16 Ellen Topitzhofer – Honey Bee Parasite Spread in Pollination (in English)

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Speaker 1: From the Oregon State University Extension Service, this is Pollination, a podcast that tells the stories of researchers, land managers, and concerned citizens making bold strides to improve the health of pollinators. I'm your host, Dr. Adoni Melopoulos, assistant professor in pollinator health in the Department of Horticulture. Today on Pollination, we have Ellen Toppins-Hoffer, who's with the Bee Informed Partnership, which is this really innovative program that's been going on for a few years across the United States where you get these really smart people to come together with commercial beekeepers to develop new technology and work out some of their thorneous pest management problems.

Now, Ellen is situated here at Oregon State University as part of the team whose purview is the Pacific Northwest. And as you know from previous episodes, this region is notorious. Beekeepers have to jump from crop to crop to crop to crop to do pollination. This leads to some new challenges associated with one of the most damaging parasites of honeybees, the Rurua destructor. So this is going to be a great episode. You're going to learn about Bee Informed Partnership. You're going to learn about Rurua mites and pollination. It's an action-packed episode of Pollination.

Hope you enjoy it. I am really excited to have Ellen Toppins-Hoffer here with me today on Pollination. Welcome, Ellen. Thanks for having me. And listeners, your ears will be rewarded because this is an in-person interview, not a Skype interview.

So we all clear vocals today. And I'm not sure how many of our listeners know what the Bee Informed Partnership is just to begin with. So, Ellen, maybe you can start by just telling us what it does and what's its specific focus in the Pacific Northwest. Okay.

Speaker 2: Well, I think what I'll do here is I'll explain how the Bee Informed Partnership started. It started with just a, it was a grant-funded project, specifically focusing on commercial beekeepers in Northern California. So commercial beekeepers are, they're just large-scale beekeepers. The majority, I mean, you can, there are also, I mean, there's a spectrum of commercial beekeepers, but they raise a lot of colonies by the thousands. Okay.

All right. And so this project focused on helping beekeepers in Northern California, and these are special beekeepers in that they are queen producers. And so for part of the year in the spring, they will produce queens on a large scale to distribute to beekeepers all over the nation. And so this project started by, let's see, it was looking at their colonies, these beekeepers' colonies, and helping them just kind of look at how healthy they were by testing colonies for different things. So they would be testing for hygienic behavior. That's something that they would do.

Speaker 1: Which is a trait for resistance to diseases and mites? Exactly.

Speaker 2: Yes. And so that's a really common test for queen producers because that helps them select their stock for the queen, you know, for raising queens.

Speaker 1: So if I get this straight, so it really, it started off as this, there was this kind of gap in getting some of these new technologies into these operations. And so the very first kind of focus of it was developing these new skills, kind of integrating them in. Yeah.

Speaker 2: Oh, awesome. Okay. Yeah. And so they would be testing colonies and in general, just looking at their colonies to see how healthy they were. And this in turn would help each beekeeper that was a part of this project, part of what we call the tech transfer teams, to then hopefully it would translate to their management or how they decide, how they make certain decisions on how they manage their hives. Hopefully, the main goal would be to hopefully have them lose fewer colonies over the winter.

Speaker 1: So it's getting technology, new stuff into people's hands so that they can make better management decisions in their operation. This sounds really great. The way you described it, that we were in California, how did it come to the Pacific Northwest?

Speaker 2: Well, it just, there was such a large positive response from the beekeepers in Northern California that we just expanded. And so we expanded into multiple regions of the U.S. with, so there are now regional tech transfer teams. And so there's the original one in North California. And also there's one here in Oregon, which is where I am and what I do. And so the Oregon Tech Transfer Team works with beekeepers in Oregon, but also in Idaho and Washington.

And then there are several others, some of them in the Midwest and also down in Texas and Hawaii. And so. Wow. Yeah.

This is really exciting. Yeah. And so then the last kind of expansion of BeeInformed was expanding into other types of beekeepers. And so there are also smaller-scale beekeepers or backyard beekeepers. And we provide sampling programs for them too now. And so it's kind of a large series of programs. All, you know, we all have the same goal with, you know, trying to keep bees healthier and helping beekeepers, hopefully, lose fewer colonies every year.

