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  

 Why does the mite count in my hive always go up in the late summer and early fall?

A> It is important for everyone to understand that this time of year, (In the South) it is not unusual for the hives mite count to appearhigher than normal and to find that the bees are a little more aggressive than normal. The hive population is at its peak. The queen has dramatically reduced egg laying. The available brood level is down and there is a lull in available nectar sources.

What does all this mean?

The breeding mites have no place to retreat to because there are fewer brood cells available to them. That means that they are out in the open where the bees are able to pick them off more easily. If you have screen bottom boards, you will find a higher mite count at this time because of their exposure to the bees. This would also be a great time to perform a powdered sugar treatment because there are more exposed mites in the hive.

Most of us who have had a good honey flow and have removed the honey supers have also found that our hives are more aggressive than usual. The reason for this is because the hive population is between fifty and sixty thousand bees. All of these bees are squeezed into two brood boxes. At the moment, there is very little for the bees to do because there are no nectar sources available to them. It is like when football season is over and the guys get bored and moody. The bees get bored and moody when there is nothing for them to do as well. Each day, the population begins to decline and when the nectar sources come available again (hopefully) in the fall, the hive gets back to normal. All this takes place during about a 6 week period.

So don't freak-out. Take advantage of the exposed mites in the hive and perform a powdered sugar treatment to help the bees out.



 Honey Bee Scientists Affirm Their Need for Colony Loss Network

 This weekend, over 80 of the world’s leading honey bee scientists met in Kiev, Ukraine, and took the colony loss network COLOSS, originally an EU COST action that ended last year, and turned it into a new non-profit association.

The aims of the new association are to: “improve the well-being of bees at a global level, with a primary focus on the western honey bee Apis mellifera. The ultimate goal of the Association is to sustainably mitigate bee population declines and sudden losses by pursuing a number of objectives: a. advocating for bees and their well-being, especially to government legislators and administrators; b. coordinating international research, including the development of standard research methods; c. disseminating knowledge and training related to improving the well-being of bees; and d. promoting youth development and gender balance among those studying, or those actively involved in promoting, the well-being of bees”.

 Since its original foundation in 2008, COLOSS has significantly improved our understanding of the causes of honey bee colony losses, through the organization of conferences, workshops, and short-term scientific missions, and the coordination of research efforts. The collection of standardized data on the losses experienced by beekeepers, and a coordinated experiment studying the influence of genotype and environment on the survival of honey bee populations have been particular highlights. Most recently, COLOSS has published the first two volumes of the BEEBOOK which for the first time gives bee scientists and beekeepers some 1700 standardized research protocols written by 234 authors, enabling the results of research to be comparable across the world.

  The new COLOSS Executive Committee has 15 members who are all leading bee scientists, actively involved in research, representing Austria, Germany, Greece, Israel, Italy, Netherlands, Slovenia, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, UK, and the USA.

  Speaking today at the 43rd International Apicultural Congress “Apimondia”, also held in Kiev, newly elected COLOSS President Prof. Peter Neumann said: “The COLOSS Network engendered an unprecedented degree of collaboration between more than 300 bee scientists from 63 countries worldwide, and was simply too valuable to lose. The new association means that we can continue to collect standardised data on colony losses, to share ideas and the latest thinking, in order to drive forward our understanding of the causes of bee losses and how best to help bees.”


 Fear of Predators Drives

Honey Bees Away From

Good Food Sources


Most of us think of honey bees as having a bucolic, pastoral existence—flying from flower to flower to collect the nectar they then turn into honey. But while they're capable of defending themselves with their painful stings, honey bees live in a world filled with danger in which predators seize them from the sky and wait to ambush them on flowers.

Such fear drives bees to avoid food sources closely associated with predators and, interestingly, makes colonies of bees less risk-tolerant than individual bees, according to a study published in this week's issue of the open-access journal PLOS ONE.

"This strategy of colonies collectively exhibiting significantly more caution than the riskier individual foragers may help honey bees exploit all of the available food sources, with some intrepid foragers visiting more dangerous food while the colony judiciously decides how to best allocate its foraging," says James Nieh, a professor of biology at UC San Diego.

Nieh worked with scientists at Yunnan Agricultural University in China to study the impact on foraging Asian honey bees of the monstrous-looking Asian Giant hornet, Vespa tropica, and a smaller hornet species known as Vespa velutina, which has invaded Europe and now poses a threat to European honey bees.

"The Asian Giant hornets are dangerous, heavily armored predators," says Ken Tan, the first author of the paper, who also works at the Chinese Academy of Science's Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden. "Bee colonies respond by forming balls of defending bees, encasing the hornet and, in some cases, cooking it to death with heat generated by the bees."

The researchers found that bees treated the bigger hornet species, which is four times more massive than the smaller species, as more dangerous. In a series of experiments, they presented bees with different combinations of safe and dangerous feeders—depending on their association with the larger or smaller hornets—containing varying concentrations of sucrose.

"Bees avoided the dangerous feeders and preferred feeders that provided sweeter nectar," says Nieh. "However, predators are clever and can focus on sweeter food, ones which bees prefer. So we also tested how bees would respond when sweeter food was also more dangerous. What we found was that the individual bees were more risk-tolerant. They avoided the giant hornet at the best food, but continued to visit the lower quality food with the smaller hornet."


 Health of Honey Bees Adversely

Impacted by Selenium


Study by UC Riverside-led team shows pollutant metal kills
honey bees or delays their development

RIVERSIDE, Calif. — Traditionally, honey bee research has focused on environmental stressors such as pesticides, pathogens and diseases. Now a research team led by entomologists at the University of California, Riverside has published a study that focuses on an anthropogenic pollutant: selenium (Se).

The researchers found that the four main forms of Se in plants — selenate, selenite, methylselenocysteine and selenocystine — cause mortality and delays in development in the honey bee.

"Metal pollutants like selenium contaminate soil, water, can be accumulated in plants, and can even be atmospherically deposited on the hive itself," said Kristen Hladun, the lead author of the study and a postdoctoral entomologist. "Our study examined the toxic effects of selenium at multiple life stages of the honey bee in order to mimic the chronic exposure this insect may face when foraging in a contaminated area."

Study results appear in the Oct. 2013 issue of the journal Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry.

The honey bee is an important agricultural pollinator in the United States and throughout the world. In areas of Se contamination, honey bees may be at risk because of the biotransfer of the metal from Se-accumulating plants.

Se contamination is a global problem originating from naturally contaminated soils and a multitude of anthropogenic sources including mining and industrial activities such as petroleum refining and coal-power production, as well as where agricultural runoff is collected and can concentrate selenium from the surrounding soils.

Low Se concentrations are beneficial to many animals; in particular, it is a critical component of an antioxidant enzyme. Slightly higher concentrations, however, are toxic. Several insect species suffer toxic effects from feeding on Se-contaminated food.

In the case of the honey bee, Se enters the body through ingestion of contaminated pollen and nectar. Organic forms of Se can alter protein conformation and cause developmental problems, and inorganic forms of Se can cause oxidative stress.

"It is not clear how selenium damages the insect's internal organs, or if the bee has the ability to detoxify these compounds at all," Hladun said. "Further research is necessary to examine the cellular and physiological effects of selenium."

Hladun explained that honey bees may also be more susceptible than other insects due to a lack of detoxification enzymes that other insects still possess. Further, honey bees at the larval stage are more susceptible to selenium relative to other insect species.

"Mortality within the hive can reduce the number of workers and foragers overall," she said. "The forager's ability to tolerate high concentrations of selenium may act against the colony as a whole. Honey bees are social animals and their first line of defense against environmental stressors is the foraging bees themselves. High concentrations of Se will not kill foragers outright, so they can continue to collect contaminated pollen and nectar, which will be stored and distributed throughout the colony."

Besides areas surrounding coal-fired power plants, petroleum refineries, copper refineries, and mining activities, areas around industrial plants producing glass, pigments, inks, and lubricants, can all be anthropogenic sources of Se. In the United States, the well-established toxicity of Se to wildlife and humans has resulted in this element being regulated by the Toxic Substances Control Act and the Clean Water Act.

"Selenium occurs naturally in many places around the world, but it also is a byproduct of many industrial activities, and finding ways of recovering and recycling it is key to minimizing the damage to the environment," Hladun said. "Currently, researchers are exploring its use in solar energy technologies."

According to Hladun, knowing which contaminants are the most important to regulate is key to minimizing the exposure of honey bee hives to contaminants.

"Beekeepers can take steps to prevent bees from foraging during flowering periods of plants that have exceptional pollutant levels or to move hives away from contaminated areas," she said. "Also, better management of weedy plant species that are known to be Se-accumulators can prevent them from becoming a route of exposure."

Currently the researchers are conducting experiments feeding honey bee colonies with Se-laden food. They will monitor the bees for changes in survival and behavior. In addition, they are exploring the effects of other metal pollutants (cadmium, copper, and lead in particular) that have been found in honey bee hives, especially the ones located near urban or industrial areas.


