Date: May 9, 2012
(1) South Carolina Agricultural Statistics for Crops, Livestock, and Poultry. 2006-2008. Report prepared by USDA – NASS, South Carolina Field Office, 1835 Assembly Street, Columbia, South Carolina.
(2) South Carolina Agricultural Statistics for Crops, Livestock, and Poultry. 2002-2007. Report prepared by USDA – NASS, South Carolina Field Office, 1835 Assembly Street, Columbia, South Carolina.
(3) Levin, M.D. (1983). Value of Bee Pollination to U.S. Agriculture. Bulletin of the ESA. pp. 50-51.
Honey production in 2011 from producers with five or more colonies totaled 148 million pounds, down 16 percent from 2010. There were 2.49 million colonies producing honey in 2011, down 7 percent from 2010. Yield per colony averaged 59.6 pounds, down 9 percent from the 65.6 pounds in 2010. Colonies which produced honey in more than one State were counted in each State where the honey was produced. Therefore, at the United States level yield per colony may be understated, but total production would not be impacted. Colonies were not included if honey was not harvested. Producer honey stocks were 36.8 million pounds on December 15, 2011, down 18 percent from a year earlier. Stocks held by producers exclude those held under the commodity loan program.
RECORD HIGH HONEY PRICES
Honey prices increased to a record high during 2011 to 172.9 cents per pound, up 7 percent from 161.9 cents per pound in 2010. United States and State level prices reflect the portions of honey sold through cooperatives, private, and retail channels. Prices for each color class are derived by weighting the quantities sold for each marketing channel. Prices for the 2010 crop reflect honey sold in 2010 and 2011. Some 2010 crop honey was sold in 2011, which caused some revisions to the 2010 crop prices.
SOURCE: American Beekeeping Federation, Latest News. Released March 30, 2012, by the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), Agricultural Statistics Board, United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
by Helen Fields
Just like humans have astronauts and mountain climbers, honeybee societies have their own brave explorers: scouts, the bees that venture out to find new food sources. A new study examines scouts' brains and finds that novelty-seeking in humans and bees seem to be based on some of the same genes.
In honeybee societies, scouts are the bold pioneers. "Most foragers wait to be told what to do, but not scouts," says Gene Robinson, an entomologist and geneticist at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. "Scouts go out and search for food on their own." When a scout, which is always female in bees, finds food, she flies back to the colony, reports to her compatriots with the famous waggle dance, then flies off again, ignoring her new discovery to look somewhere else. Robinson and graduate student Zhengzheng Liang suspected that it might be possible to make comparisons between this behavior and novelty-seeking in humans and other vertebrates, which has been well studied.
The researchers came up with a new way to identify scouts within a colony. Liang, who did the field and lab work for the study with the help of undergraduates, put a hive in an outdoor enclosure with mesh walls. The bees in the hive were given a few days to get used to eating from a jar of sugar water with a yellow flower pattern and a faint scent. Then on three consecutive days, Liang put out one alternative food source: a jar with a different color and scent, somewhere else in the enclosure. Scouts were defined as bees that visited at least two new jars, and when they did, the students placed a dab of paint on each bee's thorax indicating which jar it had visited. "When they are being fed, it's like little cats are drinking milk," Liang says. "They don't mind you putting the dot on them." When those bees were later captured, Liang used a microscope to remove the scouts' rice-grain-sized brains. Then she measured the pattern of gene activity in the brains of scouts and non-scouting bees. About 16% of the honeybee's 7500 genes showed a significant difference in activity between the two groups of bees. That included several genes linked to novelty-seeking in vertebrates, such as receptors for the neurotransmitters dopamine and glutamate.
Finally, Liang and her colleagues gave non-scouting bees sugar water laced with neurochemicals that activate some of those receptors. Bees that ate glutamate were more likely to fly out in search of food when a hive was moved to a new location. Adding a glutamate inhibitor at the same time prevented that effect. Bees that were fed chemicals that block dopamine receptors were also more likely to scout, the team reports this week in Science.
That means that some of the same genes are involved in novelty-seeking in people and bees. Humans and honeybees aren't close relatives; their common ancestor was probably some kind of marine flatworm, Robinson says. There's basically zero chance that this common ancestor had scouts. "Our results raise the interesting possibility that there's a genetic toolkit for this kind of behavior," he says—a set of genes that have been used at several points in evolution to come up with similar behaviors.
