Your Source For Beekeeping News, Information and Entertainment
June 20, 2022

Asian Giant Hornet and Indoor Wintering Research with Dr. Kelly Kulhanek (S5, E01)

Asian Giant Hornet and Indoor Wintering Research with Dr. Kelly Kulhanek (S5, E01)

Dr. Kelly Kulhanek recently moved to Pullman, WA., where she has started her work there on assisting with the Asian Giant Hornet research. In addition to this she is working with the research on indoor wintering of honey bees for commercial...


Dr. Kelly Kulhanek recently moved to Pullman, WA., where she has started her work there on assisting with the Asian Giant Hornet research. In addition to this she is working with the research on indoor wintering of honey bees for commercial beekeepers. All of this will help her with her new role as extension specialist for WSU.

In today’s episode, Kelly talk with Kim and Jeff about the current status of the Asian Giant Hornet in Washington State and the steps state beekeepers can do to prepare for the possibility this of invasive pest. Additionally, WSU has received multiple grants to research all the aspects of the indoor wintering of honey bee colonies in refrigerated warehouses. Kelly is working on this research. So far, the results have demonstrated a clear benefit, so much so, many large commercial beekeepers have already started building and renting warehouse space to house their bees over the winter.

We hope you enjoy our conversation with Kelly. 

This week also kicks off Pollinator Week. Pollinator Partnership worked to get the week designated to celebrate all the benefits pollinators bring the environment. Go to their website to learn how you can participate in the week long activities.

Finally, this show is the start of the fifth year of Beekeeping Today Podcast. Thank you, our listeners, for following the podcast on your platform of choice. We’re here each week for you. We have a great season in store. If you know of a guest or have a topic in mind for an episode, let us know in the comments. We’d love to hear from you.

We hope you enjoy the episode. Leave comments and questions in the Comments Section of the episode's website.

Thank you for listening!

Links and websites mentioned in this podcast: 

Honey Bee Obscura

______________

We welcome Betterbee as sponsor of today's episode. Betterbee’s mission is to support every beekeeper with excellent customer BetterBeeservice, continued education and quality equipment. From their colorful and informative catalog to their support of beekeeper educational activities, including this podcast series, Betterbee truly is Beekeepers Serving Beekeepers. See for yourself at www.betterbee.com

This episode is brought to you by Global Patties! Global Patties is a family business that manufactures protein supplement patties for honey bees. Feeding your hives protein supplement patties will help Global Pattiesensure that they produce strong and health colonies by increasing brood production and overall honey flow. Global offers a variety of standard patties, as well as custom patties to meet your specific needs. Visit them today at http://globalpatties.com and let them know you appreciate them sponsoring this episode! 

Thanks for Northern Bee Books for their sponsorship of Bee Books: Old & New with Kim Flottum. Northern Bee Books is the publisher of bee books available worldwide from their website or from Amazon and bookstores everywhere. They are also the publishers of The Beekeepers Quarterly and Natural Bee Husbandry. Check them out today!

Thanks to Strong Microbials for their support of Beekeeping TodayStrong Microbials Podcast. Find out more about heir line of probiotics in our Season 3, Episode 12 episode and from their website: https://www.strongmicrobials.com

We want to also thank 2 Million Blossoms as a sponsor of the podcast. 2 Million Blossoms is a regular podcast featuring interviews with leading bee and insect researchers in the world of pollination, hosted by Dr. Kirsten Traynor.

_______________

We hope you enjoy this podcast and welcome your questions and comments in the show notes of this episode or: questions@beekeepingtodaypodcast.com

Thanks to Bee Culture, the Magazine of American Beekeeping, for their support of The Beekeeping Today Podcast. Available in print and digital at www.beeculture.com

Bee Culture Magazine

Thank you for listening! 

Podcast music: Be Strong by Young Presidents; Epilogue by Musicalman; Walking in Paris by Studio Le Bus; Original guitar background instrumental by Jeff Ott

Beekeeping Today Podcast is an audio production of Growing Planet Media, LLC

Growing Planet Media, LLC

Transcript

S5, E01 –

Asian Giant Hornet And Indoor Wintering Research With Dr. Kelly Kulhanek

[music]

Jeff Ott: Welcome to Beekeeping Today Podcast presented by Bee Culture. Beekeeping Today Podcast is your source for beekeeping news, information, and entertainment. I'm Jeff Ott.

Kim Flottum: I'm Kim Flottum.

Global Patties: Hey, Jeff and Kim. Today's sponsor is Global Patties. They're a family-operated business that manufactures protein supplement patties for honeybees. It's a good time to think about honeybee nutrition. Feeding your hives protein supplement patties will ensure that they produce strong and healthy colonies by increasing brewed production and overall honey flow. Now is a great time to consider what type of patty is right for your area and your honey bees.

Global offers a variety of standard patties as well as custom patties to meet your needs. No matter where you are, Global is ready to serve you out of their manufacturing plants in Airdrie, Alberta and in Butte, Montana or from distribution depots across the continent. Visit them today at www.globalpatties.com.

Jeff: Thanks, Sherry. Thank you, Global Patties. You know, each week, we get to talk about how much we appreciate our sponsor's support, and we know you'd rather we get right to talking about beekeeping. However, our great sponsors are critical to help making all of this happen. From the transcripts, the hosting fees, the software, the hardware, the microphones, the subscriptions, the recorders, they enable each episode. With that, thanks to Bee Culture Magazine for continuing their presenting sponsorship for this podcast.

Bee Culture has been the magazine for American beekeeping since 1873. Subscribe to Bee Culture today. Hey, everybody. Thanks for joining us. We're really happy you're here. Before we get started, just a quick reminder to subscribe or follow Beekeeping Today Podcast and give us a five-star rating. It really does help. Also, we are now adding complete transcripts of each episode on the website after the show notes, check them out. You can also leave questions and comments online under each show. You can leave a comment, ask a question, reply to a question, our show or other listeners. Click and leave a comment at the top of the episode's show notes to join the discussion.

Have you listened to an episode and thought, "That person sounds really interesting and I'd like to know more about them." Well, now, you can. Each episode links to a guest profile. Each profile has a guest photo, bio, contact information including Instagram and Twitter details if they have them. Check it out and finally, share the podcast with your beekeeping friends, email them links or mention it at your next beekeeper meeting.

Hey, everybody. Thanks again for joining us. Kim will be here shortly along with our guest, Dr. Kelly Kulhanek, assistant professor at the Washington State University in Pullman, Washington. She's working on multiple projects and we'll be talking to her about the Asian giant hornet and the indoor wintering of honey bees. Hey, it's a great topic for the middle of summer, isn't it? [chuckles] Hey, happy Pollinator Week. The good folks at Pollinator Partnership have worked to get the third week of June designated as National Pollinator Week.

They've planned a series of events and activities for individuals, groups, and corporations to help highlight the value of all pollinators in all of our lives and on the environment. Get more information and learn how you can participate in their activities by visiting the website at www.pollinator.org. Not only is this the start of Pollinator Week, but it's also the start of something else pretty fun. Learn more about that later on in the show when we're talking with Kim. Sure hope your summer is going well and the honey flow is strong. Have you supered yet? How many times?

I used to provide an upper entrance to supers during the flow on my stronger colonies, either by moving the top super back half inch or so or using a hole drilled in the front of the super just below the hand hold. When it wasn't needed, I'd slide the super back in place or put a cork in the hole [chuckles]. This spring, I received a couple of nice but small entrance discs along with my Bee Smart Designs, insulated top, and inner cover. Hopes of a repeat of last year's strong blackberry flow, I drilled some 5/8-inch holes in a few honey supers and secured the discs in place so I could open and close the super as needed.

I hope these discs come in handy if there ever is a flow this year. Do you use upper entrances on your honey supers during the flow? Do you think that's a good idea or a bad idea? Let us know in the comments of the website. Okay. Let's get on with the show, but first, a quick word from my friends at Strong Microbials who have released a brand-new extended release, Probiotic SuperDFM Extend.

