ABF “Friends of the Bee” Fund
Bee-friend the Honey Bee!
Looking for the perfect way to honor a friend or family member while helping to protect and preserve one of nature’s finest? Why not make a donation in his or her name to the ABF Friends of the Bee fund?
The honey bee today faces it’s largest challenge in its long history — its continued survival. Factors fighting against the honey bee include:
- Parasitic varroa mites that not only affect colony numbers, but vector over a dozen viruses that affect honey bee health.
- Continued loss of habitat due to urban expansion and the even larger problem of monocultural practices of modern agriculture.
- Challenging weather extremes that can affect honey bee health due to drought and floral degradation.
- Increased use of pesticides affecting all beneficial insects.
With your generous donation you can help protect the honey bee habitat, aid in the fight against Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), encourage government-sponsored research, assist in the battle against adulterated honey in the marketplace and help ensure the continued role of the honey bee in pollinating 1/3 of our food supply.
Support the world’s most beneficial insect and become a friend of the bee with your donation of $25, $50 or $100. Donate today and receive a stylish ABF Friends of the Bee bumper sticker…and help us tip the balance back in favor of the honey bee. Click here to download the donation form or contact the ABF at 404.760.2875 for assistance.
Click here to donate online and become a friend of the bee.
Keep Queens in Charge
Researchers have identified a particular class of structurally similar, queen-specific hydrocarbons that suppress the reproduction of ant, wasp and bumblebee workers alike — and they suggest that these pheromones have been around, signaling fertility in social insects, for nearly 150 million years. Previous studies have shown that when it comes to such social insects, queens maintain their monopoly on reproduction by emitting chemical signals that render their loyal workers infertile. But, even though these signals, called pheromones, achieve the same end in various species, they are structurally diverse. Annette Van Oystaeyen and colleagues studied the chemical profiles of the outer skeleton, or cuticle, of the desert ant, the common wasp and the buff-tailed bumblebee and found several compounds that were specifically overproduced in the queens of each species. They tested those chemicals on workers and discovered that, even when their queens were gone, the presence of saturated hydrocarbons kept the workers infertile. (Meanwhile, however, control groups of the insect species rapidly developed ovaries in the absence of their queens.)
Van Oystaeyen and her colleagues compared their findings to those of 90 other published studies and investigated the chemicals that have been consistently overproduced by queens across 64 different species. Their findings reveal that saturated hydrocarbons are, by far, the most common class of chemicals overproduced by social insect queens. In fact, their study suggests that similar hydrocarbons were used by the solitary ancestors of ants, wasps and bumblebees to indicate their reproductive status millions of years ago. The study suggests that these chemicals have been evolutionarily stable, and that queen pheromones are honest signs of the queen’s fertility (not manipulative signals, variable over time, meant to actively suppress worker reproduction). A Perspective article by Michel Chapuisat explains this study in more detail and highlights its implications regarding the ancient origins of eusociality.
EPA Awards Funding
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced agricultural grants for Integrated Pest Management (IPM) practices to reduce the use of potentially harmful pesticides and lower risk to bees all while controlling pests and saving money. “These collaborative projects can provide innovative solutions to reduce pesticide risks to pollinators and crops,” said James Jones, assistant administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention. “Initiatives such as these will encourage others to adopt promising technologies and practices across the nation to reduce pesticide risks while maximizing crop production and protecting public health.”
IPM relies on easy-to-implement, environmentally-sensitive practices that prevent pests from becoming a threat. These practices involve monitoring and identifying pests and taking preventive action before pesticides are used. If pesticides are needed, methods such as targeted spraying may be used. These grants will expand public-private stewardship efforts and reduce pesticide risk in agriculture.
The Agricultural IPM Grants are awarded to:
The Louisiana State University project to minimize impacts to bees from insecticides used in mosquito control. Mosquito control is critical for public health; however, insecticides can be hazardous to bees. Bees are essential for crop production and ensuring a healthy food supply. Practices and guidelines resulting from the project will be distributed to mosquito control districts and beekeepers throughout the U.S.
The University of Vermont project to reduce pesticide use and improve pest control while increasing crop yields on 75 acres of hops in the Northeast. The awardees will also develop and distribute outreach materials to help farmers adopt these practices. The project’s goal is to reduce herbicide and fungicide applications by 50 percent while decreasing downy mildew, a plant disease.
The Pennsylvania State University project to protect bees and crops by reducing reliance on neonicotinoid pesticide seed treatments and exploring the benefits of growing crops without them. IPM in no-till grain fields will be used to control slugs and other pests that damage corn and soybeans. Researchers will share their findings with mid-Atlantic growers and agricultural professionals.
Protection of bee populations is among EPA’s top priorities. Some of the factors that contribute to the decline in pollinators include: loss of habitat, parasites and disease, genetics, poor nutrition and pesticide exposure. EPA is engaged in national and international efforts to address these concerns. The agency is working with beekeepers, growers, pesticide manufacturers, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and states to apply technologies to reduce pesticide exposure to bees. These efforts will advance best management practices, enhance enforcement and ensure that real-world pollinator risks are accounted for in our pesticide regulatory decisions.
IPM grants will supplement these efforts as well as providing solutions to maximize crop production while minimizing the unintended impacts from pesticides.
Inside the Hive