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,

Here in Texas we are well into our bee season. Our first honey flow of the season was from the yaupon bush which started blooming here in the Bryan, Texas area around the last week of March this year. Unfortunately, the above average rain fall and the high winds caused the flow to bust. The honey surplus was way down this year.

All of the queen breeders have had difficulty this year as well because of the terrible weather conditions. They’re several weeks behind in getting the queens and packages out. We are deciding whether or not it would be good to make a few splits. Typically, we only make splits from hives that are making queen cells this time of year. We make most of our splits in late June. We prefer to keep our hives strong for the tallow flow which should begin towards the end of May or first week in June. Making honey is our primary goal so we need to have strong hives at the right time.

This is the time of year that beekeepers enjoy the most. This is spring time. Spring is magical. Spring is the time of year when life awakens from a deep sleep. It is a time when the skeletal remains of the bushes and trees begin to show signs of life. Migrating birds start their long journey back to their spring and summer retreats. It is a new dawn, a new day, a new season and the air is filled with renewed vitality. This is spring.

Live and enjoy your bees.

Dennis

___________________________________________________________________________

     

US Summer Forecast: Northeast to
Endure More 90-Degree Days
Than in 2014; Extreme Drought
to Expand in West

 

AccuWeather Global Weather Center - April 29, 2015 - AccuWeather reported  this summer, warmth and dryness will build in the West, worsening the historical drought conditions that have plagued California for four straight years. Meanwhile, the Gulf Coast will have an abundance of moisture, raising concerns for flooding at times.
 
In the nation's midsection, severe weather is forecast to continue into summer, with the overall tornado count increasing from last year. In the Northeast and mid-Atlantic, above-normal temperatures will mark a noticeable difference from the cooler-than-average summer of 2014.

 

More 90-Degree Days Than Last Year Forecast for Northeast, Mid-Atlantic
Warmth from central Canada and the northern Plains will flow into the Northeast this summer, leading to above-normal temperatures and drier conditions for much of the region.
 
"I'm not expecting extreme heat, but periods of warmer-than-normal temperatures will come and go during the course of the summer," AccuWeather.com Expert Long-Range Forecaster Paul Pastelok said.
 
After a cooler-than-normal summer of 2014, the East overall is forecast to be hit by more 90-plus degree days this summer.
 
In Philadelphia and New York City, there may be as many as 10 more than last summer.
For much of the summer, the central and southern mid-Atlantic will come alive with showers and thunderstorms.
 
Washington, D.C., Baltimore and Philadelphia will be in the line of fire.
 
Wet, Buggy Season Ahead for Southeast, Central Gulf Coast, Tennessee Valley
From the Southeast to the Gulf Coast and Tennessee Valley, the summer of 2015 will bring very wet conditions as result of warm water temperatures in the northern Gulf and a building El Nino. Flash flooding could be a concern at times.
 
"I would consider stocking up on the bug spray this year down across the Tennessee Valley and the Gulf Coast because it looks very wet," Pastelok said.
 
Extreme heat should be kept at bay, but high humidity and muggy conditions will plague the region.
 
As for tropical activity, the northern Gulf states could be affected as early as June.
 
"Water temperatures are running much warmer than last year," Pastelok said. "It may not take much to spawn a weak tropical system to enhance the rainfall on the Gulf Coast this year."

Rainy Weather in Store for Southern Plains, Lower to Mid-Mississippi Valley
Rainy weather will also spread across parts of Texas for much of the summer, focusing in on the lower Rio Grande Valley and southwestern portion of the state.
 
Into the start of June, showers and storms will improve the drought conditions across northern and northwestern Texas, but the region could dry out again as rain falls mainly west of these areas during midsummer.
 
As the monsoon picks up, storms will drench the Four Corners region, delivering above-normal moisture to the region.
 
Overall, the southern Plains and lower to mid-Mississippi Valley will see fewer 90- and 100-degree F days than in recent years.
 
