If you are a member and have anything that you feel is important to chemical free beekeeping, please email it to me. I will post it in this section in a future issue. Thank you. Dennis

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.

Last month in the warmer states was the time to pull honey off the hives, extract it and get those bees moved back around. This month in the cooler states is the time to do the same thing.

In last month's newsletter we discussed how to treat mites in the hive. This month we will discuss:

Why does some hives have a high mite count?

There are several reason why a hive can have a high mite count but the biggest reason is that the queen is not producing hygienic off-spring. The word "Hygienic" can mean lots of different things to lots of different beekeepers. My definition of Hygienic means that the queen is laying off-spring that will be able to maintain a very low mite level without the use of pesticides. There is no way to have a Mite-Free hive. Mites are here to stay. With a hygienic queen, the bees are able to co-exist with mites by keeping their numbers down. It is not necessary to put chemicals in your hive if the queen is truly hygienic.

Next month we will discuss other reasons for a high mite count in a hive.

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 Bee Pollen Supplements Can Cause Anaphylactic Reactions.         

 Although many people take bee pollen as a health supplement, it can cause severe anaphylactic reactions. However, most people are unaware of the risks, states an article published in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).

 A case study in the journal illuminates the possible hazards of ingesting bee pollen. A 30-year-old woman with seasonal allergies but no history of allergies to food, drugs, insects or latex had an anaphylactic reaction after taking bee pollen. She had swelling of the eyelids, lips and throat, difficulty swallowing, hives and other life-threatening symptoms. After emergency treatment and discontinuation of the bee pollen supplements, there were no further reactions.

 "Anaphylaxis associated with the consumption of bee pollen has been reported in the literature, but many people remain unaware of this potential hazard," write Dr. Amanda Jagdis, University of British Columbia, and Dr. Gordon Sussman, St. Michael's Hospital and the University of Toronto.

 Anaphylactic reactions after ingesting bee pollen have been reported in people with no history of allergies or only seasonal allergies. In a Greek study in which atopic participants underwent skin tests for reactions to bee pollen, 73% (of 145 patients) had positive skin test reactions to one or more types of bee pollen extracts.

 "Health care providers should be aware of the potential for reaction, and patients with pollen allergy should be advised of the potential risk when consuming these products — it is not known who will have an allergic reaction upon ingesting bee pollen," conclude the authors.

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  Commonly Used Pesticide Turns Honey Bees Into 'Picky Eaters'. 

Biologists at UC San Diego have discovered that a small dose of a commonly used crop pesticide turns honey bees into "picky eaters" and affects their ability to recruit their nestmates to otherwise good sources of food.

 The results of their experiments, detailed in this week's issue of the Journal of Experimental Biology, have implications for what pesticides should be applied to bee-pollinated crops and shed light on one of the main culprits suspected to be behind the recent declines in honey bee colonies.

 Since 2006, beekeepers in North America and Europe have lost about one-third of their managed bee colonies each year due to "colony collapse disorder." While the exact cause is unknown, researchers believe pesticides have contributed to this decline. One group of crop pesticides, called "neonicotinoids," has received particular attention from beekeepers and researchers.

 The UC San Diego biologists focused their study on a specific neonicotinoid known as "imidacloprid," which has been banned for use in certain crops in some European countries and is being increasingly scrutinized in the United States.

 "In 2006, it was the sixth most commonly used pesticide in California and is sold for agricultural and home garden use," said James Nieh, a professor of biology at UC San Diego who headed the research project with graduate student Daren Eiri, the first author of the study. "It is known to affect bee learning and memory."

 The two biologists found in their experiments that honey bees treated with a small, single dose of imidacloprid, comparable to what they would receive in nectar, became "picky eaters."

 "In other words, the bees preferred to only feed on sweeter nectar and refused nectars of lower sweetness that they would normally feed on and that would have provided important sustenance for the colony," said Eiri. "In addition, bees typically recruit their nestmates to good food with waggle dances, and we discovered that the treated bees also danced less."

 The two researchers point out that honey bees that prefer only very sweet foods can dramatically reduce the amount of resources brought back to the colony. Further reductions in their food stores can occur when bees no longer communicate to their kin the location of the food source.

 "Exposure to amounts of pesticide formerly considered safe may negatively affect the health of honey bee colonies," said Nieh.

 To test how the preference of sugary sources changed due to imidacloprid, the scientists individually harnessed the bees so only their heads could move. By stimulating the bees' antennae with sugar water, the researchers were able to determine at what concentrations the sugar water was rewarding enough to feed on. Using an ascending range of sugar water from 0 to 50 percent, the researchers touched the antennae of each bee to see if it extended its mouthparts. Bees that were treated with imidacloprid were less willing to feed on low concentrations of sugar water than those that were not treated.

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 Blowing in the Wind: How Hidden Flower Features are Crucial for Bees. 

As gardeners get busy filling tubs and borders with colorful bedding plants, scientists at the Universities of Cambridge and Bristol have discovered more about what makes flowers attractive to bees rather than humans. Published today in the British Ecological Society's journal Functional Ecology, their research reveals that Velcro-like cells on plant petals play a crucial role in helping bees grip flowers – especially when the wind gets up.

 The study focuses on special cells found on the surface of petals, whose stunning structure is best seen under an electron microscope. According to lead author, Dr Beverley Glover: "Many of our common garden flowers have beautiful conical cells if you look closely – roses have rounded conical petal cells while petunias have really long cells, giving petunia flowers an almost velvety appearance, particularly visible in the dark-colored varieties."

 Glover's group previously discovered that when offered snapdragons with conical cells and a mutant variety without these cells, bees prefer the former because the conical cells help them grip the flower. "It's a bit like Velcro, with the bee claws locking into the gaps between the cells," she explains.

 Compared with many garden flowers, however, snapdragons have very complicated flowers; bees have to land on a vertical face and pull open a heavy lip to reach the nectar so Glover was not surprised that grip helps. But she wanted to discover how conical cells help bees visiting much simpler flowers.

 "Many of our garden flowers like petunias, roses and poppies are very simple saucers with nectar in the bottom, so we wanted to find out why having conical cells to provide grip would be useful for bees landing on these flowers. We hypothesized that maybe the grip helped when the flowers blow in the wind."

 Using two types of petunia, one with conical cells and a mutant line with flat cells, Glover let a group of bumblebees that had never seen petunias before forage in a large box containing both types of flower, and discovered they too preferred the conical-celled flowers.

 They then devised a way of mimicking the way flowers move in the wind. "We used a lab shaking platform that we normally use to mix liquids, and put the flowers on that. As we increased the speed of shaking, mimicking increased wind speed, the bees increased their preference for the conical-celled flowers," she says.

 The results, Glover says, give ecologists a deeper insight into the extraordinarily subtle interaction between plant and pollinator. "Nobody knew what these cells were for, and now we have a good answer that works for pretty much all flowers," she concludes. "It's is too easy to look at flowers from a human perspective, but when you put yourself into the bee's shoes you find hidden features of flowers can be crucial to foraging success."