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!
The Honey Bee Health Coalition (HBHC) Oct 17-18, University of MD
Focus began with completing a fundable proposal for the HBHC project, “Bee Integrated”. This project aims to practice the main recommendations of each of HBHC’s four working groups (Crop Pest Management, Forage and Nutrition, Hive Management and Outreach/Communications) simultaneously at apiary locations to demonstrate benefits to hive health. Pending funding of proposals, 2-3 pilot sites will commence in 2017.
Progress and discussion from the individual working groups included:
Forage/Nutrition- Discussing Farm Bill Conservation priorities to improve USDA pollinator habitat programs. Defining and communicating the co-benefits of pollinator forage programs. Developing an interview tool for use at Galveston, to understand the success/failure/gaps of supplemental nutrition applications.
Crop Pest Management- How to improve incident reporting and provide a non-regulatory pathway for beekeepers to submit data due to pesticide exposure incidents. Also develop and improve crop pest advisor education and training.
Hive Management- Updating the Varroa Management Tools Guide and completing a series of ‘go with’ videos to demonstrate methods and application of Varroa controls.
16th Annual NAPPC Oct 19-20, hosted at USDA APHIS, Riverdale MD.
After 20 years, Laurie Davies-Adams announced that she will be seeking a successor in 2017. Speakers included USDA APHIS administrator Kevin Shea; Dr. Bruce Rodan from White House Office of Science and Technology Policy; and Rick Keigwin from US EPA. Many of the talks and discussions centered around habitat for pollinators, especially monarch butterflies which are being considered for listing as an endangered species. NAPPC Farmer Rancher Award was bestowed on Lakhy Sran, owner of Sran Family Orchards in Kerman, CA. He manages 1500 acres each of organic conventional almonds, and has invested over $200K putting bee forage on his farm. Last year, he worked with Project Apis m. to install 6.5 linear miles of hedgerows for pollinators and will continue to install more. Lakhy will also work with the Xerces Society on a new program to certify farms and with Pollinator Partnership as a Bee Friendly Farm.