How common, natural toxins may help bees remain healthy
Researchers at the University of Massachusetts and Dartmouth College have recently published a study in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B indicating a correlation between naturally occurring toxins. Scientists at the two institutions studied the relationships of nicotine, anabasine, thymol, and catalpol on bumblebees and a common parasite, Crithidia bombi. Nicotine, common in tobacco, but also in smaller concentrations in most of the nightshade family (tomatoes, potatoes, eggplants, etc.), has long been used as a natural pesticide until its deregulation in the late 2000s due to declining popularity and competition with its relative synthetic compounds, the oft controversial neonicotinoids. Anabasine is an alkaloid similar to nicotine which has been historically used as an insecticide. Catalpol is a glucose derivative (glucoside) that was found in turtlehead flowers (Chelone spp.) and is relatively unknown as a pesticide. On the other hand, thymol is a well-known ingredient in apiary pesticide control, mostly notably ApiLife VAR (used to treat varroa mites) and ApiGuard (which is used to treat tracheal mites) and was found in basswood trees (Tilia spp.).
The researchers concluded that the four substances correlated to increased bee health and decreased populations of the C. bombi protozoa. '“We found that eating some of these compounds reduced pathogen load in the bumble bee’s gut, which not only may help the individual bees, but likely reduced the pathogen Crithidia spore load in their feces, which in turn should lead to a lower likelihood of transmitting the disease to other bees,” said Lynn Adler, one of the co-authors. “Because plants just sit there and can’t run away from things that want to eat them, they have evolved to be amazing chemists. They make biological compounds called secondary metabolites, which are chemicals not involved in growth or reproduction, to protect themselves. They are amazing in the diversity of what they can produce for protecting themselves or for attracting pollinators.”'
Nicotine May Protect Bees Against Intestinal Parasites. (2015, February 18). Entymology Today. Retrieved from http://entomologytoday.org/2015/02/18/caffeine-and-nicotine-may-protect-bees-against-intestinal-parasites/
CHECK YOUR HIVES! Merrimack Valley Beekeepers, this has been a hard winter and we have a lot of snow on the ground, but inside your hive(s), the bees are getting active in laying new workers for the Spring. This means that your bees are eating more food and it is critical that they not run out. So please take time and get to your hives and lift that hive to check the weight. If it is light, then it needs fondant candy or dry sugar to feed the bees. Remember that at this time of year, you do not feed syrup. For a healthy hive in the Spring, I would also recommend that you get pollen patties on order because the protein is needed soon, but not yet. TIWTHTMIBS (Things I Wish They Had Told Me In Bee School). Sometimes for new beekeepers the discussions about feed, don't feed, pollen, no pollen, smoke, no smoke can get pretty confusing and it is hard to keep it all straight. This coming March 7th meeting we will have a special meeting for you to ask a panel of experts your questions. We have a diverse group of beekeepers that will field questions from the audience and then we will have them answered with our own John Hamblet acting as moderator. The goal of this extended Bee Talk discussion is to allow you to ask questions that typically are not covered in Bee School, or need to be further clarified. Please come prepared with questions. April 4th Meeting I need to put a plug in now for a great opportunity to hear a world class Etymologist at our next (April 4th) bee meeting. Dr. Sandra Rehan of UNH will be discussing native pollinators and her research in this area. For this special meeting, we will also have a Pot Luck dinner at6:30 which will give you more time to socialize with Dr. Rehan and your fellow bee keepers. Please plan on attending and we will need help in setting this up and organizing the effort. It would be extra special for foods to include honey of course! Also on the April 4th meeting we will have a shorter business meeting to cover election of officers for MVBA. Presently we have the following officers: President - David Ross Vice President - John Hamblet Treasurer - Diane Mattock Secretary - Loretta Jackson If anyone would like to be considered for one of the roles, please let me know and we would then have an election accordingly. At this point, none of the officers have asked to step down, but there is always room for a Coup! Please send me an email or talk with one of us at the March Meeting We will see you all at the meeting March 7th and remember to bring questions. CHECK YOUR HIVES! Happy Honeybees, David Ross
Going with the Flow
A recent Indiegogo campaign is seeking to innovate they way in which we harvest honey from our hives. Named the Flow Hive, this hive uses gravity to draw capped honey from a space built in the center of each frame. When a harvest is desired, simply open the tap and the honey flows out. According to the campaign, when the bees realize that their capped honey cells are empty, they will remove the capping and refill with more nectar.
