Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Minutes December 8, 2014


 Notes from 12/8/2014 Meeting
30 members attended, not counting spouses and kids.  New members: Mary Ebert, Ed Furnish, Sara Fort, Kathleen Green, Ken Johnson, Carolyn Lemaster, Jim Scott, Mike and Cindy Spading, Ben Stevens

Vice Prez: Floyd Otdoerfer agreed to take over as ECIBA vice-president, replacing Terry Dahms.
Dave Irvin would like to have your humorous bee stories.

Beekeeping Stories: Anyone who keeps bees for very long has stories about it, many of them hilarious, at least in retrospect.  President Dave Irvin suggests we write them down—we might be able to sell a book of such stories for fundraising.
Protecting Bees in Iowa: This ISU pamphlet is now out of print. Too bad—we used to give out copies at our beekeeper booths at meetings and  fairs.   Bob Wolff has an electronic copy he will get to Jim Davis to put on our ECIBA website.
Horizontal top-bar hives: December issue of Acres has plans how to build these.
Floyd Otdoerfer reporting on the Iowa Honey Producers annual meeting.

Iowa Honey Producers Association, Marshalltown, Nov 14-15, 2014: (Floyd Otdoerfer report) State Apiarist Andy Joseph said that last winter was very hard on Iowa bees, with 60-70% of colonies reported lost by March.  [DLC comment: It’s useful to check your hives on winter days when it is warm enough that bees are flying: if you find them clustered up under the top cover, they are out of honey, and need to be fed.]  Andy again advised beekeepers to check and treat for mites, to renew colony registration every spring, and to be sure to report bee kills that might be due to nearby pesticide applications.  Keith Delaplane of UGeorgia said that new swarms will seek elbowroom, and typically settle in places over 500m from the home hive.  He recommends frequent checks of larva in your brood frames—larva need to be immersed in jelly it they are to thrive.  If larva cells look dry, feed protein! Also, be sure and get rid of old dark comb, which will have collected pesticide residue.  Marla Spivak of UMinn has sponsored many volunteer groups to help beekeepers there—some groups specialize in mentoring beginners, and others in doing inspections and advising professionals. Marla also is involved in awarding cash grants to worthy bee causes through the Midwest, including several in Iowa.  [DLC comment: I’m pretty sure Marla was awarded the 2010 MacArthur Foundation Fellowship genius grant.  Was that what she used the MacArthur money for?]  Marla has done studies of protein content of various pollens, and points out that corn pollen won’t help bees very much: only ~5% protein.  She also says poplar and cottonwood resin make some of the best propolis, and that bees will seal cracks up to 1/8” (up to 1/3 of a bee space, that is). 
Dave Campbell talked about his involvement with an ISU bee virus study.

(Dave Campbell report) Four of us who were present at tonite’s meeting had provided bee samples in fall 2013 to Amy Toth and Adam Dolezal of ISU for their bee virus study. They gave their results at this year’s IAPA and in the November issue of The Buzz.  Their idea was to look at apiaries in heavily cropped areas (>70% cultivated fields nearby) versus those not (<35%).  They anticipated the <35% bees would be better nourished, and have fewer mites and viruses.  Not so!  It turned out that bees from both groups were about equally fat, and had about equal mites (average was ~3 mites/every 100 bees).  Not surprisingly, though, high mite levels made for high viruses.  Four virus types were measured: deformed wing virus (DWV), black queen cell virus (BQCV), Israeli acute paralysis virus (IAPV), and sacbrood virus (SBV).  DWV and BQCV were fairly common, and the others rare, though high when present. Conclusions: treat for mites if you have high mite levels (later speaker Mike Goblirsch said >7 mites/ 100 bees), and put your hives in low-cultivation areas when possible (a finding from other studies, though not this one).  Marla Spivak’s people at UMinn have put together a poster showing how to do a powdered sugar mite test.  Find it at http://www.beelab.umn.edu/prod/groups/cfans/@pub/@cfans/@bees/documents/asset/cfans_asset_317466.pdf.
Mary Harris of ISU reported on best practice recommendations resulting from work done for the Corn Dust Research Consortium (stakeholders included beekeepers, manufacturers, farmers, and university).  Not surprising, pneumatic corn planters (the modern air-puff ones, as opposed to the older spike-finger types) make dust that gets on bee plants.  The dust contains neonics which stay on nearby plants for at least 3 weeks, despite rain, and for over a year in groundwater.  Nowadays many farmers plant very early, before the ground is actually warm enough to germinate corn (>~60oF).  (They add fungicides to keep the seed from rotting in the meantime.) Problem: that early in the year our bees are out collecting pollen from early bloomers like willows, maples, and ash.  Many samples of willow pollen that were tested had doses of neonics (1.6-3.4 ng/bee) high enough to be lethal to bees (LD50 = 2.8 ng/bee).  Recommendations: farmers should stop planting so early, use coated seed only when really necessary, and be sure to follow manufacturer’s specs.  However, uncoated seed must be special-ordered, is rarely available, and costs just the same; so it will be hard to get anybody to follow advice like that.
In a separate study, Mary Harris’ people found that putting 10% of cornfields in prairie strips reduced water runoff by 95%, phosphorus loss by 90%, and nitrogen loss by 85%.  Plus, prairie strips provide forage for bees!  [DLC comment: that’s great, but how does it compare with no-till?  Way more farmers are going to no-till nowadays.  Practical Farmers of Iowa (PFA) ought to check this out!]

==Dave Campbell, ECIBA Secretary