By Billy Synk
At Project Apis m. we do more than fund research and hand out free seed. We package up our knowledge and expertise in a way that is useful to beekeepers and growers. For example, Dr. Reed Johnson’s pesticide research is complicated. Growers and their advisors may have a hard time navigating the results when trying to determine the best way to protect their crops without harming bees. This is why we partnered with the Almond Board to create a list of Best Management Practices. Now growers have an easy-to-read, practical guide for what to do when applying pesticides. My point is, providing raw data and information without applying it to practical solutions isn’t very useful.
Seeds for Bees free seed is only half the program. The technical advice and onsite assistance I provide is how the program truly becomes useful. A significant amount of 2016/2017 Seeds for Bees enrollees had never grown cover crops in their orchard before. Simply sending them seed isn’t good enough. In an effort to educate, Project Apis m. and Kamprath Seeds have teamed up to host three Bee Forage Cover Crop Field Days in March. Taking place in three different growing regions of California, these field days will demonstrate how cover crops can improve soil and bee health. Join us on March 7th, 9th, and 15th to learn more about how cover crops can benefit your operation. This will be an outdoor event where attendees can view cover crops in almond orchards and hear presentations from growers and industry experts. Please RSVP to Billy Synk at Billy@ProjectApism.org or 614-330-6932.
Billy Synk, Bee Health and Pollination Workshops coming in January, 26 Dec 2016
This time of year we often get together with friends and family to enjoy each other’s company. Despite a few differences that might cause conflict, families and communities support each other based on their shared values. I have seen enough dead hives, sick bees, and destroyed habitat to give me pause about the future health of our nation’s pollinators. However, the concerted effort, passion, and team work of everyone I collaborate with gives me hope that we can change bee health for the better. Beekeepers, growers, landowners, pheasant hunters, bird watchers, conservationists, monarch butterfly advocates, native bee advocates, universities, non-profits, government organizations, land trusts, trade associations, seed companies, PCA’s, and all the industries that support agriculture believe bee health is an issue everyone needs to be responsible for. All these groups are working towards the same goal. How awesome!
This January, the Almond Board of California, Sure Harvest, and Project Apis m. are teaming up to bring you three Bee Health and Pollination workshops. Almond growers that have planted Seeds for Bees cover crops will be hosting three workshops in different regions of California. The events will have presentations on Best Management Practices, the California Almond Sustainability Program, and methods for improving bee forage and habitat. Honey bees and almonds are dependent on each other. Almond trees need their blooms pollinated while the bees benefit from a bounty of high protein pollen the flowers provide. Come to the Almond Board’s Bee Health and Pollination workshops on January 16th, 17th, and 18th to learn more about how planting cover crops and hedgerows help two essential industries; honey bees and almonds. There will also be information on tools to help growers calculate irrigation and nitrogen needs. Please RSVP to Jenny Nicolau at firstname.lastname@example.org or 209-343-3243. If you have a question about which Seeds for Bees mixes will be demonstrated, please call me at 614-330-6932
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.