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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.

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Cletus Notes

Hello Everyone,

Here in Texas and many other parts of the South, beekeepers depend on the tallow tree for their main honey flow this time of year. Unfortunately, the state of Texas lists the tallow tree as an invasive species and does its best to remove it when possible. Back in the 1970’s and 1980’s during my commercial beekeeping days, the tallow tree was very abundant south of Houston all the way to the gulf coast. Today, you might find 10% of the tallow trees left in those areas. The tree has been removed for agricultural needs, residential building and of course from the states crack down on the tallow species.

For those of us who have depended on the tallow tree for needed surplus honey are currently moving our bees into the tallow areas. The flow in our area usually starts around the last week in May and will last around three weeks if the weather conditions have been good.

Here in Texas our tallow flow is pretty much being washed away by all the rains. If we’re lucky, we will spend the last week of June and first part of July pulling the honey surplus off the hives and getting it extracted. For the small operator, this tallow flow is what they depend on for their beekeeping income for the year. If they don’t make a good tallow surplus, they will have to wait until the next year and try again. The larger operator will truck their bees out of Texas after the tallow flow to other parts of the country. They usually chase the different honey flows around the country to maximize their income.

With good beekeeping skills, good weather and a good nectar source, beekeeping can be fun and profitable. Enjoy your bees.

Dennis

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Newly Named Bacteria Help

Honey Bee Larvae Thrive

 

by Kim Kaplan

 

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists have identified a bacterium that appears to give honey bee larvae a better chance of surviving to become pupae.

Molecular biologist Vanessa Corby-Harris and microbial ecologist Kirk E. Anderson at the Carl Hayden Bee Research Center in Tucson, Arizona, have named the new species Parasaccharibacter apium. The bee research center is part of the Agricultural Research Service, USDA’s chief intramural scientific research agency.

Honey bees have been under nearly constant and growing pressures from a whole host of stressors—diseases, poor nutrition, sublethal effects of pesticides and many others, especially for the last 30 years. It has been known that a number of different bacteria live within adult bees and in the hive, and scientists have been studying if and how these bacteria help deal with some of these stresses.

This is the first bacteria found to offer a benefit to bee larvae. In laboratory experiments, bee larvae fed P. apium had about an average of 30 percent better survival compared to those fed a sterile control.

How P. apium confers this survival advantage to the larvae is not yet known, according to Corby-Harris.
So far, the researchers have found P. apium only in honey bees and their hives. While P. apium found in honey bee hives is a distinct and new species from any previously identified, it has very close, naturally occurring relatives found in the nectar of many flowers, including cactus flowers, daisies, thistles and apple blossom

The genome of P. apium has been sequenced and they are beginning to dissect the functional properties that distinguish flower-living Acetobacteraceaefrom those that have coevolved with the honey bee hive. Pinpointing these ecological differences will be key to understanding the function of P. apium in honey bee hives, Anderson explained.

With minimal sampling effort, P. apium was found in nearly every one of the healthy managed bee colonies examined by the researchers. A future study will explore the abundance of P. apium in weak or struggling managed bee colonies.

While the mechanism by which the bacteria benefit the larvae remains to be studied, the importance is clear enough that Corby-Harris and Anderson are already field testing its use along with a number of other bacteria that may benefit the pollination and honey-production industry as potential management tools.

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Nation's Beekeepers Lost 40 Percent

of Their Bees in 2014-15

Beekeepers across the United States lost more than 40 percent of their honey bee colonies during the year spanning April 2014 to April 2015, according to the latest results of an annual nationwide survey. While winter loss rates improved slightly compared to last year, summer losses--and consequently, total annual losses--were more severe. Commercial beekeepers were hit particularly hard by the high rate of summer losses, which outstripped winter losses for the first time in five years, stoking concerns over the long-term trend of poor health in honey bee colonies.

The survey, which asks both commercial and small-scale beekeepers to track the health and survival rates of their honey bee colonies, is conducted each year by the Bee Informed Partnership in collaboration with the Apiary Inspectors of America, with funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). A summary of the 2014-2015 results is available upon request prior to May 13, 2015; thereafter the results will be added to previous years' results publicly available on the Bee Informed website.

"We traditionally thought of winter losses as a more important indicator of health, because surviving the cold winter months is a crucial test for any bee colony," said Dennis vanEngelsdorp, an assistant professor of entomology at the University of Maryland and project director for the Bee Informed Partnership. "But we now know that summer loss rates are significant too. This is especially so for commercial beekeepers, who are now losing more colonies in the summertime compared to the winter. Years ago, this was unheard of."

Beekeepers who responded to the survey lost a total of 42.1 percent of their colonies over the course of the year. Winter loss rates decreased from 23.7 percent last year to 23.1 percent this year, while summer loss rates increased from 19.8 percent to 27.4 percent.

Among backyard beekeepers (defined as those who manage fewer than 50 colonies), a clear culprit in losses is the varroa mite, a lethal parasite that can easily spread between colonies. Among commercial beekeepers, the causes of the majority of losses are not as clear.

