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.

*****Check out the new book link above*****

Cletus Notes 

Hello Everyone,

March has arrived and I would like to offer you a simple but efficient system for performing a hive inspection. Hive inspections are important, but it is also important how you perform that inspection. I have over the years developed a system that will allow you to work your hive efficiently, and with ease. It is important for you to get in and out of the hive without causing much interruption to the daily activity.

1. Always pry up the second comb closest to you first. The first comb is usually anchored to the side wall in several places by the bees, and it is much harder to remove first.

2. Once you removed the second comb, hold it to the side and look at the face of the third comb for the queen. You will be able to locate the queen much easier if you adopt this system because you are always looking ahead to the face of the next comb. (Don’t worry about looking for the queen on the comb in your hand first, because if the queen is on it you already have her.)

3. If you don’t see the queen on the face of the third comb, then inspect the second comb (the one in your hand). After inspecting this comb for all of the things you should be looking for, stand it on its end up against the back of the hive to avoid kicking it. By leaving this comb out, you have provided more space to work in. (In the Kelley bee catalog you can find a new comb rack that hooks onto the side of the hive, and gives you a place rest that first comb.)

4. Next, remove the third comb; hold it to the side while you inspect the face of the fourth comb for the queen.

5. After inspecting the third comb place it next to the first comb which is still in the hive next to the wall.

6. Remove the fourth comb, hold it to the side, and inspect the face of the fifth comb for the queen.

Note: If at any time during the inspection you find the queen, you should inspect her carefully and slide the frame back into the hive. Never place the frame that has the queen on it outside the hive no matter which frame you find her on.

7. After looking at the face of the fifth comb, inspect the fourth comb. After inspecting the forth comb, place it back inside the hive next to the third comb.

8. Remove the fifth comb, hold it to the side, and inspect the face of the sixth comb for the queen.

9. After inspecting the fifth comb place it back inside the hive next to the fourth comb.

10. Remove the sixth comb, hold it to the side, and inspect the face of the seventh comb for the queen.

11. After inspecting the sixth comb place it back in the hive next to the fifth comb.

Keep working the hive this way until all of the combs have been inspected.

Always place the combs back in the exact position they were in when you started. The last comb you remove should be placed back where you got it. Then, all you need to do is slide each of the other combs into their original position. Remove the first comb, which is still on the side wall, inspect it, and place it back on the wall. Take the second comb, which is outside the hive, and place it in the second position in the hive. At this time all of the combs are back in their original position, and the inspection is complete.

Get in the habit of looking for the queen herself, not the colored dot on her back. Beekeepers who order their queens to be marked always get in a habit of looking for the colored dot instead of the queen herself when they inspect their hives. Sometimes this dot fades, and is not visible. Sometimes the same queen you started with is not there any longer, and the new queen doesn’t have a colored dot. Use the colored dot as a sec­ondary means of locating the queen, not the primary means.

You will know you have become skilled at opening and working your hive when you find the queen still laying eggs in the cells as you watch. That means you have performed the inspection with very little disruption to the hive, which is what you should strive for.

I hope this helps you as much as it has me over the years.

Enjoy your bees.




Research Shows Honey Bee Diseases
Can Strike in All Seasons

By Dennis O'Brien
Agricultural Rresearch Service, USDA
February 5, 2015

U.S. Department of Agriculture(USDA) scientists in Maryland and their colleagues have found that two pathogens causing mysterious honey bee ailments are a problem not just in the spring, but they might pose a threat year-round. Ryan Schwarz and Jay Evans, entomologists with the Agricultural Research Service(ARS), have shown that two species of bacteria, Spiroplasma melliferumand S. apis, are more common than previously thought and infect honey bees in places as diverse as Brazil and Beltsville, Maryland.

ARS is USDA's principal intramural scientific research agency, and this research supports the USDA priority of promoting sustainable agriculture.

Both pathogens were discovered more than 30 years ago, but scientists are still unsure if they are factors in colony collapse disorder or major causes of other bee mortalities.

Schwarz and Evans, based at the ARS
Bee Research Laboratoryin Beltsville, and their colleagues at the Brazilian Honey Bee Laboratory in São Paulo analyzed the DNA of bees in Beltsville and Brazil between 2011 and 2013. Bees were collected from 11 states in Brazil and 2 areas in Beltsville. Schwarz had recently developed genetic markers that allow researchers to distinguish S. apisfrom other bacteria in bees. They used those markers and another recently developed set of S. melliferummarkers to determine the year-round prevalence of the two pathogens.

