Monday, April 20, 2009

Ontario Bee Association Annual General Meeting - Dec 2008

I attended the Ontario Beekeeper's Association Annual General Meeting which was held 11 & 12 December 2008, in Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada.

(Photos courtesy of Mark Lauterbach)

Again, I took notes from most of the speakers and I've transcribed them below. As always, please bear in mind they won't be 100% accurate - it's hard to write fast enough to keep up with a speaker and actively listening for 2 days can be a challenge. Also, I regret that I didn't write down all the speaker's names so I've done my best to add that in after the fact, hoping I've kept it all straight.

International Honey Market
Elise Gagnon, Odem International Inc

Canadian honey exports are going up. Imports are going down.

Canada supplies 9% honey to USA.

“Mysterious” 9% honey packers' blend or malt sweetener, Other 10%, Vietnam 10%

Imported honey to USA
2008 38 million lbs
2007 31 million lbs
2006 26 million lbs
2005 28 million lbs
2004 22 million lbs

China replaced by India, Vietnam and Malaysia

400 million lbs a year

Exchange rate - To maintain strong prices in Canada we need a strong dollar

Stop flood of mysterious honey in USA which is driving the price down. Mysterious honey is honey dumped by China through other countries.
Stats showing numbers of imports come from Customs Canada

Is an effort to create a standard of identity for honey (funny honey) in the USA.

Mysterious honey doesn’t pass Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) testing.

If they find an issue with “malt sweetener” – then it finds another label. Canadian standards are tougher for tests.

Trying to get a legal definition of what is honey. You can’t take someone to court without a legal definition. Canada does have a definition. USA does not.

Drum standards – comparison (is an issue). Using used drums to pack food – only permitted with honey. China uses new drums with a liner – used drums conditioned.

38 million import to USA – mysterious honey could possibly be hold back honey.

Totes – plastic cube that holds 3 thousand pounds – works well on pallets.

Nosema ceranae Research in Spain
Dr. Mariano Higes, Centro Apicola Regional, Guadaljara, Spain

Nosema ceranae spores are mature in 3 days. Lesions on epidermal layer. Intracellular germination.

How is it transmitted? Not by feces.

Pollen infected with spores (from commercial operations or foraging bees).

3, 7 and 21 days after infection. Twenty-one days later all bees are dead.

Predators – birds and dragon flies, etc., that eat bees. Showed Nosema ceranae infection in their cuticles. Spores in cuticles – used to infect – they were viable and killed the bees.

How long were spores viable? 18 days in the sun and spores were still viable.

Birds regurgitate hard cuticle of bees – still contained lots of spores. Birds are spreading, also feces, but not spores in feces.

Different parts of the hive spreading the disease as well.

Observing naturally infected hives, 1.5 years later the hives were depopulated.

Dec to Feb (cold months in Spain) without brood (like Canada) before crash was a spike or “boom” lots of bees and brood. June to Oct/Nov, they lost population.

Spring infection – winter – brood – 1 year the hive collapses.

Spore counts per bee interior bees, foraging bees

High from August to March – then a huge drop – then a spike again before collapse.

More brood, 4 phases in infection – first being infection; second – infection growing, third a drop in population and fourth a spike in population and then a crash.

Trend observed – 1 year or so – recover and population increases; then in a few months there is a collapse. 133 bees left in crashed hive and all were infected. Forager bees dead away from the hive.

Lavender fields – found the dead bees in the crops.

Queen tries to re-populate the hive prior to the final collapse – lots of brood comb. Gives the impression of a healthy colony.

Hives with no Nosema ceranae were close by, within 4 months all tested positive for Nosema ceranae.

Fourth phase – diagnose. By that time it’s too late to do anything – it cannot be saved.

For testing, recommend taking foragers at noon. Important to sample at noon, otherwise results are irregular.

Better results with colony treated with Fumigilin B twice a year (spring and fall).

Recommend two treatments in Spain. One preventative and the other curative.

