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

Hello Everyone,

Beekeeping is hard work and working bees in August is insane in the Southern states when the temperature is 100 degrees or higher. But, we do it anyway. A good manager of bees understands that the bees need to be worked no matter how hot it is outside and makes sure that the bees come first.

In August here in Texas, the bees have put the tallow flow behind them and are coasting along until September rolls around when the goldenrod nectar flow begins. At Lone Star Farms however, we are busy storing the honey supers and cleaning up the honey house and extracting equipment. August is the month that the Southern beekeeper assesses how well he managed his/her bees for the past year. The proof is in the “honey” so to speak. If Mother Nature has provided lots of nectar resources for the bees during the honey flow and the bees were strong enough at the right time to store a good surplus for the beekeeper, then the beekeeper has been successful in his/her management skills for the past year.

Unfortunately, Mother Nature provided so much rain this year that most beekeepers around here either got flooded out or the rain washed most of the nectar from the flower. This was not a very good year for honey production. We are hoping for a good fall flow that will carry our bees through the winter months without us having to feed sugar water.

 “Enjoy your bees”.

Dennis Brown

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Large-scale Bee Monitoring Easier

with New Testing Method


University of East Anglia.

Research published today in the journal Methods in Ecology and Evolution shows that collecting wild bees, extracting their DNA, and directly reading the DNA of the resultant 'soup' could finally make large-scale bee monitoring programs feasible.

This would allow conservationists to detect where and when bee species are being lost, and importantly, whether conservation interventions are working.

The UK's National Pollinator Strategy plans a large-scale bee monitoring program. Traditional monitoring involves pinning individual bees and identifying them under a microscope. But the number of bees needed to track populations reliably over the whole country makes traditional methods infeasible.

This new research shows how the process could become quicker, cheaper and more accurate.

Researchers from UEA worked in partnership with Conservation Grade and the University of Reading in the UK, and the Kunming Institute of Zoology and the China National GeneBank at BGI-Shenzhen in China.

Lead researcher Prof. Douglas Yu, from UEA's School of Biology, said: "Wild bees play a key role in pollinating wild plants and cultivated crops - maintaining both biodiversity and food production. They are however threatened by habitat loss, pesticides, climate change and disease. Safeguarding wild bee populations and their pollination services is therefore a top priority.

"Developing an efficient long-term monitoring program to better understand the causes of their decline is one of the goals of DEFRA's National Pollinator Strategy. This will involve a massive collection of bees across the UK. Traditionally they would be pinned and identified under a microscope, but this is so labor-intensive and error-prone that the resulting data might not be available for years after the collections.

"We need more efficient identification methods if we are to improve our understanding of bee populations and their responses to conservation interventions. The big challenge is that there are hundreds of wild bee species per country, almost 300 in the UK alone. Even with the necessary expertise, it would be impossibly time-consuming to count and identify all the bees in each location - which is where the 'soup' comes in."

The research team took samples of bees from different locations in the Chilterns, the Hampshire Downs and Low Weald. A total of 204 bees were extracted, and the resulting soups put through a DNA sequencer.

The scientists then used a computer program to map the raw DNA reads against the genomes of bee mitochondria, which are found in nearly every animal cell. Each bee species has a distinct genome, allowing the team to identify which species of bees had been present in each sample.

The process did not require taxonomic experts and still proved to be more accurate. Also, by skipping the DNA-amplification step known as PCR, the method was able to estimate the biomass contributed by each species, which opens the way to tracking population trajectories.

Prof. Yu said: "The number of bees that end up in one of my soups is absolutely tiny compared with the populations being studied.

"At present, bees are collected and monitored using traditional methods, which are slow, expensive, and there is a lot more room for error.

"A computer program doesn't have an opinion. It is or it isn't a Bombus lucorum bumblebee, and all the evidence supporting an identification is publicly available.

"Insect soup is a sensitive thermometer for the state of nature. And large-scale bee monitoring programs would really benefit from this type of DNA sequencing. The method can easily be scaled up to track more species, like the 1000 or so total pollinating insects in the UK.

"We can find out where species diversity or abundance is highest - for example in the countryside or in city parks- and how species diversity is affected by farming methods - for example, to see if habitat set-asides support more bees.

"Species biodiversity at any given site can be revealed in a single drop of soup. It's a technique that shaves weeks, months, years off traditional ecological methods, saves money and spares the need for tons of taxonomic expertise.

"We're trying to speed up ecological investigation on a monumental scale."

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Tagged Bees Causing a Buzz
in Disease Research

James Cook University

James Cook University researchers are creating a buzz in bee research, gluing tiny transmitters to the backs of the insects for the first time.

Lead researcher, JCU's Dr Lori Lach, said the team glued Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) chips to the backs of 960 bees, providing new insights into how disease affects the threatened insects.

"We just had to hold them in our hands and hope the glue dried quickly. It was actually quite a process - they had to be individually painted, then individually fed, then the tag glued on. Then individually scanned so we knew which tag was on what color and treatment bee and which hive it was going into. It all had to happen within about eight hours of emergence because as the day goes on they start learning how to fly and they get better at stinging."

It was a unique use of the technology and allowed the bees to be monitored individually for the first time.

"No one had looked at bees at this level before, to see what individual bees do when they are sick," said Dr Lach.

Scientists infected half the insects with a low dose of nosema spores, a gut parasite common amongst adult honeybees, while the rest remained disease free.

Using the RFID tags in combination with observations at the hives and artificial flowers, the researchers were able to see how hard the bees worked and what kind of material they gathered.

The species of nosema used in the study (Nosema apis) has long been thought to be benign compared to the many other parasites and pathogens that infect honey bees, and no one had previously looked for the effect of nosema on behavior with such a low dose.

"We knew dead bees couldn't forage or pollinate," said Dr Lach. "But what we wanted to investigate was the behavior of live bees that are affected by non-lethal stressors."

In a just published paper, researchers say infected bees were 4.3 times less likely to be carrying pollen than uninfected bees, and carried less pollen when they did. Infected bees also started working later, stopped working sooner and died younger.

Dr Lach said nosema-infected bees look just like non-infected bees, so it's important to understand the behavioral changes the parasite may be causing.

"The real implications from this work are for humans. About a quarter of our food production is dependent on honey bee pollination. Declines in the ability of honey bees to pollinate will result in lower crop yields."