"Backyard beekeepers were more prone to heavy mite infestations, but we believe that is because a majority of them are not taking appropriate steps to control mites," vanEngelsdorp said. "Commercial keepers were particularly prone to summer losses. But they typically take more aggressive action against varroa mites, so there must be other factors at play."

This is the ninth year of the winter loss survey, and the fifth year to include summer and annual losses in addition to winter loss data. More than 6,000 beekeepers from all 50 states responded to this year's survey. All told, these beekeepers are responsible for nearly 15 percent of the nation's estimated 2.74 million managed honey bee colonies.

The survey is part of a larger research effort to understand why honey bee colonies are in such poor health, and what can be done to manage the situation. Colony losses present a financial burden for beekeepers, and can lead to shortages among the many crops that depend on honey bees as pollinators. Some crops, such as almonds, depend entirely on honey bees for pollination. Estimates of the total economic value of honey bee pollination services range between $10 billion and $15 billion annually.

"The winter loss numbers are more hopeful especially combined with the fact that we have not seen much sign of Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) for several years, but such high colony losses in the summer and year-round remain very troubling," said Jeffery Pettis, a senior entomologist at U.S. Department of Agriculture and a co-coordinator of the survey. "If beekeepers are going to meet the growing demand for pollination services, researchers need to find better answers to the host of stresses that lead to both winter and summer colony losses."

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Study: Gene Regulation Underlies
the Evolution of
Social Complexity in Bees

 

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

 

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- Explaining the evolution of insect society, with sterile society members displaying extreme levels of altruism, has long been a major scientific challenge, dating back to Charles Darwin's day. A new genomic study of 10 species of bees representing a spectrum of social living - from solitary bees to those in complex, highly social colonies - offers new insights into the genetic changes that accompany the evolution of bee societies.

The new findings are reported in the journal Science.

By sequencing and comparing the genomes of ten bee species that vary in social complexity, the researchers made three important discoveries.

"First, there is no single road map to eusociality - the complex, cooperative social system in which animals behave more like superorganisms than individuals fending for themselves," said Gene Robinson, a lead on the study who is a professor of entomologyand director of the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biologyat the University of Illinois. "In this study, we found that independent evolutionary transitions in social life have independent genetic underpinnings."

The second insight involved changes in the evolution of gene regulation: As social complexity increased, so did the speed of changes to parts of the genome involved in regulating gene activity, located in the promoters of the genes, the researchers report.

By contrast, evolution seems to have put the brakes on changes in many parts of the genome that code for the actual proteins, Robinson said. Similarly, there was an increase in DNA methylation as social complexity increased, which also means enhanced gene regulatory capacity, he said.

"It appears from these results that gene networks get more complex as social life gets more complex, with network complexity driving social complexity," Robinson said.

A third major finding was that increases in social complexity were accompanied by a slowing, or "relaxation," of changes in the genome associated with natural selection. This effect on some genes may be a result of the buffering effect of living in a complex, interdependent society, where the "collective genome" is less vulnerable to dramatic environmental changes or other external threats, Robinson said.

"These results demonstrate once again that important new insights into evolution can be obtained by using genomes as history books," Robinson said. "We have now learned what genetic changes have occurred during the evolution of the bees, notable for their elaborate societies and essential pollination services."

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UC Davis Buzz in National Geographic


by Kathy Keatley Garvey
UC-Davis Dept. of Entomology

 

DAVIS--The Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility at the University of California, Davis, figured prominently in a piece, “Quest for a Superbee,” published in the May editionof National Geographic.

Staff research associate/beekeeper Billy Synk worked with and assisted photographer Anand Varma's needs for a year in the development of the illustrated article. Extension apiculturist emeritus Eric Mussen, who retired last June after 38 years of service, served as a research fact-checker, contacted by National Geographic.

The article, authored by Charles Mann asked “Can the world's most important pollinators be saved?' and pondered “how scientists and breeders are trying to create a hardier honeybee.”

Varma's time-lapse videoof 2500 images, showing the development of eggs to pupae to adults, was filmed at the Laidlaw apiary. Two still photos, of a bee in flight, and a close-up of an emerging worker bee, were also taken in the Laidlaw apiary.

In his article, Mann touches on RNAi and quotes bee researcher Marla Spivak of the University of Minnesota and recipient of a MacArthur Foundation “genius grant” as saying “If you target one specific area, the organism will always make an end run around it.” She advocates a “healthier, stronger” bee, or what Mann writes as “one that can fight (varroa) mites and disease on its own, without human assistance.”

Spivak was the keynote speaker at the
Bee Symposium, hosted May 9 by the Honey and Pollination Center in the UC Davis Conference Center. It drew a crowd of 360.

Spivak and John Harbo of the USDA's research center in Baton Rouge, La. “both succeeded in breeding versions of hygienic bees by the late 1990s,” Mann writes. “A few years after that, scientists realized that hygienic bees are less effective as the mites grow more numerous.”

Both Spivak and Varma have presented TED talks on honey bees.

Spivak:
Why Bees Are Disappearing

Varma:A Thrilling Look at the First 21 Days of a Bee's Life