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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 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

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                                                                                                                      Bees Able to Spot Which Flowers Offer Best Rewards Before Landing  


Bumblebees are able to connect differences in pollen quality with floral features, like petal colour, and so land only on the flowers that offer the best rewards, according to a new study by researchers at the University of Exeter.

 Unlike nectar, bees do not ingest pollen while foraging on flowers, and so until now it has been unclear whether they are able to form associative relationships between what a flower looks like and the quality of its pollen.

The study used bumblebee foragers housed under controlled conditions to test whether they do learn about flowers during pollen collection.

Their results show that bumblebees can individually assess pollen samples and discriminate between them during collection, quickly forming preferences for a particular type of pollen.

The findings, published today in the Journal of Experimental Biology, indicate that pollen foraging behavior involves learning and individual decision making, which may allow bees to quickly learn which flowers provide the most nutritious pollen rewards for rearing their young.

Dr. Natalie Hempel de Ibarra, senior lecturer in neuroethology at the University of Exeter, said: "There is still very little known about how bees decide which flowers to visit for pollen collection. Easily learning floral features based on pollen rewards, without needing any nectar rewards, is a fast and effective way to recognize those flower species which bees have previously
experienced to be the best ones."

Dr. Elizabeth Nicholls, a former PhD student at The University of Exeter and now a Post Doctoral Research Fellow at the University of Sussex, said: "Bees need to be able to select flowers providing the most nutritious food for rearing their young. Since bumblebees don't eat pollen when foraging, it was unclear if or how they might be able to assess differences in quality. Here we've shown that they are able to detect differences in pollen, even before landing, which means they may be able to tell, just from the color of the petals, which flowers are worth visiting.

"We already know a lot about how and what bees learn when collecting nectar from flowers, but since bees don't eat pollen when foraging, we were interested to see whether they could still learn which flowers to visit when collecting this resource." The experiments involved manipulating the quality of pollen offered to the bees by diluting the samples. The researchers examined what they preferred to collect, if they could differentiate quality before landing by only letting the bees smell and see the pollen rather than probing it; and presenting the bees with four different colored discs containing stronger and less diluted pollen to record preferences and change of preferences over time.

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Venom Gets Good Buzz as Potential Cancer-fighter


SAN FRANCISCO, Aug.11, 2014 — Bee, snake or scorpion venom could form the basis of a new generation of cancer-fighting drugs, scientists will report here today. They have devised a method for targeting venom proteins specifically to malignant cells while sparing healthy ones, which reduces or eliminates side effects that the toxins would otherwise cause.

The report was part of the 248th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS), the world's largest scientific society. The meeting, attended by thousands of scientists, features nearly 12,000 reports on new advances in science and other topics. It is being held here through Thursday. A brand-new video on the research is available at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GRsUi5UrH7k&feature=youtu.be.

"We have safely used venom toxins in tiny nanometer-sized particles to treat breast cancer and melanoma cells in the laboratory," says Dipanjan Pan, Ph.D., who led the study. "These particles, which are camouflaged from the immune system, take the toxin directly to the cancer cells, sparing normal tissue."

Venom from snakes, bees and scorpions contains proteins and peptides which, when separated from the other components and tested individually, can attach to cancer cell membranes. That activity could potentially block the growth and spread of the disease, other researchers have reported. Pan and his team say that some of substances found in any of these venoms could be effective anti-tumor agents. But just injecting venoms into a patient would have side effects. Among these could be damage to heart muscle or nerve cells, unwanted clotting or, alternately, bleeding under the skin. So Pan and his team at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign set out to solve this problem.

He says that in the honeybee study, his team identified a substance in the venom called melittin that keeps the cancer cells from multiplying. Bees make so little venom that it's not feasible to extract it and separate out the substance time after time for lab testing or for later clinical use. That's why they synthesized melittin in the lab.

 To figure out how melittin would work inside a nanoparticle, they conducted computational studies. Next, they did the test and injected their synthetic toxin into nanoparticles. "The peptide toxins we made are so tightly packed within the nanoparticle that they don't leach out when exposed to the bloodstream and cause side effects," he explains.

What they do is go directly to the tumor, where they bind to cancer stem cells, blocking their growth and spread. He says that synthetic peptides mimicking components from other venoms, such as those from snakes or scorpions, also work well in the nanoparticles as a possible cancer therapy.

Pan says the next step is to examine the new treatment approach in rats and pigs. Eventually, they hope to begin a study involving patients. He estimates that this should be in the next three to five years.

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Worker bees 'Know' When to Invest in Their Reproductive Future
 

Reproductive cycle triggered when colonies
reach 4,000 members

 

Honeybees build a new comb on a wooden frame of a beehive. The piece of
comb on the right shows the transition from worker comb (small inner cells) to
drone comb (large outer cells). Credit: Madeleine M. Ostwald

 

When a colony of honeybees grows to about 4,000 members, it triggers an important first stage in its reproductive cycle: the building of a special type of comb used for rearing male reproductive, called drones. A team of experts from the Department of Neurobiology and Behaviour at Cornell University, led by Michael Smith, studied what starts the reproductive cycle of honeybee colonies. The results are published in Springer's journal Naturwissenschaften - The Science of Nature.

Reproduction isn't always a honeybee colony's top priority. Early in a colony's development, its primary focus is on survival and growth. When the colony reaches a certain stage, its workers start investing in reproduction. The first step in this whole reproductive process is building cells of drone comb, the special comb made of large cells in which drones are reared.

Drones are male honeybees that develop from unfertilized eggs. Their sole purpose in a colony is to mate with virgin queens from other colonies, thereby spreading the genes of the colony that produced the successful drones. Virgin queens in turn need to mate with drones before they can lay fertilized eggs that will become workers. Queens will mate with over a dozen drones during their single nuptial flight, after which they are stocked with sperm for life.

Smith and his team were puzzled about precisely which colony features kick-start this key process of building drone comb. Is it the number of workers in the colony? Is it the total area of worker comb in the colony? Is it the amount of brood in the colony? Or perhaps it's the size of the colony's honey stores? The Cornell University researchers therefore set out to carefully manipulate each of these features in different groups of colonies, while keeping the other colony features identical.

They found that while every colony built worker comb (non-reproductive comb), not every colony built drone comb (reproductive comb). In fact, only an increase in the number of workers stimulated the workers to start constructing drone comb. This was seen whenever colonies contained 4,000 or more worker bees.

 

The researchers were still left wondering about precisely how an individual worker bee 'knows' how many other workers there are in its colony. Smith and his team speculate that this might have to do with how crowded individuals feel while working side-by-side in the hive. They are currently engaged in further research to shed more light on this mystery.

"Colonies with more workers built a greater proportion of drone comb, but colonies with more comb, more brood, or more honey stores, did not do so," Smith summarizes. "We estimate that a colony needs approximately 4,000 workers to invest in building drone comb."

The researchers believe that their findings are also relevant to other social systems in which a group's members must adjust their behaviour in relationship to the group's size.