Speaker 1: Well, that's really exciting. Starting in California with commercial beekeepers and now outside of California, working with a range of beekeepers, maybe just, you know, just to put a button on this question, just tell us a little bit about what's specific about the Pacific Northwest program. Like what's, what makes Pacific Northwest beekeeping a little bit different than Texas or California?

Speaker 2: Yeah. So, so the beekeepers themselves, I mean, every, there are very specific differences, I would say, in the different regions in the US when it, when it is concerning the commercial bees. And so, so in, in Oregon, most of the beekeepers will make the majority of their income by pollinating different crops.

Okay. And so there's actually, there's a lot of crops grown here, specifically in the Willamette Valley that require bee pollination or insect pollination. We have, I mean, so there are almonds down in California, but then we have cherries and pears in the gorge. Blueberries is that's a really big pollination crop here. And also expanding into seed production as well. I mean, there are all sorts of different seed crops that are grown here too.

So like arugula seed, kale seed, radish seed, and stuff. And so beekeepers here will move their colonies to all of these different crops throughout the year. And that's how they, they, they, they manage their bees. And so if you think about it from, as opposed to say in, in the Midwest, where they mostly are making honey.

Uh-huh. They, it's a very different type of management that, you know, these different beekeepers have to do for their bees. And so we take different tests or we take different, we sample bees for different things, at least so we don't do any hygienic testing. Okay. And it's because that's primarily important to the queen producers in California. Yeah. Okay. We look at a lot of mite levels, borough, and mite levels.

Yeah. Um, and we look at a gut pathogen, the Zima. We also look at pesticide levels a lot here. And that is specifically, I mean, pollination crops. That is another really kind of big question that we find a lot is, are pesticide levels in these different crops? Yeah.

Speaker 3: Wow. It's just a snapshot.

Speaker 1: It is. And especially we were calling one of the early episodes we had with Dr. Mike Birgette of just how many moves, uh, Pacific Northwest beekeeper has to do that you're in and out of a lot of different crops. So I imagine, um, understanding the pest problems, but also the pesticide issues must be a very complicated set of problems for, for your team here in Oregon.

Yeah. Given the breadth of the area that you sort of have a charge over, we could talk about a lot of topics, but I asked you here today to talk about something that's very timely this time of year, uh, borough mites. And, um, you know, I want you to begin. I, this will be really for our listeners, the first show that we've done on borough mites. So I don't think some people out there have never heard of a borough mite and some curse it on a daily basis.

So can you give a, just give an idea of what these mites are, how they multiply, and, uh, why we might be seeing them again now, even though a lot of beekeepers would have treated for them in the spring? Okay.

Speaker 2: Yeah. So let's, I guess, let's start with a brief history. Um, so the borough mite is, it's not native here to the US. So it was introduced actually a long time ago really, or at least to me, it was a long time ago, 30 years ago, 1987 introduced to the US. It will cause colonies to completely crash and die. And it's just, it's been around for a long time. It's interesting. It's, it's kind of a large, I mean, you can actually, we can see borough mites with our eyes and there. So they're, they're large, um, relatively speaking.

Speaker 1: If you think like spider mites or something that's like, you need a microscope to look at carefully, these are bigger mites. Right.

Speaker 2: Yeah. Yep. Yep. You can see them just without, without a microscope. And so, um, anyway, what, what they'll do is they will feed on bees, right? So their mites, I mean, I, I think of them kind of as ticks almost. Sometimes, but, you know, so they, what they'll do is they will, a female mite will, will be attached to an adult bee inside a colony here or outside. And she'll feed off of the fat body tissue of adult bees.

Okay. And she'll then continue, she'll, she is going to be reproducing in a brood cell. So a honeycomb cell that has a developing baby bee in it.

Right. So she'll plunge into a larval cell, we'll make her way down into the depths of that cell and it'll start feeding on that larva. And so after she's had her fill, she will lay eggs.

Speaker 1: It sounds like a teenage boy to me going into the dark depths and eating. Okay.

Speaker 2: Keep going. So she'll, she'll lay her eggs. Yeah. And, um, it depends on the type, of bee cell that she was in. So if she is, they prefer to actually, uh, reproduce in the male cells because they take a longer time to develop. Okay. And so they have more time to reproduce. All right.

