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

Hello Everyone,

Here in Texas the yaupon flow has started. There are a lot of you who will be picking up their bees this week-end. You should have already had your equipment put together and ready to go to receive your new bees. The honey flow will help your bees to produce wax and draw out the wax foundation. You should also feed your new bees a two part water to one part sugar mix until your bees completely draw out two brood boxes. (Never feed your bee's sugar water when you have "Honey" supers on the hive.)

My book, "Beekeeping: A Personal Journey" will guide you through the entire first year of beekeeping to make your first year (and all your years) in beekeeping an enjoyable and successful one.

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Researchers ID Queens,
Mysterious Disease
Syndrome as Key Factors
in Bee Colony Deaths

by MATT SHIPMAN
(Courtesy North Carolina State University News Service, Raleigh, NC)

A new long-term study of honey bee health has found that a little-understood disease study authors are calling “idiopathic brood disease syndrome” (IBDS), which kills off bee larvae, is the largest risk factor for predicting the death of a bee colony.

“Historically, we’ve seen symptoms similar to IBDS associated with viruses spread by large-scale infestations of parasitic mites,” says Dr. David Tarpy, an associate professor of entomology at North Carolina State University and co-author of a paper describing the study. “But now we’re seeing these symptoms – a high percentage of larvae deaths – in colonies that have relatively few of these mites. That suggests that IBDS is present even in colonies with low mite loads, which is not what we expected.” The study was conducted by researchers from NC State, the University of Maryland, Pennsylvania State University and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

The study evaluated the health of 80 commercial colonies of honey bees (Apis mellifera) in the eastern United States on an almost monthly basis over the course of 10 months – which is a full working “season” for commercial bee colonies. The goal of the study was to track changes in bee colony health and, for those colonies that died off, to determine what factors earlier in the year may have contributed to colony death. Fifty-six percent of the colonies died during the study.

“We found that colonies affected by IBDS had a risk factor of 3.2,” says Dr. Dennis vanEnglesdorp of the University of Maryland, who was lead author on the paper. That means that colonies with IBDS were 3.2 times more likely to die than the other colonies over the course of the study.

While the study found that IBDS was the greatest risk factor, a close runner-up was the occurrence of a so-called “queen event.”

Honey bee colonies have only one queen. When a colony perceives something wrong with its queen, the workers eliminate that queen and try to replace her. This process is not always smooth or successful. The occurrence of a queen event had a risk factor of 3.1.

“This is the first time anyone has done an epidemiological study to repeatedly evaluate the health of the same commercial honey bee colonies over the course of a season,” Tarpy says. “It shows that IBDS is a significant problem that we don’t understand very well. It also highlights that we need to learn more about what causes colonies to reject their queens. These are areas we are actively researching. Hopefully, this will give us insights into other health problems, including colony collapse disorder.”

The paper, “Idiopathic brood disease syndrome and queen events as precursors of colony mortality in migratory beekeeping operations in the eastern United States,” is published in the February issue of Preventive Veterinary Medicine. Co-authors of the study include Dr. Eugene Lengerich of Penn State and Dr. Jeffery Pettis of USDA. The work was supported by USDA and the National Honey Board.

The study abstract follows.

“Idiopathic brood disease syndrome and queen events as precursors of colony mortality in migratory beekeeping operations in the eastern United States”

Authors: Dennis vanEnglesdorp, University of Maryland; David R. Tarpy, North Carolina State University; Eugene J. Lengerich, Pennsylvania State University; and Jeffery S. Pettis, USDA-ARS Bee Research Laboratory

Published: February 2013, Preventive Veterinary Medicine

Abstract: Using standard epidemiological methods, this study set out to quantify the risk associated with exposure to easily diagnosed factors on colony mortality and morbidity in three migratory beekeeping operations. Fifty-six percent of all colonies monitored during the 10-month period died. The relative risk (RR) that a colony would die over the short term (?50 days) was appreciably increased in colonies diagnosed with Idiopathic Brood Disease Syndrome (IBDS), a condition where brood of different ages appear molten on the bottom of cells (RR = 3.2), or with a “queen event” (e.g., evidence of queen replacement or failure; RR = 3.1). We also found that several risk factors—including the incidence of a poor brood pattern, chalkbood (CB), deformed wing virus (DWV), sacbrood virus (SBV), and exceeding the threshold of 5 Varroa mites per 100 bees—were differentially expressed in different beekeeping operations. Further, we found that a diagnosis of several factors were significantly more or less likely to be associated with a simultaneous diagnosis of another risk factor. These finding support the growing consensus that the causes of colony mortality are multiple and interrelated.

