Hello Everyone,

I hope that all of you enjoyed your Thanksgiving holiday. This year seemed to pass by really fast. In just four weeks, the year will come to a close. Then, we will have to think of another New Year’s resolution we can break. The circle continues.

Our club only picked up about thirty new members this year. I was hoping that we could have convinced more beekeepers to become chemical free. It is always an uphill struggle to assure some beekeepers that they don’t need to put chemicals in their hives.

If you enjoy being recognized as a chemical free beekeeper, please help me build our membership up this coming year. The more members we have, the more hives out there will be healthier and produce chemical free products. Saving hives is what our club is all about. Talk to all of your beekeeping friends and acquaintances. Have them join us.

The other thing I would like to see this coming year would be to have you send in beekeeping articles for our club newsletter. Every time we have another article that I can post, more beekeepers are able to learn about bees. So far, I have somehow managed to post 98% of the articles on my own for these past years. I am sort of running out of material to post. I know that all of you have enjoyed reading the newsletter since the beginning. Maybe, you could each send me at least one article during the coming year. One article or story shouldn’t be too much to ask for. I would really appreciate it, and I know that everyone would enjoy reading it.

I want to wish all of you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Dennis

___________________________________________________________________________

Oregon State University Updates

Resources for Protecting

Bees from Pesticides

                                                                                                                                                          

CORVALLIS, Ore. – As the worldwide population of honey bees continues to decline, the Oregon State University Extension Service and partners have updated a tool for Pacific Northwest growers and beekeepers to reduce the impacts of pesticides on bees.

The revision of OSU Extension's publication appears after an estimated 50,000 bumble bees died in a Wilsonville parking lot in June. The Oregon Department of Agriculture confirmed in a June 21 statement that the bee deaths were directly related to a pesticide application on linden trees conducted to control aphids. The episode prompted the ODA to issue a six-month restriction on 18 insecticides containing the active ingredient dinotefuran.

OSU researchers are investigating the effects of broad-spectrum neonicotinoids, such as dinotefuran, on native bees. The work is in progress, according to Ramesh Sagili, an OSU honeybee specialist.

The newly revised publication "How to Reduce Bee Poisoning from Pesticides" includes the latest research and regulations. Lead authors include Sagili and OSU toxicologist Louisa Hooven. Download the updated version for free online at http://bit.ly/OSU_ReduceBeePoisoning.

"More than 60,000 honey bee colonies pollinate about 50 different crops in Oregon, including blueberries, cherries, pear, apple, clover, meadowfoam and carrot seed," Sagili said. "Without honey bees, you lose an industry worth nearly $500 million from sales of the crops they commercially pollinate."

Nationally, honey bees pollinated about $11.68 billion worth of crops in 2009, according to a 2010 study on the economic value of insect pollinators by Cornell University.

Growers, commercial beekeepers and pesticide applicators in Oregon, Washington, Idaho and California will find the publication useful, Sagili said. An expanded color-coded chart details active ingredients and trade names of more than 100 conventional and organic pesticides, including toxicity levels to bees and precautions for use.

The publication also describes residual toxicity periods for several pesticides that remain effective for extended periods after they are applied. Additionally, the guide explains how to investigate and report suspected bee poisonings.

Nationwide, honey bee colonies have been declining in recent years due to several factors, including mites, viruses transmitted by mites, malnutrition and improper use of pesticides, Sagili said. In Oregon, about 22 percent of commercial honey bee colonies were lost during the winter of 2012-13, Sagili said. There has been a gradual, sustained decline of managed honey bees since the peak of 5.9 million colonies in 1947, according to the Cornell study. The number of managed colonies reached a low of 2.3 million in 2008, although there were increases in 2009 and 2010, the study said. 

"Growers and beekeepers can work together with this practical document in hand," Sagili said of OSU Extension's publication. "It gives them informative choices."

For example, when commercial beekeeper Harry Vanderpool needed to advise a pear grower on whether an insecticide was acceptable to use around bees, he turned to OSU Extension's publication. 

"That manual has been a blessing," said Vanderpool, who keeps 400 hives in South Salem to pollinate dozens of crops for growers from California to central Oregon. "It's a tool that helps beekeepers and farmers work together in the right way with the right chemical rather than us telling farmers how to farm or farmers telling beekeepers how to keep bees."

You can also find OSU's publication by searching for PNW 591-E in OSU Extension's catalog at http://extension.oregonstate.edu/catalog. The publication was produced in cooperation with OSU, Washington State University and the University of Idaho.

___________________________________________________________________________

That Allergic Reaction to

Bee Stings?

It's Meant to Protect You


Allergic reactions to bee stings can be damaging or even deadly, but new evidence from two independent studies of mice reported in the Cell Press journal Immunity on October 24th suggest that the immune response to bee venom and other allergens actually evolved and may continue to serve as a protective defense mechanism. Perhaps they aren't just misdirected immune responses after all.

"Our study adds to the argument that allergy evolved to protect us from noxious factors in the environment – it protects us by making us sneeze, cough, vomit, and itch, by inducing a runny nose and tears," said Ruslan Medzhitov of Yale University School of Medicine. "All of these reactions are designed to expel something harmful from the body. They are unpleasant, but they protect by being unpleasant."

"Everyone who ever witnessed or even experienced an anaphylactic reaction to a bee or a wasp sting will wonder why evolution did not get rid of such a potentially deadly immune reaction," added Martin Metz of Charité-Universitätsmedizin Berlin. "We have now shown in mice that the development of IgE antibodies to honeybee venom and also to the venom from a poisonous snake can protect mice to some degree from the toxic effects of the venoms."

It is apparently only when allergic reactions run amok that they cause serious problems.

Metz and his colleague Stephen Galli of Stanford University School of Medicine found that mice injected with amounts of honeybee venom similar to that which could be delivered in one or two stings developed a specific immune response, which subsequently increased their resistance to potentially lethal amounts of venom. The researchers observed a similar protective immune response in the mice following exposure to poisonous snake venom. In both cases, that protective effect was attributed to IgE antibodies, which are produced in response to a broad range of environmental antigens, many of them seemingly harmless.

The common venom ingredient and major allergen in bee venom, PLA2 (phospholipase A2), is an enzyme that wreaks havoc by destroying cellular membranes. In the second study, Medzhitov and his colleagues showed how PLA2 induces the type 2 immune response in exposed mice, to afford the animals later protection against near-lethal doses of damaging enzyme.

It seems as though our bodies might know what they are doing after all. But, if immune reactions to bee stings are advantageous, why then do some people develop anaphylaxis?

"We don't know," Galli said, "but perhaps only certain people, who for genetic or other reasons exhibit especially severe IgE-dependent reactions, are at risk for developing anaphylaxis when stung by bees. This notion is supported by clinical observations showing that only a small fraction of people who have IgE antibodies against honeybee venom develop anaphylaxis upon being stung by a bee."

__________________________________________________________________________

Sex Determiner Gene of

Honey Bee More Complicated

Than Previously Assumed



Cologne biologist recognizes huge significance of finding for beekeeping

Bee colonies consist of a queen bee, lots of female worker bees and some male drones. The gene that determines the sex of the bees is much more complex than has been assumed up until now and has developed over the course of evolution at a very high rate. This is the finding of an international team of scientists under the direction of Dr. Martin Hasselmann of the Institute for Genetics of the University of Cologne. The study has been published in the renowned Oxford journal Molecular Biology and Evolution.

Male honey bees (Apis mellifera) hatch from unfertilized eggs and females from fertilized ones. In these fertilized eggs, the condition of the complementary sex determiner (csd) gene is of crucial significance for the creation of female workers. The queen bee, who, in the course of their mating flight, mates with different drones multiple times, passes on to fertilized eggs a random combination of two csd copies, so-called alleles. If these alleles are different enough, they develop into a female. If the csd gene, in contrast, is present in the fertilized eggs in two identical versions, diploid drones develop. These are, however, eaten by worker bees after they hatch.

Up until now, it was assumed that there were up to 20 csd alleles. In the dataset, which the research team under the direction of Hasselmann collected from all over the world and examined, there were, however, 53 csd alleles found in localities (in Kenya), and worldwide at least 87 csd alleles. Using an evolutionary model, the scientists extrapolated 116 – 145 csd alleles. New csd alleles were created in a relatively quick period for evolution: ca. every 400,000 years. A region inside the csd gene in particular represents a hot-spot with a high evolutionary rate that, together with certain amino acid mutations, decisively contributes to the formation of new csd alleles in the flanking regions.

