Light pollution is key ‘bringer of insect apocalypse’ Art

Light pollution is key ‘bringer of insect apocalypse’
Exclusive: scientists say bug deaths can be cut by switching off unnecessary lights

Published by The Guardian

Damian Carrington Environment editor

Fri 22 Nov 2019 04.13 ESTLast modified on Fri 22 Nov 2019 19.00 EST

Thousands of moths swarm around floodlights
Thousands of moths swarm around floodlights. Artificial light at night can affect every aspect of insects’ lives, the researchers said. Photograph: Simone De Peak/Getty Images
Light pollution is a significant but overlooked driver of the rapid decline of insect populations, according to the most comprehensive review of the scientific evidence to date.

Artificial light at night can affect every aspect of insects’ lives, the researchers said, from luring moths to their deaths around bulbs, to spotlighting insect prey for rats and toads, to obscuring the mating signals of fireflies.

“We strongly believe artificial light at night – in combination with habitat loss, chemical pollution, invasive species, and climate change – is driving insect declines,” the scientists concluded after assessing more than 150 studies. “We posit here that artificial light at night is another important – but often overlooked – bringer of the insect apocalypse.”

However, unlike other drivers of decline, light pollution was relatively easy to prevent, the team said, by switching off unnecessary lights and using proper shades. “Doing so could greatly reduce insect losses immediately,” they said.

Brett Seymoure, a behavioural ecologist at Washington University in St Louis and senior author of the review, said: “Artificial light at night is human-caused lighting – ranging from streetlights to gas flares from oil extraction. It can affect insects in pretty much every imaginable part of their lives.”

A dung beetle pushing a ball at night.
A dung beetle pushing a ball at night. Photograph: National Geographic Image Collection/Alamy Stock Photo

Insect population collapses have been reported in Germany and Puerto Rico, and the first global scientific review, published in February, said widespread declines threatened to cause a “catastrophic collapse of nature’s ecosystems”.

The latest review says: “Insects around the world are rapidly declining. Their absence would have devastating consequences for life on this planet.”

There are thought to be millions of insect species, most still unknown to science, and about half are nocturnal. Those active in the day may also be disturbed by light at night when they are at rest.

The analysis, published in the journal Biological Conservation, notes that light has long been used deliberately by farmers to suppress insects. But as human infrastructure has expanded, and the cost of lighting has fallen, light pollution has come to affect a quarter of the world’s land surface.

The most familiar impact of light pollution is moths flapping around a bulb, mistaking it for the moon. One-third of insects trapped in the orbit of such lights die before morning, according to work cited in the review, either through exhaustion or being eaten.

A privet hawkmoth in flight at night in Hungary
A privet hawk moth in flight at night in Hungary Photograph: Blickwinkel/Alamy

Recent research in the UK found greater losses of moths at light-polluted sites than dark ones. Vehicle headlights pose a deadly moving hazard, and this fatal attraction has been estimated to result in 100 billion insect deaths per summer in Germany.

Artificial light also hinders insects finding a mate in some species, the review found, most obviously in firefly beetles, which exchange bioluminescent signals during courtship.

Some insects use the polarisation of light to find the water they need to breed, as light waves line up after reflecting from a smooth surface. But artificial light can scupper this. “Mayflies live for only one day, so they come out and look for polarised light. They find it – but from asphalt – lay their eggs there, and they all die. That’s a good way to knock out an entire population in 24 hours.”

The development of juvenile insects, such as field crickets, also has been shown to be affected by light pollution, which changes the perceived length of the day and night.

The review found the search for food is affected by light pollution. Insects that avoid light, for example weta, the giant flightless crickets found in New Zealand, spend less time foraging in light-polluted areas.

Insects are important prey for many species, but light pollution can tip the balance in favour of the predator if it traps insects around lights. Spiders, bats, rats, shorebirds, geckos and cane toads have all been found feeding around artificial lights. Such increases in predation risk was likely to cause the rapid extinction of affected species, the researchers said.