 

Social Bees Mark
Dangerous Flowers
with Chemical Signals


Scientists already knew that some social bee species warn their conspecifics when detecting the presence of a predator near their hive, which in turn causes an attack response to the possible predator. Researchers at the University of Tours (France) in collaboration with the Experimental Station of Arid Zones of Almeria (Spain) have now demonstrated that they also use chemical signals to mark those flowers where they have previously been attacked.

Researchers at the University of Tours (France) and the Experimental Station of Arid Zones of Almeria (EEZA-CSIC) conducted an experiment to study whether bees are capable of using evasive chemical signals to mark those flowers where they have previously been attacked. For this purpose, they simulated a predator attack and observed whether the bees advised the rest of their conspecifics of the danger of gathering nectar at a certain plant.

"Evasive alarm pheromones provoke an escape response in insects that visit a particular flower and until now, we were not sure of the role that these pheromones played in social bees. Our results indicate that, unlike solitary bees, social bees use this type of alert system on flowers to warn their conspecifics of the presence of a nearby predator," as explained to SINC by Ana L. Llandres from the University of Tours and lead author of the study published in the 'Animal Behaviour' journal.

In order to determine whether social and solitary bees responded to these olfactory alarm signals, an experiment was performed using individuals from both types and from different countries: Australia, China, Spain and Singapore.

In some plants the predator attack was simulated by trapping the bees with pincers whereas in other cases control plants were used in which no attack took place.

"Solitary bees responded similarly in the case of flowers that had been attacked by control predators and control flowers. However, social bees responded very differently," explains L. Llandres. "Despite approaching both types of flower, the probability of landing on control flowers was much higher." The scientists also detected that the probability of social bees rejecting flowers was much greater if a predator attack had been previously simulated.

This study supports the idea that the sociability of bees is linked to the evolution of warning signals.

 

Pesticide Combination
Affects Bees' Ability to Learn


Two new studies have highlighted a negative impact on bees' ability to learn following exposure to a combination of pesticides commonly used in agriculture. The researchers found that the pesticides, used in the research at levels shown to occur in the wild, could interfere with the learning circuits in the bee's brain. They also found that bees exposed to combined pesticides were slower to learn or completely forgot important associations between floral scent and food rewards.

In the study published today (27th March 2013) in Nature Communications, the University of Dundee's Dr. Christopher Connolly and his team investigated the impact on bees' brains of two common pesticides: pesticides used on crops called neonicotinoid pesticides, and another type of pesticide, coumaphos, that is used in honeybee hives to kill the Varroa mite, a parasitic mite that attacks the honey bee.

The intact bees' brains were exposed to pesticides in the lab at levels predicted to occur following exposure in the wild and brain activity was recorded. They found that both types of pesticide target the same area of the bee brain involved in learning, causing a loss of function. If both pesticides were used in combination, the effect was greater.

The study is the first to show that these pesticides have a direct impact on pollinator brain physiology. It was prompted by the work of collaborators Dr. Geraldine Wright and Dr. Sally Williamson at Newcastle University who found that combinations of these same pesticides affected learning and memory in bees. Their studies established that when bees had been exposed to combinations of these pesticides for 4 days, as many as 30% of honeybees failed to learn or performed poorly in memory tests. Again, the experiments mimicked levels that could be seen in the wild, this time by feeding a sugar solution mixed with appropriate levels of pesticides.

Dr. Geraldine Wright said: "Pollinators perform sophisticated behaviours while foraging that require them to learn and remember floral traits associated with food. Disruption in this important function has profound implications for honeybee colony survival, because bees that cannot learn will not be able to find food."

Together the researchers expressed concerns about the use of pesticides that target the same area of the brain of insects and the potential risk of toxicity to non-target insects. Moreover, they said that exposure to different combinations of pesticides that act at this site may increase this risk.

Dr. Christopher Connolly said: "Much discussion of the risks posed by the neonicotinoid insecticides has raised important questions of their suitability for use in our environment. However, little consideration has been given to the miticidal pesticides introduced directly into honeybee hives to protect the bees from the Varroa mite. We find that both have negative impact on honeybee brain function."

"Together, these studies highlight potential dangers to pollinators of continued exposure to pesticides that target the insect nervous system and the importance of identifying combinations of pesticides that could profoundly impact pollinator survival."

This research is part of the Insect Pollinators Initiative, joint-funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, Defra, the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), the Scottish Government and the Wellcome Trust under the auspices of the Living with Environmental Change (LWEC) partnership.