Latest News

June 29, 2020

AHPA App


As AHPA continues to work on behalf of all beekeepers, one of our initiatives is advocating with the FDA in Washington D.C. to update honey labeling guidelines.  As part of this effort, we need your help to collect pictures of honey labels from around the United States.  Our goal is primarily to find honey that is mislabeled according to current FDA guidelines.  Secondarily, we need examples of any labels which misrepresent country of origin or are purposefully confusing to consumers so that we can advocate for positive changes and updates. 

Search the App Store or Google Play for "AHPA app”.  We need to collect as many pictures from honey on the store shelf as possible.  Please take a few minutes to help collect this data.

Introducing Mattie Joiner
AHPA's new Media Specialist

 Born into a commercial beekeeping family, Mattie Joiner grew up in and out of bee yards across south Mississippi. She left the beekeeping world to pursue acting, studying the craft in New York City before becoming the first individual to graduate from Harding University with a BA in Acting. She enjoyed working as a weather anchor and producer in Searcy, AR on HU16 News “Live at Five,” and spent time as a radio disc jockey for KVHU 95.3. She has experience in modeling, sales, newswriting, editing, and video editing and production. She is thrilled to finally return to the world of bees and is looking forward to promoting the AHPA through social media. Mattie lives in North Little Rock, AR with her husband, Joshua, and rambunctious German Shepherd, Scout.

Loss & Management Survey

THE 2019 – 2020 HONEY BEE COLONY LOSS SURVEY PRELIMINARY RESULTS ARE RELEASED!

PLEASE SEE OUR PRELIMINARY RESULTS ABSTRACT POSTED HERE.

This year 3,377 beekeepers participated representing 276,832 colonies! We estimate this represents nearly 10% of all US colonies, giving us a good representation of the losses experienced.

One of the Bee Informed Partnership’s major focuses is to bring together several disciplines to study ways to keep honey bee colonies healthy.

 

One way we try to help all beekeepers is by conducting annual surveys and sharing the results with the beekeeping community. Our flagship service, The Bee Informed National Loss and Management Survey, reflects this goal.

We release our National Survey annually to study beekeeping management practices using epidemiology. Epidemiology looks for patterns across groups of people who are infected with specific diseases and their common traits. We then compare this data with people who are free of disease to pinpoint the most influential factors in contracting the illness.

We poll thousands of beekeepers every year to find out as much as we can about their beekeeping management practices. We then compare the rates of loss among beekeepers who did or did not use a specific management practice. Now that we have years of data, we are beginning to identify patterns across the best performing beekeepers in each region to start to understand what combinations of management practices work best at keeping colonies alive.

What’s just as interesting is looking at the patterns across beekeepers who aren’t doing well so we can better understand what we should stop doing. We hypothesize that over time, certain practices or products lose their potency and we need to adapt.

https://beeinformed.org/citizen-science/loss-and-management-survey/

US beekeepers fear for their future

 

Skyrocketing demand for honey has meant that prices in the US have almost doubled over the past decade - so why are American beekeepers struggling to make ends meet?

By Pamela Parker Business reporter, BBC News, California

 

David Bradshaw has been a beekeeper for almost half a century.

Born in Pasadena, and raised in California's rural Central Valley, he purchased his first 200 hives while still in high school. He then worked alongside his father until they each had about 2,000.

With the average price of honey on US supermarket shelves at $8.09 (£6.48) per pound (454g) last month, up from $4.66 in May 2010, you'd think that it was boom times for Mr Bradshaw and the other 36,000 or so US beekeepers.

Instead, many are on the brink of going out of business, despite the big price rise as US honey consumption has grown by more than a third over the same period.

"It's hard," says the 63-year-old. "It's hard selling the honey.

"I do some commercial extraction for other beekeepers. And since they can't sell their honey either, they have problems paying me."

"These days I get paid only $1.25 to $1.50 per pound of honey, with prices falling further. To break even, I need to be paid at least $2 per pound, which hasn't happened for about three years."

So what is the cause of the problem? There are a number of factors, from the US importing huge volumes of low-cost honey from overseas, to insufficient labelling rules, and even outright cheating - whereby honey is mixed with cheaper ingredients, such as corn syrup.

A trip to any US grocery store indicates the issue regarding honey labels. There are shelves stacked with honey jars labelled "US grade A".

So a patriotic American might think that this is the very best quality honey to buy. Unfortunately it doesn't actually mean that the honey in question is from the US.

Instead the term "US grade A" is a guideline issued by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) for some metrics of honey, such as moisture, content, colour and clarity. Grades B and C are also available.

So a jar of A could be labelled as such and then also say, often in very small print, that it is a mixture of honeys from a number of other countries.

The problem for US beekeepers is that while they say they need to be paid $2 per pound to break even, foreign honey can be imported for as little as 81 cents per pound.

The US imports its honey from a number countries, with India the biggest source, followed by Vietnam, Argentina and Brazil.

So the people making big profits from honey sales in the US are the importers and honey retail companies, not the domestic beekeepers.

However, Nicholas Sargeantson, owner of the largest importer of honey to the US, Sunland Trading, points out that the imports are vital to meet demand.

"Imported honey, in general, is coming in large volumes because the consumption here is over 500m lb (227m kg) [per year] and only 150m lb are produced domestically," he says.

While it is perfectly legal to import and sell foreign honey in the US if the origin is stated, in some cases the country or countries of origin can be illegally hidden or mislabelled. The honey can also have been secretly and fraudulently adulterated, or bulked out, with corn syrup or other cheaper ingredients.

Sweetwater Science Labs, an independent testing lab in Missouri, says that roughly 35-40% of of consumer-instigated honey testing it conducted over the past 18 months was either adulterated, of false origin, or of poor quality because it had been overly processed, such as being overheated.

"I have been seeing more and more testing requests to verify the origin of honey, [not just from consumers] but even from growers and smaller packers testing the origins of competitor products," says Sweetwater's chief chemist James Gawenis.

Accusations of fraud have dogged the US honey trade for decades and Mitchell Weinberg, chief executive of food fraud detection agency Inscatech, says things remain as bad as ever. "I've done numerous honey investigations over the past 10 years, and I can say with certainty that the problem of honey fraud today is still huge,"

The problem for the US honey industry in dealing with this all is that the sector remains largely self-regulated, with very little government monitoring.

Take the USDA's grading system - it isn't actually enforced. Honeys are not routinely tested by the department, or any other federal agency.

Michael Roberts, executive director at the Resnick Centre for Food Law and Policy at the University of California Los Angeles School of Law, says the government must do more to police the US honey sector.

"There is insufficient coordination between government agencies to police honey fraud in a way that would make it effective," he says.

This lack of coordination is quickly revealed when the USDA was asked whether its honey grading system should be strengthened. It replied to the BBC that "overall authority for food labelling is the responsibility of the FDA [the US Food and Drug Administration, which is part of the US Department of Health and Human Services]".

Its response was similar when it was asked what it was doing about the problem of adulterated honey: "Again this is ultimately the authority of the FDA."

A spokesman for the FDA said that it "does not have any regulations governing country of origin labelling." Instead it said it was a matter for the USDA.

However, he added that regarding honey adulteration: "The FDA considers product labelling, and the statements and representations made therein, on a case-by-case basis. [And] all statements on a food label must be truthful and not misleading."

The problem of adulterated foreign honey coming into the US is the biggest issue, says Ron Phipps, of the International Federation of Beekeepers Associations.

"The reality is not that American beekeepers are non-competitive," he says. "The problem is other countries are using means of production, which have been observed and documented, that allow production of huge quantities of adulterated honey whose production costs are extremely low."

Beekeeper David Bradshaw is clear about what he would like to see. "I'd like to see [more] prominent labelling of the country of origin of all honey sold," he says.

He also hopes to see stronger enforcement to protect US beekeepers from adulterated honey, or honey that tries to hide its country of origin, both of which suppress prices.

Chris Hiatt, vice president of the American Honey Producers Association, says that something has to be done. "We need a decent price to keep our businesses going," he says. "It is a serious problem."

https://www.bbc.com/news/business-53149367

HONEY SALES ARE UP 

For the honey industry, business is buzzing with an increase in customers buying in bulk, despite complications from the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. According to Nielsen, between April 11th and May 4th, significantly higher numbers of units and sales of honey were reported sold at retail as compared to the same time period last year. There has been a 62% increase in sales and a 53% increase in units in the month of April alone. And over the last 52 weeks, sales trends show an 11% increase in sales and 8% increase in units – a positive sign for honey as we progress further into 2020. 

