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 Bryan, Texas as well as most of Texas, the temperatures normally soar into the triple digits in August and September. Our bees work feverously to keep their hive cooled down. There should be a good water source close by for the bees to collect water (preferably not the neighbors swimming pool.) and take it back to the hive where it is stored inside the uncapped cells. The house bees stand close to these water filled cells and fan their wings. The air movement will evaporate the water which will in turn help cool down the inside of the hive.

In some areas around the state, the aster and goldenrod plants are beginning to bloom and the bees have an opportunity to collect nectar from them that will be stored for their winter food source. Sometimes there will be enough nectar coming in for the beekeeper to add a honey super or two and make a surplus.

Here at Lone Star Farms September is usually a slow work month because we rarely ever place honey supers on our hives for the fall flow. We believe that it is better to leave the fall flow for the bees. We run each hive in two brood boxes and allow the bees to fill both their boxes with the fall nectar. That is one reason we don’t have to feed our bees very often. Remember, honey is much healthier for the bees than sugar water. Besides, the bees have already provided us with a good early spring and early summer surplus.

If you take care of your bees first, they will take care of you. Enjoy your bees.

Dennis Brown


 BEE DIE-OFFS: New Tests Find Bee-killing Pesticides in 'Bee-friendly' Plants From Garden Centers Nationwide

 175,000 people demand Lowes, Home Depot stop   selling “pre-poisoned plants”

 Friends of the Earth News Release

  San Francisco – Many “bee friendly” home garden plants sold at Home Depot, Lowes and other leading garden centers have been pre-treated with pesticides shown to harm and kill bees, according to a new, first-of-its-kind pilot study released today by Friends of the Earth-US and allies.

  The pilot study, co-authored by the Pesticide Research Institute, found that 7 of 13 samples of garden plants purchased at top retailers in Washington DC, the San Francisco Bay Area and Minneapolis contain neurotoxic pesticides known as neonicotinoids at levels that could harm or kill bees and other pollinators.

  A growing body of science has implicated neonicotinoids (neonics), which are used in agriculture and also for cosmetic purposes on garden plants, as a key factor in recent global bee die-offs. Beekeepers across the country reported losses of 40-90 percent of their bees last winter. The European Union is set to suspend the use of three neonic pesticides later this year, after a scientific review by European Food Safety Authority found that neonicotinoids pose an unacceptably high risk to bees.

 “Our investigation is the first to show that so called ‘bee-friendly’ garden plants contain pesticides that can poison bees, with no warning to gardeners,” said Lisa Archer, director of the Food and Technology Program at Friends of the Earth-US. “Bees are essential to our food system and they are dying at alarming rates. Neonic pesticides are a key part of the problem we can start to fix right now in our own backyards.”

 Friends of the Earth, Sum of Us and allies sent letters today – along with petitions signed by more than 175,000 people -- to Lowes, Home Depot, Target and other top garden retailers asking the stores to stop selling neonicotinoids and plants pre-treated with the pesticides.  A majority of the UK’s largest garden retailers, including Homebase, B&Q and Wickes, have already stopped selling neonics. The new U.S. campaign can be found at: http://www.BeeAction.org.

  Neonics are the most widely used class of insecticides in the world. Bees are exposed through multiple routes, including — as the pilot study highlights—common home garden plants.

 “The pilot study confirms that many of the plants sold in nurseries and garden stores across the U.S. have been pre-treated with systemic neonicotinoid insecticides, making them potentially toxic to pollinators,” said Timothy Brown, PhD, of the Pesticide Research Institute. “Unfortunately, these pesticides don’t break down quickly — they remain in the plants and the soil and can continue to affect pollinators for months to years after the treatment.”

 The high percentage of contaminated plants and their neonicotinoid concentrations suggest that this problem is widespread, and that many home gardens have likely become a source of harm for bees.

 “Bees have enough troubles; there’s no need for home gardens to add to the problem,” said Emily Marquez, staff scientist at Pesticide Action Network. “Studies indicate that widespread use of systemic pesticides like neonicotinoids is contributing to major bee kills around the globe. And even at doses that don’t kill bees, neonics weaken bee immune systems and impair critical brain functions, making it hard for bees to find their food sources and return to the hive.”

 “We must take immediate action to address this crisis. Europe has banned bee-harming pesticides, retailers in the UK are refusing to sell them, and stores like Home Depot and Lowes have a moral obligation to make the same commitment here in the U.S.,” said Lisa Archer. “In the meantime, gardeners should start their plants from untreated seeds or choose organic plants for their gardens.”

 In addition to pressuring retailers, US groups are calling for the government to restrict the use of neonics in the United States. 

  "While neonics may not be the only factor in bee die offs, they are a significant factor, and one that we can do something about. It’s time for EPA to step in and suspend use of these pesticides on bee-attractive plants," said Larissa Walker, policy & campaign coordinator at the Center for Food Safety.

 In the face of mounting evidence linking neonics to bee colony declines, and more than a million public comments urging swift protections for bees, the EPA has delayed action until 2018.

  Last month, U.S. Representatives Earl Blumenauer (D, Ore.) and John Conyers (D, Mich.) introduced the “Save American’s Pollinators Act,” which seeks to suspend the use of neonics on bee-attractive plants until EPA reviews all of the available data, including field studies.

  Rep. Blumenauer introduced the bill after 50,000 bumblebees died in a Target parking lot in Wilsonville, Ore. when the neonic pesticide dinotefuran was applied to nearby trees. The bee massacre also prompted the Oregon Department of Agriculture to prohibit further cosmetic use of pesticides containing dinotefuran for the remainder of 2013.

  In July, 37 million honeybees were reported dead across a single farm in Ontario from the dust associated with planting neonic-treated corn seeds.

“The weight of accumulated evidence from scientists across Europe and North America shows that neonicotinoids harm honey bees, bumble bees, and other important pollinators,” said Scott Hoffman Black, executive director of the Xerces Society. “Swift action is needed by all sectors of society to reduce the prevalence of these insecticides in our environment. By phasing out their use, nurseries can play a leadership role in this change.”

 “The bees and beekeepers are telling us they can’t wait until 2018--and neither can we,” said Nichelle Harriott, staff scientist at Beyond Pesticides. “Retailers, EPA and Congress need to step up their efforts to protect pollinators.”

*The Report Gardeners Beware: Bee-Killing Pesticides Found in “Bee-Friendly” Plants Sold at Garden Centers Nationwide; tips for consumers on protecting bees in their gardens; and the letter sent to retailers asking them to commit to stop selling neonicotinoids and plants pre-treated with these pesticides, can be found at www.BeeAction.org

  *Friends of the Earth – U.S., founded by David Brower in 1969, is the U.S. voice of the world’s largest federation of grassroots environmental groups, with a presence in 74 countries. Friends of the Earth works to defend the environment and champion a more healthy and just world. www.FoE.org.


 Highest Winter Losses in Recent Years for Honey Bees in Scotland

 Soaring numbers of honey bees died last winter, University of Strathclyde research has revealed

A survey, run by Strathclyde academics on behalf of the Scottish Beekeepers' Association, indicated 31.3 per cent of managed honey bee colonies in Scotland failed to survive last winter – almost double the previous year's loss rate of 15.9 per cent.

  Dr Alison Gray and Magnus Peterson, of Strathclyde's Department of Mathematics and Statistics, warn the figures ought to be of major concern because bees play a pivotal role in crop pollination, agricultural yields and, therefore, food supply and prices.

  Last winter's figures represent 156 colonies lost during the winter of 2012-13, out of a total of 498 colonies being managed by beekeepers taking part in the survey. Furthermore, 67 of the 117 beekeepers who provided useable data reported losing at least some of their colonies between 1 October 2012 and 1 April 2013.

  Dr Gray said: "This is an extremely high loss rate.

  "In fact, the loss rate last winter is the highest we have found since these surveys began in 2006 – and is similar to that over the winter of 2009-10, when we estimate that 30.9 per cent of colonies were lost.

  "Results from European colleagues conducting similar surveys show that the loss rate in Scotland is amongst the highest in Europe this year, while similarly high losses have been reported recently from England and Wales."

  The results were based on responses to online and postal questionnaires from a random sample of 300 members of the Scottish Beekeepers' Association, which is thought to represent most of the country's estimated 1,300 beekeepers.

  Since the spring of 2008, Mr Peterson has also been collecting data twice a year, from a network of volunteers across Scotland, on wild honey bees – those not managed by beekeepers and which instead live in habitats such as hollow trees and the roofs of old buildings. Last winter, 11 out of 20 wild honey bee colonies known to be alive last September – and reported on this spring – are known to have died.

  Mr Peterson said: "The latest results indicate a low survival rate, of just 45 per cent, amongst feral colonies over this last winter. This is the worst winter survival rate amongst the feral colonies known to the volunteers since they started monitoring them five years ago."

  Dr Gray told how bees face many challenges internationally. She said: "Honey bees worldwide are having to contend with habitat loss and reduction in variety of forage sources due to pressures of intensifying land use, increasing spread of new and old pests – caused by globalization of trade in bees and bee products – as well as possible adverse effects of agricultural pesticides.

  "For bees in northern Europe, poor weather conditions – combined with these various other factors which impact adversely on bees – are certainly making beekeeping a challenge and survival difficult for honey bees generally.

  "The difficult weather conditions are a particular problem in Scotland, with severe winters followed by long cold wet springs being a problem, especially if it comes after a poor wet summer as in this last year."

  In April, Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead announced the Scottish Government was making £200,000 available to help commercial bee farmers to restock and rebuild their colonies, which were devastated by prolonged winter weather conditions.


 Scientists Study Bee Venom Component to Find New Treatments for Disease

 Study of melittin-based pore formation also applies to anticancer drugs.

 This artist's visualization shows the structure of stable pores that are created by melittin peptides (orange) in a 3-D crystalline membrane. The structure shown here, which was predicted by Rice physicist Huey Huang in 2000, was confirmed in an experimental paper this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

HOUSTON -- (Aug. 14, 2013) -- A new study by Rice University biophysicists offers the most comprehensive picture yet of the molecular-level action of melittin, the principal toxin in bee venom. The research could aid in the development of new drugs that use a similar mechanism as melittin's to attack cancer and bacteria.

The study appears this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Melittin does its damage by penetrating the outer walls of cells and opening pores that allow the contents of the cell to escape. At low concentrations, melittin forms transient pores. At higher concentrations, the pores become stable and remain open, and at still higher doses, the cell membrane dissolves altogether.

"This strategy of opening holes in the cell membrane is employed by a great number of host-defense antimicrobial peptides, many of which have been discovered over the past 30 years," said Rice's Huey Huang, the lead investigator of the study. "People are interested in using these peptides to fight cancer and other diseases, in part because organisms cannot change the makeup of their membrane, so it would be very difficult for them to develop resistance to such drugs."

But the clinical use of the compounds is complicated by the lack of consensus about how the peptides work. For example, scientists have struggled to explain how different concentrations of melittin could yield such dramatically different effects, said Huang, Rice's Sam and Helen Worden Professor of Physics and Astronomy.

In the new study, Huang and Rice graduate student Tzu-Lin Sun partnered with colleagues Ming-Tao Lee at the National Synchrotron Radiation Research Center (NSRRC) in Hsinchu, Taiwan, and with Wei-Chin Hung at the Republic of China Military Academy in Fengshan, Taiwan. The team used a combination of experiments to zero in on the molecular activity of melittin at the "minimal inhibitory concentration" (MIC), the lowest concentration that's been shown to slow the growth of target cell populations. The MIC for melittin is a dose that results in stable pore formation, rather than complete dissolution of the membrane.

"We want to understand how pore formation works at this critical concentration, including both at the molecular scale -- what are the shapes of the pores themselves -- and the cellular scale -- how are the pores arranged and distributed over the surface of the membrane," Huang said.

To find the answer, the team correlated the results of two different types of experiments. In the first type, which was conducted at Rice, the team used confocal microscopy to film "giant unilamellar vesicles" (GUVs), synthetic membrane-enclosed structures that are about the same size as a living cell. The outer surface of the GUV became green when bound to melittin that was labeled with a fluorescent dye. The GUV was filled with a solution that contained a red fluorescent dye.