The researchers said light pollution is particularly hard for insects to deal with. Most human-caused threats to insects have natural analogues, such as climate change and invasive species, meaning some adaptation may take place. But the daily cycle of light and dark had remained constant for all of evolutionary time, they said.

However, light pollution was the easiest of all the threats to insects to deal with, Seymoure said. “Once you turn off a light, it is gone. You don’t have to go and clean up, like you do with most pollutants. I am not saying we need to get rid of light at night, I think we just need to use it wisely.”

Thousands of dancing fireflies in Japan.
FacebookTwitterPinterest Thousands of dancing fireflies in Japan. Photograph: Kei Nomiyama/Barcroft Images

Simply turning off lights that are not needed is the most obvious action, he said, while making lights motion-activated also cuts light pollution. Shading lights so only the area needed is illuminated is important, as is avoiding blue-white lights, which interfere with daily rhythms. LED lights also offer hope as they can be easily tuned to avoid harmful colours and flicker rates.

“The evidence that light pollution has profound and serious impacts on ecosystems is overwhelmingly strong,” said Matt Shardlow, the chief executive of the conservation charity Buglife. “It is imperative that society now takes substantial steps to make the environment safer for insects.

“A national light-reduction target, enforceable in law, would be the most appropriate next step.” He said new UK government light-pollution guidance failed to take into account the insect decline crisis.

Prof Nigel Raine, a pollination expert at Guelph University in Canada who is not involved in the review, said: “Light pollution could have significant ramifications at the insect population, species or community level.”

He said more attention should be paid to the issue by scientists: “But it might be too soon to say the impacts are as significant as other stressors.”

Seymoure’s team said there had not been more research on light pollution and insects because of diurnal bias – a preference among ecologists for studying daytime phenomena.

Deformed Wing Virus Genetic Diversity in U.S. Honey Bees Complicates Search For Remedies


By Kim Kaplan

BELTSVILLE, MARYLAND, October 24, 2019—Deformed Wing Virus (DWV), one of the leading causes of honey bee colony losses, is much more genetically diverse in the United States than previously thought, according to a study published by Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists in PLoS Biology.
The diverse lineages of this virus are all equally bad for bees, and they make it more complicated to develop antiviral therapeutics, which could be the basis for developing a vaccine for the virus.

The high level of genetic diversity was found among the virus population within individual honey bees as well as within bee colonies. About nine percent of the nucleotides in DWV’s RNA have polymorphic variants (places in the genetic sequence with natural alternatives) that are present at numbers higher than half of one percent of the virus population. This corresponds to 100 million to 1 billion virus copies for any single divergent genetic position in an infected individual bee.

“We found the genetic makeup of DWV in the United States is showing marked expansion in diversity after going through a strong bottleneck event, probably the arrival in the United States of the Varroa mite in the 1980s. Varroa seems to cause a dramatic loss of DWV genetic diversity in honey bees, because transmission by the mites favors a few more virulent strains,” said virologist Eugene Ryabov, an International Fellow with the ARS Bee Research Laboratory, who led the study. ARS researchers Jay Evans and Judy Chen also worked on this study.

“Differences in the genetic sequence of virus highlight the importance of analyzing DWV in different locations in the United States and in other countries so we will be able to track how the virus evolves,” Ryabov said.

This study employed a new reverse-genetics system for the first time that makes it possible to assess the virulence of United States DWV populations. This required making a series of cloned DNA copies of DWV RNA variants. DWV naturally has only RNA which allows more copies of each variant to be made. By infecting honey bees with these cloned DWV variants individually or in combinations under laboratory conditions, the researchers can track which variants are virulent.

The discovery of these high levels of genetic diversity indicates the job of developing new treatments or a vaccine targeting DWV is going to be much harder than scientists previously thought.

With a divergent virus population such as in the United States DWV, there are likely to be variants already present in the population with the potential to not be affected by any genetic sequence-specific treatments. What was a minor fraction of the virus population could then quickly become predominant once the targeted variants are eliminated.

“For now, the best thing that beekeepers can do to cut the amount of damage from DWV is to limit virus levels by treating for and reducing exposure to Varroa mites, which spread the virus,” Ryabov said.

