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Oct. 10, 2022

Project Apis m - Costco USA Scholarship Winners #2 (S5, E17)

Project Apis m - Costco USA Scholarship Winners #2 (S5, E17)

Join us for our second episode on the 2022 Project Apis m and CostCo Scholarship Awards. Students who receive this PhD Scholarship award bring new energy, ideas, and expertise to the scientists on the leading edge of bee health research. The award...

Join us for our second episode on the 2022 Project Apis m and CostCo Scholarship Awards. Students who receive this PhD Scholarship award bring new energy, ideas, and expertise to the scientists on the leading edge of bee health research. The award program supports outstanding graduate students pursuing research-based doctoral degrees in fields of enhancing honey bee health while improving crop production.

Today’s we introduce two additional 2022 winners, plus the PAm Executive Director, Danielle Downey. First up, Angela Encerrado.

Angela's research is on the impact two commonly used chemicals used in almond orchards: a fungicide, Propiconazole and an insect growth disruptor, Pyriproxyfen, on honey bee health. Next is Rogan Tokash. Rogan's research looks into the affects pesticides have on honey bees. Danelle introduces the scholarship program as well as other research and projects spearheaded by Project Apis m.

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


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S5, E17 – Project Apis m - Costco USA Scholarship Winners #2


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 honey bees. 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.

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Jeff: Thanks, Sherry, and tank you Global Patties. Each week we get to talk about how much we appreciate our sponsor 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 enabled 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. 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 - ours or another of our listeners'. Click on, leave a comment at the top of the episodes' 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?" 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. Finally, share the podcast with your beekeeping friends. Email them links or mention them at your next beekeeper meeting. Hey everybody, thanks again for joining us. We are glad you are listening because today we have another great show for you. A couple of weeks ago we talked with two of the four Project Apis m Costco USA Scholarship winners, Audrey Parish, and Chris Robinson.

If you haven't listened to that August 29th episode, I suggest you do because of the exciting research those two are doing. This week we introduce you to two of the other scholarship winners for 2022, Angela Encerrado and Rogan Tokach. Angela is here to talk about her research on the impacts of environmental pollutants on honeybee health and Rogan talks about his research on the effects of pesticide contaminants on worker bee behavior.

Also, joining this week is the executive director of Project Apis m, Danielle Downey. She's here to talk about the scholarship program and the other great work Project Apis m is doing for the honeybees and for the beekeepers. We are so inspired by the young minds at the beginning of their bee research careers. It gives us hope for the future and believes that ultimately these environmental challenges will be resolved. Speaking of challenges, do you know your mite count?

When was the last time you actually did a mite count? It is October. If you don't know and you haven't treated, it is very likely your bees will have a very rough go of it this winter, no matter what part of the country you live in. If you don't know your mite count, if you've never taken a sample, I encourage you to find a beekeeper who has and ask for their assistance or check out the fantastic resources on a honeybee health coalition's website on testing and treatment options for your bees. Whether you want to treat using natural or synthetic chemicals. We have all of that coming up, but first, a quick word from our friends at Strong Microbials.

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 or at fine bee supply stores everywhere.

Jeff: While you are at the Strong Microbial 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. Sitting with us at the virtual Zoom podcast table are two more of this year's Project Apis m Costco Scholarship Award winners Angela Encerrado and Rogan Tokach. This week we are joined by the executive director of PAm, Danielle Downey. Welcome everyone to Beekeeping Today Podcast. I must say congratulations on your scholarships.

Danielle Downey: Thanks, Jeff.

Kim: It's nice to get a chance to meet all of you in person.

Jeff: Thanks for joining us. The reason we're talking to you is we talked about a couple of weeks ago was The PAm-Costco Scholarship Program, and Danielle had brought us a couple of different guests last time, and this time Danielle's going to join us to talk to us a little bit about the scholarship program. Danielle, give us some background information on the scholarship.

Danielle: Sure. Project Apis m is an organization that began back in CCD days, so in about 2006, 2007. It came together with beekeepers and growers and researchers to fund research that is applied. Beekeepers didn't want to wait for the USDA or university labs to do work that might be relevant. They put in their own money and said, "We want these projects to happen right now." PAm does that and has become a vehicle to support research. This year we're going to pass $10 million in research funded, which is a pretty huge milestone for a small nonprofit.

