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

 Here is a thought;

Most of us in the South are thinking about preparing our bees for winter and that includes making sure that the bees have enough food stores to carry them until spring. Feeding sugar water is the most common way to beef-up those food stores however, we all know that feeding honey to our bees is a much healthier solution.

The most common practice made by those beekeepers that are fortunate enough to have extra honey supers containing honey is to place those honey supers on top of the hive for the bees to eat throughout the winter months. As the temperature begins to drop, the bees will move into the upper box to form their winter cluster. If you have a honey super as the top box, the bees will move into it for the winter.

Now let’s think about it. We would really like to keep our honey supers as honey supers and not have any brood in them. During the winter months the queen will lay brood in the top box where she is located and you will not have that honey super available in the spring time ready for the honey flow.

The solution is really simple. Instead of placing the honey super on top for the bees to winter on, place the honey super on the bottom. Bees will always move their honey stores up as winter time approaches so that it will be available to them while they are in their winter cluster. The lower box is usually empty by the time February arrives (in the south) and can be removed at that time and stored until the honey flow begins or remove the empty box when you perform your first inspection of the year.

The key is to add this super at least six to eight weeks before the cold hits. That will allow the bees enough time to move the honey from the bottom to the top box.

As you can see, your honey super offered your bees the food supply they needed and it will be available for the spring honey flow without having been used for brood activity.

I have always enjoyed learning the bee’s natural instinct and using it to my advantage. Beekeeping seems to flow more smoothly when I do.

Dennis

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 Secrets of the Honey Bee Bite
Revealed: A Previously Unknown
Honey Bee Defense Weapon Against
Varroa and a Potential New Natural
Anesthetic for Humans


Researchers have discovered that honey bees can bite as well as sting and that the bite contains a natural anesthetic. The anesthetic may not only help honey bees fend off pests such as wax moth and the parasitic varroa mite, but it also has great potential for use in human medicine.

The surprise findings discovered by a team of researchers from Greek and French organizations in collaboration with Vita (Europe) Ltd, the UK-based honeybee health specialist, will cause a complete re-thinking of honey bee defense mechanisms and could lead to the production of a natural, low toxicity local anesthetic for humans and animals.

The natural anesthetic that has been discovered in the bite of the honey bee and measured at the University of Athens is 2-heptanone (2-H), a natural compound found in many foods and also secreted by certain insects, but never before understood to have anaesthetic properties. Independent tests have verified Vita's findings and the potential of 2-heptanone as a local anaesthetic.

As a naturally-occurring substance with a lower toxicity than conventional anesthetics, 2-heptanone shows great potential. Vita has already patented the compound for use as a local anesthetic and is seeking pharmaceutical partners to develop it further.

Until recently, research seemed to indicate that 2-heptanone was either a honeybee alarm pheromone that triggers defensive responses, or a chemical marker signalling to other foraging bees that a flower had already been visited. Vita's results contradicted these notions.

The new research clearly shows that 2-heptanone paralyses small insects and mites bitten by bees for up to nine minutes. Somewhat like a snake, the honey bee uses its mandibles to bite its enemy and then secretes 2-heptanone into the wound to anesthetize it. This enables the honey bee to eject the enemy from the hive and is a particularly effective defense against pests, such as wax moth larvae and varroa mites, which are too small to sting.

Dr. Max Watkins, Technical Director of Vita (Europe) Ltd, said, “We are very excited about our findings on at least two levels. Firstly, the revelation that honey bees can bite enemies that they cannot sting confounds some existing ideas and adds significantly to our biological knowledge. Secondly, the discovery of a highly effective natural anesthetic with huge potential will be of great interest to the pharmaceutical industry eager to develop better local anesthetics."

In laboratory neurophysiological trials in the School of Biology of Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (Greece), 2-heptanone was found to have a similar mode of action to Lidocaine, the dominant local anesthetic used in humans and other mammals. 2-heptanone is found naturally in many foods such as beer and white bread and is so safe that it is permitted as a food additive by USA regulatory authorities. 2-heptanone therefore offers considerable potential as an alternative to Lidocaine. Very recent laboratory research using mammalian cells in the USA, has confirmed Vita’s expectations that the anesthetic could be as effective on humans and mammals as it is on insects and mites.

In considering the biological impacts of the findings, Dr. Alexandros Papachristoforou, a Vita researcher working under the supervision of Professor G Theophilidis in the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece, said: “It is amazing that this second line of honey bee defense has gone undetected for so long. Beekeepers will be very surprised by our discovery and it is likely to cause a radical rethink of some long-held beliefs. It will probably stimulate honey bee research in many new directions. For instance, many beekeepers have spoken of the 'grooming' behavior of honey bees in helping to control varroa populations. This grooming behavior can now be interpreted as biting behavior.”

Dr. Papachristoforou described how the unexpected properties of 2-heptanone were discovered: “We were investigating wax moth control. Wax moths are a serious honey bee pest whose larvae consume wax and pollen, often completely destroying honeycomb. When exposed to 2-heptanone, which is produced naturally by honey bees, the wax moths appeared to die. However, on closer inspection, we realized that the wax moths were merely anesthetized for a period of one to nine minutes. This was quite unexpected, so our scientific team set up a series of rigorous experiments to find out what was really happening and came up with our remarkable discovery.”

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 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."