Bayer Scientists Busy as Bees in November

Thursday, December 10, 2015
By: Dr. Becky Langer-Curry, Bayer North American Bee Care Program, Project Manager
Honey bee poliinating orange flower

It’s no secret that for nearly 30 years Bayer has been involved in finding solutions to the problems affecting honey bees. After all, Bayer was among the first to produce products to combat the invasive Varroa mite parasite. The company’s slogan, “Science for a Better Life,” reflects Bayer’s deep belief that investment in research is fundamental to its business success. This commitment to science often takes Bayer researchers out of the laboratory and brings them face-to-face with diverse groups of people. This was particularly evident during the month of November, as Bayer scientists were busily engaged and leading the conversation about pollinator health.

Promoting a New Paradigm

Dick Rogers – Principal Scientist / Entomologist, Bee Care Center

Powerpoint slide - Integrated Apiculture Bee Health

Speaking before the Entomological Society of America annual meeting in Minneapolis at the session entitled A Nexus of Agriculture – Honey Bee Health and Commodity Crop Production: Collision Course or Road to Cooperation?”, Dick Rogers’ presentation challenged the audience to envision an era of “integrated apiculture.” In this scenario, intense monitoring of bee hives, coupled with greater awareness of the many factors affecting bee health would lead to best management practices that help ensure the long-term viability of honey bee colonies. Inherent in this new approach is the understanding that modern agriculture and modern apiculture are inseparably bound together. Rogers believes it is in the best interest of farmer and beekeeper to work together in a way that promotes both agricultural and apicultural sustainability. He also took this message to the Florida State Beekeepers’ Association annual meeting in Amelia Island, Florida, where he presented on modern apiculture concepts and the work Bayer is doing in the area of Integrated Apiculture.

International Education and Collaboration

Ana Cabrera – Scientist, Pollinator Safety

Group photo Laboratorio de Toxicologia De Plaguicidas

Entomologist Ana Cabrera has worked at universities, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and served as a lecturer in Guatemala, so it was no surprise when she was invited this month to discuss pollinator risk assessment at the Universidad Nacional Agraria La Molina in Lima, Peru. Cabrera’s presentation was open to students, faculty, industry and government personnel, and she provided an overview of current activities and management practices to improve bee health. Cabrera’s talk included Varroa mite biology and management, an area that has been a focus for much of her professional career. Varroa mites are not the problem in South America that they are in the northern hemisphere, primarily because the Africanized strain of our Western honey bee is the predominate strain there and it exhibits behavioral attributes that lessen the impact of the parasite on bee colonies.

Leading Modern Risk Assessment

Dave Fischer – Director, Pollinator Safety

Powerpoint slide - Pesticide Risk Assessment for Pollinators

Dave Fischer has been involved in the field of environmental toxicology and risk assessment for 29 years, published more than 20 peer-reviewed scientific papers and supervised hundreds of studies evaluating the effects of crop protection products on pollinators. This expertise was put to good use during a recent meeting of the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, where Fischer led an all-day professional training course entitled “Pesticide Risk Assessment for Pollinators.”  Working with co-instructors from academia, government and industry, the course covered the evolving pesticide risk assessment process in North America, including new methods in laboratory tests and long-term field studies, as well as emerging tools such as population modeling and other topics for which validated methods are currently being evaluated.

The Mission Continues

A common denominator among Bayer scientists is the recognition that designing tests and conducting studies to evaluate factors affecting pollinators is only part of their overall mission. Whether it’s conducting educational tours at the North American Bee Care Center, making presentations at major pollinator conferences, or working with government and industry professionals, these experts know that protecting bees requires the collective engagement of many people. And that’s a commitment that these busy scientists share with the entire Bayer bee health team – month after month, year after year.



