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

 A Simple but Efficient System for Working the Hive

1. Always pry up the second comb closest to you first. The first comb is usually anchored to the side wall in several places by the bees and it is much harder to remove first.

2. Once you removed the second comb, hold it to the side and look at the face of the third comb for the queen. You will be able to locate the queen much easier if you adopt this system because you are always looking ahead to the face of the next comb. (Don’t worry about looking for the queen on the comb in your hand first, because if the queen is on it you already have her.)

3. If you don’t see the queen on the face of the third comb, then inspect the second comb (the one in your hand). After inspecting this comb for all of the things you should be looking for, stand it on its end up against the back of the hive to avoid kicking it. By leaving this comb out, you have provided more space to work in. (In the bee catalogs you can find a new comb rack that hooks onto the side of the hive and gives you a place rest for the combs if you don’t want to put them on the ground.)

4. Next, remove the third comb and hold it to the side while you inspect the face of the fourth comb for the queen.

5. After inspecting the third comb place it next to the first comb which is still in the hive next to the wall.

6. Remove the fourth comb and hold it to the side and inspect the face of the fifth comb for the queen.

Note: If at any time during the inspection you find the queen, you should inspect her carefully and slide the frame back into the hive. Never place the frame that has the queen on it outside the hive no matter which frame you find her on.

7. After looking at the face of the fifth comb inspect the fourth comb. After inspecting the forth comb, place it back inside the hive next to the third comb.

8. Remove the fifth comb and hold it to the side and inspect the face of the sixth comb for the queen.

9. After inspecting the fifth comb place it back inside the hive next to the fourth comb.

10. Remove the sixth comb and hold it to the side and inspect the face of the seventh comb for the queen.

11. After inspecting the sixth comb place it back in the hive next to the fifth comb.

Keep working the hive this way until all of the combs have been inspected.

Always place the combs back in the exact position they were in when you started. The last comb you remove should be placed back where you got it. Then, slide each of the other combs into their original position. Remove the first comb, which is still on the side wall, and inspect it and place it back on the wall. Take the second comb, which is outside the hive, and place it in the second position in the hive. At this time all of the combs are back in their original position and the inspection is complete.

Get in the habit of looking for the queen herself, not the colored dot on her back. Beekeepers who order their queens to be marked always get in a habit of looking for the colored dot instead of the queen herself when they inspect their hives. Sometimes this dot fades and is not visible. Sometimes the same queen you started with is not there any longer, and the new queen doesn’t have a colored dot. Use the colored dot as a sec­ondary means of locating the queen, not the primary means.

You will know you have become skilled at opening and working a hive when you find the queen still laying eggs in the cells as you watch. That means that you have performed the inspection with very little disruption to the hive, which is what you should strive for.

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 Tell Bayer to withdraw its neonicotinoid pesticide from the market.

<http://act.sumofus.org/go/1222?t=1&akid=1280.757876.RCU7P8>Shareon Facebook.<http://act.sumofus.org/go/1223?t=2&akid=1280.757876.RCU7P8>

Bayer, the global chemical company, is manufacturing a chemical that new evidence shows is killing off bees. The global die-off of bees represents an enormous danger to the planet. 30% of our crops -- and 90% of wild plants -- rely on bees to thrive. Without bees, our entire global food supply is in serious trouble.

Bayer has gone so far as to fund biased studies that it claims "prove" its chemical isn't a problem, but scientists at the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) have just this month discovered that Bayer's chemical, part of a class of toxins known as neonicotinoids, is a high risk to bees.

Bayer is a public-facing company that sells everything from aspirin to vitamins to flea and tick medicine for our pets, and it cares what we think. If Bayer senses that its global customer base is up in arms about this EFSA report directly tying Bayer to the global die-off of bees that threatens our food supply, then it will have to pull its chemical from the market.

Tell Bayer it needs to pull its bee-poisoning pesticide off the market now.<http://act.sumofus.org/go/1222?t=3&akid=1280.757876.RCU7P8>

Neonicotinoids are just one class of pesticide -- a type that is soaked into seeds, permeating the plant and killing insects which stop by for a snack. These pesticides can easily be replaced by other types which don't soak down into the center of our crops. However, neonicotinoids are highly profitable for companies like Bayer, with billions of dollars of sales a year, so companies are doing everything they can to protect their chemical profit.

These chemicals aren't just hurting bees. Studies conducted on rats suggest that neonicotinoids may adversely impact human health, especially the developing brain. Like the study on the impact on insects, however, our knowledge of how this pesticide interacts with our bodies is heavily influenced by industry spending, often obfuscating the truth. For companies like Bayer, their primary concern is returning profits to their shareholders, with the impact of their chemicals on our planet -- and on us -- being a distant second.

Members of the European Parliament are calling for an outright ban on these toxic chemicals. But we don't know when or if they'll pass the ban, and Bayer's global reach threatens bees across the planet. That's why we need to use our power as citizen-consumers to push Bayer to pull the poison now.

Bayer: Take your bee-poisoning pesticide off the market, before it's too late.<http://act.sumofus.org/go/1222?t=4&akid=1280.757876.RCU7P8>

 

Troubling Honey Bee Shortage in

California Almond Orchards


by Kathy Keatley Garvey
UC Davis Dept. of Entomology

 DAVIS--California almond growers may not have enough honey bees to pollinate this year’s crop of 800,000 acres, says Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen of the UC Davis Department of Entomology. He attributes the difficulty to winter losses and less populous hives.

“We need 1.6 million colonies, or two colonies per acre, and California has only about 500,000 colonies that can be used for that purpose,” he said. “We need to bring in a million more colonies but due to the winter losses, we may not have enough bees.”

