Enter your Alberta honey and hive products in the 2023 Alberta Honey & Hive Contest and be in the running to win over $1000 in cash prizes!
The ABC has partnered with Farmfair International to bring you the 2023 Alberta Honey Show where a panel of experienced judges will determine the cream (and liquid and flavoured!) of the crop of honey and hive products being locally produced in Alberta, by Alberta beekeepers.
There are five classes of entry plus an overall ‘Best in Show’ class that includes $500 in prize money.
Classes of entry include:
Hive Products – Personal Care: lip balm, body butter, etc.
Hive Products – Innovation: bees wax wraps, fire starters, furniture polish etc.
Each class will be awarded a first, second and third place and all winners will receive a ribbon and prize money, plus have their winning entries showcased on display at the 2023 Farmfair International event that is taking place at the Edmonton EXPO Centre from November 8 to 11, 2023.
For over 45 years, Farmfair International has been one of Canada’s top agricultural shows and Alberta’s largest beef cattle show. Exhibitors from across western Canada, gather in Edmonton each November to showcase their top livestock genetics to purebred producers, local ranchers and international buyers.
Visitors are entertained, educated and engaged with beefed-up purebred and commercial cattle shows, competitions, and clinics. Guests can enjoy a wide variety of western excitement, including stock dog trials, the Heritage Ranch Rodeo and more.
Drum rollfor all Alberta creative designers out there looking for a unique design challenge that will allow them to showcase their creative range and expertise on a sweet new medium….
The Alberta Beekeepers Commission is excited to launch a brand new creative design challenge where the winning designer will have their unique design wrapped around a drum of pure, local, Alberta honey!
Not only will you have your design and branding featured on a drum full of one of Alberta’s sweetest commodities, but the drum will then be auctioned off at our annual beekeeping event where all the funds raised will go towards supporting honey bee health and the sustainability of the Alberta beekeeping industry.
WIN A SWEET PRIZE PACK VALUED AT OVER $300!
As well as sweet bragging rights, the winning designer will also win this great prize pack valued at over $300:
Two flats of custom brewed Alberta beer, made with 100% pure Alberta honey (Buzz Buzz & After Swarm)
2 ‘Honey Bee Pollination Tour’ t-shirts
Custom ‘5 of Bees’ Len Thompson fishing lures
$100 gift voucher
And lot’s of pure, local, Alberta honey!
Sharing Alberta’s sweet side – the creative brief:
We are looking for a design that tells a unique story about the amazing, pure, local honey crafted right here in Alberta by our dedicated beekeepers and healthy honey bees.
The design can include any elements of the beekeeping/honey industry (examples include bees, beekeepers, hives, honey, forage, flowers, pollination etc.)
Drum specs: Finished size – barrel diameter 23.75″; Barrel Height: 34″. Flat Size: 38″ x 78″ (includes bleeds for wrapping around rolling hoops). Colours – CMYK.
Branding to be included: Your logo, the ABC logo, and the Mauser Packaging logo. Download logo files: ABC Logo | Mauser Logo
Entries open May 15, 2023
Entries close at midnight on August 31, 2023
To enter, please complete the form below and upload your design/s!
You may submit more than one design. You may upload multiple design submissions under one entry (to a max of 4 designs).
There will only be ONE winning design selected.
Design submissions can be in PDF, JPEG or PNG files. Low-res files accepted for for judging purposes, with hi-res print file to be provide by winner upon selection. If the file is unable to be printed to print specifications, ABC reserves the right to select another winner.
All submissions may be shared on ABC social media to promote designer and competition.
Must be 18+ to enter
All entries will be judged by our ABC board of directors (Alberta beekeepers) based on a set of predetermined criteria. Judges decision is final.
Winner will be contacted via email, and winning entry will be shared across social media and announced in the Alberta Bee News Magazine.
We have received a number of questions from beekeepers lately around BRM programs, eligibility, and Environmental Farm Plan (EFP) requirements, so we have put together the below information to help provide answers to some of the most Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ):
Q: I am a beekeeper and want to apply for AgriStability in 2023, do I have to have an Environmental Farm Plan in place to be eligible?
A: No, while there may be benefits to having a plan for your apiary, the Environmental Farm Plan is voluntary self-assessment. There is no requirement to have an EFP to participate in AgriStability.
Q: What is the deadline to apply for AgriStability in 2023?
Q: Do any other AFSC BRM products require an EFP to be eligible to apply?
A: Starting in 2025, producers who wish to participate in AgriInvest who have allowable net sales (ANS) over $1 million will need to have an EFP or equivalent environmental assessment. Work is still ongoing to determine which environmental assessments will be eligible. This change is being implemented as part of the Sustainable Canadian Agricultural Partnership.
Q: If I want to apply for AgriInvest in 2023, do I need an EFP to be eligible?
A: No, the EFP requirement comes into effect in 2025.
Q: If I want to apply for AgriInvest in the coming years, what should I be considering this year to prepare my beekeeping operation to be eligible in 2025?
A: If your operation has three-year average allowable net sales over $1 million, you will need to prepare an EFP to remain eligible for AgriInvest in 2025. Some resources which may help you include:
Q: Who can I contact at AFSC for more information?
A: For more information, please refer to AFSC.ca or use Live Chat on the AFSC website or AFSC Connect, call the Client Care Centre at 1.877.899.2372, email email@example.com or contact your preferred branch office.
By Nicole McCormick. Alberta Tech Transfer Program Technician
How can you manage honey bee viruses in your operation?
After learning about the many transmission routes of honey bee viruses, we can now use this knowledge to identify how we can effectively manage them. Unfortunately, there are currently no treatments available to help combat viral infections. Therefore, “natural”, non-chemical management must be the primary method of virus control, applying the principals of Integrated Pest Management (IPM). An IPM plan is a knowledge heavy, producer lead decision-making process, which encourages the natural control of pests to prevent disease outbreak1. There are five main components of IPM we will be focusing on throughout this article: cultural practices, monitoring, physical control, biological control, and chemical control2. Due to the lack of chemotherapies for honey bee viruses, beekeepers must lean on the other four components of IPM as they are highly relevant to viral management.
One of the main inducers of viral infection is the onset of colony stress. Some examples of these stressors are: varroa mite infestation, co-infection with other pathogens, and lack of proper nutrition3. Therefore, the management and prevention of viral infections tends to revolve around reducing colony stressors in order to keep bees vigorous. Additionally, viral management is also comprised of both minimizing transmission and reducing viral levels4. By using the components of IPM as a guide, beekeepers can implement management practices that reduce colony stressors, limit viral transmission, and in turn lower viral titers within colonies.
The final piece of this virus puzzle will focus on how beekeepers can work to reduce and mitigate viral infections within honey bee colonies. This will be done by highlighting good management practices and potential control methods that fall under each section of IPM.
Cultural management practices are currently one of the most important aspects of IPM when working to control viral diseases. Management practices to reduce colony stressors, including colony/apiary management, queen management, equipment rotation, and viral-vector management (i.e., varroa mites), are all forms of cultural management. Viruses can remain present in healthy colonies at low levels, but when the colony is put under stress, these unapparent infections can turn into overt infections (i.e., exhibiting clear signs of infection)3. Due to this, management of colony stressors is a critical factor in mitigating viral disease. All of these cultural management practices work together to promote bee health, which in turn limits viral transmission and infection levels within a colony5.
Apiary Management: It is important to select an apiary location that is surrounded by an abundance of rich floral sources during the beekeeping season5. Ensuring that colonies have access to adequate nutritional resources provides the means for fast build-up, as vigorous bees tend to have the lowest levels of pathogen infections5. Specifically in viral defense, it is important that colonies have access to a variety of pollen sources. Ensuring the availability of abundant and diverse protein and lipid sources, can help reduce the level of virus-induced mortality6. Additionally, the distance between apiaries can be very important in limiting viral transmission4. It is suggested that apiaries are a minimum of 1 kilometer apart with the number of colonies in each apiary adjusted based on the surrounding floral density, this is usually between 20-40 colonies per apiary4. This will help reduce the amount of overlap between foragers from different apiaries and competition for floral sources4. Finally, it is important that as beekeepers move between apiaries, there is no exchange of infected comb or hive products5. This can be done by implementing good biosecurity practices between yards, such as the frequent sterilization of beekeeping equipment and limited exchange of bee products (i.e., honey and brood frames) between yards5.
Colony Management: One of the most beneficial disease management practices is separating sick colonies from healthy colonies4. Colonies that have high disease levels, whether it be viral, bacterial, fungal, or parasitic, threaten the health of surrounding hives and it is important that these colonies are isolated in order to reduce disease transmission2. This is especially important for Chronic Bee Paralysis Virus (CBPV) infected colonies, as transmission can happen topically when infected bees encounter neighboring bees during activities such as robbing, drifting, and foraging7. Implementing this practice is a form of transmission risk management that can reduce viral spread, as well as reduce the transmission of other pathogens that may synergistically work to increase viral levels3,4. Colony placement within an apiary can also help reduce viral transmission, as having bee pallets place well apart and hive entrances in different orientations can reduce bee drifting4. Finally, supplementing colonies with additional nutritional resources (i.e., pollen patties/protein substitute and sugar syrup) during times of dearth reduces nutritional stress, and therefore is an important practice in ensuring that viral levels do not rise4.
Queen Management: Colonies that are experiencing signs of viral disease can be managed by replacing the queen2. Introducing a young healthy queen can stop vertical transmission of viruses and improve colony health8. If queen replacement is not an option, the existing queen can be caged for 10-14 days to create a break in the brood cycle, allowing for the consistent removal of diseased brood8. This method mainly works for brood diseases such as Sacbrood Virus (SBV)8. The use of honey bee stocks selected for virus resistance can be an additional management technique.2. Genetic stocks that have been bred to promote genes associated with hygienic behaviour (i.e., removal of infected brood), help mitigate viral diseases and associated pests9. Due to the close relationship between varroa mites and viral transmission, selecting a genetic stock that has been bred for varroa resistance (e.g., hygienic behaviour, varroa sensitive hygiene) will also reduce viral levels10. Colonies with these genetics have lower varroa levels, reduced viral titers, and increased colony survival10.
Equipment Rotation: As discussed in Part 2 of this series, viruses can be harboured in the wax, honey, pollen, and wood structures of honey bee colonies4. As equipment gets older it is more likely to contain higher levels of virus particles which in turn can contribute to the severity of a viral infection4. Therefore, old equipment should be replaced with new equipment to help limit viral titers within a colony8. It is recommended that 10-20% of equipment (i.e., frames and brood boxes) is rotated out of use each year.
Vector Management: Due to the close linkage between varroa mite infestation and viral infection, there is a strong emphasis on the use of effective mite management techniques to reduce vector-based transmission of varroa-related viruses11. In a study done by Woodford et al. in 2022, it was found that following an intensive varroa control treatment, where colonies were shaken onto new equipment and treated with a miticide, there was 99% reduction in virus levels within the first month. While this method of varroa control is not feasible for large operations, these results emphasize the importance of varroa control when managing viral levels. However, even after successful varroa treatments, the threat of virus infection isn’t completely diminished as viral levels do not drop to zero7. Viral infection has the potential to become cyclical as varroa infestation repeatedly occurs7. Therefore, constant, and effective control of varroa mites is important to reduce vector mediated transmission of viruses 7.
Frequently monitoring colony health is a very important aspect of any disease management plan. However, monitoring for viruses can prove to be difficult as they can persist within a colony as an unapparent or asymptomatic infection, and lab diagnostics can be very costly12. Overt virus infections tend to go hand-in-hand with other pathogens such as, varroa mites and Nosema4. Therefore, monitoring for bee pathogens is extremely important for viral management, as colonies suffering from other diseases are likely to be suffering from viral diseases as well3. Visual inspections for viral diseases are difficult and not always accurate. An alternative is to take samples of suspected diseased colonies and send to a diagnostic laboratory for confirmation12. Having exact data regarding viral presence and levels creates a record of colony health. Producers can then look at viral levels throughout their operation and use critical thresholds as a tool for making management decisions7. In a study done by Woodford et al., in 2022 a threshold of 5,000,000 genome copies (GC)/bee of Deformed Wing Virus (DWV) was associated with symptomatic infection. Therefore, a critical threshold of 5,000,000 GC/bee can be used for guidance and to determine the success of certain cultural and physical controls, in combination with other IPM practices, such as separating sick colonies from healthy colonies.
Reusing old comb for food storage and brood rearing is a common practice for producers, as frequently introducing new frames is not always feasible9. Introducing foundation requires mass amounts of bee energy to draw out new comb, therefore stunting productivity9. Gamma irradiation of old frames is a potential option to eliminate pathogens harboured in honey, pollen, and wax without destroying the comb13. It was found that irradiation rendered DWV inactive and reduced the infectivity of Black Queen Cell Virus (BQCV), indicating that there are some beneficial effects13. However, some research has shown that not all viruses are inactivated and only subtle improvements on bee health have been observed9,13. For example, it was found that this process had little to no effect on Chronic Bee Paralysis Virus (CBPV) infectivity13. This method is not as useful as cultural management practices as it has a broad range of effectivity and can be expensive to implement on a large scale, nonetheless it has proved to reduce viral titers for select viruses13.
Biological and Chemical Control
As previously mentioned, there are no chemotherapies for viral diseases in honeybees. However, new advancements in RNA interference (RNAi) technology appear to be promising in the field of honey bee viral management. RNAi is a natural immune defense in which double stranded RNA (dsRNA) bind and destroy alike RNAs so that specific genes can be silenced, or replication can be reduced14. This process has been used in honey bee populations to combat viral diseases by either feeding or injecting dsRNA to inhibit the replication of RNA viruses, such as DWV15. Unfortunately, this tends to be a difficult process that has many variable outcomes as dsRNA is expensive to produce and does not remain viable outside of the lab for long periods of time16. However, a new study has shown that genetically engineered bacterial organisms that are naturally present within the bee gut can be used as a transport vessel to easily administer and spread the dsRNA to the bee16. This has proven to be successful in protecting honey bees from DWV and potentially other RNA viruses (i.e., Varroa Destructor Virus, CBPV, BQCV, and SBV)16. Additionally, this has also been found to be a potential control method for varroa mites as the bacteria can be engineered to carry a dsRNA that targets essential genes within the mite after they feed on host bees, causing them to die more quickly16. This is not yet a management practice that can be used commercially; however, it shows promise for the future of viral management in honey bees.
Thank you for following along with this three-part series on honeybee viruses! I hope that this series was able to help deepen your understanding of common honey bee viruses and can be useful to you in the future as you manage your bees. Keep an eye out in the next few months as the Alberta Tech Transfer Program will be releasing a compact field guide on virus identification, transmission, and management!
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Pernal, S. F. & Clay, H. (Eds.). (2013). Honey Bee Diseases and Pests, 3rd edition. Canadian Association of Professional Apiculturists, Beaverlodge, AB, Canada.
Chen, Y., Evans, J., & Feldlaufer, M. (2006). Horizontal and vertical transmission of viruses in the honey bee, Apis mellifera. Journal of Invertebrate Pathology, 92(3), 152-159. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jip.2006.03.010
de Miranda, J. R., Gauthier, L., Ribière, M., & Chen, Y. P. (2011). Honey bee viruses and their effect on bee and colony health. In D. Sammataro & J. A. Yoder (Eds.), Honey Bee Colony Health (pp. 71-102). CRC press. https://doi.org/10.1201/b11318
Nagaraja, N., & Rajagopal, D. (2019). Honey Bees: diseases, parasites, pests, predators, and their management. MJP publishers.
Dolezal, A. G., Carrillo-Tripp, J., Judd, T. M., Allen Miller, W., Bonning, B. C., & Toth, A. L. (2019). Interacting stressors matter: diet quality and virus infection in honeybee health. Royal Society Open Science, 6(2), 181803. https://doi.org/10.1098/rsos.181803
Amiri, E., Meixner, M., Nielsen, S. L., & Kryger, P. (2015). Four categories of viral infection describe the health status of honey bee colonies. PLoS One, 10(10), e0140272. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0140272
Wei, R., Cao, L., Feng, Y., Chen, Y., Chen, G., & Zheng, H. (2022). Sacbrood Virus: A Growing Threat to Honeybees and Wild Pollinators. Viruses, 14(9), 1871. https://doi.org/10.3390/v14091871
de Guzman, L. I., Simone-Finstrom, M., Frake, A. M., & Tokarz, P. (2019). Comb irradiation has limited, interactive effects on colony performance or pathogens in bees, Varroa destructor and wax based on two honey bee stocks. Insects, 10(1), 15. https://doi.org/10.3390/insects10010015
O’Shea-Wheller, T. A., Rinkevich, F. D., Danka, R. G., Simone-Finstrom, M., Tokarz, P. G., & Healy, K. B. (2022). A derived honey bee stock confers resistance to Varroa destructor and associated viral transmission. Scientific Reports, 12(1), 1-19. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-022-08643-w
Woodford, L., Christie, C. R., Campbell, E. M., Budge, G. E., Bowman, A. S., & Evans, D. J. (2022). Quantitative and qualitative changes in the deformed wing virus population in honey bees associated with the introduction or removal of Varroa destructor. Viruses, 14(8), 1597. https://doi.org/10.3390/v14081597
Tantillo G, Bottaro M, Di Pinto A, Martella V, Di Pinto P, Terio V. (2015) Virus infections of honeybees apis mellifera. Italian Journal of Food Safety, 4(3). doi:10.4081/ijfs.2015.5364
Simone-Finstrom, M., Aronstein, K., Goblirsch, M., Rinkevich, F., & de Guzman, L. (2018). Gamma irradiation inactivates honey bee fungal, microsporidian, and viral pathogens and parasites. Journal of Invertebrate Pathology, 153, 57-64. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jip.2018.02.011
Brutscher, L. M., & Flenniken, M. L. (2015). RNAi and antiviral defense in the honey bee. Journal of Immunology Research, 2015, 941897. https://doi.org/10.1155/2015/941897
Desai, S. D., Eu, Y. J., Whyard, S., & Currie, R. W. (2012). Reduction in deformed wing virus infection in larval and adult honey bees (Apis mellifera L.) by double‐stranded RNA ingestion. Insect Molecular Biology, 21(4), 446-455. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2583.2012.01150.x
Leonard, S. P., Powell, J. E., Perutka, J., Geng, P., Heckmann, L. C., Horak, R. D., Moran, N. A., Perutka, J., Geng, P., Davies, B. W., Ellington, A. D., & Moran, N. A. (2020). Engineered symbionts activate honey bee immunity and limit pathogens. Science, 367(6477), 573-576. DOI: 10.1126/science.aax9039