"What this paper is showing very nicely is that you've got clearly a group of bees here who are interested in novelty in some form," says Jeremy Niven, a neuroscientist at the University of Sussex in the United Kingdom who studies insects. Niven particularly admires the researchers' method for finding scouts, because it makes no assumptions about what scouts might behave like, but only finds animals that go to new places. He is more cautious about the conclusions on how chemicals influence the bees' behavior, however. For example, feeding a bee glutamate could be having effects on muscles all over its body, not just in the brain. "In the context of other things they've done it's very strong evidence, but it's not definitive by itself."
Correction, 23 March: The original version of this story said bees that were fed chemicals that activate dopamine receptors were more likely to scout. The opposite is true: Bees that were fed chemicals that block dopamine receptors were more likely to scout.
SOURCE: http://news.sciencemag.org/sciencenow/ 2012/03/to-boldly-go-where-no-bee-has-one.html?ref=hp
By Richard B. Primack, Abraham J. Miller-RUSHING and Becca Stadtlander
The naturalist and philosopher Henry David Thoreau coined a wonderful word for an imagined instrument in his 1854 book, “Walden”: the “realometer.” Thoreau’s realometer would allow an inquiring person to measure the reality of his perceptions, to push past the “mud and slush of opinion, and prejudice, and tradition, and delusion, and appearance ... to a hard bottom.”
Thoreau has provided us with this very tool in his extensive journals. Starting in 1851, he began recording the progress of the seasons in Concord, Mass., by noting the first flowers, leaves and migratory birds of spring. All told, he kept records for more than 300 species.
On May 11, 1853, Thoreau recorded the first open flower of the highbush blueberry. Its distinctive white tubular flowers are easy to observe. In subsequent years he recorded the first blueberry flowers in Concord between May 14 and 19.
If Thoreau went looking for the first blueberry flowers of Concord in mid-May today, he would be too late — some bushes would be covered with flowers, while others would have only a few stragglers left hanging among the young green fruits. Since the 1850s, the first blueberry flowering has shifted three weeks earlier — the blossoms now generally open during the last two weeks of April. But this year, after a record warm winter, blueberry bushes began to flower on April 1, six weeks earlier than in Thoreau’s time.
The flowering times of other species, like the shadbush and marsh marigold, shifted a similarly extreme amount. More species, like birdfoot violet, rhodora and flowering dogwood, changed by only one or two weeks. Some changed even less or not at all. But the shift toward earlier spring flowering is a widespread pattern.
Warming weather in Concord is most likely the cause. Over the last 160 years, April temperatures at the nearby Blue Hill Meteorological Observatory have warmed by around five degrees, because of a combination of global warming and warming associated with the expansion of paved surfaces and buildings in metropolitan Boston. Plants on average flower two days earlier for each degree increase in Concord — thus, the town’s plants are generally flowering about 10 days earlier than when Thoreau made his observations. With temperatures predicted to rise by four to eight additional degrees this century, plants could flower 8 to 16 days earlier than they do now.
Of course, it’s not just Concord. Records from every continent and the oceans in between show changes in the timing of plant and animal behaviors, including flowering, mating, migrating and emerging from hibernation. Some species are changing faster, some slower, but the changes matter. Pollinators may arrive too early for their favorite flowers. Predators may arrive too late for their preferred prey. Species will have to adjust or perish. No doubt, there will be — and already are — winners and losers in this great shake-up.
In Concord, we were unable to find many of the wildflowers that Thoreau and later botanists recorded. Of the species that Thoreau noted in the mid-19th century, a quarter seems to be missing. A further third are now rare, with only a few plants remaining in the area. Some of the most charismatic wildflowers, like many species of orchids and lilies, have disappeared from the area entirely.
Many factors — increased development, pollution, roads and larger populations of deer — have affected the abundance and distribution of plants in Concord. But climate change has clearly influenced which plants can be found there today. Interestingly, while collaborating with colleagues from Harvard, we discovered that the plants whose flowering times were most responsive to temperature — the ones more likely to bloom early in warm weather — were the very ones most likely to survive the changes in climate. They maintained healthy population sizes or even increased in abundance. In contrast, plant species that were unable to “track” changes in temperature in this way tended to decline or disappear, and have been replaced by non-native invasive species like purple loosestrife and garlic mustard, as well as native species from more southerly climes, like sweet pepperbush and silky dogwood, which are better at adapting to warmer temperatures.