We're excited about that. One of the fun programs that has come out of some of our sponsorships with Costco is a legacy program to invest in the scientists to solve the bee problems of tomorrow. We need good scientists and supporting graduate students is a good way to get these students on track to interface with industry and get on projects that are relevant and get them speaking the language of beekeeping as they learn their research and they're really excited about their work.

They're always an excellent investment and it's always really fun to get to know them and see their projects taking off. We have supported now over $1.3 million worth of scholars and that's 21 students. Many of them go on to start bee labs of their own and so it's really exciting to get to hear from Rogan and Angela today as they're just starting their bee research careers.

Jeff: A couple of weeks ago I mentioned we had Audrey and Chris on. I encourage our listeners if you haven't heard that episode of Beekeeping Today Podcast, you go back and call that up after you listen to this episode.

Danielle: Yes, so Audrey and Chris and Angela and Rogan are the scholars that we have just selected in the US this year. We also selected a couple in Canada. We've got seven scholars in Canada that we've supported and then the rest of them are in the US.

Jeff: And this is all on bee research?

Danielle: Yes. The students are selected based on their project in honeybee research.

Kim: I think you fairly well categorized it as applied research. This is information that beekeepers can use an hour from now almost. That quick it can be applied, right?

Danielle: There's a whole spectrum of research and research is a long game. Science is not fast. Certainly, when we look at projects we can gauge if it has the potential to be an applied value, and some of them are science for its own sake and we benefit from that but it's just a building block that's a lot further away from the end user benefiting. Researchers have a broad spectrum of research. Some labs just carve out their most applied piece and send that proposal to PAm because they know that's what we're interested in. We're for all the science, but we want to make sure that our dollars are invested in something that could really deliver for beekeepers.

Kim: That sounds wonderful to be perfectly honest. It is because we know we need all the help we can get out here. The more people we can get that know more than we do working for us, the better off we're all going to be. You've got two more people here today that have passed that goal and you've seen fit to reward them with further work and what they found, so why don't you introduce them and tell us a little bit about what they do and then we'll let them tell us the rest. Rogan is a recipient of two PAm scholarships.

When the original founding executive director of PAm, Christi Heintz passed away, there was a lot of support for her legacy and they showed that by donating to PAm and supporting student scholarships in her honor, which is really great. Rogan was the recipient of a Christi Heintz Memorial Award and now he's also continued and applied for a Costco award and gotten that. Angela is a Costco awardee. He's in Nebraska and she's in California. They both have pretty long and interesting histories with honey bees to talk about. They're very passionate about bees. I think we should hear from them and let them introduce themselves.

Angela Encerrado: I am originally from a small town called Juarez in Mexico. It's a border town with El Paso, Texas, if you don't know it. My history with bees goes back to my dad. We have a bee farm at outside of the city and he was pioneer beekeeper on that region because it's a desert so there's not really a lot of beekeeping happening. Most of the hives we get come from actually escaping the US into Mexico.

He would relocate them from trees or houses into our hive or like our farm in the outside. That's how we started. My background is mostly on chemistry and analytical chemistry, but I wanted to do something more applied and I wanted to match my dad's passion and my passion, which was more like science/chemistry into this project in my PhD. Joining UC Davis has helped me do this and now Costco has rewarded me with this. I'm very grateful for this opportunity as an international. I am very happy about it.

Rogan Tokach: First I want to just say thank you for having me on. My beekeeping, I'm originally from Abilene, Kansas. I actually got started in beekeeping when I was about 12 years old. A local beekeeper brought an observation hive to our just county fair and I was fascinated with the bees. I thought it was the coolest thing ever. I went back every single day and I always tried to find the queen. I'm a very competitive person so I made it into a game with myself and I had to find the queen.

After that, I just told my mom that I wanted to become a beekeeper and she didn't really buy it too much, it's a 12-year-old, of course, he wants to have new hobbies. She actually bought me the book Beekeeping for Dummies and told me if I read it cover to cover then she'd know I was serious thinking that, "Oh, it's a $20 book and then I won't have to do anything with bees ever again." I actually did read it. Then we applied for a scholarship through the Kansas Honey Producers Association and my family, my sister and I were both awarded two different colonies that we kind of started with.

