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.

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Cletus Notes

Hello Everyone,

February is a busy month here at Lone Star Farms in Bryan, Texas. This is the month that I put together all that equipment I ordered last month. It is time consuming to put together several boxes, frames, tops and bottoms. Then, when you finish all that, you still have to get the equipment painted.

By working with that good plan I made in January, I am able to have all the parts I need to complete my February work load. I don’t have to re-order anything which would only slow the process down.

I believe in keeping my bee yard in good order, so February is a good time to perform that task. I make sure that all the hives are sitting level on their stands, and that the grass and bushes are cut away from the hives. I like to have plenty of work space around each hive. The bees will need unobstructed access into their hive entrance when the nectar sources become available to them.

February is a good time to inspect all of my feeders to make sure they are clean, in good working order, and ready to go, in case they are needed when I perform my first hive inspection around the first of March.

The start of the bee season will be exploding here in Texas by the first of March, and if you have a passion for beekeeping like I do even after 50 years, you know how hard it is to contain your excitement.

Love and enjoy your bees.

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Diet Switches Honey Bee Larvae
from Queen Pathway
to Worker Development  

 

Scientists at Queen Mary University of London and Australian National University have unraveled how changes in nutrition in the early development of honey bees can result in vastly different adult characteristics.

Queen and worker honey bees are almost genetically identical, but receive a different diet as larvae. The researchers have found that specific protein patterns on their genome play an important role in determining which one they develop into.

These proteins, known as histones, act as switches that control how the larvae develop. Diet determines which switches are activated. They found that the queen develops faster and the worker developmental pathway is actively switched on from a default queen developmental program.

This change is caused by epigenetics - a dynamic set of instructions that exist 'on top' of the genetic information. Epigentic modifications encode and direct the program of events that leads to differential gene expression and worker or queen developmental outcome.

The study, published in Genome Research, describes the first genome wide map of histone patterns in the honey bee and the first between any organism of the same sex that differs in reproductive division of labor.

Bees are also very important pollinators - so it is crucial to understand their molecular biology, how they develop and the mechanisms that regulate this.

Lead author Dr Paul Hurd, from Queen Mary University of London, said: "The ability of an individual larva to become a worker or a queen is due to the way genes are switched on or off in response to the specific diet; this determines such differing outcomes from the same genome."

"We show that queens and workers have specific histone patterns even though their DNAs are the same. These proteins control both structural and functional aspects of the organism's genetic material and have the capacity to determine which part of the genome, and when, has to be activated to respond to both internal and external stimuli."

The histones have small chemical tags, or epigenetic modifications, that allow them to act differently to those that do not, usually by allowing access to the DNA and genes. The histones act a bit like cogs, allowing stretches of DNA to be densely rolled up. Epigenetic modifications of histones enable identical DNA to behave in different ways, because it causes the histones to unravel stretches of DNA making them accessible. These stretches of DNA can then be transcribed and translated into proteins.

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Epigenetic modifications of histones through DNA methylation.
Credit: National Institutes of Health


Co-author Professor Ryszard Maleszka, from Australian National University, added: "The extent of histone modifications uncovered by this study was remarkable and exceeded our expectations. We were able to identify where the important differences are in the genomes of workers and queens."

Epigenetic information can be altered by environmental factors, including diet. In the case of the honey bee, the queen larvae are fed a diet of royal jelly, a potent substance capable of changing developmental instructions.

Dr. Hurd said: "Think of the genome as the instruction book of everything that is possible, but the epigenetics is the way in which those instructions are read. Epigenetics is about interpretation and of course there are many different ways to interpret these instructions and when and in response to what."

The authors found that some of the most important epigenetic differences are in regions of the honey bee genome that are not part of genes. For the first time, these caste-specific regulatory DNA regions that are so important in making a queen or a worker have been identified.

Professor Maleszka said: "Our findings are important because a high level of similarity of epigenetic tool kits between honey bees and mammals makes this familiar insect an invaluable system to investigate the sophistications of epigenetic regulation that cannot be addressed in humans or other mammals."

To read the paper abstract:
https://genome.cshlp.org/content/early/2018/08/20/gr.236497.118

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Asian Hornets: Lead Me
to the Nest

 

Asian hornets attack honey bee colonies in much of Europe. The United Kingdom doesn’t want this hungry predator feasting on their hives. They’ve set up an effective eradication program, successfully destroying the unwanted invaders on two separate incursions.

New technology will make finding the nests of these voracious hornets easier. Research shows that electronic radio tags can be used to track invasive Asian hornets and stop them colonizing the UK and killing honey bees.
Scientists from the University of Exeter attached tiny tags to Asian hornets, then used a tracking device to follow them to their nests; the first time this has been achieved. They tested the technique in southern France and Jersey - where Asian hornets are well established - and the tags led researchers to five previously undiscovered nests.

"Our new method of tracking offers a really important new tool to tackle the spread of this invader, providing an efficient means of finding hornets' nests in urban, rural and wooded environments," said lead researcher Dr. Peter Kennedy, of the Environment and Sustainability Institute on the University of Exeter's Penryn Campus in Cornwall. The technique demonstrated in their study could help protect Britain's "beleaguered pollinator populations".

"It is vital to find the nests early in the season to prevent the hornet spreading, as later in the year hundreds of new queens emerge and disperse from each nest, each with the potential to make new nests," said Professor Juliet Osborne, a co-author on the study. The work was funded as part of Defra's efforts to prepare for future outbreaks of the Asian hornet in the UK.

Nicola Spence, Defra Deputy Director for Plant and Bee Health, said: "This work is key for ensuring a rapid response to Asian hornets when sightings are confirmed, and in future bee inspectors will be able to use this technique to take swift action."

"In France, the Asian hornet is unlikely to be eliminated, so efforts are now focused more on limiting their impact," said Dr. Denis Thiéry from INRA Bordeaux-Aquitaine in France, who collaborated on this work.

Mr Willie Peggie, Director of The States of Jersey Department of the Environment, where the technique was also tested, said: "We are pleased to be investigating efficient methods of tracking Asian hornets to their nests, as we're concerned about their impact on our wild insect pollinators, as well as their effect on local honey production."

The researchers used the smallest radio tags available - made by UK firm Biotrack Ltd - and attached them to hornets with sewing thread. Hornets were able to carry them as long as the tag weighed less than 80% of the insect's weight.

The British Beekeepers Association are also pleased about the development of a reliable technique for tracking this invasive predator, and stated: "The BBKA are greatly concerned about the possible incursion by the Asian Hornet because of the devastation likely to be caused to honey bees and other pollination insects."

Adult Asian hornets "hawk" at beehives, meaning that they hover outside to grab bees, before dismembering them and taking them back to their nest to feed to larvae.

The first Asian hornet discovered in Britain was in Gloucestershire in 2016, when a nest was found and destroyed. Another nest was destroyed in Woolacombe, Devon, last year. In April this year, a single hornet was found in Lancashire.

Asian hornets are smaller than native European hornets, have a largely dark brown or black body and yellow-tipped legs, a distinctive orange-yellow stripe near the end of their abdomen, and often a thin orange-yellow line just behind the "waist". Their face is orange, and the back of the head is black, unlike the European hornet in which both the face and back of the head are yellow.

Any suspected sighting of an Asian hornet should be reported, ideally with a photo, via email to
alertnonnative@ceh.ac.ukor by using the Asian Hornet Watch app.

The paper, published in the journal Communications Biology, is entitled: "Searching for nests of the invasive Asian hornet (Vespa velutina) using radio-telemetry."
http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s42003-018-0092-9

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Neonics: From Bees to Birds

 

Health impacts of neonicotinoids may go well beyond bees, according to a new University of Guelph study. Turns out that wild turkeys can end up with neonics in their livers, providing evidence that this common agrochemical is being ingested by free-ranging animals.

The researchers from the Ontario Veterinary College are among the first to study the broader effects of neonics on wildlife. Published in
Environmental Science and Pollution Research, the study showed that nearly 10 of the 40 wild turkey carcasses tested had detectable levels of neonicotinoids in their livers. Two types of the insecticide were found in some birds.

The researchers also found corn and soybean seeds coated with the insecticide in the digestive system of some birds. "Wild turkeys supplement their diet with seeds from farm fields," said pathobiology professor Claire Jardine. She conducted the study with former pathobiology professor Nicole Nemeth, who is now at the University of Georgia, pathobiology PhD Amanda MacDonald, and Philippe Thomas, a wildlife toxicologist with Environment and Climate Change Canada.

"There has been growing concern among natural resource managers, conservationists and hunters about whether the use of neonics may be linked to poor reproductive output of wild turkeys."

While researchers have focused on health risks of neonicotinoids to bees, studying exposure levels in larger wildlife species is critical in understanding wider impacts on migratory behaviour, reproduction and mortality, said Jardine.

"Our results serve as baseline data for southern Ontario wild turkeys and provide context for reference values in future analyses."

MacDonald began the study after officials with the Ontario Federation of Hunters and Anglers called for research into the potential threat posed by neonics to wild turkeys.

"A number of member hunters throughout southern Ontario had seen wild turkeys in the fields eating these seeds," said MacDonald. "In certain areas, they noticed a lack of young birds and wanted to know if neonicotinoids had anything to do with it."

The study proves wild turkeys consumed neonic-treated seeds, but long-term health effects on the birds remain unknown, added MacDonald. Previous studies have found that neonic-coated seeds cause health risks in partridges, pigeons and quail. Small amounts of the insecticide have been shown to affect body mass, reproductive efforts and perhaps mortality in migratory white-crowned sparrows.

"We need to continue to assess levels of neonics in a variety of wildlife, especially those that may feed off the ground or consume plants and insects and therefore might be more likely to come into contact with them," said Nemeth.


Read the open access paper :http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11356-018-2093-0