This points to something else Thoreau’s realometer guards against. Walking through the woods of Concord, it’s easy to notice and be alarmed by the more extreme changes in flowering times of species like the highbush blueberry. But the species we should really be concerned about, like columbine, Canada lily, wild cranberry and the small purple fringed orchid — those with less changeable flowering times — are the ones we’re more likely to miss. For those species, we won’t find surprising changes in the dates of their first blooms. But eventually, in many places, we might not find them blooming at all.
Despite their dramatic cumulative effects over the last 160 years, these changes would be largely imperceptible without the biological yardstick Thoreau’s records provide. Many others throughout the history of this country have kept diligent records — their own realometers — of flowering, bird migrations, butterfly emergence, fish runs and the like. More should be closely examined to lend insight into how changes in climate are affecting the world around us.
As Thoreau wrote, “The question is not what you look at, but what you see.”
Richard B. Primack is a professor of biology at Boston University. Abraham J. Miller-Rushing is science coordinator at the Schoodic Education and Research Center and Acadia National Park. Becca Stadtlander is an illustrator in Covington, Ky.
SOURCE: A version of this op-ed appeared in print on April 19, 2012, on page A27 of the New York edition with the headline: Early Bloomers. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/19/opinion/early-bloomers.html?_r=1
A completely new approach to control the varroa mite, the parasitic scourge of the western honeybee, is being part-funded by Vita (Europe) Ltd. Researchers at the University of Aberdeen and the National Bee Unit are looking at ways to “knock-down” genes in varroa to make it more susceptible to treatments or even to kill it outright.
Led by Dr Alan Bowman, the research team has already tested the technique successfully in the laboratory. Now the challenge is to find the most relevant and susceptible genes to be targeted and in the longer term to develop a suitable affordable treatment for use by beekeepers.
The first stage of the work is to use “Next Generation Sequencing” to identify and describe all the genes of Varroa destructor. From hundreds of millions of pieces of gene sequencing information, the team will search for the Achilles’ heel of the varroa mite, but ensuring that targeting it will not affect the bees or indeed any other animal species.
Once vulnerable genes of the varroa mite have been identified, the search will then focus on producing a treatment to target that gene. Laboratory and field trials will then thoroughly test the efficacy and safety of potential treatments.
To help accomplish the work, Dr Bowman needs varroa mites – lots of them from across the UK. He is setting up a database of beekeepers who are willing to participate in the research by sending brood frames from varroa-infested colonies. See panel (below left) for details.
Dr Max Watkins, Technical Director of Vita (Europe) Ltd, said: “This research has enormous potential for tackling the varroa mite, which is almost certainly at the core of the current threat to honeybee colonies across the globe. We are very excited by the prospects and look forward to helping develop a product that will increase our armoury in fighting the varroa mite.
“It will of course take time to produce a treatment that is simple to use and is proven to be safe and effective, but the prospects look good. Vita’s aim in part-funding the research is to produce a simple, safe treatment that is affordable for beekeepers across the globe.”
The new research, which begins in April 2012, is funded jointly by Vita (Europe) Ltd and the Biotechnological and Biological Research Council. It will be undertaken by the Institute of Biological and Environmental Sciences at the University of Aberdeen and the National Bee Unit of the UK Government’s Food and Environment Research Agency.
By Camilla Bee, Editor
If you’re reading this, chances are you’re interested in bees, or at least interested in food, as bees are essential for much of what we eat.
You probably want to help bees. While beekeeping is a great way to support them, it isn’t practical or possible for everyone. Here are some other tips we’ve collected on how to help our winged friends. We encourage you to share them with others so we can all best support this vital insect.
Plant! Even if you don’t have a green thumb or garden space, a few native flowers on the porch step or in a window box increase the diet diversity available to bees. Like us, they need to feed on a variety of substances.
Garden with bees in mind: Check with your local garden center (or the internet) for bee-friendly plants that will flourish in your area.
Try to plant large swaths of the same variety. This helps counteract the negative effects air pollution and landscape fragmentation have had on the floral scent trails that bees use to find food.1
Heirloom varieties often have more pollen and nectar than newer, hybrid varieties.
If space allows, try to have something always coming into bloom to keep honeybees making a helpful-to-you beeline to your garden.
Plant native plants—those are the ones to which your area honeybees have, through the years, become adapted to feeding on.
Don’t use chemicals: Scientists are still working to understand the links between pesticides, herbicides, and the massive health issues affecting bees. While not clearly defined, in most cases there’s definitely a link. This year, why not try going natural?