I've been beekeeping ever since. In high school, I decided that I wanted to do honeybee research as a future because it was a real big passion of mine. During college, I did internships at the USGS up in Jamestown and then I went back up to Jamestown and actually worked with a commercial beekeeper to gain some aspects of that side of the business, which I found very fascinating, very interesting. Then I started my master's project here at UNL, University of Nebraska Lincoln. Then, I'm very fortunate to be able to be continuing on with my journey in honeybee research and I'll be moving to Auburn to start a PhD starting in January.

Kim: Howland will be glad to hear that you got your start with his book I'm sure. Rogan, take it from the top. What are you going to be stuying in your PhD and what background did you have to get you there?

Rogan: I originally started out as a hobby beekeeper as I just kind of labeled out, but I also have some commercial interests. Here at UNL, I'm under the advisement of Dr. Judy Wu-Smart and Dr. Autumn Smart. Right now, I'm looking at kind of some pesticidal impacts on honeybees because we had a point source pollution spot that project Project Apis m has been very kind in donating a lot of money to support some of the research that Dr. Wu-Smart is doing up there.

We had an ethanol plant that was processing some expired treated seed and all of our colonies in the surrounding area were experiencing 100% colony failure. This was a site that they had kept bees at-- previous to Dr. Who smart's term kept bees at for over 30 years and no problem. Then, this ethanol plant started processing this expired treated seed. We are seeing very high levels of neonicotinoids in the region.

My research right now kind of looks at some of those environmental impacts, both keeping bees there and seeing the effect on the behavior, but also seeing what happens when you reuse those resources from those dead outs and seeing the impact on colony functions on things such as queen rearing that you'll be seeing. That's what I've kind of been doing for my master's project, which I'm planning to finish up here in November and graduate in December.

Then, I'll be moving down to Auburn in January and I'll be starting at Dr. Jeff William's lab. He runs the bee lab down at Auburn University. I'll be doing some more of varroa mite intensified research. One of the things I'm really excited for down there is that they have the ability-- they have a lot of colonies, they have ability to do commercial kind of level research on varroa mites.

One of the things they'll be doing is potentially looking at some Amitraz resistance with varroa mites and then looking at if we are seeing Amitraz resistance which we are potentially seeing more and more as that is the most common treatment that commercial beekeepers use, seeing how we can get rid of that Amitraz resistance if we are seeing it. I haven't ironed out all the exact studies that I'll be doing down there, but I'm really excited to get down there and that's what my baseline level is for my PhD project.

Kim: You bring up a good question on what you're doing right now with imidacloprid and all of those chemicals. Has your work done anything to reduce that exposure to the bees in that area?

Rogan: What our research has kind of shown and we're showing all these colony losses is we actually got the ethanol plant shut down. That is no longer a problem, but right now we're still seeing that from that point of source contamination, it was in business for four or five years. If you look up AltEn Ethanol Plant, you'll immediately see it comes up in Mead, Nebraska.

Now, this is a problem that we're trying to educate other beekeepers on, especially in the Midwest because we don't want this kind of expired treated seed to be sent to any other ethanol plants in anywhere even in the US or around the world because as you saw with our area around Nebraska, is you see huge devastating impacts on wildlife and surrounding area. We're trying to make sure and make people aware that with this expired treated seed, if you're processing it in your area, then it's most likely going to have a detrimental impact not just to the honey bees, but also to the native bees and other wildlife.

Kim: People I would guess

Danielle: Kim, if you haven't heard about this incident, which I'm guessing you have, it is an egregious disaster. The seed was not handled the way that it should have been. This was a really bad scenario that should never happen again. Remediation is underway. I think the process of discovery that Judy has gone through and trying to get attention on this has built a consortium of scientists, interdisciplinary scientists and she's gotten the attention of politicians who have made legislative actions to close any kind of loophole and make sure this never happens again. Beyond the research on how it's affecting the honeybees, there's a whole environmental attention that's being paid to this now that she's working on this project.

Kim: I'm curious about the rest of the residue that's out there and how long that will-- because this stuff lasts quite a while in the environment. It's a good thing you got to stopped. I hope that something can be done to at least clean it up. It's a good first step for what you've done, Rogan and the varroa thing and Amitraz resistance, that is as big a problem I think almost for beekeepers because without Amitraz people begin to kind of go in a whole bunch of different directions and aren't sure exactly what they're doing or how well it should be working. You're going to be looking at the genetics of resistance?