Reprinted from ABJ Extra October 24, 2019

How NPR, Washington Post, Bloomberg and other media botched reporting on EPA’s ‘ban’ of 12 ‘bee-killing’ neonicotinoid insecticides

Cameron English, Jon Entine | June 5, 2019

If recent headlines are the measure, advocacy groups making thea case that bees are endangered because of the misuse of pesticides just scored a significant victory. On May 20, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that after a 6-year-long legal battle with anti-pesticide activists, it endorsed a voluntary withdrawal of 12 insecticides by a group of agri-chemical companies that a coalition of environmental groups had blamed for causing health problems in bees.

George Kimbrell, Center for Food Safety legal director and lead counsel in the case against the EPA, immediately claimed that the settlement represented a massive victory in support of his claim that neonicotinoids (aka neon’s) are ‘harmful, toxic’ chemicals.screen shot at am

According to the post:

[The] cancellation of these …. pesticides is a hard-won battle and landmark step in the right direction,’ said …. Kimbrell …. ‘But the war on toxics continues: We will continue to fight vigilantly to protect our planet, bees, and the environment from these and similar dangerous toxins.

Unsurprisingly, CFS acolytes like Care2 crowed in its headline and blog about the success of activist groups in bringing American regulators to heel. VICTORY! EPA Cancels 12 Bee-Killing Pesticides, Care2 wrote on its social community site:

The environmentalists, food safety organizations and beekeepers spent the last 6 years holding the EPA accountable for its lack of diligence in preventing or addressing bee Colony Collapse Disorder and to demand that the EPA protect livelihoods, rural economies and the environment.

screen shot at amThe onslaught of activist stories got the activist tort machine in gear, as ambulance-chasing attorneys with deep ties to CFS began their solicitations. Food attorney Bill Marler’s oxymoronically-named Food Safety News headlined its article: “Center for Food Safety wins in case to force EPA to ban 12 neonicotinoids.”

Claims that bees and our planet are endangered by ‘dangerous toxins’ aside—we will address that—Kimbrell’s casting of the court agreement as a victory for anti-pesticide campaigners almost immediately became the narrative angle parroted by much of the mainstream media. According to reports that flooded the Internet, many sprinkled liberally with claims from CFS, the EPA had moved to ‘ban’ a class of insecticides that environmental activists blame as the key driver of bee health problems.

[Read the GLP profile on the Center for Food Safety]

Most media outlets apparently didn’t even bother to contact the EPA to find out what in CFS’s news release was accurate and what was self-serving spin. Business Insider’s Aria Bendix told readers, The US just banned 12 pesticides that are like nicotine for bees. Bloomberg reported, EPA Curbs Use of 12 Bee-Harming Pesticides. According to Washington Post energy reporter Dino Grandoni,”EPA now blocks a dozen products containing pesticides thought harmful to bees. The respected publication The Scientist headlined its article, EPA Cancels Registrations for 12 Neonicotinoid Pesticides, noting in the first line:

Out of concern for bees, the Environmental Protection Agency announced on May 20 that the registrations for 12 neonicotinoid-based products used as pesticides in agriculture would be canceled…

What did the EPA say and do
Not one of those articles, or dozens of others that popped up on news sites across the world, accurately represented what the EPA actually said or the actions that it took. The EPA brokered a settlement between activists and companies that manufactured the pesticides: Syngenta, Valent and Bayer. As the agency noted to the GLP in an email, this action amounted to a voluntary withdrawal; there was no ‘cancellation’ initiated by EPA and no ‘blocking’ of products as has been widely claimed. The EPA also rejected the claim made by Kimbrell that the 12 named neonicotinoid insecticides pose significant harm to bees as The Scientist and many other media outlets claimed; in fact in an email exchange with the Genetic Literacy Project, the agency took pains to underscore that no research supported that allegation.

