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July 12, 2021

Honey Bee Health Coalition: Part 2 - Pests and Predators (S4, E4)

Honey Bee Health Coalition: Part 2 - Pests and Predators  (S4, E4)

We continue this week exploring the work of the Honey Bee Health Coalition we started on the March 29th. The HBHC has several goals, tasks and programs it is pursuing and the one we are exploring today, with Dr. Dewey Caron, Representing the Western...

We continue this week exploring the work of the Honey Bee Health Coalition we started on the March 29th, Season 3, Episode 44, with Matt Mulica. The HBHC has several goals, tasks and programs it is pursuing and the one we are exploring today, with Dr. Dewey Caron, Representing the Western Apiculture Society and Mary Reed, Texas Apiary Inspector and Secretary to the HBHC organization. Together they represent the Pests and Predators arm of the Hive Management group.

DeweyMary ReedOf course, Varroa, and the viruses they transmit, are at the top of the list, and Dewey and Mary have several suggestions to help beekeepers handle this pest. First, certainly, is sampling for mites often enough, and then acting on the results of the sample just taken.

Another aspect of the HBHC actions is a concerted effort, working with the USDA’s Animal, Plant, Health Inspection Service, APHIS, looking for pests that are not yet in the US, and to make sure they find them before they become established. They are drawing up the fundamentals for this right now so they know what to look for, and what to do when and if they do find any of these invasive pests, before it’s too late.

Perhaps what’s really an eye opener for beekeepers, is what climate change is doing, and going to do to bees and beekeeping and the plants both need to stay in business. They are looking at honey bee nutrition and climate change, and what will extreme weather events do to how, and where bees can be kept. They are also looking into what changes can we expect in the environment because of all this.

Dr. Dewey Caron, and Mary Reed and the Honey Bee Health Coalition. Don’t miss this one.

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

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:

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 ensure 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 and let them know you appreciate them sponsoring this episode! 

We want to also thank 2 Million Blossoms as a sponsor of the podcast. 2 Million Blossoms is a quarterly magazine destined for2 Million Blossoms your coffee table. Each page of the magazine is dedicated to the stories and photos of all pollinators and written by leading researchers, photographers and our very own, Kim Flottum.


We hope you enjoy this podcast and welcome your questions and comments:

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

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Podcast music: Young Presidents, "Be Strong"; Musicalman, "Epilogue". Original guitar background instrumental by Jeff Ott

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

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S4, E4 – Honey Bee Health Coalition: Part 2 - Pests and Predators with Dr. Dewey Caron & Mary Reed



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.

Introduction: 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 brood production and overall honey flow. Now is a great time to consider what type of patty is right for your area and your honeybees. 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

Jeff: Hey, everybody. Each week we get to talk about how much we appreciate our sponsors' support. They help make all of this happen and provide us the ability to bring you each episode. With that, thanks to Bee Culture Magazine for continuing their presenting sponsorship of this podcast. Bee Culture has been the magazine for American beekeeping since 1873. Subscribe to Bee Culture today. We also want to thank 2 Million Blossoms as a sponsor of this episode.  2 Million Blossoms is a quarterly magazine dedicated to protecting all pollinators. Learn more on our Season 2, Episode 9 podcasts with editor Kirsten Traynor and from visiting, and that is with a number two.

Also, check out the new 2 Million Blossoms podcast, we're Behind. It's also available on her website or from the 2 Million Blossoms website and from wherever you download and stream your shows. Hey, Kim. It's been a wild time here in the Pacific Northwest. Weather's just-- we're melting here, man.

Kim: Oh, I was thinking you guys should be above medium rare right now after the last couple of weeks, right?

Jeff: I think just stick a fork in us, we're done. Turn us over. This last week actually, in all honesty, it's been back down to normal weather, but 10 days ago, we were over 100. How do bees handle that heat?

Kim: Well, most people's bees are going to be bearding in weather like that. The more you can do to provide some cool environment for them, the better they're going to be. Putting them in the shade if you can, or dumping water on the cover, if you can, or if you've got an insulated cover, try that. Anything you can do to make the colony cooler because they spend a lot of energy cooling the inside of the hive, moving air in and out and a lot of time wasted hanging on the front of the hive.

Jeff: Tip back, I have regular telescoping covers. I tipped those back and when it gets really hot, I even pop up the top or the front of the inner cover just to get that heat out of-- give it a better room to escape. I suppose, pull the sticky boards on the screen bottom boards so that it gets more airflow through too.