"It's not as dry going into this summer season across the entire southern Plains, and I think that will have an impact on how high and how consistently we'll hit above 90 this year," Pastelok said.
 
Severe Risk to Continue for Midwest, Northern and Central Plains
The northern and central Plains and much of the Midwest will face drier and warmer conditions this summer compared to last summer.
 
"Drier-than-normal conditions in the winter and for the most part this spring will lead to a drier soil and hotter temperatures. This can put stress on crops for this region," Pastelok said.
 
Southeastern Iowa, Missouri, Illinois, eastern Kansas and Oklahoma may have a shot at dodging this extreme heat with more possibilities for rain.
 
Spotty areas of thunderstorms, some of which can be severe, may break out in June, increasing the potential for tornadoes.
 
The middle of the summer will feel hot across the Dakotas, Nebraska, Iowa and Minnesota.

"They will be dry, and the heat will just build as we go into the summer months, especially June and July," Pastelok said.
 
Severe Drought to Worsen in California, Expand Northward at Full Force
The drought in California will continue to worsen this summer, after the heart of the winter season brought little snowfall to the Sierra.
 
Without rain in the forecast, there are indications that the fire season, typically occurring June through October, could be one for the record books.
 
"The wildfire season has already kicked off a little early," Pastelok said. "I think the frequency will really pick up later in the summer and early fall."
 
Drought conditions are forecast to expand northward at full force into the Pacific Northwest, especially east of the Cascades.
 
"It looks to me like they'll continue to get drier and drier, and by June and July, it'll have reflection on temperatures as well," Pastelok said. "It should get hotter across those areas."

____________________________________________________________________________

 Manganese Is Harmful to Honey Bees

Asked to name one way people have changed the environment, many people would probably say "global warming." But that's really just the start of it.

People burn fossil fuels, but they also mine and manufacture. It's who we are: Homo fabricus: man the maker. And as a side effect of our ingenuity and craft we have taken many metals originally buried safely in Earth's depths and strewn them about the surface.

Does it matter? Yehuda Ben-Shahar and Eirik Sovik, biologists at Washington University in St. Louis, together with colleagues from Andrew Barron's lab at Macquarie University in Australia, have publishd a study of honey bees in the online issue of Biology Letters March 25 that suggests we answer this question too glibly.

The scientists looked at the effect of low levels of manganese, a common industrial pollutant, on the behavior of honey bees. At levels considered safe for human food, the metal seemed to addle bees: they advanced through age-related work assignments faster than normal, yet completed fewer foraging trips than their sisters who were not exposed to manganese.

"We've known for a long time that high doses of manganese kill neurons that produce dopamine, causing a Parkinsonian-like disease in people," said Ben-Shahar. "In insects, as well, high levels of manganese kill dopaminergic neurons, reducing levels of dopamine in the brain.

"But in this study we were looking at low-level exposure and we saw the opposite effect. Instead of reducing dopamine levels, manganese increased them. Increases in dopamine and related neurotransmitters probably explain some of the abnormal behavior, " Ben-Shahar said.

Paradoxically, a trace amount of manganese is essential for life. All living organisms rely on the chemical properties of this metal to drive reactions in cells and to mop up the toxic byproducts of cellular life in the presence of oxygen.

"We evolved in an environment where there was little manganese, and so we developed ways to pump it into our cells," Ben-Shahar said. "But now environmental levels are quite different from those to which we are adapted and we don't really know what that means for human health."

"When we try to understand pathologies, we often look at extremes," he added. "We tend to ignore more modulatory changes like this one and assume we don't need to worry about them. But that may be a mistake. The bees, which vacuum up everything in the environment, might be serving as an early warning indicator of an environmental toxin."

A gene named Malvolio
Ben-Shahar didn't set out to discover the effect of manganese on bee behavior. Instead he was trying to study the link between responsiveness to sugar and the reward circuit in the brain. When a honey bee detects sugar, it reflexively extends its proboscis, a stereotyped behavior that can be experimentally manipulated and quantified.