There are two approaches for cancelling pesticide registrations under federal law: voluntary cancellation of a pesticide product or use and pesticide cancellation under EPA’s own initiative. Voluntary cancellations are by far the most common. Cancellation under EPA’s own initiative [which did not occur in this case] begins when the Agency has identified unreasonable adverse effects from registered uses, and the registrants have not made necessary changes (to the extent changes are possible) to the terms and conditions of the registration to address the unreasonable adverse effects. EPA has not identified unreasonable adverse effects associated with the 12 voluntarily cancelled products.

Biased or botched representations from fringe environmental groups is standard operating practice. That’s not surprising. After all, professional protestors often promote an ideological agenda even if it conflicts with science. They sometimes do get the science right. Often their bottom line is whether its position on an issue serves its institutional interests, helps with fund raising or otherwise stirs its activist base.

The most disappointing twist in this sad tale is that Kimbrell’s spin spurred many reputable journalists and globally respected news organizations to fumble the story, acting more like enablers rather than skeptical inquirers with a commitment to truth, ideology be damned. Perhaps we are pinning for ‘old school’ journalism. In this case, many reporters imply parroted the claims in news releases sent out by anti-pesticide ideologues, such as CFS, distorting what the EPA and the presiding judge actually decided in this case.

Self-celebratory comments from Kimbrell aside, an expensive multi-year court battle initiated by environmental activists to try to force the EPA to ban or heavily restrict neonicotinoids on the basis of their alleged harm ended with a whimper—an affirmation by the judge in the case that there is no evidence that the pesticides cause demonstrable harm. No ban was ordered. The ‘perpetrating’ companies voluntarily agreed to halt the marketing of 12 of the least used neoncotinoids that they sold in the US.

Related article: Food labeling: Should environmentalists be pro-GM?
A balanced reading of the EPA’s action is that the brokered settlement was a major blow to activist anti-neonicotinoid efforts. The voluntary agreement was reached on the basis of what amounted to a technical process violation: the EPA had failed to consult other federal agencies in what is a truly byzantine process before it originally approved 59 neonic insecticides. The various companies involved in the settlement agreed to withdraw 12 of the approved neonics. Two aren’t even sold in the US and five were never commercialized. Most of the rest are barely in use. The court pointedly rejected the plaintiffs’ argument that neonics threaten pollinators. The effective impact on the companies and on farmers who rely on these insecticides: essentially zero.

How the case against the EPA targeting neonics unfolded
With the Center for Food Safety acting as point litigant, several high-profile environmental activist groups and beekeepers alleged in a 2013 lawsuit that the EPA had failed “to protect pollinators from …. the bee-killing pesticides clothianidin and thiamethoxam ….” They demanded that the agency suspend 59 products that contain either of those active ingredients. The two chemicals are part of a class of widely used insecticides known as neonicotinoids (aka ‘neonics’) that activists blame for ‘massive bee die-offs,’ what they have dubbed a ‘beepocalypse.’

[Read the GLP’s FAQ Are GMOs and pesticides threatening bees?]

The CFS and its coalition claimed that the EPA violated the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) and the Endangered Species Act (ESA) by failing to perform full ESA effects determinations on clothianidin (CLO) and thiamethoxam (THX). The activist group demanded the agency do ‘full effects’ studies on every single product containing these two substances and suspend all products containing them until the studies were complete. If it had been ordered, such an undertaking would have required years of regulatory review and resulted in an effective ban, which is the CFS master strategy: use (or abuse) the legal system to gum up the works.

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Seeds coated with a neonicotinoid insecticide
In May 2017, the court ruled for the EPA on the FIFRA claims and for CFS on the ESA claims. It ordered the parties to reach a settlement. The EPA agreed to ESA consultations by June 2022 as part of its already scheduled review since pesticides have to be periodically re-registered by law. As a result, instead of doing separate determinations for each product as the plaintiffs had demanded, EPA will more rationally do them all at once for the two active ingredients (i.e. one for CLO and one for THX). The ruling was a huge setback for CFS. Neither the courts nor the EPA backed activist group claims that neonics are especially harmful to endangered species.

