Where ever you live in the world you should apply the information on working your bees that is given below when the weather conditions in your area are right. So take notes and be ready.

*****Check out the new easy to use book link above*****

Cletus Notes

Hello Everyone,

Here at Lone Star Farms in Bryan, Texas, January is the month I repair broken hive parts that I have set aside during the past year. I clean up any hive parts from dead-outs, and I spread a good coat of paint on those exterior hive parts to get them ready for the up-coming season.

January is also the month that I take inventory of all my hives, extra hive parts, and make a plan for what I want to accomplish with my bees during the coming season. Then, I am able to look at what I have on hand, and decide if I need to order anything before the season begins. If I do need something, I usually place that order in January.  It is never good when you get into the busy season and discover that you don’t have what you need. Planning ahead is key to being successful in beekeeping. If you don’t make a plan, you will always be one step behind.

Enjoy your bees!



Agricultural Fungicide Attracts Honey Bees, Study Finds




When given the choice, honey bee foragers prefer to collect sugar syrup laced with the fungicide chlorothalonil over sugar syrup alone, researchers report in the journal Scientific Reports.

The puzzling finding comes on the heels of other studies linking fungicides to declines in honey bee and wild bee populations. One recent study, for example, found parallels between the use of chlorothalonil and the presence of Nosema bombi, a fungal parasite, in bumble bees. Greater chlorothalonil use also was linked to range contractions in four declining bumble bee species.

Other research has shown that European honey bees have a very limited repertoire of detoxifying enzymes and that exposure to one potentially toxic compound - including fungicides - can interfere with their ability to metabolize others.

"People assume that fungicides affect only fungi," said University of Illinois entomology professor and department head May Berenbaum, who led the new research with postdoctoral researcher Ling-Hsiu Liao. "But fungi are much more closely related to animals than they are to plants. And toxins that disrupt physiological processes in fungi can also potentially affect them in animals, including insects."

Some scientists have argued that bees may be less susceptible to agricultural chemicals than laboratory studies suggest because the bees might detect potentially toxic chemicals in the environment and avoid them. But a 2015 study found that European honey bees and at least one species of bumble bee actually prefer food laced with neonicotinoid pesticides.

To test whether foraging honey bees showed a preference for other chemicals they are likely to encounter in the wild, Liao set up two feeding stations in a large enclosure. Foraging honey bees could fly freely from one feeder to the other, choosing to collect either sugar syrup laced with a test chemical or sugar syrup mixed with a solvent as the control. Over the course of the study, she tested honey bee responses to nine naturally occurring chemicals, three fungicides and two herbicides at various concentrations.

The trials revealed that honey bees prefer the naturally occurring chemical quercetin over controls at all concentrations tested.




"That makes sense, because everything the honey bees eat has quercetin in it," Berenbaum said. "There's quercetin in nectar, there's quercetin in pollen. Quercetin is in honey and beebread, and it's a reliable cue that bees use to recognize food."

To the researchers' surprise, the bees also preferred sugar syrup laced with glyphosate - the active ingredient in Monsanto's Roundup herbicide - at 10 parts per billion, but not at higher concentrations. And while the bees actively avoided syrup containing the fungicide prochloraz, they showed a mild preference for sugar syrup laced with chlorothalonil at 0.5 and 50 parts per billion, but not at 500 ppb.

"The bees are not only not avoiding this fungicide, they're consuming more of it at certain concentrations," Berenbaum said.
Fungicides are among the most prevalent contaminants of honey bee hives, and it is likely the bees themselves are bringing these pesticides into the colony through their food-collecting activities. While perplexing, bees' preferences for some potentially toxic chemicals may be the result of their distinct evolutionary history, Berenbaum said.

"Honey bee foragers are gleaners," she said. "They're active from early spring until late fall, and no single floral source exists for them for that whole season. If they don't have a drive to search out something new, that's going to seriously compromise their ability to find the succession of flowers they need. Unnatural chemicals might be a signal for a new food."

The new findings are worrisome in light of
research showing that exposure to fungicidesinterferes with honey bees' ability to metabolize the acaricides used by beekeepers to kill the parasitic varroa mites that infest their hives, the researchers said.

"The dose determines the poison," Berenbaum said. "If your ability to metabolize poisons is compromised, then a therapeutic dose can become a toxic dose. And that seems to be what happens when honey bees encounter multiple pesticides."