Rogan: I'll be looking at actual in-hive resistance, but we're also working in coordination with Dr. Rinkevich's lab for the USDA down in Baton Rouge. When we do see resistant mites, then we'll be sending those resistant mite populations and the susceptible mite populations to him. Then he actually does a lot of the molecular work with those varroa mites that we get.

Jeff: We've had Dr. Rinkevich on the show in the past. Hey, this is a great opportunity to take a quick break to hear from our sponsor Betterbee.

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Jeff: Angela, your work at UC Davis in the middle of all the almond fields and the almond pollination and I bet your research has something to do with that.

Angela: Yes, you guessed correctly.


Almond is the main thing happening in California and it brings business to both beekeepers and farmers. It was just ideal for us to migrate our research focus in there. We do, however, in the future, at least the lab that I'm working in, maybe not me, but another PhD student, we want to expand into other chemicals like in hive medicines. We also want to go into water pollutants because of this synergistics effect that having talked about in the literature alot. Like the mixture of two-- Like a fungicide and a pesticide and how they can increase the toxicity of one or the other.

The lab that I'm working in wants to focus on figuring out what is guiding this synergistic effects and you have to expand to other chemicals outside only pesticides but at least for me in my PhD, I am going only for almonds and I'm going only for almond pesticide-related. As I mentioned to you before, I'm working on this huge table that's going to have all that information and hopefully in the near future we'll have a publication talking about all this synergistic effects and I'll share it with you.

Jeff: The table that you're working on would be a great cross reference for any beekeeper. It sounds fabulous. Talk a little bit about the research you're currently doing, the paper that you submitted for the scholarship program.

Angela: We're working in collaboration. My PI's name is Nicholas. He's at the Environmental Toxicology Department here at Davis. We are collaborating with Julia Fine from UCA. I believe she was in your podcast many episodes ago. In conjunction with that, we're trying to partner out with LLNL, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. The idea is that we each have expertise on-- the more the biological side on microbio with this lab with my PI.

Then, Julia has a lot of expertise on honey bees in queen nurse relationship and we want to explore that. Lawrence Livermore has this capability that would allow us to trace pesticides through a colony using isotopic labeled compounds, which is just like a fancy chemical that we could search for it in the smallest of tissues because the idea of the research is that at this point, we can see that if we give this much of a chemical to a bee, it's going to die.

We can detect it in the sources like in the bee bread, we can detect it on the nectar, we can detect it on the wax, but it's 100% of the chemical that we can detect there. Part of it is being lost within the hive structure. We want to find these small places where it's being lost and we want to see if we can detect the members of the colony which are at more risk or that are being kind of giving all these pollutants. Find the nexus within it.

Jeff: When you start talking about synergistic effects, it becomes very complicated very fast. Are you looking at only at the ingested chemicals or are you also looking at the proximity of the chemicals to say that embedded in the wax and so the queens are raised in the contaminated wax and the impact on say any of the brood that's being raised in that cell?

Angela: I can tell you that right now the experiments we're doing, it's everything's ingested. It's easier for us to control it that way to look at one individual's effect at a time, but the idea it is, if we can find this chemical in the hive, then it means that it's affecting the bees. The idea is to cross these tables of all these papers that are out there that says, "All these chemicals have been found in wax and all these chemicals have been found in honey." If we can find them there then we can for sure be certain then the bees are going to be exposed to them. We can target those exposures and put them in a more controlled environment in the lab and just look at them individually.

Kim: Angela, I have a quick question relative to how this works. When a chemical is applied to a hive and later people test the wax and they find the chemical in the wax, when that chemical is in the wax, I suppose it has to do with what chemical it is, but when that chemical is in the wax, is it released from the wax so the bees come back into contact with it? How does the contamination work such that it affects bees or does it affect bees?

Angela: The idea that we have, it's mostly that not all the chemicals is going to end up in the wax. Some of the chemical might still be in the bees in a specific tissues. Also, when it's in the wax it's in contact. It's not skin, but surface contact with the larvae, for example. We also want to see how these chemicals will affect the larvae. You don't have only one chemical in the wax, you have multiple of them. If multiple of them are going in contact with the larvae, which is pretty delicate stage of life, even in humans the babies are the most delicate, right? This is the idea of-- the chemicals are like there.