The older the bee, the more responsive it is to sugar. In honey bee colonies tasks are divided according to age. For the first two to three weeks of adult life, bees typically take care of the brood in the hive. They then shift to foraging outside the hive for the remainder of their 5- to 7-week life.

In 1995 scientists screening for genes that affect sugar response in fruit flies discovered a gene that reduced it. They named it Malvolio, after a sour character in Shakespeare's Twelfth Night who is accused of wanting to outlaw cakes and ale.

Malvolio was later shown to encode a protein that pumps manganese across cell membranes, Ben-Shahar said. In 2004 he published results that showed that age-related transitions in honey bees are associated with increased expression of the Malvolio gene and higher levels of manganese in brain cells.

Ben-Shahar wondered why manganese changed feeding behavior. At high doses it affects a dopaminergic pathway in the brain that is associated with motor control. This is why manganese toxicity causes Parkinsonian-like symptoms, such as tremor and rigidity in humans.

But another dopaminergic pathway reinforces behaviors such as eating or sex. What if low levels of manganese modulated feeding through this pathway, he wondered. Perhaps manganese offered a handle, a tool, to manipulate the reward circuit and to better understand how it works.

Making life rewarding
To make the connection between diet and behavior, he needed to be able to quantify tiny amounts of neurotransmitters (chemicals that transmit signals between neurons) in bee brains. He contacted co-author Andrew Barron of Macquarie University. Eirik Sovik, the first author on the paper, was then a doctoral student in Barron's lab and is now a postdoctoral research associate in Ben-Shahar's lab.

The two labs collaborated to study levels of these molecules in the brains of fruit flies and honey bees fed differing levels of manganese. They also tracked the bees by attaching radio-frequency tags to them when they were a day old (and "still soft, fluffy, and unable to sting you," said Sovik).

In both honey bees and fruit flies, exposure to manganese at levels considered safe for humans increased brain levels of dopamine and octopamine (a neurotransmitter important in insects). At the higher exposures it also altered the behavior of the bees, which became foragers sooner than normal, but made relatively few foraging trips, perhaps because they got lost or tired.

"Manganese is not the number one dangerous thing out there in the environment," Ben-Shahar said. "Nor do we know if it affects our brains the same way it does those of insects. Nobody has done the studies. But even if it has no impact on us, it clearly affects bees, and we depend on bees for most of the fruits and vegetable in our diets."

__________________________________________________________________________

 U.S. Honey Certification Program

Joins Sen. Bob Casey in Calling for

Honey Standard of Identity

Washington, D.C. – March 26, 2015 – The True Source Honey CertificationTM Program (www.TrueSourceHoney.com) commends Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) for his action last week calling on the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to establish a federal standard of identity for honey, and echoes his plea for such a standard to be executed quickly to help protect U.S. beekeepers and honey producers from the continuing threat of illicitly sourced honey and false honey products.

While many of Americans’ most basic food staples – from butter and milk to mayonnaise and maple syrup – have federal definitions to protect consumers from fraudulent products, honey still does not have such a federal standard, despite repeated requests for almost a decade by U.S. beekeepers and others. Late last year the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) sent a report to the FDA, as required by the 2014 Farm Bill, which summarizes comments received on the issue of creating a federal standard; according to the American Beekeeping Federation, 90% of the comments supported the establishment of a federal standard.

“We believe that setting a federal definition for honey could support enforcement and compliance efforts in the face of continuing efforts by some bad actors to trade in illegally sourced and sometimes mislabeled honey or imitation honey,” said True Source Honey Executive Director Gordon Marks. Marks noted that some illegally traded honey is found to contain added syrups or sweetener extenders.

As recently as January 2015, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement reported that agents had just seized almost half a million pounds of illegally imported Chinese honey valued at $2.45 million destined for U.S. consumers. Customs officials have been working for years to crack down on illegal trade in Chinese honey, activity that True Source Honey estimates is costing U.S. taxpayers up to $100 million a year in lost duties and is threatening the U.S. honey industry –
from beekeeper to packer – by undercutting fair market prices and damaging honey's reputation for quality and safety.

