Foraging Winter Honey Bees in Michigan

By Glen Wunderlich

As a youngster, I recall a winter’s day in Highland Park, Michigan when I found some “dead” wasps on the rear porch of my grandparents’ home.   Someone gave me a jar and the motionless insects were dropped in and the lid was screwed shut.  There in the warmth of the house, I shared my discovery with the family, when the critters began to wake up and fly within the confines of the container.

The incidental experiment was a learning experience reminiscent of the warming trend recently provided to us Michiganders, courtesy of Mother Nature.  The migrating birds were singing, the trees were budding, frost evolved into mud, and the insects were thrust into a world they hadn’t seen in months and instinctive honey bees were among them.

For the second year in a row, I found honey bees by the hundreds – maybe thousands – atop a shed where I scatter seed for the birds.  Because no flowers are available in February, foraging bees are attracted to the cracked seed as a pollen substitute and protein source, which will be used as food to rear their soon-to-be-hatched larvae. 

Winter-time Honey Bees in Michigan

How they collect and transport the nutrition to the hive is an interesting exercise in the relentless pursuit of survival.  Here there are no slackers; each worker bee pulls its own weight collecting the harvest in a most intriguing manner.  Since they cannot carry seeds to the hive, they dig in and roll around in the seed mixture in an effort to get pollen dust attached to their bodies.

These female bees begin grooming themselves and wipe the seed dust into storage sacks on their legs called pollen baskets or corbicula.  Pollen is almost microscopic, so visible granules of any size are made up of thousands of pieces of pollen.

Interestingly, this natural storage basket can hold up to 1 million grains of pollen. Although many insects collect pollen from flowers, none can rival the bee’s production. However, even though bees’ bodies are ideally engineered for pollen-gathering, it takes considerable effort. Depending on the efficiency of the worker bee, filling the basket takes between 3 and 18 minutes, after which she carries only two pollen packets back to the hive. It takes an average of 20 pairs of pollen packages to fill one honeycomb cell, meaning that bees tirelessly to supply the hive.

A decade ago, beekeepers in the US reported that a mysterious affliction, dubbed Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), had caused widespread die-offs of bees. Scientists now agree that CCD was likely caused by a combination of environmental and biological factors, but nothing specific has been confirmed or proven. CCD is no longer causing large-scale colony death in North America, but beekeepers are still reporting disturbing colony losses—as high as 45 percent annually.

If bees have taken over your bird feeder, you can feed them a solution of 2 parts white sugar to one part water in a shallow dish or brewer’s yeast to divert them from bird feeders.  In any event, it’s a worthwhile event, if you can catch the show.

 

 

Sellmark Stands With Texas Hog Hunters Association to Oppose Sid Miller

(MANSFIELD, TEXAS) – Sellmark and its brands stand with the Texas Hog Hunters Association in helping to stop the introduction of a new Warfarin based pesticide, approved by Texas AG Sid Miller, to control the feral hog population. Sellmark and Texas Hog Hunters Association believe in hunting, trapping and aerial management to protect landowners from the millions of dollars of damage hogs cause each year, but discourage the inhumane and unsafe use of poisons. While Warfarin may kill hogs, it may also put other wildlife, humans and the entire ecosystem in harm’s way.

“For Texas to introduce a poison into the equation is a bad decision and could likely contaminate humans who unknowingly process and eat feral hogs,” said Texas Hog Hunters Association founder Scott Dover. Sellmark President James Sellers added, “We want to take a stand against using poisons to control wildlife populations. Any animal that accidentally ingests the poison or feeds on a hog carcass may be exposed to the harmful toxin; humans relying on feral hogs for sustenance may also be at risk. Read more

2016 Mexican wolf population survey reveals gains for experimental population

ALBUQUERQUE – The Mexican wolf Interagency Field Team (IFT) completed the annual year­-end population survey, documenting a minimum of 113 Mexican wolves in the wild in Arizona and New Mexico at the end of 2016. This compares with a minimum of 97 wild wolves in 2015.

“We are encouraged by these numbers, but these 2016 results demonstrate we are still not out of the woods with this experimental population and its anticipated contribution to Mexican wolf recovery,” said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Southwest Regional Director Benjamin Tuggle. “Our goal is to achieve an average annual growth rate of 10 percent in the Mexican wolf population. Although there was a one-year population decline in 2015, due in part to a high level of mortality and a lower pup survival rate, there are now more Mexican wolves in the wild in New Mexico and Arizona. The Service and our partners remain focused and committed to making this experimental population genetically healthy and robust so that it can contribute to recovery of the Mexican wolf in the future. We all understand the challenges we face as we try to increase the wild population of this endangered species.” Read more

Oregon Court Accepts RMEF’s Brief in Wolf Lawsuit

MISSOULA, Mont.—The Oregon Court of Appeals granted the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation’s application to file a friend-of-the-Court brief in a lawsuit by animal rights groups seeking to eliminate state wildlife management in Oregon.

“We stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, its professional biologists and wildlife managers, and the Fish and Wildlife Commission in carrying out their duty of managing all of Oregon’s wildlife,” said David Allen, RMEF president and CEO. “Oregon’s science-based wolf plan indicates wolves reached delisting criteria five years ago.”

As of December 31, 2015, Oregon’s minimum wolf population estimate numbered 110, marking a 26 percent increase over the 2014 population and a 42 percent increase since 2013. Biologists also indicate the actual number of wolves currently in Oregon is likely greater than the minimum estimate.

The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission voted to delist wolves from the state Endangered Species Act (ESA) in November of 2015. The Oregon legislature ratified the commission’s decision by passing a bill, which was later signed into law, removing wolves from the state’s endangered species list. Those moves had no immediate effect on wolf management yet animal rights groups still filed suit seeking to reverse the delisting. Read more

Sportsmen’s Alliance, Maine Trappers Victorious in Lynx Lawsuit

On Wednesday, Feb. 15, U.S. District Judge Jon Levy issued his ruling in a lawsuit that sought to revoke the state of Maine’s Incidental Take Permit (ITP), which would open individual trappers to Endangered Species Act (ESA) violations. Judge Levy ruled the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s use and application of ITPs were lawful and in keeping with the requirements of the ESA.

The ruling is a clear victory for the Sportsmen’s Alliance Foundation, trappers in Maine and the Maine Department of Inland Fish and Wildlife. In his ruling, Judge Levy found that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s “actions were in keeping with the requirements of the Endangered Species Act…the National Environmental Policy Act…and the Administrative Procedure Act…” Read more

Song Sleuth iOS App ID’s Birds by Song

BOSTON, MA – Song Sleuth (www.songsleuth.com), a groundbreaking app that turns your iOS device into a powerful and accurate bird song identifier, debuts on the iTunes Store today.

Developed by Wildlife Acoustics in collaboration with world renowned bird expert and illustrator David Sibley, Song Sleuth is a simple to use application that enables anyone with an iOS device to record, recognize and positively identify the songs of nearly 200 North American birds.

The biggest leap forward for hobbyist birders since binoculars, Song Sleuth’s technological backbone is based on Wildlife Acoustics’ decade-long development of algorithms for wildlife study. Its software is similar in concept to what is used in speech recognition software, but specifically tailored to the unique acoustical characteristics of bird songs.

“By pairing sophisticated algorithms and our proprietary software, Song Sleuth delivers unprecedented accuracy in bird song identification,” said Ian Agranat, Wildlife Acoustics founder.

Read more

Boone and Crockett Club Matches NSSF Grant to Montana Council of Boy Scouts of America

MISSOULA, Mont. – Boone and Crockett Club recently matched a $2,000 grant from the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) awarded to the Montana Council of Boy Scouts of America (BSA). The $4,000 total will be used to help support the shooting sports program at Montana High Adventure Base (MOHAB) and throughout the Montana Council BSA by providing safe and up-to-date equipment.

For the past six years, NSSF has provided funds to local BSA Councils through its BSA Council Challenge Grant program. The grants awarded are to reflect planning to strengthen and increase BSA Council activities in shooting sports and commitment to the advancement of knowledge and understanding of shooting sports activites and firearms safety. The NSSF believes that learning proper skills and safety techniques at an early age often results in a lifetime interest in shooting sports and the outdoors.
This year, NSSF is providing a total of $100,000 to qualifying BSA Councils. Of this amount, the first 50 qualifying grant applicants were eligible to receive up to a maximum of $2,000 in matching grant funding from the NSSF. Boone and Crockett Club stepped in to double that amount with $2,000 to help offset the costs of the local council’s shooting program.
“By being awarded this grant we will be able to very cost-effectively increase the time spent and number of rounds fired at our Palmer Shooting Sports Complex while continuing to teach firearm safety, marksmanship, hunting and shooting sports skills,” said Luke Coccoli, the Club’s conservation programs manager. “The receipt of this grant will undoubtedly benefit the youth that attend our camps and ultimately promote, protect and preserve one of the healthiest pastimes available, shooting sports.” Read more

Stealth Cam® Unleashes Ultra HD 4K Video

Grand Prairie, TX- Stealth Cam®, continuing their innovative dominance on the trail camera market, announces a May 2017 release on the first trail camera featuring 30MP resolution and Ultra HD, 4K Video technology.

Stealth Cam is committed to producing products capable of providing the clearest images and the DS4K has every feature to help deliver these expectations. It is loaded with premium features, which include dual image sensors for optimal day and night high-resolution images, 42 NO GLO IR emitters for 100FT true invisible night time illumination, split second trigger speed, adjustable IR range, and many more. The 30 Megapixel hi resolution game camera has a 16:9 wide image ratio, manual shot capability and an SD card slot up to 64GB to house multiple images and videos when needed most. The DS4K uses Matrix™ Advanced Blur Reduction and Retina™ low light sensitivity improving the quality of low light pictures. Stealth Cam delivers yet another product to set market standards that will give users the most realistic images and videos available. To learn more about Stealth Cam products, please visit http://www.stealthcam.com.

Stealth Cam DS4K Features: Read more

Sportsmen’s Alliance Sues Department of Interior Due to Refuge System Overreach

On Feb. 10, the Sportsmen’s Alliance Foundation, the Alaska Professional Hunters Association and two rural Alaskans filed suit against the federal government seeking to overturn two Obama-era restrictions governing the management of National Wildlife Refuge and National Preserve lands within Alaska’s borders.

The Sportsmen’s Alliance Foundation and APHA believe the rules are an overreach of the federal government into the traditional state role of game management, and this action in Alaska sets a dangerous precedent that puts hunting at risk on hundreds of millions of acres of public land nationwide.

The 96 million acres of National Wildlife Refuge and Park Service lands at stake in this lawsuit cover an area slightly larger than Montana, the fourth-largest state in the union.

“Game management belongs in the hands of boots-on-the-ground state biologists who understand the traditions, goals, game animals and ecosystems better than anyone, certainly better than a federal bureaucrat simply reading a report in a Washington, D.C. office,” said Evan Heusinkveld, president and CEO of the Sportsmen’s Alliance and Foundation. “These two rules represent yet another act of the Obama Administration that sets a bad precedent for states across the country that, if not stopped, would allow federal bureaucrats or a future administration more in line with anti-hunting activists to continue seizing control of traditional state decisions.”  Read more

Great Backyard Bird Count Feb. 17-20

GW:  Bird watchers simply count the number and species of birds they see for at least 15 minutes on one or more days of the count.

LITTLE ROCK – The 20th annual Great Backyard Bird Count will draw bird-watching enthusiasts from all walks of life to take a little extra note of our feathered friends this February 17-20. All it takes to participate is a little extra time and an eye for detail to identify birds you see.

The GBBC is one of the largest and longest-running internet-based, citizen science programs, with more than 160,000 bird watchers in more than 100 countries participating. According to a release from the Audubon Society, last year’s count reported 5,689 species – more than half the known bird species in the world. Read more

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