CELEBRATING BEEKEEPING CAMPAIGN UPDATE

Earlier this year, the National Honey Board launched a campaign to promote the first in a series of videos Celebrating Beekeeping. Part of a larger sustainability initiative, these videos bring to life the story of beekeeping and honey production. Each video will highlight the positive impact the honey industry has on the environment and communities in the United States and around the world. To date, the campaign has generated over 4.4 million views in just over six weeks. 

What kind of bee is that bee? Exotic Bee ID website expanded

by United States Department of Agriculture

June 26, 2020

Exotic Bee ID, a website created through a collaborative effort between the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and Utah State University (USU) to help identify non-native bees in the United States, has been expanded to include more information and species.

While Exotic Bee ID is designed primarily as a screening tool for those who monitor and intercept non-native bees coming into this country, such as people working at ports of entry, state agriculture departments, and university extension services, it also is set up to be used by growers, hobbyists and home owners—that is, essentially anyone with an interest in identifying bees. Access to the website is free.

Unveiled in 2018, the original website provided information and identification resources

for honey bee species and Megachilidae—the taxonomic family that includes leafcutter bees, mason bees and resin bees. The expansion added information and species level ID guides for selected exotic and native bees from the genera of wool carder bees and additional mason bees.

"We focused on these groups as they include the majority of non-native bees that either have already been introduced or have a high potential to invade the U.S. and then some of their look alike natives," explained entomologist Terry L. Griswold with the ARS Pollinating Insect-Biology, Management, Systematics Research Unit in Logan, Utah, who is the ARS collaborator for the website. "Introductions of new species can have negative consequences from bringing in new pathogens and parasites to displacing native species. Ultimately, this easy-to-use, accurate website could help reduce native pollinator losses."

A unique feature of Exotic Bee ID is that the identification guides can be entered at any point from color of parts of the insect's anatomy, presence and placement of hairs, leg shape, distribution ranges, or other elements. This is unlike conventional keys that are set up to make binary yes/no decisions in a predetermined order of characteristics that entomologists build to identify bees.

"You start your search for an ID in the key using whatever features you feel comfortable recognizing. While many of the physical traits can only be seen using a microscope, if you are looking at a live bee or a photo you took with your phone you can narrow down your options using features you can see," said USU Exotic Bee ID project coordinator Skyler Burrows. "Or you can just start looking at the photos in the website's gallery for similar looking bees."

For example, you find an unfamiliar bee in your Chicago garden on a lamb's ears plant defending it by flying in small circles to drive off other insects. Taking a closer look you may see yellow bands on the back of the abdomen that are separated in the center to form a black "V-shape" and even possibly the pollen collecting hairs on the underside of the abdomen.

Keying these physical traits will winnow the possible identification from hundreds to 14. When you add in the behavior and range, there is only one ID: European wool carder bee Anthidium manicatum.

A native of Europe, Asia and North Africa, the European Wool Carder bee was accidently introduced into the United States in the 1950s and has since spread across the country.

The nucleus of information that forms Exotic Bee ID comes from ARS' U.S. National Pollinating Insects Collection, a world class collection of more than 1.6 million specimens from around the country and the world, also housed in Logan, Utah.

The Exotic Bee ID website has been augmented with incredibly sharp photos taken by a special camera that can magnify insect parts 1000X and then automatically stitch the photos together, sometimes more than hundreds of individual shots to create images as large as a gigabyte each that show every detail.

Bayer Launches 2020 Blue Ribbon Beekeeper Award and Feed a Bee Seed Giveaway Program to Celebrate National Pollinator Week

 

Company continues its dedication to biodiversity by recognizing next generation of beekeepers and pollinator enthusiasts

 

ST. LOUIS (June 22, 2020) – In celebration of National Pollinator Week, Bayer today announced two new initiatives: a nationwide call for the next generation of beekeepers and pollinator health advocates to apply for the Bayer Bee Care Blue Ribbon Beekeeper Award, and a seed giveaway program to make free seeds available to pollinator enthusiasts interested in planting forage through the Bayer Feed a Bee initiative. National Pollinator Week, taking place this year June 22 – 28, was established 13 years ago by Pollinator Partnership to raise awareness about the significant work pollinators do to help put food on our tables.

 

An initiative of the Bayer Bee Care Program, the Blue Ribbon Beekeeper Award recognizes students between the ages of 12 and 18 who are actively working to support honey bee and pollinator health in their communities. Those who apply have the opportunity to win $3,000 (1st place), $2,000 (2nd place) or $1,000 (3rd place) to support the continuation of their work or to help fund their college tuition. 

 

“Now more than ever, it’s critical that the industry recognize and empower students who will become our future scientists, resource managers, environmentalists, apiarists and educators,” said Aimee Hood, regulatory and scientific engagement lead for Crop Science, a division of Bayer. “Whether they’re already keeping bees or working in the lab to find solutions for pollinators’ most pressing issues, such as a lack of abundant forage, Bayer is thrilled to seek out the next generation of biodiversity champions.”

 

Last year, Bayer introduced the Blue Ribbon Beekeeper Award, which recognized past winners and standout applicants of its former program, the Young Beekeeper Award. This year’s program will again celebrate the outstanding achievements of young people who have made a positive impact on their communities through beekeeping or other pollinator-related research and activities. Past honorees have won based on their efforts researching treatments for American foulbrood disease and Varroa mites, honey bees’ No. 1 enemy; educating their communities about the importance of pollinators; managing their own hives, standing out in their respective beekeeping associations, and more.

 

The 2020 winners will be determined by a panel of industry experts. In addition to Hood, panel members include: 

  • Joan Gunter, president, American Beekeeping Federation

  • Brandon Hopkins, assistant research professor, apiary and laboratory manager, Washington State University

  • Grace Kunkel, communications coordinator, Project Apis m.

  • Jake Reisdorf, first-ever Young Beekeeper Award winner and 2019 Blue Ribbon Beekeeper Award winner; CEO, Carmel Honey Company

 

The judges will select winners based on their applications, their responses to two essay questions and a professional reference from an individual involved in the student’s project, such as a mentoring beekeeper/apiarist, community or agricultural organization leader, grower, teacher, school official or member of another relevant organization (e.g., beekeeping or gardening association).

 

“It’s incredibly important for companies like Bayer to recognize and support the work young beekeepers are doing for pollinator health,” said Reisdorf, who is 17 years old and a rising senior. “From a young age, I’ve been fascinated by bees, so I love teaching others about pollinators and their contributions to our food supply. As a high school student, I strive to lead my community by example by engaging young students across the country to get excited about beekeeping and STEM education, and I’m excited that Bayer is just as committed.”

 

Any student between the ages of 12 and 18 who has approval from a legal guardian as well as a sponsoring mentor may apply for the 2020 award. To review application requirements and enter online, please visit: beehealth.bayer.us/blue-ribbon-beekeeper-award.

 

Also in recognition of National Pollinator Week, the Bayer Feed a Bee initiative is relaunching its seed giveaway program, focused on making free seeds available to pollinator enthusiasts around the country looking to do their part to support the health of bees, butterflies and other pollinators. Those interested in requesting pollinator-attractant seeds can visit FeedABee.com/seeds beginning today to request a free shipment of Feed a Bee seed packets, which can be used to create a pollinator haven in backyards, community gardens, on windowsills, doorsteps and more to help fill the gap of existing pollinator forage sources across the U.S.

 

Feed a Bee and Blue Ribbon Beekeepers are initiatives of the Bayer Bee Care Program, which continues the company's 30-year history of supporting bee health. For more information on Bayer bee and pollinator health initiatives, please visit: beehealth.bayer.us. You can also follow and share with us on Twitter and Instagram @Bayer4CropsUS and view photos on Flickr.

 

Bayer is committed to bringing new technology and solutions for agriculture and non-agricultural uses. For questions concerning the availability and use of products, contact a local Bayer representative, or visit Crop Science, a division of Bayer, online at www.cropscience.bayer.us.

 

Visit the Bayer Connect - Social Hub for social media, recent news, blog posts, videos and more from Crop Science, a division of Bayer.

###

 

About Bayer

Bayer is a global enterprise with core competencies in the life science fields of health care and nutrition. Its products and services are designed to benefit people by supporting efforts to overcome the major challenges presented by a growing and aging global population. At the same time, the Group aims to increase its earning power and create value through innovation and growth. Bayer is committed to the principles of sustainable development, and the Bayer brand stands for trust, reliability and quality throughout the world. In fiscal 2019, the Group employed around 104,000 people and had sales of 43.5 billion euros. Capital expenditures amounted to 2.9 billion euros, R&D expenses to 5.3 billion euros. For more information, go to www.bayer.com.