Tested on all types treated/untreated infected and non-infected.

One year later, treated colonies infected – initial infectious stage again without collapse.

Positive for Nosema ceranae at start and left untreated, most were dead or in the last stages of infection one year later.

New colony healthy beside the infected colonies 1 group treated other not treated – untreated were dead; treated – evolved as normal colonies. Treated positive too.

Another experiment on 17 colonies treated according to recommendations, applied product in syrup, dry sugar patty, moistened sugar into paste and let dry. Diluted and used less dosage than recommended (1/4 litre of syrup).

You need to treat – don’t give so much volume that they can’t consume it.

Hives & survival in colonies treated with less after 6 months – colonies reinfected again – treatment doesn’t prevent disease. Treatment helps avoid losses.

120 mg/colony.

Tested Fumigilin – water – no alkaline, no hard water, mineral or distilled water. 1.5 g in 250 ml Syrup fresh (no more than 30 days old). Candy – effects of light & temperature. 4 degrees Celsius is better, brown vials.

April spring samples ½ infected; June – no Fumigilin residue in samples from supers. It controls but does not prevent reinfection.

Too many other factors involved in collapse.

Noseme ceranae in Bumble bees from Argentina.

Potential for Nosema ceranae Control & Fumigilin Residue Risks
Dr. Steve PernalAAFC, Beaverlodge, Alberta

Nosema is a parasitic fungi – a highly derived fungus endo spore.

Mid gut triggers uncoiling of the spore and it harpoons itself inside the bee and reproduces.

Intracellular replication through fecal/oral infection. Nosema ceranae is easily passed. Older workers are more infected.

Can’t see effects until they are severe. Cut can’t absorb nutrients.

Nosema apis is the crawling; Nosema ceranae is different.

The queens become infected/acceptance.

Winter mortality increases.

Nosema ceranae is a dry form of dysentery, crawling is a common scene. As the disease builds over winter it ramps up to early spring and peaks in late spring.

Queen’s attendants generally aren’t infected.

Need PCR (Poliminary Chain Reaction) analysis to tell the difference between Nosema apis and Nosema ceranae.

Four agents: Israeli Acute Paralysis Virus, Kasmir Bee Virus, Nosema apis, Nosema ceranae

Timing of Treatments – fresh foundation with no other treatment is very effective. Replace frames with fresh foundation.

Fall marginal – no benefit doubling dose. Spring holds promise.

Barrel feeding – application – hive top feeder in fall is difficult.

Package bee experiment. Dust, patty, syrup. New Zealand bees they infected – treated and non-treated. Data is still being analyzed. Sampled honey as well for residue. Data not ready yet.

Subsequent samples showed other species showed. Original infected with just Nosema ceranae.

Spores drop as summer starts. Mortality 21 days most died in treatments.

2 litres sugar water per baggie; 4 litres 2 bags side by side

Queens infected by fall – must re-queen in spring.

Nosema canae infection in the US population of Apis mellifera
Dr. Judy Chen, USDA, Beltsville, Maryland, USA

Nosema ceranae in samples taken a decade ago so it’s not a new emerging disease. Nosema ceranae has a small lump of coils, prolific reproduction in the host, being present in tissue samples – royal jelly, gland, salivary, alimentary, zero in muscle and body fat.

It is spread through horizontal and vertical transmission.

Royal jelly is a carrying vehicle for horizontal transmission of Nosema ceranae.

Crawling, dysentery and milky gut are symptoms of Nosema apis, not Nosema ceranae.

Genetic variation between two species of Nosema. One sequence different in Nosema ceranae than Nosema apis. Nosema ceranae has two extra loops. Nosema ceranae more closely relates to the parasite of wasps.

Nosema ceranae is taking over and becoming dominant infection in North America.

Sequencing of Nosema ceranae is underway and will be finished next year.

Genome information of Nosema ceranae will provide important information on why. Enhance our understanding of evolutionary study of this parasite.

