“Bees and Pollination. How important is it?”


“Bees and Pollination. How important is it?”

 Emma Brasseaux, Beauregard Parish 4-H’er

 Editor’s Note: Emma’s essay is an entry in the 2016 4-H Honey Bee Essay contest, and it posted on this blog. Best Wishes to Emma!

As the honey bee flies along Highway 171 in Beauregard Parish, Crimson Red Clovers cover the median like a soft blanket. Along the backroads, Indian Blanket, Tick Seed Coreopsis, blackberries and dewberries abundantly provide pollen for the honey bees to do their job, which is to pollinate all of our vegetables, flowers and trees.

In additional to pollen being an important part nature’s survival, bee pollen has lots of health benefits as well. It is wonderful for natural allergy relief and is responsible for the many health benefits of raw honey. Bee pollen is rich in vitamins, minerals, proteins, lipids and fatty acids, enzymes, carotenoids and bioflavonoids, making it an antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral agent that strengthens the capillaries, reduces inflammation, stimulates the immune system and lowers cholesterol levels naturally. [1]

While our native plants are in bloom, roadsides are not cut or sprayed as to allow the honey bees to gather and spread pollen. The Kisatchie National Forest is also home to many native plants that remain untouched and are a good source of pollen for the honey bees. Also in Southwest Louisiana, beekeeping associations have been formed. These associations provide support and knowledge to veteran beekeepers as well as those interested in just starting the process. A Facebook page has also been set up where people can find out what is going on in the world of beekeeping as well as news relating to the welfare of bees.

In my interviews with local beekeepers, I learned that the honey bees and their habitats need our protection. Some of the things that have been put into action in Louisiana are “Bee Aware” flags to help identify hive locations next to an agriculturally managed crop or area and the exchange of contact information to promote open communication among landowners, farmers, applicators of pesticides and beekeepers. Beekeepers also use hive identification and hive GPS locations as a way of providing information to farmers and pesticide applicators. All of these programs were designed to help all beekeepers to protect the honey bees.

Pastor Langstroth had an instinctive love for bees and was one of the first honey bee protectors. He discovered that the size of the frames needed to be 3/8 of an inch to protect the honey bees from disease and moths. [2] He took the guesswork out of beekeeping and continued to Americanize beekeeping throughout his life. We must continue to work towards protecting the existing habitats and strive to promote the beekeeping industry, not only in our community but in our state and country as well.

We need our honey bees to keep our agricultural economy alive. Are you aware that one of every three mouthfuls of the foods you enjoy depends on pollination by honey bees and other insects? [3]Can you imagine what we would do if we didn’t have those little helpers flying around pollinating all of our plants for us? Without honey bees to spread pollen, the abundance of fruits, vegetables, nuts and plants will decline causing prices to go up. This will affect all people throughout our country. We need to make all people aware of how serious this could be if we do not take immediate action to SAVE OUR HONEY BEES AND THEIR HABITATS!

[1] http://draxe.com/bee-pollen/?utm_campaign=Article-Jan-2015&utm_medium=Social&utm_source=Facebook&utm_term=bee


[3] http://www.lsuagcenter.com/nr/rdonlyres/e7a3c920-bf81-4dc3-abdd-4675b5082ce7/104871/3478_louisiana_pollinator.pdf


Hawkins, Keith. Personal Interview. 1-20-2016

Hebert, Richard. Hebert Honey Farm. Personal Interview 1-30-2016

Horn, Tammy. Bees in America: How the Honey Bee Shaped a Nation. University Press of Kentucky, 2005

LSU AgCenter. Cooperative Standards Adopted by Louisiana Pollinator Cooperative Conservation program (LPCCP) Pub. 3478 November 2015

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SW LA Beekeepers Association: “Common Mistakes of a Beginning Beekeeper & How to Avoid Them”


SW LA Beekeepers Association: “Common Mistakes of a Beginning Beekeeper & How to Avoid Them”

Monday, January 4th, 2016, War Memorial Civic Center, 250 West 7th St., DeRidder, LA

          Mr. James Laughlin, East Texas Beekeepers, will be discussing the mistakes that new beekeepers make and how to avoid them.

Another reason to attend this meeting is to learn more about having bees by asking experienced beekeepers for advice. For more information, please contact Keith Hawkins, County Agent, 337-463-7006. Also, you may also obtain regular “beemail” updates about beekeeping by sending your request by email to khawkins@agcenter.lsu.edu.


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SW LA Beekeepers Association: Ordering Bees; Local Wax Moth Infestation.



SW LA Beekeepers Association:   Ordering Bees; Local Wax Moth Infestation.

Monday, December 7th , 2015,  7-9 PM, War Memorial Civic Center, 250 West 7th St., DeRidder, LA

One of the most important tasks for a beekeeper, beginner or experienced, is obtaining bees. This timely meeting will cover the ways beeks can order their bees in time for the spring nectar flow.

Mr. Jimmy Earl Cooley will talk about his recent infestation of wax moth in one of his hive.

Another reason to attend this meeting is to learn more about having bees by asking experienced beekeepers for advice. For more information, please contact Keith Hawkins, County Agent, 337-463-7006. Also, you may also obtain regular “beemail” updates about beekeeping by sending your request by email to khawkins@agcenter.lsu.edu.

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Backyard Organic Poultry Workshop


Backyard Organic Poultry Workshop

Saturday, December 5th, 2015, 8 AM – 4PM, War Memorial Civic Center, 250 West 7th St. DeRidder, LA

LSU AgCenter and Beauregard Master Gardeners are pleased to have Ms. Michelle Ball, a self-taught poultry enthusiast, to lead a workshop on backyard poultry. Ms. Ball will help folks start their own personal poultry flock and will assist more experienced people with organic methods of chicken rearing. She has raised 6 different generations of chicks in the last three years. Topics include: “Choosing Your Chicken”, “Chick Care”, “Fencing”, ”Coops”, “Laying Hens”, “Sprouts/Fodder”, “Eggs”, “Eggshells & Their Uses”, and “Chicken Meat”. Time will be allotted for attendees to obtain lunch at nearby restaurants.

Class size is limited to the first 30 people, and the cost for this event is $20. Deadline for enrollment is Wednesday, December 2nd, 2015. Please make your check to: Beauregard Master Gardeners, and send payment to: LSU AgCenter, PO Box 609, DeRidder, LA, 70634. For more information, please contact Keith Hawkins, County Agent, 337-463-7006.

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Big Find in the Bug world at Giltner Tree Farm


Big Find in the Bug world at Giltner Tree Farm

by George Giltner, LA Master Gardeners & Tree Farmer

On this rainy day, Microscopy was in order, and a big discovery was made here at the Treefarm.  A ten flower sampling of Tickweed Sunflowers (the yellow flowers similar to Swamp Sunflowers) revealed that they were occupied with Minute Pirate Bugs (Orius insidiosus).  OK, the big deal is that on the micro level these predators are indicated to be in heavy levels to control two spotted spider mites, European Red mites, most aphids, thrips, white flies, European corn borers, and even small caterpillars.

minute pirate bug

Minute Pirate Bug on Tickweed Sunflower, photo by George Giltner

To the average farm this is good info. Don’t mow all of those pretty yellow flowers that are blooming everywhere now.  They are loaded with beneficial wasps, bees, and micro pirate bugs, that all consume pests.

George Giltner wears several hats. He is a Tree Farmer and manages his trees sustainably. He is also a Louisiana Master Gardeners and a self-taught entomologist.

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Yellow-Necked Caterpillars: Fall Landscape Pest

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Yellow-Necked Caterpillars

By George Giltner, Adv. Master Gardener

Fall is the time of year to notice yellow-necked caterpillars, Datana spp. The head is black followed with a yellow to orange neck. The body is black with 4 longitudinal yellow lines on each side. White long hairs cover the 2-inch mature caterpillar body. A behavior characteristic, which also helps to ID this caterpillar, is the “C” or “U” shaped arching of the body when it is disturbed. Another behavioral characteristic is their group feeding, as large numbers are found on individual branches.

Check your blueberry bushes at least every two weeks from August till late fall. Treat bushes with Bt or Spinosad, or mechanically remove, or prune for control. These voracious feeders can entirely defoliate small bushes. This extensive defoliation will retard the growth of the blueberry bush, but it usually does not kill it due to late season leaf fall anyway. However if repeated yearly defoliations are allowed to occur, the bushes may die. In late fall the caterpillars leave the foliage, enter the soil and pupate for the winter.

Other trees and bushes affected include pecans, hickories, walnuts, apple, maple, elm, cherry, witch-hazel, and azalea. Usually no treatment is required for these trees and bushes due to natural predators including birds and predatory insects. Tachinid flies, especially Winthemia datanae, is the most common predator (Craighead, F.C. 1949. Insect Enemies of Eastern Forests. USDA Misc. Publ. #657. 679pp.).

2016 YNC 1

Image 1: The “C” or “U” shaped posture when disturbed helps to identify yellow-necked caterpillar.


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Image 2: Yellow necked caterpillars on Blueberry, Photo by George Giltner (August – 2015).


2016 YNC 3

Image 3: Remains of yellow necked caterpillars after predatory insect control.



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Wasp Stings – A Significant Medical Risk

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Wasp Stings – A Significant Medical Risk

By George Giltner, Adv. Master Gardener

The social wasps, paper wasps, yellow jackets, hornets, red wasps, etc., in the U.S. account for more fatalities than any other venomous animal (1). Approximately 0.5 to 4.0% is prone to “immediate hypersensitivity reactions” including life-threatening anaphylaxis. Most deaths occur within a few minutes to hours from the initial sting. Constricting of airways and throat swelling cause respiratory failure or cardiovascular collapse occurs due to a rapid drop in blood pressure (2). Therefore these stings can be quite serious.

The hot days of summer bring on numerous encounters with wasps, usually from 10 am until 6 pm. Recently, I was venturing up a ladder to the second story of my barn while a flurry of paper wasps suddenly zipped around. Needless to say, the climb became a rapid descent, then a run. One nest was on the second ladder step, and the other was at the 8-foot level. I was lucky to avoid a sting as the pheromones signal other wasps that they should also participate. Wasps are not like bees with a barbed stinger that can only be used once. Wasps have a smooth stinger that can be injected multiple times.

Wasp’s sting venom is a complex mixture of multiple compounds including proteins, peptides, enzymes and other molecules. However we can examine some of the major components to understand the medical effect of a sting (3):

  1. Acetylcholine – increases stimulation of pain nerves. Very high in hornet stings.
  2. Noradrenaline – causes constriction of blood vessels resulting in high blood pressure.
  3. Histamine – causes pain and itching. Chemical released during an allergic response.
  4. Wasp kinin – large portion of wasp venom, but it has not been understood completely.
  5. Phospholipase A – destroys cells and is a strong allergen.
  6. Phospholipase B – like A, but also used to paralyze prey.
  7. Hyaluronidase – breaks down cell walls and allows penetration of venom into tissue.
  8. Serotonin – causes irritation and pain
  9. Alarm pheromones – causes same species to attack nearby threats

The best treatment of a sting is the application of antihistamine creams, which reduces further inflammation (3). Benadryl (diphenhydramine) has proven to aid itching and rash (1). Ice soothes pain issues and reduces swelling. Wash the sting site. Continue to observe and be prepared to treat the site for bacterial infections for days afterward.

Most home remedies do not work. However it is correct that bee venom has acidic components, and wasp stings have alkaline components, but the venom quickly penetrates tissue. Therefore adding a topical treatment of alkaline (like baking soda) or acidic (like vinegar) will not be helpful. A “ chaw of tobacco” and other folk cures are also not effective. If someone is stung, it is wise to move the person into a cool environment with observers. If any allergic symptoms arise, or if the person is known to have previous allergic responses to stings, get immediate medical attention (1).



  1. www.emedicine.medscape.com
  2. www.extension.entm.purdue.edu/publichealth/insects/stinging
  3. www.compoundchem.com/chemical-composition-of-insect-Venoms.

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