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

 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 all that equipment painted.

By working with a 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 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. (In the Kelley newsletter for March, I will be discussing how to perform a good hive inspection and what you should be looking for.)

The start of the bee season will be exploding here in Texas by March 1st 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. Are we there yet?




 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 Are More Effective

At Pollinating Almonds

When Other Species

Of Bees Are Present

Honey bees foraging in almonds.
(Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

DAVIS--Honey bees are more effective at pollinating almonds when other species of bees are present, says an international research team in ground-breaking research just published in the *Proceedings of the Royal Society*. The research, which took place in California’s almond orchards in Yolo, Colusa and Stanislaus counties, could prove invaluable in increasing the pollination effectiveness of honey bees, as demand for their pollination service grows.

When blue orchard bees and wild bees are foraging in almonds with honey bees, the behavior of honey bees changes, resulting in more effective crop pollination, said lead author Claire Brittain, a former post-doctoral fellow from Leuphana University of Lüneburg, Germany and now associated with the Neal Williams lab at the University of California, Davis. Wild bees include non-managed bees such as bumble bees, carpenter bees and sweat bees.

“These findings highlight the importance of conserving pollinators and the natural habitats they rely on,” Brittain said. “Not only can they play an important direct role in crop pollination, but we also show that they can improve the pollination service of honey bees in almonds.”

Agroecologist Alexandra-Maria Klein, a professor at Leuphana University of Lüneburg, Germany, served as the project lead while a postdoctoral fellow in the UC Berkeley lab of conservation biologist/professor Claire Kremen. Klein and Kremen initiated the project in 2008 and continued working on the project together in 2009 and 2010.

The research, “Synergistic Effects of Non-*Apis* Bees and Honey Bees for Pollination Services,” appears in the Jan. 9th edition. California’s almond acreage now totals 800,000s, and each acre requires two bee hives for pollination. Honey bee-health problems have sparked new concern over pollination services.

Klein, Kremen and pollination ecologist Neal Williams, assistant professor of entomology at UC Davis, co-authored the research, which encompasses
2008-2010 data.

Honey bee heads for an almond blossom in
the Capay Valley, Yolo County.
(Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

“In orchards with non-*Apis* (non-honey bees), the foraging behavior of honey bees changed and the pollination effectiveness of a single honey bee visit was greater than in orchards where non-*Apis* bees were absent,” the researchers wrote in their abstract.

Brittain said that the field experiments “show that a diversity of pollinators can improve pollination service, through species interactions that alter the behavior and effectiveness of a dominant pollinator species.”

“This is one of our first demonstrations on how to increase the efficiency of honey bee pollination through diversification of pollinators,” said Williams, who joined the team in 2010. “With increasing demands for pollination-dependent crops globally, and continued challenges that limit the supply of honey bees, such strategies to increase pollination efficiency offer exciting potential for more sustainable pollination in the future.”

The declining population of honey bees, particularly due to colony collapse disorder (CCD) is troubling. Bee scientists attribute the mysterious malady to multiple factors, including pests, parasites, diseases, malnutrition and stress.

“Almond is a $3 billion industry in California,” said Kremen, who is also an affiliate with the UC Davis Department of Entomology and works closely with scientists at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility, UC Davis. “Our study shows that native bees, through their interactions with honey bees, increase the pollination efficiency of honey bees--the principal bee managed for almond pollination--and thus the amount of fruit set.”

Native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp, emeritus professor of entomology at UC Davis, identified the bees in the Klein-Kremen project. The species he identified for the project in 2008-2009 totaled 50 species, including bumble bees, small carpenter bees, sweat bees, digger bees, mining bees and blue orchard bees.