Kim: That helps.

Jeff: That seems to reduce the bearding on the front of the hive.

Kim: Whatever you can do to make it better for them. If you've got a regular cover on, you got an extra pail of water, cool that cover off. Just dump it on and cool off, let it run down the sides of the hives. It's just whatever you can do. These are going to make it through, but it's tougher when it's hot, tougher for the beekeeper too.

Jeff: How's the Honey Bee Obscura coming along?

Kim: We're doing good. We just did one on the road. Jimmy was on the road and he took his equipment and he set it up in someplace that he hasn't set it up before us. We tried it and we're going to let you decide how well it worked. It seems like it worked pretty good. We were talking about hot bees and not the kinds that are angry, but like you and I were just talking about what do you do with hot bees? Let us know how it worked. If it didn't work, we'll do it again.

Jeff: No, I'm sure it'll be fine. You guys are pros at this point. The Honey Bee Obscura Podcast that you guys produce on a regular Thursday morning release basis. They're really fun shows. They're short, 10, 15-minute explorations of all things honeybees. You guys have been talking together for quite a few years and it really shows in these podcasts.

Kim: Actually, we were just talking about that. The last show that we did, we've been doing basically this for 33 years. We've known each other and we just been talking bees and that's what we do. We just talk bees.

Jeff: That's good. I encourage our listeners if you haven't listened to Honey Bee Obscura yet, make sure you go out to the website, and listen there, or you can go find and subscribe to the podcast from wherever you like to listen to your show, whether it be Apple Podcasts, or Google Podcast, or Spotify, or Stitcher, or-- man, you guys are everywhere. So are we. We're everywhere. We're everywhere!

Kim, each week we talk about our sponsors and how grateful we are for our sponsors. One of the things that that sponsorship affords us is the ability to provide transcripts to our listeners of each episode of Honey Bee Obscura and now Beekeeping Today Podcast.

Our listeners, if you like transcripts and/or you know beekeepers who can't enjoy podcasts because of their hearing difficulties, the transcripts are now available to read along as you listen to a podcast or to go to the website and read, and you can hear word for word, everything we say. You've taken a look at our transcripts, haven't you Kim?

Kim: Yes. The transcript service that you found does a good job. They're fast. We get a good turnaround, and they just got rid of that, uh. So good.

Jeff: We give a virtual wave to our transcriber. Appreciate all the hard work they do because I know there's quite a few, uhs and, ums, and those pauses that they help out with. Listeners, if you get a chance, take a look at the transcripts and encourage your beekeepers who might benefit from transcripts to take a look at the website as well. Kim, I know it's the middle of July, but looking forward at the fall and now that things are opening up, I shouldn't say post-COVID, but now that things are opening up, going into the fall, bee conferences that are coming up, and we have one coming up the first weekend in October there in Medina.

Kim: Jerry's got a program coming up. It's his October event and it's a be diverse. If you take a look at Bee Culture Magazine or go on the webpage, you can see. I want to say there's 15 speakers. He's got a bunch of people covering all sorts of aspects, perspectives, experiences in beekeeping from state inspectors, to scientists, to people involved in research and university level. It's going to be a good two days. I'm looking forward to it.

Jeff: The title is Being Diverse: Inspiring Leaders in Beekeeping. They're all women, and researchers, and leaders in the beekeeping industries, two of which we've had on the show, Tammy Horn Potter, who's been on a couple of episodes, recently a couple of weeks ago talking about her new book and also Dr. Sue Colby originally from Ohio State University, but now she's out here in a wonderful state of Washington. She'll be talking about queen rearing. It sounds like a great program. October 1, 2, 3 in Medina. There is limited space if I remember right.

Kim: The room is only so big. When they first started putting this together, COVID was still on the horizon. Maybe going to be an issue. We think by October, that's probably not going to be an issue, but still, the room's only so big.

Jeff: Go to our website, we'll have a link to the Ohio Bee Conference of BEEing Diverse and/or go to the Bee Culture Magazine website and/or the Bee Culture Magazine itself to find out more information. Coming up, we have Dr. Dewey Caron returning to the show, this time representing Honey Bee Health Coalition, and Texas Bee April Inspector, Mary Reed, who will be talking about their work on the predators and pests and work the Honey Bee Health Coalition is doing in that field.

Kim: I hope people are using the information that these people are putting out there for free. If you do what they say, I think, we would have canceled Varroa quite a while ago. They've got a very detailed management plan, but management for all sorts of things that deal with honey bee health. They've done a good job, they've put diverse people in the same room, and not let them out until they solve the problem. It's really, really been effective.

Jeff: I'm looking forward to talking with them. In fact, let's get them on the show right away, but first, a quick word from our friends at Strong Microbials.


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Jeff: While you're at the Strong Microbials' site, make sure you click on the link to subscribe to their regular newsletter, The Hive, full of useful information and product updates. Welcome back, everybody. Sitting across the table from us, virtually, our long-time contributor and friend of the podcast Dewey Caron, and our new guest, Mary Reed. Welcome to the podcast.

Mary Reed: Thank you. Thanks for having me.

Dewey Caron: Thank you, Jeff.

Jeff: You bet. Thank you for being here.

Kim: It's good to have you guys here. Just for our listeners' information, Mary Reed is the current secretary of the Apiary Inspectors of America. You are the Texas Apiary Inspectors, is that correct?

Mary: Yes, that is correct.

Kim: Good. Then Dewey Caron, of course, represents WAS on the Honey Bee Health Coalition Board. He lives in Portland, Oregon. He's a longtime contributor to everything beekeeping in this country, I think. At the moment, he is writing the Beekeeping Basics column for The American Bee Journal, so he's a little bit everywhere all of the time. Welcome, Dewey. We're glad to have you back.

Dewey: Thank you, Kim. I am glad to be back.

Jeff: He's everywhere like Google is.


Kim: I've heard as smart as Google, too.

Dewey: Yes, every once in a while we get the right answers. So that works.

Kim: Both Mary and Dewey are on the board of the Honey Bee Health Coalition, and they represent two factions or two factors of the board. What we're going to do today is have them explain what they're doing and what they hope to accomplish in the near future with the Honey Bee Health Coalition. We've talked about them before. I hope you've had a chance to visit their website. It is spectacularly full of information, and they're just going to keep adding to it. Dewey, start off with what you guys are going to be doing new.

Dewey: Okay, thank you, Kim. I met Matt Mulica who is with Keystone, our facilitator, talked about overall about the Honey Bee Health Coalition in a previous podcast, and I hope you had a chance to catch that. What we'd like to do today is zero in on some of what we are trying to accomplish with this coalition. The coalition is over 50 different members from all sectors of our industry and our industry and the industry that we serve, both in pollination, services with our bees, and in our food products. I am representing Western Agricultural Society, one of about five regional groups of beekeepers associations. I have been serving on a task force that we call Hive Management.

Hive management, when we were established, looked at what's happening to bees, what's going on with bees. We quickly zeroed in, of course, in aspects of Varroa and the transmission of viruses. What we set out to do initially was to offer the best information, scientifically based that we could, about varroa and about diseases and about pests, in a format that is readily accessible, and in a useful summary-type format of the best of the basic information. We developed tools for varroa management, initially as a somewhat lengthy publication, and we since have made it easier to get to with a shorter version, that really talks about the varroa and the importance of sampling for varroa.

Determining a number, not just, "Do I have varroa in my colonies, but how many varroa are in my colonies and what might then happen if I don't do anything for the next couple of weeks and next month?" We designed then tools for varroa management as a tool to supply the information about the various options, from the use of chemicals, of synthetic materials, the organic materials to the use of non-chemical approaches, starting with the very basic of the genetic material, of the stock that you use on through tools that you can use, techniques that you can use to try to keep a handle in terms of varroa in bee colonies.

Jeff: One of the nice things you have on the website, the Honey Bee Health Coalition for the Varroa Management, is a decision guide for helping the beekeeper to decide what product they want to use on their colonies, whether or not they're more focused on natural beekeeping versus not natural or using synthetic chemicals versus natural approaches. Then time of year, whether there's honey supers and where there's not honey supers, and gives the beekeepers options. That's a very useful tool for those trying to find an answer.

Mary: Yes, sorry to interrupt you Dewey, but I just think that's a fantastic tool for beekeepers to use. I often encourage beekeepers, even if they say they've monitored for varroa mites and they see that there's an issue, still play around with that tool. I encourage beekeepers to try out different hypothetical scenarios to see what your results are going to be, because that decision tool, you're just answering five questions based on the status of your hive, and that really helps narrow down what your options are depending on the time of year and what your hive is doing.

Jeff: Yes, it's really useful. I've told people to go there and check it out on multiple occasions.

Kim: One of the things that I found when I was looking at that is, even if you're fairly comfortable with what you want to do with varroa management, those five questions will sometimes bring up something you've forgotten. I found that useful. Yes, go to the webpage, look at those questions and you will have a lot better luck with varroa.

