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June 14, 2021
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27 April 2021

 

Hello Honey Industry Partners!

 

We would appreciate your assistance spreading the word on our continuing research project. We are collecting samples of citrus blossom honey from locations in North America. There is a sample collection form included (download here: https://803a53c6-072b-4f8f-960b-bf8520169c2b.usrfiles.com/ugd/803a53_0bd8b373e75d4d7f98e8bb7e67f97fbb.pdf). We are requesting 118 mL/4 oz samples. Senders are not responsible for costs related to testing. These samples will be collected by QSI America and the testing will be used to support a future identity standard for citrus blossom honey.

Timing is a bit urgent to obtain samples this season. The sooner you are able to share this opportunity with your constituents, the better this project will be. Thank you for your support!

 

The USP Honey Expert Panel On behalf of

Norberto Garcia, Chair and

Gina Clapper, Senior Scientific Liaison with FCC and US Pharmacopeia

 

Please contact Gina with any questions or comments (gina.clapper@usp.org)

2021 Byrd Amendment Information

 

IMPORTANT!

Opportunity for AHPA Members to Receive Dumping and Countervailing Duties Collected on Honey Imports from China and Argentina

In the fall of each year, the federal government distributes to eligible domestic producers the duties the government has assessed and collected on certain imports that are subject to antidumping ("AD") and countervailing duty ("CVD") orders.  For purposes relevant to AHPA members, the government will again distribute this fall AD and CVD duties collected during its fiscal year 2021 (i.e., October 2020 through September 2021) on honey from China and Argentina that was imported into the United States between December 2001 and September 2007, the period during which the so-called "Byrd Amendment" was in effect. 

We do not yet know how much money will be distributed this year under the China and Argentina Honey Orders.  U.S. Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”) recently stated in its annual “preliminary amounts available” report that it did not collect any duties or related interest under those Orders for the first seven months of FY 2021 (Oct. 2020 - Apr. 2021).   Nevertheless, CBP may well collect some small or large amount of duties and interest under the Orders during the last five months of FY 2021 (May – Sept. 2021). If it does, the agency will include those funds in this year’s distribution in November. 

Each AHPA member that meets all four of the following requirements is eligible to apply for a "distribution" of the duties collected during FY 2021:

(1)    The member was an AHPA member in good standing (including having fully paid its dues) in 2000, when the Petition requesting the AD/CVD honey trade investigations was filed;

(2)    The member has fully paid all of its membership dues for each year from 2000 to 2021;

(3)    The member has continuously produced and sold raw honey from 2000 to 2021; and

(4)    The member is not a member of Sioux Honey Association (“SHA”) or, if it is an SHA member, the member will not receive any part of distributions SHA will receive for FY 2021.  

The AHPA will soon submit to the federal government an updated AHPA membership list that will include only those members that meet the first three of these four requirements.  Any AHPA member that has not paid its dues through 2021 will not be included on the list the AHPA provides to the government and thus will not be eligible to receive a distribution of the duties collected during FY 2021.

In order to receive a distribution of the collected duties, qualifying AHPA members (i.e., those that meet the four requirements above) must submit to CBP a certification making claims for a distribution under the three AD and CVD trade orders on honey imports from China and Argentina. 

More information can be found on our website: https://www.ahpanet.com/byrd-amendment

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U.S. Honey Producers Applaud International Trade Commission’s

Affirmative Preliminary Vote in Raw Honey Trade Case

 

(June 4, 2021) – Today, the U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) unanimously determined that there is a reasonable indication that unfairly traded imports of raw honey from Argentina, Brazil, India, Ukraine, and Vietnam are injuring the U.S. industry producing raw honey.

 

Today’s unanimous decision means that the ITC will continue to investigate the injury inflicted on the U.S. raw honey producers by low-priced imports, and the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) will investigate the extent to which imports from the five countries are being sold below fair value in the U.S. market. 

 

“Today’s affirmative preliminary determination of injury is incredibly important to American beekeepers,” said Alan Luberda of Kelley Drye & Warren LLP, counsel to the U.S. raw honey producers.  “Dumped imports of raw honey from Argentina, Brazil, India, Ukraine, and Vietnam have been underselling domestic raw honey by substantial margins for several years, depressing domestic prices and making it difficult for U.S. beekeepers to earn a living.  This is a critical step in obtaining much-needed relief for U.S. beekeepers.”

 

Background

 

On April 21, 2021, the American Honey Producers Association (AHPA) and Sioux Honey Association (SHA) filed petitions with the ITC and DOC for relief from dumped imports of raw honey from Argentina, Brazil, India, Ukraine, and Vietnam.  The American Beekeeping Federation (ABF) also supports the trade cases.

 

On May 18, 2021, the DOC published a notice initiating the investigations in the Federal Register, with estimated dumping margins of 9.75 to 49.44 percent for Argentina, 83.72 percent for Brazil, 27.02 to 88.48 percent for India, 9.49 to 92.94 percent for Ukraine, and 47.56 to 138.23 percent for Vietnam. 

 

DOC is scheduled to issue preliminary determinations of dumping in mid-November, at which point preliminary duties will go into effect, and importers will be obligated to begin paying cash deposits at the time of importation.

 

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Senate Farm Related Services Industries Coalition Letter

May 26, 2021

The Honorable Maria Cantwell

Chair

Committee on Commerce, Science & Transportation

United States Senate

Washington, DC 20510

 

The Honorable Roger Wicker

Ranking Member

Committee on Commerce, Science & Transportation

United States Senate

 

 

The Honorable Gary Peters

Chair

Subcommittee on Surface Transportation, Maritime, Freight and Ports

United States Senate

Washington, DC 20510

 

The Honorable Deb Fischer

Ranking Member

Subcommittee on Surface Transportation, Maritime, Freight and Ports

United States Senate

Washington, DC 20510

 

 

 

Dear Chair Cantwell, Ranking Member Wicker, Subcommittee Chair Peters and Ranking Member Fischer:

 

On behalf of the undersigned organizations, we are writing to request your support for modernizing the Farm-Related Restricted Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) or more commonly referred to as the “Seasonal Ag CDL” program. This has been an essential seasonal program for farm-related service industries since 1992. Our industries have a very strong transportation safety record and it has not been diminished since these federal regulations have been in place. The Seasonal Ag CDL program has helped promote economic growth for America’s agricultural industries serving the essential needs of farmers during the busy planting and harvesting seasons. Due to challenging weather events, the increase in crop production diversification, technological advances and weight increases in light duty pickup trucks and agricultural equipment over the past several decades it is necessary to modernize the federal regulations providing the framework for these state administered programs. The temporary shutdown of the state Department of Motor Vehicles offices throughout the nation during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic also caused major disruptions for farm-related service industries and their rural communities.