Open Question Period/Government Reports:

Fluvinate(spelling?) & Cloucomous(spelling?) – widespread resistance.

Oxalic Acid – allowed under approved conditions.

Formic Acid – 65% is being reassessed (last assessed 15 years ago). Timeline is 2009.

Amitraz – not used after April 2009.

Unregistered: Flumerthrin , Thymol

Neonictinoids – Germain bees in Rhyne, German corn seed, ban lifted. Clothianith was found to be the problem. Improperly treated seed, weather and drifting.

Believe is not consistent with CCD.

Pesticides incidents reporting – mandatory reporting of pest companies weather accidental or not. Repeated effects – evaluate

Importation Committee – make recommendations. Imported queens from Hawaii. No restriction on New Zealand or exports from Hawaii. Health certificate for queens from USA. Extended from 45 days to 90 days.
CFIA takes action non illegal imports.

Two 15 day inspections back to back.

Queens from Argentina, CFIA refused them because they don’t have active surveillence in that country and they have AFB. Argentina is contesting.

Request update from USA on Africanized bees.
How many permits to import queens? 52
Denmark – Buckfast bees
New Zealand

Alberta 18
BC 8
Saskatchewan 8
Ontario 5
Manitoba 8

Honey Issues

Chemical residue testing, etc., pesticide, veterinary residues – only looking at certain compounds of interest

Domestic honey – TYSOSIN 40 positive but below WRL

Imported product random sampling. China Switzerland – sourced from elsewhere. Italy – no other Italian Imports. Others were all within WRL.

China – product returned.

Lead in Honey

Last year were getting positives higher than expected. Procedures to deal with eliminating lead equipment. Not certain if it is the source but it is good practice. Replace extractors with lead in them.

Bulk Container Standards

Honey Regulations – expanded to cover flavoured honey

Labeling – Canada #1 to certain types of honey.

Importers apply for license every 2 years – They must have Recall, Sanitation, Pest Control programs

Been working on honey regulations since 2006.

Labeling guidelines – food safety concerns “Product of Canada” 51% Canadian. Canadians want to know and support Canadian economy. Government survey. 98% Canadian is the change. 2% vitamins and food additives. Change coming into place 31 December 2008 – it is a guideline NOT legislation. Will change how other products with honey are labeled. Made in Canada, Canadian Cheese, Italian pepperoni pizza – new product made in Canada but have to qualify country of origin. – mandated size, bigger container, bigger statement. Fair labeling group works to help identify terms to use, i.e., raw and pasteurized. Pasteurized is for appearance, not flavour, etc.

Honey Stats: It is felt that CFIA is on top of imports and that China isn’t “sliding” mysterious honey in under other means.

Update on Honey Bee Health in America
Dennis van Engelsdorp, Pennsylvania Dept of Agriculture, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, USA

3 Treatments for Varroa Mites

10,000 bees in April, peak in June/July

Biotechnics – queen selection
Organic Lactic Formic Oxalic Acids
Essential Oils

Fall treatment for spring build up – thymol, oxylic acid.

- 36% losses in 2008
- Going out of business – who would run a business with those kinds of issues?

Migratory/Stationary losses are the same. No evidence migratory is more.

Number one answer for losses is poor queens, starvation, Varroa Mites and CCD.

Clear symptoms CCD: absence of bees, no dead bees. Most don’t have CCD.

Rapid decline bees present are young, queen is there, no robbing, insufficient brood to cover.

If not taking feed – it’s a sign there’s a problem, i.e., not robbing a frame put out.

Mapped apiary in California (tracks & trucks of apiaries) – common exposure.

Bees from CCD were 16 times more likely to contain food pellets. Stippling in bee’s kidney’s 7.5 times more.

Tubal balls in malpighian which they feel are organisms and are figuring out what they are.

Some genes are different (4) in CCD and non CCD bees.

Nitrogen in bees –not find nutrition difference.

150 different tests and look at difference between CCD and non CCD.

Control group had higher bee to brood ratio.