“A federal standard of identity would protect producers and consumers across the nation from substandard or falsely labeled honey,” Casey states in his letter to FDA.

A federal standard would be a helpful enforcement tool, but would not replace the need for a honey source-certification program, Marks said. The True Source Certification Program is an industry-supported, voluntary program that has been applauded by U.S. beekeepers and honey industry leadership because it provides traceability from hive to table, helping ensure the food safety and security of the honey used in North America. Companies that are True Source Certified now represent about one-third of honey sold in North America.

The True Source Certified™ logo on honey packages ensures that the source of the honey has been independently certified through a third-party audit system. Further information, including a search function to check honey products, can be found at
www.TrueSourceHoney.com.

The text to Sen. Casey’s letter can be found here.

True Source Honey, LLC is an effort by a number of honey companies and importers to protect consumers and customers from illegally sourced honey; and to highlight and support legal, transparent and ethical sourcing. The initiative seeks to help maintain the reputation of honey as a high-quality, highly valued food and further sustain the U.S. honey sector. Visit www.TrueSourceHoney.com. Follow us on Facebook.

 __________________________________________________________________________

 Honey Bees Use Multiple Genetic Pathways to Fight Infections

Honey bees use different sets of genes, regulated by two distinct mechanisms, to fight off viruses, bacteria and gut parasites, according to researchers at Penn State and the Georgia Institute of Technology.

The findings may help scientists develop honey bee treatments that are tailored to specific types of infections. "Our results indicate that different sets of genes are used in immune responses to viruses versus other pathogens, and these anti-viral genes are regulated by two very distinct processes -- expression and DNA methylation," said David Galbraith, graduate student in entomology, Penn State. The results will appear in todays (Mar. 26) issue of PLOS Pathogens.

According to Christina Grozinger, director of the Penn State Center for Pollinator Research, beekeepers lose an average of 30 percent of their colonies every winter and an average of 25 percent in the summer.

"Honey bees have more than 20 types of viruses, and several of them have been linked to losses of honey bee colonies," she said. "Yet, beekeepers currently do not have any commercially available methods to reduce viral infections." With a goal of uncovering which genes increase or decrease their activity in response to the presence of viruses, the researchers measured expression levels of all genes in the honey bee genome in both infected and uninfected bees. They found that the RNAi pathway had increased activity and, therefore, is likely an important anti-viral immune pathway in bees.

"Previous studies suggested the RNAi pathway was involved in anti-viral immune responses in bees, but we showed that expression levels of many genes in this pathway are significantly higher in virus-infected bees," said Grozinger. "The RNAi pathway helps to cut up and destroy viral RNA so it is not infectious." Scientists and beekeepers are increasingly interested in using RNAi approaches to control viruses and parasites in agricultural crops and in honey bee colonies, according to Grozinger.

"We will need to make sure that any artificial RNAi approaches do not interfere with the natural anti-viral RNAi mechanisms in honey bees," Grozinger said. In addition to examining gene expression in virus-infected versus uninfected honey bees, the researchers also scanned the honey bee DNA for extra methylation marks that may have been added or removed from genes in virus-infected bees.

The team found that viral infections do change the pattern of DNA methylation in honey bees, and in a completely different set of genes from the ones in the RNAi pathway. Many of these differentially methylated genes are also involved in anti-viral responses in mammals, but they have not previously been linked to anti-viral responses in insects, said Grozinger.

"We found that there was very little overlap between differentially expressed and differentially methylated genes, suggesting dual genomic response pathways to viral infection," said Galbraith. "For the first time, we characterized both the global gene expression and DNA methylation patterns associated with acute viral infection in honey bees. We confirmed that the RNAi pathway, which has been seen in other insects, is also an antiviral defense mechanism in honey bees. And, for the first time, we observed alterations in DNA methylation patterns in response to viral infection in honey bees."