The Current Bee Buzz with CAPCA CEO Ruthann Anderson
By Mikenzi Meyers, Associate Editor
With spring right around the corner, it is crucial that farmers and beekeepers are working together to ensure bee protection. Ruthann Anderson, CEO for the California Association of Pest Control Advisers (CAPCA) is adamant about the communication between the two.
Anderson has been in correspondence with Ag Commissioners to create a reliable system in response to the AB-2468 law signed last year.
“The registry will come through a few different portals, but it will all go into CalAg Permits, into their sensitive site layer,” Anderson said.
She further explained that through this layer, the applicator can access beekeepers within a mile and request information.
“That communication in the field is so important for us, especially during almond bloom, but even beyond that, it is just education of beekeepers. Helping them understand what the rules and regulations are and how they are set up to provide them the privacy they are requesting,” Anderson said.
California Ag Today recently spoke with doctoral student Maureen Page of the Neal William’s lab at UC Davis, Department of Entomology and Nematology. She is the recipient of a prestigious three-year fellowship for promoting food security by optimizing wildflower planting. She supports the wild and bee management. We asked her about the flowers that she plans on planting to help those bees.
“I do believe that in general, flowers are really important for bees. Planting flowers are generally good for them,” she said.
Although planting is good for the bees, there are some precautions that need to be made.
“Some flowers can be somewhat toxic to bees. Some do not actually provide bees with pollen and nectar resources,” Page said.
There are many ornamental plants that are bred to not have much pollen so that people do not sneeze as much.
“On top of that, if you are planting non-native species that are really weedy, it may be great for the bees, but might not be great for other plant species,” Page said.
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.
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 population—as opposed to not-well-fed bees.”
“That of course ties into Bayer Bee Care Program‘s Feed a BeeProgram 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.
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.”
There are still questions about how best to measure colony losses over winter months, during the spring through fall period, and on an annual basis. The USDA winter survey has been conducted only since 2006 and is based on beekeeper self-reporting. Since the survey’s inception, winter losses have averaged approximately 30 percent. Prior to the introduction of the parasitic Varroa Mite and other pests and disorders in the mid-1980s, losses in cold northern states were typically the 0-15% range. Since then, colony losses over winter have been much higher. In warm southern states, honey bees seldom need to cluster, so they can continue brood rearing and foraging for most of the year. Therefore, it is important to define what is meant by winter, and these distinctions further complicate winter loss determination and calculation.
The latest report from the USDA is good news for all who care about the health of honey bee colonies. For the second year in a row, winter losses of U.S. honey bee colonies were well below the historic 30 percent average. More importantly, the long-term trend of overwintering losses continues to show improvement due to greater awareness of factors affecting honey bee health, particularly the varroa mite, and better pest management, including extensive use of the highly effective Varroacide, Apivar.
This report follows shortly after the USDA released its annual Honey Report, which showed that the number of U.S. honey bee colonies grew to 2.74 million in 2014, the highest level in many years, continuing a 10-year trend of steady growth.
Summer losses are expected and common, however, because of Varroa, other disorders, queen issues, and pesticide residues in hives, especially extremely high residues of bee-protecting Varroacides, beekeepers do face a challenge to keep these losses to a minimum. It is apparent that in recent years, beekeepers are doing a much better job of managing honey bees and the problems they face because colony numbers in the U.S. continue to grow. Some states, have seen substantial increases in colony numbers. Florida, for example has more than doubled the number of colonies since 2006.
Even with this good news about overwintering trends, we must continue to focus on the challenges facing bee health. Bayer CropScience is developing new solutions to the problems caused by the invasive Varroa mite and is working to tackle another major issue facing pollinators today – lack of forage – through the Feed a Bee initiative. And we recently announced our Healthy Hives 2020 research collaboration with honey bee experts to identify tangible actions to help improve the health of honey bee colonies over the next five years. Although there is much work yet to do, this report validates the efforts of many stakeholders who are working to protect bees and promote sustainable agriculture.
Almond Hullers & Processors Association (AHPA) Chairman Dick Cunningham and President Kelly Covello urged their membership to support the voluntary California Almond Industry PAC at the association’s 34th Annual AHPA Convention, held on the Big Island in Hawaii over the past three days.
Facing immense challenges such as the slowdown of West Coast ports, air quality laws and regulations, net energy metering (NEM), food quality and safety, worker safety, bees and bee health, wastewater treatment, crop protection regulation, aboveground petroleum storage Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasure (SPCC) Plans, competing research priorities and most urgently, unprecedented drought conditions and public misunderstanding and criticism of almond water usage, the Almond Industry aims to create a unified voice for candidate support, political information and education services.
Through a Memorandum of Agreement with the Almond Board of California (ABC), AHPA is able is able contract for a portion of staff time/expertise to assist in AHPA’s advocacy efforts and provide a unified voice for the industry. The ABC educates regulatory agencies and legislators but is prevented by the USDA Federal Marketing Order to advocate for government policy or legislation.
The California Almond Industry PAC will hold a fundraiser in Bakersfield on May 14th, at Imbibe, 4140 Truxtun Avenue, from 5:30-7:00pm, sponsored by Golden Empire Shelling, LLC., Landmark Irrigation, Inc., Pacific Ag Management, Inc., Paramount Farms, and Supreme Almonds of California.
Fundraisers will also be arranged in the Northern and Fresno areas in the upcoming months.
Sponsorship Levels include:
Supporter: $500 (includes a guest)
You do not need to be an AHPA member to contribute or attend the event.
For more information, contact (209) 599-5800 or firstname.lastname@example.org.