As expected, the researchers found that both pathogens were prevalent in the spring. But they also found that they were common at other times of the year as well and that their prevalence rates varied depending on the location. In Beltsville, the pathogens were more prevalent in the spring, while in Brazil they were more prevalent in the fall. The results also showed that S. melliferumwas the more prevalent of the two and that the presence of one pathogen made bees more susceptible to the other.

Schwarz says the results should help beekeepers and scientists monitor the health of honey bees by raising awareness about the year-round nature of the threat the pathogens might pose. Equipped with the new genetic markers developed for the pathogens, scientists also will be better able to screen bee colonies for the pathogens.



National Honey Board Funds New

Honey Bee Research Projects

Focusing on Honey Bee Health

Courtesy of the National Honey Board  


Firestone, Colo., February 18, 2015– The National Honey Board has approved funding for ten new research projects focusing on honey bee health.  The Board’s Research Committee, with input from an independent panel of experts, selected the projects from 22 proposals received from researchers around the world. The total dollar commitment for the ten projects is $231,800. In addition, the Board’s 2015 budget includes $61,366 for ongoing bee research projects from prior years. 
The ten new projects approved for funding in 2015 include:

  1. “Investigating the roll of pathogens on honey bee colony health,” Flenniken/Montana State University.
  2. “A temporal analysis of honey bee colony heath in migratory beekeeping operations: Assessment of the relative contributions of agrochemical residues, pathogen incidence and abundance and pest loads to colony declines,” Kegley/Pesticide Research Institute & Pollinator.
  3. “Evaluating the potential benefits of native prairie flowers for honey bees,” Spivak/University of Minnesota.
  4. “The probiotic potential of Lactobacillus kunkeeifor honey production,” McFrederick/University of California.
  5. “Influence of Varroa mite (Varrao destructor) levels and management practices on insecticide sensitivity in the honey bee,” Rinkevich/Louisiana State University.
  6. “Drought induced impacts on honey bee nutrition and productivity,” Rankin/University of California.
  7. “Effect of commonly used agrochemicals and their interactions on honey bee colony health,” Sagili/Oregon State University.
  8. “Understanding how nutritional source and behavioral state interact and influence resistance to abiotic stressors in honey bees,” Ottea/Louisiana State University Ag Center.
  9. “Effects of inducible reactive oxygen species production on Nosema ceranaeinfection,” Snow/Barnard College/Columbia University.
  10. “Field exposure and toxicity of neonicotinoid insecticides to honey bees via flowering field margins: The importance of continual pesticide exposure in bee forage,” Lundgren/USDA-ARS, NCARL.

Honey bee research projects funded by the National Honey Board are listed on the Board’s website, www.honey.com.  Visitors can click on the “Honey Industry” tab and then go to “Honey and Bee Research” for further information on ongoing and completed projects.  The call for proposals for 2016 funding is expected to be posted on the Board’s website by the end of July, with proposals due by early-November.

The National Honey Board is an industry-funded agriculture promotion group that works to educate consumers about the benefits and uses for honey and honey products through research, marketing and promotional programs.



Bee Disease Reduced by Nature's

'Medicine Cabinet,'

Dartmouth-led Study Finds


 HANOVER, N.H. - Nicotine isn't healthy for people, but such naturally occurring chemicals found in flowers of tobacco and other plants could be just the right prescription for ailing bees, according to a Dartmouth College-led study.

The researchers found that chemicals in floral nectar, including the alkaloids anabasine and nicotine, the iridoid glycoside catalpol and the terpenoid thymol, significantly reduce parasite infection in bees. The results suggest that growing plants high in these compounds around farm fields could create a natural "medicine cabinet" that improves survival of diseased bees and pollination of crops. The researchers studied parasite infections in bumble bees, which like honey bees are important pollinators that are in decline around the world, a trend that threatens fruits, vegetables and other crops that make up much of the food supply for people.

The findings appear in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B. A PDF of the study and photos of bees are available on request. The study included researchers from Dartmouth and the University of Massachusetts-Amherst

Plants produce chemicals called secondary metabolites to defend leaves against herbivores. These chemicals are also found in nectar for pollinators, but little is known about the impacts of nectar chemistry on pollinators, including bees. The researchers hypothesized that some nectar compounds could reduce parasite infections in bees, so they inoculated individual bumble bees with an intestinal parasite and tested effects of eight naturally occurring nectar chemicals on parasite population growth. The results showed that consumption of these chemicals lessened the intensity of infection by up to 81 percent, which could significantly reduce the spread of parasites within and between bee colonies.

"Our novel results highlight that secondary metabolites in floral nectar may play a vital role in reducing bee-parasite interactions," says senior author
Dartmouth Professor Rebecca Irwin.