Notes from Dewey – July 2024

by Dewey M. Caron, Communications and Content Specialist for the Oregon Master Beekeeper Program

We knew it would happen….

The Ectoparasitic mite Tropilaelaps mercedesae, a potential devastating pest of Apis mellifera, has been confirmed outside of Asia. An established population has been documented in the Krasnodar region of Russia by researchers in a far eastern bee lab. This area is between the Black and Caspian seas, alongside the original eastern boundary of Ukraine.  Brood infestations fluctuated seasonally, and mites were able to overwinter locally. The source of the pest invasion is yet unidentified. The authors predicted that it “… it is very likely that T. mercedesae will further spread west and south.” Canada (CFIA) has suspended all imports of honey bee queens and packages from Ukraine for 2024, permitted since 2020. (this is behind firewall – if you can’t view email me (carond@oregonstate.edu) for copy).

Brandorf, Anna, Marija M. Ivoilova, Orlando Yañez, Peter Neumann and Victoria Soroker. 2024. First report of established mite populations, Tropilaelaps mercedesae, in Europe. J Apic Res. https://doi.org/10.1080/00218839.2024.2343976

Photo: Tropilaelaps right, Varroa left

New Department Chair at OSU

Following an extensive national search, the OSU College of Agricultural Sciences named Dr. S. Patricia Stock as the new department head of Horticulture. The Bee Lab (Dr Sagili) and Pollinator Health Extension (Dr Melathopoulos) are in the Horticulture Department, along with Jen Larsen, our Master Beekeeper, Master Melittologist and Bee Steward Program coordinator. Dr. Stock succeeds Bill Braunworth, who has served as department head of Horticulture since 2013. We hope to introduce her to an upcoming MB/OSBA event.

Dr. Stock joins OSU with an extensive background in horticulture, entomology, and agricultural leadership. She comes to Corvallis from position as Dean of the College of Agriculture at California State University, Chico. Prior to that she served as Director of the School of Animal and Comparative Biomedical Sciences in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at the University of Arizona.

Dr. Stock received a Ph.D. in Natural Sciences and B.S. in Biology from Universidad Nacional de La Plata in Argentina. Her postdoctoral training was at the Department of Nematology at the University of California, Davis, where she also held the position of Assistant Curator of the U.C. Davis Nematode Collection.  Her research has included Nematology, Entomology, and Microbiology, with a focus on the study of plant parasitic and insect pathogenic nematodes. Her current research focus is on the bioprospecting of microbial symbionts’ secondary metabolites and their application as alternatives for the management of pests in diverse cropping systems.

Organic Beekeeping Course

Penn State University offers an Organic Beekeeping course, Beekeeping 102. Cost is $139. This intermediate-level self-paced course emphasizes the science and practice of beekeeping. Through a combination of educational videos, readings, and knowledge check questions, you will learn how to manage honey bee colonies using organic-approved methods. Included is information on how to choose the best hive location considering environmental conditions and how to use integrated pest management (IPM) techniques to control pests with minimal chemical use. The course includes details on parasitic mites – monitoring, cultural and mechanical control methods and approved chemical treatment options. There is a section on how to keep appropriate records and also covers beekeeping tasks throughout the year.

Pollen Robbing honey bees

Nectar and honey robbing by honey bees is well documented. Nectar robbing at robbing holes, made by carpenter bees biting at the base of plants with long corollas, such as red clover, hosta and honeysuckle, permit big-bodied honey and bumble bees to reach the nectary.  Lesser known is reports of honey bees  stealing pollen from the bodies of bumblebees. The behavior is termed cleptolecty.

Two amateur naturalists from Northen Italy describe a recent instance. Initially they though the honey bees were seeking to push bumble bees off woolly thistle. Some honey bees were foraging normally on this flowering species but other individuals were observed climbing the back of the larger-bodied bumble bees to remove pollen from body hairs. In instances of nectar robbing this dual foraging pattern or some individuals visiting flowers normally and others foraging at corolla holes has been noted. In one recording 3 honey bees were foraging normally and 28 were robbing pollen from 66 bumble bees. In instances of nectar robbing this dual foraging pattern or some individuals visiting flowers normally and others foraging at corolla holes has been noted.

Londi, Tiziano and Giulianna Marzi. 2024. Honey bees collecting pollen from the body surface of foraging bumble bees: a recurring behaviour. Apidologie 55:4

Photo: carpenter bees robbing Hosta corolla