[music]

StrongMicrobials: Hey, beekeepers. Many times during the year, honeybees encounter scarcity of floral sources. As good beekeepers, we feed our bees artificial diets of protein and carbohydrates to keep them going during those stressful times. What is missing though are key components, the good microbes necessary for a bee to digest the food and convert it into metabolic energy. Only SuperDFM-HoneyBee by Strong Microbials can provide the necessary microbes to optimally convert the artificial diet into energy necessary for improving longevity, reproduction, immunity, and much more.

SuperDFM-HoneyBee is an all-natural probiotic supplement for your honeybees. Find it at strongmicrobials.com or at fine bee supply stores everywhere.

Jeff: Hey, everybody. While you're at the Strong Microbials site, make sure you click on and subscribe to The Hive, their regular newsletter full of interesting beekeeping facts and product updates. Hey, everybody, welcome back to the show. Sitting across the virtual Zoom Beekeeping Today Podcast table right now is Kelly Kulhanek. She's here from WSU, Washington State University over in Pullman. If you've been listening to the show for the last year or so, you know that the Asian giant hornet is on the doorstep.

Kelly's been working with WSU as an assistant professor, and part of her responsibility is working with Asian giant hornet. Kelly, long opening, but welcome to Beekeeping Today Podcast.

Kelly Kulhanek: Thank you very much. Very happy to be here.

Kim: Good to see you again, Kelly.

Kelly: Yes, you too.

Jeff: Kelly has been with us once or twice before.

Kelly: I think just once, but I think it was in March of 2020. The very, very beginning of the pandemic, we were all just learning how to use Zoom. It's crazy to see how far we've come.

Jeff: We're all so used to Zoom now, that's for sure.

Kelly: Yes.

Jeff: The Asian giant hornet is definitely a newsmaker and definitely have concern for beekeepers here in Washington state and anybody along the West Coast who are within the zone of encroachment or zone of potential habitat for the Asian giant hornet. What are you doing at WSU with dealing with the Asian giant hornet?

Kelly: There are several researchers at WSU who are working really closely with the Washington State Department of Agriculture to conduct some of this baseline preliminary research about how far the Asian giant hornet could spread, how concerned we need to be looking into different control methods we could use, pheromone trapping and things like that. My role, as really someone who does a lot of extension and outreach, is to work with beekeepers who are really concerned about Asian giant hornet and to help them mentally prepare themselves and to understand what they're looking for so that if they do encounter Asian giant hornet, they can respond quickly and appropriately and make sure that we're able to take care of it.

Jeff: What are you doing in that regard, everything from hiding in the closet and cover your head with a cover or to trap and abate?

Kelly: For the vast majority of people, they do not need to be concerned at all about Asian giant hornet yet. So far, it's still only in very far Northwestern Washington and adjacent British Columbia right across the border. We get a lot of phone calls and a lot of concern from people about Asian giant hornet, but usually, they're not from people in that area. The first thing we say is, "If you're not in that immediate area, something else is going on, you don't have to be concerned about that." That's nice to alleviate that fear from people right away.

The other thing we're doing is just trying to put out information about what Asian giant hornet actually does to honey bee colonies so that people can identify it really quickly and report it to Washington State Department of Ag quickly so that they can respond. I don't think that a lot of fear is necessarily warranted. I don't think we've had any confirmed cases of Asian giant hornet attacking honey bee colonies yet in the US. We're still just using an abundance of caution, but most of the time, what I'm trying to do is just make people less afraid.

Kim: One of the things, of course, is, how do I put this, the possibility of an overwintered queen getting moved, man-moved to either someplace in Washington or Northeast Ohio or wherever. I've gotten calls here in Ohio from two people that said they saw one in their backyard this spring. On further questioning, you find out that it's the other big hornet that we have here in Ohio and they'd never seen one before.

When you see that one which is half the size of a giant Asian hornet, if you haven't seen the giant Asian hornet, you go, "Oh my God, there's a killer hornet out here and it's on my back porch."

Kelly: Yes, absolutely.

Kim: Where I'm going is what is the probability of that actually happening when an overwintered queen getting shipped to someplace?

Kelly: Great question. I think things like that are always possible. I think the probability right now is pretty low, especially because they haven't expanded to that grade of numbers, even in the area where they are. It's all very early stages, very early days and I think we should all have our eyes peeled and have access and look at these resources that help you identify an Asian giant hornet compared to these other large black and yellow insects that we see very frequently.