 

Contact:

Bayer Media Hotline, 1-862-404-5118, or

 

Susan Luke
Crop Science, a division of Bayer

Tel: (314) 412-5406

Email: susan.luke@bayer.com

June 16, 2020

AHPA App


As AHPA continues to work on behalf of all beekeepers, one of our initiatives is advocating with the FDA in Washington D.C. to update honey labeling guidelines.  As part of this effort, we need your help to collect pictures of honey labels from around the United States.  Our goal is primarily to find honey that is mislabeled according to current FDA guidelines.  Secondarily, we need examples of any labels which misrepresent country of origin or are purposefully confusing to consumers so that we can advocate for positive changes and updates. 

Search the App Store or Google Play for "AHPA app”.  We need to collect as many pictures from honey on the store shelf as possible.  Please take a few minutes to help collect this data.

EVALUATION OF THE DIRECT ECONOMIC IMPACT OF DECREASING PRICES OF HONEY ON THE MAIN HONEY EXPORT COUNTRIES OF THE AMERICAS

 

The greatest damage to beekeepers in human history.

 

Prepared by the Apimondia Regional Commission of the Americas

and the Apimondia Scientific Commission of Beekeeping Economy.

 

Introduction

Any variation of honey prices in the international market has a direct effect on the beekeeping sector since honey prices directly power the activity in countries with a significant participation in the international market, and indirectly in countries with a lower participation. As clearly described in the APIMONDIA Statement on Honey Fraud (Apimondia, 2020), the preservation of honey quality and purity becomes absolutely essential for the sustainability of the honey chain whose foundation begins with beekeepers.

The American continent shows quite different realities in terms of participation in the international honey market. On the one hand, there is a group of important honey exporting countries, such as Argentina, Mexico, Brazil, Chile, Cuba, Uruguay, etc. On the other hand, we have a group of importing countries, some with small volumes in order to balance their domestic consumption and others such as the world's largest importer of honey, the United States of America, which demands about 30% of the product that is marketed worldwide. Canada, a major global exporter of honey is also an importer of significant quantities with a developed domestic market.

In the world´s biggest honey market, the U.S., the problem of honey fraud has involved circumvention through third countries in which a false country of origin was designed to avoid the high antidumping duties which prevail in the U.S.  As in the case of many commodities which are tinged with fraud, the prices of such products are always well below what a normal market would demand.  The pernicious consequences of adulteration of honey derive from the fact that modern modes of adulteration create a situation in which there are no limits to the quantities nor floors to the prices of adulterated honey.

The problem of adulteration involves both the export of adulterated honey and the export of the methods for adulterating honey.  This underlies the collapse of honey prices and threatens beekeepers with an existential crisis.

During the last APIMONDIA International Congress in Montreal, Canada, major concerns of different members of the beekeeping sector were related to falling prices of honey and the prevalence of adulteration in the international honey market.

The international phenomenon of the adulteration of honey in this modern era has resulted in the largest economic losses that have been suffered by the beekeepers of the world, including in the Americas, in human history.  Furthermore, this adulteration has put in jeopardy hundreds of billions of dollars of annual agricultural production, threatening global food security and global ecological sustainability.  In order to have an idea of the magnitude of the importance of bees on agricultural production, Karasinski (2018) demonstrated that the economic value of pollination services that bees provide in Australia is about 140 times greater than the value of honey.

Based on that concern, we decided to start this collaborative work between the Regional Commission of the Americas and the Scientific Commission on Beekeeping Economy of APIMONDIA. An exhaustive economic assessment of all the effects caused by adulteration  on the different beekeeping industries of the Americas is a quite a complex task which requires the collaboration of different types of experts. For instance, in countries that do not produce enough honey to meet local demand, the importation of cheap and low-quality honeys slows down the development of new beekeeping operations and the potential growth and professionalization of existing ones. Unfair and unsustainable prices do not generate the necessary incentives to produce.

The objective of this work is to focus on the estimation of the direct economic loss suffered by the honey exporting countries of the Americas due to the fall of the international prices of the product, which has a direct impact on beekeepers and the entire beekeeping sector, but also on public incomes since governments do not receive at least part of the corresponding taxes for the exported honey.

Trade data used in this report were sourced from International Trade Centre (ITC) – UNCOMTRADE – Argentine Chamber of Exporters (CERA)’s High Performance Platform.

Similar studies of the economic losses throughout the international community of beekeepers should also commence.  Demonstrating and illustrating the economic losses created in a marketplace by several modes of adulteration show gains to a few and strategic harm to the many.

 

Offer and Demand

Global demand for honey has been steadily growing in recent years. Over the past ten years, global honey imports increased by approximately 34%, from 497,270 tonnes in 2010 to 665,306 tonnes in 2019 (Figure 1). It should be noted, however, that this growth may be somewhat overestimated because some countries have been recently incentivized to import honey and then re-export it as locally produced (García, 2018). This overestimation could reflect “Honeygate”, the action of the U.S. judicial system which uncovered fraudulent country of origin designations, during which there was transhipment of Chinese honey through about 30 different countries. 

During the last ten years, the main ten honey exporting countries in the Americas (Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Mexico, Chile, Uruguay, Cuba, El Salvador, Guatemala and Nicaragua) have increased their exports by only 6.5 %, at an average increase rate of 2,407 tonnes per year.  This differs from and is interrelated to the startling increases in exports from the ten major honey exporting countries in the Eastern Hemisphere (China, India, Ukraine, Vietnam, Thailand, Turkey, Pakistan, the Russian Federation, Taiwan and Myanmar), which increased their total honey exports a 95.8 % during the last ten years at a rate of increase of 16,307 tonnes per year (Figure 1).

Honey production is more inelastic than other agricultural productions, and does not grow rapidly even under a significant increase of the demand. In contrast, the production of adulterated honey is very elastic, sophisticated, pernicious and economically rewarding.  The increase in the number of hives, through the generation of new beekeepers or the growth of existing operations, is a time-consuming process. In addition, more hives do not necessarily mean more honey under the current agro-ecological conditions of constant increase of land dedicated to agriculture. Increasing amounts of land are being dedicated to crops such as soybeans, replacing more desirable clover and wildflower fields.  The growing use of agrochemicals affects biodiversity and also the life of bees, making it increasingly difficult and costly to maintain bee colonies alive and productive.  Colony Collapse Disorder is in some way a denomination to these types of problems for the bees.

In a context of increasing difficulties for honey production, the growth of the ten major honey exporting countries in the Eastern Hemisphere looks very astonishing. Have at least some of these Eastern countries discovered new techniques for producing honey, or some new way of evading quality controls? We are sure that whatever the answer, beekeepers from the Eastern hemisphere are not primarily responsible for the phenomenon but, in many cases, also victims of an unscrupulous system.

Data source: ITC - UNCOMTRADE

The evolution of honey prices

A sustained increase of prices would be the logical and expectable result in a market showing increasing demand and quite inelastic ability to increase supply. When we observe the evolution of export honey prices of the major exporting countries of the Americas over the past years, we can see a clear increasing trend of the average price of honey during the period 2005 - 2014 (Figure 2).

Data source: ITC - UNCOMTRADE

 

The price grew at an average rate of USD 209/tonne/year (from USD 1,611 per tonne in 2005 to USD 3,659 per tonne in 2014), a 127% increase.  Clearly the price increase observed between 2005 and 2014 can be explained by an increase in global demand for honey and a supply also growing, but at a much slower pace. The international honey price in 2014-2015 could be assumed to reflect an equilibrium level for those years based on negotiations between honey buyers and sellers.  It presumably represented a fair or desirable price for all actors in the international market, especially for beekeepers.

However, since 2015, prices unexpectedly started to fall at an average rate of USD 201/tonne/year (Figure 2). This fall of honey prices in the international market can mainly be explained by the flooding of low-priced and low-quality products exported under the name of honey from some Eastern countries (García, 2016).  This adulterated honey disrupts and distorts the normal supply/demand relationship.

The observed steady and dramatic collapse of honey prices defies the laws of economics in that, in a context where the demand for honey has increased, the cost of production of authentic honey has increased and the productivity per hive has decreased, the prices of honey to beekeepers should have steadily and significantly risen.  This did not happen, even though the prices at the retail level in the U.S. increased from ca. USD 14.60/KG in January 2015 to USD 17.15/KG in January 2019 (Phipps, 2020). 

Estimation of the direct economic loss

A first and necessary step to estimate the economic loss suffered by the honey exporting countries of the Americas is to approximate/project the price that honey should have had if adulteration had not reached the observed levels of prevalence in the market. In order to make such an appraisal, two hypothetical scenarios were conceived:

  • Scenario 1: We worked on the assumption that the export of adulterated honey would have significantly stopped after 2014/2015 and, with steady and even increasing consumption, prices should have at least remained at values similar to 2014-2015. The economic loss for each year was calculated by multiplying the volume exported that year by the price difference compared to 2015. This is a minimal hypothesis indeed, since 2014-2015 price was already affected by the prevalence of adulterated honey in the market.

 

  • Scenario 2: We assumed that the injection of adulterated product had significantly ceased in the international market after 2014 and, as consumption continued to increase, the prices would have maintained the same upward trend observed until 2014. For the calculation of the economic loss for each year, the 2005-2014 regression line was first calculated to estimate the trend of price increase due to a rising demand and a quite inelastic offer. The regression analysis showed an average annual price increase of USD 209 per tonne (Figure 4). To calculate the economic loss under Scenario 2 (Figure 5) the volume exported each year was multiplied by the price estimated by regression, (dotted line in Figure 4).This hypothetical scenario neither totally excludes the damage of adulterated honey since, as already mentioned, prices for 2014-2015 and for previous years were already affected by a significant volume of adulterated honey traded around the world. This second hypothesis is not as conservative as that of Scenario 1, and assumes sustained honey consumption even under increasing prices.

 

Results under Scenario 1

The calculated economic loss under Scenario 1 was immense given the large volumes exported by the main honey export countries of the Americas (Figure 3).

Each column in Figure 3 represents the money that the sector did not receive each year due to falling prices, mainly explained by the massive prevalence of adulterated honey. For example, for 2016 the estimated loss was USD 180,094,403. The total estimated direct economic loss under this Scenario for the beekeeping sectors of Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Mexico, Chile, Uruguay, Cuba, El Salvador, Guatemala and Nicaragua during the period 2016-2019 was USD 666,385,011.

Argentina, the main honey export country in the region, suffered the major economic loss mainly due to the magnitude of its exported volume: about 65,000 tonnes of honey per year or, to be exact, 287,546 tonnes of honey during the period 2016-2019. The average FOB price per kilo of Argentine honey in 2015 was USD 3,588/tonne, while in 2019 the price was USD 2,245/tonne. The estimated total loss for Argentina during the period 2016-2019 under Scenario 1 was USD 357,935,220. That enormous volume of resources, not received by the beekeeping sector of the country, occurred without any logical cause like overproduction or decreased demand.

In parallel, and during the same period, Mexico lost about USD 123,212,000; Canada, USD 79,952,000; Uruguay, USD 30,751,000; Brazil, USD 26,678,398; Chile, USD 20,966,706; Cuba, USD14,878,131; Guatemala, USD 6,142,854; El Salvador, USD 5,679,529; and Nicaragua, USD 188,205.

 

Results under Scenario 2

If the price trend observed during the period 2005–2014 had continued (which could have been expected under increasing demand and inelastic offer), the price for honey would have reached USD 4,700 per tonne by 2019, a difference of more than USD 2,000 per tonne with the observed price (Figure 4).

Data source: ITC - UNCOMTRADE

 

The estimated total loss under Scenario 2 for the 10 main honey export countries of the Americas was USD 1,096,306,870 during the period 2015-2019 (Figure 5). As mentioned above, the only factor that could have stopped that increase of prices would have been a drop in consumption but, in such a case, a new reasonable equilibrium price for honey would have been reached.

In either scenario the losses to the beekeeping community stand in contrast to the fact that the price of honey achieved by retailers and packers steadily increased.

 

Conclusions

According to the two hypothetical scenarios developed in this article, the direct economic loss for the major honey exporting countries of the Americas was between USD 666 million and USD 1.09 Billion during the period 2015-2019. The exact economic damage is obviously impossible to estimate, however, the results of either of these two hypothetical scenarios show results of an almost unimaginable magnitude, reflecting the greatest economic damage ever inflicted on the beekeeping sector of this part of the world.

It is widely agreed that when the prices of a primary product fall, the whole chain is affected. However, the biggest impact is usually suffered by the primary producers, who are economically less elastic than other links of the chain, since they do not have the opportunity to easily change their activities or run out their businesses and wait for a change in trend. In other words, the money that did not happen to enter through honey exports to the countries of the Americas, is money that, in a good part, did not reach the pocket of beekeepers. When the beekeepers' incomes increase, they normally reinvest them in their operations either by increasing the number of hives, or making improvements in their facilities, or buying better trucks, i.e. increasing or improving their production capacities. It is quite infrequent to find a beekeeper investing in bonds or financially speculating; in the best of cases, if incomes increase, they may take a nice vacation, improve their homes or change their trucks. The current trend towards bankruptcy in larger beekeeping operations and the detriment of local and smaller beekeepers is becoming each day more transparent.

The steep increase of exports of dubious quality honey from some Eastern countries caused multimillion-dollar losses to the honey exporting countries of the Americas. This is even more serious when we consider that consumers never enjoyed lower prices since retail prices in the major honey-consuming countries never fell (Phipps, 2020).

Official regulations of countries, blocs or regions are usually responsible for ensuring the quality and safety of imported products. These regulations sometimes fail to protect those who produce genuine food, so if there is no threat to a population's food safety, official agencies do not act or do so quite slowly.

It is well known that the main strategic value of beekeeping is not honey but pollination of both commercial and wild plant species. However, it is the price of honey that mainly powers the existence of beekeeping operations. Falling prices reduce the incentive to produce.  Without economically sustainable beekeeping operations, bee populations would decrease, thus endangering crop pollination and plant biodiversity. Though the appreciation of the importance of bees to agriculture and global food security was great 3-4 years ago, now it is much stronger and more comprehensive.  The economic losses caused by honey adulteration have put into jeopardy hundreds of billions of dollars of global agricultural production. Governments should urgently formulate and implement plans for the allocation of more land for bees and to ensure the authenticity of honey.

Members of all beekeeping entities around the world should understand that honey adulteration endangers all beekeepers, not just those located in honey exporting countries. It is our duty as beekeepers to be the guardians of the purity and authenticity of bee products, not only for the benefit of our own industry but also to protect consumers, food security, and the biodiversity of the planet.  Consumers are robbed of the natural health benefits and charm of authentic honey.

The purity and authenticity of much of the honey currently available in the market is under suspicion. However, unfortunately, much of the  evidence confirming this problem has mainly come to us from private laboratories and companies. Many official laboratories do not use the most advanced and available tests yet.

In contrast, the European Union's efforts over the past few years (European Commission, 2016) and the recent news about the decision of U.S. Customs to acquire a Nuclear Magnetic Resonance equipment for the detection of imported adulterated honey (American Bee Journal Extra-April 21, 2020) constitute a breeze of promising clean air for producers of honey.

People have never been so conscious of either the vulnerability or value of bees as they are today.  The international media is helping build a positive agenda, providing a good foundation for the future.

 

REFERENCES

(https://ec.europa.eu/food/sites/food/files/safety/docs/oc_control-progs_honey_jrc-tech-report_2016.pdf)

 

The award-winning documentary THE POLLINATORS, will be released across all digital platforms on June 16, 2020, right ahead of National Pollinator Week (June 22 – 28).

 

The Pollinators is a cinematic journey around the United States following migratory beekeepers and their truckloads of honey bees as they pollinate the flowers that become the fruits, nuts  and vegetables we all eat. The many challenges the beekeepers and their bees face en route reveal flaws to our simplified chemically dependent agriculture system. We talk to farmers, scientists, chefs and academics along the way to give a broad perspective about the threats to honey bees, what it means to our food security and how we can improve it.

 

The Pollinators has screened widely in theatres and communities across the U.S. and around the world. We are thrilled that it will now be available digitally and viewable in your home. You can Pre Order it here.

The Pollinators is available for educational and library licensing through our educational distributor Collective Eye and also available on Kanopy.

To find out more about the film and to sign up for email updates, please visit our website and watch the trailer here.

We would be grateful if you share this with all your bee-loving friends.

 

Thank you.

Sincerely,

Peter, Sally & The Pollinators team

CONTACT: ThePollinatorsnet@gmail.com

WEBSITE: https://www.thepollinators.net/

TRAILER: https://www.thepollinators.net/festivals

Officials confirm the Asian giant hornet found in Washington was a queen

The invasive species pose a threat to bees and officials are racing to wipe the Asian giant hornets out.

Entomologists confirmed it was an Asian giant hornet from the photo submitted to the state, and also used lab testing to confirm the specimen.

But the bigger news - officials believe the new hornet is a queen, a sign of a potentially larger problem in the race to eradicate the pests.

“What that means is something made it through the winter, and since colonies can produce a few hundred queens, it means we probably have a few more to look for as well, which is why it’s significant," said Sven-Erik Spichiger, with the state Department of Agriculture.

This hornet was found near the location of a suspected bee kill by Asian giant hornets at the end of 2019. WSDA will continue trapping plans in the area to try and find any colonies or queens that may be there.