Dewey: One other feature we did with that is we actually recorded some videos. If you, for example, never, ever used the synthetic Apivar, the amitraz product, there is a video on it in terms of-- short but to the point of what you need to do and how you could do it.

Kim: Speaking of amitraz, Have you heard of any issues with that compound?

Dewey: When we rely on a single chemical compound as our major tool to control a pest, and we know this from all the ag background, that eventually there are going to be some issues with it in terms of how it is mixed, how it is applied, when it is used, a number of different aspects. We know that with four previous materials that we have used, chemical materials that we've used for control of varroa, the mites themselves have developed resistance. We are expecting that they will develop resistance to this tool because it is, amitraz is used by the vast majority of beekeepers.

We suspected this all the way back as it started replacing the earlier compound that was so very useful, the fluvalinate, the Apistan product. So far, we find some inconsistencies in some bee operations. The data seems to imply that there might be the beginning of the development of resistance of the mites to this newest tool.

Kim: That's not good news, certainly. Probably better news would be being able to not have to use any of those chemicals, but as long as we do, keep using the ones that are most effective in rotation, I guess, right?

Dewey: Yes. Most of our materials that we've tried to make available for beekeepers from the Honey Bee Health Coalition do emphasize an Integrated Pest Management or IPM approach. That does basically try to utilize materials or approaches that are non-chemical and try to hold down the development of the pest population, in this case, the mites and our varroa, our varroa mites in our been colonies. Then we have the tools, the more powerful tools such as chemicals, available when the population exceeds a level, a level that, for our be colonies, that means it will be causing some damage, some economic damage that can be measured.

What we have, of course, with varroa mites, are the shortening of the adult bee lives. The fact that the varroa mites are facilitating the transmission of the virus, particularly the Deformed Wing Virus, the DWV. We need to keep a very heavy lid on their population increase as the season progresses so that by the time these are preparing for winter, by raising those overwintering bees, in August and September, the mite levels are not so excessive that we're starting to start losing brood, as well as the shortening of the adult life of the bees, the host itself.

Mary: One factor that I like to include in any conversation about IPM, especially when we're talking about varroa management is the key is to monitor rather than relying on the time of year as far as your treatment schedule. Knowing what's actually going on in your hives and what those mite levels are, are going to tell you a whole lot on whether you need to do any type of intervention or not.

Kim: From your perspective, Mary, what's a good monitoring schedule, how often?

Mary: Well, I think that's heavily reliant on what operation you run, whether you're a small scale, a sideline, or a commercial beekeeper, it's going to be different on what your monitoring schedule may be. The Honey Bee Health Coalition recommends in our guide a minimum of four times a year. I specify spread that out throughout the year. Don't do January, February, four months in a row. Do the four seasons at minimum. If you're-- For small-scale beekeepers, they can probably get out.

I like to do, for me, for my few hives that I have, I'll do once a month, because that gives me a better idea of how my mite levels are changing over time. Whereas a commercial, they may, depending on what they do within their operation for honey production or pollination, they probably can't be doing every month, but there may be key points throughout the year where they can monitor and step in if they need to.

Jeff: Mary, this is off the wall, but not off the wall, but off tangent, the inspection program in Texas, is that focused primarily on the commercial operations or is it hobbyist as well?

Mary: Our inspection service here in Texas, we only have four inspectors for the whole state. As a result, we focus our inspections primarily on our migratory beekeepers for our annual inspections, but we cater to any beekeepers. Even if you have one hive in your backyard and you want an inspector to come out, give us a call and we'll schedule an inspection with you. It's just that we do not typically seek out those smaller-scale operations like we do with our migratory beekeepers.

Jeff: The inspections for commercial versus a backyard beekeeper, do you have-- what's the preferred method of monitoring? Are you using IPM boards? Are you using sugar rolls, alcohol washes?

Mary: That's a great question. I think that is that's going to vary based on your operation size and then also your management preferences. To me, I think alcohol washes are the easiest option for a commercial operation, just because it's so quick to do that type of sampling. Whereas other beekeepers that are at a smaller scale, they may not wanting to do an alcohol wash, but there are other options such as a powdered sugar shake. The sticky board can give you an idea of what your mite levels are. Things like sticky board and drone, looking through drone brood, it can give you an idea. It won't be as accurate as something like a powdered sugar shake or an alcohol wash.

Regardless of what sampling technique you use, I encourage beekeepers to be consistent with it. If you're using, let's say powdered sugar shake in the first half of the year, but then you want to switch to a sticky board, that's not going to give you the same-- You can't compare those results. It's better to just stick with doing a powdered sugar shake throughout the year so you can compare your mite my levels throughout the year,

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Kim: Well, varroa, of course, dominates the scene for almost everybody, but you mentioned pests and diseases, and that's only one, while two, varroa and the viruses. What else, how else are you looking at? What other pests and diseases are you looking at?

Mary: Coming from an Apiary inspection perspective, my office, as well as other similar programs in the US primarily look for foulbrood disease, that's either American foulbrood and European foulbrood. Those are two diseases that are typically considered regulated diseases in every state. If those diseases are found in the honeybee hive, then extra steps are taken to mitigate the problem. With all the other passing diseases, issues that can pop up in a honeybee colony, we are also keeping an eye out for those sorts of things as we're conducting an inspection. At least here in Texas, if we see something like, say chalkbrood in a hive, we'll just let the beekeeper know that we saw this disease and that they may want to take certain steps to try and clear that infection up.

Kim: You mentioned, you mentioned foulbrood, and of course, that's what I was alluding to earlier, but one of the things that Jim too, and I were talking about on our other podcast, Honeybee Obscura is what are the options when foulbrood is discovered? It used to be burning, that was it, but is that still the case everywhere?

Mary: Generally, for every state or most states, that's going to be, unfortunately, the ending solution, just because it is the most effective way of getting rid of American foulbrood. At least here in Texas, for our inspections, if we suspect American foulbrood, what we will do is collect samples, and we can do the infield testing and we can do testing in our lab, but then we'll also send it off to the USDA for third-party analysis. That yard will be quarantined in the meantime. If there is a positive identification done, then those hives unfortunately do need to be destroyed.

Kim: That actually brings up another question that I hadn't thought about, but states that don't have inspection services or have very limited inspection services. I'm a former colony hobbyist, and I look at a situation and I suspect American foulbrood. I've got sunken cappings, but I don't have any of the ropey and I don't have hardly any symptoms. I said, "Okay, I got to solve this. I'm going to send a sample to the Beltsville bee lab. What's the turnaround time for information on that? Do you have a fee for that?

Mary: Do you mean as far as getting results from the USDA?

Kim: That's a good question. The USDA Beltsville lab does provide this great service to beekeepers on processing foulbrood samples for free. Their turnaround time is a little bit slow. I'm not sure what the turnaround time is exactly currently. I do know that they had to pause over-- Due to COVID, they had to pause on accepting samples. They now have started accepting brood samples, I believe. Don't quote me on that visually. I may not be remembering that correctly, but I'm sure they have information on that. They now are accepting samples again, but it's going to be probably a slower turnaround time.

Dewey: Kim, Oregon is one of those states that has discontinued their program, where I am now, and it goes back a long time, all the way back to '92. We've had a scare here with foulbrood being perhaps distributed through packages and nucs-- Not packages, I'm sorry, through nucs. A number of beekeepers now start by buying nucs rather than purchasing packages. We are the largest state in terms of blueberry acreage, which for reasons we don't fully understand, often lead to conditions where colonies are very heavy with European foulbrood. Filling that void in Oregon, the state university, Oregon State University, their bee lab does accept samples from Oregon beekeepers within the state, as a backstop to the Beltsville bee lab, and they're sending there.

What we lack and, of course, a sample from center Beltsville lacks is the fouls. They will tell you what was in the sample, but then not information in terms of what the regulations in the state may be to how, okay, now you have that or you hopefully don't have it, it's negative, but then what do you do? That's where programs such as Texas where Mary is are rather different than states in Oregon where we don't have that regulatory backup to follow-up on the disease.

Kim: It's a mess sometimes. When I'm talking to new beekeepers is ask four times and get the answer that you don't have to make sure that you're going to be safe.

Jeff: Wait until you get the answer you want to hear. Yes, they agree. Someone agreed with me, so I'm right. Two pests I want to ask about Mary or Dewey is one is a small hive beetle because we don't have it here in Washington State yet, at least not in my part of Washington State around Olympia. The second is way back in the '90s, there was the whole kerfluffle about the tracheal mite. Is that still an issue? Has it disappeared? Is it there but not a problem? What's the current thought on that?