Pesticides higher in commercial and insecticide esfenvalerate (?spelling).


Queen not coumaphous(?spelling) resistant could be a factor.

Control colonies higher Varroa Mites.

CCD Deformed Wing Virus, Kasmir Bee Virus higher

Iprodine levels in wax, not all findings are bad. Had a positive beneficial effect.

Increased ABPV
Decreated CBPV
Increased protein mass ratio in worker bees

New queen on new and dead-out frames. Dead-out frames didn’t live as long. Something instrinsically wrong with comb.

Radiation – acetic acid.

Colonies alive at end of study.

Pathogen involved. By January all hives were same (spread). Radiation does work.

Package Bees

American bee has developed better resistance to bees and Australian queens. Australian queens are not that great. Chalkbrood bad from Australian packages – 75%. It is recommended to buy local queens.

Don’t think Nosema ceranae is causing CCD. Colony mortality 7% queen failure, 39% Nosema, 15% Varroa Mites.

Tombed Pollen

New condition. Capped pollen with thick layer of wax (brick red). 43% dead by fall. 3.1 risk. Pollen under black light did not flourescse (which it usually does). Pollen degrading and absorbing coumaohous(?spelling) and triggering failure. Are working on.

Queens supersedure was lower in acidic acid treated hives.

Stacking 4 brood with empty on top 1.5 80% acidic acid and seal. Must be 25 degrees Celcius to be effective and it takes a week.

Does radiated comb become reinfested more quickly than non (killing good bacteria?) They did live shorter colony survivorship.

Propolis triggers immune gene in bees which protects them.

Residues – over 250 products screen for – clomyothin (?spelling).

Virus Research in Manitoba
Dr. Rob Currie, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba

Honey bee tolerance to Varroa Mites.

Can’t really tell what’s going on inside the hive with all the viruses.

Rescue treatments.
Wintering indoors is better for weak colonies.

Local queens 75% success unselected.

Most of the viruses are single strand.

IAPV – Israeli Acute Paralysis Virus
BQCV – Black Queen Cell Virus
CBPV – Chronic Bee Paralysis Virus

Viruses associated with CCD. Two in particular associated were Nosema apis and Nosema ceranae. IAPV and KBV were top w, not a cause but an indicator.

Study 7 honey bee viruses – 22 colonies in the study.

PCRPoliminary Chain Reaction – 7 found: IAPV, KBV, CBPV, BQCV, DWV (Deformed Wing Virus), SBV, ABPV

2 on colony 1: BQCV and DWV
4 on colony 2: IAPV, KBV, BQCV, DWV

Simaltaneous viruses

BQCV 81%
DWV 77%
IAPV 54%
CBPV 40%
Sac Brood 9%
KBV 9%

DWV and BQCV most common. IAPV colonies did not die. Mixed viruses were very common. Have sequenced genome for Deformed Wing Virus (DWV).

Develop a drug to interfere with receptor levels in honey bee cells.

Interfere with replication RNA interference. Dicer enzyme chews molecule.

Working to find a way to design a drug that will interfere with replication.

Have double stranded RNQ molecules and are ready to put in bees – will develop antibodies as well. Are getting ready to do this.

Possibly in a pollen substitute – cannot inject into every bee.

Winter indoors if you can.

Honey bee healthy results testing to be released next year (2009).

Honey Bee Viruses & Viral Disease Research in America
Dr. Judy Chen, USDA, Betsville, Maryland, USA

Must reproduce inside a host – they cannot move or grow otherwise. They have a high mutation rate. Master sequence surrounded by a mutant sequence.

DWV in oriental hornets and in bumble bees.

Transmission and chain of infection.

Horizontal Transmission:

Horizontal transmission of infection– individual of same generation by direct or indirect routes such as Colony Foods – Pollen, Nectar, etc.

Six viruses found: ABPV, BQCV, CBPV, DWV, KBV, SBV

Detected Black Queen Cell Virus (BQCV) and Deformed Wing Virus (DWV) viruses in tissue of queens and in queen feces too.