 

Farm-related service industries include farm retail outlets and suppliers, agrichemical businesses, custom harvesters and livestock feeders. These industries provide essential products and services to American farmers, provide well-paying jobs for their rural communities, and contribute billions to the U.S. economy. Seasonal Ag CDL drivers are hired for “just in time” delivery of agricultural products during “peak seasons” with many of these employees being retired farmers, farm workers, or college students raised on a farm with experience operating heavy agricultural equipment. Our industries cannot afford the overhead of maintaining an exclusive workforce of full-time commercial drivers due to the seasonal nature of agricultural production and transportation is incidental to the primary business purpose. To address safety concerns, only drivers with a clean driving record (i.e. no convictions for any type of motor vehicle) are eligible to receive a farm-related restricted CDL, must have held a motor vehicle license for at least one year, medically qualified, included in drug / alcohol testing program, and complete a driver qualification file. In addition, these drivers are only allowed to operate within 150 mile-radius of the place of business or the farm currently being served. In addition, no hazardous materials endorsements are allowed.

 

Farm-related service industries that hire these seasonal drivers have not been able to fully utilize them in certain areas of the country due to several factors. For example, the Midwest over the past several years has experienced severe inclement weather, including heavy rains. During these extended periods of rain or other inclement weather, the seasonal drivers remain idle and not able to drive to deliver product as the farmer’s soil is too wet for ground application equipment and could cause excessive soil compaction. However, even with the weather delays where the seasonal driver is idle it still counts towards the current 180-day limit.

 

Another issue relates to the changing agricultural production seasons due to climate variability. For example, in the state of Minnesota the weather in early April 2021 was warmer and not as wet as previous years which allowed the agricultural industry to get an earlier than usual start on spring planting. However, many farm-related service industries were not able to hire seasonal drivers because the timing overlapped with the 12-month period from last year’s spring season that started later due to the weather. The state of Minnesota did not believe they had the ability to issue an emergency waiver for seasonal ag CDLs due to the 12-month period restriction and needed FMCSA authorization. Our industries believe the 12-month seasonal period needs to restart each calendar year beginning on January 1 to prevent any overlap of seasons from year to year.

 

In addition, trucks and trailers have become larger with increased weights that in many instances put them over the 26,001 pound gross combination weight threshold, which requires a driver to obtain a Class A CDL. In 1992, a typical light duty pickup truck for hauling trailers would weigh less than 5,000 pounds. In 2021, the average weight of a light duty pickup truck used by the industry can be well over 7,000 pounds. When you add this increased light duty pickup truck weight with a slightly heavier trailer it puts the gross combined weight over 26,001 pounds, now qualifying as a Class A commercial vehicle rather than historically being considered a Class B commercial vehicle.

 

Our request is the following –

  • Provide more flexibility by expanding the total days allowed to utilize Farm-Related Restricted CDL drivers up to 270 days to accommodate for the longer seasons, which can fluctuate from year to year due to climate change as well as more diversified crop production. The State would maintain the ability to set the seasons these days could be utilized by the industry.

 

  • Ensure the new 12-month seasons restart each calendar year on January 1 to prevent any overlap of seasons from the previous year.

 

 

  • Ensure Farm-Related Restricted CDL drivers can also operate Class A commercial vehicles in recognition of the advances and changes made to light duty pickup trucks, agricultural equipment and trailers over the past 30 years.

 

  • Eliminate the requirement for in-person seasonal renewal of the Farm-Related Restricted CDL.

 

We are looking for long-term modifications to this program to ensure economic growth for our industries and their rural communities while continuing to maintain a strong transportation safety record while operating in a safe and sound manner on the nation’s rural roads. This critical seasonal CDL program is currently authorized in 24 states. The surface transportation bill offers an opportunity to enact needed reforms that can help provide necessary transportation flexibility for farm-related service industries and ensure there are no disruptions to America’s agricultural production and the supply chain. We look forward to working with you on implementing the necessary modifications to this essential seasonal commercial driver program.

 

Sincerely,

 

Agribusiness Association of Iowa

AgriBusiness Association of Kentucky

Agribusiness Council of Indiana

Agricultural Council of Arkansas

Agricultural Food & Transporters Conference

Agricultural Retailers Association

American Farm Bureau Federation

American Feed Industry Association

American Honey Producers Association

American Sheep Industry Association

American Soybean Association

Cooperative Network

Equipment Dealers Association

Far West Agribusiness Association

Florida Fertilizer & Agrichemical Association

Georgia Agribusiness Council

Illinois Fertilizer & Chemical Association

Kansas Agribusiness Retailers Association

Kansas Grain and Feed Association

Louisiana Ag Industries Association

Michigan Agri-Business Association

Minnesota Crop Production Retailers

Minnesota Grain and Feed Association

Missouri Agribusiness Association

Montana Agricultural Business Association

National Aquaculture Association

National Cattlemen’s Beef Association

National Cotton Council

National Cotton Ginners’ Association

National Council of Farmer Cooperatives

National Grain and Feed Association

National Oilseed Processors Association

National Onion Association

Nebraska Agri-Business Association

Nebraska Cooperative Council

Nebraska Grain and Feed Association

North American Millers' Association

North Dakota Grain Dealers Association

Northeast Agribusiness and Feed Alliance

Ohio AgriBusiness Association

Oklahoma Agribusiness Retailers Association

Pacific Northwest Grain & Feed Association

Rocky Mountain Agribusiness Association

Southern Crop Production Association

South Dakota Agri-Business Association

Tennessee Agricultural Production Association

Texas Ag Industries Association

The Fertilizer Institute

United Fresh Produce Association

U.S. Custom Harvesters

US Rice Producers Association

United States Cattlemen’s Association

Virginia Agribusiness Council

Wisconsin Agri-Business Association

 

CC: Members of the US Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation Members of the US Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, & Forestry

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Bayer loses fight over insecticides EU blamed for killing bees

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Fresh Fruit Portal

The European Union’s top court on Thursday upheld the EU’s partial ban on three insecticides linked to harming bees, preventing their use on certain crops.