There are lots of those available online with lots of really great pictures of comparisons of what they look like. I think it's prepare for the worst, but hope for the best. That's what we try to get people to do.

Kim: Well, that's good advice, I guess, prepare for the worst and hope for the best. What are you guys doing now in Washington to prepare for the worst?

Kelly: The Washington State Department of Ag has lots of different programs trying to track these things. They've found a few nests and eliminated the nests. I think they're doing everything in their power they can to keep it from spreading. Then several different researchers are working on different methods to try to control them and mitigate them and prevent them from breeding properly and things like that. Again, my role is just to get information out there to beekeepers and work with beekeepers who are concerned.

One of the things we've done is put out this fact sheet through WSU extension and it's free online, publicly available. It helps you understand what Asian giant hornet damage looks like to honeybee colonies and how you can differentiate the symptoms of that from the symptoms of yellow jackets, European hornets, mice, lots of those other things that feed on our bees and result in a big pile of dead bees outside the front of your colony.

Because that's usually what people see and then they panic and they call us. It's like lots of dead bees outside the front of their colony. The fact sheet has lots of photos and even a flow chart that will help you walk through the symptoms you're seeing and help you understand whether or not it's Asian giant hornet or something else.

Jeff: Is there a key indicator? If I go out to my hive this afternoon and see a pile of dead bees before I panic-- [chuckles].

Kelly: Typically, what we see is lots of dead bees outside the entrance. Usually, you can tell that they've been accumulating over a few days or a few weeks even. There are some that are older and dusty and starting to decay a little bit, and then there are some that are fresh. In an Asian giant hornet situation, you would have a lot of bee death all at once in the same day. It'd be like all of a sudden, there's a lot of dead bees. Also, I think understanding how the Asian giant hornet attacks the honeybee colonies is really key because it occurs in different phases.

The first phase is where they're kind of acting like European hornets where they're just hovering outside the colony entrance and picking off bees one by one that are just coming and going. In that situation, they're not killing the bee right outside the colony. They take it away to a nearby tree or back to their nest. They do not kill it right outside the colony. You're not going to see much bee death at your colonies during that first initial phase where the Asian giant hornets are just picking up little snacks.

Jeff: Scoping it out.

Kelly: Yes. Then what it escalates is what's called the slaughter phase. It's a very scary, threatening name where the multiple hornets will be recruited to a colony and they'll invade the colony. They'll kill a whole bunch of bees all at once. That's when you'll have like a lot of dead bees right around your colonies, but the Asian giant hornets stay in the hives at that point. They stay in there for days while they clean out all the brewed, kill all the bees. They're actually occupying at that point, these colonies.

The dead giveaway is that there's actually hornets in your colony. At that point, they're very, very defensive and it's very dangerous to approach. We tell people to really exercise caution, but again, we have not seen that in the United States yet.

Jeff: They do take over the hive and they become defensive that specific hive that you would know it right away if you opened the top and they were in there.

Kelly: Yes. Usually, what beekeepers see is those dead bees outside the hive that have been accumulating for a while, lots of them will have holes in the thorax or missing heads. A lot of that can be yellow jacket damage. We have lots of yellow jacket problems here in Eastern Washington. We've also had mice come and feed on the dead bees outside the front of the colony and they'll bore that little hole in the thorax. There are lots of other things that like to snack on our bees besides Asian giant hornet.

Kim: That's not good news.

Jeff: Yes. How do you reply to that? Kind of a nightmare in many ways.

Kim: I wonder then, what are you guys going to be doing right now, June on to locate and are you trapping? What are you doing to A, find them and B, get rid of them?

Kelly: Great questions. Again, me personally and my colleagues in the bee program at Washington State University are more focused on the beekeeper side of things. The Washington State Department of Ag are the ones who are really going out, doing the trapping. I think lots and lots of traps out. They're looking for those individuals and then when they find one in a trap, they can actually locate the colony and try to destroy it. They also ask anyone who thinks they might see Asian giant hornet to report it to their website.

I think a lot of what we do is say it's probably not Asian giant hornet, but if anybody has any suspicion, we want them to report it. It's better to just be cautious and report it so that Washington State Department of Ag can get there and investigate.