It’s in food, digestive tract, feces – food and bone.

Venereal infection (semen) in mating. Suggestion of viral transmission.

Varroa Miets first detected in Wisconsin and Florida.

Kasmir Bee Virus (KBV) most virulent motality within 3 days. No sign of the disease.

The more mites introduced to a cell the greater the KBV. Percentage of KBV positive mites increased significantly as more mites were introduced into a cell.

Vertical Transmission:

Transovum – Mom to tot. Transvarian – in the egg transmission.

90% of queens contained multiple viruses. IAPV virus in eggs. DWV, BQCV & SBV in queen’s ovaries in non-replicate stage.

If queen had all 6 viruses – found viruses in all offspring: Egg, Larvae, Pupa and Bee.

Both vertical and horizontal infection and tranmission.

Gamma Irradiation to treat hives.

There is no chemotherapy to treat viruses.

Proteomics is the study of all genes and proteins. It’s the proteins that do all the work.

AFB – 1 dead larvae = 9 billion spores.

AFB – narrow window of infection. First 2 days after hatching.

Family of proteins called Chaperons Energy store proteins.

Immune system. 3 Tissues: Look at antennae, mid gut and hymolyph (blood)

Chemical Residues, Declining Honey Bee Health & CCD
Maryann Fraizer, Penn State University, University Park, Pennsylvania, USA

All pollinators are in decline. Specialized pollinators and plants were both in decline.

31% 2007 USDA
2008 36%
Honey bee exposure to pesticides. Bees visit crops like corn which they’re not typicall at. Our chemo treatments kill bills.

Screened for 171 pesticides in wax, bee bread, pollen, bees, larvae, etc.

669 samples: orchards, migratory, beekeepers, CCD study

108 different pesticides were found. Six typically per pollen sample.
Did find 31 from 1 particular colony.

73 different pesticides and 9 other metabolites (breakdown products of pesticides which are often more toxic).

Every class was found. 20 fumgicides, 12 herbicides, 2 araaricains, 1 synergist, 1 misc.

14 are systemic – is translocated by plant. Neonectinoids translocating through tissue.

7 neonnectinoids on the market today found at lower frequency.

Found everything imaginable out there in and in combination.

In pollen: Flav & Coum (bee bread) and agricultural chemicals. Found Flav & Coumanin in trapped pollen.

Wax cuticle – comb samples only one didn’t have coum & fluv. It looks like bees contaminated and adding fluv and coum to pollen.

USDA has not found pesticide in honey beyond tolerable levels.

Wax, pollen, foundation, brood food – toxic effect – what impact are they having? Is an important piece of the puzzle. Have not correlated to CCD – have not found.

Pesticides added together create a synergistic effect which is more toxic.

Behaviour effects immune system, longevity.

Created a lot of base line data with controls.

Actute toxicity bioactivity.

Learning with honey bees is contrical – test with learning and memory more info to be available next year (2009).

Carryover of pesticides in a corn field (year before) and pumpkins/hay following year. Pollen and flower samples and analyzed.
There was a slight reducation in longevity. Is there truly no difference, should we have studied more? Were all bees equally exposed?

Homeowner product labels do not have adequate warnings about pollinator toxicity in contrast to agricultural. Voiced with EPA. Use of products of same active ingredients. People are becoming very active. $300,000 donated from Haagen-Daaz in 2008.

Comb honey/ pollen – may not be wise to eat

Did find pesticides in cappings of wax.

Does irradiation kill or degrade pesticides? Saw some reduction but not enough to be truly helpful. Ran pollen bee bread last week. The results are still pending.

Fungicides need to be treated as insecticides for their effect on bees. Fungicides are sprayed in blueberries and orchards while bees are on them.

Historically wax reveals pesticides used at that time, i.e., pre Varroa Mites tehre was no ful and coum in wax.

FYI - the 2009 Recommendations for Disease Control are posted on the OBA website at:

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