 This article was sent in by member Fred Keefer.

Diesel exhaust pollution may disrupt honeybee foraging

Scientists found that the fumes change the profile of the floral odors that attract bees to forage from one flower to the next.

 LONDON — Exposure to pollution from diesel exhaust fumes can disrupt honeybees' ability to recognize the smells of flowers and could in future affect pollination and global food security, researchers said on Thursday.

 In a study published in the Nature journal Scientific Reports, scientists from Britain's University of Southampton found that the fumes change the profile of the floral odors that attract bees to forage from one flower to the next.

 "This could have serious detrimental effects on the number of honeybee colonies and pollination activity," said Tracey Newman, a neuroscientist who worked on the study.

 Bees are important pollinators of flowering plants, including many fruit and vegetable crops.

 A 2011 U.N. report estimated that bees and other pollinators such as butterflies, beetles or birds do work worth $203 billion a year to the human economy.

 Bee populations have been declining steadily in recent decades but there is scientific disagreement over what might be causing it. Much attention has been focused on whether a class of pesticides called neonicotinoids may be the culprit.

 Related: What's killing the bees may be worse than thought

 A report from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) in January said three widely-used neonicotinoids, made mainly by Switzerland's Syngenta and Germany's Bayer, posed an acute risk to honeybees.

 EU leaders voted in April to ban three of the world's most widely-used pesticides in this class for two years because of fears they could be linked to a plunge in the bee populations.

 But the British government, which recommended abstaining in a previous EU vote in March, argues the science is inconclusive and advises caution in extrapolating results from laboratory studies to real-life field conditions.


 Guy Poppy, an ecology professor who worked with Newman, said to be able to forage effectively, honeybees need to be able to learn and recognize plants — a process their results showed could be disrupted by so-called NOx gases, particularly nitrogen dioxide, found in diesel exhaust and other pollution.

 For their study, the scientists took eight chemicals found in the odor of oil rapeseed flowers and mixed them in one experiment with clean air and in another with air containing diesel exhaust.

 Related: California almonds threatened by fewer bees

 They found that six of the eight chemicals reduced in volume when mixed with diesel fumes, and two disappeared completely within a minute — meaning the profile of the chemical mix had changed. The odor mixed with clean air was unaffected.

 When the researchers used the same process with NOx gases — nitric oxide and nitrogen dioxide — found in diesel exhaust emissions, they saw the same results, suggesting NOx is key to how and why the odor's profile was altered.

 When the changed chemical mix was then shown to honeybees — which are known to use their sensitive sense of smell to forage for flowers — they could not recognize it.

 Giles Budge of Britain's Food and Environment Research Agency said Newton's study highlighted "a fresh issue to add to the many problems facing our insect pollinators".

 But he said that since the study was based in the laboratory, more research is needed to see if the problem is occurring in the wider environment.


  Stress a Key Factor in Causing

Bee Colonies to Fail


Scientists from Royal Holloway University in the United Kingdom have found that when bees are exposed to low levels of neonicotinoid pesticides - which do not directly kill bees - their behavior changes and they stop working properly for their colonies.

The results showed that exposure to pesticides at levels bees encounter in the field, has subtle impacts on individual bees, and can eventually make colonies fail.

This discovery provides an important breakthrough in identifying the reasons for the recent global decline of bees, a trend that has baffled many experts worldwide.

"One in three mouthfuls of our food depend on bee pollination," said lead author, Dr John Bryden from the School of Biological Sciences at Royal Holloway. "By understanding the complex way in which colonies fail and die, we've made a crucial step in being able to link bee declines to pesticides and other factors, such as habitat loss and disease which can all contribute to colony failure."

"Exposing bees to pesticides is a bit like adding more and more weight on someone's shoulders. A person can keep walking normally under a bit of weight, but when it gets too much – they collapse. Similarly, bee colonies can keep growing when bees aren't too stressed, but if stress levels get too high the colony will eventually fail," added Dr Bryden.

"Our research provides important insights to the biology of pollinators," said co-author Professor Vincent Jansen. "It is intriguing that the way in which bees work together is the key to their success, but could also contribute to their decline and colony failure."

The research was funded as part of the £10 million 'Insect Pollinators Initiative,' set-up to understand the causes of pollinator declines and safeguard future pollination services.

"Pesticides can have a detrimental effect on bees at levels used in the field," said co-author Dr Nigel Raine. "Our research will provide important evidence for policymakers. The way we test pesticides, the way we assess their impact on bees, and the way we manage pesticides can all be improved."