Betterbee: Betterbee knows that varroa mites are public enemy number one for our honeybees. If you are not treatment-free, your varroa mite management plan should include a variety of medications to prevent resistance to treatment. Head over to betterbee.com/varroa to get your sugar roll and alcohol wash monitoring kits as well as your Formic Pro, oxalic acid, Apivar and other might management medications. Let Betterbee help you protect your bees from varroa. Visit Betterbee today, your partners in better beekeeping.

Kim: You said that the slaughter phase, I think is what you called it, because they're all inside, a beekeeper may open a hive and not know they're there and isn't looking, isn't suspecting, and isn't paying attention basically. I've never done that, of course. I take the top off, I just always look down through the inner cover hole, and all I see are the bodies of giant Asian hornets scrambling around just through the little inner cover hole. My guess is you put the top back on and run.

Kelly: Yes. I would say yes, put the top back on, get out of there. Call WSDA immediately. People will try to eradicate them themselves, not here in the US, but over in Asia, people try to eradicate them themselves. It's just not a good idea, especially we're not equipped with the proper equipment. When they go out to destroy one of these nests, they're wearing not a regular bee suit. They can sting right through a regular bee suit. They're wearing these huge moon suits that are really thick. Definitely best to just get out of there, not approach again until you call for help.

Jeff: I know some beekeepers around here have adopted putting a mesh in front of the hive entrance thinking it'll keep the Asian giant hornet out of the hive. They're putting a half-inch hardware cloth over the entrances. Is that something that you are recommending to beekeepers to do? Is that effective?

Kelly: Yes. I think that definitely can't hurt unless it's restricting the foraging capacity of the colony when we have big nectar flows and things like that. Usually, I'll say the Asian giant hornet is picking on honeybee colony is later in the summer when they get more desperate for protein, like August, September. For most places in the US, there's not strong honey flows at that time. Hopefully, that's not an issue. I think screens are a good practice in general. It makes the colony easier to defend from lots of other things, from other robbing honeybee colonies that can spread mites around, from yellow jackets from European hornets. I think that that's a good practice for a lot of reasons.

Jeff: And mice too.

Kelly: And mice, yes, and mice. We have big skunk problems also out here, which is new to me. We didn't really have skunk problems in Maryland.

Kim: Actually, you don't mean that the skunks out there are larger than other skunks.

Kelly: No. They are big skunks, no.

Jeff: Yes, BIG skunks!

Kelly: The problems are bigger.

Jeff: That's funny.

Kim: Well, I tried. It looks like you guys are really on top of this, you are maintaining the occupied area and stopping them from spreading, mostly by monitoring traps and beekeepers paying attention. You've been working with us long enough, what's going to be happening five years from now?

Kelly: Great question. It's really hard to say. I think, again, we're hoping for the best here that everybody got on top of it right away and new control management methods are in the works. I think we're really hoping we could eradicate it pretty quickly, but invasive species are really, really tough and there's always a chance that they'll surround for a while.

I think it's likely they'll stay in a relatively small range and hopefully, we won't see much widespread Asian giant hornet all the way across the country. If they do spread it all, I think it should be relatively slow so hopefully, we can hope for that, at least.

Kim: I'm guessing the people in Canada, because that's where it was found, are doing the same monitoring and controlling?

Kelly: Yes, I believe so.

Kim: Because it could move east in Canada and then south into Montana or North Dakota or one of those states.

Kelly: Yes.

Jeff: Over Lake Erie and on into Medina, Kim.

Kim: There we go.

[laughter]

It's going to by August, right?

Kelly: Yes. There you go.

Kim: Well, it's good to know. Are you and your Canadian contemporaries working together on this? Because this thing is right on the border, isn't it?

Kelly: Yes. I think they do have a lot of communication and a lot of joint ventures because believe it or not, these insects don't know there's a border, they don't respect the border. I think it is important that we continue to work together.

