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Bee Health

Bees added to US endangered species list for the first time

Bees added to US endangered species list for the first time …

The Guardian

Seven types of bees once found in abundance in Hawaii have become the first bees to be added to the US federal list of endangered and threatened species.

The listing decision, published on Friday in the Federal Register, classifies seven varieties of yellow-faced or masked bees as endangered, due to such factors as habitat loss, wildfires and the invasion of non-native plants and insects.bees-endangered

The bees, so named for yellow-to-white facial markings, once crowded Hawaii and Maui but recent surveys found their populations have plunged in the same fashion as other types of wild bees – and some commercial ones – elsewhere in the United States, federal wildlife managers said.

Pollinators like bees are crucial for the production of fruits, nuts and vegetables and they represent billions of dollars in value each year to the nation’s agricultural economy, officials said.

Placing yellow-faced bees under federal safeguards comes just over a week since the US Fish and Wildlife Service proposed adding the imperiled rusty patched bumble bee, a prized but vanishing pollinator once found in the upper midwest and north-eastern United States, to the endangered and threatened species list.

One of several wild bee species seen declining over the past two decades, the rusty patched bumble bee is the first in the continental United States formally proposed for protections.

The listing of the Hawaii species followed years of study by the conservation group Xerces Society, state government officials and independent researchers. The Xerces Society said its goal was to protect nature’s pollinators and invertebrates, which play a vital role in the health of the overall ecosystem.

The non-profit organization was involved in the initial petitions to protect the bee species, said Sarina Jepson, director of endangered species and aquatic programs for the Portland, Oregon-based group.

Jepson said yellow-faced bees could be found elsewhere in the world, but these particular species were native only to Hawaii and pollinate plant species indigenous to the islands.

The bees faced a variety of threats including “feral pigs, invasive ants, loss of native habitat due to invasive plants, fire, as well as development, especially in some for the coastal areas”, Jepson told Associated Press.

The bees could be found in a wide variety of habitats in Hawaii, from coastal environments to high-elevation shrub lands, she said. The yellow-faced bees pollinated some of Hawaii’s endangered native plant species. While other bees could potentially pollinate those species, many could become extinct if these bees were to die off entirely.

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For the First Time, Bees Declared Endangered in the U.S.

National Geographic Society

As the legend goes, when star-crossed lovers Naupaka and Kaui knew they’d be forever separated, Naupaka took the flower from behind her ear and tore it in two pieces, keeping one and giving Kaui the other.beekeepers-suit

As she went to the mountains, and he to the sea, the plants around them felt their sorrow, and from then on bloomed only in half-flowers.

Such is the Hawaiian myth behind the naupaka, a beach shrub native to the islands whose flowers look like they’re missing half of their petals.

Now the plants are linked to another sad event: Their primary pollinators, a group of more than 60 yellow-faced bee species in the genus Hylaeus, are disappearing fast. So fast that on September 30, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service deemed seven Hylaeus species as endangered—the first bees ever on the list. (See seven intimate pictures that reveal the beauty of bees.)

In the early 1900s, yellow-faced bees were the most abundant Hawaiian insects, ranging from the coastlines to the mountains and even the subalpine slopes of Mauna Kea.

Yet habitat loss, invasive species, and climate change have hit Hawaii’s only native bees so hard that they’re now one of the state’s least observed pollinators. Only two known populations of H. anthracinus, one of the most studied species, remain on the island of Oahu, and a few small populations are scattered across several other islands, according to recent surveys.

 “What we saw was really alarming—the bees were doing a lot worse than we thought,” says Cynthia King, an entomologist with Hawaii’s Division of Forestry and Wildlife.
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Honey Bee Life Cycle

The Honey Bee Life Cycle

 Honey bee life cycle: a description, drawing and information about the colony.

 The honey bee life cycle goes through 4 basic stages.  More detail is added in the diagram below, but the key stages are:honey-bee-life-cycle

  1. Egg
  2. Larva
  3. Pupa
  4. Adult

All bee life cycles go through these stages, although there are great variations between the life cycles of solitary, honey and bumblebees, (as explained elsewhere on my site – see links.

But for now, let’s focus on the honey bee life cycle.   Here’s my little drawing giving an overview (you can download a larger PDF version below):

Unlike bumblebee colonies, honey bee colonies can survive the winter, provided they have enough food resources, are able to keep sufficiently warm, and are free of diseases and predators.

However, in the winter, colonies are smaller than in the summer: there are no drones, and perhaps part of the colony left the hive (in a swarm) to form a new nest elsewhere.

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Honey Bee Life Cycle – Mid-State Beekeepers Association

There are three kinds of honey bees that you will find living inside a beehive – the Queen, the Worker and the Drone. Honey bees are highly specialized.  A hive needs each of the hive members to perform their job well, or the hive will not prosper. They must work as a unit and be willing to sacrifice themselves if need be to keep the hive alive and thriving.

The Drone is the male bee.  He has a very large and thick body.  A drone performs no functions inside the hive. In the hive, he rests and is fed by workers. His sole duty is to fly around at an altitude of 40 to up to 200 feet in search of virgin queen bees on their maiden flights. His odds of finding one are slim, but if he is fortunate to meet and mate in flight, the virgin queen retains his endophallus (storing it inside her body for future use) and he falls to the ground and dies.

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Varroa Mite

The Varroa Mite has become well known and has been a big pest of honeybees since they were first introduced in Florida in the mid-1980’s.varroa-mite

Varroa mites are outside parasites that bother both brood and honey bees. The Varroa mites suck their blood from both adults and developing brood, and particularly drone brood. This will shorten and weakens the bee’s life span. Emerging brood may be abnormal with missing wings and legs.

If left untreated, infestations of varroa mites will increase and may kill more colonies. If the colonies are not looked at for mites, losses may sometimes be mistaken for queenlessness or winter mortality.

The adult female mites have reddish brown oval bodies that are flat. They are about 1 to 1.5mm across. They also have eight legs. They are big enough to notice with the unaided eye on the bee’s stomach or thorax.

The varroa mites flat shape can cause them to fit in between the bee’s abdominal section. This mite is usually confused with the bee louse. Nonetheless, the bee louse, which is an insect that has only six legs. Its body is slightly bigger and more circular.
Mites grow on the bee brood. A female mite will come in a brood cell a day before it is capped so it can be sealed with larva. Immature mites that come out from the eggs that she lays develops and feeds on the maturing bee larva.

When it becomes time for the adult bees to come out from the cell, many of the mites will have become adults; they would have mated, and they arevarroa-mites ready to begin looking for other larvae or bees to parasitize.

Examination of the drone brood in their capped cells will most likely tell whether or not a colony has been infested. The dark mites are easy to see when they are on the white pupae when the comb is broken, or the pupae are released from their cells.

Mites move from colony to colony by drifting drones and workers. Honeybees can also get a hold of these mites when robbing little colonies.

It is best to separate captured swarms, package bees, and different new colonies from older colonies and inspect them for mites before you place them in an apiary.

Early discovery of low levels of mite infestation is the main key to successful management. It is simpler to spot infestations that are more developed than those that are just beginning.

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Small Hive Beetle

Small Hive Beetle – Aethina tumida (SHB), which is the small hive beetle, is a native to sub-Saharan Africa. The small hive beetle can be found around honeybees. Although they are often found around the honeybee colonies there has not been much known about what threat or damage to the honeybee colonies they have caused.Small Hive Beetle

In 1998 the small hive beetle made its way into the United States. How the small hive beetle made its way into the country is unknown.

Currently the small hive beetle can be found in more than 30 states and these beetles can definitely be found in the Southeastern states.

It is speculated that these beetles may have been transported throughout the United States from certain packaging. These beetles may have also been brought in by migrant beekeepers. Also since the beetles are capable of flying they have been able to travel on their own. A small hive beetle can fly for several miles, which makes it easier for them to travel freely throughout the states.

The small hive beetle is considered to be a pest but at a secondary level. They are a pest that seeks opportunity.

In Georgia they have become a problem as they have caused damage with the bee colonies there. Since the beetles are in abundance in that area they have caused problems for the honeybee colonies.

The beetles bring varroa mites and other hard conditions for the honeybees. With the arrival of the small hive beetles they create a stressful situation for the honeybees.

Although the small hive beetle can create a stressful situation for the honeybees they are able to hold their ground to a point.

Unless the small hive beetles are massive. In this case it can create a problem because they are able to lay eggs and reproduce their numbers rapidly.

The survival of the honeybee colony will depend on various factors. The amount of small hive beetles compared to the honeybees. The strength of the honeybee colony compared to the small hive beetles. If the honeybees are healthy and if the population can out power the small hive beetles while making them obsolete.

small hive beetlesUnfortunately even with the honeybees’ ability to sting its opponent it is no match for the small hive beetle. The small hive beetle is built with an armor that is tough and the stingers will not penetrate through their shells. Often the honeybee will try to strategically remove the small hive beetle by simply moving them.

The beetles are masters at hiding in small crevices and cracks so that they can escape the honeybees. In retaliation the honeybees use this as a way to trap the small hive beetles where they are.

Although, the small hive beetles have learned some skills to survive when they are put into this situation. They have learned to become adaptable and can trick the honeybees into feeding them from stimulating their antennas.

This survival skill keeps the small hive beetle thriving. They will often stay with the honeybees until they are released by the beekeepers upon inspection.

Detection of the Small Hive Beetle

Detection of the small hive beetle is an easy task. They can be found throughout the bee colony hive. They can often be seen as an infestation and will be on various parts of the combs as well as the layers of the hive.

When looking for small hive beetles in the top area of the hive they are easy to find by opening up the hive, placing the top hivehive beetle cover in the sun, and placing that top hive on top of the cover.

The small hive beetles do not like the sunlight and you will be able to see them trying to hide from the sun. This will take a small amount of time but once they have removed themselves from the area you will be able to pick up the hive and remove the rest of them in this fashion.

In the event that the small hive beetles become over populated they will make it hard for the honeybees to maintain a viable hive. This could happen if the colony is already weak or the population of the honeybees has decreased.

It may happen if the beekeeper is not taking certain actions to protect the honeybees. If any of those predicaments occur the honeybees will become defenseless by the overpopulated small hive beetles. This can cause the colonies to split, form smaller colonies; which results in the colony being less powerful.

With over supering hives it can cause problems for the honeybee colony. They may not be able to handle the abundance of small hive beetles.

Control of the Hive Beetle

Controlling the colony by prevention would be the best way to deal with the small hive beetle.

If this is not possible there is an actual chemical to help control the infestation of these beetles. There are various avenues that can be taken in order to protect the honeybees.

One of the most effective ways to protect the honeybees from infestation is to keep their hives in sunny areas since the small hive beetle is not a fan of sunlight.

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Colony Collapse Disorder

Major buzzkill: pesticides diminish bee sperm, adding to

Neonicotinoid pesticides, already blamed for short-circuiting honeybee brains, also diminish their sperm, possibly contributing to the pollinators’ worrying global decline, researchers said Wednesday.

Widespread neonicotinoid use may have “inadvertent contraceptive effects” on the insects which provide fertilisation worth colony collapse disorderbillions of dollars every year, said a study in the British journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

In their experiment, researchers divided bees into two groups.

One group was fed pollen containing field-realistic concentrations of two neonicotinoids – thiamethoxam and clothianidin.

The other group was given untainted food.

After 38 days, the male drones – whose key role in life is to mate with the egg-laying queen – had their semen extracted and tested.

The data “clearly showed… reduced sperm viability” – which is the percentage of living versus dead sperm in a sample, said the study.

Honeybee queens mate for just a single short period, but with many males in a sort of bee orgy, before storing the sperm for the rest of their fertile lifetime.

Bees have been hit in Europe, North America and elsewhere by a mysterious phenomenon called “colony collapse disorder”, which has alternatively been blamed on mites, a virus or fungus, pesticides, or a combination.

The new study adds reduced sperm quality to the list of possible causes.

“As the primary egg layer and an important source of colony cohesion, the queen is intimately connected to colony performance,” the paper said.

Previous studies have found neonicotinoids can cause bees to become disorientated to the extent that they cannot find their way back to the hive, and can lower their resistance to disease.

The European Union has placed a moratorium on the sale of neonicotinoids.

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The Buzz About Colony Collapse Disorder | NRDC

https://www.nrdc.org/…/buzz-about-colony-collaps

Natural Resources Defense Council

Dec 31, 2015 –

The average person sitting down to dinner probably doesn’t realize the important role bees played in preparing that meal. Here’s something thatcolony collapse disorder definition might surprise you: One out of every three mouthfuls of food in the American diet is, in some way, a product of honeybee pollination—from fruit to nuts to coffee beans. And because bees are dying at a rapid rate (42 percent of bee colonies collapsed in the United States alone in 2015), our food supply is at serious risk.

The bee’s plight is widespread: Serious declines have been reported in both managed honeybee colonies and wild populations. Jennifer Sass, an NRDC senior scientist, says there are multiple factors at play. Each on its own is bad enough, but combined they are quickly proving too much to handle.

Pesticides: These chemicals are designed, of course, to kill insects. But some systemic varieties—specifically neonicotinoids—are worse for bees than others.

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Slideshow

This jacket was recommended to me by a bee exterminator for handling bee and wasp issues as they arose. I have not needed to use the jacket in battle yet but did try it on to make sure it fit and did not leave any areas exposed. I was pleasantly surprised by how well made it felt. Lots of pockets too.

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Customer Feedback

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