April 2015 Minutes

April 16, 2015
County Office Building

WELCOME. Mary Deitz opened the meeting and introduced Lewis Cauble.

BEE BUS. Lewis showed a new plastic bee package box called the bee bus introduced by some vendors this year. The box solves the problem of removing the syrup can by providing grip holes, and the end opens so bees can be shaken out. Boxes lock together so multiple boxes going to the same buyer stick together. Vendors added $1.50 to the cost of the package which is a refundable deposit on the box if it’s returned. Lewis says, encourage your bee vendors to use them. Go to bee-bus.com.

LINKING SOCIAL AND INDIVIDUAL IMMUNITY. Todd Walker introduced Michael Simone-Finstrom from the NC State Entomology Department and Bee Lab who had described his propolis research for PCBA a few years ago.

Michael: The beekeeping industry has reported that winter colony losses of about 15 percent annually are sustainable, though beekeepers expect that percentage to rise slightly if the winter is particularly harsh. However, since 2006 annual colony losses have been around 30 percent due to parasites, viruses, poor nutrition, agrochemicals, management, and queen health/genetics. He encouraged us to keep our focus on the bee and promoting bee health. His efforts focus on understanding how bees defend themselves and using that understanding as part of an Integrated Pest Management strategy.

He is especially interested in the interplay between individual immunity and the immunity of the colony, the superorganism. He is curious about how changes in the defense strategies of a dense population of close relatives might impact the genes devoted to individual immune defense strategies. Individual strategies include physical characteristics …like the “skin” and physiological … like the production of antimicrobial peptides that attack bacteria (like our white blood cells). Social strategies include traits like grooming behavior and the use of propolis. In one test, he found that a propolis-enriched environment reduced hive bacteria which in turn reduced the immune function in individual bees.

His continuing research explores ways that colonies invest in multiple defenses ….both social and individual immunity. He built on prior research in which four characteristics were shown to be effective against some maladies: Multiple mating of queens…queens may mate with 4 to 40 drones, but the average is 12. Grooming both alo-grooming (nest-mates) and self-grooming which knocks down Varroa. Hygienic behavior in which workers sense sick larva and remove them from the hive before their contagious Use of resin/propolis.

His goal for PCBA members? Be awed by the strength and resilience of the bees. To help beekeepers who breed queens for these characteristics, Michael wanted to show whether there were positive or negative associations among these defense strategies. A prior study showed that multiple matings of queen, resulting in higher genetic diversity in the colony, both (a) reduced the prevalence and intensity of infections AND (b) increased the overwintering survival rate. In his test, he weighted queens with a “top hat” amounting to about 15 percent of their body weight to increase the effort required on the mating flight and therefore (hopefully) reducing the number of matings. This resulted in two groups of hives: one with low genetic diversity (queen mated with 4-7 males) and one group with high genetic diversity (queens mated with 14-30 males). Queens were only permitted ONE mating flight.

The result? A significantly higher level of chalkbrood infection in the hives with LOW diversity. To test the impact on resin foraging (the number of bees returning to the hive with resin on hind legs), he counted resin-foragers before and after “the challenge”-infection with chalkbrood. To test the impact on hygienic behavior, a heritable trait, he freeze-killed brood, then checked in 24 hours to see how many larvae had been removed. In his colonies, the range was from 100 percent to 0 percent removal. (A beekeeper could cut out a section of comb, freeze it, and re-insert it in the “hole” to determine whether his queen carried the trait for significant hygienic behavior.) To test the impact on grooming behavior, instead of tediously collecting mites on sticky board and counting how many had been bee-bitten, he coated bees with flour and measured flour-removal in pixils as the bee bodies were digitally-scanned.

The result? He found that the colonies with higher genetic diversity did do more grooming, but he found no relationship with the other defense strategies. To measure individual immunity, he grafted 1st instar larvae, put them on an artificial diet and gave AFB to half of the test group, then analyzed immune response. He found no relationship between the individual response and social resin-gathering or grooming behaviors. In the colonies with higher genetic diversity, he found decreased variance in the individual immune response. He was intrigued that the colony response was driven by larval response because the olfactory function is the basis for hygienic behavior so… how did the larvae sense the maladies?

What’s a beekeeper to do? Use resistant, local stocks. Select for hygienic behavior in your own bees, encourage bees to enrich the hive with propolis by roughing up the interior walls, and continuously monitor colony health. From Q&A: The enriched propolis effect probably only lasts one season so beekeeper propolis-painting would be too labor-intensive. He says there is some evidence that the propolis even helps the bees “de-tox” pesticides. Mostly bees in the Piedmont are collecting resins from pines and Eastern red cedar. Bees don’t necessarily collect the resins that make the most-effective propollis.

MINUTES. March minutes were approved as distributed on-line.

MEETING SPACE. Mary reported that the auditorium is available for May 21 and June 18 meetings in 2015 and for most meetings in 2016 including bee school, though Zumba classes will just be finishing up at 6:30. We will still have to set up and take down our own chairs and acoustics will be different. Officers will try to mark both entrances so attenders know where we are.

ACTION: PCBA requested that Mary reserve auditorium through 2017.

COMMUNITY OUTREACH-SOUTHERN STATES. Southern States would like to find supplier of local honey. They are now selling beekeeping equipment and invite PCBA to set up a table on an April or May Saturday to talk with customers about getting started with beekeeping. ACTION: Beekeepers should call Southern States if interested.