Mary: As far as tracheal mites go, it's considered relatively a non-issue at the moment, just because we don't see the populations of tracheal mites that we once saw. It's not something that inspection services look for actively. We're aware of what symptoms can develop, but we just have not been seeing the symptoms that are typically associated with tracheal mites. As far as small hive beetle goes, yes, it's highly dependent on where you're located in the US, or even within a state, on whether small hive beetle is going to be an issue or not. Here in Texas, you can be on the eastern side of the state, and you'll see small hive beetles everywhere, just because it's in a moist environment and they love that. Whereas the western side of Texas, it's a rocky desert, and that's not ideal for small hive beetles.

What I tell for beekeepers is it's good to be aware of small high beetles and put some-- It doesn't hurt to put some trap inside your hive to control the adult stage, but generally, it's considered a secondary pest. It will not kill or be the reason for the downfall of your hive. It usually becomes a problem when your hive is weakened for some other reason. The other thing that I've noticed over the years is that beekeepers really like to focus on controlling the larva stage of small hive beetle, but to me, when you're starting to see small high beetle larva in your hive, you are way past the point of return, unfortunately, so just think about controlling the adult stage. Keep a good, strong, healthy colony, and you'll be fine.

Jeff: A true definition of a pest.

Dewey: I'm sorry that's where the IPM comes in by doing that monitoring. The traps actually, to try to detect the adults are very inexpensive, very easy to use. Here in Oregon where we do not see them consistently, but when I see them get in it, when they get into an operation, then they stay, they consistently find them afterward, continuing down the road. It's really, again, monitoring, back to the monitoring, to get the adults before you then get the larva, that's trading all the damage to try to determine you have adults so you need to do something before that damage. You see the damage.

Jeff: Very good. Thanks.

Kim: Basic common sense there, but sometimes it gets forgotten. That's pests and diseases. I know you guys have a good handle on that and you're continuing to monitor these things, looking at it, new innovations and new products and new techniques, but what else are you guys looking at?

Dewey: One of the things that Honeybeen Heath Coalition is looking at is trying to facilitate the search for additional chemicals that might have activity the mite. We have helped facilitate some funding. There are studies on candidate materials that are going on in the US, Canada, and in Europe, and a group that is joined together. We're going to need eventually a replacement for the amitraz, and it may come from this exploratory work that's being done that's, in part, supported by the Honey Bee Health Coalition.

Kim: That sounds good. I'm glad somebody is continuing to look out for my best interest. I couldn't think of better people to do it. I saw something there, you guys were looking at what, was it biosecurity? What's that about?

Dewey: We've talked about IPM and monitoring ahead of time. We're very complacent with our livestock, with our honeybee colonies. We'll go into a colony and then immediately go into another one. We'll have two or three counties open at the same time. We'll transfer frames from one to the other. This is particularly in large-scale of the commercial and sideliner beekeepers, but even our backyard beekeepers. Bee biosecurity is looking at really a couple of different aspects. One is, as we've discussed, Texas has very strong regulations and enforcement about bee diseases and looking for things that might come in, but Oregon has none of that. There is a national effort led by the US Department of Agriculture by a unit called APHIS, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

They are charged with looking for exotics, things that we don't now have in the US. They have partnered with many states, Texas, and Oregon, and all over 30 states. They are doing samplings of apiaries in the state and looking for the first line of defense, looking for and ensuring that some of these exotic, things that we do know about are not yet into bee population. That's Part 1, keeping things out that we would like to keep out. Then the second is once something is in the US, such as occurred with tracheal mites and varroa mites, and the most recent one has been the Asian giant hornet, seeking efforts to better define where that population is and what the direct threats might be to our bee colonies.

That's where it be biosecurity by each and every individual beekeeper comes in because we can do a better job in trying to keep these common pests, such as the foulbrood, and the very serious pests, such as varroa, from being widespread infecting all of our colonies by taking some basic security measures to help confined or potentially confined an evasive or of the pest that we already have to a smaller number or a limited number of the colonies or to the apiaries in which we keep our colonies.

Jeff: From a practical standpoint, that would be perhaps-- How would you do that? Is that beyond different tools for different yards and booties and everything for different yards? Or what are you talking about specifically for a beekeeper?

Dewey: Mary, they deal with the beekeepers in Texas in terms of tracheal mites coming in and how they have to deal with varroa. Perhaps, Mary, you'd like to try and start with an answer on that.

Mary: For your question, are you asking what specific tools?

Jeff: I'm sorry, I wasn't very clear. Just in terms of the biosecurity of an apiary, how would a beekeeper go about doing that? We've talked generally about protection and everything, but how-- if I go to my yard this afternoon, what can I do to better protect my beehive from any contaminants or diseases, pest or disease?

Mary: First and foremost is just being aware of what possible issues can arise related to honeybee health. Really that is the most tangible item that a beekeeper can grab hold of, it's ensuring the best that they can that their hive is healthy. Whether from a nutrition perspective, making sure they have a healthy productive queen in there, making sure that the pests and disease levels are low, and making sure their apiary is tidy, believe it or not, that goes a long way. I also encourage beekeepers to, every time they open up their hives, is to go into the brood chamber and look at what is happening in that brood chamber. The activity in that part of the hive, we know how the larvae is looking, how the cappings are looking, how the queen is doing.

That's going to tell you so much about how productive your hive is going to be, how successful your hive is going to be. If there are any issues arising, then hopefully the beekeeper can prevent or control.

Jeff: Okay. Thanks.

Kim: Definitely good advice. Look at the brood nest. What have we missed guys?

Dewey: There there's one other issue that we've now decided the Honey Bee Health Coalition probably needs to focus a little bit more on, and that is looking at the whole picture. As a hive management task force, we've been looking at the hive, and looking at the past in the hive, and developing our tools for varroa management and best management guide for how you would handle security issues between apiaries within hives, et cetera. Looking further down, and we're looking at replacement varroa sites as indicated as well. Looking at the road, it is often things that are beyond our apiary gate that seemed to be issues related to how successful our industry is.

Success here being measured by having colonies strong enough to provide pollination service, which has now become the major income earner for our large-scale beekeepers, but also for honey and the security of producing clean residue-free product by our side liners and our small-scale beekeepers as well. We've focused on the issue of perhaps looking at better biosecurity for our bees, but also what's happening to the plants that are available, the nectar and pollen that bees relying on. One of the factors that seem to be an issue with that is climate change. We are starting to focus in terms of bee nutrition. What is happening to the bees? When they go into blueberry pollination, they come out worse.

When they go into watermelon pollination, the colonies go downhill and come out from that pollination event in worse shape than when they went in. The big eater is doing everything that he or she might want to do to have good, strong colonies to provide that pollination service, but something is happening in that particular event. Climate change may or may not be. Factors we have looked in terms of, for example, a study done on the East Coast where a rise in Co2 affects the level of production of nectar from goldenrod, which is a plant that bees are heavily relying on and overwintering on. We know, with climate change, one of the factors is temperature changes, but also changes in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, as well as violent events or more prolonged events or more serious rain events, for example, or drought that may occur.

Our bees are not isolated, they're very much dependent on what's going on in the environment. One of those things that is going on is climate change. We're starting discussions in terms of how could our efforts and an integrated method of looking at bees with a Honey Bee Health Coalition, how can we try to get a better handle on what climate change might or might not be doing? And then what might be some mitigation? What can some beekeepers do if their bees are being more directly affected by changes in the climate?

Kim: Well, when you solve that, let us know, will you? We could use that information sooner rather than later. I think one of the other things you mentioned is drought, and of course, two-thirds of the West just dries the bone, and then you have forest fires. All of that is outside the apiary until it isn't, and then you've got a real problem. Jeff, we got anything else?

Jeff: No, my head hurts. There's a lot of information here. No, it's always a pleasure, Dewey, having you on the show. Mary, it's been very nice to meet you. Look forward to having you back, a lot of be things happen in Texas, we need to hear more.

Mary: Thank you. I had a lot of fun chatting with all of you.

Jeff: Thank you.

Kim: Mary, thanks. Dewey, good to talk to you again. Both of you, I hope we can get you back again.

Dewey: Thank you.

Mary: Definitely.

Dewey: It's a pleasure.

Jeff: I really enjoyed having Mary and Dewey on the show. The Honey Bee Health Coalition does such great work and they're not very well known.

Kim: That's surprising. Again, I encourage people to visit the webpage and use the tools they have on there. Those five questions they have are, like I said, spectacularly effective in rooting out any problems you may be having. Jeff, did you ever think you'd be having a discussion about climate change in beekeeping?

Jeff: No, I haven't. It's amazing.

Kim: It makes perfect sense.

Jeff: Oh yes.

Kim: The environment dries up, plants don't grow. The bees got nothing to eat, or it rains all the time and the plants don't grow and the bees got nothing to eat because they couldn't fly there anyway. I see the issues.

Jeff: Talking in California, all the water restrictions and everything else, and wonder how that's going to affect. I don't know, but I wonder how that's going to affect all the growers in the Central Valley, and ultimately the Almond people.