The European Court of Justice dismissed an appeal by Bayer to overturn a lower EU court’s 2018 decision to uphold the ban.

The ruling covers three active substances – imidacloprid developed by Bayer CropScience, clothianidin developed by Takeda Chemical Industries and Bayer CropScience, as well as Syngenta’s thiamethoxam.

A Bayer spokesperson said it was disappointed by the verdict and stood by the safety of the products, which continue to be used in other regions with appropriate risk mitigation measures applied.

“The verdict seems to allow the (European) Commission almost carte blanche to review existing approvals upon the slightest evidence, which need not even be new scientific data,” the spokesperson said.

The Commission in 2013 restricted the use of the neonicotinoids, meaning they could not be used on maize, rapeseed and some spring cereals. They could still be used for other crops, such as sugar beet.

The Commission had reviewed the approvals because of the loss of bee colonies due to the misuse of pesticides.

Bayer had said there was insufficient new scientific knowledge to justify the restrictions. The EU’s highest court on Thursday dismissed that appeal and ordered Bayer to bear its own costs plus those of other parties.

 

https://www.beeculture.com/catch-the-buzz-bayer-loses-eu-fight/

Agricultural Letter to House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee

 

June 8, 2021

 

 

The Honorable Peter DeFazio   

Chairman

House Committee on Transportation & Infrastructure

2164 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

 

The Honorable Sam Graves

Ranking Member

House Committee on Transportation & Infrastructure

2134 Rayburn House Office Building                 
Washington, DC 20515

 

Dear Chairman DeFazio and Ranking Member Graves,

 

The undersigned agricultural producer, commodity, agribusiness, food manufacturer and other food-related organizations thank you for your work and commitment in crafting your respective five-year surface transportation authorization bills. Our organizations commend you for bringing this important surface transportation legislation to mark-up well ahead of the expiration of the Fixing America's Surface Transportation Act and for increasing the funding for roads and bridges. However, we strongly oppose and discourage you from including Sec. 4408 that increases the minimum amount of insurance required for commercial motor vehicles from $750,000 to $2 million and Sec. 4306 that directs the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to review and revise the current hours of service (HOS) rules, including exemptions. We believe these provisions will add unnecessary costs to the U.S. agricultural supply chain and will reduce U.S. agriculture’s international competitiveness and increase domestic food price inflation.

 

We support the current $750,000 minimum financial responsibility requirement for motor carriers. The average annual insurance premium to comply with the current $750,000 minimum financial responsibility requirement is about $5,000 per truck. Meanwhile, the minimum automobile liability insurance for most states is less than $100,000 and the annual premium is significantly less than the $5,000 paid by truckers. Sec. 4408 ignores that factors other than financial requirements influence the safety of truck drivers on U.S. roadways including elements such as the condition of roadway surfaces and the behavior of other drivers, including those driving passenger vehicles. In addition, truck safety technology and driver training have both improved considerably. We believe dramatic increases in the minimum financial responsibility requirement for motor carriers would make truckers a greater target of litigation, lead to the introduction of higher truck freight rates and result in fewer for-hire motor carriers, without a demonstrable improvement in motor carrier safety.

 

Farmers, ranchers and agricultural haulers are dedicated to providing the safe, abundant and affordable food, fiber and feed required to ensure our country stays healthy and fed. Since its inception in 1995, the agricultural exemption has been vitally important to the food and agriculture industry. Given the strong safety record of the U.S. agricultural trucking sector, Congress periodically has modified policies to enhance its usefulness to help ensure a more efficient and cost-effective freight transportation distribution system, but Sec. 4306 of the bill undermines this flexibility. If anything, agriculture needs more flexibilities to HOS rules not additional barriers to safely delivering our products to people around the world. HOS exemptions for agriculture are important to accommodate seasonal spikes in transportation of food, fiber and other agricultural supplies to facilitate the growing, harvesting, processing and distribution of food and agricultural products.

 

Thank you again for your work on this important surface transportation legislation and to further support economic recovery and encourage growth, we encourage you to remove Sections 4408 and 4306. Instead, we urge you to work with our community to update HOS regulations such as those found in the bipartisan H.R. 2486, Haulers of Agriculture and Livestock Safety (HAULS) Act of 2021 which was largely included in H.R. 3341, the STARTER Act 2.0.

 

Thank you for your consideration.

 

Sincerely,

 

Agricultural and Food Transporters Conference

Agricultural Retailers Association

Agriculture Transportation Coalition

Amcot

American Beekeeping Federation

American Cotton Shippers Association

American Farm Bureau Federation

American Feed Industry Association

American Forest and Paper Association

American Honey Producers Association

American Pulse Association

American Quarter Horse Association

American Sheep Industry Association

American Soybean Association

Corn Refiners Association

Cotton Growers Warehouse Association

Cotton Warehouse Association of

America Growth Energy

Hardwood Federation

Institute of Shortening and Edible Oils

Livestock Marketing Association

National Aquaculture Association

National Association of State Departments of Agriculture

National Association of Wheat Growers

National Barley Growers Association

National Cattlemen’s Beef Association

National Corn Growers Association

National Cotton Council
National Council of Farmer Cooperatives

National Farmers Union

National Grain and Feed Association

National Milk Producers Federation

National Oilseed Processors Association

National Pasta Association

National Pork Producers Council

National Potato Council

National Sorghum Producers

National Sunflower Association

National Turkey Federation

North American Meat Institute

North American Millers' Association

North American Renderers Association

Pet Food Institute

Southwest Council of Agribusiness

Soy Transportation Coalition

Specialty Soya & Grains Alliance

The Fertilizer Institute

United Fresh Produce Association

United States Cattlemen’s Association

USA Dry Pea & Lentil Council USA Rice

U.S. Canola Association

U.S. Custom Harvesters, Inc.