Speaker 1: So more offspring, presumably. Yeah. And so they'll lay, I mean, uh, about six eggs, and then now this developing, this bee will continue to develop and it'll start pupating. Um, and these eggs will hatch. And so there'll be a male and female and females and, uh, they'll breed with each other in the cell, which is, I mean, it's always kind of grosses me out every time I explain this. But yeah, the brothers and sisters will start reproducing with each other. And, and so then, and they'll continue to develop here. And so by the time that the bee has, has finished pupating and will be hatching out as a brand new adult bee, uh, in the world, there will be about, um, well, at least in the male cells, about three to four new, like, uh, uh, female mites that will come out with this, with this bee. And then we'll start the whole process over again by, latching onto another adult bee and we'll continue to reproduce. Okay. So when somebody treats for this mite in the spring, it's just that multiplication process that you just described means you just get a lot more, and they come back.

Speaker 2: It's a multiplicative population growth. Yeah. Okay. And so in the spring, um, I mean, as long as at least that they're, that during the time that, that colonies are raising brood, which is during the entire growing season, right? And so, yeah, in the spring, the mite populations will be lower than, uh, in the fall, right? It's an exponential growth rate that we're looking at here for mite levels. So yeah, actually the most critical time I will say, with mite levels in a honeybee colony is actually right around now, at least for the Willamette Valley, right?

Speaker 1: Because of the bee. And we're just, just to put a, we are talking about, we're recording this right now, just the end of July. And so we will probably air sometime in early August, but we're about this time late, uh, mid, mid-summer, I guess we're saying. Yeah.

Speaker 2: Okay. Yep. And specifically, because it's more looking at the nectar flows, right? Uh-huh. So, if we look at the bee population growth over the course of the year, it also builds and builds and builds until this time of year. Oh yeah. Right?

Because this is when, at least in the Willamette Valley, the major nectar-producing plant is the Himalayan Blackberry. Yeah. And it is, I mean, I'm seeing a couple of blooms out there now, but it's pretty much done. Yeah. And so from here on out for bee colony, they kind of, they switch gears, right? So there, because they're not collecting as much pollen and definitely not enough nectar, really, to really grow, continue to grow at the rate that they have been all year long.

Yeah. So they just kind of, the adult population kind of flat lines or platitudes, or at least it doesn't grow anymore. And so they kind of switch, they start, kind of, they conserve their resources, they kick out the drones, they don't grow, they just are trying to basically conserve their resources and to hopefully make it through the winter. In addition to that though, or meanwhile, you have Varroa mites continuing to multiply.

And so between right now, which is in any region, whenever the large, large nectar flows are done for the year, and by the time winter happens, when they stop raising baby bees, that is a supercritical time to not only look at mite levels but definitely to treat for mites, to try and get those mite levels from taking over the colony. Okay.

Speaker 1: That makes sense to me. So you have a couple of things going on. The colonies and the mites are reproducing rapidly in the early summer. It sort of stops and all these mites kind of spill out and the colony really needs these bees to make it through winter.

So, I can totally understand why you say this is a really important time of year. So how would a beekeeper know if they have a lot of mites right now? Like what's, what can they do?

Speaker 2: The tech transfer team would come in.

Speaker 1: So this is a service that you guys would provide to beekeepers who are involved with the partnership.

Speaker 2: This team, this, or the Oregon team, most of the samples that we take for beekeepers are looking at their mite levels in their colonies. And so they're actually, but any beekeeper can also, I mean, they're, they're, what, what makes it great about this, the large size of the Varroa mite makes it great as far as field tests are very achievable.

You don't need a microscope. And so you can do, you can take, you know, any, it's very accessible, I guess, for, for any beekeeper to look at their mite levels. There are several ways to look at it, but we specifically will take bees, take, about 200 to 300 bees out of one colony. We look at how many mites are on there and we can, we can tell what their mite levels are by how many mites we see in that sample size. And so we do that with an, we do it with an ethanol wash. And so we will, the ethanol will dislodge the mites from the bees and then we can shake them out, count them. But there, there are other ways, that I've seen beekeepers do it.

I mean, you can, you can put powdered sugar. Into the, into, you know, your, your mite sample about, of about 300 bees. And that can also dislodge the mites. Ah, okay. By dusting them with powdered sugar. And so anyway.