Those winter losses-- still being tabulated-- and the resulting fewer bees per hive could spell trouble for almond growers, he said.

“Last year was not a good year for honey production in the United States,” Mussen said, “and it could be one of the worst honey production years in the history of nation, although it’s been pretty rough in some of the previous years. Usually when we’re short of nectar, we’re short on pollen, and honey bees need both. So, 2012 was a bad year for bee nutrition.”

Malnutrition is one of the stressors of colony collapse disorder, the mysterious malady first noticed in the winter of 2006 that has decimated one-third of the nation’s bees every year. Some beekeepers have reported winter losses of 90 to 100 percent.

In CCD, the adult bees abandon the hive, leaving behind the queen bee, brood and food stores. Bee scientists think CCD is caused by a multitude of factors, includes, pests, pesticides, parasites, diseases, malnutrition and stress.

“We don’t know how many more bees will be lost over the winter,” Mussen said. “We consider the winter ending when the weather warms up and the pollen is being brought into the hives.”

“Many, many colonies are not going to make it through the winter,” said Mussen, an apiculturist in the UC Davis Department of Entomology since 1976. “We won’t have as large a bee population as in the past.”

In other words, fewer colonies will be available for the almond growers and the colonies that are available aren’t going to be as populous, he said.” Almond growers usually want at least eight frames of bees per hive,” Mussen said, “but this year they may be lucky to get six. That’s one-third less bees per hive to pollinate the orchards.”

Mussen estimated a good solid hive with eight frames amounts to 2000 bees per frame or 16,000 bees.

Already brokers are getting calls from beekeepers saying “I can’t fulfill the contract. I’m going to be short.”

Mussen said it may all work out well in the end as “bees pollinate almonds on a community basis. The strong colonies will make up for the weak colonies. The strong colonies will clean the orchard of pollen by early afternoon and then go down the street and grab food from nearby orchards.”

San Joaquin almond orchards are already starting to bloom, “but it’s going to be late up here in the Sacramento Valley,” he said. Kern County grows more almonds than any other county in the state.

“If we hit abnormally warm stretches that push out all the bloom at once, that will be good,” said Mussen. “It’s likely that cross-pollination will be better if we have a steady period of warm weather, instead of a warm-cold fluctuating period.”

Although the almond growers are paying a lot of money for their pollination services –an average of $150 per hive—there’s no guarantee it will be a good nut set, Mussen warned. “If it’s too cool, fertilization may not occur. The pollen tubes won’t grow all the way down to the base of the flower to the ovum. The good nut set occurs within the first three days of pollination or at the most, within five days.”

On the other hand, if the weather is too hot and dry, the tissue dries out, he explained. “So we need nice warm weather that’s not too hot or too cold to get good fertilization and nut set. It’s not always the bees’ fault if the nuts fail to grow.”

Many beekeeping operations truck in thousands of colonies to pollinate California’s almonds. One beekeeping operation used to bring 16,000 colonies, Mussen said, “but that 16,000 could be half that this year.” The bees are trucked here from all over the nation.

Around Feb. 14 the average almond orchard in California is in full bloom, but some orchards bloom earlier or later, depending on the cultivar and the weather. An almond orchard blooms a total of about two weeks, he said, pointing out that “the season is short.”

“Around March 7 to the 10th is the last pollination period for almonds in California,” he said. That means that some beekeepers can do double duty with their bees , first pollinating orchards in early February and then heading off to other orchards for the last blooms of the season.”

Almonds are California's biggest export. This year the National Agricultural Statistics Service is forecasting a record-breaking 2.10 billion meat pounds, valued at approximately $3 billion. Eighty-percent of the global supply of almonds is grown in California, and about 70 percent of California’s crop is marketed overseas.

  

Bees attracted to contrasting
colors when looking
for nectar

Foraging bees prefer contrasting colors
rather than stripes
when they select flowers

Flower colors that contrast with their background are more important to foraging bees than patterns of colored veins on pale flowers according to new research, by Heather Whitney from the University of Cambridge in the UK, and her colleagues. Their observation of how patterns of pigmentation on flower petals influence bumblebees' behavior suggests that color veins give clues to the location of the nectar. There is little to suggest, however, that bees have an innate preference for striped flowers. The work is published online in Springer's journal, Naturwissenschaften - The Science of Nature.

Very few flowers are a simple block of a single color. Patterns of pigmentation include color patterns within a petal or different colors on different petals. These patterns are thought to be important for pollination. Bees can identify, and are sometimes attracted to, patterned flowers over plain flowers. These patterns can increase the speed with which bees locate the nectar reward in a flower.

Venation patterns - or lines of color on flower petals - are common in Antirrhinum flowers, commonly known as snapdragons. The authors looked at the ways in which these color veins influence bumblebee foraging behavior. They exposed bees who had not seen flowers before to veined, ivory and red types of snapdragon flowers. They observed whether bees could distinguish between ivory and veined flowers and which type of flower they preferred, when they were looking for nectar.


From the bees' perspective, red flowers reflected little light while red veins on ivory flowers slightly changed the color of the flower. The ivory background, however, had the most effect, as it contrasted with the brown background more than the red flowers did. Bees successfully discriminated between ivory and veined flowers but showed no preference for one or the other. In contrast, both ivory and veined flowers were significantly more popular than red flowers.

The authors conclude: "Venation patterns might be prevalent in nature because they can be useful nectar guides, particularly when they also increase flower visibility. But it appears that the color contrast of a flower with its background has a greater influence on bee preference."