April 2, 2017
April 1st is usually regarded as a time to play jokes and pranks on fellow family members, neighbors, and coworkers and it is not restricted to the US – it is a day recognized by many other countries and cultures dating back to at least the 14th century. For those of us at the Bee Informed Partnership, we begin preparing at least a month ahead of time, not for playing pranks, but to get ready for our annual loss and management survey.
In just 1 week, our annual online survey will go live to record losses from beekeepers all over the country independent of operation size. Whether you manage 1 colony or tens of thousands of colonies, this is your opportunity to record what your summer, winter and annual losses were for the past year! If you continue past the loss survey and spend some time to take our management survey, and we hope that you do, you will provide valuable information that allows us to track those practices associated with reduced or increased colony losses. We’ve matured as an organization and instead of static reports, we now offer a dynamic management tool to help you improve your beekeeper practices that is publically available to everyone. You can find it here: https://bip2.beeinformed.org/survey
Our dynamic reporting tool puts the power of interacting with our large database in your hands! Select the operation size, state, survey year and walk through your management practices to see how they correlate with losses. No joke! Please go to our website at www.beeinformed.org on April 1st and take the survey!
Winter colony loss in all survey years based on formic acid use across all operational sizes. Beekeepers who used formic acid to control for varroa mites lost >21% fewer colonies (8.4 percentage points) than beekeepers who did not use formic acid. (Courtesy of the Bee Informed Partnership, Inc.
By Karen Rennich
It’s that time of year when many beekeepers are beginning to work their colonies during good weather breaks. As they crack the inner cover, some are trying to determine why some colonies are bursting at the seams while others are barely limping along. If there are colonies that are showing signs of crashing or are obviously impaired, the Bee Informed Partnership offers a rapid diagnostic service that evaluates varroa, nosema and 7 viruses for up to 8 healthy colonies and 8 suspect colonies. More information, including ordering and sampling protocols, can be found here: https://beeinformed.org/programs/emergency-response-kits-2/
The cost of a full kit and these diagnostic services is $299. These samples take top priority in our lab and results are provided as soon as possible (usually within a few days) back to the beekeeper. Requests for pesticide sampling can also be added in the event of a suspected pesticide residue kill. We often tell beekeepers that keeping one kit in their inventory could be as important as keeping a smoker and a hive tool handy.
We are excited to announce the hiring of Phoebe Koenig to our Midwest tech team and John Klepps to our Florida/Georgia team! Please see their photos and profiles on our tech team website here: https://beeinformed.org/team-2/tech-transfer-teams/
As a bittersweet start to the year, we are saying good bye to Katie Lee, our very first technical transfer team member who intrepidly began the California team before BIP was BIP and then moved to start the Midwest team. Katie will be spending this year completing her PhD so we are very excited for her. We also wish Megan Mahoney, who initiated and built a fantastic Texas team, all the best as she begins a new career in Hawaii following her desire to work in queen breeding.
And the Old…
Bees are rapidly moving into almond orchards for pollination and that is a good time to reflect on the previous year to see how successful we were at keeping mite loads at a manageable level. I have included two graphs that show the average mite loads month by month in 2016 and then also from 2015. Unequivocally, it appears that beekeepers did a much better job of staying on top of mite levels in 2016. Note the spikes already in the spring of 2015 in some teams and the improvement in the spring of 2016. Fall is a challenging time, and as discussed in previous months, a critical moment of the bee year to get mites low enough for the bees to raise healthy winter bees. The higher loads in fall show up every year but this year, the management seems to be working for most operations.
2016 Average monthly varroa mite loads in 5 tech teams. Graph courtesy of the Bee Informed Partnership, Inc.
2015 Average monthly varroa mite loads in 5 tech teams. Graph courtesy of the Bee Informed Partnership, Inc.