Kim: One of the things that beekeepers do most of the time is recycle the wax in their frames and they get rid of it. I always wonder where it goes, but for that very reason is that we've been told that this stuff has got some level of contamination whether it either environmental toxins or beekeeper-applied toxins, or agriculture, pesticides, and it begins to build up. What you're saying is that it builds up in there because a bee went out and visited a flower that had some of it applied, came back to the hive, walked around the hive, rubbed some of the chemical off, it was absorbed into the wax, and then it stays there to contaminate honey that's in there to damage larvae that are raised in the cells and to get onto adult bees?

Angela: You mean how he goes from the field into the wax?

Kim: Right.

Angela: Oh, I would say I'm not 100% knowledgeable of it, but from my limited chemical background, most chemicals, pesticides love fat spaces. Anything that they like to be around they're going to go to it. Wax is one of those fat spaces that they like to be around. We would be looking at wax more as this post mechanism, a self-defense mechanism of the bee to release these toxins, but not all the toxins are going to get released. That's how I look at it. Still I don't know that much about it. I still need to read a lot of papers, but yes.

Danielle: You're saying the wax is a sync or chemistry?

Angela: Yes.

Kim: That sync continues to accumulate, but is it released back into the in-hive environment?

Angela: That's a great question that we would like to address. The idea of the labeling is that you have this like a flag or a tag that you put on the chemical and then you can just trace it, you can just follow it through the whole hive. We can analyze the wax, we can analyze, I don't know, the bee breath, the propolis, and we could see how much of the chemical is ending up in there and we can make the story from the end of the source back to our original chemical.

Danielle: Angela, is it quantitative?

Angela: Yes. The idea is to do both quantitative and qualitative. My background is analytical chemistry, so that's where I'm coming from. I want to know what is in there and how much of it because the chemicals sometimes is not going to stay the same form. Sometimes it's going to break apart. Some of them are not that stable some of them are. Propiconazole, which is a fungicide we work with, it has metabolites that can be detected through the beehive. Metabolize is just a fancy way of saying the molecule is broken, the chemical is in pieces, and it's traveling different spaces.

Kim: This just gets more and more complicated, doesn't it?

Jeff: Yes.

Kim: [laughs] I'm glad somebody's looking at it because I've got to believe that chemicals that are in there. Whether they're absorbed into the wax or they've metabolized and broken down and they're still in there some places. Got to be not as good as not having any there at all. I guess the next big question is, how do we get rid of them, and can we get rid of them. or are we going to continue to throw beeswax away every couple three years because we can't get rid of them?

Angela: That's one of our main questions working with Julia. Part of our other theory of where these chemicals go, it's queen bees because they're being fed this food that's coming from the fields and it's just polluted. There are defense mechanism within Queens that is releasing those chemicals through larvae because larvae is a fat tissue. Chemicals like to go with fat. They might go in there and in this case, do we really have to be switching queens so often? Is this really a necessity? That's our area with Julia, part of the research we're doing with her.

Jeff: I'll just jump in here and say that that was one of the other scholarship award winners. Research was on the effects of the chemicals on the queen larvae. I think that's-- Audrey's Parish's research was focused on that. Might have been Chris Robinson. I don't remember. One of the two. Check out that episode.

Kim: when you're looking at resistance to varroa, I'm going to guess that part of your work is going to involve applying some kinds of pesticides to the hive, to the bees, something. How do you sort out the result of what Angela's looking at here, contaminated wax? Does that enter into what you're doing at all when it comes to varroa resistance because if you've got contaminated wax, I'm sure you've got bees that are stressed at another level and may not be able to exhibit really resistant traits, am I anywhere close here?

Rogan: Yes. That's what makes beekeeping so difficult sometimes is you have all these different factors in the hive. You have your varroa mites, you have your pesticides that could potentially damaging your colonies. I'm going to be looking at varroa mite resistance to Amitraz specifically. We'll be looking at-- there's a test that's been developed where we have bees and we place them in a cup with a apivar strip and then we see how many mite drops we get from however many bees. Then we do an alcohol wash with the bees that are left in that cup and then we see how many mites get dropped after the alcohol wash.