Kim: It's up in your neighborhood too. You're having water issues, Washington and Oregon and-

Jeff: All the apples and pears and peaches, and then you have all the seed crop down in Oregon. It's a big deal. It's amazing. It's a global issue. I'm glad that we're looking at it and I hope that I can help the beekeepers be better prepared.

Kim: As I sit here, I'm looking out the window at the third day of rain in a row. I'd love to share some of it with you.

Jeff: You convert a cubit down to a board foot yet? How many Cubit? Yes, this is a great series. I'm glad we're able to do this series of shows episodes on the Honey Bee Health Coalition. We had our first one, the introduction to the Honey Bee Health Coalition with Matt Mullica, and this was Dewey and Mary on the predators, pests, and pestilence. We're going to continue exploring the Honey Bee Health Coalition in future episodes, about one a month. Folks, check back and learn more about the Honey Bee Health Coalition.

Kim: Just learn more.

Jeff: Yes. Go out to their website. I recommend it.

Kim: Yes, exactly. All right. This wraps it up, Jeff?

Jeff: Yes, that does, that wraps it up. Before we go, I want to encourage our listeners to rate us five stars in Apple Podcasts or wherever you download the stream to show. Your vote helps other beekeepers find this even quicker. Folks, really get those reviews out there. We really need some written new reviews of folks that have sent out reviews. They're great. New reviews are always better. Anyways, it helps beekeepers looking for a new podcast know what you like. You can do that directly on 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 the Beekeeping Today podcast. We want to thank our regular episode sponsor, Global Patties. Check them out at We also want to thank Strong Microbial for their support of the podcast. Check out their probiotic line at

We want to thank Betterbee. Check out all their beekeeping supplies at Finally, really most importantly, we want to thank you, the Beekeeping Today Podcast listener for joining us on this show. Feel free to send us questions and comments. Questions at, we'd love to hear from you. Anything else you want to mention, Kim?.

Kim: I think that about wraps it up. I've had enough climate change for one day.

Jeff: All right. Thanks a lot, everybody.

[00:51:00] [END OF AUDIO]


Dr. Dewey CaronProfile Photo

Dr. Dewey Caron

Author, Professor Emeritus

Dr Dewey M. Caron is Emeritus Professor of Entomology & Wildlife Ecology, Univ of Delaware, & Affiliate Professor, Dept Horticulture, Oregon State University. He had professional appointments at Cornell (1968-70), Univ of Maryland (1970-81) and U Delaware 1981-2009, serving as entomology chair at the last 2. A sabbatical year was spent at the USDA Tucson lab 1977-78 and he had 2 Fulbright awards for projects in Panama and Bolivia with Africanized bees.

Following retirement from Univ of Delaware in 2009 he moved to Portland, OR to be closer to grandkids.

Dewey was very active with EAS serving many positions including President and Chairman of the Board and Master beekeeper program developer and advisor. Since being in the west, he has served as organizer of a WAS annual meeting and President of WAS in Salem OR in 2010, and is currently member-at-large to the WAS Board. Dewey represents WAS on Honey Bee Health Coalition.

In retirement he remains active in bee education, writing for newsletters, giving Bee Short Courses, assisting in several Master beekeeper programs and giving presentations to local, state and regional bee clubs. He is author of Honey Bee Biology & Beekeeping, major textbook used in University and bee association bee courses and has a new bee book The Complete Bee Handbook published by Rockridge Press in 2020. Each April he does Pacific Northwest bee survey of losses and management and a pollination economics survey of PNW beekeepers.

Mary ReedProfile Photo

Mary Reed

Texas Chief Apiary Inspector

Mary Reed, currently the Chief Apiary Inspector for the Texas Apiary Inspection Service (TAIS), came to Texas in the summer of 2014. Mary joined the TAIS team first as an Apiary Inspector and served in this role for almost four years before becoming the Chief at the start of 2018. Prior to joining TAIS, Mary worked at the University of Florida Citrus Research and Education Center researching citrus greening. Mary holds a degree in Entomology from the University of Florida.

In addition to the responsibilities of the Chief Apiary Inspector role, Mary also manages the Texas Master Beekeeper Program. She has also served as the Secretary of the Apiary Inspectors of America for the past five years. Finally, Mary is an active member of the Honey Bee Health Coalition where she has contributed to the development of several industry tools and resources.

Texas Master Beekeeper Program:
Apiary Inspectors of America: