If you are a member and have anything that you feel is important to 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.

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Cletus Notes

Hive beetles don’t have to be a problem.

Keeping strong hives is priority. Removing hiding places like frame spacers/holders and yes, those “Club Med” for beetles inner covers. The bees will run the beetles up into the inner cover where the beetles will lounge around in comfort until they get hungry or want to lay some eggs. Then they dash down onto the comb, lay a few eggs, grab something to eat and then get chased back up into the inner cover. Don’t leave inside feeders on for long periods. Old equipment with cracks and holes should be repaired or replaced. I buy the Kelley bottom board that has the slide-in screen and the slide-in monitoring board.

From December to the first of March (where I live in Bryan, Texas) I slide the monitoring board in place. I first take a paint brush and spread some inexpensive vegetable oil on the board. This board provides better hive insulation from the winter drafts and it provides a trap for any beetles that may be hanging out.

About every two or three weeks I take an eight-inch putty knife and scrape the board off (You don’t have to open the hive if you’re using the Kelley bottom board with the slots.) after first looking the board over for mite loads and any other stress signs. The bees will run the beetles through the screen and they fall onto the oil that I spread on the board. In my part of Texas we get some warm days so I can easily pull the boards off or out to provide good ventilation.

So, don’t worry about those pesky hive beetles. Keep strong hives, don’t provide your bees with more room than they can take care of and take away their hiding places. “Enjoy your bees”

On a liter note;

July brings about a second occasion for us here in the South to decide if we need to increase our hive numbers. The first occasion came about in early spring. Sometimes hear at Lone Star Farms, we make a few splits to increase our hive count in July. The hives have just come off a strong tallow flow and are loaded with bees and honey. A split will have ample time to build-up into two brood boxes and collect fall nectar from aster and goldenrod that will carry them through the winter months.

So, if hive numbers are needed in your bee yard and you live in the South, July is a great time to make those splits.



California's Wildflowers Losing
Diversity in Face of
Warmer, Drier Winters


Native wildflowers in California are losing species diversity after multiple years of drier winters, according to a study from the University of California, Davis, which provides the first direct evidence of climate change impacts in the state's grassland communities.

The study, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is based on 15 years of monitoring about 80 sampling plots at McLaughlin Reserve, part of UC Davis' Natural Reserve System.

"Our study shows that 15 years of warmer and drier winters are creating a direct loss of native wildflowers in some of California's grasslands," said lead author Susan Harrison, a professor in the Department of Environmental Science and Policy. "Such diversity losses may foreshadow larger-scale extinctions, especially in regions that are becoming increasingly dry."
The researchers confirmed that drought-intolerant species suffered the worst declines.

Similar trends have been found in other Mediterranean environments, such as those of southern Europe, bolstering the case for increased climate change awareness in the world's semi-arid regions.

Taken together with climate change predictions, the future grassland communities of California are expected to be less productive, provide less nutrition to herbivores, and become more vulnerable to invasion by exotic species, the study said.

The researchers expect these negative effects to cascade up through the food web--affecting insects, seed-eating rodents, birds, deer and domesticated species like cattle, all of which rely on grasslands for food.

Grasses and wildflowers may be able to withstand the current drying period through their extensive seed banks, which can lie dormant for decades waiting for the right conditions to germinate. However, California's drought is expected to intensify in the coming decades, so this rescue effect may end up being too late for some species.


Do Insect Societies Share
Brain Power?

Social brains may have evolved very differently in
insects than in vertebrates


PHILADELPHIA (June 16, 2015) - The society you live in can shape the complexity of your brain--and it does so differently for social insects than for humans and other vertebrate animals.

A new comparative study of social and solitary wasp species suggests that as social behavior evolved, the brain regions for central cognitive processing in social insect species shrank. This is the opposite of the pattern of brain increases with sociality that has been documented for several kinds of vertebrate animals including mammals, birds and fish.

"By relying on group mates, insect colony members may afford to make less individual brain investment. We call this the distributed cognition hypothesis," said Sean O'Donnell, PhD, a professor in the Drexel University College of Arts
and Sciences who led the study published today in Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

Essentially, O'Donnell says the cooperative or integrative aspects of insect colonies, such as information sharing among colony mates, can reduce the need for individual cognition in these societies.

The distributed cognition hypothesis contrasts sharply with leading models of how vertebrate animals' social complexity relates to their cognitive abilities. In vertebrates, more complex social environments generally demand more complex cognitive abilities in individuals. Social brain theorists have described the idea behind this increasing complexity as "Machiavellian intelligence." The idea in such social challenge hypotheses is that competition between individuals drives the evolution of sharper intelligence, as vertebrate societies tend to involve associations between unrelated individuals who experience both conflict over resources and opportunities to form alliances. Individuals who navigate such challenges with stronger cognitive abilities have a survival advantage.

O'Donnell's team recognized that societies can form in different ways. "Unlike most vertebrate societies, insect colonies are usually family groups--offspring that stay and help their parents. Although there can be family strife, the colony often succeeds or fails as a unit," O'Donnell said.

They looked at whether social insects' more cooperative social structures might have different effects on brain evolution. They compared brains of 29 related wasp species from Costa Rica, Ecuador and Taiwan, including both solitary species and social species with varied colony structures and sizes. It is the first study informed by evolutionary relationships between species to comparatively test social brain models in social insects.

Compared to social species, they found solitary species had significantly larger brain parts known as the mushroom bodies, which are used for multisensory integration, associative learning and spatial memory--the best available measure of complex cognition in these insects. The finding supports the idea that, as insect social behavior evolved, the need for such complex cognition in individuals actually decreased.

"The challenge now is to test whether the pattern of reduced mushroom body investment holds up in other lineages of social insects. Termites and roaches, and solitary versus social bees, are good places to look," said O'Donnell.


Surprisingly Few 'Busy Bees'
Make Global Crops Grow

University of Vermont

A major international study finds that surprisingly few bee species are responsible for pollinating the world's crops.

The paper, published in Nature Communications, suggests that only two percent of wild bee species pollinate 80 percent of bee-pollinated crops worldwide. The study is one of the largest on bee pollination to date.

While agricultural development and pesticides have been shown to produce sharp declines in many wild bee populations, the study shows these "busy bees" can remain abundant in agricultural landscapes.

The study gives a powerful economic rationale for conserving wild bees. It calculates the value of wild bee pollination to the global food system at $3,000 per hectare of insect-pollinated agricultural land, a number in the billions globally.

But the findings also offer a warning to conservation advocates hoping that economic arguments can justify the preservation of all species. Moral reasons are still needed, researchers say.

"This study shows us that wild bees provide enormous economic benefits, but reaffirms that the justification for protecting species cannot always be economic," says Taylor Ricketts of the University of Vermont's Gund Institute For Ecological Economics, a study co-author. "We still have to agree that protecting biodiversity is the right thing to do."

Fifty-eight researchers worldwide conducted the three-year study, led by Prof. David Kleijn of the Netherlands' Wageningen University.

The study advances our understanding of wild bees' crucial role in the global food system. About two-thirds of the world's most important crops benefit from bee pollination, including coffee, cacao and many fruits and vegetables.

Wild pollination is increasingly important with the growing instability of honey bee colonies. Wild bees' agricultural value is now similar to that of honey bees, the study finds. Honey bees are no longer considered wild in many regions due to their intense management.

The most important wild bees for agriculture include some of the world's most common species, including the common eastern bumblebee (Bombus impatiens) in the U.S. and the red-tailed bumblebee (Bombus lapidarius) in Europe, researchers say.

One reason to preserve bee biodiversity is securing the future resiliency of global pollination systems, Ricketts says. Previous studies associate biodiversity with more stable pollination services over time.

"Species and populations can fluctuate significantly as landscapes and climates change," says Ricketts, who is also a professor in UVM's Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources. "So protecting a wide variety of our wild bees is crucial."

The paper outlines bee-friendly practices for farmers, including maintaining wildflowers and grass strips, organic farming techniques, and limiting - or delaying - the use of pesticides and other chemicals.

The study includes 90 individual studies of nearly 1,400 crop fields across five continents (North America, Europe, Asia, Africa and South America).

Regular monitoring found nearly 74,000 individual bees from nearly 785 wild bees species on crops. Of 20,000 known bee species, roughly two percent pollinated 80 per cent of crops.

"Rare and threatened species may play a less significant role economically than common species, but this does not mean their protection is less important," says Kleijn.

The economic benefits to people from nature - such as crop pollination, water purification, and carbon storage - are increasingly known as ecosystem services. The fact that nature provides these services has increasingly been used as a reason to protect the environment and its biodiversity.

The name of the study is "Delivery of crop pollination services is an insufficient argument for wild pollinator conservation."


A Smelling Bee?

EAST LANSING, Mich. - If there were an international smelling bee, a deadly mite would be a favorite to win.

New research has revealed that Varroa mites, the most-serious threat to honeybees worldwide, are infiltrating hives by smelling like bees.

The Michigan State University-led study, appearing in the current issue of Biology Letters, shows that being able to smell like their hostess reduces the chance that the parasite is found and killed.

The parasites were originally found on Asian honeybees. The invasive species, however, revealed their versatility when they began infesting and killing European honeybees.

"The mites from Asian honeybees, or the original host, are more efficient in mimicking both Asian and European honeybees," said Zachary Huang, MSU entomologist and one of the papers' lead authors. "This remarkable adaptability may explain their relatively recent host shift from Asian to European honeybees."

Chemical camouflage isn't a new weapon in insects' arsenals. Bolas spiders, for example, emit not one but three chemicals to emulate a sex pheromone to attract moths to eat. However, fooling socially sophisticated insects, such as honeybees, requires the faux scents to be spot-on.

That's because the complex society of bees comprises tens of thousands of individuals divided by a sophisticated caste system. So, the mites aren't simply tricking a solitary bee collecting pollen from a flower; they're fooling an entire society. The stealthy mites do this by not only by being able to smell like bees, but also by effectively emitting the specific scents of small, individual colonies.

"They are essentially getting through the door and reaching the inner sanctum by using bees' own complex communication codes against them," Huang said.

The codes in which they communicate are hydrocarbons, the simplest of organic compounds. By tweaking the proportions of these chemical colognes, the mites give off the correct scents to fool their enemies.

Specifically, it's the cuticular hydrocarbons, compounds released from hair-shaft glands, that emit scents that differentiate queens from fertile and infertile workers; it's the smell that invokes acceptance or triggers aggression.

Huang and his team showed that mites are able to change their surface chemicals to an entirely different species of honeybees. Further, they also revealed that the mites were able to make these changes rather quickly - adapting in days rather than evolving over generations.

"Our study challenged the mites' ability to modify their hydrocarbons," Huang. "Conversely, bees are adapting to detect these invaders. Our results give a clear illustration of an arms race between the parasites and the host bees based on chemical mimicry and its detection."


Bee Warned - Study Finds Pesticides

Threaten Native Pollinators


ITHACA, N.Y. - A new Cornell study of New York state apple orchards finds that pesticides harm wild bees, and fungicides labeled "safe for bees" also indirectly may threaten native pollinators.

The research, published June 3 in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, finds the negative effects of pesticides on wild bees lessens in proportion to the amount of natural areas near orchards.

Thirty-five percent of global food production benefits from insect pollinators, and U.S. farmers have relied almost exclusively on European honey bees.

"Because production of our most nutritious foods, including many fruits, vegetables and even oils, rely on animal pollination, there is an intimate tie between pollinator and human well-being," said Mia Park, an assistant professor at the University of North Dakota and the paper's first author, who worked on the study as a Cornell entomology graduate student. Co-authors include professor Bryan Danforth and associate professor John Losey, both in entomology.

The researchers studied 19 New York state apple orchards over two years, 2011 and 2012. They determined the health of bee populations by analyzing the numbers of wild bees and honey bees and the number of species for each orchard. They also created an index of pesticide use from low to high use, then quantified the amount of natural areas that surrounded each orchard.

"We found there is a negative response of the whole bee community to increasing pesticide use," Park said, adding that fungicides also are contributing to the problem.

The effects of pesticides on wild bees were strongest in the generation that followed pesticide exposure, Park said, possibly suggesting pesticides affect reproduction or offspring. Park said her research only looked at one generation to the next, and more study is needed. The study found no effect of pesticides on honey bees, but European honey bee hives are brought in to an orchard for short periods during blossoming then removed. In addition, growers are careful not to spray while honey bees are in the area. "Honey bees may have shown a response if they were allowed to stay," Park said.

"Our studies of wild bees in apple orchards are showing how important wild bees are for apple pollination in the eastern U.S.," said Danforth. With more than 20,000 known bee species, native bees are abundant and diverse in many agricultural habitats, and likely pollinate watermelons, squashes, blueberries and other orchard crops, he said.