The queen identification must be confirmed at a D.C. lab, officials said, and they also don't yet know if it had established its own colony, or been fertilized. The hope was the hornets spotted last year had come over on their own and would die out over the winter.

“The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has developed response guidelines that include several options for eradicating the Asian giant hornet should additional hornets be detected in Washington State. At this time, there is no evidence that Asian giant hornets are established in Washington State or anywhere else in the United States,” according to Osama El-Lissy, Deputy Administrator, for USDA/APHIS’ Plant Protection and Quarantine program.

Calling the hornets 'established,' state officials said, is a technical bar that has still not been met with this discovery, though Washington is "right on the cusp."

How the hornets got here, we may never know, though officials identified international shipping as a likely vector.

The Dept. of Ag said British Columbia identified an Asian giant hornet on May 15 a few miles away in Langley, B.C. Spichiger said that is also believed to be a queen.

Asian giant hornets are not known to be aggressive towards humans, but can cause problems – their venom is more toxic, and stingers longer than native insects. Attacks can be fatal.

The more urgent concern – if the hornets gain a foothold in the U.S., they could decimate bee populations. The hornets enter a ‘slaughter phase,’ where they can kill thousands of bees, decapitating them. Bees that evolved around Asian giant hornets have developed techniques to fight back, but bees in North America have no such response.

Experts note hundreds of crops in Washington rely on bees to pollinate plants.

"To me the scariest thing is the impact this could have on our managed pollinators," Spichiger said.

The vicious behavior towards bees earned the insects a controversial nickname in some circles, 'murder hornets.' State officials said Friday they take issue with that - worrying it hides vital information from people that search the term online.

Spichiger stressed that time remains a factor as they work to trap and eradicate the giant hornets. They are working on the capability to capture live workers over the summer and track them back to nests, which they will then destroy.

The clock is ticking before fall, though, when any established colonies would begin producing more queens for the next year.

"We do not want any to go through to October or so when they create breeding caste, and starting the next year's population," Spichiger said. "So we want to locate and eliminate as many nests as we can probably prior to the end of September."

To learn more about Asian giant hornets, or report a sighting – click here. State officials say if you see one – take a picture if safely able, but leave it alone.

Spichiger also said there are conversations about options to make keeping Asian giant hornets on property illegal if they are identified.

Author: Michael Crowe

Updated: 12:09 PM PDT June 3, 2020

The U.S. Department of Agriculture confirmed Wednesday that the Asian giant hornet found in Washington last week was a queen. 

Officials say the queen was also mated, and if she started a nest it will not survive without her. 

The Asian giant hornet was discovered last week, the first one found in the state since the invasive species showed up in the U.S. late last year.

The dead hornet was found by someone walking on the road near Custer, Wash. on May 27. The Dept. of Agriculture credited the “eagle-eyed” resident for the discovery.

Bee Friendly Farming fundraising campaign focuses on sustainability

in almond farming

California-based Qcify puts support behind Bee Friendly Farming

June 8, 2020 (SAN FRANCISCO) – Qcify, an innovator in quality control for the global food industry, has joined forces with Pollinator Partnership to champion a fundraising campaign supporting Bee Friendly Farming in almond orchards. Qcify has committed to matching campaign donations 1:1 up to $25,000, with donations already more than halfway to that goal.

 

Celebrating five years of innovation in the almond industry in 2020, Qcify was seeking another way to contribute to the sustainability of almond production when they approached Pollinator Partnership.

 

“Qcify approached us looking for a way to make a meaningful contribution to almond production and pollinators,” says Laurie Davies Adams, president and CEO of Pollinator Partnership. “They appreciate the important connection between almond farming and bee health, making them the perfect partner to support Bee Friendly Farming.”

Fundraising dollars will be dedicated to the expansion of the Bee Friendly Farming certification program in almond orchards, Adams says. They will also improve resources for pollinator buffers in almond orchards and support honey bee research grants.

 

“We’re excited to be supporting almond producers and raising awareness about the mission of Bee Friendly Farming with this campaign,” says Raf Peeters, CEO of Qcify. “We look forward to seeing even more almond producers becoming certified and gaining the resources necessary to support pollinator health.”

 

Farmers can earn the Bee Friendly Farming certification through completion of guidelines that protect, preserve and promote pollinator health. Those guidelines include offering nutrition and habitat for bees and implementing pollinator-safe integrated pest management strategies.

 

“Almond growers are excellent stewards of their land and resources,” Adams says. “Through this additional focus on Bee Friendly Farming in almond orchards, we hope to expand and promote the positive contributions almond growers are making toward pollinator health.”

 

The donation period will conclude at the end of National Pollinator Week, taking place June 22-28, 2020. Visit pollinator.org/bff/qcify for more information on the campaign.

 

About Bee Friendly Farming

Bee Friendly Farming is a farm certification program dedicated to providing farmers science-based guidelines to provide a healthy habitat for managed and native pollinators on their operations. Since 2013, the program has certified over 800 farms across North America through an online self-certification. Bee Friendly Farming is an initiative of Pollinator Partnership, the world’s largest non-profit dedicated exclusively to the protection and promotion of pollinators and their ecosystems. For more information about Pollinator Partnership and Bee Friendly Farming, visit pollinator.org/bff or Bee Friendly Farming on Facebook.

 

About Qcify

Qcify is a dynamic young company built on decades of industry expertise. They employ Silicon Valley tech to bring the global food industry the innovated quality control it’s been waiting for. Based in California, they're active on three continents and growing fast. Qcify’s unique hi-res 3D imaging provides quality inspection for almond production with 1-button objective sample analysis.

Milkweed, only food source for monarch caterpillars, ubiquitously contaminated

by University of Nevada, Reno

New evidence identifies 64 pesticide residues in milkweed, the main food for monarch butterflies in the west. Milkweed samples from all of the locations studied in California's Central Valley were contaminated with pesticides, sometimes at levels harmful to monarchs and other insects.

The study raises alarms for remaining western monarchs, a population already at a precariously small size. Over the last few decades their overwintering numbers have plummeted to less than 1% of the population size than in the 1980s—which is a critically low level.

Monarch toxicity data is only available for four of the 64 pesticides found, and even with this limited data, 32% of the samples contained pesticide levels known to be lethal to monarchs, according to a study released today in Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution.

"We expected to find some pesticides in these plants, but we were rather surprised by the depth and extent of the contamination," said Matt Forister, a butterfly expert, biology professor at the University of Nevada, Reno and co-author of the paper. "From roadsides, from yards, from

wildlife refuges, even from plants bought at stores—doesn't matter from where—it's all loaded with chemicals. We have previously suggested that pesticides are involved in the decline of low elevation butterflies in California, but the ubiquity and diversity of pesticides we found in these milkweeds was a surprise."
 

Milkweed was chosen as the focus of this study because it the only food source for larval monarch butterflies in the West, and thus critical for their survival.

"We collected leaf samples from milkweed plants throughout the Central Valley and sent them to be screened for pesticides," Chris Halsch, lead author of the paper and a doctoral student in the University's Ecology, Evolution, and Conservation Biology program, said. "This study is the first necessary step for understanding what butterflies are actually encountering. Now we can use these data to design experiments to test hypotheses about the relative importance of pesticide use and other stressors such as climate change on local butterflies."

While this is only a first look at the possible risks these pesticides pose to western monarchs, the findings indicate the troubling reality that key breeding grounds for western monarchs are contaminated with pesticides at harmful levels.

"One might expect to see sad looking, droopy plants that are full of pesticides, but they are all big beautiful looking plants, with the pesticides hiding in plain sight," Forister, who has been a professor int he University's College of Science since 2008, said.

Western monarchs are celebrated throughout the western states and especially along the California coast where large congregations overwinter in groves of trees. Population declines also have been documented in the breeding grounds. Areas of inland California, including the Central Valley, offer important monarch breeding habitat throughout the spring and summer, including being the home to the very first spring generation which will continue the migration inland to eventually populate all western states and even southern British Columbia.

Declines in the population of western monarch butterflies have been linked with various stressors, including habitat loss and degradation, pesticide use, and climate change, among others. While pesticide use has been associated with declines, previous studies had not attempted to quantify the residues that butterflies can encounter on the western landscape.

The study's findings paint a harsh picture for western monarchs, with the 64 different pesticides identified in milkweed. Out of a possible 262 chemicals screened, there was an average of nine types of individual pesticides per sample and as many as 25. Agricultural and retail samples generally had more residues than wildlife refuges and urban areas, but no area was entirely free from contamination. Certain pesticides were present across all landscapes, with five pesticides appearing more than 80% of the time. Chlorantraniliprole, the second most abundant compound, was found at lethal concentrations to Monarchs in 25% of all samples.

Understanding of pesticide toxicity to the monarch is limited, and is based on previously reported lab experiments. Thus we have much to learn about the concentrations encountered in field, but these new results raise concerns nonetheless. While this research focused on monarch toxicity, other pollinators and beneficial insects are also at risk from pesticide contamination throughout the landscape.

"We can all play a role in restoring habitat for monarchs," said Sarah Hoyle, Pesticide Program Specialist at the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation and coauthor of the paper. "But it is imperative that farmers, land managers and gardeners protect habitat from pesticides if we hope to recover populations of this iconic animal."

Field work, gathering plant samples, was completed last spring and summer. The lab work was completed by Nicolas Baert from the Department of Entomology and manager of the Chemical Ecology Core Facility at Cornell University. Statistical computations were completed this winter by Forister and colleague James Fordyce from the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

Agricultural Transportation Working Group

 

On Monday, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced a modification to its Emergency Declaration that would go into effect on June 15 and extend until July 14.  The Emergency Declaration has been in effect since March 18 and grants relief to motor carriers and drivers providing direct assistance in support of relief efforts related to the COVID-19 public health emergency from Parts 390 through 399 of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations, such as hours-of-service rules,.

 

Beginning June 15, the regulatory relief will be limited to motor carriers and truck drivers transporting the following freight:

  1. Livestock and livestock feed;

    1. FMCSA has informed NGFA that the relief is only available to transporters of finished feed.  Transporters of feed ingredients are ineligible for the relief.

  2. Medical supplies and equipment related to the testing, diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19;

  3. Supplies and equipment necessary for community safety, sanitation, and prevention of community transmission of COVID-19 such as masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, soap and disinfectants. 

In its notice, FMCSA stated that it has concluded that there is no longer a need for emergency relief with respect to the other categories of supplies, equipment, and persons covered by the May 13 extension and expansion of Emergency Declaration No. 2020-002.  This means the regulatory relief will no longer be available to the following categories as of June 15:

  • Food, paper products and other groceries for emergency restocking of distribution centers or stores;

  • Immediate precursor raw materials -- such as paper, plastic or alcohol -- that are required and to be used for the manufacture of certain regulatory relief items;

  • Fuel;

  • Liquefied gases to be used in refrigeration or cooling systems;

  • Equipment, supplies and persons necessary to establish and manage temporary housing, quarantine, and isolation facilities related to COVID-19;

  • Persons designated by Federal, State or local authorities for medical, isolation, or quarantine purposes; and

  • Persons necessary to provide other medical or emergency services, the supply of which may be affected by the COVID-19 response.

 

Max Fisher, VP of Economics & Gov’t Relations

National Grain and Feed Association
mfisher@ngfa.org | (202) 888-1106

NGFA’s COVID-19 Industry Resources

Join us! Click HERE for registration information.

Request to Co-Sponsor FARM to TABLE Act

 

June 9, 2020

 

Dear Member of Congress:

 

The undersigned organizations thank you and your staff for the countless hours of work and dedication you are collectively contributing to address the unprecedented COVID-19 crisis. The farmers, ranchers, food and beverage manufacturers, processors, package suppliers and agricultural product marketers that make up our memberships are dedicated to providing the safe, abundant and affordable food, fiber and feed required to ensure our country stays healthy and fed.

 

We respectfully request you to join Rep. John Joyce (R-PA) in sponsoring the FARM to TABLE Act that assists our nation’s agricultural suppliers, producers, and transporters.

 

Federal law currently provides an exemption from federal hours of service rules for the transportation of agricultural commodities within a 150 air-mile radius from the source of the commodities, during planting and harvesting periods, as determined by the State.

 

While the majority of states have year-round planting and harvesting periods, allowing for a consistent application of the exemption, 15 states have chosen to narrowly define their planting and harvesting seasons. These varying regulations create confusion as to what rules a driver is operating under at any given time. Additionally, the current narrow definitions unnecessarily inhibit industries, such as dairy, livestock and agricultural inputs, which transport their supplies year-round.

 

The FARM to TABLE Act which will simplify the exemption for agricultural commodities by eliminating the state by state planting and harvesting period definition and allowing the exemption to apply year-round. Additionally, the bill provides greater transparency by defining an “agricultural commodity” with respect to the federal hours of service rules exemptions. The definition in this legislation would provide clarity for truck drivers and is consistent with input proposed to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration by over 100 agricultural and trucking organizations last fall.

 

As COVID-19 has clearly demonstrated, a reliable food and fiber supply chain is critically important to meeting the needs of families across the nation. This commonsense legislation will provide relief to the agricultural producers and their drivers who have worked tirelessly to feed America during this crisis.

 

Thank you in advance for your consideration of our request to co-sponsor the FARM to TABLE Act. If you have questions or would like to register your support for this bill, please contact Libby Callaway in Rep. Joyce’s office at L ibby.Callaway@mail.house.gov.

 

Sincerely,

 

Agribusiness Association of Iowa

Agricultural and Food Transporters Conference

Agricultural Retailers Association

Agriculture Transportation Coalition

American Cotton Shippers Association

American Farm Bureau Federation

American Forest & Paper Association

American Honey Producers Association

American Seed Trade Association

American Sugar Alliance

California Grain and Feed Association

Consumer Brands Association

Corn Refiners Association

Cotton Warehouse Association of America

Grain and Feed Association of Illinois

Hardwood Federation

Institute of Shortening and Edible Oils

Kansas Agribusiness Retailers Association

Kansas Grain and Feed Association

Michigan Agri-Business Association

Minnesota Grain and Feed Association

Missouri Agribusiness Association National Aquaculture Association

National Association of State Departments of Agriculture

National Association of Wheat Growers

National Barley Growers Association

National Cotton Council

National Cotton Ginners Association

National Council of Farmer Cooperatives

National Grain and Feed Association

National Milk Producers Federation

National Oilseed Processors Association

National Pork Producers Council National Potato Council

National Sorghum Producers

National Sunflower Association

Nebraska Grain and Feed Association

North American Millers' Association

North Dakota Grain Dealers Association

Northeast Agribusiness and Feed Alliance

Ohio AgriBusiness Association

Pacific Northwest Grain and Feed Association

Pet Food Institute

Renew Kansas Biofuels Association

Rocky Mountain Agribusiness Association

South Texans’ Property Rights Association

South Texas Cotton & Grain Association

Southwest Council of Agribusiness

Specialty Soya & Grains Alliance

Tennessee Feed and Grain Association

Texas Corn Producers Association

Texas Deer Association

Texas Grain and Feed Association

Texas Irrigation Council

Texas Poultry Federation

Texas Sheep and Goat Raisers Association

The Fertilizer Institute

The National Grange

United Fresh Produce Association

USA Dry Pea & Lentil Council USA Rice

U.S. Canola Association

U.S. Custom Harvesters, Inc.

U.S. Dry Bean Council

Wisconsin Agri-Business Association

June 1, 2020

AHPA App


As AHPA continues to work on behalf of all beekeepers, one of our initiatives is advocating with the FDA in Washington D.C. to update honey labeling guidelines.  As part of this effort, we need your help to collect pictures of honey labels from around the United States.  Our goal is primarily to find honey that is mislabeled according to current FDA guidelines.  Secondarily, we need examples of any labels which misrepresent country of origin or are purposefully confusing to consumers so that we can advocate for positive changes and updates. 

Search the App Store or Google Play for "AHPA app”.  We need to collect as many pictures from honey on the store shelf as possible.  Please take a few minutes to help collect this data.

AHPA Executive Board Report

The View of a NHB Producer Member

The last few years I had the unique opportunity to serve on the National Honey Board as one of three “Producer Members.”   The ten Board members are selected by the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture from the various industry groups, packers, importers, beekeepers, to administer the NHB programs.  I followed in the footsteps of a long list of beekeeper alumni helping guide NHB promotional activities.  The current Producers and alternates on the NHB are Joe Sanroma with Darren Cox as the alternate, Patty Sundberg with Kevin Jensen as her alternate, and Mark Jensen, a former NHB board member as my alternate.  To be eligible to serve as a Honey Producer your required to produce a three year annual average of 150,000 lbs. of honey, but the AHPA and AFB worked together to reduce the requirement to 50,000 lb. three year average, to increase the pool of eligible beekeepers.  The NHB provides a great unifying atmosphere for the different industry segments to come together on common ground, promoting honey.  For the most part, not much of my limited promotional expertise is needed, except for a thumbs up or the occasional thumbs down, sharing my professional confusion on some projects.  The NHB, like a well-oiled machine, carries out its promotional programs with Margaret Lombard and her small staff of 7 working like busy bees.  These programs, “Inspire a passion for honey, nature’s finest food, and instill an appreciation for the honeybees that make it possible.”  This is the Vision Statement from the NHB. So what does that all entail, actually quite a bit of targeted marketing to a host of different segments such as; retail, ingredient, foodservice, social media, public relations and list goes on. I’m not an expert in any of these realms, but with the expertise of the rest of the board and the commitment of the staff, we can accomplish our goals, “Educate and Drive the consumption of honey in the U.S., serve as the authoritative go-to resource for all things honey and unify the industry.”

So what’s a typical NHB meeting like…”Long and Intense!”… Did I say “Long and Very Intense?” The meetings start with a quick breakfast, my personal favorite part, nothing like a huge breakfast to kick off a day of meetings, don’t forget the coffee…lots of coffee! This is followed by a closed board session to set the pace, agenda and new business, generally nothing too traumatic.  Eric Wenger currently serves as the Board Chair and keeps the meeting on pace and out of the weeds.  After the closed session, the meeting room opens to anyone interested in attending and proceeds with the NHB industry partner presentations on NHB promotional and educational activities.  You have a pile of information presented in a short period of time.  This is where Board scrutiny comes into play, we listen to each of the many presentations and make comments or suggestions on the programs merits and effectiveness, depending on the marketing target.  I must admit the NHB programs are highly polished, targeted and cost effective, but we do make a few comments.  Most of the time the Board directs or redirects the targeted programs based on NHB recommendations.   My personal favorite presentation deals with “Honey Bee Research” which is presented by Project Apis m’s ED, Danielle Downey, as a beekeeper I’m always interested in ongoing research.  A lot of beekeepers don’t realize the NHB has partnered with PAm and funds half a million dollars per year into honey bee research.   And my next favorite is, of course, the Ingredient Marketing presentation on honey beers and spirts by Keith Seitz. Since I’m from Wisconsin, that’s required! They just need to figure out a good honey cheese and I’ll have all bases covered.   The NHB meeting generally lasts a day and a half, occasionally it might be closer to two days.  During that time you’ll learn everything you need, to market and use honey. It all blurs after a while, and I look forward to my afternoon sandwich and coffee.  All in all, serving as a Board member on the NHB is a rewarding endeavor, learning and forming new relationships with individuals from other parts of the industry.

The NHB marketing order does not allow the NHB to lobby and must work within strict USDA guidelines in regards to what it can and can’t fund.  Every meeting has a USDA oversite person to keep us in the bounds of the USDA’s Marketing Order. But, NHB does a lot of work for the industry behind the scenes. For example, the “White Paper” by Dr. Roberts describing honey fraud and the work with the Honey Integrity Task Force doing honey sampling. As well as the funding and research on the “Added Sugar Label” for the industry and the nutritional and sustainability studies.  The new Honey Bee research website in conjunction with PAm to encompass all Honey Bee Research under one roof.  The Board of directors does push the boundaries with USDA, we seem, at times, to be walking a tight line on what we can and can’t do, but you don’t know unless you push the issue.

Unfortunately, there are those in the industry that feel the NHB is a waste of resources.  Not all Marketing Boards are created equal or with the same Marketing Orders. The NHB with its small budget, Staff and Board has to be extremely cost effective.  Before the half cent increase in assessments, we had a 3 million dollar budget. What can you promote nationally with 3 million dollars…not much but a lot of free recipe cards and some food show demos.  Now, with the half cent increase, the NHB has a little more flexibility but with the added million and a half, not much.  A feather in the NHB hat, a third party review of all the USDA Marketing Programs points to the NHB as the “Largest Return on Dollars Spent!”  I wish the NHB had a fraction of the Milk Boards $420 million budget, of course, their top ten staff in 2017 were paid 8 million, and yet milk consumption is falling. I think Margaret would want a raise!  These large Marketing Boards with massive budgets have issues along with critics, which we on the NHB will never see under our current structure and management.  Not all commodity boards are created equal, each one has their own marketing order with a different focus, which may allow them different opportunities the NHB doesn’t have. For those who are critics of the NHB, serve a 3 year term and be assured you’ll change your tune, and appreciate the dedication of the NHB to the industry.  When you listen to a NHB presentation at any of the national beekeeping meetings, remember the 10 member Board of Directors sets the agenda and marketing of the NHB, so if you have issues with any of the NHB promotions, don’t kill the messenger, talk to one of the Board, industry input is always welcome.  One more item, the NHB is not the EPA, FDA or Customs and has no authority in these areas.  NHB was created to drive consumption of honey in the U.S. and not to inspect food processing facilities, enforce labeling or honey purity, or track down fraudulent honey at the border or in retail markets.  But if you have a baking issue using honey, we’re on top of that!  I’ll close with a NHB quote: “The National Honey Board is the “Hive” that unifies the industry to promote the natural purity and profitability of honey.”

Doug Hauke
Treasurer and Executive Board Member
American Honey Producers Association

Can The 'Murder Hornet' Destroy Our Food And Honey Supply?

 

Honeybees pollinate a long list of foods that we eat in a daily basis. Here's what bee experts say about their chances of surviving the Asian giant hornet

By Lee Breslouer

05/29/2020 05:45am EDT

As if we don’t have enough to worry about, now there’s a “murder hornet.” It’s the nickname for an Asian giant hornet, and according to breathless reporting about the insect, which was discovered in December in Blaine, Washington, it can wipe out entire honeybee hives in hours. And it doesn’t appear to be going away any time soon.

That’s concerning to anyone who cares about our food supply, as honeybees are responsible for pollinating a long list of foods many of us take for granted at the grocery store.

But how much of the hype around the “murder hornet” is just that? We spoke to three bee experts about whether the insidious insect could kill enough honeybees to damage our food supply.

‘Murder hornets’ are a threat, but don’t buy all the hype………………

………Chris Hiatt, a commercial beekeeper and vice president of the American Honey Producers Association, agreed that Varroa mites are the honeybees’ predominant threat, along with a host of other issues, like pesticides that may be contributing to colony collapse and habitat loss caused by urbanization.

Hiatt noted that this doesn’t mean beekeepers are taking the giant hornet’s existence lightly. But he has good news for anyone concerned about honeybee health or the availability of fruit and honey in the supermarket. The Asian giant hornet “is so big and recognizable,” Hiatt said. “It’s easier to trap and control” compared to a mite……………

Read the full article here: https://www.huffpost.com/entry/murder-hornet-destroy-food-honey-supply_l_5ecfbbacc5b697b737a07d65

Christi Heintz remembered for her vision, leadership on almond production, honey bee research

In 2014, Heintz, Curtis and Ludwig (shown left to right) attended a Pollinator Partnership meeting in Washington, D.C

(May 22, 2020) – Christi Heintz, director of Production Research and Environmental Affairs for the Almond Board of California (ABC) from 1996 to 2005, is being remembered by colleagues for her visionary leadership on almond production and environmental issues following her tragic death on May 11, 2020. Heintz was hiking on Black Mountain near Las Vegas when she was apparently stung by a bee and suffered a fatal allergic reaction.

Tributes to Heintz poured in from former Almond Board staff and almond industry members who worked with Heintz when she managed research in the areas of insect and pest control, disease management, irrigation and nutrition, orchard management, varietal development and pollination. Oversight of environmental issues was added to Heintz’s portfolio in 2001, when the Board created the Environmental Committee. During her tenure, the almond industry became actively involved in issues related to air and water quality, crop protection and the Endangered Species Act.

President and CEO of the Almond Board Richard Waycott said, “I worked closely with Chris from the first day I joined ABC in 2002 through her departure in 2006, and

beyond that as a consultant to ABC on apiary issues and as the founder and director of Project Apis m. She was my tutor on all things production and environmental as I climbed my learning curve in the almond industry. I am so grateful for those years working with Chris as a professional and friend. I send her family my most sincere condolences and wish them joy as they celebrate her life.”

Julie Adams, ABC’s vice president in Global Technical & Regulatory Affairs, noted, “She was with the Board at a pivotal point, when it was a small staff and everyone had multiple responsibilities. Many of her activities led to bigger things – expanding into environmental issues, nutrition, bees, etc. She brought in a consultant, Gabriele Ludwig, to help with pesticide issues and later asked her to deal with that ‘sustainability’ area, which has grown from a small issue to a dominant issue.”

At the Almond Board, Heintz helped create the Honey Bee Task Force, which focused on honey bee health and pollination issues. In 2006, after leaving ABC, Heintz was instrumental in founding Project Apis m. (PAm), which has become the largest non-profit organization funding honey bee research projects in the United States and Canada. She served as PAm.’s executive director for 10 years before retiring in 2016.

Chairman Emeritus of PAm. Dan Cummings worked with Heintz for more than 20 years at both ABC and PAm. He pointed out that, “Chris’s contributions have been recognized by many distinguished service awards from various beekeeping organizations. Chris was an amazing compliment of vision and inspiration and always cheerful, a real pleasure to work with. Her contributions to the almond and walnut industries are incalculable. What a tragic loss for all of us.”

Dr. Gabriele Ludwig, ABC’s director of Sustainability and Environmental Affairs, said she considers Heintz to be the “godmother or seed setter or initiator” of the Almond Board’s sustainability program.

“She sensed more than 15 years ago that this was going to be a key topic for agriculture. She initiated conversations within the Environmental Committee that led to grower focus groups to develop a definition of sustainability that was meaningful for almond growers. Her parting shot to me when she left ABC to move to Arizona was, ‘Figure out sustainability for almonds!’”

But more important than work, says Ludwig, was “her moral compass, her high expectations, her drive, her leadership, and also her degree of caring.”

Bob Curtis, the Almond Board’s former director of Agricultural Affairs, cited Heintz for her “progressive vision on honey bee nutrition, in particular supplemental forage, cover crops and Project Apis m.’s Seeds for Bees program,” which gives free cover crop seed mixes to growers in an effort to provide bees natural nutrition with health benefits before and after almond bloom,  when there is a dearth of pollen. “Her leadership on this issue will be long remembered by our industry,”

Dr. Karen Lapsley, ABC’s former Chief Scientific Officer, reflected on her memories of Heintz: “When I joined ABC in 1999, Chris was responsible for both the nutrition and production research programs. She initiated ABC efforts to fund key human clinical trials, but it was clear her passion lay with production research and the complex web of interaction with growers, farm advisors and especially bee researchers! She willingly handed over the management of the stellar network of nutrition researchers she had established for ABC.”

Matt Billings, former chair of ABC’s Production Research Committee, met Heintz shortly after she was hired in 1996, when he was the new chair of the committee. “It was during these years that we would often trade hiking and backpacking stories,” he explained. “She was the best liaison a young green chair could want. We spent countless meetings, lunches and dinners strategizing and working to improve the production side of the almond industry. She was strong, strategic and, above all, trustworthy. She truly loved the almond industry and especially the bees used to pollinate them, as seen in her later work for Project Apis m. I will miss her and her passion for life.”

Former Almond Board CEO Rodger Wasson (1991-2001) recalled, “When I moved to California to become the CEO of the Almond Board it became clear that we needed a special talent to head the scientific and research needs of the industry. It didn't take long for Chris's name to come up, although she wasn't looking for a job and she didn't want to leave Sacramento. As we talked it became clear that she was the perfect person for the job and there was no reason that she would have to move. While most people associated Chris with leading the production research for the Almond Board, many do not realize that she managed the early nutrition research that became a foundation of the almond industry's success. Chris's knowledge, enthusiasm and upbeat personality is sadly to be missed but can forever be appreciated by co-workers, friends and almond growers who harvest many benefits of her contributions.”

Heintz is survived by her husband Mike, daughters Tara and Erin, son Kevin and nine grandchildren. A Celebration of Life is being planned for the near future in Green Valley, Arizona. More details can be found at a memorial website established by her family. Information about donations in her memory may be found at this website.

http://newsroom.almonds.com/content/christi-heintz-remembered-for-her-vision-leadership-on-almond-production-honey-bee-research

“The premier food and agricultural research agency of USDA”

Scientific Position:  Research Leader / Supervisory Research Entomologist               

Salary Range:   $107,807 to $164,858 per year

Announcement opens:  05/22/2020

Closes:  06/12/2020

 

The incumbent will serve as a Research Leader / Supervisory Research Entomologist with the USDA, Agricultural Research Service (ARS), Southern Insect Pollinator Health Research Unit in Stoneville, MS. Incumbent provides leadership for a new Research Unit that will focus on how to improve both honey and native bee health as well as improving natural habitat and minimizing risk to stressors including pesticides and pests in a way that is beneficial to both beekeepers and farmers. This is a competitive, permanent appointment and U.S. citizenship is required.  For further details about this position and how to apply, go to https://www.usajobs.gov/GetJob/ViewDetails/568964200; vacancy announcement number: ARS-D20Y-10821434-YM. For questions, contact: Dr. Prasanna H. Gowda, Associate Area Director, prasanna.gowda@usda.gov

** ARS is an Equal Opportunity Employer and Provider **

Pesticides disrupt honeybee nursing behavior and larval development

by Goethe University Frankfurt am Main

May 26, 2020

A newly developed video technique has allowed scientists at Goethe University Frankfurt at the Bee Research Institute of the Polytechnical Society to record the complete development of a honeybee in its hive for the first time. It also led to the discovery that certain pesticides—neonicotinoids—changed the behavior of the nurse bees: Researchers determined that they fed the larvae less often. Larval development took up to 10 hours longer. A longer development period in the hive can foster infestation by parasites such as the Varroa mite.

Honeybees have very complex breeding behavior: A cleaning bee cleans an empty comb (brood cell) of the remains of the previous brood before the queen bee lays an egg inside it. Once the bee larva has hatched, a nurse bee feeds it for six days. Then the nurse bees cap the brood cell with wax. The larva spins a cocoon and goes through metamorphosis, changing the shape of its body and developing a head, wings and legs. Three weeks after the egg was laid, the fully-grown bee hatches from the cocoon and leaves

the brood cell.

Using a new video technique, scientists at Goethe University Frankfurt have now succeeded for the first time in recording the complete development of a honeybee in a bee colony at the Bee Research Institute of the Polytechnical Society. The researchers built a bee hive with a glass pane and were thus able to film a total of four bee colonies simultaneously over several weeks with a special camera set-up. They used deep red light so that the bees were not disturbed, and recorded all the movements of the bees in the brood cells.

The researchers were particularly interested in the nursing behavior of the nurse bees, to whose food (a sugar syrup) they added small amounts of pesticides known as neonicotinoids. Neonicotinoids are highly effective insecticides that are frequently used in agriculture. In natural environments, neonicotinoids arrive in bee colonies through nectar and pollen collected by the bees. It is already known that these substances disturb the navigational abilities and learning behavior of bees. In a measure criticiied by the agricultural industry, the European Union has prohibited the use of some neonicotinoids in crop cultivation.

Using machine learning algorithms developed by the scientists together with colleagues at the Centre for Cognition and Computation at Goethe University, they were able to evaluate and quantify the nursing behavior of the nurse bees semi-automatically. The result: even small doses of the neonicotinoids Thiacloprid or Clothianidin led to the nurse bees feeding the larva during the 6-day larval development less frequently, and consequently for a shorter daily period. Some of the bees nursed in this manner required up to10 hours longer until the cell was capped with wax.

"Neonicotinoids affect the bees' nervous systems by blocking the receptors for the neurotransmitter acetylcholine," explains Dr. Paul Siefert, who carried out the experiments in Professor Bernd Grünewald's work group at the Bee Research Institute Oberursel. Siefert: "For the first time, we were able to demonstrate that neonicotinoids also change the social behavior of bees. This could point to the disruptions in nursing behavior due to neonicotinoids described by other scientists." Furthermore, parasites such as the feared Varroa mite (Varroa destructor) profit from an extended development period, since the mites lay their eggs in the brood cells shortly before they are capped: if they remain closed for a longer period, the young mites can develop and multiply without interruption.

However, according to Siefert, it still remains to be clarified whether the delay in the larval development is caused by the behavioral disturbance of the nurse bee, or whether the larvae develop more slowly because of the altered jelly. The nurse bees produce the jelly and feed it to the larvae. "From other studies in our work group, we know that the concentration of acetylcholine in the jelly is reduced by neonicotinoids," says Siefert. "On the other hand, we have observed that with higher dosages, the early embryonal development in the egg is also extended—during a period in which feeding does not yet occur." Additional studies are needed to determine which factors are working together in these instances.

In any case, the new video technique and the evaluation algorithms offer great potential for future research projects. In addition to feeding, behaviors for heating and construction were also able to be reliably identified. Siefert: "Our innovative technology makes it possible to gain fundamental scientific insights into social interactions in bee colonies, the biology of parasites, and the safety of pesticides."

See video of the birth of a honey bee here: https://phys.org/news/2020-05-pesticides-disrupt-honeybee-nursing-behavior.html

Former AHPA president, Jack Meyer, Jr. is still getting to the beeyards at 78 years old!

American Honey
Producers Association

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Cassie Cox
Executive Secretary
PO Box 435
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cassie@ahpanet.com