U.S. Dry Bean Council

U.S. Pea & Lentil Trade Association

U.S. Poultry & Egg Association

Western Growers Association

Western Peanut Growers Association

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FLAGSTONE FOODS ANNOUNCES INTENT TO SOURCE 100% OF ITS ALMONDS FROM BEE-FRIENDLY FARMS BY 2025: A FIRST IN THE PRIVATE LABEL NUT INDUSTRY 

 

MINNEAPOLIS – June 3, 2021 – As a part of its landmark Healthy Bees, Happy Snackers initiative, Flagstone Foods, a premier private label manufacturer of snack nuts, trail mixes, and other nut-based snacks, announced today its commitment to promoting a more sustainable almond industry by sourcing 100 percent of its almonds from bee-friendly farms by 2025, the first such manufacturer commitment from the private label nut industry. This pledge furthers the company’s longstanding commitment to sustainable and ethical sourcing practices that protect the environment and lift up farmers and farming communities around the world.

 

“As North America’s leader in private label snack nuts, few buy as many almonds as we do. We believe this distinction brings with it a responsibility to cultivate a more sustainable almond industry,” says Flagstone Foods’ Chief Executive Officer Robert Scalia. “We aim to work collaboratively with almond growers, processors and bee-friendly organizations through our Healthy Bees, Happy Snackers initiative, all focused on supporting the needs of the honey bee, which ultimately aids the almond industry as a whole.”

 

Honey bees, critical to pollinating over one-third of the U.S. food supply and directly responsible for nearly 100 percent of almonds, are disappearing at a high rate. In fact, on average 40 percent of honey bee colonies die each year due to poor nutrition, pesticides, parasites and pathogens.1  While California produces the vast majority of the world’s almonds on over 1.5 million acres of almond orchards, only a fraction of that acreage is currently verified as bee-friendly. In addition to its sourcing pledge, Flagstone Foods’ Healthy Bees, Happy Snackers program includes verification and certification of bee-friendly farming practices, a commitment to sustainable farming practices more broadly, and charitable contributions to Project Apis m, an organization that funds honey bee research and the expansion of pollinator habitat and forage.

 

“Because some of the bee-friendly farming practices are in their infancy in terms of farm adoption, we understand that sourcing bee-friendly almonds may be more difficult than through traditional sourcing practices.  However, sourcing from bee-friendly farms is the right thing to do and we consider it part of our mission to help bring others along in our sustainability journey,” says Flagstone Foods’ SVP Global Procurement Scott Easterwood.

 

Flagstone Foods’ Support of Bee-Friendly Farming Practices

Flagstone Foods is focused on establishing traceable and sustainable sourcing practices with its global supply chain—and in this case, with almond growers. The company is now partnering with select growers and processors such as Pomona Farming, a leader in sustainable and bee-friendly farming practices and one of the largest almond growers in California with approximately 40,000 acres across the Central Valley. Certified through the Pollinator Partnership, Pomona currently dedicates over 3,300 of its acres (more than 8 percent) to providing forage for bees and other pollinators and has planted more than 30 different varieties of bee-friendly plants, with bloom cycles staged throughout the year. Pomona also hosts more than 700 honey-bee hives over the winter at its three Bee Sanctuaries—each boasting warm weather, plentiful water and several hundred contiguous acres of flowers and forage.

 

Bee-Friendly Certification and Verification Programs

Flagstone Foods will use the most current certification and verification programs, including the Pollinator Partnership’s Bee Friendly Farming program, to verify that its almond suppliers are following bee-friendly farming practices including:

Providing abundant resources for pollinators by dedicating a minimum of 3 percent of farmland to habitat
Mitigating the impacts of pesticides and eliminating the use of high-risk pesticides
Providing nesting sites and responsibly managing hives

 

These standards are science-based and field-tested, guaranteeing that the actions farmers take on Flagstone Foods’ behalf will directly improve pollinator wellbeing by addressing the four main causes that are negatively impacting bee health—pathogens, parasites (specifically Varroa mites), pesticides and poor nutrition.

 

Bee-Friendly Philanthropic Support

Minnesota-based Flagstone Foods will also support bee health through charitable contributions to Project Apis m. and its Seeds for Bees® program, which provides almond growers with the seeds and skills they need to create habitat and forage for bees while also improving soil health. Seeds for Bees also works with the Pollinator Partnership to help farmers and growers meet the requirements for Bee Friendly Farming certification.

 

“We’re proud to be partnering with organizations that share our commitment to restoring healthy bee populations,” says Flagstone Foods’ Senior Vice President Marketing & Innovation Sarah Testa. “Our commitment is an extension of our company’s belief that goodness grows out of appreciation. On behalf of Flagstone Foods, we extend our deep appreciation to beekeepers, our grower partners, and of course to the mighty honey bee.”

 

For more information on Flagstone Foods’ bee-friendly commitment, visit flagstonefoods.com

 

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About Flagstone Foods

Minneapolis, Minnesota-based Flagstone Foods is a premier private label manufacturer of snack nuts, culinary nuts, trail mixes and other nut-based snacks servicing the nation’s top retailers in the club, mass, grocery, drug, limited assortment and convenience channels. The company also manufactures ingredients for commercial use, provides contract manufacturing services to branded food companies and offers a wide array of value-added services including consumer insights, global sourcing, commodity advising and product development.

 

PROJECT APIS M.: NEWS FROM PROJECT APIS M.

CALIFORNIA ALMOND BOARD: 2019_ACREAGEREPORT.PDF

 

Media Contact for Interviews:

Jean Hill, 612-337-0087

jean@maccabee.com

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CSIRO finds sticky fingerprints reveal true origins of honey

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DNA testing Australian honey can reveal where it was produced and its main floral sources, according to research published today by Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO, and partners at the University of Melbourne and Curtin University.

