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Sir David Attenborough Talks Almond Pollination on the BBC’s The Green Planet: “Human Worlds” Series.

What better way to experience the almond pollination than being dropped into the orchard with Sir David Attenborough via the BBC’s The Green Planet? In the final episode of the series, Sir David highlights the efforts undertaken by almond growers to help the planet-including by using cover crops!

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Growing Your Apiary? USDA Programs and Resources to Support Beekeepers

As beekeepers gain experience and expand their apiaries, they may not be aware that they are eligible for federal support in multiple ways. This is especially true if they are generating income from honey sales or other apiary products. Luckily, the USDA now has a handy infographic of federal programs and resources that support beekeepers including insurance programs, disaster assistance, loans, grants, and disease testing. 

When drought, severe weather, disease outbreaks, or other events occur, it can be overwhelming. The key to successfully utilizing federal insurance or other protection programs is by becoming familiar with them, and documenting the inventory and productivity of your apiary well! 

Beekeepers with plans to expand their operation, or who have innovative ideas, can apply for federal grants or loans, the later of which have low-interest rates. Connecting with other beekeepers who have been through these processes before is a great way to get started. Check with your local association or state apiarist who might be able to connect you. The above infographic, and more information and resources, can be found on the USDA Pollinator website

By:  Grace Kunkel, Communications Manager, Project Apis m.

Honey Industry Testing-What is it and Why is it Done?

The honey we love and consume every day should be wholesome and trustworthy. This is why the honey industry is committed to advancing stronger testing solutions to ensure the honey we consume is pure and authentic. In order to preserve the purity of honey, the industry is spearheading the ability for honey to be traced back to its original location and deploying new methods aimed at detecting adulterated honey, preventing it from entering the market. 

For more information about the steps industry groups are taking to champion pure honey, click here.

Questions about testing methods? Click here for FAQs.  

What About Colony Collapse Disorder?

In 2006, Colony Collapse Disorder devastated many beekeepers and honey bee colonies across the US.

Colony Collapse Disorder is a syndrome characterized by some very specific symptoms: the majority of worker bees in a hive disappear and leave behind a laying queen, plenty of food and a few nurse bees to care for the remaining immature bees and the queen. It’s as if a booming metropolis suddenly emptied its working population. As a result, the hive dies.

Scientists still don’t know for sure what causes Colony Collapse Disorder, and the syndrome is infrequently seen today as compared to 2006. Even though CCD is not at the forefront of honey bee health concerns today, high annual losses related to the “4p’s”listed above persist, and are often mis-attributed to CCD in the media.

(link to CCD section of honey bee health page)

What’s Killing Bees

We know what’s killing bees.

There are many things that contribute to high annual colony losses.  Often these factors are grouped into what is commonly known as the “Four P’s.” These represent the major honey bee health threats, and they are all connected. For example, Varroa mites not only weaken bees but also spread viruses, and without access to sufficient floral resources (food), bees are less able to fight off the parasites and diseases. Scientists are also looking at these factors through the lens of climate change, and how they respond to extreme environmental conditions and stressors.

(link to 4p’s pop ups: parasites, pathogens, poor nutrition, pesticides)

Donate to Help Bees

There are many organizations dedicated to helping honey bees and pollinators. From research to habitat to education and policy – however you want to help, there is an organization that can utilize your donation. Project Apis m. is a founder of the Bee Health Collective and supports honey bee research and habitat projects.  You can learn more, and donate to the cause here.

Reduce Your Pesticide Use

Following Integrated Pest Management principles will help you use other measures, and pesticide use is a last resort. If you do choose to use pesticides (herbicides, insecticides or fungicides) in your garden or lawn, be sure to read labels carefully and follow the instructions. Buying organic food can also help reduce your pesticide impact and often local organic produce is produced on small farms with better sustainability practices that benefit bees.

Re-Think Your Lawn

In 2005, a NASA study estimated that nearly 2% of all land in the US is constituted by lawns. That equals about 40 Million acres of the iconic lush, green grass that is sought after by many homeowners, golf courses, and businesses.  These lawns not only create “food deserts” for pollinators, they also use an estimated 7 Billion gallons of water per day.  With growing issues like a lack of pollinator and insect habitat, increased chemical use, and water and drought concerns, re-framing the idea of an “ideal” lawn could have significant positive environmental impacts, including supporting pollinators.  

Does your yard support pollinators? Planting flowers is a great step, but even mowing your lawn less frequently can provide more habitat for bees – and you don’t have to break a sweat to do it. Replacing grass with clover is another way to re-think your yard that benefits pollinators and also improves soil health. In Minnesota you can even apply for a grant to help you transform your yard into a pollinator haven!

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