Bee Health Fugitives

Bee Health: Varroa Mite Is Public Enemy No. 1

By Laurie Greene, Editor

The varroa mite is “Public Enemy No. 1” for bees, according to Becky Langer, the North American Bee Care manager for Bayer CropScience. “It’s the giant tick that’s attaching to [bees],” said Langer, “transmitting viruses and bacteria. This mite has to be constantly managed and we’ve seen very high levels. When our bee experts were out visiting with people last fall, people were reporting very high levels of mites. So we anticipate high [bee] losses coming out of this winter because of the cyclic effect of the mite.” Langer explained. “It really re-emphasizes the necessity of controlling that mite—all the time—and staying on top of it.

Bayer Bee Health's Feed a Bee Program
Bayer Bee Health’s Feed a Bee Program

Commenting on other “Most Wanted Criminals” against bee health, Langer discussed recent research findings that well-fed bees are better able to defend themselves against the notorious nosema, a fungi-related parasite. “They actually found higher counts of nosema in those bees, but the well-fed bees could manage the nosema populationas opposed to not-well-fed bees.”

“That of course ties into Bayer Bee Care Program‘s Feed a Bee Program and its forage and nutrition initiative,” commented Langer. Launched last year to address the lack of food and habitat for bees Feed a Bee worked with more than 250,000 people and 75 partners to plant 65 million flowers and thousands of acres of forage across the country. “We’ve got to be feeding these bees better,” Langer reinforced.

According to their website, this year, Feed a Bee kicks off the spring with the launch of a new song and video for children of all ages. Other ways people can become involved with the program to help these hardworking insects are: request a free packet of wildflower seeds, for a limited time while supplies last; commit to growing pollinator-attractant plants of your own; and locate Feed a Bee plantings in your own communities on the interactive partner map. You can also tweet a emoji and #FeedABee to have Bayer plant on your “bee-half.” 

Langer commented on crop protection products—”the usual suspects”—by stressing the importance for growers to follow labels.  “If that’s the case and they are used properly and in the proper settings, there is no long-term effect on colony health,” she said. “Really, where we see colony health problems correlates well with the varroa mite and with forage and habitat issues.”

Among the Feed a Bee Program collaborators in California are: Wilbur-Ellis, San Francisco, CABee Happy Apiaries, Vacaville, CA; Carmel Valley Ranch & Golf Course; PROJECT APIS M.; and Vitamin Bee.

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Resources:

Fleming, James C.; Daniel R. Schmehl; James D. Ellis,Characterizing the Impact of Commercial Pollen Substitute Diets on the Level of Nosema spp. in Honey Bees (Apis mellifera L.),” PLOS ONE [an international, peer-reviewed, open-access, online publication], July 30, 2015.

Pollinator Bee Nutrition

Collaborators on Pollinator Bee Nutrition: Bayer’s Bee Care Program and Project Apis m. 

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Deputy Editor

 

The North American Bayer Bee Care Program which, according to director Becky Langer, has invested more than $12 million to maintain pollinator health, has been working closely with Project Apis m. (PAm), which funds research to enhance the health and vitality of honeybee colonies while improving crop production.

Project Apis m. pollinator bee nutrition“We have enjoyed working with Apis m,” said Langer, “because foraging nutrition is one of the top factors affecting bee health today. Our ‘Feed a Bee’ program, launched in March 2015, has the goal to partner with 50 different organizations as ‘Feed a Bee’ partners, and PAm, dedicated to pollinator health, and is one of the “Feed a Bee” partners.”

Bayer Feed a Beed Program logoLanger explained that PAm really focuses on crops growers can plant around their orchards to provide for the bees when they arrive in California before the almond bloom, as well as after the almond pollination just before the bees move on to their next job. “Because PAm distributes free wildflower seeds and other to growers,” Langer said, “we see it as a great partnership that really helps pollinator health thrive and move forward.”

Bayer CropScience and National FFA Organization Announce Grants to Encourage Students to Seek Careers in Agriculture and Apiculture

Partnership will provide $50,000 in grants that promote career paths in science and challenge students to make advancements in improving honey bee health

Next year, Bayer CropScience, in partnership with the National FFA Organization, will provide grants to inspire interest in agriculture and apiculture professions among America’s youth. The grant program will help FFA members develop their unique talents and explore science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) careers with a focus on finding solutions that will help honey bees thrive. The program is a demonstration of Bayer’s continued commitment to engage with partners who focus on developing future STEM leaders, improving science literacy and driving bee health awareness.

“Bayer CropScience has been a long-standing advocate of FFA and supports its mission of building the next generation of farming leaders across America,” said Dr. Becky Langer, manager of Bayer‘s Bee Care Program. “Through this new initiative, we can help inspire young people to learn more about agriculture, create innovative solutions to some of our greatest industry challenges and pave the way for the future of farming.”

“We are excited about the opportunities that this partnership will give to our members,” said Molly Ball, president of National FFA Foundation. “Thanks to supporters like Bayer CropScience, FFA continues to grow future leaders in the agricultural industry.”

As a special project of the National FFA Foundation, Bayer’s investment of $50,000 will go toward three types of grants: Supervised Agricultural Experience (SAE) grants, Environmental Chapter grants and State grants.

 

FFASAE Grants

Ten SAE grants worth $1,000 each will be awarded to students proposing projects focused on bee health. These grants feature hands-on learning opportunities as students work with their agricultural teachers to plan and execute their projects.

 

Environmental Chapter Grants

Bayer will give $20,000 in Environmental Chapter grants to support selected FFA chapters in implementing year-long, service-learning projects that address local environmental needs. Service-learning is a method of teaching and learning that challenges students to research, develop and implement solutions to identified needs in their school or community. Projects will be encouraged to focus on increasing forage by planting pollinator-friendly gardens and other pollinator-focused health initiatives.

 

State Grants

Bayer will give $20,000 for state-specific grants focusing on improving bee health through habitat and forage.

 

How to Apply

Environmental and state grants will be awarded in the spring of 2015 and work can begin immediately after notification. SAE grants will be awarded in fall of 2015 for activities to be conducted in 2016.

For more information about the Bayer and FFA grant program, please visit the FFA website.

The National FFA Organization provides leadership, personal growth and career success training through agricultural education to 610,240 student members who belong to one of 7,665 local FFA chapters throughout the U.S., Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.