After its birth in 1989, the world wide web had 50 million users in just 3 years. It took television 13 years and radio 18 years to reach the same number. Today, 40% of the world’s people are connected to the internet, so it is with great pleasure that we launch our new and improved Project Apis m. website! It still has all our Best Management Practices information for growers and beekeepers, and it’s also more organized and easier to look at! It now houses a comprehensive repository where you can read about the many research projects we have funded over the years (more than 100!).
If you have received research funding from PAm, please check out the summary of your project, and let us know if there are additional impacts, like publications or links to information that we can include to highlight your work! You can also find information about applying for funding there.
Visit our"CCD, Pathology, and Viruses Research" page for information about these subjects, and to learn about CCD, pathology, and virus reserach, as well as other PAm directed research projects
At the Bee Informed Partnership, we hold an annual Tech Team summit in the middle of the summer when there are few days when the teams are not busy. We began this tradition last year and hope to continue working this into our culture as our organization grows and matures. We use this time to focus on a specific project or a training objective, to spend quality time talking about our mission, and cover issues that crop up over the course of the year. Since most of us do not get to be in the same location for 6 months, it is also a valuable and fun time to spend 2 to 3 days in team building. No one enjoys conference calls and that is our main path of direct communication, but it is extremely difficult to keep a cohesive and happy staff over long distances so these gatherings are rare opportunities to compare war stories and revel in each other’s unique training. If we are fortunate, some of our board members attend and we enjoy their input and I think they enjoy hearing what our field crews are seeing.
Last year’s summit was held at the University of Maryland and we were lucky to get a behind the scenes tour of the Smithsonian’s insect collection.
BIP tech team members getting a peek at the Smithsonian insect collection last July. Photo courtesy of the Bee Informed Partnership
This year’s summit was held at the University of Minnesota’s stunning new bee lab courtesy of Marla Spivak. We focused on adding some critical detail to our BIP Commercial field guide (coming in 2018!), learn from the experts at Purina about sales training who graciously gathered our team of talented folks (admittedly we are mostly introverts who would rather just talk bees all day so this was a stretch for some of us) to provide us some much-needed tools, and to hang out with the Project Apis m. board at a BBQ held behind the bee lab adjacent to some honey bee training yards. Lastly, we took a long bike ride around Minneapolis to enjoy the sites and tastes of this wonderful city. My notes went on for pages of all the ideas discussed and I think we all left with a feeling of great optimism and with much more defined goals to move BIP forward toward providing additional value to our participants.
BIP CA Team member Rob Snyder walks up to the grounds of the new UMN bee lab at this year’s tech team summit. Photo courtesy of the Bee Informed Partnership
Karen Rennich, Executive Director
The Bee Informed Partnership
As this year’s accomplishments end, we look towards next season and the joys and headaches it will bring. Our minds linger on questions about successes and failures and how they relate to management decisions. Right now, beekeepers throughout the country are deciding how to treat for mites and pathogens. As the summer continues into fall, forage becomes scarce. Hives will need to find an adequate amount of late blooming flowers or get expensive protein supplement patties fed to them. With habitat and forage disappearing across the country (see The Bee and Butterfly Habitat Fund) the latter is the new normal for most beekeeping operations. The choices made this Fall will determine the health and vigor of the bees needed to pollinate almonds in the Spring. Few people realize the amount of bee forage present in a North Dakota grassland in the Fall significantly affects an $11 billion-dollar industry in California in the Spring.
As growers are watching almond hulls split and dry, they are making important decisions. Harvest is a busy time of year. As the rainy season draws nearer the risk of exposing the nuts to moisture increases. Growers are also making choices in the Fall that will impact spring pollination. There is a small window of time after harvest and before the first winter rains that is ideal for planting PAm bee forage cover crops. Growers who want the strongest bees possible are making choices this Fall that will affect the pollination of their crops come spring. To ensure an early bloom, cover crops should be planted by October 5th. However, some orchards with late harvesting varieties might not be ready by then. Cover crops will still germinate and help the soil if planted after October 5, but the hive-strengthening aspects are diminished. Every year hungry bee hives get placed in orchards before the almonds bloom. Growers are now realizing hives that can forage on cover crops early are stronger come the second week of February when almond bloom usually occurs. Synchronizing cover crop bloom with the bees’ arrival is the best way to take full advantage of all the benefits of the Seeds for Bees program. As a grower once told me, “The bees show up before almonds, so my cover crop might as well be blooming so they have something to eat!”
I am now taking orders for Seeds for Bees seed mixes. The requirements and details of the program can be found here. Feel free to call or email me with questions. Cover crops increase the health and vitality of bees while improving crop production. Get involved today!
Director of Pollination Programs
Project Apis m
Hauke Honey Corp.
South Dakota Beekeepers
Johnston Honey Farms
Honl Bees, Inc.
A.H. Meyer & Sons, Inc.
Headwaters Farm, Inc.
Brent Barkman is the Vice Chair of Project Apis m. and a third generation beekeeper and honey packer and has been a part of the industry all his adult life. He oversees the operations of two separate bee operations that own 16,000 colonies of bees producing and pollinating in eight states. Artesian Honey Producers has 8,500 colonies based in South Dakota, wintering in Oklahoma and Texas and pollinating in California. Barkman Apiaries is based in Florida and operates bees in Michigan and New York as well as pollination in California. Barkman Honey is the family owned business that packages honey based out of Kansas supplying millions of pounds of quality honey to consumers all over the world. In addition to serving as the vice chairman of Project Apis m., Barkman has served the industry in many capacities including serving as chairman of the National Honey Board once while it was a producer board and again more recently after it was changed to a packer board. He is also a member of multiple state beekeeper organizations and both the American Honey Producers Association and American Beekeeping Federation. His memberships also include the National Honey Packers and Dealers Association and the Western States Packers and Dealers Association. He was one of the founders of True Source Honey and is a proponent of high quality traceable honey for the enjoyment of the consumer.
As I think about what to address in this article it occurs to me that procrastination is one of my best and worst qualities. I can say this was a hard task in a year that looks quite discouraging to a lot of honey producers across the northern states where a lot of the US honey is produced. I used the procrastination model successfully this time as some much-needed rain is falling in parts of the North and is lifting the spirits of some producers that are in rainfall areas. It is a sad thing as a producer to see all the potential honey sources out there and not enough moisture to let the bees take full advantage of them. Not only is there a shortage of bee pasture as corn and beans take over the landscape that used to be covered with bee friendly plants, but those that are there are thirsting for water that will let them produce nectar for the bees.
The news is not as bad in some other parts of the US as rain has come when most needed for a large crop to be produced in areas that normally do not fare as well. Some areas are even getting too much rain if that is possible. One producer in Wisconsin shared that it rains all the time, and the bees can’t work enough to fill boxes with honey. This spring it rained in California again. It was a welcome change from the drought that had covered the state for such a long time. There are some honey crops being made there that have been missing for a long time. Welcome back California! Reports from Minnesota are good, as well as Michigan. This will be an interesting year for buying domestic honey. The hope is that we can make enough honey to satisfy the need, and that customers are not forced away from the US honey they usually buy. This is an important point for producers to remember as the honey marketing season approaches.
What, you may ask, is a packer doing on the PAm Board? I am going to try to address this and share with you why it is important to me as a packer to be a part. As you read in my Bio, I am not just a packer but also a beekeeper. I rely on research to help keep my bees alive, too... Click here to continue reading
Vice Chair of the Project Apis m. Board of Directors