ACTION: E-mail Whitney Barnes if you can help with table at Southern States. ACTION: Mary will ask Southern States whether PCBA members will receive a discount or some other benefit from helping with this project!

COMMUNITY OUTREACH-CHAMBER OF COMMERCE. Mary recommends that PCBA join the Roxboro Chamber of Commerce at an annual cost of $135 to reduce our Personality Booth cost and to take advantage of the Chamber’s newsletter.

ACTION. Mary will ask the Chamber’s representative to attend the May meeting to offer a 5-10 minute presentation during the Business meeting of Chamber membership benefits.

FINANCIAL REPORT. Amanda Blanks reported a beginning bank balance of $5177.46, with income of $287 (hat and raffle ticket sales and PCBA/NCSBA memberships) and expenses of $60 (NCSBA memberships), leaving a bank balance of $5,404.46 and a petty cash balance of $50 for an ending balance of $5454.46.

FLOW HIVE. PCBA new beekeeper Michael Tustin has ordered a flow hive and his bees are coming in May.

ACTION. Whitney Barnes will follow up with Michael to insure PCBA gets reports on how this new hive works for him.

ACTION. Lynn reported that Carol Carter is also exploring with PCBA Master Beekeepers other ideas for getting this new hive tested in our area.

NCSBA SUMMER MEETING. Mary encourages members to go. The Barnes family plans to go after learning lots at the spring meeting. It meets at Lake Junaluska, West of Asheville, in July.

ACTION: Pick up a registration form tonight. And Lynn encourages certified beekeepers to form a study group and prepare to take the Journeyman test at the Summer meeting.

UPCOMING EVENTS. Master Beekeeper Lewis Cauble will do a split in Larry and Whitney Barnes’ beeyard at 72 Shannon Court in Timberlake on Saturday, April 18. Next month’s speaker will be about pollination. Another upcoming program features a nurse demonstrating the use of epipens and talking about systemic reactions to stings. Benjamin offered to do a program on hive photography. Cecil White plans to do a cut-out from under a house in May and welcomes hands (date to be announced).

ACTION: You’ll receive a survey about program ideas shortly from Whitney. Please respond! All ideas are welcome.

PCBA SPONSORING SCOUT BEE HIVE. Danny Gooch is mentoring a Scout beekeeper to whom PCBA has loaned equipment that was donated to the Club. The Scout’s hive has been set up at the home of Linda and John Harris near the buffalo farm off Rolling Hills Road after insurance questions (program idea?) were raised at the church that sponsors the troop.

COMMITTEES. Whitney will be calling Committee members to identify chairpersons and requests they attend the upcoming PCBA leadership meeting on May 4 at 7P at Lynn Wilson’s home, 244 Myrtle J. Drive (or let Lynn know if you’d like to come at 6P for supper).

ACTION. Sign up to help with an event like 4-H Summer Fun Day on August 4, Ag Day, Personality in August, or Farmer’s Market National Honey Bee Day on August 15 or a committee today. Also let members of the Executive Committee know if you are interested in serving as a PCBA officer next year. If you need materials to make a presentation for a classroom, most are still at Inge and Todd’s house, but Carol Carter also has materials from State Fair. … By the way, the Person County Farmer’s Market opens tomorrow!

ACTION. Lynn will provide a form shortly for reporting when you participate in a PCBA community outreach effort. This will help you keep the records you’ll need when you’re ready to take the next test in the Master Beekeeper program and also enable you to report back to PCBA. Provide a copy of the completed form to Lynn Wilson with a photo of your event for possible news release.

BEE-FRIENDLY LEGISLATION PENDING. Jamie Latimer reported that pending Senate Bill 225, the Birds and Bees Act, offers some significant bee-friendly requirements. He’ll send more details via the list serve.

ACTION: Support this legislation by contacting our State Senators, Mike Woodward and Larry Yarborough or write a letter-to-the-editor.

PCBA EXHIBIT AT OFFICE BUILDING. Nice work, Mary and Carol! Updated exhibit includes some materials that were created for last year’s first-prize-winning State Fair booth.

FUNDRAISING. Mac Blanks has received 12 orders for T-shirts and will order in two weeks.

ACTION. Call Mac right away if you want to order a T-shirt. Bring your money to receive your T-shirt at the May meeting.

ACTION. Mac will order 2 dozen extra honey-colored T-shirts in the most-ordered sizes to for Personality so we can be better identified by Festival folks.

ACTION. Mac will order a dozen more structure caps as we’re completely out.

ACTION. Plan now to set aside a pound of honey for the “Honey-of-the-Month” raffle. We’ll need 12 1-pound jars.

LOCAL BEEKEEPER EQUIPMENT SALES. Cecil says please post Person County vendors on the list serve. We know that Southern States and Hurdle Mills Feed&Farm are selling bee stuff. Anyone else?

REFRESHMENTS. May 21–Bob Brauer, June 18–Eddie Burton, July 16–Michele Mosco Warren, August 20–Mary Florence, September 17–_______, October 15–Lynn Wilson, November 19–_______ and December 18 will be the Holiday Potluck. (E-mail wilsonls@esinc.net if you would like to offer refreshments for the September or November meetings.)

Thanks to Tom and Linda Savage for providing refreshments!

ACTION: Bob Brauer offered to provide refreshments for the May meeting.

ATTENDANCE. 29 members signed in plus 1 guest speaker. 70 current members includes 4 life members and 35 members who also joined NCSBA through PCBA.

Lynn S. Wilson

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