by Dewey M. Caron, Communications and Content Specialist for the Oregon Master Beekeeper Program
Do you regularly practice feeding protein to your bees? Did you feed pollen this fall? Did it make a difference? How could you tell? Collectively, the literature shows a mix of positive, neutral, and negative impacts of pollen substitutes on honey bee colony health. Emily Noordyke as a graduate student with her advisor Dr. Jamie Ellis of Florida took a deep dive to look at studies of use of protein for bee supplementation. They synthesized the previous research conducted on pollen substitute diets and their impacts on honey bee colony health, evaluated methods used to test pollen substitutes, recommend areas for improvement in pollen substitute research and suggested future research needs. Four categories of honey bee health parameters that pollen substitute research typically addresses were emphasized in the review: (1) consumption/palatability of pollen substitutes, (2) colony productivity, (3) pest and pathogen response, and (4) physiological response.
The review also provided a critique of methods used for pollen substitute research and made suggestions for improvement and future study. Of particular interest, they provided three supplemental summary tables of all the substitute diets tested to date, their health impacts on colonies, and corresponding references.
If you ever had questions about the wisdom of purchasing and feeding your bees supplemental protein this review is a MUST read.
Noordyke, Emily R. & James D. Ellis. 2021. Reviewing the Efficacy of Pollen Substitutes as a Management Tool for Improving the Health and Productivity of Western Honey Bee (Apis mellifera) Colonies. Frontiers in Sustainable Food Systems. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fsufs.2021.772897/full
The Supplementary Material for this article can be found online at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fsufs.2021.772897/full#supplementary-material
Habitat for pollinators
At our Annual conference mid-October, the North American Pollinator Protection Campaign (NAPPC) recognized the Bonneville Power Authority (BPA) for its dedication to sustainability of pollinator habitat. The Local Power Authority is committed to helping preserve pollinators in their transmission line rights-of-way(ROWs) in Forest Park, Portland’s 2,500 acre city park.
The Bonneville Power Authority was recognized for undertaking specific management practices to benefit pollinators and for developing a spatial awareness tool that measures pollinator habitats in design of pollination projects. The BPA power line rights-of-ways are jointly maintained with Portland Gas and Electric (PGE). In cooperation with Portland Parks and Recreation (PP&R), BPA has a restoration project to specifically improve pollinator habitat within several sections of the park. In addition to foraging habitat, by providing open habitat the transmission lines serve as a foraging corridor.
Project goals included: collaborating with local partners to determine whether and how habitat improvement strategies could be implemented in transmission line ROWs, evaluating the benefits of habitat improvements through monitoring, and developing a strategy for future work. In fall 2019, three “showcase spots” of about 800 sq. ft. each were installed in the project area by PP&R to generate interest and excitement in park visitors, and to highlight the beauty of Oregon’s prairie. The locations were chosen specifically for their close proximity to trails and points of access where visitor interaction would be guaranteed.
Xerces Society monitoring found a positive increase in the pollinator community (mainly butterflies were sampled) and pollinator useful plants. These findings have allowed Portland Gas and Electric to evaluate maintenance needs and methods (in partnership with BPA) and determine if additional seeding or other planting is needed to maintain the goals of the project. Such habitat improvement will also support our honey bees and other bees in Forest Park.
This is the fourth year of that the North American Pollinator Protection Campaign (NAPPC) has presented an electric power project with an award. The NAPPC Pollinators on Managed Lands Task Force, in conjunction with the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), made the award. PS both myself and Andony are active members of NAAPC: I am on the Honey Bee Health Task Force and Andony is on the Pesticide Education task force, 2 additional (of 10 total) NAAPPC task Forces. Both of us were active developing programs for the coming year. Our Honey Bee Health task force presents a half-dozen grants to further honey bee health studies and is completing the Bee MD web program and App. Andony presented a sponsored webinar September 27th: Drilling Down on EPA Risk Assessment – What is the latest buzz on pesticides and bees? as part of The Educational Task Force effort.
Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) owns and maintains several miles of high-voltage transmission lines that pass through the heart of Forest Park, a 5,200 acre park in Portland, Oregon. BPA and Portland Gas and Electric (PGE) maintain the vegetation along these rights-of-way (ROWs) according to agency and company requirements for safety and access, and in partnership and cooperation with Portland Parks and Recreation (PP&R). These ROWs provide some of the only open habitat in the park and provide important foraging resources and habitat connectivity for pollinators. To improve the ecosystem function of BPA ROWs, BPA partnered with Portland Parks and Recreation on a restoration project to specifically improve pollinator habitat within several sections of its ROW. Project goals include the following: collaborating with local partners to determine whether and how habitat improvement strategies could be implemented in transmission line ROWs, evaluating the benefits of habitat improvements through monitoring, and developing a strategy for future work. In fall 2019, three “showcase spots” of about 800 sq. ft. each were installed in the project area by PP&R to generate interest and excitement in park visitors, and to highlight the beauty of Oregon’s prairie wildflowers that can provide pollinator and other wildlife habitat in a home garden. The locations were chosen specifically for their close proximity to trails and points of access where visitor interaction would be guaranteed. A monitoring project conducted with the Xerces Society found that pollinators are responding well to the project. A growing gap was observed between the pollinator communities supported in the BPA ROWs compared to the status quo Portland Gas and Electric ROWs, considering natural variation in annual pollinator abundance. Significantly, the pollinator community in the BPA ROWs showed a response to restoration by increasing the proportion of native plants they visited through time. There was also some evidence that the BPA ROW was able to support more butterflies and higher butterfly richness than the PGE ROW. These findings will allow Portland Gas and Electric to evaluate maintenance needs and methods (in partnership with BPA), and determine if additional seeding or other planting is needed to maintain the goals of the project.