To Bee or Not to Bee

June 10, 2013

Speaker: “Chip” Euliss, Research Biologist, U.S. Geological Survey, Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center, Jamestown, North Dakota

This seminar will feature a discussion on the importance of bees and how land management in the Northern Great Plains impacts bees and pollination elsewhere in the United States. The Northern Great Plains is the most important region in the U.S. for pollination services, currently valued at $29 billion annually. Migratory beekeepers transport more than a million honey bee colonies into the region each spring to produce honey. Equally important, but less well known, is the value of the region for building honey bee colony health and population size to meet the pollination needs of crops elsewhere in the U.S. As more acreage in the region is converted to cropland, federal agencies have worked to restore previously farmed land into prairie habitat to support these native pollinators and other wildlife. Chip Euliss will describe how the Departments of Interior and Agriculture and several universities are developing models to inform policy and land management decisions that impact pollinators dependent on the Northern Great Plains – especially in the wake of changing land use patterns and changing climate.

Loading the player...


Malka Patterson: Good afternoon. I'm Malka Patterson and I'd like to welcome you
                all to Interior's Office of Policy Analysis seminar for June. We're
                going to be talking about bees today. If you forgive a little
                Shakespeare in the title and a little pun about all the buzz about
                bee colony collapse, the issue is serious but we can be
                lighthearted as we learn.
                Our speaker today is Chip Euliss. Chip is a research biologist with
                the USGS in North Dakota. While we've been hearing a lot about
                pesticides and disease, Chip has focused his career on
                understanding the habitat part of the bees' decline.

                As we follow with Chip, we are going to learn some relationships we
                normally don't understand. How could the price of corn in North
                Dakota affect the price of almonds in California. Stick with Chip
                and he'll tell you.

                We have one change today. We've had an improvement in or live
                stream and it came after the announcement, so bear with me. If
                you're tuned in, you are already there-quarters of the way there.
                There's an extra step if you have a question to ask. That means you
                have to click a button that says Join, or Log in to chat,
                otherwise, just sit back and enjoy the show. If you want to ask a
                question, and we invite you to do so, click that. Our format is 30
                minutes of Chip and then 30 minutes of questions so enjoy, and Chip


Chip Euliss:  Thank you very much. As the slide suggests, we will be talking
                about pollinators today. We've known about the plight of these, I
                think, for a long, long time, both native bees as well as
                honeybees. I'm going to talk about both, but, it really was the
                honeybee and the economy collapse disorder that brought to public
                consciousness the plight of these, and sparked a number of
                conversations every place from small town cafes to US Congress, on
                this issue.
                These are some of the primary honey production states in the US,
                along with some of the primary pollination states as well. North
                Dakota, typically, leads the nation in honey production. The
                Prairie Pothole Region in the Northern Great Plains, we think,
                probably, on the average, provides the summer home for bees that
                pollinate some 60, to maybe as much as 85 percent of our nation's

                Bee scales - don't really have scales, necessarily, but we're
                talking spatial scales. Bee keepers from all around the nation haul
                bees to the Northern Great Plains. They place them on location.
                There those bees interact with the landscapes around them, whether
                it's grassland with flowers in it, CRP or what have you.

                Weather factors - all those influence honey production rates. Those
                in turn influence the nutritional status of those bees, which
                affects their health and their ability to pollinate our nation's

                They are, literally, hauled from the Dakotas and elsewhere in the
                Midwest around the country to pollinate a huge variety of crops.
                I'll focus on just one or two of those a little later in the

                As Malka mentioned, I am a wildlife biologist. We have, at least
                as a community, a lot of experience modeling wildlife and we're
                taking the same kind of approach with pollinators. We believe that
                a habitat-based approach is a requisite for success, whether you're
                talking monitoring or modeling. For pollinators in particular, it's
                important to recognize that these animals have to have flowers,
                nectar and pollen, throughout the whole period of time in which
                they're active.

                Landscapes that have flowers that are continuously blooming, and
                not one species of plant is going to last the entire summer, they
                have to be there for these animals or there is going to be a dirt,
                there's going to be a blank in their food resources.

                This is pretty much a quick and dirty snapshot of North Dakota.
                Flowering trees and shrubs, we call it the fruit bloom, or the
                early season providers. Canola is a crop, provides valuable source
                of pollen and nectar in June.

                Grasslands with all the flowers in it, whether it's native
                grassland or conservation reserve programs administered by FSA,
                they're all important.

                Late crops, such as second cutting or third cutting of alfalfa
                that's allowed to bloom and even oil seed sunflowers are important
                for pollinators.

                I've been leading an effort called integrated landscape modeling
                effort for quite some time. It's been designed to communicate
                change in ecosystem surfaces in different landscape. I want to
                apply the same logic to these so we needed to develop a honeybee
                model. I'll talk about that a little bit.

                There wasn't one, so we developed one on our own, and we solicited
                the help of Zac Browning. Zac Browning is a fourth generation
                beekeeper. He manages about 25,000 colonies of bees, and he hasn't
                gone broke, so his model looks pretty.

                His perfect idea of what a bee landscape would look like, would be
                wetlands for water and subbing moisture to plants, the flowering
                trees and shrubs for nectar, shelter belt for wind protection, CRP,
                particularly the stuff that's really high in legume content, and
                then canola oil, sunflower and alfalfa hay land.

                The square blocks up here are square miles. The beehives were in
                the middle, so you're talking about a two-and-a-half mile flight
                radius for these honeybees. Lisa Gallant, our modeler for the
                honeybees, started assembling all the data to fit Zac's recipe. She
                needed to know where the conservation lands were, CRP and others.

                We used the Protected Area Database for getting some of the other
                areas mapped. Annual land cover, because the crops change, we use
                the National Ag Statistics, which changes from year to year, gap
                analysis, then a USGS product, NLCD, National Land Cover Dataset.

                For wetlands and water, we used the Fish and Wildlife Service's
                National Wildlife Inventory, or NWI, other sources. Then roads,
                because beekeepers haul these animals in in big trucks.

                They feed into an algorithm where we can actually scroll across the
                landscape and identify where the sweet spots were for bees in any
                given year. Now, we can ask questions. Where are the good bee
                landscapes in North Dakota?

                This is a result for the calendar year 2002. For this particular
                example, we actually separated out and colored yellow, those sites
                that were provided exclusively by the Conservation Reserve Program,
                to inform FSA. We can do that for any other type of ownership or
                affiliation, it's not unique to FSA at all. But, that's a

                Are we on target? We have to evaluate that, as always. We're
                looking at this in a number of different ways. First, in all
                states, North Dakota included, beekeepers are required to register
                the spatial locations of their beehives. We can compare what the
                model predicted for 100 hives versus registered sites in any given
                year. Looks pretty good.

                Our map indicates that there are fewer sites in Southeastern South
                Dakota than were actually registered. But our model also will serve
                for a 100 hives, and rarely has a person put that many hives out.

                Since the model was developed, we've had the good fortune to meet
                some of the beekeepers in Southeastern North Dakota, and what
                they're telling us is that they're putting fewer and fewer bees out
                each year. They're still there because the have warehouses,
                infrastructure, and a lot of investment. They're not going to move
                it, they're just putting fewer and fewer bees.

                The second way that we're looking at our model is a retrospective
                analysis of landscape configuration versus honey yield. We were
                very fortunate to meet a gentleman by the name of John Miller. John
                came to North Dakota in the late 1970s to keep honeybees, and he
                kept detailed records of over 300 locations over that period of
                time. Big sheets of cardboard, he lined them out in a spreadsheet.
                It's like Excel version 0.0.


                We transferred that into a modern dataset and we're analyzing that
                now. We still have much work to do. There's not a lot that I can
                share with you, but I can show you some of the results. We
                collaborated with FSA to go back in time and populate those
                polygons around in those 200 mile circles that those bees utilize
                with what crop has gone in any given year.

                The common year that we were able to start them all was 1981. I
                just cherry-picked a few years, 1985, because that was the year
                before CRP hit the landscape. 1993, at least for this circle was
                the peak of CRP, and in 2009, you can see that a fair amount of
                that CRP has come out of the program.

                No interpretations. You can see the honey yields at the top, but
                there are a lot of other factors involved in honey yields than
                simply the plants out in the landscape, weather factors in
                particular. If you look at the graph in the middle, this is the
                Palmer Drought Severity Index. It gives you some indication whether
                it's wet or dry.

                Positive numbers or the ones in green indicate years that are
                wetter than average or extremely wet. The negative numbers or the
                gold ones indicated drier than average or droughty periods. This
                period right here, '88 to '93, was a drought of comparable severity
                to the dust bowl days of the 1930s. That's part our ecosystem
                driver in this part of the world.

                The third way, and the way that I'll focus most of the remainder of
                the presentation on, is field testing landscape configuration
                versus honey yield, bee health, and pollinator diversity. As you
                can see, we're collaborating with lots of folks. The USGS is
                working on the modeling aspect to try to project the findings from
                all our partners and we're also doing windshield surveys of the
                surrounding crops so we can drive through these things as opposed
                to digging through files and coming up with what crop was grown and
                that type of thing.

                We're looking at the types of pollen that were collected, honey
                yields, the health status of the honeybees, native pollinators, and
                the pollen collected.

                This study starts in North Dakota just about this time of year,
                primary with the ARS team and the University of Minnesota teams
                taking measurements in these bees periodically throughout the
                summer. That last measurements are taken in almond orchards in
                California. We're actually trying to relate landscape
                configurations in North Dakota to the ability of bees to pollinate
                almonds on the west coast.

                We selected six sites for study. Six, again, two and a half mile
                radius circles. We blocked those by sites that had either a high
                floral diversity or a low floral diversity. Low floral diversity
                would be primarily row crop where there were fewer plant species
                available to provide pollen and nectar. The high floral diversity
                sites, in contrast, would be things like national wildlife refuges,
                Conservation Reserve Program lands, and native pastures where there
                is a great diversity and abundance of flowers available for the

                The ARS, led by Jeff Pettis in Beltsville, Maryland is looking at a
                number of things. I'm just going to highlight a few. Looking at the
                effects of summer and fall nutrition on colony survival. At each
                location we have 48 hives. He can supplementally feed some of those
                and not others to see how they break out in the winter. He's
                looking at pollen, the quantity of pollen that the bees are
                bringing in. There's a pollen trap in the upper right. You can
                activate these things and the bees will collect pollen for you so
                you can get quantity, the protein content, and pesticide load.

                I have nothing on protein, but I have a little bit of information
                on the pesticides and also the quantity of pollen that's being
                brought in.

                On the left we have the three high floral diversity sites and on
                the right we have the low, the different sampling periods. Those
                are the grams of pollen that were collected in each of these traps
                over that period of time. The high floral diversity sites are
                bringing more pollen. It's fairly clear. Some years it may not be
                quite like that, but the protein content is something that we need
                to look at that may shed some light.

                The first year, this was just for one pesticide, chlorophos. It's
                fairly commonly used. It's fairly concentrated relative to our high
                floral diversity sites that are mostly in conservation lands.

                Matt Smart is one of Marla's PhD students. He's looking at
                individual bee measurements, mostly of their immune system and also
                their nutritional status as indicators of landscape condition.
                Pretty exciting work, that you can measure an individual bee and
                get an indication of what's going on out on the landscape. That's
                where those bees are making their living.

                Nutritional status, he's looking at abdominal lippage. Basically,
                how fat they are. He's looking at something called "vitiligene
                expression." I'll talk a little bit more about that. It's an
                extremely important molecule in insects and other animals and also
                the immune system. He's looking that the humeral system, which
                would be anti-microbial peptides and also cellular immune system.
                Mostly hemocytes. It would be just like our white blood cells, as
                an example. We don't have hemocytes. We do have white blood cells.

                Here's a picture of a fat and skinny bee. The one on the left you
                cannot see any fat deposits and the one on the right you can. The
                abdomen is the primary site for fat storage in insects. The
                relative mass of fat increases on a more diverse diet. The
                literature has shown that over the years. Matt's work corroborates

                It's the site of protein storage and the vitiligene synthesis. It
                also plays a role in the immune system. It's the site of
                antimicrobial peptide production. The abdomen is really an
                important part of the bee.

                Let's compare our high and low floral diversity sites. The bees in
                the highly diverse sites are fatter than are the bees in the sites
                that have a more restricted diet in the low diversity sites.

                Vitiligene. As I mentioned, this molecule's involved in nutrition
                and immunity. It's really the key for protein storage in
                overwintering bees. There's a difference between a winter bee and a
                summer bee. A summer bee is going to last about 45 days, hatch to
                death. A winter bee is going to live six months. Feeding a
                different diet in the hive, they last a longer period of time. They
                were the ones that are going to get that colony going again in the

                The worker bees have a special gland in their head. They convert
                that vitiligene into jellies to feed brood before pollen is
                available in the spring. Pollen is the only source of protein that
                these animals get, so vitiligene is really important to get them
                kickstarted in the spring.

                Look at the expression of vitiligene between the high and low
                floral diverse sites. There's actually a negative expression in the
                low diverse sites.

                I talked with Matt last week. He has a 2012 data but I didn't
                update my slides in time. But anyway, it's telling basically the
                same story.

                The humeral immune system. Here we're talking, just like us. It's
                the up regulation and the production of antimicrobial peptides by
                the fat body. He looked at three of them. Defensin, which is active
                mainly against gram positive bacteria. And abacin and himenopticin,
                which are active mainly against gram negative bacteria.

                Again, we're showing a very similar story. In all cases, the low
                floral diversity sites are showing an immune response to the
                quality of the landscape. Something is stressing the bees. The
                immune system is kicked up and it's elevated for some reason.

                Cellular immunity. These would be the hemocyte counts, just like
                our white blood cells, they engulf, encapsulate, and ennodulate,
                phagocytize invading foreign bodies in the blood. As you are
                infected, the levels of hemocytes or white blood cells, is it were,
                would increase.

                Indeed, that's what Matt has found in this study so far. The sites
                in the low floral diversity areas are showing a much higher
                cellular immunity response than ones in the high floral diversity

                What does all this mean for bees? What's the bottom line? Here I've
                some of Matt's data, again, coming directly out of the surviving
                proportion of surviving colonies in almonds on the west coast. You
                can see that in some cases we're looking at a 40 percent or greater
                colony mortality in the low floral diversity sites as opposed to
                the high.

                Right now in the United States we have about 2.7 million colonies
                of bees. These numbers are really concerning because just one crop,
                the almonds in California, require 1.6 million. Multiply 0.6 times
                that 2.7 and each year there's been concern that we may or may not
                be able to satisfy the pollination requirements just for one plant.
                It's pretty amazing and actually pretty significant, I think.

                Almond bearing acreage in California is on the rise. This
                year...Actually, I just read that the acreage, I think, is a little
                over 800,000. This slide has not been updated in a while. It's
                definitely on the increase. There are more almonds produced in
                California than anywhere else in the world.

                You can see when CCD hit, the colony collapse disorder. A rapid
                increase in the rental rates for bees to entice beekeepers from
                around the country, some from as far away as the east coast, to
                truck bees to California just for this one crop.

                Let's talk about native bees. We have a couple of studies going on.
                Elaine Evans is...Actually, both she and Matt are in their write up
                year working up, but she did her native bee work on those six
                circles. We have the honeybee work and the native bee work going on
                in the same, exact landscapes.

                And then, I just started a student this past year. He's starting
                his second field season this summer. Russ Bryant. He's looking at
                pollinators on both Fish and Wildlife Service lands, native prairie
                tracts, and comparing them to Conservation Reserve Program lands on
                the program administered by the FSA.

                Really preliminary findings, but I'll share a few things with you.
                To date, as that was the first field season, Russ has collected and
                identified over 15,000 invertebrates from his samples. 282
                [inaudible 21:04] potential pollinators. I say potential because
                some of those will get tossed out. They were probably caught on
                accident, but a large number of them will be pollinators.

                Fish and Wildlife Service native prairies had higher diversity than
                CRP, which was expected. These are the native landscapes that have
                evolved here since glaciation. The hymenoptera or the bees
                accounted for most of the diversity on the service lands, about 70
                percent and about half on CRP.

                The focus that we have is on identifying the bee and the plant so
                we can establish that direct, one on one relationship so we can
                inform restoration plans and things like that. It's not simply a
                survey of the bees to see what they have. We want to know what
                they're doing.

                So far, we have identified 40 plant species that are really
                important to the native bees. There were a few invasive plants that
                they're using but by and large they're mostly concentrated on
                native plants.

                I've talked to you about pollinators and I think probably most, if
                not all, of us in this room share that conservation view. But we
                don't have the only view out there. A lot of people see North
                Dakota and the Midwest or elsewhere in the country from other
                perspectives. Some people see an agricultural opportunity. Some see
                grazing lands. Oil exploration is a real big thing.

                The real ticket is to try and blend all those interests together so
                you can really understand what's happening at the landscape scale
                so we can inform plans that do a better job of sustaining our
                critical landscapes.

                This is a North Dakota landscape just north of where I'm stationed
                in North Dakota. You can see there's lots of agricultural
                development. The project that I've been leading is called
                integrated landscape modeling. It's designed in a modeling and a
                context to boil down and bring the best available science to
                decision makers to inform that process.

                Our primary players, FSA and RCF have been with us since the very
                beginning. Oklahoma State, Fish and Wildlife Service, and so on. It
                actually began as a USGS science trust in '06.

                We're using a number of models. One we're using right now a lot is
                called INVEST. It's Integrated Evaluation of Ecosystems Services
                and Tradeoffs. It's a really good one because it allows you to
                evaluate multiple ecosystem services simultaneously, which is

                If you alter a field or a landscape for one purpose, you're not
                altering just that one thing. You're affecting the whole system.
                That's what we want to be able to understand. It runs off
                scenarios. It could be a policy scenario. It could be a climate
                change scenario. It could be a management option.

                You then feed those into biophysical models. You can generates
                maps, trade off sheets if you like numbers. If you like what you've
                got, you're good. If not, you can go back and we trigger the
                stakeholders and try different options.

                As an example, I put eight ecosystem services up here. I put
                pollination at the top because of the topic of today. Obviously
                each service is measured in a different currency so I standardize
                them between zero and one so they're easier to see.

                That green line is a halfway point. I just set it arbitrarily just
                to point out that you can set thresholds. If we had these eight
                groups in a room, they could probably decide exactly where we'd
                like to have that pollination service or exactly where you might
                like to have that aquifer recharge service, and so on.

                The yellow line would represent the summary from an INVEST run, for
                example. I will play this over time, so this is time period one.
                Say we're looking at a climate change scenario, just as an example.
                Time two, we've seen a slight change in aquifer recharge and by
                time three aquifer recharge has fallen below that threshold.

                I point this out because the Ogallala news release last summer, but
                basically it's a way that we can use a modeling thing to put a
                warning light on the dashboard of a landscape so that we can look
                at things using our best available knowledge into the future and
                seeing what kinds of things may cause us problems and then
                reevaluate, develop a new scenario. What other scenarios might we
                try that would keep that light off?

                Let's get back to bees. Eric Longsdorf has been associated with the
                INVEST system since the very beginning. He developed a pollinator
                module for that and I'm going to show that today, some of the runs.
                He's also going to be doing a honeybee one for us. We'll actually
                have both of those up and running and available for you by the end
                of the fiscal year.

                Start basically with a land cover map. This is just cropscape. It
                could be a number of different ones, just spatial information from
                which we could extract where these bees are going to nest. It
                depends on whether a ground nest or a cavity nest or whatever. And
                then the floral sources. Where are they on the landscape? That
                would come from some of our studies, some of the literature, other
                types of sources.

                You could then map, if you will, habitat quality for pollinators
                and hopefully be able to get to ascribing an economic value to that
                service somewhere down the line.

                Here are a couple of bees. I just picked a couple, Russ did, for
                the heck of it. This is a sweat bee. They nest in the ground. This
                is a leafcutter bee, a megachilid. Mapping using our data where the
                floral sources are, they have different flower preferences. Their
                map of where you'd expect them to be based on the floral sources
                are different.

                We can do the same exact thing for nesting sites. The sweat bee is
                a ground nester. The leafcutter is a cavity nester so they have
                different maps. You can actually overlay those maps on top of each
                other and come up with a pretty good map of where those ideal
                conditions coincide. But you can actually, in INVEST, go one step
                further. You can also integrate into threats that these animals are
                facing and how they may fit into the bigger scheme of things.

                This is for bumblebees. The genus is Bombus. Again, this is just
                north of where I am in North Dakota. We would think that probably
                the two largest threats for bumblebees would be monoculture because
                of the lack of pollen diversity and protein diversity in their diet
                and, of course, pesticides.

                If it's black, it's agriculture in this slide. If it's white, it's
                either grassland or water.

                This next slide, the blue shows where the corn and soybeans are. I
                bring this up because 10 years ago you'd have to drive and drive
                and drive to find a corn plant and soybeans weren't very common,

                The face of agriculture's changing and, of course, it's going to
                have a lot of influences on the other things that we care about.
                Understanding that is a big key.

                The next slide is actually bringing together for the bumblebee the
                floral sources, the nesting areas, and the threat layer all
                together. We basically have something that looks like a
                thunderstorm map that tells us where the likely places are to go
                out and find bumblebees in this case.

                What we'd like to do is tie this with a monitoring program so that
                people could verify if our models are working and if not, provide
                that information back so our models get better and better over
                time. It's an adaptive modeling type of a context. This one will be
                up and running by October.

                Those of you that know me, I see Skip Harburg out there, know I
                can't talk without talking about interannual climate. Where I'm
                from, it's as dry as the dust bowl days or it's as wet as all get
                out. It's constantly changing.

                I call this slide, "What your parents neglected to tell you about
                the birds and the bees." I'm going to try and talk about some of
                the partnerships and collaborations that we may be able to find out
                there. Again, just to refresh your memory, the positive numbers, in
                this case blue, would represent wetter than average conditions. The
                negative numbers, or orange, would represent drier than normal.

                This is a Dust Bowl days of the 1930s intensity drought. It's
                pretty phenomenal. National ag statistics tell us that was the
                honey production for North Dakota over that time frame. We're
                missing a little bit of the '80s, but with the exception of one
                year, honey yields are up when it's wet and down when it's dry.
                It's pretty consistent.

                What happened in that year, a chemical called fluvalinate, was used
                to control the varroa mite in honeybees. Just like most chemicals
                that were designed to target an animal, they developed a
                resistance. That was the year that the varroa mite developed a
                resistance to fluvalinate and we had a widespread honeybee

                Fish and Wildlife Service Waterfowl Index overlaid on top of that
                shows that when the bees are going down, the birds are going down.
                When the birds are going up, the bees are going up. Obviously,
                ducks didn't have a varroa mite problem or a vluvalinate resistance
                issue, but over 30 years a relationship of 0.63 is pretty
                impressive. When you consider one of these animals has wings, a
                backbone, can fly from prairie Canada to Mexico and the other one
                needs to ride in the back of a truck to get in the next county.
                It's pretty phenomenal.

                But it's two animals using the same type of a habitat responding to
                climate in a similar way, which is what you'd expect.

                There's CCD. Why did we not jump up and down when the fluvalinate
                problem hit? The reason is the varroa mite, if you don't treat bees
                for varroa mite the colony's usually gone within two or three
                years. We used to have lots and lots and lots of colonies of feral
                bees and we're not treating those because they're feral bees. We
                don't get that free pollination like we did at one point in time.
                We still see a few feral colonies but very few compared to the old
                days. There's where CRP began.

                I'm going to wrap up and point out, again, that even though we're
                talking about pollinators and those types of things, lasting
                solutions to ensuring that we have quality ecosystem services for
                future generations involve a whole bunch of things and a whole
                bunch of players that need to come together and come up with some
                good scenarios to keep our landscape sustainable.

                Thank you very much.


Malka:       We're going to start with questions from the Internet.

Chip:         Yeah, one point that I'll make is that I'm not quite legally deaf
                but I'm pretty close.

Malka:       And I'm a good interpreter so if you don't speak loud enough, I'll
                repeat it. If you could announce your name and where you're from
                with your question...Internet first.

Man 1:        The first question we have, "Are you looking at the same measures
                of health in native pollinators and is there a correlation between
                honeybee and native pollinator health?"

Chip:         We are not looking directly at the health of native bees. It's
                primarily because it's a much more difficult thing to do
                logistically. Honeybees are pretty handy because they're in a box
                that we put there so we can take those measurements.
                One thing that we are doing, we're going to start this summer. We
                did a trial last summer to see if it would work is analyze some of
                the pollens that native bees are bringing in for pesticide
                residues. The only one that we can really do that for are these
                Megachile bees. They nest in cavities so you can drill cigarette
                sized holes in a four by four wood block and line it with parchment
                paper. These bees will pack pollen, lay an egg, pack pollen.

                You [inaudible 33:58] these things up and pull them out. They look
                like little cigarettes but they're full of pollen that we can then
                in turn analyze. We developed a technique last summer. We'll be
                using that and looking at pesticide exposure this summer, at least
                for the Megachiles.

Malka:       Questions from the room?
                I'm going to announce [inaudible 34:20] colony as I walk over to
                him. And then he can just ask his question. He's from the policy

Man 2:        Hi, Chip.

Chip:         Hi, [inaudible 34:27] .

Man 2:        How many years can you go back in that cigarette?

Chip:         For the Megachile bees?

Man 2:        Yeah.

Chip:         It's a single season.

Man 2:        It's just a...?

Chip:         Yeah. What it is is with a parchment paper. One bee will come in
                and put a pollen, egg, and a little bit of leaf leech in. And then
                another bee will do the same thing. When these things hatch, it
                will be sort of like a Roman candle, popping off like that. It's
                for a single season.

Man 2:        It's not like a tree ring that builds on itself over time.

Chip:         Yep.

Malka:       Internet question.

Man 1:        You've spoken about the role of landscape heterogeneity in
                maintaining species diversity and ecosystem function. Could you
                speak to the use of agroforestry practices as a land management
                tool? And then the rest of the question is actually cut off.

Chip:         Agroforestry.

Man 1:        Yes.

Chip:         Let me start by saying that North Dakota's state tree is a
                telephone pole.

Chip:         We are forestry constrained. If the question is more if there could
                be an engineering approach to increasing diversity of the landscape
                scale, disregarding the trees, the answer is probably, "Yes." I
                don't know that we have the knowledge base right now to make real
                specific and effective recommendations other than real general
                ones. We can certainly do that.

Malka:       Next question from the room.

Skip Harburg: Skip Harburg, Farm Service Agency. Chip, could you talk a little
                bit about the relationship between honey production and bee health?
                What's the correlation? Why would they diverge?

Chip:         Honeybees...The question was that the correlation between bees that
                make a lot of honey and bee health. There certainly is a
                relationship but it's probably not as strong as you might think.
                Bees can be incredibly motivated. They can make a lot of honey in a
                short period of time if there's an ample nectar flow. A much
                healthier colony can make more, in all likelihood, than would one
                but it's amazing that honeybees that make a regular crop of honey
                may, in fact, turn out to be one of the ones that die that summer
                for other factors.

                You have to consider in that question or in the response to that
                question that when pollen is coming in and when nectar's coming in
                these animals are laying eggs to the tune of 2,500 eggs a day. That
                means there's 2,500 new bees that are being hatched every day. The
                population is really, really quite huge. It may take a while for
                that effect to show up.

                But I'm sure there's a relationship. We just don't have the answer.

Malka:       Internet question.

Man 1:        How did the very early spring of 2012 affect habitat and bees in
                your region?

Chip:         Can you help me with that one?

Malka:       How did this early spring of 2012 effect things?

Chip:         It's too early to tell. I know of beekeepers who have not yet
                brought bees to North Dakota. We started out not only cold but we
                started out extremely dry. But since then, the world has changed
                and we've gotten extremely wet.
                This is the first time in 20 years that the sump in my house has
                not run in the spring. It just started running about a week ago.
                That's how much rain we've had in the last little bit. We don't
                know yet. We do know that the spring fruit bloom is really intense.
                Nectar is coming in in great quantities, as is pollen. But we don't
                know. We'll see. To be determined.

Malka:       Any questions in the...

Man 3:        I think the question was for the last year.

Malka:       2012 was the question.

Chip:         Oh, 2012.

Malka:       Early spring in 2012.

Chip:         Yeah. Last year the weather was pretty goofy. We had...It was dry
                and the bees were stressed. The summer part was pretty good. There
                was pretty good honey production early and then it dried up, if
                memory serves me. But yeah, I'm pretty sure that's right.
                That was a lot of the big predictions that the beekeeping industry
                was making was that the drought and combined with maybe a littler
                higher than average varroa mite load might enhance mortality for
                bees over the winter.

Malka:       Questions in the room?

Brian LaMarche: Brian LaMarche, International Technical Assistance Program.
                You made some pretty strong correlations between bee mortality
                increase or bee death and then also nutrition and all those other
                things you showed. Do you feel that if we were to...If we were to
                try to create that perfect environment within a two mile radius
                that you showed us in one of the first slides, as far as the crop
                diversity or the floral diversity...Do you feel that despite
                monoculture and pesticies...Do you feel that the bees would
                increase? The bee population would increase?

Chip:         If you could engineer a landscape to look like the one in the bee

Brian:        Right. You'd have a success story.

Chip:         Yeah, I do. The reason I do is that even though the threats may be
                there, if there's ample habitat for the bees, that's where they're
                going to go.

Brian:        Is anyone trying to do that now?

Chip:         Pardon?

Brian:        Is there anybody trying to do a model like that now to prove that
                it could work?

Chip:         Not to my knowledge, but that's something that could easily be done
                and easily be tested.

Malka:       I'm going to use my liberty, Malka Patterson, to ask a question.
                You set me up, and thank you.
                There's definitely a role here for the biologists, but does the
                invest model...Is that the limit of your economic analysis because,
                in fact, if you know what it takes to make the environment one that
                that bees would thrive in, how do you get the money from California
                to pay the farmers who would otherwise go to corn?

                It's a market and an ecological question.

Chip:         An extremely interesting and very valuable question. I actually
                spoke a little over a year ago at the almond board conference in
                Modesto. It is important.
                Recently, Hachi Zen applied for a NIFA grant that would do exactly
                that. Her basic concept is if you have a CRP field and we can
                quantify how many hives of bees that might support. We'll just pick
                a number. We'll say 160 acre field would support 40 hives at $50
                rental rate for that land producer.

                What she specializes in is what are the off site economic values?
                If an almond producer is willing to pay $200 per hive then just two
                of those 40 hives has a $400 per acre benefit on the other end.

                Those are the kinds of questions I think need answering. The invest
                model only works from the standpoint...Like a look up table. It
                will only be useful for us if we had information from Hachi on what
                those economic values might be, for example.

                But we've thought a lot about it. I'm a biologist and not a...I'm
                terrible with a checkbook, too.

Malka:       You hang out with a lot of economists, though.
                Question from the Internet?

Man 1:        What is the role of feral bees in providing pollination services?
                Are they suffering from collapse like artificial colonies?

Chip:         The answer to that is yes. We don't have near the colonies of feral
                bees that we had at one point in time. I think the one notable
                exception to that would be the Africanized bees in the southwestern
                US. Nothing seems to stop them. They're sort of like the Ever ready
                Rabbit. They keep going. Except cold weather. They evolved
                someplace else, so...

Malka:       Question in the room? [inaudible 43:21] again.

Man 2:        The beekeeper and the bees that he keeps get a lot of free services
                from the surrounding land. Am I right?

Chip:         Help me out, Malka.

Malka:       Are the beekeepers getting free services from the land?

Chip:         The beekeeper's getting a pollination service in North Dakota?

Man 2:        Right.

Chip:         The answer is no. Primarily, North Dakota is a honey producing
                state. Most landowners are amenable to having you put bees on their
                properties. Typically, the beekeeper pays with a case of honey,
                just to use the currency that they pay in.
                There are certain crops in certain parts of the country where
                beekeepers will pay for a high value honey. Pollination services
                are mostly going to be in California for almonds, Washington state
                apples, cherries in California, blueberries, cranberries, melons
                all over the US. Those pay.

                By and large, the highest pollination fees are for almonds because
                the high value of that crop and the expense of hauling them all the
                way out to California.

Malka:       Internet?

Man 1:        Somebody asked, "Have you documented any bee impacts specifically
                from the introduction of GMO crops?"

Chip:         We have not in this particular investigation. I confessed earlier
                that I'm not a pollination biologist. I'm more of an ecosystem
                service guy. Some of that work may have been done but I just don't

Malka:       Any questions in the room? Internet? I think we've got it. Thank
                you very much, Chip.

Chip:         Very welcome. My pleasure.

Transcription by CastingWords