Jeff: What else are you working on? You just started your time there at WSU, what will your duties entail, including--

Kelly: I came here on August of 2020 and I started as a post-doc thermal researcher working for Dr. Brandon Hopkins. He does a lot of work with commercial beekeeping management practices, and one of the big focuses of his program has been this idea of indoor storage of honeybee colonies. I did a lot of work on that. It's been super interesting and I really didn't know much about it before I came here, but we estimate now that almost 500,000 colonies are stored indoors over winter before almond pollination. Most of those are stored in Idaho.

These beekeepers build these facilities or rent space in these temperature-controlled facilities. I think one facility holds up to 80,000 colonies. It's really interesting and they just prefer it to overwintering outdoors for a few different reasons. I think they enter full dormancy, they're not consuming food, the mites aren't reproducing. If you get them really nice and healthy before they go onto indoor storage, then they come out really nice and healthy and you get great grades in almonds, good price for your colonies in almonds.

It's relatively recent, but it's gained a lot of popularity in the United States. The beekeepers have a lot of questions about how to maximize their bang for their buck out of these situations. They're curious about using these facilities to treat for mites, they're curious about how high of carbon dioxide levels can we get to in here, and if there are benefits to that or if it's harmful.

Just lots of this preliminary work to really fine-tune indoor storage to make sure that these beekeepers are getting the most they can out of it, which has been really interesting. In my new position, I just got hired as an assistant professor. My first day was one week ago, was June 1st. [laughs]

Jeff: Congratulations.

Kelly: This position is a combination of research and extension and it's funded by the Washington State Legislature, so it will be very specific to serving Washington state beekeepers. I think we'll be looking at things like really optimizing mite control in the state of Washington with Washington climates and honey flows and things like that. Really coming out with a lot of best practices for Washington state beekeepers.

We want to work with growers of lots of Washington specialty crops to make sure that their pollination of their crops is optimized and the bees' health while they're there is optimized. I haven't got much done in my first week, but lots to come.

Kim: I've talked to several people who are involved in the indoor wintering and we had-- What's her name, from Tucson here, Gloria DeGrandi-Hoffman was here talking about it also.

Jeff: John Miller talked to us too.

Kim: John Miller also.

Kelly: The Millers are huge pioneers of indoor storage, for sure.

Kim: What I'm hearing is probably within four or five years, any beekeeper in the United States that wants indoor winter will be able to find a facility that handle its bees. It's that popular, it's that healthy, and hopefully, it's considered it's that inexpensive. That sound about right?

Kelly: Yes. I think it really is booming and there's lots of interest in it. A lot of these beekeepers build these huge facilities that house their haul operation and then they have room to rent space as well. I think for people who have maybe a slightly smaller operation or don't want to put in the upfront cost of building their own place, it is pretty easy to find rentable space.

We even have people in the business now who are not beekeepers, who came from onion storage or apple storage or things like that who are not beekeepers and they're just building these facilities specifically to serve this need because the interest and the demand is so high. I think it is cost-benefit-wise, maybe not right for everyone and every operation, so I think that's something to consider.

There is an upfront investment of changing your business model to work this way, but the beekeepers who like it do it really well. I think the main thing they always stress to us is that these indoor storage facilities are a hotel not a hospital. Basically, if you put crappy colonies in, you're going to get crappy colonies out when you take them out in January to go to almonds. They have to be really proactive with their management, have to have really good frames of bees, really heavy colonies, really low mite loads, and they're working on that as early as August to get these colonies to go into these storages in October and November.

I think it just forces them to be really good beekeepers across the board, then they put in these really excellent colonies into storage, and it just helps them maintain that really good health. When they come out, they look really excellent when they go to almonds.

Kim: Almost all of them always come out too. That's definitely the advantage. You've got strong colonies that are healthy and you've got single-digit losses.

Kelly: They cool out all the garbage before it goes into storage and then you're not paying to store basically dead-outs.

Kim: One of the things that I heard that was an issue with these is that at least in some states, FSA, Farm Service Agency, USDA, government FSA outfit, they have options to provide low-interest loans to farmers for storage, grain storage, milk storage, what have you, but at least initially, they weren't talking to beekeepers. They weren't going to help provide that service for beekeepers. Do you have any knowledge of that or advice?

