New Website Feature – Member Profiles – Shared Interest Groups & Services

The TBA website has a new feature that we’re super excited about and it requires member participation. You can now update your profile (yes, you must login to the TBA webpage) to include shared interests as well as services you provide as a beekeeper. This update will allow us to provide more relevant information to you as well as provide searchable member profiles for fellow beekeepers or even public mapping for professional services related to beekeeping.
We have recently created some shared interest group definitions with the goal of providing well rounded education and better understanding our membership. One thing we know is that while we all may keep bees a little differently or hold different standards within our apiary, we all care about the overall health of the honey bees in our apiary as well as within the industry.
Here is a list of our current Shared Interest Group definitions – our goal is to use these groups to solicit and provide both targeted feedback and information as it applies to these groups.
  • Professional Beekeeper – Beekeeper that makes a living in the bee industry.
  • Commercial Pollination – Beekeepers who move colonies – either locally or regionally to pollinate crops.  Topics could include issues with logistics, licensing, insurance, broker involvement, etc.  Could include beekeepers who don’t yet do commercial contracts but would like to in the future – maybe leads to smaller beekeepers pooling hives to provide pollination services. Managing multiple apiaries.
  • Honey Producers – Beekeepers whose main focus is producing honey – for selling themselves or to Packers for resale.
  • Honey Packers – Beekeepers licensed as a “producer” with the State of Texas, buys honey from other beekeepers for bottling and selling; and those interested.
  • Queen Rearing – Beekeepers who raise and sell Queens and those who would like to raise and sell Queens.
  • Package & Nuc Producers – Any beekeepers who sell packages and Nucs and those who want to learn/begin producing/selling bees.
  • Professional Bee Removal – Beekeepers who do removals and those who want to learn/begin doing cutouts and removals.
  • Small-Scale Beekeeping – Beekeepers with less than 20 hives. Often urban or backyard beekeepers.
  • Urban Beekeeping – Beekeepers in urban settings – city and HOA regulations, appeasing neighbors, liability concerns, etc.
  • Pollinator Advocacy – persons interested in active support for protecting pollinators through legislation limiting chemicals harmful to pollinators, educating others on the harm chemicals can do to pollinators,
  • Natural Beekeeping – Beekeepers who practice IPM but stop at chemical or synthetic treatments. 
  • Bee Researcher – Scientists, students, and researchers that seek to better understand bees and provide valuable information to the bee industry and beekeepers through the scientific process.
  • Growers & Farmers – stakeholders in the bee industry who care about colony help and are seeking better practices to improve overall bee health on their land.

Please take the time to fill out and edit Your Profile page and select any relevant interests as well as the services you provide if applicable.

ARS-Developed Varroa-Resistant Honey Bees Better Winter Survivors

ARS-Developed Varroa-Resistant Honey Bees Better Winter Survivors

Baton Rouge, La., April 7, 2022—Pol-line honey bees, a type of Varroa mite resistant honey bee developed by the Agricultural Research Service, are more than twice as likely to survive through the winter than standard honey bees, according to a study published in Scientific Reports.

Although ARS developed Pol-line bees in 2014, this study was the first time that they were tested head-to-head alongside standard honey bee stock in commercial apiaries providing pollination services and producing honey. Colonies’ ability to survive winter without being treated to control Varroa mites was followed in four states: Mississippi, California, and North and South Dakota.

In this study, Pol-line colonies that were given no treatment to control Varroa mites in the fall had a survival rate of 62.5 percent compared to standard bees colonies in commercial apiaries also given no fall Varroa treatment, which had a winter survival rate of 3 percent.

When Pol-line colonies and standard colonies were treated against Varroa mites in both fall and December, Pol-line bees had a winter survival rate of 72 percent while standard bees had a survival rate of 56 percent. So, Pol-line bees still had a better winter survival rate regardless of receiving double Varroa mite treatment.

“These survival results continue to highlight the importance of beekeepers needing to manage Varroa infestations. The ability to have high colony survival with reduced or no Varroa treatments can allow beekeepers to save money and time,” said research molecular biologist Michael Simone-Finstrom, co-leader of the study with research entomologist Frank Rinkevich, both with the ARS Honey Bee Breeding, Genetics, and Physiology Research Laboratory in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

This research was the culmination of breeding efforts to develop honey bee colonies with naturally low Varroa populations that began at the Baton Rouge lab in the late 1990s.