The $100 million Australian honey industry exports 4,500 tonnes of honey every year, and could benefit from the findings, which could be used for a honey certification program to confirm the floral composition and provenance of commercial honey.

Postdoctoral Fellow with the Environomics Future Science Platform at CSIRO, Dr Liz Milla, said the technique works because honey contains DNA from the pollen collected by bees.

“We tested 15 different honeys from across Australia and found most were dominated by eucalypts and related plants in the Myrtaceae family,” Dr Milla said.

“We detected the major floral source on the label in all commercially produced honeys. In 85 per cent of samples they were found in the top five most abundant floral components. All of the honeys were composed of mixed florals, which reflects the diverse natural diets of honeybees.

“We found that honeys from eastern and western Australia were easy to tell apart and we could categorise most honeys according to Australia’s 89 geographically distinct bioregions from which they came.”

The researchers used a technique called pollen DNA metabarcoding, which is a way to identify plant species from their pollen by sequencing a short stretch of DNA and comparing it with a reference library.

The libraries are built using reference DNA of plant specimens, curated by botanical experts at collections like the Australian National Herbarium.

The DNA-based method is a fast and accurate way to identify the floral composition of Australian honey.

“The traditional method of using microscopy to identify pollen in honey is time-consuming, requires significant expertise because Australia has such diversity of unique plants, and often can’t identify plants to species level,” Dr Milla said.

CSIRO is working with partners to create a DNA barcode library for all of Australia’s half a million plant and animal species. The library will enable fast, cheap environmental monitoring as well as projects to study bees.

Not only can pollen DNA metabarcoding be used to check the composition and provenance of honey, it could be used to help honeybees by monitoring their diets.

“Making sure that honeybee colonies have access to nutritious flora could help build resistance to colony collapse disorder, a phenomenon that has impacted honeybees overseas,” Dr Milla said.

CSIRO researchers are also using the technique to survey flowering plants.

“Honeybees are great field scientists. We can use them to survey plant species in remote or hard to reach places. Bees bring pollen from the plants back to the hive and we can identify the plants from the honey,” Dr Milla said.

CSIRO is working with partners to boost global export earnings from Australian grown food through tools and technologies that verify our quality, safety and ‘clean and green’ credentials through a Trusted Agrifood Exports mission in development. More on missions is available here: https://www.csiro.au/en/about/challenges-missions

The paper “Pollen DNA metabarcoding identifies regional provenance and high plant diversity in Australian honey” was published in Ecology and Evolution by authors Liz Milla, Kale Sniderman, Rose Lines, Mahsa Mousavi-Derazmahalleh and Francisco Encinas-Viso and is available at: https://doi.org/10.1002/ece3.7679

The Australian National Herbarium is part of the Centre for Australian National Biodiversity Research, a joint venture between Parks Australia’s Australian National Botanic Gardens and CSIRO.

https://www.miragenews.com/csiro-finds-sticky-fingerprints-reveal-true-574036/

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FMCSA is extending its COVID-19 waivers through August 31 

 

Arguably the most important COVID-19  waiver for the agricultural community that has been extended is the waiver from hours-of-service rules.  Please note: not all agricultural products qualify for the COVID-waiver. 

 

Even if some agricultural products don’t qualify for the COVID-19 waiver, they probably qualify for the agricultural exemption to hours-of-service rules for the portions of the hauls that are within 150 air-miles of the origin of the shipment.  Below is text on which products qualify for the COVID-19 waiver from hours-of-service rules.

 

Extension through August 31, 2021 of the expanded modified Emergency Declaration continues the exemption granted from Parts 390 through 399 of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations, such as hour-of-service rules.  

The extension of the expanded modified Emergency Declaration No. 2020-002 provides regulatory relief for commercial motor vehicle operations providing direct assistance in support of emergency relief efforts related to COVID-19 and is limited to transportation of  (1) livestock and livestock feed; (2) medical supplies and equipment related to the testing, diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19; (3) vaccines, constituent products, and medical supplies and equipment including ancillary supplies/kits for the administration of vaccines, related to the prevention of COVID-19; (4) 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; and (5) food, paper products and other groceries for emergency restocking of distribution centers or stores. Direct assistance does not include non-emergency transportation of qualifying commodities or routine commercial deliveries, including mixed loads with a nominal quantity of qualifying emergency relief added to obtain the benefits of this emergency declaration. To be eligible for the exemption, the transportation must be both (i) of qualifying commodities and (ii) incident to the immediate restoration of those essential supplies.

 

DOWNLOAD DOCUMENTS

 

FMCSA1-Extension of Emergency Declaration 2020-002 - Final - May 26 21

 

FMCSA2-FMCSA CDL and MEC Waiver - Final - May 26 21

 

FMCSA3-FMCSA CLP Waiver - Final - May 26 21

 

 

FMCSA4-NEDD for SDLAs - Parts 383-384 General Provisions - Final - May 26 21

 

 

FMCSA5-NEDD on Expiring CDLs and MECs - Final - May 26 21

 

 

FMCSA6-Third Party Skills Tester Waiver - Final - May 26 21

 

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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.

The materials and information included in this newsletter are provided as a service to you and do not reflect endorsement by the American Honey Producers Association (AHPA). The content and opinions expressed within the newsletter are those of the authors and are not necessarily shared by AHPA. AHPA is not responsible for the accuracy of information provided from outside sources.

June 1, 2021
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27 April 2021

 

Hello Honey Industry Partners!

 

We would appreciate your assistance spreading the word on our continuing research project. We are collecting samples of citrus blossom honey from locations in North America. There is a sample collection form included (download here: https://803a53c6-072b-4f8f-960b-bf8520169c2b.usrfiles.com/ugd/803a53_0bd8b373e75d4d7f98e8bb7e67f97fbb.pdf). We are requesting 118 mL/4 oz samples. Senders are not responsible for costs related to testing. These samples will be collected by QSI America and the testing will be used to support a future identity standard for citrus blossom honey.