If you feel you must use a pesticide, select a product rated Category 3 by the EPA, and apply it at a time when bees aren’t out foraging.
Support your local beekeepers: Purchase honey from known sources at farmers’ markets and local stores. It’s likely much purer—and tastier—than anything available commercially.
Let the lawn “bee”: What we see as unsightly weeds—plants like dandelions and clover—bees see as a wonderful source of nutrition. Consider raising the mower blades so these plants can flourish, and consider letting areas of your lawn go wild so bees can enjoy native plants.
Learn about bees: Hornets, yellow jackets, and wasps give the non-aggressive honeybee a bad name. Learn how to tell the difference so you can deal with infestations (and fears) appropriately. Teach kids the difference so they can happily coexist with honeybees. Your local bee club likely has speakers who would love to talk about these fascinating insects at schools, garden clubs or other events. And of course, keep reading this newsletter!
Watch for swarms: Honeybees are usually quite docile during this natural event. If you see a cluster of bees, don’t kill it. Check the internet to find a local beekeeper to safely remove it. Many bee clubs maintain a list of folks who would like additional bees and take this “problem” off your hands, er—tree or fence post.
1 The Sting, by Susan Brackney, Indiana Alumni Magazine, July / August 2010, page 40.
Source: Kelley Bees News: Modern Beekeeping | Issue 23, May 2012
(COURTESY TN.GOV NEWSROOM)
VONORE, TN – Tennessee’s first case of partially Africanized bees was confirmed through genetic testing last week in a colony belonging to a beekeeper in Monroe County. The colony has been depopulated and the Tennessee Department of Agriculture is working with beekeepers in the area to determine if other bees could have been affected.
State Apiarist, Mike Studer, says it is no surprise that partially Africanized bees have made their way to Tennessee considering they have already been found in other states such as Texas, Georgia, Mississippi and Florida. “I’m actually surprised it’s just now happening. We have been expecting this for some time,” Studer said. “Citizens need to be vigilant, but there’s no need to overreact. This is a situation that can be effectively managed through good beekeeping practices.
“We will be working with beekeepers to monitor their hives and to look for any signs of other aggressive bees in the area.”
Test results show that genetically, the bees were less than 17 percent Africanized, far less than the 50 percent considered by USDA to be truly Africanized. The bee colony was purchased by the beekeeper last year from an out-of-state dealer.
The most important difference between an Africanized honey bee and our domestic European honeybee is their behavior. Africanized bees are much more aggressive, defend their nests more fiercely and in greater numbers and are more likely to defend the nest when threatened by predators or adverse environmental conditions. But, the sting from a single Africanized bee is no more venomous than a European honey bee.
Africanized bees tend to colonize in smaller spaces than the docile European honeybee. Therefore, if you see honeybees in the ground, or in small openings such as flower pots or bluebird houses leave them alone and call the state apiarist immediately to assess the situation. Bees do not try to hurt people, they simply defend their territory.
If you do disturb an Africanized honeybee colony, follow these steps to protect yourself:
2. Cover your head with your shirt or jacket while running because Africanized bees tend to sting the face and head.
3. Never stand still or get boxed into a place outdoors where you cannot escape the attack.
4. Seek immediate shelter in an enclosed building or vehicle. Isolate yourself from the bees.
5. Do not attempt to rescue a victim without the proper protective gear and training. Doing so could make you the second victim.
Source: Kelley Bees News: Modern Beekeeping | Issue 23, May 2012
by Bruce Boynton
In the last several months various stories have resulted in misunderstanding and confusion about honey and honey filtration, leading some readers to believe that any honey without pollen is not real honey.
This is not true. Honey without pollen is still honey nutritionally and in flavor, and that is why the U.S. Department of Agriculture identifies it as such. This misunderstanding has also led to several class action lawsuits regarding purchases of honey without pollen.
The truth is that honey is made by honey bees from nectar of flowers and plants, not pollen. Pollen grains may end up in the exposed honey in the hive through any number of incidental or accidental ways, but it is not used by honey bees to make honey.
Consumers have varying opinions about their choice of honey type, flavor and origin. There are many different kinds of honey available in the U.S. market, such as honey in the comb, liquid honey that is considered "raw", creamed honey, as well as organic honey. The majority of honey sold at retail in the U.S. every year, and preferred by most consumers, is the clear, golden liquid honey that has been strained or filtered to remove undesirable particles that make honey cloudy. All honey crystallizes eventually; suspended particles (including pollen) and fine air bubbles in honey contribute to faster crystallization. Filtering pollen and other particles out helps delay crystallization, allowing the honey to remain liquid for a much longer period than honey that has not been filtered.