The current set-up, complete with all woodenware, frames, and collection equipment (minus the bees) will set you back $600. The campaign began on February 222, 2015 with a goal of raising $70,000 dollars. As of March 02, the campaign has raised over $3.3 million (4,846% over their goal). You can find more information about the project here.
Make you voice HEARD!
EPA open comment period for new varroa treatment
The EPA has begun its public commentary period for a proposed new pesticide introduction to combat varroa mites in the United States. Oxalic acid (H2C2O4) is an organic compound that:
"has been used in the UK for about ten years; in Europe it has been used for at least 20 years. It is highly effective; kills varroa by dessicating the mouthparts, and only affects honey bees in a very minor way. In the UK a beekeeper stated there are three methods of applying oxalic acid:
• Vaporization (rarely if ever used these days - too technical, expensive and “fiddly” - hot metals and electricity involved)
• Spraying (rarely used - danger of breathing in spray or contaminating eyes)
• Trickling. This is the standard method - easy, cheap, no heat or electrics needed, no masks, no eye protection. With trickling, you simply trickle an oxalic acid/ sugar solution into each “seam” of bees.
Approval of the application for the registration of oxalic acid use would give U.S. beekeepers another tool in their fight against Varroa. It is however, not a remedy which will be utilized by all beekeepers. Beekeepers know what is best for their honey bees. A reduction of Varroa mite population is the key to healthy honey bees. The beekeeper’s voice is the most important one here: make yourself heard. Your comments must be received by the EPA by March 6th." (Kim Flottum, 2015).
Directions and information about submitting comments can be found here.
Bee School News
The annual MVBA Bee School begins again this March 03, running for six weeks at the St. James United Methodist Church in Merrimack, NH. Let's get the word out about Bee School. Use these full page and half page flyers to print out and post at your local garden club, library, cafe, feed store, etc.
MARK YOUR CALENDARS!
The next monthly meeting of the Merrimack Valley Beekeepers will take place at the Hudson Recreation Center (10 Oakwood Street, Hudson) will resume on Saturday, March 07, 2015! Social hour begins at 6:30p and the meeting begins at 7:30. We will likely have a large contingent of beeschool students and we will be hosting a panel to discuss new beekeeping questions, ideas, concerns, and personal success (and some failure) stories.
Also, make sure to come to the April 2015 meeting (Saturday, April 04). A 6:30 social hour will host a potluck dinner followed by Dr. Sandra Rehan of the UNH Bee Lab at 7:30. The MVBA will also elect officers for the upcoming yeear.
The New Hampshire Beekeepers Association would like to welcome all current members of the NHBA (for the 2015 year) to the annual Spring Meeting. This year, the meeting will be held at the Bow Community Center on Saturday, March 21 from 9a-3p. The meeting will include apiary expert Mike Palmer discussing a wide range of issues as well as Susan Brouillette who will discuss an upcoming beekeeping trip opportunity to Slovakia. Furthermore, the annual meeting to elect officers and present the Francis Dodge Award for NH Beekeeper of the Year will take place. CC Tomatoes will cater the event and make sure to bring extra cash to enter the spectacular raffle with dozens of items to win.
Thanks to Tom Mikulis, MVBA members can now have any apparel they want to be embroidered with the official MVBA logo! You can either buy clothing through the local company, Embroid-Me of Bedford, or can bring your own stuff in.