

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Hear Ye, Hear Ye!

Greetings Beekeeper! The 13th annual Bee Informed Partnership National Colony Loss & Management Survey is LIVE! In fact, it’s been live for 11 days already! If you have submitted your answers – thank you, thank you, thank you. You are one of over 2,000 beekeepers that have done so! If you have not, we are patiently waiting for you ;) Remember, you only have until April 30th to participate. The current number of survey respondents is tracking previous years. But like previous ones, we are reaching a little plateau in respondents now that we are over one week in. That’s the signal that we need to…

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SURVEY FAQs – Tips and Tricks to answering the Bee Informed Partnership’s National Colony Loss and Management Survey

Not even a week has passed since this year’s Colony Loss and Management survey went LIVE! As of this morning (4/5/2019), more than 1,200 beekeepers have already entered their information. WOW! Thank you for your time and continued support! So far your response rate is tracking previous years, but of course, we want to beat last year’s numbers! So please, spread word about our survey far and wide so that we can go above and beyond 6,000 responses! Thankfully you are extremely keen on helping us to better understand your bees; why else would beekeepers submit to us many excellent questions during the survey period?…

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NOW LIVE! The 2018-2019 Colony Loss and Management Survey!

Good morning America! It’s beautiful outside! The birds are chirping and the bees are flying! You may even notice a few flowers outside too! Here in the South, our many azaleas are in full bloom! This means Spring is upon us! And of course, Spring means one thing: it’s time to take the Bee Informed Partnership’s annual Colony Loss and Management Survey! It’s easy! One click and you are in, ready to take the survey and to serve our nation’s beekeeping industry: TAKE THE SURVEY TODAY! The information that you provide will be invaluable to our understanding of honey bee health around the country. As…

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Honey Bee Caste Systems: Part 1- Honey Bee Genetics

I have always been fascinated with queens and workers. In fact, I spent my master’s degree studying the mechanisms that produce queens and workers. I want to spend the next three articles in this and upcoming issues discussing the complex processes that govern how an egg becomes either a worker or a queen. You can look forward to these three pieces: The Genetic Book of Life-The basics to honey bee genetics How genetics and the environment shape honey bee workers and queens The differences between queens and workers Honey bees have a system of sex determination (male drones versus female queens or workers) known as…

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Three Advantages of Rain Covers

Having worked on both the Northern California Tech Transfer Team and Pacific Norwest Team has given me a unique opportunity to compare and contrast management styles across regions. One thing that I immediately noticed when I first came to the Oregon team was the use of rain covers or shelters over the fall and winter months, especially in the wet Willamette Valley. It should come as no surprise that rain covers are not used extensively in California, considering in recent years the winter rainfall has been insignificant, except in 2017 (and 2019 so far!).  However many Oregon beekeepers have come to the conclusion that rain…

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Almond Math

There are plenty of quick stats you come across working around bees: At peak population, a strong colony can have over 60,000 individual bees. A queen is capable of laying more eggs in a day (up to 2,000) than there are minutes in a day (1,440). A single bee can produce 1/12 tsp honey in its lifespan and may cumulatively travel 500 miles during the several weeks it spends as a forager. Despite annual losses in the 30-40% range, the total managed colony numbers remains fairly constant at about  3 million. The American bee industry is inextricably linked to the almond industry. Every year, about…

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Fried Drone Brood – A healthy and savory snack?

I live close to the town of Snook, TX – where the local roadhouse is renowned for its chicken fried bacon. This dish inspired a thought; why not fry something shocking myself? I was using drone brood removal as a method of mite control in a couple colonies, and they were producing a lot of drone brood around the time of the privet (Ligustrum sp.) flow. I’m a whole lot less squeamish about eating honey bee immatures than I would be about a lot of other insects. After all, honey bee brood is enjoyed as food in large parts of the world. The tricky step…

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It’s Cold (and Wet) Out There

  I don’t know what the groundhog did or saw this year, but according to the calendar it’s still winter. The first day of spring is still a month away. If you’re a pollinator or grower of almonds, you’re hoping weather conditions up and down the central valley of California become more favorable for flight activity than they have been. I recently returned from 2 weeks of inspecting and sampling colonies where conditions were cold, wet, and windy. These conditions delayed onset and slowed progression of the almond bloom and are forecast to continue. Frequent updates on the progression of bloom and conditions for flight…

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