In the experiments, Sun used a needle-like glass pipette to partially aspirate and grab dye-filled GUVs, which were then placed into a melittin-infused solution beneath the microscope. Time-lapse videos of the experiments show that dye-labeled melittin begins sticking to the surface of the GUV within seconds. Within about two minutes, so much melittin binds to the outside of the GUV that the outer surface area increases by up to 4.5 percent. At a critical threshold, the expanding surface changes configuration to accommodate the increased load of melittin. At this point, pores form across the entire surface of the GUV. On the video, the bright red dye within the GUV rapidly leaks out at this critical pore-forming stage.

"The experiment shows how the MIC brings about a new physical state that results in cell death," Huang said. "By correlating these findings with other data about the molecular characteristics of the pores themselves, we get the first complete picture of the process of stable, melittin-induced pore formation."

The molecular level data came from a series of X-ray diffraction experiments performed by Lee at NSRRC. In those experiments, samples of multilayered membranes were bombarded with X-rays. Each layer contained an ordered arrangement of pores, and the stacked layers contained a 3-D lattice of regularly arranged pores. By examining how X-rays scattered away from the sample, Lee and Hung were able to determine the precise contours of the melittin-induced pores.


 New Pesticide Labels Will Better Protect Bees and Other Pollinators

 EPA News Release

 WASHINGTON – In an ongoing effort to protect bees and other pollinators, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has developed new pesticide labels that prohibit use of some neonicotinoid pesticide products where bees are present.

“Multiple factors play a role in bee colony declines, including pesticides. The Environmental Protection Agency is taking action to protect bees from pesticide exposure and these label changes will further our efforts,” said Jim Jones, assistant administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention.

The new labels will have a bee advisory box and icon with information on routes of exposure and spray drift precautions. Today’s announcement affects products containing the neonicotinoids imidacloprid, dinotefuran, clothianidin and thiamethoxam. The EPA will work with pesticide manufacturers to change labels so that they will meet the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) safety standard.

In May, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and EPA released a comprehensive scientific report on honey bee health, showing scientific consensus that there are a complex set of stressors associated with honey bee declines, including loss of habitat, parasites and disease, genetics, poor nutrition and pesticide exposure.

The agency continues to work with beekeepers, growers, pesticide applicators, pesticide and seed companies, and federal and state agencies to reduce pesticide drift dust and advance best management practices. The EPA recently released new enforcement guidance to federal, state and tribal enforcement officials to enhance investigations of beekill incidents.

More on the EPA’s label changes and pollinator protection efforts:

View the infographic on EPA’s new bee advisory box:



Manuka Honey Fraud Uncovered. More Sold Than Made. Surprised?

Alan Harman  

New Zealand’s NZ$120-million manuka honey sector is in crisis as tests around the world find the product often has nothing but price to set it apart from ordinary honey.

   All manuka honey comes from New Zealand and Unique Manuka Factor Honey Association research shows 1,700 tonnes produced each year.

   But 1,800 tonnes of “manuka” honey is sold in Britain alone each year with as much as 10,000 tons sold worldwide.

   Of the 73 samples of honey tested by the association, 41 failed to show the non-peroxide activity claimed for manuka honey. Hong Kong authorities found 14 of 55 manuka honey samples tested were adulterated with syrup. Other tests found some of the honey was not manuka.

   The New Zealand Herald reports Britain's Food and Environment Research Agency tested a small sample of five brands of manuka honey from shop shelves. Only one, made by Comvita, the biggest manuka honey producer, was up to standard. The other four showed no detectable non-peroxide activity, the anti-bacterial properties special to manuka honey.

   Britain's Food Standards Agency then issued a nationwide warning about misleading claims on the labels of manuka honey jars.

   Manuka honey commands prices 10 to 20 times higher than other types of honey because of its anti-bacterial properties and New Zealand Food Safety Minister Nikki Kaye said on Radio New Zealand the government and the honey industry need to move quickly to set an international labeling standard.

   UMF Honey Association president John Rawcliffe tells the Herald the UK crackdown was due.

   “There is potentially huge fraud,” he says. “There are higher and ever-increasing volumes of honey labeled as manuka which are not manuka.

   “We knew we sold more ‘manuka' overseas than has ever been produced . . . we've been spending everything we've got to work out how to stop this fraud, and the only negative thing is that we should have done it quicker.”