  • nicephotog said:
    12/15/2015 7:43 PM

    Es comment... About Foulbrood bacteria.... All i've known of bacteria is it can live and reproduce well over a variety of high temperature well unless maximum threshold is reached. Inversely on the other-hand, higher more complex delicate and simple organisms such as insects (bees) have as described below a threshold maximum much lower than any bacteria. The majority of commercial hives are kept in the sun and may not have heat shielded lids. Most lids and hives in the recreational license and by price have only a single tin lid, commercial hives probably have these by economics, which raises temperature within inches of the lid when in strong sunlight in summer to no different than the back of a solar panel such as 50 Celsius - 60 - 70 Celsius and does the fact a "heater bee" itself appears to have the optimum laboratory temperature of 45 Celsius the problem. The larvae themselves are probably suffering cannot have "entrance fanning bees"(coolers) successful at lowering the heat. Bacteria has the tendency to increase and accelerate its'growth and breeding in sync with rises of temperature ( matching to brood not the bees). The attacking bacteria problem combination environment is there with some types of lids and location together. ....Honey bees maintain the temperature of the brood nest between 32°C and optimally 35°C .... a heater bee can hold this position for up to 30 minutes while its thorax is at around 43°C ...........This organism is isolated most efficiently by inoculating decimal dilutions of the aqueous suspension into agar that has been maintained molten at 45°C and which is then poured into plates. The plates must be incubated anaerobically, such as in McIntosh and Fildes jars in an atmosphere of approximately 5–10% carbon dioxide (CO2) at 35°C. Small white opaque colonies of M. plutonius usually appear within 4 days.............. Dehydration is also commonly mentioned in the larvae corpse symptom list with bacteria. A large quantity points to overheating! There is a lid design nick-named a "migratory lid" in Australia that comprises a "flat masonite sheet cover" over the hive super "topmost section", then four edge blocks 1 1/2 inches high to sit under the tin cover with four holes with vent covers to allow slow but able air flow through between the tin (as a multi section lid). The masonite cover requires a small 3cm diameter hole in the center for air flow(oxygen context only). This is what i have over my hive because "nothing in Australia would survive the tin lid temperature" when it were suddenly either or be exposed within two inches of the tin lid on some days ! Another feature of bees is swarming, and with wild bees i always wondered why leave a perfectly good nest once a year? Probably because its "cleaner" TOO, not merely reproduction and overcrowding. Thinking to try each year at about 20 days before the mid day of Autumn , put a new brood box with either foundation-frames or completely drained recent construction(new wax) honey frames from same sized super into a new super for brood , put the queen excluder under the old brood box and place the queen in the new separated under brood box and remove the old brood box when the last brood have hatched in the old box. Leave the empty of larvae brood frames super set outside for the forage in it to be removed and retrieved to the new box for a few days then.... Destroy the old brood comb(maybe bury or by incinerator fire). One factor in fouldbrood bacteria is probably temperature because of immense direct radiation from tin hive lids. Of foulbrood... As that is, one of the problems encountered in Australia with engineering and modifications to engine parts and mounts is heat transfer and build-up amplification. Sizes of hive and frames above Warre carry high density larger wall areas for sunlight to collect of which such hives are often commercial and placed in sunlight directly. It appears the Laboratory culturing temperature of foulbrood is optimum at 45 degrees Celsius. If you were to put a thermometer inside the brood chamber when measuring station temperature somewhere nearby was 30 deg. Celsius, the brood chamber may easily be above the larvae pupa gestation temperature of 32 - 38 degrees Celsius. Any substance loses/transfers heat "also" by infra red , not merely conduction, thereby a better understanding of heat can be expressed as the temperature of an object is not because of how much heat is input to the object but "how much heat cannot be lost/transferred away as heat is being input" !!! The Dynamics of heat exchange by infra red is not dissimilar to a light bulb and its radiation and reflection of output onto surfaces relating transfer, however it may be better demonstrated in a Langstroth hive super as the bars in a nuclear power station generator and their exposure to each other to excite radioactive ground state level. With e.g. a Langstroth 10 frame brood box, take 5 out frames each year alternating between the two sets of five each year , put them above the queen excluder a month and a half before winter-autumn shutdown and hatch them completely while having put in 5 new frames below in the chamber for them to build new brood frames ready, then burn the 5 frames that were taken and placed above to hatch out completely. It makes a curiously real mixture of it does not help to not shield against heat, and bees are better for having a mildly lower temperature in their brood chamber than actually reaching gestation temperatures on an average summer day! One main culprit is the tin roof, these must lose by infra red and can collect heat and transfer it rapidly causing buildup pushed down into the brood chamber. To stop the roof radiating down between the comb frames place another lid under the roof separated around 1 1/2 inch and the lifting rod wall that separate the roof from the second lid must have holes to ventilate to help carry away heat by air conduction(convection). With an attempt to find an accurate geographic distribution, i found no surprise the reach is well beyond the equator as here in Australia the temperatures make it one of the hottest places on earth far from the equator! This page and distribution world map is generalized information but interestingly describes "more arid areas"(vague expression alike the delivered epidemiology information accuracy) having the problem of Foulbrood. However, a weird little known feature of all creatures is "inbreeding ability". Inbreeding never did anything any good and while there is much possibility to occur, the real reason it could occur with managed(non wild hives) is because of lack of drones anywhere and mainly in the spring summer, from "starvation"(the drones starve or are very inactive from starvation). This would be because of a set of features not normally mentioned in the construction of a hive. 1. The queen excluders 2. The reservoir box. The above 2 are not mentioned much. The reservoir box is a honey super above the brood box with a larger hole round wire mesh the queen can near get through but slips and falls off because she is too large. The round wire larger hole excluder allows drones through although they are as wide as the queen. This reservoir stops the drones starving to death(or slipping a full honey frame below the excluder as a swap with a completed laying frame). The top of the reservoir box(either a full deep or WSP-three quarter size) then has a narrower plastic excluder only the workers are likely to get through. Queen excluder hole sizes are a propriety maker size and should be evaluated. There should be at least a brood box(has very little food for 20 - 40 drones and is mostly larvae very little of anything edible !!! ) AND a reservoir for drones and wintering. Too few available or unable starving drones could cause inbreeding statistically. Inbreeding never did anything any good no matter how hardy capable against it by it's species !!!

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