According to the United States Standards, honey can be filtered to remove fine particles, pollen grains, air bubbles and other materials found suspended in the honey1.In fact, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) gives higher grades for honey that has good clarity. Importantly, honey that has been filtered to meet USDA's grading standards may not have pollen, but it is still honey.
News stories have reported on illegal activities such as circumvention of tariffs on imported honey, and there are claims that some dishonest foreign suppliers may be "ultrafiltering" their honey to clean it up or remove the small amounts of pollen grains, often used as a marker to identify the country of origin. Ultrafiltering is not the same as filtering honey. Somewhere during the telling and retelling of these news stories, the term "ultrafiltered" became misused and confused with more traditional filtration methods used in the U.S. honey industry to produce clear, golden honey.
Ultrafiltration, a totally different process, is a specific filtration method used in the food industry for pretreatment and purification. It can filter particles smaller than 1/10 of a micron (a spider web is about 2 microns in diameter). Pollen grains vary in size from about 5 to 200 microns, large enough to be filtered with more common filtration methods.
In contrast to the filtration methods used by many U.S. honey packers to meet USDA grading standards, ultrafiltration is a more complex process that results in a sweetener product. The FDA has said this product should not be labeled as honey, and the National Honey Board supports this position. Some have confused filtration and ultrafiltration, incorrectly applying FDA's position on ultrafiltered honey to any honey without pollen.
The fact is, honey that has been filtered may not have pollen, but it is still honey by national standards and is preferred by many consumers.
For more information on honey, I invite readers to visit the National Honey Board's website at www.honey.com.
1 For decades, many U.S. honey packers have been filtering raw honey prior to bottling in accordance with USDA's United States Standards for Grades of Extracted Honey (May 23, 1985).According to section 52-1393 of the Standards, Filtered honey is honey of any type defined in these standards that has been filtered to the extent that all or most of the fine particles, pollen grains, air bubbles, or other materials normally found in suspension, have been removed. Section 52.1394 of the Standards also says that Pollen grains in suspension contribute to the lack of clarity in filtered style.
Bruce Boynton is CEO of the National Honey Board, a federal research and promotion board under USDA oversight that conducts research, marketing and promotion programs to help maintain and expand markets for honey and honey products. The National Honey Board is not a regulatory agency nor does it have powers of enforcement. The 10-member board, appointed by the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, represents producers (beekeepers), packers, importers and a marketing cooperative.
Source: Food Safety News on behalf of the National Honey Board on April 23, 2012.
HONEY BALSAMIC VINAIGRETTE
HONEY COLE SLAW
HONEY GLAZED SNACK MIX
|HONEYCOMB ALMOND STICKIES
* 1 – 4” X 4” Comb Honey
* 1 cup chopped almonds
* 2 cups chocolate for dipping
Take a 4” x 4” cut of comb honey and cut into ½” to 1” squares. Place on waxed paper. Use a sharp knife, dipping in very hot water for each cut to make cuts easier. Place honey in freezer for about one hour. Melt chocolate. Roll each piece of honeycomb in chopped almonds and dip into melted chocolate. Keep chilled and wrap individually in waxed paper.
|CREAM CHEESE SPREAD
* 8 ounces softened cream cheese
* ¼ cup orange marmalade
* 2 Tbsp. honey
In a small bowl, beat cream cheese until light and fluffy. Add marmalade and honey and beat until blended.
Calendar for 2012-2013
July 12-14, 2012 – NCSBA Summer Meeting, Lumberton, NC
July 19-21, 2012 – SCBA Summer Meeting, Clemson University, Clemson, SC
August 13-17, 2012 – Eastern Apicultural Society Annual Conference, Burlington, VT – www.easternapiculture.org for more details
January 8-12, 2013 – American Beekeeping Federation Annual Conference, Hershey, PA. www.abfnet.org for more details.
March 1-2, 2013 – SCBA/NCSBA Joint Meeting, Baxter Hood Conference Center, York Technical College, Rock Hill, SC
Comments or Questions, Contact:
Mike Hood, Extension Apiculturist, 864-656-0346, firstname.lastname@example.org
Clemson University, Dept. of Entomology, Soils, & Plant Sciences
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