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.

Cletus Notes

Winter is upon us and the beekeepers most important activity of the year is here. The “Fall Inspection”. What you do in the fall will determine how successful you will be in the spring. If you perform a good fall inspection, you will limit the number of loses you will have from winter. If your bees can’t winter successfully then spring really doesn’t matter. Winter is the hardest time of the year on your bees and they need to be prepared for it. As managers, that is where we come in. If the bees have everything they need to withstand the winter months then they stand a good chance of surviving the winter and going into springtime with a strong and healthy hive.

These are some things every beekeeper should take into account during their fall inspection;

  1. Evaluate the strength of the hive. If numbers are not adequate, unite the hive with another hive. Don’t wait until the winter months kill the hive.
  2. Determine the amount of stores the bees have to winter on. In the southern U.S. you should leave a minimum of forty pounds for the bees to winter on. In the northern regions, you should double that amount.
  3. Monitor the mite load in the hive. If the mite load is too high, perform powdered sugar treatment every week for a minimum of four weeks. If the mite load is still too high, repeat the treatment. Plan on re-queening the hive in the spring.
  4. Make sure that the hive equipment is in good condition.

Our hives don’t have to suffer and become a winter statistic. By making sure that our hives have everything they need, our bees will be successful and so will we.



 Bees, fruits and money

 Decline of pollinators will have severe impact on nature and mankind

 Two-thirds of the crops humans use for food production and the majority of wild plant species depend on pollination by insects such as bees and hover-flies. This ecosystem service, however, provided by nature to humans for free, is increasingly failing. As an example, after 3000 years of sustainable agriculture, farmers in the Chinese province Sichuan have to pollinate apple flowers themselves by using pollination sticks —brushes made of chicken feathers and cigarette filter. This is one small example of a problem occurring world-wide, including Europe. The work has been carried out in part part by STEP, an EU-funded Framework program Seven (FP7) project.

 A global survey of several studies demonstrated a severe decline of pollinators and provision of pollination services in a wide range of intensively managed temperate and tropical agroecosystems. Considering that global crop production worth 153 billion Euros (for Europe 22 billion Euros) relies on insect pollination, the pollinators' decline has direct impact on the stability of food production and consumer prices, and might also have serious consequences for human health.

 A decrease of fruit and vegetable availability could impact the health of consumers worldwide. The World Health Organization (WHO) has set a lower limit of 400 grams per capita per day for fruit and vegetable consumption. Some studies demonstrated than even now more than 50% of the European households fall below this recommendation. In the case of pollinator declines and increasing food prices, this situation is very likely to worsen. 

"Finally, wild pollinators provide an inestimable contribution to maintain the diversity of wild plants. Importantly, a wide range of pollinators with different preferences to flowers and different daily and seasonal activity is necessary to ensure pollination. Relying on managed honeybees only, which are also in decline by themselves, is a very risky strategy", said Prof. Ingolf Steffan-Dewenter from the University of Würzburg, Germany. "Therefore conservation of pollinators' habitats and implementation of agro-environmental practices to enhance wild plants resources and nesting sites for bees in agricultural landscapes are vitally important!"


 Honey Bees Fight Back Against Varroa

The parasitic mite Varroa destructoris a major contributor to the recent mysterious death of honey bee (Apis mellifera) colonies. New research published in BioMed Central's open access journal Genome Biologyfinds that specific proteins, released by damaged larvae and in the antennae of adult honey bees, can drive hygienic behavior of the adults and promote the removal of infected larvae from the hive.

V. destructorsucks the blood (hemolymph) of larval and adult bees leaving them weakened and reducing the ability of their immune systems to fight off infections. Not that honey bees have strong immune systems in the first place since they have fewer immunity genes than solitary insects such as flies and moths. These tiny mites can also spread viral disease between hosts. This double onslaught is thought to be a significant contributor to Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD).

But all is not lost - honey bees have evolved a way to fight back: hygienic behavior where diseased or parasitized larvae are removed from their brood cells, and Varroa-sensitive hygienic behavior which they use to reduce the number of reproductive mites on remaining larvae.

To find exactly how bees respond to hive infections, researchers from Canada looked at the natural behavioral of bees in the presence of damaged larvae and compared this to protein differences in the larvae and adults. After scanning 1200 proteins the team found that several proteins, including LOC552009 (of unknown function but similar to ApoO), found in the antennae of adults were associated with both uncapping brood cells and the removal of larvae. Other proteins were involved in olfaction or in signal transduction, probably helping the adults find infected larvae amongst a brood.

In damaged larvae, transglutaminase, a protein involved in blood clotting, was upregulated, which appeared to be a key component in regulating the adult's behavior. Other proteins indicated adaptations to help fight infection, including chitin biosynthesis and immune responses.

Dr Leonard Foster from CHIBI at the University of British Columbia, who led this research said, "Beekeepers have previously focused on selecting bees with traits such as enhanced honey production, gentleness and winter survival. We have found a set of proteins which could be used to select colonies on their ability to resist Varroa mite infestation and can be used to find individuals with increased hygienic behavior. Given the increasing resistance of Varroa to available drugs this would provide a natural way of ensuring honey farming and potentially survival of the species."


  The following article was sent in by member Teddi Irwin

How to Help a Honey-bound Hive

Bee hives overfull of honey or pollen indicate a bee colony that’s outgrown its hive. Use this advice to prevent a swarm and keep the honey flowing.

By Deb Buehler

While it’s tempting to think that no hive can produce too much of such a good thing, a hive loaded with luscious honey can become bogged down, taking up space the queen bee needs for continuing brood production. A hive that’s crowded by too much honey or pollen is perfectly positioned to swarm because if the a lack of open comb in which to lay eggs encourages the queen to relocate part of the hive. Staying aware of the amount of pollen or honey inside your brood boxes is an important part of preventing honey- or pollen-bound hives and swarms.

Identifying Honey- or Pollen-bound Hives
Looking in the brood boxes of a hive, you can expect to see cells with brood, pollen, nectar, water and honey. A healthy hive will have brood of all ages: eggs, larva, capped brood and emerging bees. Pollen, the protein bees consume to survive, is generally stored near the brood. Nectar, honey with and without caps, and water can be farther from the brood but still available in nearby cells or frames. However, if there is a large percentage of cells filled with just honey or pollen, you need to take a closer look at the situation.

“If there is a nectar flow and there isn’t enough room for a queen, you will see queen cells,” says beekeeper Janet Hart, central regional director of the Illinois Beekeepers Association. Elongated and shaped a bit like a peanut shell, queen cells hang from the comb-side of a frame. “If you see queen cells, you know they are thinking of swarming and it’s time to give the hive more room.”

Hart recommends providing more room by adding more than one honey super to the hive. A hive generally has two brood boxes—the larger boxes in which the bees lives year-round—and honey supers are stacked on top of those boxes during the spring and summer months to give the hive extra room. The bees will move honey "upstairs" to the supers if it’s available. Beekeepers can then harvest honey from only the supers, leaving honey in the brood boxes for the bees to use in winter. Expanding the space in this way also challenges the bees and might help prevent a swarm. However, if queen cells are present, Hart warns it might be too late to slow the momentum for swarming.

Strategic Beekeeping
You need to become familiar with the cycles of hives in your climate, Hart says. Hives go through natural cycles, and you can learn to anticipate what changes in the hive look like over the course of the year in order to prevent honey-bound hives. For example, in early spring most of the bees, honey and pollen will be in the upper brood chamber, Hart says. This is true of bees in all climates. You can switch brood-box positions, moving the upper box to the bottom to give the queen more room to lay because she's likely not using the bottom box.

“Switching boxes or frames keeps the bees guessing and gives them something to do,” Hart says. “One caveat is that during the spring, it can still be cold at night. Don’t split the brood area because it weakens the hive.”

Hart suggests new beekeepers connect with local beekeeping associations in order to learn more about the natural processes taking place in their hives. Experienced beekeepers are an excellent source of information and education, and associations often offer classes and training to help new beekeepers learn what to look for.

Removing Honey or Pollen from Bound Hives
If the queen has no place to lay, pollen- or honey-bound frames can be removed and replaced with frames of empty drawn comb, giving the queen new work space, says beekeeper Dave Shenefield, owner of Clover Blossom Honey in Lafontaine, Ind.

Brood-box frames can be pulled off and frozen, he explains. Later, when the bees need food supplementation, the frames can be thawed and fed back to the bees. Across the seasons, the bees will use the resources in their store house. Early in the season, thawing and adding pollen-laden frames will encourage the queen to get busy producing new brood. Late in the fall, honey-laden frames can be thawed and added as winter store before the bees seal the hive shut for the season.

A Silver Lining
Beekeepers who raise queens, like Paul Hill of southern Indiana, like to see pollen-bound frames in their hives.

“You can’t raise good queens without good pollen,” Hill explains. “We take what Mother Nature gives us and put a positive spin on it by freezing the pollen frames and using them to raise queens.”

Hill says that due to a number of factors, such as weather, all beekeepers will eventually have a hive that needs to be strengthened or encouraged with the addition of the honey or pollen frames, so freezing the pollen frames would benefit them, as well.

Mindful beekeepers check hives regularly during the spring, summer and early fall to monitor the volume of stored pollen and honey. Frames can be removed or more honey supers added if the upper brood box is nearly full of honey and the bottom box is filled to 40 percent or higher capacity. Otherwise, the bees are doing their job of creating enough food stores to survive the winter.

About the Author:Deb Buehler is a writer who lives in Indianapolis, Ind., with her husband Craig, their two urban beehives, and their dogs, Tucker and Abby. Growing up on a hobby farm inspired her passion for the environment, wildlife, sustainable living and growing things.