Kelly: That's a great question. I don't have much knowledge of that topic, but I think that kind of thing happens to beekeepers and bees a lot where we're not classified as livestock and we're not classified as plants. I think we fall through the cracks of a lot of those governmental programs. We run into it as researchers all the time where we want to apply for funding and we don't really fit in any of the categories and the animal people tell us, "No, you apply to the plants people," and vice versa.

It's frustrating and I think that happens a lot, but hopefully, as it becomes more popular, the demand will get people's attention and they'll have to work with us a little bit.

Kim: Perhaps, because just last week, California decided that bees and bumblebees were fish.

Kelly: I saw that.

Kim: Maybe we can move in a different direction.

Kelly: I know. That reminds me of, do you remember when I think some school district classified pizza as a vegetable because it has tomato sauce on it? It's the same thing with that bumblebees are fish. I think it's because all invertebrates are listed on the fish category, which is just-- Doesn't make sense. Bees just constantly get pushed from category to category.

Kim: Or it's maybe something beekeeping organizations want to look into because if indeed, if this practice continues, it can only help the people who are building them and the people who are renting them from the people who built them. If I can get a low-interest loan, I can charge less beekeepers will pay less and they will get better returns all the way around. If you ever seen that, they're going to knock on somebody-- They're going to knock on your local FSA door.

Kelly: It's very similar technology to grain storages and other types of-- I mean, some beekeepers use potato on apples storages because they're empty at that time of year. There's no reason that it shouldn't be considered the same thing.

Jeff: Are you developing a series of standards for the indoor storage so that I could, as a beekeeper, if I want to develop my own or maybe even use that onion storage facility and want to make sure that they're meeting certain standards for bees, are you developing those standards for beekeepers?

Kelly: That's a good question and a great idea we should. [laughs] I think it's kind of an interesting place for us to be as researchers because a lot of it is very specific HVAC knowledge and so a lot of these beekeepers work with HVAC companies to help build these facilities to make sure that they function properly. There are general guidelines for what temperature you want to maintain, what level of humidity, the carbon dioxide level is kind of a big one because these generate a lot of carbon dioxide in these closed facilities.

I think we are doing research to fine-tune some of those things, but there are general guidelines out there, but I don't think they're summarized in a written document anywhere. I think one of my new projects as an assistant professor, to plan together. [laughs]

Jeff: Part of your extension program would be to develop those.

Kelly: Yes, absolutely.

Kim: That would be good information to have available for everybody.

Kelly: Yes, and we do-- It is out there. We have a series of YouTube videos that we made in partnership with Project FSM. They have a whole indoor storage page on their website with blogs, we had a whole webinar about it where we had beekeepers who use indoor storage talked about it and we HVAC specialists talk about it. It is available on those video formats, but we haven't summarized it into a written guide yet.

We have talked about summarizing all this into a Best Practices Guide for indoor storage and also a decision support tool to help beekeepers decide if indoor storage is right for them, if it's going to be worth it, if it fits well into their operation, and when to use it. When to go in, when to come out, all those things, I think can be optimized. It's in the works and hopefully, we'll make a lot of progress in that in the coming years.

Jeff: That would be very good.

Kim: How many compressors do you need to run the ventilation system if you've got 80,000 colonies or 20,000 colonies, those sorts of things? They're probably available in these resources you just mentioned, but you're right, if you could standardize them in one place so everybody was using the same thing, that would help. I can see, I wouldn't know where to start and how big does this unit have to be to ventilate this thing? 3 times an hour or 10 times a day or whatever the recommendations are. That would be a good piece of paper to have.

Jeff: You start with Google. The start of very research project is Google.

Kelly: Absolutely. Yes.

Jeff: And Wikipedia. It's been a pleasure having you back on the show and look forward to having you back in. Even a possibility if you're to WSBA, Washington State Beekeepers Association meeting later this fall, even chatting with you then.

Kelly: Oh great, yes, I'll be there. I'll be there.

Jeff: Very good.

Kim: I guess just one other thing is you begin to develop a standardized thing for indoor wintering. When you're close, let us know and we'll talk to you again and share some of the things that you found that you didn't know today.

Kelly: Great. Yes, that sounds great.

Jeff: All right. Thanks a lot and we'll talk to you soon.

Kelly: Okay. Thank you very much, guys. Talk to you later.

Kim: Thanks, Kelly.

Jeff: It was fun to get reconnected with Kelly to find out the everything that's going on in Washington State. It's fun to know that Kelly is working on that problem as well and will be helping them, beekeepers, through the extension program.

Kim: She's been there all week and now, I guess she was there before she got her promotion to assistant professor. She hasn't been there a long time, but she seems pretty involved in the both giant hornet program and indoor wintering.

Jeff: The indoor wintering, as we've talked to John, I'm surprised how big it's become. I shouldn't be, but it is fun, exciting to see how fast it's grown and how important it is.

Kim: Well, from a beekeeper's perspective, it is incredibly cost-efficient. If I put 2,000 colonies in and then I come up back out with 1,950 of them, I'm going to be a lot better off than 2,000 colonies sitting up in the snow someplace.

Jeff: I think it's fantastic. It's a great program and of course, as we pointed out in one of our episodes with-- That's probably with John is that beekeepers have been keeping bees inside. It's not a brand-new development. They've been keeping them in the winters in cellars and storage for many, many years.

Kim: Yes, and caves and what have you. Well, the facilities that we're using now and they're getting more complex every winter, but they can control the temperature to half a degree and CO2 and humidity almost that well. From a bee's perspective, I'm in heaven and from a beekeeper's perspective, I'm going to be come on in pollination.

Jeff: I'd to go visit one of those facilities one of these days too. It would be interesting.

Kim: I was in one in Idaho several years ago, in the summer. It was essentially empty.

Jeff: Kim, this is Pollinator Week. Happy Pollinator Week.

Kim: Well, it's a double anniversary, if you will, for us. How long we've been doing this now?

Jeff: Well, this is beginning of our fifth year.

Kim: First show the fifth year? We've been doing this for five years? What do we do, about 50 a year?

Jeff: Well, in the last couple of years, we've done 50, 52 a year.

Kim: You can do the math on how many times we've done this. I need to sit down, I'm tired.

Jeff: [laughs] They said we wouldn't last, look at us now. It's really good. It's exciting. The show, the podcast has grown through the support of our listeners and our sponsors. I want to take this moment to appreciate everybody who's joined us on this journey and made this podcast as the success that it is.

Kim: We've got a big audience and we've got sponsors who like what we do because it must be working for them. For me too, thank you to all of you.

Jeff: Well, that about wraps it up for this episode. Before we go, I want to encourage our listeners to rate us five stars on Apple Podcasts, wherever you download and stream the show. Your vote helps other beekeepers find this quicker. Even better, write a review and let other beekeepers looking for a new podcast know what you like. You can get there directly from our website by clicking on reviews along the top of any webpage.

As always, we thank Bee Culture, the magazine for American beekeeping for their continued support of Beekeeping Today Podcast. We want to thank our regular episode sponsor, Global Patties. Check them out at globalpatties.com. Thanks to Strong Microbials for their support of this podcast. Check out their probiotic line at strongmicrobials.com.

We want to thank Betterbee for their longtime support. Check out all their great beekeeping supplies at betterbee.com. Thanks to Northern Bee Books for their support of bee books, old, new with Kim Flottum. Check out all of their books at northernbeebooks.co.uk and finally and most importantly, we want to thank you, the Beekeeping Today Podcast listener for joining us on the show.

Feel free to leave us comments and questions that leave a comment section under each episode on the website. We'd love to hear from you. Thanks a lot, everybody.

Dr. Kelly Kulhanek Profile Photo

Dr. Kelly Kulhanek

Assistant Professor, Washington State University

Kelly has a B.S in Molecular Environmental Biology from UC Berkeley. She completed her Ph.D. in Entomology in Dr. Dennis vanEngelsdorp’s Bee Lab at the University of Maryland. During her Ph.D. she worked with the Bee Informed Partnership to study beekeeping management practices, colony health and survival.

She joined the WSU Bee Program in the Hopkins Labas a postdoctoral researcher in 2020 and recently began a new role as Assistant Professor. She plans to build a program based on regular communication with Washington stakeholders, and to address needs such as locally specific best practices for bee management and crop pollination, and extension programs that will put the latest research into the hands of stakeholders.