Speaker 1: Okay. So you're dislodging them and there's some kind of sieve or something to sort of separate, you know, the mites for, okay. So then you got all these mites kind of like percolating out. Okay.

Got that. So how many, do you have to, do you do this in the field or do you process them in the sample, in the laboratory, or do you bring them back?

Speaker 2: We bring them back to our diagnostic lab and they're awesome. They can turn around the samples in a really, really fast. I mean, so we basically, have about a week turnaround time.

Speaker 1: Really? So a beekeeper will know if they've got a problem or not in about a week. Yeah. Wow. That's amazing.

Speaker 2: And that's really helpful. A lot of beekeepers really appreciate how fast it is so they can do something about it if they need to.

Speaker 1: All right. So just tell us a little, just a little bit more on the sampling. So you drive into this apiary and let's say there's about 40 colonies there and the person has, let's say, 5000 colonies. How many of those colonies do you need to sample tell us a little bit about the logistics of doing this. Sounds like a big job.

Speaker 2: Yeah. It's hard to do, so we try to get a really representative sample of the beekeeper's operation and that can be kind of tricky sometimes because there are, this beekeeper has thousands of colonies. And at least in this area, they're, I mean, they've got some in blueberries, they've got some in various seed crops all at the same time. I mean, they're in these different landscapes and these different landscapes have different bee densities and different spray sprays that can occur and all sorts of things. And so it's hard to get a representative snapshot of what their mite levels look like with everything. But in a specific yard that we go to, so you said maybe 40 colonies, we go to or we look into at least eight colonies in that yard.

Speaker 1: Oh, that's a big sample. Yeah. And so we look at mite levels in eight colonies, sometimes more, but that is the minimum that we do. And so, I mean, we've I mean, in a day, we've taken 50, 60, 70 samples within the day, you know, and so. You've seen the inside of a lot of colonies. Yeah.

Speaker 2: And I've also spent a lot of time in the car traveling to these yards, but it's actually it's been great. I mean, we've seen some gorgeous, gorgeous country while sampling these bees. I mean, it's actually, it's awesome because it just seems like some of the most beautiful places I've been to have been bee yards. And so that's been a really kind of awesome experience for me, too. It's just as far as traveling to all these hidden secrets, you know, these little places where, where these beehives are.

Speaker 1: I think the informed partnership should come up with like a travel manual. It's like more beautiful beards in America.

Speaker 2: I have another idea. It's a hotel cookbook also.

Speaker 1: Well, let's, let's take a break and we'll come back to talk about the hotel. No, we'll have to do a separate show on that, but let's, we'll take a break and then we'll come back and let's talk a little bit more about Varroa and pollination because it really seems like a kind of specific problem here in the Pacific Northwest. We were talking before the break about how you've been noticing a problem with Varroa that might be associated with pollination. Why do you think Varroa levels might increase when colonies go into pollination in the first place?

Speaker 2: Well, I think the biggest, I think the biggest concern with Varroa and pollination is high-density areas. OK. And so to explain here, there are, there are a bunch of different crops here and they're all pretty different in how many bees they require. You know, and so some are more difficult to get the desired fruit set than others.

Right. And so like right now a farmer, squash is in bloom right now. So a farmer with 400 acres of squash will have to contact beekeepers or maybe just one beekeeper and say, hey, you know, I need 400 acres of squash. And for squash specifically, they only need one colony per acre. So they will rent out 400 colonies for their squash and that beekeeper will move them in and out based on the bloom times. OK. And so that is a very specific hive density. And so I guess in contrast here, then let's say, blueberry, that happens to be one crop that requires a lot higher amount of stock rate. They require four colonies per acre.

Speaker 1: Oh, so they're way more packed together four times. We're packed together in the landscape.

Speaker 2: Yes. And so for these crops that that require higher colony densities, we just we have a lot of we have a lot of bees in one place. And there is a higher potential or more risk for those colonies to spread disease within each other because they are at a higher density.

Speaker 1: Well, and I can imagine as well, I'm thinking about blueberries. It's not like you have one blueberry field and then a couple of miles away. It's like blueberry fields back to back, different owners, different contracts. You might be contracting in a couple of square miles, three different beekeepers. Yeah.

Speaker 2: And that's also different based on the crop as well. I mean, you can, you know, so say almonds in California. There's a very, very large amount of acreage there. That's a that's three colonies in an acre.

But there's that. And then you have other crops here like metafone, the oil seed crop here has much smaller fields and tends to be a little more spaced out. And so that also depends on the crop. But you have some crops. So so blueberry and also and carrot seed pollination has about at least in Central Oregon. It has about three to four colonies to an acre. And so that's actually where that's an area of interest for us in particular when we're looking at whether or at what rate Varroa mites spread from colony to colony or from a colony in this yard to a colony a half a mile away in a yard. So we call that horizontal disease transmission specifically for Varroa mites. And so we are specifically trying to look at that right now in Oregon.

Speaker 1: Just, you know, just a basic, how does it be? How does a mite, which doesn't have wings, go from one apiary to another? Like, how does that take place?

Speaker 2: Well, and so what so adult mites will jump from will be able to if, in close contact with another bee, mites can transfer from bee to bee. Right. So how does a how does a mite transfer or be transferred from one colony to another bees? Honeybees do this interesting thing where they will drift. So foragers will naturally drift into a colony that is not their own. And depending on the time of year, they are accepted by that colony. And so I mean, you can also argue that so they're a little less oriented oriented to where they are if they're being moved.

And also if all of the hives are the same color, which tends to be the case in commercial beekeeping. Oh, yeah, for sure. They get kind of confused where is my home?

Speaker 1: So how does that make sense? So in a natural setting where they're in a tree in a forest, finding your way home is kind of a lot easier prospect than being in a clump of, you know, 40 colonies all back to back.

Speaker 2: And yeah, then and they're naturally in when they're in they naturally nest in tree cavities. They also naturally are found about half a mile apart. Ah, so that the actual density that we're seeing in our settings in our pollination settings is drastically different from how they are in the wild.

Speaker 1: OK, all right. So this makes sense. So the mites themselves are not there jumping across fields, but the bees are taking them across on the bees. Yeah, this happens because, you know, bees' orientation is not perfect, especially in this very kind of dense situation. OK, that makes sense.

All right, so from this, this seems like a really great question. And it's really surprising that hasn't been asked before about this idea that one of the reasons that Varro might spike up in pollination is that you have, I guess, uneven infestations between apiaries and somehow they're moving across apiaries and kind of making everything more homogenous.

Speaker 2: Well, and there are some studies out there that so people are looking into this idea of might transmission also specifically looking at be drift, which is another question in itself. What we're specifically interested in is kind of the idea sparked really to look at this in Oregon, because we find or at least have at least last year found really high mite levels in carrot seed pollination in July last year. And it's all in one specific location in a place where we have really strong confidence in, you know, we have known bee densities in this in this particular seed crop. And so we are just wondering, like, OK, July, that's one of the that's the start of a really critical moment for mite levels. Yeah. And they're also in. High densities at what rate or how I mean, how much is what's the potential for mites to be drifting around?

Yeah. So that's just what we're looking at specifically herein in carrot pollination, but there have been other studies that have looked at bees in high and low-density areas and have found some results in that there are differences in mite levels in when you have these higher density areas. And so what we're trying to do specifically with our project is to see in this particular pollination setting, you know, how critical is it to be aware of your

Speaker 1: density, your density exactly in the neighborhood and basically in your neighbors? And how critical is it for you to treat mites yourself in that pollination crop?

OK, I get it. So the idea is that if a beekeeper knew that they were going into a higher density pollination situation or a lower pollination, they might alert them that they might have a mite problem and avoid the kind of problem that happened last year where they'd spike up. They'd be able to anticipate it just by knowing, you know, how dense an area they're going into.

Speaker 2: Yeah. Well, I think it'll change the way that they look at the mite samples that we take for them to say like, oh, well, I'm in a higher-density area. Yeah. That's going to that's going to change the way that I look at these mite levels.

This may be low in my mind if I'm in a low-density area, but it could be a really if I have some mite levels at, you know, one percent or two percent, you know, maybe that's going to be more alarming to me if I'm in a higher density location.

Speaker 1: Oh, gotcha. OK. So interesting. And just to finish this segment off, is it easy to treat for mites while you're in pollination or is that really difficult to do?

Speaker 2: Well, I guess that is I'm sure if you ask beekeepers, they'll give you all sorts of answers to that. OK. But they have I think from when I look at it, that the critical thing is whether or not they have honey supers on or not. Yeah, right.

It's much more difficult. I mean, you have you have more limitations to treat for mites when you have honey supers on. Of course. Right. And so that at least in carrot, some beekeepers do have supers on some of them don't. So that kind of so that that's a question, really, when you are thinking about treating in a pollination crop. But also, I mean, just for mites in general, there are a lot of different legal treatments that are available, which is good so that you can rotate chemicals or you can choose chemicals or miticides based on the weather or the particular environment you're in. I mean, in carrot, actually, it's in kind of a high desert country. And so it's really hot there. And so that also kind of puts limits on what you can treat with.

Speaker 1: Like the fumigants are not a good idea.

Speaker 2: Yes. Yeah. OK. So, yeah, I would say that, I mean, it certainly seems to always be a challenge to treat for mites. But I do think that it's it's, I don't know, it's definitely very possible with the amount of chemicals that you have available.

Speaker 1: Well, this sounds like a really great idea, a really great project, and another tool to help, you know, kind of reduce treatments. You know, you give you another way to forecast your mite problems and a more integrated pest management approach. Just it sounds really wonderful.

Speaker 2: Yeah, it would be it would be great, too, if we were able to look at be drift as well. That's something that is the way that it's been done before is, you know, there's a lot of marking bees, a lot of marking mites. And so that marking might.

Oh, yeah. You know, I just imagine, you know, marking every single bee in a colony. I mean, these are thousands and thousands of bees, and then trying to find them in different colonies. And so there is it's I'm excited to see that looked at and that quantified. But it's also it's it's it's got to be just this incredible challenge to really look at drift in that way. And so the way that we're going about it, well, we're looking at specifically mite transmission.

And so we're looking more at just looking at mite levels in different densities or at least indifferent yard density areas. But yeah, there are so many other questions that we can ask about this, too, regarding drift. And so so I think.

Speaker 1: And this is this is something that's just happened. You this is a new project and you

Speaker 2: just started on it just about a month ago, I guess. Yeah. Yeah. And I think there I think there's lots of potential. I mean, there's a lot of other questions that we can ask regarding this subject that, you know, some seem more challenging than others, though.

Speaker 1: Well, we look forward to having you back when the answers are more resolved for sure. And just to talk about some of the other things. I imagine you have such a great picture of bee colony health in the region and know the issue. So we're really hoping you'll come back. Of course. Well, we got it. We're going to take a break. And then we'll we got these three questions we ask all our guests. So we're really curious what your answers are going to be.

Yeah. Alan, so we've got these three questions for you and I'm so curious what your answers are going to be. The first question we ask everybody is booked. Is there a book that's been really influential to you or do you really want listeners to know about it?

Speaker 2: Well, I think I always like to recommend this book to any person, whether they're a beekeeper or whether they're just curious about bees. It's called The Beekeeper Lament. Huh. It is so it's just I think it's a really good narrative for what commercial beekeeping is like. It's by Hannah. I'm Norhouse, I think.

Speaker 1: OK, I'm pronouncing our listeners know we're going to we're going to get a link of this and put it on the show notes. So we'll have a link. We'll we'll dig this up.

Speaker 2: OK, but the beekeepers. Yeah, the reason why I like to recommend that is that I just feel like that is a really good book to introduce someone to commercial beekeeping. I think it was a really good story on a particular beekeeper out there.

Speaker 1: It's an old book or relatively new. It's relatively new. OK. Yeah. And this is a US beekeeper from their perspective. This is sort of like their own kind of experience.

Speaker 2: Well, no, this is a this is a woman who basically spent a lot of time with this commercial beekeeper. And then she the author herself kind of wrote about wrote about her experiences. You know, following them around. Yeah, jumping into this bee operation.

Speaker 1: So that is an awesome recommendation. Thank you so much. Yeah, I'm looking forward to reading it.

Speaker 2: Oh, you haven't read it yet.

Speaker 1: No, it's the first I've heard. OK. Yeah. OK. And the next question we ask people is tools, beekeeping tools or bee research tools, something that is your own or something that everybody uses that they really should pay more attention to.

Speaker 2: OK. Well, I think I feel like I have to say this because I've realized over the years that I can't do without this tool now. So in the beginning, I would always leave my hive tool in yards, yards that I never went to again.

And so I would like to go through high tools like crazy. And so I actually got what's called it's called a bee belt. And it's basically just a tool belt with a magnet on it that I can basically have.

So I don't lose my hive tool anymore because I can now stick to my hive tool basically to my tool belt. We're going to get one of these. There's one supplier in Canada, actually. His name is Paul Kelly.

Speaker 1: Ah, there's someone we have on this show. Oh, you know him? Oh, yeah. OK. Yeah. No, we should have Paul Kelly. Canadian listeners will really appreciate that. But we should really get Paul Kelly on the show. He does a lot of things like that. He's just a he's a great builder of bee equipment.

Speaker 2: OK. OK. Well, he's got a great bee belt out there. And now I like sometimes I'm out in the field without it. And I am like constantly like I don't I don't know what to do anymore.

Speaker 1: Yeah, Canada. Yeah. All right, that's a great that's a great tool. And the last thing we ask people is, is there a favorite kind of bee that you have? Is it a can be a be race, a kind of type of bee?

Speaker 2: You know, when I was first starting, you know, looking in the bee is being when I was a student, I just remember being completely blown away. By some of the solitary bees, mostly the helic dids. Oh, yeah. I just would look at them under the microscope and I'm like, I'm looking at a monster here. I was, you know, and just the different colors.

And so I would have to say the help did. I know that's that's not very specific. But it's great.

Yeah. That's always been a neat memory of mine, really, just to kind of that that moment of just being blown away by by just the colors. And the patterns on these on these bees.

Speaker 1: So, you know, I always love a recommendation like that because being honeybee-focused like you and I are, it's a very different bee. It's a very different bee than anything we have in the state. And so I think it's all it's great to have that perspective of being able to look across those groups. Yeah. Yeah. Well, you know, one last thing I was going to mention, and we do want to do a show on this is being formed partnership has a really good Oh, no, no, no, that's the bee honeybee health coalition.

Speaker 2: Yes. Right. They have a great that that is a great booklet.

Speaker 1: You guys contributed to it, though. Yes. Yeah. Yep. The Honeybee Health Coalition has. Yeah, the Varua management guide. And we'll try to get Dewey. I've got an appointment to get Dewey on the show to talk about that manual. Well, this was a wonderful interview. Thanks for telling us about pollination and Varua and introducing this mate to the podcast series.

Speaker 2: Yes. Thanks for having me. All right. Take care. Yeah.

Speaker 1: Thanks so much for listening. Show notes with information discussed in each episode can be found at pollination podcast.org and state.edu. We'd also love to hear from you and there are several ways to connect. For one, you can visit our website to post an episode-specific comment, suggest a future guest or topic, or ask a question that can be featured in a future episode. You can also email us at the pollination podcast at Oregon state.edu. Finally, you can tweet questions or comments or join our Facebook or Instagram communities. Just look us up at OSU pollinator health. If you like the show, consider letting iTunes know by leaving us a review or rating.

It makes us more visible, which helps others discover pollination. See you next week.

Ellen Topitzhofer works for the Bee Informed Partnership, an innovative organization across the U.S. that works with commercial bee keepers to tackle some of their most pressing pest management issues.

In this episode, we discuss the unique pest issues in the Pacific Northwest, and explore the universal problem of varroa mites in bee colonies. We talk about how best to manage those pests, the relationship of the mites to the bees and pollination patterns, and more.

You can Subscribe and Listen to PolliNation on Apple Podcasts.

And be sure to leave us a Rating and Review!

“Some of the most beautiful places I’ve been to have been bee yards.” – Ellen Topitzhofer

Show Notes:

  • What the Bee Informed partnership is and how it started
  • How they educated commercial bee keepers
  • What makes Pacific Northwest beekeeping different than other regions of the country
  • An introduction to varroa mites
  • How to treat for these types of mites
  • What the tech transfer team does
  • The logistics of sampling for mites
  • Why varroa mites increase when colonies go into Pollination
  • How mites move from an apiary to another
  • How their research changes the way that commercial bee keepers operate
  • Why some bees drift to different colonies

“We help bee keepers colonies by testing colonies, to assist commercial bee keepers in making management decisions about queen breeding, pests, and colony health. .” -Ellen Topitzhofer

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