Echoing comments sent to the GLP by the EPA, the judge in the most recent ruling explained that CFS “… did not identify any evidence that might show an imminent hazard existed.” Note that the

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Rusty patched bumble bee, an endangered species activists climb is threatened by neon’s
EPA subjects all pesticides to extensive testing before registering them, paying special attention to how the chemicals could impact pollinators and endangered species. Nothing presented by the coalition raised questions about this extensive review process and its findings.

The activists’ ‘success’ in this multi-year charade, as much it was, was based on a process technicality: it was determined that the EPA had failed to consult the US Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service before registering the 59 products containing the neonicotinoids clothianidin or thiamethoxam.

In fact, the 12 insecticides were eagerly agreed upon by the manufacturers because they had limited commercial value. Neonic manufacturers Bayer, Syngenta and Valent initiated the cancellations of their 12 products to facilitate the settlement; the EPA did not ‘ban’ them as various headlines have claimed.

“This notice announces EPA’s order for the cancellations, voluntarily requested by the registrants and accepted by the Agency,” as the federal regulator explained on May 20. Bayer likewise noted in a statement:

Though not defendants, Bayer and several other companies intervened in that lawsuit in defense of the critical tools involved. After court-ordered settlement talks, [in 2018] all parties reached an agreement whereby Bayer and several other companies agreed to the cancellation of a total of 12 minor registrations, all of which have little or no commercial significance.

What does the science say? NPR reporting was most egregious
From a legal perspective, the settlement was a thumping defeat for CFS and a victory for mainstream science. But with the help of credulous journalists, CFS turned an embarrassing ideological stumble into a PR victory. Most media outlets framed this story as capitulation by the EPA and major chemical manufacturers.

Coverage by one of National Public Radio’s flagship stations, WBUR, was arguably the least credible. The On Point segment, hosted by NPR’s Meghna Chakrabarti, featured Bloomberg reporter Adam Allington, and Aimee Code, a spokesperson for the environmental activist nonprofit Xerces Society. Listeners following the story online were greeted by this headline and summary when they clicked on the story:


Conspicuously absent from WBUR’s ‘expert panel’ was even one entomologist or chemical expert to speak to the science of pollinator health and pesticides. Chakrabarti acted more like cheerleader than critical commentator. She frequently encouraged her two primary guests to endorse the activist case that neonics pose unique harm to bees and the environment.

Allington and Code did acknowledge that bees face a variety of threats beyond pesticides. But according to Allington, an ‘increasingly solid body of science’ backs up the campaign to ban neonics. Chakrabarti also did not challenge Code when she made her unsupported argument that “…. we have a growing body of science that is showing significant concern with these chemicals for pollinators and a number of endangered species.”

Those ‘sky-is-falling’ claims are just not accurate, according to entomologists. Many independent experts don’t even rank pesticides among the top 10 threats to pollinators. Topping the threats to bees are the virus-transmitting varroa mite. [Read GLP’s special section on Bees & Butterflies: Facts about pesticides and pollinators to learn more]

As the GLP has reported, honeybee populations are growing, including in North America, where hive numbers recently reached their highest levels in more than two decades. Bumble bees are not in danger of extinction. World beehive numbers are at an all time high.

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The number of beehives worldwide has been rising almost continuously for the past 50 years, according to FAOSTAT. There are nearly 22 million more beehives in the world now than in 2000–an increase of 31%.

NPR did not allow for any dissident, more-science based voices. The only contrary perspective was offered by North Dakota corn and soybean farmer Carson Klosterman, who was given a few minutes to weigh in. He emphasized that neonics help control devastating pests on his farm and that bees face far more serious health threats, including from transportation over long distances. The biggest threats to bees—varroa mites, chemicals used to control them and fungi—were not mentioned.

Allington and Code wrapped up the segment by taking audience questions; Klosterman was allowed to respond to one question. Code got the last word, arguing that we need to “shift our system dramatically” by moving away from chemical pesticides and toward regenerative agriculture, which is the popular, emerging code phrase re-branding of organic farming. This transition to organic farming, if it should occur, would have no beneficial impact on bee health, as many of the ‘natural’ chemicals used to control varroa mites and fungi are actually more harmful to bees than neonics.

The imbalanced segment did serve one major purpose—to reinforce the unscientific and factually inaccurate claim by anti-pesticide advocacy groups—that, as Allington put it, the settlement “…. could pose a significant hurdle for EPA and the pesticide makers.” That’s just not accurate.

What happens next
Far from immediately banning the insecticides, the EPA determined that the manufacturers could sell their existing stock of these products until May 2020. EPA also said retailers can sell these insecticides until supplies are exhausted. “Consequently …. farmers are likely to have access to these twelve products for another year or two,” attorney and GLP board member Drew Kershen noted in an email to the GLP.

The settlement also included a joint notice of ‘dismissal with prejudice,’ which means the activist groups cannot bring these particular claims in perpetuity; the litigation is fully resolved. The plaintiffs also agreed not to bring litigation of any kind involving CLO or THX for five years. In sum, the case will not prevent US farmers from utilizing neonics, and that is unlikely to change even after the EPA performs the effects studies.

CFS’ press release mentioned none of these key aspects of the settlement. The Washington Post, Bloomberg and WBUR acknowledged that the cancellations were voluntary, but did not contextualize any of these other important details. Only a few news outlets grasped the flimsy nature of the CFS ‘victory’.

One of the other plaintiff’s in the lawsuit, Beyond Pesticides, had a more sober take than did CFS of what 6 years of expensive litigation accomplished: Activists got in the settlement far less than what they had wanted—”a compromise solution with, at best, weakly protective impacts”.

With the help of a compliant media, however, CFS will continue to pursue its scientifically and ethically challenged PR strategy, one that has become the norm in the highly politicized media world that we now live in: Lies are recast as truth and losses are declared ‘landmark’ wins. Asserted enough times and echoed by sympathetic commentators in a shared ideological media bubble, this strategy might just continue to yield huge, if cynical, dividends.

Cameron J. English is the GLP’s senior agricultural genetics and special projects editor. Follow him on Twitter @camjenglish

Jon Entine is the executive director of the Genetic Literacy Project. Follow him on Twitter @JonEntine

The GLP featured this article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion and analysis. The viewpoint is the author’s own. The GLP’s goal is to stimulate constructive discourse on challenging science issues.

Know Your Beekeeper _”First Fake Manuka Honey Producer Prosecuted”

The benefits of unprocessed Truly Local Honey far out weigh the use of Manuka Honey.  The Marketing of this honey is highly overrated.

21 March 2019

in an unprecedented case, Auckland-based health company, Evergreen Life Ltd has been prosecuted by New Zealand Food Safety for adding to its products sold as “Manuka Honey” synthetic chemicals, including an ingredient which is not designed for food but commonly found in tanning lotion to give skin an orangey-brown colour.

Evergreen Life was ordered to recall 18 Manuka honey products in 2016, following reports by New Zealand’s Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) that it had used unapproved artificial methylglyoxal (MGO) and dihydroxyacetone (DHA) in their processing and production. The two chemicals occur naturally in Manuka honey; DHA originates from the flowers of Manuka bushes and converts within the honey into MGO, the chemical that possesses the highly sought after and prized antibacterial properties.

manuka honey fake or real image

Manuka honey producers use the DHA and MGO levels to grade and price their honey, along with the Unique Manuka Factor, or UMF. The more the DHA, the higher MGO, so manufacturers can add artificial DHA to increase the strength of weak Manuka honey and sell it for a higher price. A jar of Manuka honey can be sold for up to NZ$500. Synthetic DHA is also able to alter the colour and taste of an ordinary honey to make it perform like manuka honey. Tests are available to differentiate between artificial and naturally occurring DHA and MGO, but they are exorbitant and hence not routinely conducted.

In a Manuka gold rush, the total value of New Zealand’s honey exports shot to NZ$348m in 2018. And reports have suggested that up to half of honey sold worldwide as Manuka honey is fake. In 2017, the Ministry for Primary Industries introduced a scientific definition to test the authenticity of Manuka honey before it is allowed for export, boosting the confidence of consumers in purchasing genuine Manuka honey.

According to the Evergreen Life’s website, its Manuka honey is sold internationally to countries including the United States, Australia, Canada, Singapore, Korea, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Indonesia and China. The company now faces a total of 71 charges for tampering and adulterating honey by including synthetic MGO and DHA in its honey. It is expected to contest the allegations. The most severe of the charges carries maximum penalties of five years’ imprisonment or a NZ$500,000 (£265,000) fine.

News Source: The Guardian

Other Related Pages

1. Why does Manuka honey command such an exorbitant price? Find out in: The Miraculous Manuka Honey.

3. Confused by the activity ratings of Manuka UMF, Active, Total Activity, MGO, and NPA? Read: Manuka UMF and Other Activity Terms Explained

2. What is the real deal about UMF Manuka honey? UMF Manuka Honey And Its Big Price Tag

The Winter Solstice



Historical Honeybee Articles – Beekeeping History

The Winter Solstice has been observed as an important date in beekeeping for over 2000 years.
Join us at: Historical Honeybee Articles – Beekeeping History
Read more to find out what the ancients have to say about winter and bees.Aristotle says in Historia Animālium (History of Animals) Book IX
circa. 4 B.C.

“In healthy swarms the progeny of the bees only cease from reproduction for about forty days after the winter solstice.”


Pliny the Elder says in Naturalis Historia (Natural History)
circa. 77 – 79 AD

“From the winter solstice to the rising of Arcturus the bees are buried in sleep for sixty days, and live without any nourishment. Between the rising of Arcturus and the vernal equinox, they awake in the warmer climates, but even then they still keep within the hives, and have recourse to the provisions kept in reserve for this period.”

As we look out into the morning light this December Day, you can feel the “girls” sensing that it is time to rise to the occasion and begin to prepare for the 2019 season.  “The girls did well this past year and have produced two variations of Wildflower Honey – ARDEN HILLS GOLD & SOLSTICE – recognized by the GOOD FOOD AWARDS 2019 as nationally  ranked finalists…”go girls”


We need to thank and frequent those Eateries  and Local Markets that support true FARM_TO_FORK food providers  as ToBee Young Apiaries.

PRESS RELEASE The Good Food Awards 2019 San Francisco

Finalist 2019 Seal

The Good Food Foundation is proud to announce To Bee Young Apiaries is one of 15 double finalists for 2019 in the Honey Category. We are located in the “urban forage zone of Sacramento ’ and are providers of “Truly” local honey found at at Elliot’s Natural Foods, Corti Bros., Taylor’s Mkt, Plant Foundry, & The Olive Mix. These fine eateries also use ARDEN HILLS GOLD & Solstice Wildflower Honey in their food preparations – La Bonne Soupe Café, Backbone Cafe, Matteos Pizza & Bistro, Thai Basil, Elite Bakery, and The Rind.

The Good Food Awards celebrate the kind of food we all want to eat: tasty, authentic and responsible. The 401 products and finalists rose to the top in a blind tasting of 2,035 entries by 262 bakers, makers, farmers, Beekeepers and chefs; then passed a rigorous vetting. Now in its eighth year, awards will be given to winners in 16 categories: beer, charcuterie, cheese, chocolate, cider, coffee, confections, elixirs, fish, HONEY, oils, pantry, pickles, preserves, snacks and spirits. The Good Food Awards Seal assures consumers they have found something exceptionally delicious that also supports sustainability and social good. The Winners will be announced on Friday, January 11, 2019, at the San Francisco War Memorial & Performing Arts Center.

The Good Food Awards is organized by the Good Food Foundation, formerly known as Seedling Projects, in collaboration with a broad community of food crafters, grocers, chefs, food writers, activists and passionate food-lovers. The Good Food Foundation is also the organizing force behind the Good Food Guild,  Good Food Mercantile and Good Food Merchants Collaborative




Bedtime Golden Milk

In ancient folklore, honey bees were believed to be bringers of wisdom and good luck. In addition, because they work all day long, they are associated with hard work and diligence. No matter how mythical these beliefs are, there’s no doubt the hard work of honey bees brings us honey, and pollinates one-third of our food supply. Thank the honey bee this week for guiding you through finals week. Good luck, students!
Read: ‘Legends and Lore of Bees’
A Sweet Recipe: Honey Golden Milk
Scientists suggest that consuming foods with high amounts of tryptophan can help you sleep and relax your nerves. It is believed that honey contains tryptophan. Good rest and sleep are essential for memory and higher functionality. Have a warm drink before bedtime with this Honey Golden Milk Recipe.

1 cup milk
2 teaspoons honey, plus additional to taste
1 1/2 teaspoons almond butter
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
Optional additions: tiny pinch ground black pepper, ground cardamom, or ground cloves

Combine the milk, honey, almond butter, vanilla extract, cinnamon, turmeric, ginger, and any optional spices in a small saucepan. Heat over medium until warmed through, whisking briskly so that the almond butter does not stick to the bottom and the spices incorporate. Remove from heat before boil.
Original Recipe: Bedtime Golden Milk

Sowing Strips of Flowering Plants Has Limited Effect on Pollination

Published by ABJ Extra-April 9, 2018

“To determine the impacts of flower strips on pollination, scientists placed pots of strawberry plants or field beans in fields with or without strips of flowering pollinator plants. At flower strip sites (left circle), one group of pots were placed adjacent to the flower strip and one group of pots in a field border at the same study site; at control sites without flower strips (right circle), one group of pots were placed in a field border. Pollination was compared across the sites.
Strips of wildflowers dotting fields is visually attractive and provides much needed forage to bees. But does it actually increase pollination of nearby agricultural crops? Turns out that it depends on the scale and diversity of the farm. Researchers at the Centre for Environmental and Climate Research at Lund University have studied how pollination varies in different agricultural landscapes, by placing pots with either wild strawberry or field bean in field borders. Plants that were placed in a small-scale agricultural landscape, with pastures and other unploughed environments, were better pollinated than plants in landscapes dominated by arable land.

The researchers also investigated how sown flower strips, i.e. flower plantings which farmers often create to benefit pollinators, affected pollination in the different landscape types. In landscapes dominated by arable fields, pollination increased adjacent to the flower strip. A few hundred meters further away, however, the sown flower strips had no effect on the pollination of wild strawberry and field bean. In more small-scale agricultural landscape, the sown flower strips instead reduced pollination of adjacent plants, likely because the increased amount of flowers resulted in competition among flowers for pollinating insects.

“In our study, pollination was highest in small-scale agricultural landscape, with pastures, meadows and other unploughed habitats. Wild bees are important pollinators and manage better in a landscape with a lot of field borders and other unexploited environments. In intensively farmed landscapes, where such environments have disappeared, we can increase pollination, at least in the immediate vicinity, by sowing flowering plants to attract pollinating insects”, says Lina Herbertsson, one of the researchers behind the study.

Farmers can receive financial support to implement measures that promote biodiversity, some of which may also benefit pollinating insects. An evaluation is currently underway of the EU’s common agricultural policy, CAP, which among other things regulates the support for greening measures, aimed at reducing the climate impact of European agriculture and promoting biodiversity in the agricultural landscape.

“Our study underlines the importance of carefully designing measures intended to increase biodiversity, in order to achieve the desired effect. The same measure could have different impact in different places. If we want to increase pollination in varied agricultural landscapes, it seems to be a better strategy to restore and maintain pastures and meadows, and to manage field borders in a way that favours the local flora, rather than adding sown strips of flowering plants”, concludes Lina Herbertsson.

It might be hard for bees to find randomly placed pots of strawberries or field beans. Would the results be different if it was a large row of flowering crops? We know that bees need increased forage. Other studies have shown that providing habitat and forage that blooms throughout the season increases pollinator abundance and diversity. If that pollination is provided by native bees with short foraging distances, it makes sense to put in the pollinator habitat in close proximity to the crops you want pollinated.
Read the paper:”
ABJ Extra-April 9, 2018