Winter colony survival is crucial for beekeepers because in February each year, about 2.5 million honey bee colonies are needed in California to pollinate almond crops.

Larger, healthier colonies bring beekeepers premium pollination contracts at about $220 a colony.

Varroa mites can cause massive colony losses; they are the single largest problem facing beekeepers since they spread to the United States from Southeast Asia in 1987. While miticides used to control Varroa exist, resistance is developing to some of them.

“We would like to replace reliance on chemical controls with honey bees like Pol-line that have high mite resistance of their own and perform well, including high honey production, in commercial beekeeping operations. Pol-line’s high mite resistance is based on their behavior for removing Varroa by expelling infested pupae—where Varroa mites reproduce—a trait called Varroa-sensitive hygiene (VSH),” said Rinkevich.

“Beyond Pol-line bees, we need to create advanced and easy breeding selection tools that beekeepers can use to select resistance traits in their own bees to promote VSH behavior in honey bees across the country,” Simone-Finstrom said. “The great thing about this particular trait is that we’ve learned honey bees of all types express it at some level, so we know with the right tools, it can be promoted and selected in everyone’s bees.”

Evolutionary ecologist Thomas O’Shea-Wheller, now with the University of Exeter in England, who worked on the study while a post-doc with Louisiana State University under professor Kristen Healy pointed out, “This kind of resistance provides a natural and sustainable solution to the threat posed by Varroa mites. It does not rely on chemicals or human intervention.”

In addition, overall winter survival, the scientists examined the levels of viruses in Pol-line and standard bee colonies that are commonly transmitted by varroa mites.

The Pol-line colonies showed significantly lower levels of three major viruses: Deformed wing virus A, Deformed wing virus B and Chronic bee paralysis virus, all of which can cause significant problems for colonies.

“Interestingly, when we looked at the levels of virus infection separately from the levels of mite infestation, we found there wasn’t a strong correlation between viral loads and colony survival. You could not use the level of these viruses as good predictors of colony losses,” Simone-Finstrom said.

Asbestos Warning for Beekeepers

Asbestos Warning for Beekeepers

Beekeepers and importers of beekeeping equipment have been been warned about the presence of dangerous asbestos fibres in many imported bee smokers.

An Australian Border Force spokesperson said asbestos was a Tier 1 prohibited import under the Customs Regulation 2015.

“Breathing in asbestos fibres can have devastating health effects and is known to cause asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma,” the spokesperson said.

“Unlawfully importing products with asbestos can carry significant penalties such as fines of up to $222,000 or three times the value of the goods – whichever is greater – and/or imprisonment for up to five years.”

Battery-powered electric and manual smokers are commonly advertised on online shopping websites by international sellers.

“The manual model requires manual force by squeezing a bellows constructed with woven cloth-like material that often includes a high concentration of asbestos,” the spokesperson said.

“While the electric model has a small motor and fan contained within an attached handle, an insulation board situated between the handle and the canister is often made with bonded asbestos.

“Professional and amateur apiarists should be wary when purchasing bee smokers from suppliers outside Australia.

“Whether purchasing for their own use or intending to sell in Australia, importers should exercise caution and check with the supplier as to exactly what the material is, as some parts used to construct the smokers are being exported from countries with no asbestos bans in place.”

Between September 2021 and January 31 thus year, Australian Border Force detected 39 imports of bee smokers at the border which were at risk of potentially containing asbestos. Thirteen were identified for business entities while the remaining 26 were in individuals’ names.

“Importers should seek accredited assurances from suppliers before importing these products into Australia. Further information regarding this can be located at the ABF ​asbestos information page,” the spokesperson said.

“A declaration of no asbestos from the overseas supplier, on its own, is not evidence. If adequate assurance is not provided, importers will face delays and may be responsible for costs incurred when the goods are held at the border for the purposes of sampling and testing by qualified professionals.

“For non-commercial importers, these costs will likely far outweigh the actual cost paid for the bee smoker. If the bee smokers are found to contain any level of asbestos they will be seized for disposal.”

Asbestos Warning For Beekeepers –

Bees aren’t fish, but it’s good that a California court thinks they are

Bees aren’t fish, but it’s good that a California court thinks they are
The ruling provides much-needed protection for important species that are crucial to human beings and ecosystems.

June 10, 2022, 10:30 AM MDT
By Adam Larson, writer and science communicator

If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s probably a duck. But a new California court ruling means that if it looks like a bee, flies like a bee and buzzes like a bee — it’s a fish. California’s Third Appellate District Court of Appeal ruled at the end of May that bees could be protected under a state law to protect endangered species because bees meet the state’s legal definition of fish.

This wacky ruling requires some explaining, and even though it’s still a bit weird even with the benefit of the explanation, the ruling is for the best. It provides much-needed protection for important species (bees) that in turn will be helpful to another species (humans).

Bees have been in dire straits for years. Human behaviors like habitat destruction and pesticide use have decimated bee populations. From 2006 to 2018, commercially kept bees in the United States saw average winter death rates of 30 percent, more than double the historical rate. And from April 2020 to April 2021, beekeepers saw average losses of 45.5 percent. Bees are necessary for many kinds of plants to reproduce, so missing bees means missing plants and the animals that rely on those plants.

In 2018, three groups petitioned California to protect four species of bee (the western bumble bee, Franklin’s bumble bee, the Crotch bumble bee and the Suckley cuckoo bumble bee) that had seen population declines, a move opposed by agriculture groups due to how this could interfere with crop production.

In making its ruling in May, the court relied on the California Endangered Species Act’s language saying that an endangered species can be “a bird, mammal, fish, amphibian, reptile, or plant.” From just this, it seems obvious that certain species would be ineligible to be protected by the law, including bees. All of the categories of animal listed are vertebrates, or animals with backbones. Bees don’t have backbones, and as such would not qualify for protection. Imperiled snails, crabs and octopuses would also be out of luck.

Thankfully for the bees of California, the court didn’t require that they be available at the local fishmonger. Section 45 of the California Fish and Game Code defines fish as: “a wild fish, mollusk, crustacean, invertebrate, amphibian, or part, spawn, or ovum of any of those animals.” It doesn’t take much to realize that this definition applies to a lot of animals that aren’t really fish.

It includes amphibians, like frogs and caecilians and salamanders. It includes all mollusks, from aquatic ones like clams and oysters to those that live in forests, such as banana slugs (although it’s unclear if the law could protect U.C.-Santa Cruz’s banana slug mascot). And it includes invertebrates, a group that contains 97 percent of all animal life on Earth.

It’s a strange outcome, but it does follow the state’s existing definition of fish. The court noted in its ruling that the California Endangered Species Act has long protected a species of land-dwelling snail in determining that bees would also qualify.

Read the rest of the article here:

Why do we want what we like? New evidence from bee brains offers clues

Why do we want what we like? New evidence from bee brains offers clues
Published: April 28, 2022 2.01pm EDT
Beth Daley
Editor and General Manager

What makes us want things we like? We know things that offer potential rewards, including food, sex, addictive drugs, and even certain artworks, can inspire desire in us – but why?

The French Enlightenment philosopher Denis Diderot pointed out a central conundrum:

Desire is a product of the will but the converse is also true: will is a product of desire.

Neuroscience has solved part of the mystery, by identifying a system that drives wanting in mammals involving specific brain regions. Desire may help an animal to survive, for example by wanting to experience pleasure from nutritious food.

Now, as we discuss in a paper in Science, new research by Jingnan Huang at Fujian Agriculture and Forestry University and colleagues has found evidence of a similar wanting system in honeybees.

A common currency for driving wanting
What do we mean when we talk about “liking” and “wanting” things? Well, for neuroscientists, “liking” means the pleasurable feeling we get when we consume some reward. “Wanting”, on the other hand, means being motivated to reach the reward.

We know a bit about what happens in our brains and those of other mammals such as rodents when we want a reward. It involves dopamine, a kind of chemical called a neurotransmitter that enables communication between neurons in our brains.

To understand how the process works for non-mammals, Huang and colleagues looked at what happens in the brains of bees when presented with the prospect of a reward.

As the German scientist Karl von Frisch showed in the 1920s, honeybees use a symbolic dance language to communicate the location of rewarding flowers to hive-mates.

Other bees who observe this “waggle dance” are enticed to leave the hive and forage to collect nectar or other nutrition.

Huang and colleagues measured dopamine levels in the brains of the dancing and observing bees. They discovered that dopamine surges for performers and watchers at the beginning of the waggle dance, dropping off by the time the dance concludes.

Dopamine levels were higher when watching the dance than when the bees were actually feeding. These fluctuations show it is the expectation of wanting the sweet reward of nectar that chemically motivates the honeybees to forage.

A wanting system in a miniature brain
In spite of having fewer than a million neurons in their brains, honey bees demonstrate complex behaviours and are cable of solving problems like detecting flower scents and colours.

Other research shows bees can learn symbols to represent numerical quantities, or can learn to perform maths tasks like arithmetic.

Huang and colleagues also showed that providing higher dopamine concentrations to some test bees increased their motivation and improved their capacity to learn flower signals like scent.

How to motivate pollinators
Honeybees and other bee species native to the different regions of the world are among the most important pollinators of many commercial and wild plant species. By carrying pollen from one flower to another of the same species, bees ensure cross pollination which often results in higher number of seeds and fruit size.

Therefore bees are of important economic value by pollinating valuable crops such as almonds, citrus and various species of vegetables.

Queen bees can modulate dopamine pathways of young bees to capture their attention and motivate them to complete specific tasks. A better understanding of the effects of dopamine on the wanting system of honeybees may open the door to a more efficient and sustainable use of honeybees for many tasks including agricultural and neuroscience.

The new research on honeybees also supports an idea raised by the famed English naturalist Charles Darwin 150 years ago, in his book The Expression of Emotions in Man and Animals. He proposed that liking and disliking things was so helpful to animals that it might form the basis for wanting mechanisms in humans and other animals.

This idea, alongside the presence of a wanting system in honeybees suggests that a precursor of the mammalian wanting system may have developed very early in the evolutionary history of animals. It may also provide a biologically plausible explanation for why we want what we like.

Scientists discover how bees activate natural medicine against parasite infection during pollination

Scientists discover how bees activate natural medicine against parasite infection during pollination
May 1, 2022
by Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

In a new paper published today in a special issue of Philosophical Transactions of The Royal Society, Kew scientists and partners report on how bees activate the “medicinal” properties of various nectars to protect themselves from parasite infections.

The team of researchers led by Kew scientist Dr. Hauke Koch, in partnership with Professor Mark Brown at Royal Holloway, University of London, collected nectar and pollen samples from linden and strawberry trees at Kew Gardens in West London to determine how bees process the beneficial compounds found within. The researchers found that two compounds naturally found in the nectars of these species are activated by the bees’ digestive processes, the gut microbiome (microorganisms) or a combination of both.

The study’s primary aim was to discover how these elements and their anti-parasitic qualities can protect bees from the common gut parasite Crithidia bombi. The experiments yielded promising results for bee conservation efforts at a time when pollinators face the increasing threat of decline from climate change, disease, and habitat loss due to agriculture and land use.

Pollination by animals is one of the world’s most important species interactions, as plants offer a nutritious reward to insects, birds, and small mammals in exchange for the transfer of pollen. Not only does this process facilitate the reproduction of many plants, but it also serves to support global food production and ecosystems. Scientists are, therefore, alarmed to see mounting evidence of declines in pollinator abundance and diversity.

Among the threats faced by pollinators today are the dangers posed by parasites. Bee parasites can be introduced and spread through global trade routes, and can spill over from managed honeybee colonies to wild pollinators. Their effects on bees are worsened by other stress factors such as pesticide use affecting microbiome health. The bumblebee gut parasite C. bombi is of special interest to scientists, as the parasite is common and known to threaten the survival and development of bumble colonies.

Dr. Hauke Koch, Research Leader in Pollinator Biological Chemistry at RBG Kew and lead author of the paper, says, “Pollinators have diverse microbiomes in their guts and nest environments. These communities of microorganisms can be important for the health of pollinators, for example by defending them against diseases or producing important nutrients. By better understanding the functional importance and contributions of individual members of the microbiome to different pollinators, we may in the future be able to better support their health.

“For example, managed honeybee and bumblebee colonies can be supported through novel probiotics, or healthy microbiomes in wild pollinators can be maintained through a restriction in pesticides that negatively affect the microbiome and through the promotion of plants with nectar or pollen chemistry that stimulate healthy microbiomes.”

The first compound analyzed by the team, unedone, was found in the nectar of strawberry trees (Arbutus unedo) and was extracted from strawberry tree honey. The evergreen, shrubby tree is native to Ireland, Western Europe and the Mediterranean, and commonly planted in parks and gardens in the UK. Its nectar and pollen-rich flowers are known to be an important food for bumblebees in the autumn. Honeybees produce a bitter-tasting honey from it that is sought after around the Mediterranean.

The compound unedone was tested on C. bombi cultures grown in a lab as well as on buff-tailed bumblebee (Bombus terrestris) gynes (female bees capable of reproduction) collected at Kew in the autumn of 2018. The latter part of the experiment saw the researchers feed the bees a mix of sugar syrup and pollen over a two-week period, after which their feces were screened for parasites. Select bees were then given a treatment of sugar syrup or a treatment of unedone. The compound was found to inhibit C. bombi infections but only after interacting with the microbiome, as the initial metabolic processes in the mid-gut rendered it inactive against the parasite.

The researchers also determined that tiliaside, a compound extracted from the nectar of the linden tree, offers similar benefits to buff-tailed bumblebee workers. However, in contrast to unedone, tiliaside was found to be activated by the bees’ own digestive processes. Both compounds have been put forward as evidence of the benefits that food and microbiomes hold for protecting and strengthening pollinator health—at an individual and community level.

Professor Phil Stevenson, Head of Trait Diversity and Function at RBG Kew, and study co-author, says, “Understanding the drivers of pollinator health—both good and bad—is critical to realizing how we can best support pollination services and continue to benefit from their contributions to food production and sustaining natural ecosystems.

“We now know that some flowers provide better nutrition for some species while others provide bees with a natural medicine, so we can select plants for restoring degraded landscapes or crop field margins that provide multiple and tailored benefits to pollinators enhancing their health from individual through to community level.”

In addition to the dangers posed by parasites, pollinator decline is being driven by pesticide use, the intensification of agriculture, and climate change. Scientists are thus keen to better understand the natural processes that influence and affect pollinator health—both positively and negatively. These processes include the nutritional quality of pollen and nectar, the impact of parasites and the benefits of the microbiome, as well as the effects of natural bioactive compounds and landscape structure.

Stevenson adds, “The impacts of human activities on pollinator health and decline through excessive pesticide use, climate change and agricultural intensification are now widely accepted after decades of evidence gathering.

“We now need to look for solutions and ways of sustaining diverse and healthy populations of pollinators and other insect groups. Many of these solutions can be developed through a better understanding of the natural processes that influence pollinator health. If we know how nutrition varies across the pollen of different species and which species provide the best food resources for the widest range of pollinating species, we can implement restoration programs such as field margin planting and ecological corridors with much better accuracy to the species of importance and with long-term benefits.”

In a surprise move, honeybee tongue hairs repel water

In a surprise move, honeybee tongue hairs repel water
ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces
“Enhanced Flexibility of the Segmented Honey Bee Tongue with Hydrophobic Tongue Hairs”

A honeybee pokes out its tongue — which is densely covered in hairs — to lap up nectar and other liquids. Now, researchers report in ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces that those hairs are water repellent. That’s unexpected, since most liquid-capturing organs in nature are hydrophilic, or water loving. But the hairs’ hydrophobic nature makes the tongue more flexible, which is useful when foraging from sources with differing shapes. The findings could help researchers design new materials.

A honeybee can feast on flower nectar, sap, fruit juice or salt water. That means its tongue must be able to interact with a broad spectrum of surfaces, such as narrow flower openings, coarse tree bark, irregularly shaped rotten fruit and damp soil. The insect’s success in exploiting these very different resources depends on the surface properties and deformability of its tongue, which consists of a series of ring-like segments, each bristling with 16 to 20 hairs that capture food. Researchers had previously studied the structure and motion of the hairs, but their surface properties and relationship to overall flexibility hadn’t received the same scrutiny. Jiangkun Wei, Zhigang Wu, Jianing Wu and colleagues set out to fill in the blanks.

The team used various forms of microscopy, along with high-speed videography and computational modeling, in their investigation. These techniques showed that the individual hairs are stiff and hydrophobic, unlike the ring segments, which are soft and hydrophilic. This difference prevents the hairs from sticking to and stiffening the tongue once it starts bending, so it can bend further to get into crevices and reach food. The stiffness of the hairs also enhances their durability, enabling the bee to use its tongue millions of times during its lifetime. The researchers say their findings could inspire the design of sophisticated new materials, such as flexible microstructured fiber systems to capture and transport viscous liquids.

The authors acknowledge funding from the National Natural Science Foundation of China, Sun Yat-sen University, Guangdong Province and Shenzhen Science and Technology Program.

The American Chemical Society (ACS) is a nonprofit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress. ACS’ mission is to advance the broader chemistry enterprise and its practitioners for the benefit of Earth and all its people. The Society is a global leader in promoting excellence in science education and providing access to chemistry-related information and research through its multiple research solutions, peer-reviewed journals, scientific conferences, eBooks and weekly news periodical Chemical & Engineering News. ACS journals are among the most cited, most trusted and most read within the scientific literature; however, ACS itself does not conduct chemical research. As a leader in scientific information solutions, its CAS division partners with global innovators to accelerate breakthroughs by curating, connecting and analyzing the world’s scientific knowledge. ACS’ main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.

Research demonstrates the value ‘injurious weeds’ can bring to both pollinators and biodiversity

Research demonstrates the value ‘injurious weeds’ can bring to both pollinators and biodiversity
by British Ecological Society
March 8, 2022

A new study demonstrates that weeds are far more valuable in supporting biodiversity than we give them credit for.

Dr. Nicholas Balfour and Professor Francis Ratnieks at the University of Sussex compared the biodiversity value of plants classified as “injurious weeds” with those stipulated by the UK’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) for pollinator-targeted agri-environmental options, such as red clover and wild marjoram.

Their findings, published in the Journal of Applied Ecology, show that the abundance and diversity of pollinators visiting weed species are far higher than DEFRA-recommended plants.

In the UK, five species of native wildflowers are classified as “injurious” in the 1959 Weeds Act. Three of them are frequently visited by many species of bees and other insects: ragwort (Jacobaea vulgaris) and two thistles (Cirsium arvense, C. vulgare). The other two are docks (Rumex crispus and R. obtusifolius), whose flowers are mainly wind-pollinated.

Dr. Balfour and Professor Ratnieks conducted a field study in East Sussex where they quantified and identified insects visiting three of these species—the flowers of ragwort, thistles, and other wildflowers, including those recommended by DEFRA—growing in six pasture or ex-pasture sites.

Their results, which found that pollinators were visiting weed species in higher numbers than DEFRA-recommended plants, were mirrored by a subsequent analysis of scientific literature.

In the Database of Pollinator Interactions, four times as many pollinator species and five times more conservation-listed species have been recorded visiting the three insect-pollinated weeds. Of the 387 plant species analyzed in the database, in terms of pollinator species recorded, the weeds were ranked 4th (C. arvense), 6th (J. vulgaris), and 13th (C. vulgare). Similarly, the Database of Insects and their Food Plants showed that twice as many herbivorous insect species are associated with the five weed species.

Dr. Nicholas Balfour, Post-Doctoral Researcher at the Laboratory of Apiculture and Social Insects (LASI) at the University of Sussex, said, “There now exists a substantial body of evidence which shows that weeds are a vitally important resource for pollinators.

“The three insect-pollinated species have open flowers that allow access to a wide variety of pollinator species, and they produce, on average, four times more nectar sugar than the DEFRA-recommended plant species.

“Pollinators are crucial to maintaining global biodiversity, ecosystem resilience and agricultural output. However, there are significant concerns about pollinator declines and the long-term decline of flowers in our landscapes is considered a key factor.

“We appreciate that agricultural weeds can cause yield losses in arable and pastureland. However, we’ve shown that they can also be of great value to both flower-visiting and herbivorous insects—and shouldn’t be underestimated when it comes to supporting our natural biodiversity.”

Freedom of information requests to public bodies such as councils, Natural England and Highways England indicated that about £10 million per year is spent controlling injurious weeds. Meanwhile, the cost of the four pollinator-targeted agri-environmental options in the UK exceeds £40m annually.

The majority of local councils indicated that they actively control ragwort, thus classing it in the same bracket as invasive, non-native species such as Japanese knotweed (Reynoutria japonica), likely due to the Ragwort Control Bill 2003.

Dr. Balfour added, “It is alarming that the many public bodies are using taxpayers’ money and volunteers to actively remove ragwort. This plant was found to support the most conservation-listed insect species in our study.

“The implementation of the Ragwort Control Bill probably deserves greater scrutiny, especially given that the evidence underpinning it is questionable.

“Our results clearly show that weeds have an underappreciated value in supporting our natural biodiversity. Unfortunately, current UK agricultural policy encourages neither land sparing for nor land sharing with weeds.”

Francis Ratnieks, Professor of Apiculture at the Laboratory of Apiculture and Social Insects (LASI) at the University of Sussex, said, “Many common native plant species valuable to wildlife conservation are, unfortunately, underappreciated. Here we show the importance of ragwort and thistles to flower-visiting insects. Previously LASI has shown the importance of bramble and ivy, plants which are often referred to in negative terms such as thugs or parasites.”

The authors are now calling for policymakers to take another look at how existing policies are implemented, and reconsider the role of weeds in future agri-environmental policy. The Environmental Land Management Scheme, which is to be rolled out for English farmers by the end of 2024, will largely replace the schemes currently available under the EU Common Agricultural Policy. The authors are hopeful that this policy will provide sufficient directives and financial incentives to persuade land managers to tolerate injurious weeds, while taking into account the challenges facing different stakeholders and the balance of practicality and cost, as well as the benefits to the natural world of tolerating weeds.

Raw Honey from Argentina, Brazil, India, and Vietnam Injures U.S. Industry, Says USITC

Raw Honey from Argentina, Brazil, India, and Vietnam Injures U.S. Industry, Says USITC

May 11, 2022
News Release 22-058
Inv. No. 731-TA-1560-1562 and 731-TA-1564 (Final)
Contact: Jennifer Andberg, 202-205-1819

Raw Honey from Argentina, Brazil, India, and Vietnam Injures U.S. Industry, Says USITC

The United States International Trade Commission (USITC) today determined that a U.S. industry is materially injured by reason of imports of raw honey from Argentina, Brazil, India, and Vietnam that the U.S. Department of Commerce (Commerce) has determined are sold in the United States at less than fair value.

Chair Jason E. Kearns, Vice Chair Randolph J. Stayin, and Commissioners David S. Johanson, Rhonda K. Schmidtlein, and Amy A. Karpel voted in the affirmative.

As a result of the Commission’s affirmative determinations, Commerce will issue antidumping duty orders on imports of this product from Argentina, Brazil, India, and Vietnam.

The Commission made a negative critical circumstances finding with regard to imports of this product from Argentina. The Commission made an affirmative critical circumstances finding with regard to imports of this product from Vietnam.

The Commission’s public report Raw Honey from Argentina, Brazil, India, and Vietnam (Inv. Nos. 731-TA-1560-1562 and 731-TA-1564 (Final), USITC Publication 5327, May 2022) will contain the views of the Commission and information developed during the investigations.

The report will be available by June 20, 2022; when available, it may be accessed on the USITC website at:

Washington, DC 20436

Raw Honey from Argentina, Brazil, India, and Vietnam
Investigation Nos.: 731-TA-1560-1562, 1564 (Final)

Product Description:  Honey is a sweet, viscous fluid produced from the nectar of plants and flowers which is collected by honeybees, transformed, and combined with substances of their own, and stored and left in honeycombs to mature and ripen. Raw honey is honey as it exists in the beehive or as obtained by extraction, settling and skimming, or straining.

Status of Proceedings:

  1. Type of investigation:  Final antidumping duty investigations.
  2. Petitioners:  American Honey Producers Association (“AHPA“), Bruce, South Dakota; and Sioux Honey Association (“SHA”), Sioux City, Iowa.
  3. USITC Institution Date:  Wednesday, April 21, 2021.
  4. USITC Hearing Date:  Tuesday, April 12, 2022.
  5. USITC Vote Date:  Wednesday, May 11, 2022.
  6. USITC Notification to Commerce Date:  Tuesday, May 31, 2022.

U.S. Industry in 2020:

  1. Number of U.S. producers:  approximately 30,000 to 60,000.
  2. Location of producers’ plants: North Dakota, South Dakota, California, Texas, Montana, Florida, Minnesota, and Michigan
  3. Production and related workers:  1,360.
  4. U.S. producers’ U.S. shipments:  $302 million.
  5. Apparent U.S. consumption:  $690 million.
  6. Ratio of subject imports to apparent U.S. consumption:  42.8 percent.

U.S. Imports in 2020:

  1. Subject imports:  $296 million.
  2. Nonsubject imports:  $93 million.
  3. Leading import sources:  Argentina, Brazil, India, Vietnam.

What does this mean for beekeepers?

The decision will be transmitted to the Commerce Department, which will issue antidumping duty orders shortly. In addition, the Commission reached an affirmative critical circumstances determination against Vietnam. This means that U.S. Customs will collect antidumping duties on entries going back an additional 90 days prior to the preliminary antidumping duty determination—from August 28, 2020, forward. This is an important additional finding, and one that the Commission rarely makes.

These results should continue to ensure that the American honey producer gets the fair prices they deserve.

We truly appreciate all of the donations that we have received to cover legal fees.

The good fight isn’t over yet, however, and we still need your support.

To donate to the Antidumping Fund, please contact
Cassie Cox:

Or donate on our secure website:

Bees can tell difference between odd and even numbers; here’s how it helps

Bees can tell difference between odd and even numbers; here’s how it helps
By teaching other animal species to discriminate between odd and even numbers, and perform other abstract mathematics, we can learn more about how maths and abstract thought emerged in humans

Scarlett Howard | Monash University
Adrian Dyer | RMIT University
Andrew Greentree | RMIT University
Jair Garcia | RMIT University
1 May, 2022

Two, four, six, eight; bog in, don’t wait.

As children, we learn numbers can either be even or odd. And there are many ways to categorise numbers as even or odd. We may memorise the rule that numbers ending in 1, 3, 5, 7, or 9 are odd while numbers ending in 0, 2, 4, 6, or 8 are even. Or we may divide a number by 2 where any whole number outcome means the number is even, otherwise it must be odd.

Similarly, when dealing with real-world objects we can use pairing. If we have an unpaired element left over, that means the number of objects was odd.

Until now odd and even categorisation, also called parity classification, had never been shown in non-human animals. In a new study, published today in the journal Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution, we show honeybees can learn to do this.

Parity categorisation
Why is parity categorisation special? Parity tasks (such as odd and even categorisation) are considered abstract and high-level numerical concepts in humans. Interestingly, humans demonstrate accuracy, speed, language and spatial relationship biases when categorising numbers as odd or even. For example, we tend to respond faster to even numbers with actions performed by our right hand, and to odd numbers with actions performed by our left hand.

We are also faster, and more accurate, when categorising numbers as even compared to odd. And research has found children typically associate the word even with right and odd with left.

These studies suggest humans may have learnt biases and/or innate biases regarding odd and even numbers, which may have arisen either through evolution, cultural transmission, or a combination of both.

It isn’t obvious why parity might be important beyond its use in mathematics, so the origins of these biases remain unclear. Understanding if and how other animals can recognise (or can learn to recognise) odd and even numbers could tell us more about our own history with parity.

Training bees to learn odd and even
Studies have shown honeybees can learn to order quantities, perform simple addition and subtraction, match symbols with quantities and relate size and number concepts. To teach bees a parity task, we separated individuals into two groups. One was trained to associate even numbers with sugar water and odd numbers with a bitter-tasting liquid (quinine). The other group was trained to associate odd numbers with sugar water, and even numbers with quinine.

We trained individual bees using comparisons of odd versus even numbers (with cards presenting 1-10 printed shapes) until they chose the correct answer with 80% accuracy.

Remarkably, the respective groups learnt at different rates. The bees trained to associate odd numbers with sugar water learnt quicker. Their learning bias towards odd numbers was the opposite of humans, who categorise even numbers more quickly.

We then tested each bee on new numbers not shown during the training. Impressively, they categorised the new numbers of 11 or 12 elements as odd or even with an accuracy of about 70%.

Our results showed the miniature brains of honeybees were able to understand the concepts of odd and even. So a large and complex human brain consisting of 86 billion neurons, and a miniature insect brain with about 960,000 neurons, could both categorise numbers by parity.

Read the rest of the article here: