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.

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 we are in January once again. I remember in my younger years hearing my parents say; “Time really flies by as you get older”. I never really understood that statement until I got older. It seems like last January happened only a few months ago.

Here at Lone Star Farms in Bryan, Texas, January is the month I repair broken hive parts that I have set aside during the past year. I clean up any hive parts from dead-outs, and I spread a good coat of paint on those exterior hive parts to get them ready for the up-coming season.

January is also the month that I take inventory of all my hives, extra hive parts, and make a plan for what I want to accomplish with my bees during the coming season. Then, I am able to look at what I have on hand, and decide if I need to order anything before the season begins. If I do need something, I usually place that order in January.  It is never good when you get into the busy season, and discover that you don’t have what you need. Planning ahead is key to being successful in beekeeping. If you don’t make a plan, you will always be one step behind.

Enjoy your bees.

Dennis   

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  Molecular evolution of genetic sex-determination switch in honey bees 5 amino acid differences separate males from females


It's taken nearly 200 years, but scientists in Arizona and Europe have teased out how the molecular switch for sex gradually and adaptively evolved in the honeybee.

The first genetic mechanism for sex determination was proposed in the mid-1800s by a Silesian monk named Johann Dzierson, according to the study's co-author and Arizona State University Provost Robert E. Page Jr. Dzierson was trying to understand how males and females were produced in honey bee colonies. He knew that the difference between queen and worker bees – both females – emerged from the different quality and quantity of food. But, what about the males, he asked.

Dzierson posited that males were haploid – possessing one set of chromosomes, which was confirmed in the 1900s with the advent of the microscope. Under the magnifying lens, researchers could see that eggs that gave rise to drones were not penetrated by sperm. However, how this system of haplodiploid sex determination ultimately evolved at a molecular level has remained one of the most important questions in developmental genetics.

In the December issue of Current Biology, Page and Martin Beye, lead author and professor with the Institute of Evolutionary Genetics in the University of Duesseldorf, Germany, and their collaborators laid out the final pieces of how these systems evolved in their article "Gradual molecular evolution of a sex determination switch in honeybees through incomplete penetrance of femaleness."

The authors studied 14 natural sequence variants of the complementary sex determining switch (csd gene), for 76 genotypes of honey bees.

While complex, the researchers had several tools at hand that their predecessors lacked to solve this sexual determination puzzle. First, honey bees are ideal study subjects because they have one gene locus responsible for sex determination. Also, Page and former graduate student Greg Hunt identified genetic markers—well-characterized regions of DNA—close to the complementary sex determining locus to allow gene mapping. In addition, Hunt and Page found that the honey bees' high recombination rate—the process by which genetic material is physically mixed during sexual reproduction—is the highest of any known animal studied, which helped Beye isolate, sequence and characterize the complementary sex determining locus. Page and Beye were also able to knock out an allele and show how one could get a male from a diploid genotype; work that was featured on the cover of the journal Cell in 2003.

However, the questions of which alleles were key, how they worked together and in what combinations and why this system evolved were left unanswered, though tantalizing close. This compelled the current team of collaborators to step back to review what actually constitutes an allele.

"There has to be some segment of that gene that is responsible in this allelic series, where if you have two different coding sequences in that part of the gene you end up producing a female," said Page, who is also the Foundation Chair of Life Sciences at ASU. "So we asked how different do two alleles have to be? Can you be off one or two base pairs or does it always have to be the same set of sequences? We came up with a strategy to go in and look at these 18-20 alleles and find out what regions of these genes are responsible among these variants."

"In this process, we also had to determine if there are intermediate kinds of alleles and discover how they might have evolved," said Page.

What the authors found was that at least five amino acid differences can control allelic differences to create femaleness through the complementary sex determiner (csd) gene—the control switch.

"We discovered that different amounts of arginine, serine and proline affect protein binding sites on the csd gene, which in turn lead to different conformational states, which then lead to functional changes in the bees—the switch that determines the shift from female to not female," said Page.

The authors also discovered a natural evolutionary intermediate that showed only three amino acid differences spanned the balance between lethality and induced femaleness. These findings—which have taken nearly 200 years of study to pin down—suggested that incomplete penetrance may be the mechanism by which new molecular switches can gradually and adaptively evolve.

In addition to Beye and Page, authors included Christine Seelmann and Tanja Gempe with the University of Duesseldorf, Martin Hasslemann with the Institute of Genetics at the University of Cologne in Germany, Xavier Bekmans with Université Lille in France and Kim Fondrk with Arizona State University. The work was supported by grants from the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft.

Provost Page is the Foundation Chair of Life Sciences at ASU, a professor in the School of Life Sciences and the author of "The Spirit of the Hive: The mechanism of social evolution" published by Harvard University Press in 2013.

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 MOST STORE-BOUGHT HONEY ISN'T HONEY AT ALL, TESTS SHOW

By Leah Zerbe

Recent testing comes as a bit of a buzz kill if you love natural honey. More than 75 percent of the honey sold in the

U.S. isn't the unadulterated form of the natural sweetener that most consumers expect, according to testing performed recently by Food Safety News. In fact, most honey sold in the United States is processed through major filtration that removes virtually all of the pollen naturally occurring in the product. This practice would flunk quality standards in many of the world's food safety agencies; in other words, it's not technically honey anymore. The problem with removing these microscopic pollen particles is this: without the pollen, there's really no way to trace where the honey originated, or if the source is safe and uncontaminated. (Previous reports have found honey laced with antibiotics and heavy metals.) And for this filtration to work, the honey is often heated, which can damage some of the natural products' disease-fighting properties.

 To analyze the state of honey sold in America, Food Safety News purchased more than 60 jars, jugs, and plastic bears of honey in supermarkets, discount warehouses, big box stores, pharmacies, and honey packets served in mini-markets and fast-food joints in 10 states and the District of Columbia. An expert in pollen in honey from Texas A&M University studied the samples and found most had the pollen removed, making traceability impossible.

However, honey sold at farmer's markets, co-ops, and natural stores contained normal amounts of pollen. The Workaround: If you want real honey, look for local sources and buy directly from the beekeeper. By knowing where your food comes from, you can ask about how the bees are treated and how the honey is processed. Sure, raw honey might not be crystal clear like the little honey bear bottles you see in the store, but it's swimming in health-promoting antioxidants and left in its natural form, which is definitely a good thing when it comes to honey.

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  RESEARCHERS FIND GENETIC DIVERSITY KEY TO

SURVIVAL OF HONEY BEE COLONIES

Posted By News

Researchers find genetic diversity key to survival of honey bee colonies When it comes to honey bees, more mates is better. A new study from North Carolina State University, the University of Maryland and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) shows that genetic diversity is key to survival in honey bee colonies meaning a colony is less likely to survive if its queen has had a limited number of mates.

"We wanted to determine whether a colony's genetic diversity has an impact on its survival, and what that impact may be," says Dr. David Tarpy, an associate professor of entomology at North Carolina State University and lead author of a paper describing the study. "We knew genetic diversity affected survival under controlled conditions, but wanted to see if it held true in the real world. And, if so, how much diversity is needed to significantly improve a colony's odds of surviving."

 Researchers have found that genetic diversity, determined by the number of times a queen bee has mated, is crucial to maintaining the health of a honey bee colony. Tarpy took genetic samples from 80 commercial colonies of honey bees (Apis mellifera) in the eastern United States to assess each colony's genetic diversity, which reflects the number of males a colony's queen has tracked the health of the colonies on an almost monthly basis over the course of 10 months – which is a full working "season" for commercial bee colonies. The researchers found that colonies where the queen had mated at least seven times were 2.86 times more likely to survive the 10-month working season. Specifically, 48 percent of colonies with queens who had mated at least seven times were still alive at the end of the season. Only 17 percent of the less genetically diverse colonies survived. "48 percent survival is still an alarmingly low survival rate, but it's far better than 17 percent," Tarpy says. "This study confirms that genetic diversity is enormously important in honey bee populations," Tarpy says. "And it also offers some guidance to beekeepers about breeding strategies that will help their colonies survive." Research shows that honey bee colonies with a queen who has mated more than seven times are almost three times more likely to survive than colonies with queens who have mated less often.

 Source: North Carolina State University