The vitality of a bee population depends on, amongst other things, the genetic diversity of sex determining alleles. These new findings are therefore very important for apiculture for minimizing the danger of inbreeding and thereby the production of diploid drones.

___________________________________________________________________________

 

Queen Bee's Honesty is the Best
Policy for Reproduction Signals

 

Queen bees convey honest signals to worker bees about their reproductive status and quality, according to an international team of researchers, who say their findings may help to explain why honey bee populations are declining.

"We usually think of animals' chemical signals (called pheromones) as communication systems that convey only very simple sorts of information," said Christina Grozinger, professor of entomology and director of the Center for Pollinator Research, Penn State. "However, this study demonstrates that queen honey bees are conveying a lot of nuanced information through their pheromones.

"In addition, until now, no one knew if queen bees were manipulating workers into serving them or if they were providing valuable, honest information to workers. We have found that the information queens are conveying constitutes an honest message about their reproductive status and quality. The queens are 'telling' the workers that they are queens, whether or not they are mated and how well mated they are. In other words, whether or not they have mated with a lot of males."

Why do worker bees care if their queen is well mated? According to Elina Niño, postdoctoral fellow, Penn State, previous research has shown that colonies headed by more promiscuous queens -- those who mate with many males -- are more genetically diverse and, therefore, healthier, more productive and less likely to collapse.

"Beekeepers have been very worried about their queens, since they seem to not be lasting as long -- a few weeks or months instead of one or two years," said Niño. "We know that workers will replace their queens when they are not performing well. So if worker bees are able to detect poorly mated queens and take steps to remove them, that could be an explanation for the rapid rates of queen loss and turnover that beekeepers have been reporting."

The researchers, who represent Penn State, North Carolina State University and Tel Aviv University, describe how they assigned queen bees to a variety of treatment groups. They report their findings in today's (Nov. 13) issue of PLOS ONE.

In one group, they inseminated queens with a small volume of semen to mimic a poorly mated queen scenario. In a second group, the researchers inseminated queens with a large volume of semen to mimic a well-mated queen scenario. In a third and fourth group, they inseminated queens with low and high volumes of saline. A fifth group was an untreated control.

The researchers then dissected the queens, removing two glands that are known to produce pheromones -- the mandibular gland and the Dufour's gland. Next, the team extracted the glands' secretions and analyzed their chemical compositions using gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. Finally, the researchers presented the gland extracts to worker bees and observed the extent to which they were attracted to different extracts.

The team found that worker bees preferred pheromone extracts of queens that were inseminated with semen rather than saline. They also found that queens inseminated with higher volumes of semen or saline as opposed to those that were inseminated with low volumes of semen or saline were preferred by worker bees.

"These results suggest that queens are signaling detailed and honest information about their mating state and reproductive quality to workers, and workers are capable of adjusting their behavior accordingly," Niño said. "When workers replace failing queens, it is particularly damaging to beekeepers since it can take up to three weeks for the new queen to begin laying eggs and another three weeks for the new workers to emerge as adults. This reduces the workforce and therefore reduces honey production and even pollination efficiency."

The team also found that the mandibular gland and the Dufour's gland differ in their functions.

"The Dufour's gland seems to inform workers that queens have mated, while the mandibular gland seems to indicate the queen's mating quality," Niño said. "This also means that these glands are likely being regulated via different neurophysiological pathways."

According to Grozinger, in addition to signaling queen bee reproductive status and quality, queen bee pheromones regulate how fast workers mature and transition from taking care of developing larvae to foraging outside the hive.

"It is possible that changing the quality of the pheromone could disrupt this and other processes, which could have large-scale effects on colony organization and survival," she said.

Through funding from the Department of Agriculture, the researchers are beginning to examine the effects of viruses, pesticides and poor nutrition on queen pheromone quality to see if the queen also is providing workers with information about her health.

"The more we know about what affects the queen's health the better chance we will have of creating high-quality queens and disease-resistant stocks of honey bees," Niño said.