Timing is a bit urgent to obtain samples this season. The sooner you are able to share this opportunity with your constituents, the better this project will be. Thank you for your support!

 

The USP Honey Expert Panel On behalf of

Norberto Garcia, Chair and

Gina Clapper, Senior Scientific Liaison with FCC and US Pharmacopeia

 

Please contact Gina with any questions or comments (gina.clapper@usp.org)

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FMCSA is extending its COVID-19 waivers through August 31 

 

Arguably the most important COVID-19  waiver for the agricultural community that has been extended is the waiver from hours-of-service rules.  Please note: not all agricultural products qualify for the COVID-waiver. 

 

Even if some agricultural products don’t qualify for the COVID-19 waiver, they probably qualify for the agricultural exemption to hours-of-service rules for the portions of the hauls that are within 150 air-miles of the origin of the shipment.  Below is text on which products qualify for the COVID-19 waiver from hours-of-service rules.

 

Extension through August 31, 2021 of the expanded modified Emergency Declaration continues the exemption granted from Parts 390 through 399 of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations, such as hour-of-service rules.  

The extension of the expanded modified Emergency Declaration No. 2020-002 provides regulatory relief for commercial motor vehicle operations providing direct assistance in support of emergency relief efforts related to COVID-19 and is limited to transportation of  (1) livestock and livestock feed; (2) medical supplies and equipment related to the testing, diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19; (3) vaccines, constituent products, and medical supplies and equipment including ancillary supplies/kits for the administration of vaccines, related to the prevention of COVID-19; (4) 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; and (5) food, paper products and other groceries for emergency restocking of distribution centers or stores. Direct assistance does not include non-emergency transportation of qualifying commodities or routine commercial deliveries, including mixed loads with a nominal quantity of qualifying emergency relief added to obtain the benefits of this emergency declaration. To be eligible for the exemption, the transportation must be both (i) of qualifying commodities and (ii) incident to the immediate restoration of those essential supplies.

 

DOWNLOAD DOCUMENTS

 

FMCSA1-Extension of Emergency Declaration 2020-002 - Final - May 26 21

 

FMCSA2-FMCSA CDL and MEC Waiver - Final - May 26 21

 

FMCSA3-FMCSA CLP Waiver - Final - May 26 21

 

 

FMCSA4-NEDD for SDLAs - Parts 383-384 General Provisions - Final - May 26 21

 

 

FMCSA5-NEDD on Expiring CDLs and MECs - Final - May 26 21

 

 

FMCSA6-Third Party Skills Tester Waiver - Final - May 26 21

 

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Letter to Natural Resources Conservation Service, US Department of Agriculture

 

Terry Cosby, Chief

Natural Resources Conservation Service

US Department of Agriculture

1400 Independence Avenue SW

Washington, DC 20250

 

Dear Chief Cosby:

Thank you for the implementation of the enhancement E328M for the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) entitled “Diversify crop rotation with canola or sunflower to provide benefits to pollinators” that encourages the inclusion of canola or sunflowers in a farm’s crop rotation beginning in fiscal year 2021.

 

We write to encourage NRCS to build on this enhancement by creating a similar conservation practice for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). Including a similar practice in EQIP would increase the likelihood of adoption of honeybee and pollinator friendly crop rotations on more farms because some producers have been unable to participate in CSP but do participate in the EQIP program. Further, many producers currently participating in the CSP program are enrolled in their second contract, which is the total number of contracts allowed for a producer under the program.

 

Thank you in advance for considering this expansion of the pollinator enhancement. We look forward to working with you to ensure that these practices to enhance honey bee and pollinator habitat are implemented in a manner that will provide the greatest possible benefit to honey bees.

If there are questions regarding this request, please contact Dale Thorenson at dthorenson@gordley.com.

 

Respectfully yours,

Lance Hourigan

National Sunflower Association

 

Kelvin Adee

President

American Honey Producers Association

 

Andrew Moore

President

U.S. Canola Association

 

Joan Gunter

President

American Beekeeping Federation

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Detoxifying Enzymes Encased in Microparticles Could Protect Bees From Pesticides

CARLY CASSELLA

30 MAY 2021

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A heavily used group of pesticides, designed to kill insects upon contact, is also poisoning bee colonies.

Scientists have discovered a way to deliver an antidote using pollen-like microparticles. The medicine is composed of a special enzyme that can break down certain groups of insecticides called organophosphates.

These insecticides pose a deadly threat, but if the right enzymes go through the bees' bodies under the right conditions, they could break down certain pesticides before they are digested and kill the bees.

When researchers tested their antidote – in this case, amidohydrolase phosphotriesterase, or OPT – on a small group of the common eastern bumblebee (Bombus impatiens), the rates of survival were stark.

In the lab, bumblebees fed pollen loaded with malathion – an organophosphate highly toxic to bees – died within four or five days. Meanwhile, those bees that received a meal of malathion and the OPT antidote delivered via the microparticle showed a survival rate of 100 percent.

Bees that received only the antidote without the microparticle protection had the same fate as those that only received the malathion meal.

The problem is, when bees eat toxic pollen grains, they are held in the gut for up to 12 hours, which makes them difficult to remove. This means the antidote must also get to the gut before digestion of these toxins occurs. 

While OPT is effective at neutralizing organophosphates' toxicity, it loses its stability – and thus its effectiveness – at high temperatures and low pH levels. Naturally, this describes a bee's digestive environment.

To avoid being broken down in the bee's acidic crop stomach, researchers encased OPT in protective microparticles made of calcium carbonate that are roughly the size of pollen grains and dubbed them PIMs, or pollen-inspired microparticles.

The PIMs protect the OPT past the crop stomach, allowing it to detoxify the pesticides in more amenable conditions.

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"We have a solution whereby beekeepers can feed their bees our microparticle products in pollen patties or in a sugar syrup, and it allows them to detoxify the hive of any pesticides that they might find," explains biological and environmental engineer James Webb from Cornell University.

Webb, one of the co-authors of the study, is now the CEO of Beemmunity, a company using microparticles and their potential to save honey bee colonies. Two of this study's authors are also shareholders in Beemmunity.

Today, pesticide residues are commonly found in bee honey, wax and pollen, and while no single chemical is responsible for the recent and catastrophic collapse in honey bees, it appears some organophosphates, like malathion, can put hives at substantial risk.

While this particular group of insecticides is widespread in agriculture, there are other toxins out there that bees are also harmed by.

Neonicotinoids are the most widely used class of insecticides worldwide, thought to endanger the life expectancy and the reproduction of honey bees.

To target more than just one group of pesticides, Beemmunity is filling its microparticles with a special absorptive oil. This would create a kind of sponge, sucking any neonicotinoids hiding in the bee's gut up into the shell of the microparticle. The quarantined toxins can then later be pooped out by the bee.

Beemunity plans to test this spongy microparticle on 240 hives this summer.

Given how ubiquitous pesticides are and how long they can persist in the food chain, clearing the environment of these toxins will be incredibly difficult. Finding an antidote may be our best shot.

The study was published in Nature Food.

https://www.sciencealert.com/microscopic-medicine-hidden-in-pollen-could-protect-bees-from-certain-pesticides

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New Fungus Strain Effective against Varroa Mites in Honeybee Colonies

May 28, 2021 by News Staff / Source

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A new strain of Metarhizium brunneum, a common fungus found in soils around the world, could provide a chemical-free method for eradicating Varroa destructor, the devastating ectoparasite of honeybees. Unlike other strains of Metarhizium, the new strain can survive in the warm environments common in honeybee hives, which typically have a temperature of around 35 degrees Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit).

 

Varroa destructor is an ectoparasite of honeybees widely considered to be the primary driver of declining honeybee health in recent decades.

Although a variety of interacting factors including pathogens, pesticides, and nutritional stress have contributed to declining honeybee health, these parasites are the most commonly reported cause of colony loss for commercial beekeepers and is considered the single greatest threat to apiculture world-wide.

Varroa feed on adult and immature hone bees by puncturing the exoskeleton with sharp mouthparts and consuming bee tissues through extra-oral digestion.

Feeding by Varroa weakens bees, reduces worker life-span and foraging capability, and vectors some of the most destructive honeybee viruses.

If left untreated, Varroa infected colonies have an expected lifespan of 1-3 years. Additionally, Varroa infected bees are more likely to drift to neighboring colonies, introducing Varroa and associated viruses to uninfected colonies.

This is especially problematic for bees in commercial pollination settings where thousands of hives from different beekeepers and locations are crowded seasonally into orchards and agricultural fields.

Currently, beekeepers are largely reliant on chemical acaricides to control Varroa despite the dangers that these chemicals pose to bees and the ongoing issues with chemical resistance in the mites.

“We’ve known that Metarhizium could kill mites, but it was expensive and didn’t last long because the fungi died in the hive heat,” said Professor Steve Sheppard, a researcher in the Department of Entomology at Washington State University.

“Our team used directed evolution to develop a strain that survives at the higher temperatures. Plus, we took fungal spores from dead mites, selecting for virulence against Varroa.”

When Metarhizium spores land on a Varroa mite, they germinate, drill into the mite, and proliferate, killing it from the inside out. Bees have high immunity against the spores, making it a safe option for beekeepers.

In the study, the researchers screened more than 27,000 Varroa mites for levels of infection to get the new strain.

“It’s providing a real one-two punch, using two different fungi to help bees fight Varroa,” said Paul Stamets, co-owner and founder of Fungi Perfecti.

“The extracts help bee immune systems reduce virus counts while Metarhizium is a potentially great mite biocontrol agent.”

The next step is to seek approval from the Environmental Protection Agency to use Metarhizium on hives used in agriculture.

“We hope in 10 years that, rather than chemical miticides, Metarhizium is widely used to control Varroa mites,” Professor Sheppard said.

“And that the mite problem for beekeepers has been significantly reduced.”

The team’s results were published in the journal Scientific Reports.

http://www.sci-news.com/biology/metarhizium-brunneum-strain-varroa-mites-09705.html

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New Research Deepens Mystery About Evolution of Bees’ Social Behavior

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A new study has mounted perhaps the most intricate, detailed look ever at the diversity in structure and form of bees, offering new insights in a long-standing debate over how complex social behaviors arose in certain branches of bees’ evolutionary tree.

Published Wednesday in Insect Systematics and Diversity, the report is built on an analysis of nearly 300 morphological traits in bees, how those traits vary across numerous species, and what the variations suggest about the evolutionary relations between bee species. The result offers strong evidence that complex social behavior developed just once in pollen-carrying bees, rather than twice or more, separately, in different evolutionary branches—but researchers say the case is far from closed.

Diego Sasso Porto, Ph.D., has been studying the structure and form, or morphology, of bees for more than a decade, and his latest effort ventures into a longstanding conundrum about bee evolution. Corbiculate bees—those that possess corbicula, or pollen baskets, on their hind legs—encompass honey bees, stingless bees, bumble bees, and orchid bees. Among them, honey bees and stingless bees are the only groups with highly complex social behaviors, such as forming large colonies with queens, workers, and drones. Bumble bees display less complex sociality, and orchid bees are mostly solitary. Traditional morphological analyses have long indicated that honey bees and stingless bees are most closely related and that complex social behavior developed in their common ancestor before the groups diverged. However, in the 1990s, emergent techniques in molecular genetic analysis began to show that stingless bees and bumble bees were the more closely related “sister” groups, which would mean that honey bees and stingless bees each developed their complex social behavior independently, after their ancestral paths diverged.

Ever since, these different lines of evidence have persisted as a notorious case of incongruence between molecular and morphological data sets in animals. Porto, now a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Biological Sciences at Virginia Tech, made his foray into the debate amid his doctoral work at the University of São Paulo in Brazil, under the guidance of Eduardo Almeida, Ph.D., co-author on the new study.

“The main criticism from some molecular researchers against morphology, and even from morphologists themselves, was we don’t have enough data,” Porto says. “This work was a big effort to try to get the best morphological data set we could ever get for this group of bees, and we tried several analyses to see if the problem is with morphological data itself or the way we interpret morphological data.”

Porto evaluated past morphological studies of bees and then conducted new analysis of specimens from 53 species, dissecting each, imaging anatomical structures under optical and scanning electron microscopes, and ultimately scoring all of the specimens across 289 different traits. Often minute or even microscopic in detail, these traits ranged from the number of teeth on a bee’s mandibles to the arrangement of barbs on its stinger.

With this massive trove of morphological data in hand, Porto applied multiple types of computerized statistical analyses to evaluate the possible phylogenies, or “family trees,” that delineate the relationships among bee species. The results strongly support previous morphological findings, that honey bees (tribe Apini) and stingless bees (Meliponini) are most closely related. “The evidence from our dataset, if we just take it at plain sight, is really strong. We have a lot of traits supporting this,” says Porto.

But, he sought to further explore the discrepancy between what molecular genetic analysis shows and what his own morphological data supports. To do so, Porto ran his data through a separate analysis that evaluated how well the morphological data could fit with the evolutionary tree supported by molecular analysis—that Meliponini and Bombini (bumble bees) are most closely related. As expected, it was not a great fit—a bit like putting a square peg in a round hole—but they were not completely incompatible, he says.

Read the rest of the article here: https://entomologytoday.org/2021/05/27/new-research-deepens-mystery-about-evolution-of-bees-social-behavior/

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We tracked male honeybees for two years to find out where they look for sex

by Joseph Woodgate, The Conversation
May 26, 2021

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Honeybees pollinate a lot of our food crops, they're welcome visitors to our gardens and they are widely kept throughout the world—so much so that some have described them as a domesticated species.

It may come as a bit of a surprise, then, to discover there are big gaps in our knowledge regarding where honeybees mate. The problem is that bees mate in mid-air, possibly up to 50 meters above the ground, where it's almost impossible to observe them.

This is why my colleagues and I spent two years trying to track the flight paths of male honeybees, known as drones. We've published the results in a new study which helps solve the longstanding mystery of where honeybees mate.

Drones are born in summer and have one aim in life—to mate with a virgin queen. New queens make up to six nuptial flights at the start of their lives, during which they

mate with six to 24 different drones. They store the sperm, which they use to fertilize all the worker eggs they lay for the rest of their lives—more than 1,000 per day.

Where do the drones go?

From a few days old until they die, at around three weeks old, drones leave the hive several times a day looking for sex. But where do they go?

The first clue came more than 200 years ago, when the naturalist Gilbert White wrote of hearing a buzzing on his estate in England. Many beekeepers and scientists believe White was hearing the sound of thousands of drones coming together at a place known as a drone congregation area.

Scientists have investigated these supposed congregations by raising a long pole or balloon with either a queen bee in a cage or a "lure"—some cotton wool soaked in the pheromones that queens produce.

A trail of drones will often form downwind, competing to try to mate with the queen. One problem with this technique is, because drones are attracted to the lures, we can't know for sure how they'd behave when the lures aren't there. Some people suspect the congregations might be created by the scientists themselves.

In the early 1990s, scientists in Arizona, US, used a radar to monitor drone movements at a large bee farm. They couldn't track individual bees but their observations seemed to show drones followed shared routes. We wanted to know more, so we set out to use a different type of radar to reveal the movements of individual drones.

Tracking bees

To track the bees we attached small pieces of electronic equipment, known as transponders, to their thorax. Our radar rotated once every three seconds, "illuminating" its surroundings with a beam of radio signals. When these hit a transponder, they were converted into an answering signal. The radar constantly scanned for these incoming signals, allowing us to work out the position of the bee.

The first thing we noticed was our drones switched between two forms of flight. They used straight, efficient flights between places but often switched to circling, looping flight. We found these convoluted flights were clustered in four specific areas—even without lures to attract them, drones cluster in congregation areas.

We looked more carefully at the flights in congregation areas and found a pattern. The further they flew from the center of the area, the more strongly they accelerated back toward it. Imagine marbles sloshing around in the bottom of a steep sided bowl, starting to climb the sides only to speed back to the middle. This pattern of accelerations, also seen in swarming midges, simulates a physical force, keeping the bees bound together and maintaining a cohesive swarm.

Why would so many drones come together like this? The most likely explanation is congregations are a form of "lek"—leks are large groups of male animals who gather to attract a mate. They are common among birds and mammals, where males often put on elaborate displays to attract picky females.

There are several possible reasons why leks might have evolved, but the one most likely to apply to bees is that males gather in places that females are likely to visit. This allows males and females to rendezvous without having to search the entire landscape—a tough proposition when you're as small as a bee.

One major difference between bees and other animals was our bees frequently flew between drone congregation areas, staying for only a few minutes at each, whereas lekking animals are typically very faithful to a single location.

The big puzzle is how drones find these areas. Our results showed that congregation areas will attract bees for at least two years, but no individual drone lives long enough to pass on knowledge about how to find them to the next generation.

We followed some drones from the first time they left the nest, through many subsequent flights. On their first flights, they stayed close to the hive, learning its appearance to find their way home again, but never visited congregations. Some visited congregation areas on their next flights, though, and managed to fly straight there without searching for it.

Whatever signs they use to guide themselves must be obvious from close to the hives and, because drones from different hives visited the same locations, must be observable no matter where they are. We plan to use a 3D model of the entire field site to reconstruct what our drones could see as they flew to the congregations, to find out what they looked to for guidance.

Understanding drones' mating behavior will help beekeepers manage their breeding programs and help us unravel a longstanding mystery about bee behavior. I'm also part of a project taking inspiration from bees to create a new generation of autonomous robots. As we start to understand how bees can accomplish complicated behaviors, we could develop robots that work with less human guidance.

https://phys.org/news/2021-05-tracked-male-honeybees-years-sex.html

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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.

The materials and information included in this newsletter are provided as a service to you and do not reflect endorsement by the American Honey Producers Association (AHPA). The content and opinions expressed within the newsletter are those of the authors and are not necessarily shared by AHPA. AHPA is not responsible for the accuracy of information provided from outside sources.