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,

I’m frequently asked; “When is the best time to start in beekeeping?” My answer most always surprises them, because they expect me to say, spring time. When they hear the word, fall, they typically look confused. There’s so much that should take place before someone actually invests in bees and equipment, because beekeeping can get quite costly. Unfortunately, only one out of five people are still in beekeeping after their third year.

One of the biggest reasons for such a dramatic drop in retain ability is caused by the lack of knowledge a new beekeeper has before getting started. With this in mind, I suggest that if a person thinks about becoming a beekeeper, they should start in the fall. I’ve listed a few things that a wanna-bee beekeeper should keep in mind as they move forward.

1.       During the fall/winter read as much as you can about beekeeping.

2.       Find someone in your area who has been keeping bees for a few years and ask them if they would allow you to work their hives along with them. This will give you an idea what is actually involved in keeping bees. Beekeeping is mostly labor intensive, so you need to know if you’re up to the task.

3.       Learn what equipment you will need to purchase and what not to purchase. Look through the Kelley catalog for pricing. This will give you an idea on beekeeping cost.

4.       Plan on raising bees without dumping chemicals into the hive to treat against pests and bee diseases. (I’ve been keeping bees now for fifty-one years and have never used chemicals. In my book; “Beekeeping: A personal Journey” I teach you how to manage your hives without the use of chemicals.) Using chemicals in the hive pollutes the comb and the hive products you sell to the public. It also weakens the bee’s immune system making them more susceptible to bee diseases and pest.

5.       Try to avoid those beekeepers that have only been in beekeeping for a few years and think they know it all. There are plenty of those out there. I’ve been enjoying beekeeping for all these years and can tell you right up front that I don’t know everything. The day I say different will be the day I quit.

The point I’m trying to make is that before you pick up any bees in the spring, learn how to care for them. Learn everything you can ahead of time. If you begin your research in the fall before the spring you actually intend to get bees, your success rate will go up dramatically. You will be able to spend more time enjoying your bees instead of spending your time figuring out what’s going wrong. I have many potential beekeepers that actually spend a whole year coming to classes before purchasing any bees. Some of those find out that beekeeping is more involved than they anticipated and drop out saving themselves lots of money. The rest go on and enjoy beekeeping armed with the knowledge of how to care for the bees.

Beekeeping can be such a rewarding endeavor if you’re armed with good solid knowledge ahead of time.

Enjoy your bees!


Study Finds Glyphosate and
Acetamiprid to Have Relatively
Low Toxicity for Honey Bees

Entomological Society of America

Researchers from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS) and Mississippi State University tested 42 commonly used pesticides in a realistic field setting in order to determine their toxicity levels. The results were published in the Journal of Economic Entomology.

The researchers found that 26 pesticides, including many (but not all) neonicotinoids, organophosphates, and pyrethroids killed nearly all of the bees that came into contact with the test pesticide sprays. However, seven pesticides, including glyphosate and acetamiprid, killed practically no bees in the tests. Glyphosate is the active ingredient in the herbicide commonly known as Roundup and acetamiprid is a neonicotinoid.

A number of surprises also appeared in the study. First, an insecticide called sulfoxaflor, which was recently banned by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in the U.S., was found to be near the middle in terms of toxicity. In fact, it was found to be less toxic to bees than permethrin, a pyrethroid insecticide that is used in agriculture, household pesticide products, flea shampoos for pets, and in head lice products for people.

Also, four pesticides (methoxyfenozide+spinetoram, carbaryl, indoxacarb, and 1-cyhalothrin+chlorantraniliprole) that had been considered moderately toxic to bees were found to be higher risk when field-application concentrations were considered. Finally, one pesticide, gamma-cyhalothrin, which was considered to be a high-risk chemical, was found to be only an intermediate risk when used at the labeled rate.

Using a modified spray tower to simulate field spray conditions, the researchers mimicked a situation where an adult bee in a cotton field accidentally gets sprayed. This is an important distinction from previous studies that tested the active ingredients only, or that used artificial feeders with the pesticides in a sugar solution, none of which provide appropriate measures of the amounts of pesticide exposure in the field.

Field spraying of insecticides and other pesticides may effectively kill insects, including valuable honey bees, and the risk to honey bees can be reduced by selecting pesticides with lower toxicity in field applications. This study determined that a number of pesticides, including a neonicotinoid, showed little to no toxicity to bees, meaning they could be effective alternatives to organophosphates, carbamates, and other neonicotinoids.

According to the authors, "Our data, particularly the ratios of field application rates to lethal concentrations of each pesticide, provide a quantifying scale to help extension specialists and farmers with pesticide selection to maintain effective control of target pests and minimize the risk to foraging honey bees as well."


CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- Even as larvae, honey bees are tuned in to the social culture of the hive, becoming more or less aggressive depending on who raises them, researchers report in the journal Scientific Reports.

"We are interested in the general issue of how social information gets under the skin, and we decided to take a chance and ask about very young bees that are weeks away from adulthood," said University of Illinois entomology professor and Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology director Gene Robinson, who led the research with postdoctoral researcher Clare Rittschofand Pennsylvania State University professor Christina Grozinger.

"In a previous study, we cross-fostered adult bees from gentle colonies into more aggressive colonies and vice versa, and then we measured their brain gene expression," Robinson said. "We found that the bees had a complex pattern of gene expression, partly influenced by their own personal genetic identity and partly influenced by the environment of the colony they were living in. This led us to wonder when they become so sensitive to their social environment."

In the new study, the researchers again cross-fostered bees, but this time as larvae in order to manipulate the bees' early life experiences. The larvae were from a variety of queens, with sister larvae divided between high- and low-aggression colonies.

The larvae were removed from their foster hives and put into a neutral laboratory environment one day before they emerged as adults. The researchers tested their aggressiveness by exposing them to an intruder bee. (Watch a videoof honey bees responding to an intruder.)

They were surprised to see that the bees retained the social information they had acquired as larvae. Those raised in aggressive colonies were 10 to 15 percent more aggressive than those raised in the gentler colonies.

"Even sisters born of the same queen but reared in different colonies differed in aggression, demonstrating the potency of this environmental effect," Robinson said.

The finding was surprising in part because bee larvae undergo metamorphosis, which radically changes the structure of their bodies and brains.

"It's hard to imagine what elements of the brain are influenced during the larval period that then survive the massive reorganization of the brain to bias behavior in this way," Robinson said.

The aggressive honey bees also had more robust immune responses than their gentler counterparts, the team found.

"We challenged them with pesticides and found that the aggressive bees were more resistant to pesticide," Grozinger said. "That's surprising considering what we know from vertebrates, where stress in early life leads to a diminishment of resilience. With the bees, we saw an increase in resilience."

This finding also suggests that the effects of the social environment on young bees could extend beyond brain function and behavior, Robinson said.

The researchers don't yet know how the social information is being transmitted to the larvae. They tested whether the bees differed in size, which would suggest that they had been fed differently, but found no size differences between aggressive and gentle bees.

"Adult honey bees are well known for their sociality, their communication skills and their ability to adjust their behavior in response to the needs of the hive," Rittschof said.

"In mammals, including humans, the effects of early life social interactions often persist throughout adulthood despite additional social experiences," she said. "A similar pattern in honey bees has broad implications for our understanding of social behavior within the hive and in comparison with other species."