Then, obviously, if there's a lot of mites in the alcohol wash and there's not that many that dropped out from the apivar strip, then you're seeing that you have pretty resistant mites and you don't have that great of efficacy with your apivar strips or your Amitraz treatment. That's mainly what we'll be doing. This is a project that has already been started down at Auburn and Dr. Rinkevich has already done quite a bit of work, as has Dr. Williams down there and Dan Arel who's a current PhD student.

They've been doing quite a bit of sampling in the southeast but also up in the north and the northeast looking at potential with commercial beekeepers and looking at the commercial beekeepers and those Amitraz resistance. That's a paper that I think they're looking to publish pretty early next year hopefully. I'm going to be joining in on some of that research really looking at the resistance of varroa mites and then if we do see resistance in those yards, then what are some of those measures that we can take to potentially break that resistance?

Is it maybe just an oxalic acid dribble when they're in a cluster late in this winter season or do we have to go further to really break those resistance mechanisms that the varroa mites are showing to then get rid of that Amitraz resistance within those varroa mite populations?

Kim: You bring up an interesting test here that I hadn't thought of before, but I'm wondering if beekeepers should be considering. When you double test the Amitraz, you put bees in a jar, you put a strip in, you shake it up a little bit, wait some period of time, and then pour the bees out and see how many mites were dislodged. Then you do the alcohol wash on the bees again and see how many bees again you find. The more bees you find the first time, the better, the more bees you find the second time, not nearly as good. Should beekeepers be doing this?

Rogan: I think a lot of beekeepers honestly do this on their own because they'll do mite tests with their bees before they even do mite treatments and then they'll do mite tests after they do mite treatments. Essentially, all we're seeing is how quality was the mite treatment. Did the mite treatment even work? I think beekeepers do that a lot because obviously, they're trying to get a pretty quick knockdown with some of the different methods that they use on these mites.

What most of the time they're doing is before they even treat, they go in and get a preliminary mite count and see how many mites per 100 bees they have, and then after they're done with their treatments to make sure they know that their treatments were effective. Obviously, we still recommend going in and doing mite counts to make sure that your treatment did have great efficacy and did knock down the mite population.

Kim: Before and after treatment test is pretty common, but testing exactly the same bees is a new wrinkle that I like and I'm wondering if beekeepers are doing that and should more of them be doing that.

Rogan: I don't know if specific beekeepers are doing it. I guess you could to show exactly the same, but I think that you're honestly going to see very similar results if you treat with Amitraz and then you have very similar mite counts before you treat it, then it should be fairly obvious that you are seeing some resistance to mite populations within those bees, within those colonies. I think even if you're going through and you're not seeing that Amitraz as being that effective, I think that's having pretty much the same effect potentially as using the same bees.

Kim: To me anyway, that brings up an interesting point that I'm going to look at a little more depth of my bees this year and see what happens. I don't use Amitraz but I can get some and see how it might work using exactly the same bees. I like that approach. When you get down and you're looking at this, you're finding bees that are resistant, very resistant. Will you be involved with them after this?

Rogan: That's what we're hoping to do is that if we do find some bees with varroa mites that are resistant and we have resistant populations of those mites, we're hoping to then be involved with the beekeeper in the future and look at different treatment methods that we can go through and that's one of the great things that they have great connections with commercial beekeepers down there that if I think we're hoping to potentially design some studies working with them and seeing how we can manage those colonies with those resistant mite populations to try to get that resistance out of the population.

Kim: It sounds like you're going to become a bee breeder?

Rogan: I don't know about that so much.

Danielle: I think it's important work for IPM. Beekeepers are using the same treatment over and over and over. That's how you're going to find resistance. I think it's also a great example of the research following beekeepers saying, "Hey, my treatment didn't work," and researchers looking closer to see if that's true and why and how we can make that tool useful again and prolong its utility. We've been using Amitraz for a long time and we know that mites develop resistance and we sure don't want to lose that tool.

Angela: Rogan, can I ask you a quick question?

Rogan: Yes.

Angela: I'm curious. Do you know if there's any relation between the viral load of varroa and this resistance or is just separate statements altogether?

Rogan: That's actually a really great question and I don't know if there's a connection, but that's definitely something that could be looked at. I would assume that colonies with more resistant mites are going to show higher viral loads because you're probably going to have more mites in the population, but I don't know if the resistant mites, in particular, do carry higher virus titers comparatively, but that's a really good idea.

Angela: I'll be willing to receive some of your varroa if you ever want to send me some.

Rogan: Okay.


Kim: Well, Angela, you said you are very involved with the almond growers and the Almond Board is a very forward-looking organization in my experience. Are you going to continue working with them on your project?

Angela: Yes. Hopefully, I would say. I know when I was interviewed for the scholarship, oh, who called me? I forgot, but there's potential-

Danielle: Christine Ghemperle.

Angela: Christine wanted to come visit the lab. Hopefully, in the future, yes, we can keep this collaboration going. I am fairly new to California. I was more used to beekeeping in a small scale back in Mexico, but this is huge and California's just outstanding.

Kim: It's as big as it gets anywhere.

Angela: Yes. That's what I've heard.

Kim: Where you are. Well, what have we missed that you want to let people know about?

Rogan: I just want to say that if you have the opportunity to support Project Apis m, please do. I'm very fortunate to be a two-time recipient scholar from them. One of their first scholarship that I was awarded, it's actually continues still helping me with my master's project and actually allowed me to add a second piece onto my master's project to actually do some gene expression and hormone testing on some of my bees from that pesticide-contaminated environment that I wouldn't have been able to do without their funding. I'm very fortunate to receive some funding from them and I hope that they continue to support me in the future.

Jeff: Very cool.

Kim: Yes, very cool. Rogan, congratulations. Angela, what have we missed that you want to share?

Angela: Well, I want to say that I'm very thankful, first of all. This is great funding for me and for the lab, and also that if anybody would like to connect with our lab or discuss anything scientific, I am really looking forward to forming this science, beekeeping, and farmer relationships in California. As a native Spanish speaker, I just know I'm eager to get more involved in these conversations and if anybody has doubts and I can clarify them, that will be great, or if you can clarify all my doubts, that'll be excellent. I'll be here in Davis for at least the next three years. You can find me here. That's it. Thank you for inviting.

Jeff: To take this opportunity both for Rogan and Angela and Danielle. All of their contact information is provided in our guest profiles found in the show notes on the podcast. You want to check those out. Danielle, give you the closing comment spot.

Danielle: I think these are two great examples of the applied work that PAm wants to support. These are questions that beekeepers pay attention to. Pesticides in almonds and having more people doing good work at that Davis Lab is so important. The almonds and the honey bee nexus right out there, we need more scientists looking at that system. We need to use that UC Davis lab and the USDA lab and grow that capacity and do great work out there. Pesticides are an endless source of questions and they change all the time.

This kind of work is really important. With Rogan, the projects that he's working on, and pesticides, and also these varroa questions, again, this is our applied interest in real-time investing in these students to be a resource for our whole industry. We're excited. We're happy that you guys are doing this work, you're great investment. Thank you for helping out the bees. We think it's a great program. It's a fun part of my job to give you guys money and see you be so productive.

Kim: Rogan and Angela, again, congratulations on these awards and we wish you the best of luck in finding the answers you're looking for because we all need them. Danielle, thank you for Project Apis m and all the good work you guys are doing. Keep it up, please. Okay.

Danielle: We'll do it. We intend to. We'll talk to these guys again when they make their publications.


Jeff: Sounds perfect.

Kim: Good.

Danielle: Yes. Definitely.

Jeff: We'll keep in touch. Thanks, everybody for joining us today. We'll be watching for those future papers.

Rogan: Thanks for having us.

Angela: Thank you.

Jeff: Kim, as I said, it's really fun and energizing to hear from the young researchers. It's an exciting program.

Kim: It is. The work that they're doing is stuff we all need. They're answering questions we all have and don't have a need. I again salute PAm for the work that they're doing. The group of people that contribute to PAm certainly deserve attention. Also, all of the above, hopefully, are going to make life better for all of us.

Jeff: I think the Honey Bee industry has some great organizations working on their behalf. We have PAm here and we have Be Informed partnership. Those two organizations in and of themselves and then all the supporting organizations that feed into those are really doing fabulous work for the beekeeper and for the honey bees

Kim: Probably, to me, the greatest thing about all of this is it's our industry supporting our industry as opposed to a handout to somebody else. Now, people are making contributions because they realize the value of our industry, but our industry is out there doing the legwork, finding the answers, and getting them applied. It's a pretty neat group of people to be associated with.

Jeff: It is. I was sitting there listening to Angela and I was thinking, listening to her talking about chasing and tracking down molecules and we're talking about really small things in the wax, and then the bee lava tissue and the bee tissue. At the same time this week, we had NASA hitting asteroids with rocket ships. We live in exciting times. You can go from one extreme to the other.

Kim: I guess just be glad I'm out in Florida today. [laughs]

Jeff: Yes, all those people in Florida and our listeners.

Kim: I hope they did well or as well as could be expected.

Jeff: That about wraps it up for this episode. Before we go, I want to encourage our listeners to rate us five stars on Apple Podcast. Wherever you download and stream this show, your vote helps other beekeepers find us 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

Thanks to Strong Microbials for their support of this podcast. Check out their probiotic line at We want to thank Betterbee for their long-time support. Check out all their great beekeeping supplies at Thanks to Northern bee books for their support of bee books old, new with Kim Flottum. Check out all of their books at 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 at leave a comment section under each episode on the website. We'd love to hear from you. Thanks a lot, everybody.

Danielle DowneyProfile Photo

Danielle Downey

Executive Director

Danielle Downey, the Executive Director for Project Apis m., has been working with honey bees and the parasites that plague them for 30 years. Her background includes training and research from bee labs in Minnesota, Canada and France; beekeeper education, work with commercial beekeepers and queen breeders, regulatory work as the State Apiarist in Utah and Hawaii, and wrangling bees for TV and film. She has worked closely with the Apiary Inspectors of America, Bee Informed Project and a bee breeding project with collaborators in Hawaii, Louisiana and Europe selecting and refining Varroa resistant bees. She holds a BSc from University of Minnesota and an MSc from Simon Fraser University.

Rogan TokachProfile Photo

Rogan Tokach

UNL Graduate Student

Rogan Tokach is a current Master's student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln being advised by Drs. Judy Wu-Smart and Autumn Smart. His current research focuses on how a pesticide contaminated environment affects worker bee behavior within the hive and how re-using contaminated resources impacts queen rearing potential. He plans to graduate in December and begin a PhD with Dr. Geoff Williams at Auburn University.

At Auburn, Rogan plans on investigating amitraz resistant Varroa mite populations in commercial honey bee operations in coordination with Dr. Rinkevich and the USDA-ARS lab in Baton Rouge.

Angela EncerradoProfile Photo

Angela Encerrado

Graduate Student

Angela Encerrado is an international PhD student in the Agriculture and Environmental Chemistry group at UC Davis where she studies the uptake, disposition, and accumulation of xenobiotic chemicals in honey bee colonies, with a special focus on queen bee health and reproduction. Angela earned her BS in Environmental Science, and her MS in Chemistry at the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP), the border city to her hometown of Cd. Juarez, Mexico.

During her studies, she specialized in analytical techniques for extraction and detection of common environmental pollutants in multiple matrices (such as water, fat tissue, milk) under the mentorship of Dr. Wen-Yee Lee. Angela’s interest and love for honey bees started at a very young age when learning the basic beekeeping techniques from her father Martin Encerrado, an engineer and renowned beekeeper in the Cd. Juarez and Samalayuca regions in northern Mexico. Through her father’s work with commercial crop farmers and honey bees Angela gained an immense respect for agriculture and beekeeping.

Through her Hispanic background, Angela aims to provide a crucial link between beekeepers, scientist, and farmers in California by adding her scientific discoveries to beekeeper’s and farmer’s generational expertise. Angela aims to merge her interest for environmental science, beekeeping, and agriculture during her PhD project by bringing innovative analytical and biomolecular techniques into the honeybee health research field.

​Under the mentorship of Dr. Sascha Nicklisch (UC Davis) and Dr. Julia Fine (USDA ARS), she has access to a unique honeybee laboratory that combines the expertise of entomology, biochemistry, and environmental chemistry. Angela hopes that her work will fundamentally improve the knowledge of pesticide fate within hives and effects on honey bee health, inform novel mitigation strategies, and promote interactive communication and exchange of ideas between beekeepers, crop farmers and researchers