More information: Ling-Hsiu Liao et al, Behavioral responses of honey bees (Apis mellifera) to natural and synthetic xenobiotics in food, Scientific Reports (2017).
DOI: 10.1038/s41598-017-15066-5


Toxic Combo: Pesticides
and Poor Nutrition
Damage Honey Bee Health


Credit: Simone Tosi, UC San Diego


The combined effects of pesticides and a lack of nutrition form a deadly one-two punch, new research from biologists at the University of California San Diego has shown for the first time.

In a study published Dec. 20 in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, Simone Tosi, James Nieh and their colleagues used honey bees due to their important role as agricultural pollinators and “bioindicators” of environmental quality. The researchers studied how honey bees fared with exposure to neonicotinoids—pesticides broadly used in agriculture—along with limited nutrient sources, scenarios that are commonly found in agricultural areas.

The scientists studied two common neonicotinoid pesticides, clothianidin and thiamethoxam, which are used worldwide in vegetable, fruit and grain crops. However, after these pesticides are applied to crops they remain in the environment and can be found in nectar, pollen, water and soil.

The researchers were surprised to find that bee deaths increased by up to 50 percent more than they expected compared with the individual effects of pesticides and poor nutrition. Surprisingly, no previous studies have tested for such “synergistic” effects, where these threats combine and amplify the negative impacts beyond the sums of the individual factors.

“We tested the effects of different neonicotinoid pesticides, because of a growing concern and evidence about negative effects of these pesticides on pollinators,” said Tosi, a postdoctoral researcher in UC San Diego’s Division of Biological Sciences. “Our results provide the first demonstration that these stressors can synergistically interact and cause significant harm to animal survival.”

Declines in honey bee health have caused global concern due to the insect’s critical ecological role as a major pollinator. Bee health has been closely watched in recent years as nutritional sources available to honey bees have declined and contamination from pesticides has increased.


To measure energy levels in honey bees, researchers extracted their “blood”
(hemolymph) using a microcapillary tube. Credit: Riccardo Cabbri

Using honey bees as model animals, the researchers found that combined exposure to pesticide and poor nutrition decreased their health. Bees use sugar to fuel their flights and work inside the nest. Pesticides decreased their hemolymph (“bee blood”) sugar levels and therefore decreased their energy stores.

“These findings should cause us to rethink our current pesticide risk assessment procedures, which, based upon our findings, may underestimate the toxic effects of pesticides on bees,” said Tosi.

In addition, Nieh, a professor in the Section of Ecology, Behavior and Evolution, noted that their results “may have even broader implications beyond honey bees, because prior studies have not demonstrated a negative synergistic effect of pesticides and poor nutrition in animals.”



U.S. Honey Crops and Markets Report

January 2018


Due to a technical glitch, the U.S. Honey Crops and Market Report did not run in the January issue as intended. We are thus sending it out as an ABJ Extra and will print it in the February issue. Thank you for your understanding.

United States
Honey production is down in a large part of the United States due to severe weather events. Most honey has sold briskly and uncommitted stores are hard to find. This increased demand is driving up prices across the board. The Southeast and Southwest experienced lower than average honey harvests. Colonies are coming into California a bit bedraggled from extreme weather events. “We can only do so much in our efforts to bring weak colonies back,” one beekeeper said. “Over pushing seems to cause queens to fail a lot sooner. The bees need a rest.” Many beekeepers have moved to warmer climates and bulk fed to try and make up numbers for almond pollination contracts.  

Northeast—In the Northeast, beekeepers are expecting colony numbers to be down 5-30% after the winter. Colonies entered the winter in fair to poor condition, requiring more than normal feeding. Winter stores varied greatly by location, as the northeast experienced sporadic flows this fall. The majority of colonies stayed in PA over the winter, with only 15% estimated to be moved south or to California. Beekeepers foresee an increased demand in queens for the spring.  Killing frosts arrived early in some parts, surprising beekeepers who still intended to combine weak colonies. New York enjoyed an unseasonably warm October, which helped salvage honey production. Varroa levels appeared manageable this year.

A Pennsylvania reporter notes that there is “Good demand filling lots of beekeeper’s buckets, because of a short crop in this part of the country. This year PA & NY beekeepers experienced “one of the worst honey crops in years. Just too wet.”

Mideast—Colonies are entering the winter in fair to poor condition in the Mideast, with colony numbers down 5-50% compared to the previous year. Bees are hungry and are requiring more than normal feeding. The movement of colonies from the Mideast over the winter varies greatly by state, with only 10% estimated to be moved further south or to California from Tennessee and Virginia, but 90% from West Virginia.

There is a shortage of good quality, light honey, so remaining stores are selling well at good retail and wholesale prices. Harvests from Tulip Poplar were down significantly in Tennessee, with lower overall production. What has been harvested is lighter in color than normal. The crop throughout the regions has fallen short and so “packers are trying to stock up.”

Southeast—Florida was hit hard by the hurricane season, which impacted the fall nectar flow. Reporters note that compared to last year, the size of this year’s crop is 80% overall, with beekeepers harvesting 85% for orange, 150% for palmetto, and 50-60% for pepper. “Hurricane Irma caused a lot of flooding throughout FL. Many hives were lost. Many orange groves were damaged as well by the wind and flooding.” In Georgia, Galberry was down substantially, with colonies only producing 40% of last year’s production. Most colonies are prepped and ready for the southern winter, with enough food stores. In Alabama harvests were up 20%, though state yields were reported at only 38 lbs per colony.

Colonies are entering the winter in poor to good condition, depending on location. Losses are expected and operations predict running only 70%-90% of the same number of colonies in the following spring. Package bees and queens are expected to be at the usual demand. “Bees seem to be smaller clusters at this time this year compared to last year. The mite count seems harder to control this year.” Beekeepers are still concerned about the difficulty in obtaining antibiotics. Frequent discussions were held at the county level during October in order to become more familiar with the revised regulatory mandates.

Because of the severe weather events, honey crops are down and prices have increased, especially at the retail level. However, imports from foreign countries slow sales on most honey except orange blossom. Though one reporter notes that “buyers do want good clean USA honey.”

Southwest—The Southwest has been struggling with a dearth and then the aftereffects of Hurricane Harvey. Honey crops were reported down 10% compared to last year. Despite the poor weather conditions during the summer, colonies are entering the winter in good shape with adequate stores. In Louisiana colonies produced 90 lbs, with beekeepers increasing colony numbers by 5%.  

East Central—Overall beekeepers report that colonies are entering the winter in good condition with fair to adequate winter stores, with beekeepers feeding to bulk up colonies when necessary. Reports from Michigan attest that the honey harvest is down substantially compared to last year, though colony numbers are up 5-10%, while Indiana reports a 10% increase in harvest. The majority of the bees have been moved out of the state to southern climates for the winter.  In Wisconsin, there was a late honey flow that provided extra honey.

Indiana reports that bees are entering the winter in good condition with adequate honey stores. Flows were good with colonies averaging 110-130 lbs over the season. “A good year, lots of nice good quality honey.” Varroa populations have been monitored and assuming normal winter losses, colony numbers next year should be similar or increased by 25% compared to last year. About 30-50% of beekeepers moved their colonies south or to California for the winter. There is an expected increase for package bees for the spring. Beekeepers are joining the local initiative of specialty marketing “Indiana Grown”, an as members can use the trademarked logo on their honey jars. Honey prices are down somewhat, though sales are brisk because of a shortage in honey. During the winter months honey sales are traditionally slower than during the summer. Because of strong demand “some beekeepers are almost sold out; never enough honey available.”

lllinois reporters note that colonies are in good shape for the winter with adequate stores. Operations are planning to increase in size through extensive splitting in the coming spring. The winter stores are currently adequate, with few bees being moved out of the state. Honey prices are stable, with only fair movement in the wholesale market.

In Wisconsin, one reporter predicts that demand for packages and queens will be down 25% and 10% respectively. Also, as the state is in a fire ant free zone “Brokers are now taking any strong hive from 1-1,000. They are letting hobby beekeepers piggyback rides or trucks to California. ….There will be a major demand for queens in March and April if all those bees come back home strong and need to be split.” Due to lower harvests than in prior years, the region as a whole reports strong to heavy demand for honey in both the wholesale and retail market. One reporter notes that there is “more public demand for local honey.”

West Central—In this region bees are entering the winter in fair to good shape with adequate to good stores, especially in North Dakota. Assuming normal winter losses, reporters in Kansas note that they will be running larger operations next year, while in the Dakotas they estimate running similar numbers or decreasing by 5%. About 70%-95% of commercial colonies are expected to move south or to California for the winter. Colony numbers are down in South Dakota, with 16% loss reported from set out to supering and 20% loss from supering to shipping.

A reporter from Iowa notes that “colony health is much improved over last year. But that may be due to the fact that most of our colonies are 2 years or younger. We struggle to get colonies past their 3rd year. We’ve tried multiple formic acid treatments, oxalic treatments, splitting hives in the spring, resistant genetic stock! Things that used to work are not working anymore. It is getting frustrating.”
 Reporters attest that honey harvests are down 20-22% in South Dakota with colony averages of 56 lbs, down 25% in Kansas averaging 84 lbs per colony, down 25% in Iowa with colony averages of 80 lbs, but match or exceed by 10% harvests from the prior year in the rest of the region. From Nebraska we learn that an “unusually strong fall flow augmented surplus and laid in winter stores,” leaving “colonies in great shape for winter.”

Due to adequate supply, honey prices are stable, and low availability in many other parts of the country is driving brisk sales in both the retail and the wholesale market. “Small packers and small beekeepers are looking hard for Kansas honey to fill their orders.” A shortage in honey availability is driving large packers to offer price increases. Bulk honey prices are thus rapidly rising. “Honey is selling well everywhere.” Very little uncommitted stores remain. Everyone wants “Local, local, local.”

Intermountain—This region reports varied honey crops. Beekeepers now have supers pulled and honey extracted. Honey production was around average in Utah and Idaho and below average in Colorado. October was cool with varied precipitation.
Colony health is very varied, depending on the location. Some colonies that looked great in September took a turn for the worse in October. The problem is scattered in nature, with some yards experiencing minimal loss while others have almost total loss. Beekeepers suspect either the mite populations were larger than anticipated or some of the treatments failed. Many beekeepers moved their colonies south to warmer climates.

In Nevada harvests doubled compared to last year, with colonies averaging 46 lbs. Good flows mean the colonies have good stores going into winter, with no feeding required. Overall the bees look good.

By the end of October or first part of November, many commercial beekeepers moved their bees to California or other Southern States for the winter. Others were still planning to place their bees into potato sheds in November prior to taking them to California in the early spring for the almond pollination. Of course this time of the year, beekeepers also utilize their time to take care of maintenance issues on supers, top and bottom boards and frames.

West—We had no individual reports from this region. The national USDA report notes that hot, dry weather in California persisted into late October with temperatures soaring into the low 100s. Such heat means bees continue to struggle. Beekeepers are doing their best to bulk up hives to get them strong enough for almonds.

California hives have been hurt this summer, shrinking in some cases from 9 to 10 frames down to 4 to 5. A beekeeper noted that there was a steady stream of trucks returning bees to California to settle for the winter. Bees that had been placed out of state also have suffered, especially those that were in hurricane-hit states like Texas and Florida, where many colonies were lost or damaged and forage was reduced.

In many cases in California and elsewhere, beekeepers will make extra efforts to rebuild colonies with extra artificial feeding. California almond trees begin their bloom in mid-February, and growers want bees in the orchards by the first of the month. In order to secure crop insurance, growers need a minimum of two hives per acre. Typical rates for an eight-frame colony have ranged recently from $170-190.Beekeepers will learn the survival rates for their hives in mid-late January.

As November approached, beekeepers anticipated seasonal rains ahead, which could mean mustard and willow blooms for the bees to forage on by mid-December. Eucalyptus will start later in the month.

Beekeepers say the fires in California’s Sonoma Valley had limited impact on bees, since few if any commercial beekeepers are in the area, though some hobby hives may have been hurt.


In volumes of 10,000 pounds or greater unless otherwise stated

(Courtesy September 2017 USDA National Honey Report)

Prices paid to beekeepers for extracted, unprocessed honey in major producing states by packers, handlers & other large users, cents per pound, f.o.b. or delivered nearby, containers exchanged or returned, prompt delivery & payment unless otherwise stated.

-Report includes both new and old crop honey-
(# Some in Small Lot — +Some delayed payments or previous commitment)


Soybean Light Amber $1.68
Avocado Extra Light Amber $1.80 - $2.08
Alfalfa Extra Light Amber $1.65
Alfalfa Light Amber $1.55
Buckwheat Light Amber $1.80
Cotton Extra Light Amber $2.08
Cotton Light Amber $1.80 - 2.08
Sage Light Amber $1.65
Orange White $2.40
Valley Extra Light Amber $2.08
Wildflower Extra Light Amber $2.08
Wildflower Light Amber $1.80
Alfalfa White $2.08
Alfalfa Extra Light Amber $2.08
Buckwheat Extra Light Amber $2.08
Buckwheat Light Amber $1.60
Canola White $2.08
Canola Light Amber $1.60
Clover White $1.92 - $2.08
Clover Extra Light Amber $2.08
Sunflower White $1.65
Wildflower Extra Light Amber $2.08
Wildflower Light Amber $2.08
Brazilian Pepper Light Amber $1.70
Mangrove Light Amber $1.75
Cotton Light Amber $1.75
Tupelo Extra Light Amber $1.75
Wildflower Extra Light Amber $1.75
Wildflower Light Amber $1.60
Wildflower Amber $1.60
Brazilian Pepper Light Amber $1.80
Wildflower Light Amber $1.60
Basswood White $2.08
Basswood Extra Light Amber $2.08
Buckwheat Light Amber $1.80
Canola White $2.08
Clover White $2.08
Clover Extra Light Amber $2.08
Clover Light Amber $2.08
Sunflower Extra Light Amber $2.08
Wildflower Extra Light Amber $2.08
Soy Light Amber $1.75
Tallow  Light Amber $1.60
Clover White $2.08
Clover Extra Light Amber $2.08
Knapweed White $2.08
Wildflower Extra Light Amber $2.08
New York
Basswood Extra Light Amber $2.35
Clover White $2.08
Clover Extra Light $2.08
Spurge Light Amber $1.60 - $2.08
Wildflower Extra Light Amber $2.08
Alfalfa Light Amber $1.80
Alfalfa Amber $1.80
Wildberry Light Amber $1.80

Prices paid to Canadian Beekeepers for unprocessed, bulk honey by packers and importers in U. S. currency, f.o.b. shipping point, containers included unless otherwise stated. Duty and crossing charges extra. Cents per pound.
Canola White $1.03 - 1.25
Basswood White $1.03

Prices paid to importers for bulk honey, duty paid, containers included, cents per pound, ex-dock or point of entry unless otherwise stated.

Mixed Flowers Extra Light $1.39
Mixed Flowers Light Amber $1.39
Mixed Flowers Extra Light $2.10 - $2.16
ORGANIC Extra Light $2.27
ORGANIC Light Amber $2.10
Mixed Flower Extra Light $0.94 - $0.98
Mixed Flower Light Amber $0.92 - $0.99
Mustard Extra Light $0.89 - $1.07
Mustard Light Amber $0.89 - $1.07
Mixed Flower Light Amber $0.86 - $1.15
Mixed Flower Amber $0.82 - $1.07
Mixed Flower Extra Light $0.89 - $1.24
Sunflower White $0.89 - $1.07
Sunflower Extra Light $1.07



How Honey Bee Gut Bacteria Help
to Digest Their Pollen-rich Diet


Scientists have uncovered which bacterial species in the bee gut allow them to
digest their pollen-rich diet. Credit: Bob Peterson, Flickr



The honey bee gut is colonized by specialized bacteria that help digest components of the floral pollen diet and produce molecules that likely promote bee health. In a recent study published in PLOS Biology, a group of researchers from Switzerland uncovered which bacterial species perform which specific digestive functions in the bee gut.

The authors measured the repertoire of simple chemical compounds - the so-called "metabolome" - from bee guts. They then compared the gut metabolomes of bees colonized with each bacterial species individually and in combination. This let the team identify what each bacterial species contributes to the bee.

They found one Lactobacillus that digests convert specific plant compounds called flavonoids - abundant in pollen and recently linked to the health of mice and humans through their breakdown by the gut microbiota. Another bee gut bacterial species, Bifidobacterium asteroides, triggered the production of bee hormones that can modulate the immune system and behavior of its host.

Honey bees, a principal pollinator in agriculture and natural environments, have suffered from colony declines in recent years. The gut bacteria in bees and their pollen-rich diet are known contributors to honey bees' health, and understanding the functions of the various bacteria could have implications for colony health as a whole.

“We took advantage of the key characteristics of the bee gut microbiota: its simplicity.” says lead author Philipp Engel. “Contrary to human gut microbiota, the bee gut is composed of only a few bacterial species. This makes analyzing each member separately and determining its contribution to the overall metabolite changes in the gut feasible.”

“We have identified many exciting metabolic functions of bee gut bacteria. The next step is to understand how these functions impact colony's health so that one day we can apply our findings in apiaries.”

The original research paper is freely available in PLOS Biology: