The Bee & Butterfly Habitat Fund and the Hocking Soil & Water Conservation District (Ohio) will be hosting a series of Pollinator Habitat webinars later this month. These webinars will cover a variety of topics related to the design, establishment and management of pollinator habitat as well as new options to provide support for pollinator habitat being established on private, public and corporate lands.
The webinars are free and open to the public, but do require a registration. Please register for the webinars at:
Tuesday, January 26th at 5:00 pm CST/6:00 pm EST
Thursday, January 28th at 9:00 am CST/10:00 am EST
Since beginning in 2006, Project Apis m. has endeavored to fund bee research that will improve honey bee health. Translating the research into improvements on a large scale means not just funding the work, but providing beekeepers with the knowledge and tools quickly so they can benefit from the research. Over time, with the help of an engaged research community, PAm has created a funding process and pipeline to drive innovation and solutions for years to come.
In 2014, a new pollinator habitat collaboration was initiated by a group of stakeholders that saw land use changes threatening pollinator health in the upper mid-west region. Acres of row crops were rapidly rising, conservation land was being lost, and with the expansion of row crops, agricultural chemical use was also expanding. From the initial success of that collaboration, The Bee and Butterfly Habitat Fund (BBHF) was formed.
While beekeepers and environmentalists have been aware of land use changes impacting bee health for a long time, these changes have intensified over the past few decades – and at the same time, honey bee and native bee health issues have come to the forefront of public awareness.
The above images represent how land use changes and increased agricultural chemicals can sometimes correlate. Pesticides are a complex issue. You can read more about pesticides and bee health here. Read the publication “Land-use change reduces habitat suitability for supporting managed honey bee colonies in the Northern Great Plains” here, and visit the USGS Pesticide National Synthesis Project’s interactive pesticide maps here.
Everyone should have the experience of opening up a honey bee hive. That first interaction brings up so many emotions: curiosity, a touch of fear, awe, all mingled with the scents of the hive. I fell into beekeeping almost by accident in 2001 and honey bees have completely changed my life trajectory. I went from English major to beekeeper, then, just enthralled, earned my PhD in bee science.
In the spirit of gratitude: We could not be more grateful for the outpouring of support to honor PAm’s founding leader, Christi Heintz, with scholarships for graduate students doing bee health research. We thank the donors who made this scholarship possible, along with additional funding from Costco Canada and Project Apis m., we are pleased to announce the winner of the CHMA scholarship and three runners up. All awardees demonstrated Christi’s spirit of curiosity, collaboration, and fearlessness. You can read Christi’s memorial here.
Awards: 12 highly qualified and especially creative individuals submitted applications, which included a 3-minute video. A review panel including a 6-member panel of PAm staff and board members who worked directly with Christi during her tenure, as well as Christi’s daughter, Tara McCall, weighed every application and made the selections for the award. Tara and her brother, Kevin Heintz were able to give the good news to the winners over the phone.
“This is so awesome that the industry respected Christi’s contribution so much that they can help fund 4 students... I applaud the industry, PAm, all the contributors and these sponsored students for continued success in bee research” -Mike Heintz, husband of Christi Heintz.
Almond growers have a lot of inputs to consider to produce their crop. They must balance the cost of labor, pest management, water, and bees for pollination. Those costs are not fixed year-after-year, especially renting the bees. The fact is the cost of colony rentals for pollination has steadily increased, and remained, at a premium. And almond acreage is projected to outpace the number of available colonies sometime in the next decade. Growers take these factors very seriously and it is not surprising that self-pollinating almond varieties have been a hot topic lately.
Right now, wildfires are decimating much of California, Oregon and Washington. This strain is conflated with the Coronavirus pandemic, which many of us hoped would be winding down by now, still raging in many states.
Hundreds of thousands of acres of habitat and forage are burning, along with homes, businesses and hives. It can be difficult to think about the devastating losses experienced by our friends, family and in many cases ourselves. While the future is uncertain for many, PAm’s thoughts are with everyone being affected. You can learn more about what the outlook is for native bees after a fire, and what scientists know about how honey bees act in a smoke-filled environment from this article from Oregon State University.
On Sunday, September 13th Foothills Honey Farms was working hard to remove colonies from evacuation zones in Oregon where they are in danger from the Beachie Creek and Riverside Fires. Some beekeeping operations have already lost their homes and businesses to fires*, and many more have lost colonies and equipment.
BIP released preliminary results for the 14th annual survey in June of 2020. This exchange has been edited for length and clarity.
We have all seen the chart showing the percentage of bees lost over the years. In recent years it has included “Total Annual Loss” in addition to winter loss-a reflection of requests from beekeepers who emphasize the importance now of losses year-round. Loss rates are estimates of colony turn-over over a season; a mortality rate of colonies and units lost to combinations. It is not a count of the total number of colonies in the country.
The survey began via the Apiary Inspectors of America in 2006 and was taken over by BIP a few years later. Since 2019 Auburn University’s Geoff Williams, who is now the president of BIP, and his Ph.D. student Selina Bruckner, are administering the survey for BIP with assistance from many organizations* and individuals who help get the word out. Winter loss was down 15.5% from last year, and 6.4% from the historic average.