May 2015 Minutes


May 21, 2015
County Office Building-Auditorium

WELCOME TO NEW MEETING ROOM. Mary Deitz invited members to share feedback about the new space and to avoid sidebar conversations as hearing may be difficult for those in the back. Whitney Barnes introduced the speaker, Caydee Savinelli, entomologist and Syngenta’s Pollinator and IPM Stewardship Lead.

CAYDEE SAVINELLI: WHAT IS SYNGENTA DOING FOR THE BEES? I like bugs and want to keep most of them. We (she and husband) are the kind of people that move turtles out of roads. Syngenta’s business is agriculture. We need to find better ways to feed the world and we need pollinators. Agriculture is America’s top export and we lead the world. 97 percent of 2 million farms in America are owned by families or family businesses. US farmers provide 18 percent of the world’s food supply on 10 percent of the world’s farmland. US consumers spend about 10 percent of their income on food while consumers in other countries spend 13-35 percent. The global value of pollinators is estimated to be between 120 and 220 billion dollars while in the US, the value of honey bee pollination alone is estimated to be $15 billion dollars. Native bees and other pollinators provide $3 billion dollars of pollinator services. Of more than 200,000 US beekeepers, 5 percent are commercial and manage 70 percent of US hives. Another 15 percent are sideliners (attempting to make a profit with fewer than 300 colonies) and 80 percent are hobbyists. Most Person County beekeepers are hobbyists. Are bees going extinct? Most present agreed with speaker that honey bees are not going extinct though lots of others are worried about it. It’s much harder to study the native bees. Keeping bees healthy IS getting harder pushing up beekeeper costs. Many interacting factors affect bee health: Parasites, diseases, poor bee nutrition (lack of variety in diet and lack of suitable habitat), changing weather patterns, pesticides (both those used in the hive and those used in agriculture), beekeeper management, lack of genetic diversity (weakening resistance to pest and disease), and queen failure. Crop protection products are produced in response to Americans’ need for perfect (not bug-eaten, not even bug-touched) food. Product development, including synthesis and biological screening, field screening and toxicology studies, government and scientific review, launch, marketing and continuing stewardship, takes 9 to 14 years and may cost 250 to 300 million dollars for ONE product.

Neonicotinoids are safer for the people who apply them than the alternatives and they are a good IPM tool, but they are highly toxic to bees so label directions … which are the LAW … prohibit their use during bloom periods when bees might be in the area. And soil-applied neonicotinoids are safer for bees than aerial sprays, for instance. Honey bee venom itself is pretty toxic … at high doses. Too much of anything, from nicotine to caffeine, aspirin, table salt and sugar, can kill you. The dose makes the poison. Neonicotinoids are helping the Florida citrus growers who are battling the citrus greening diseases carried by introduced Asian Citrus Psyllid. The disease can kill a tree in 7 years that otherwise might be productive for 15 or more years. Canola is the most important crop in western Canada and there is no evidence that neonicotinoid treatments are putting bees at risk. Syngenta considers continuing education about their product an important part of their mission, encouraging users to follow label instructions (which must be approved by EPA) and to consider pollinator health … for instance by spraying late in the day after pollinators quit flying. Their Operation Pollinator tries to create habitat and forage for honeybees and other pollinators. As a result of this project to encourage people to plant more bee forage they have helped create pollinator gardens at AT&T, UNC-G, NC State, the Glencoe Mill Village near Burlington and on more than 100 golf courses in 26 states.

Syngenta is one of the founding members of the Honey Bee Health Coalition, with work groups on nutrition and forage, hive management, crop pest management and cross-industry collaboration. Syngenta is also helping to support the Bee Informed Partnership, working directly with beekeepers to identify best management practices. Why the high rate of summer losses, for instance? A recent report indicated that 2014 winter losses were 23 percent, but an additional 20 percent were lost during the summer. From the audience: possibly because the Varroa load peaks in late summer or because above-average-rainy weeks kept bees penned up, unable to forage … and beekeepers failed to realize that bees were starving. The Pollinator Partnership is another good resource for beekeepers and they offer a list of good pollinator forage plants for each region. See Syngenta’s mission? “Bringing plant potential to life” Q&A. How is the synergistic effect of pesticides being tested? EPA has flagged this as an area that needs work, but there is a limit to the range of combinations that are reasonable to expect and reasonable to test. Is nicotine addictive to bees? Have you seen the bees hanging out on tobacco plants? What happens if neonicotinoids are banned? In an abundance of caution, European Union countries have temporarily banned neonicotinoids with the result that more crops have been lost and farmers are falling back on pyrethroids.

Can Syngenta help Pollinator Partnerships provide bee forage seed? Pollinator Partnerships declined Syngenta’s assistance at the request of another partner, Burt’s Bees, but Syngenta is open to proposals from PCBA for assistance with seeds for fields of bee forage.

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

MEETING SPACE. Mary reported that the auditorium is also available for the June 18 meeting and for most meetings in 2016 including bee school.

POST OFFICE BOX-ACTION: To enable PCBA to have a constant address when officers change, PCBA approved a reasonable monthly expenditure for post office box rental. Mary estimated that the cost might be $20 per month.

OFFICER APPRECIATION. PCBA decided to pay the required NCSBA annual membership fee for each officer elected in November to begin serving in 2016.

COMMUNITY OUTREACH-PCBA INFO FLYER.-ACTION. Inge will ask Todd if he has the original and update it to eliminate officers’ names as contacts and include new PO Box address, ask folks to like PCBA on Facebook, and refer to PCBA website for more info.

COMMUNITY OUTREACH-CHAMBER OF COMMERCE. Mary shared a flyer from the Chamber and said the Chamber’s representative will attend the June meeting to answer questions about Chamber membership benefits.

ACTION. PCBA will decide whether to join Chamber in June.

FINANCIAL REPORT. Amanda Blanks reported a beginning bank balance of $5404.46, with income of $105 (PCBA/NCSBA memberships) and expenses of $311.49 (NCSBA memberships, Bailey’s Bees for bee school expense, and speaker fee), leaving a bank balance of $5,197.97 and a petty cash balance of $50 for an ending balance of $5247.97.

BUDGET. The Executive Committee is working on a budget to propose for 2016. For 2015, members are asked to anticipate needs and get approval for expenses for club projects at PCBA meetings.

ACTION. PCBA members agreed that a flat rate should be charged for Bee School 2016 with books charged extra as needed and PCBA membership fee included for all participants as this seems to encourage class members to stay active in PCBA.

COMMUNITY OUTREACH-COORDINATING RESPONSES-ACTION. Lynn invited those who have ideas about coordinating the response to Facebook postings about wanting local honey or local beeswax or hives placed in yards and phone calls requesting swarm captures to share with her after the business meeting (or by e-mail to

COMMUNITY OUTREACH-ENCOURAGING POLLINATOR FORAGE PLANTINGS. Lynn gave Spikenard Farm Annual Seed for Pollinators packets to volunteers Alan Justice, James Latimer and Marek McKinna …requesting feedback on the results! (Is this “give-away” something to consider for a PCBA project, for instance, at a Lowes or other local plant vendor early next spring)?

UPCOMING EVENTS-PROGRAMS/OUTREACH. Whitney announced that an Expert Panel will answer beekeeping questions at the June PCBA meeting.

ACTION. Please contact Whitney …… if you can help with Community Outreach at either Farmers’ Market (June Saturday or August National Honeybee Day) or Personality Festival.

ACTION. Inge will confirm a June Saturday date with Farmers’ Market manager.

ACTION. PCBA tentatively approved the purchase of a new 10×10 tarp, hopefully one that will last awhile, for Personality and other events and Whitney will bring cost estimates to the June meeting. The shelter will have to be erected with sandbags anchoring posts.

FUNDRAISING. Mac reported that T-shirts are IN, including the extras authorized at previous meeting, so get your T-shirt now. He’ll be taking orders for long-sleeve shirts and sweatshirts in August. Mary volunteered to donate two one-pound jars of honey for the honey raffle.

ACTION. Let Mac … … know if you can donate one-pound jar(s) of honey for the raffle.

FACEBOOK. Carol reported a total of 153 Facebook likes. Weekly reach (week ending May 17) was 401, up from 58 the prior week or 591 percent. 60 people were engaged on Facebook, up from 8 the prior week or 650 percent.

ACTION. Post your beekeeping photos on PCBA’s Facebook site.

STATE FAIR-ACTION. Whitney will ask Kim to report at the next meeting.

PCBA SPONSORING SCOUT BEE HIVE. Danny Gooch reported that Scouts have found a more convenient place for the hives … at the Twin Mart within walking distance of the Scouts’ regular meeting place and hope to move the hives there at the end of May.

NCSBA SUMMER MEETING.-July 9-11 at Lake Junaluska, west of Asheville, NC. Mary encourages members to sign up before early registration ends on July 3. Carol Carter, Lynn Wilson, our guest speaker, James Latimer and the Barnes family plan to attend.

REFRESHMENTS. Thanks to Bob Brauer for providing May refreshments. ACTION. These members have offered to provide refreshments: June 18–Eddie Burton, July 16–Michele Mosco Warren, August 20–Mary Florence, September 17–___, October 15–Lynn Wilson, November 19–___ and Dec. 18 will be the Holiday Potluck. E-mail if you would like to offer refreshments in September or November.

ATTENDANCE. 20 members signed in plus 1 guest speaker. and spouse. 71 current members includes 4 life members and 35 members who also joined NCSBA through PCBA.

SURVEY OF COLONY LOSSES. 6 beekeepers participated in survey and reported 10 hives lost from a high of 45 queenright colonies since April 2014 for average losses of 22%.

Lynn S. Wilson

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