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 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. We had a good flower bloom and a nice surplus was made.

Several of the Texas queen breeders have recently had difficulty because of the weather conditions, especially in and around the Houston area where they’ve had twenty-four inches of rain in just a few hours. 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’s 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’s 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

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Biologists Discover Sophisticated
'Alarm' Signals in Honey Bees

'Stop signals' found to encode predator danger and attack context

University of California - San Diego

Bees can use sophisticated signals to warn their nestmates about the level of danger from predators attacking foragers or the nest, according to a new study.

Biologists at UC San Diego and in China found that an Asian species of honey bee can produce different types of vibrational "stop signals" when attacked by giant Asian hornets.

These signals have different effects depending upon type of danger and the context. A bee delivers a stop signal by giving another bee a brief, vibrational pulse, usually through a head-butt.

"Surprisingly, this signal encodes the level of danger in its vibrational frequency, its pitch, and the danger context through the duration of each pulse," said James Nieh, a professor of biology at UC San Diego who headed the research team., which was also led by Ken Tan, a professor at Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Science.

The scientists report their discovery, which they say is the most sophisticated form of alarm signaling found in a social insect, in a paper published this week in the open-access journal PLOS Biology.

Six years ago, Nieh discovered that foragers of the European honey bee, Apis mellifera, when attacked at a food source, will return to the nest and deliver stop signals to nestmates recruiting for the dangerous food source. These signals were known to inhibit recruitment, the famous waggle dance of the honey bee, but researchers did not know what triggered stop signals.

"Stop signals are usually delivered by a sender butting her head into a recipient. Understanding that these signals can be triggered by danger and reduce recruitment for dangerous food therefore made sense," explained Nieh.

Nieh next wanted to find out if other honey bee species also used stop signals. He and his collaborators at the Chinese Academy of Science and Eastern Bee Research Institute in Yunnan Province conducted their experiments at Yunnan Agricultural University using the Asian honey bee, Apis cerana, which occurs throughout southern and eastern Asia, from India to China and Japan.

The scientists said this honey bee species is an excellent model for studying the effects of predator threats because A. cerana is attacked by multiple species of giant hornets, which pose a threat according to hornet body size. They studied the world's largest hornet, the "yak-killer" Vespa mandarinia and a smaller, but still formidable hornet, Vespa velutina. Both hornet species are natural enemies of A. cerana.

These hornets attack foraging bees and bee nests, and the scientists therefore set up their experiments to see if bees would produce stop signals in both situations.

"We hypothesized that bigger predators would pose a bigger threat and would change stop signaling, perhaps by producing more signals when attacked by a large predator," Nieh said. "However, we were very surprised to find that these Asian bees not only produced more stop signals, they also produced different kinds of stop signals."

Attacked foragers reduced their waggle dancing and produced stop signals that increased in pitch according to predator size. The larger and more dangerous predator triggered higher pitched stop signals that were more effective at stopping waggle dancing than the lower pitched stop signals triggered by the smaller and less dangerous predator.

In addition, guard bees and returning foragers attacked at the nest entrance produced longer duration stop signals to warn nestmates about the imminent danger outside.

"Our experiments showed that these different types of stop signals elicited different and appropriate responses. Bees attacked at food sources by bigger hornets produced a kind of stop signal that more effectively inhibited recruitment," said Nieh. "Bees attacked at the nest entrance produced another kind of stop signal that inhibited foragers from exiting the nest and being exposed to the danger outside."

According to Nieh, "this is the first demonstration of such sophisticated inhibitory signaling or alarm signaling in an insect." Previously, such referential alarm signals had only been reported in vertebrates like birds and primates.

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Rising CO2 Levels Reduce Protein
in Crucial Pollen Source for Bees

(Courtesy Purdue University)

Bees rely on goldenrod pollen as a food source, but it's less nutritious than it used to
be, a Purdue study finds. (Purdue Agricultural Communication/Tom Campbell)

 

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Rising levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide have reduced protein in goldenrod pollen, a key late-season food source for North American bees, a Purdue University study shows.

Researchers found that the overall protein concentration of goldenrod pollen fell about one-third from the onset of the Industrial Revolution to the beginning of the 21st century.

Previous studies have shown that increases in carbon dioxide can lower the nutritional value of plants such as wheat and rice - staple crops for much of the global human population - but this study is the first to examine the effects of rising CO2 on the diet of bees.

"Bee food is less nutritious than it used to be," said Jeffrey Dukes, study co-author and professor of forestry and natural resourcesand biological sciences. "Our findings also suggest that the quality of pollen will continue to decline into the future. That's not great news for bees."

Native bee species and honeybees rely on flowering plants for energy and nutrition. While nectar is the primary energy source for bee colonies, pollen is the sole source of protein for bees. Pollen is essential for the development of bee larvae and helps maintain bees' immunity to pathogens and parasites.

Goldenrod, a common North American perennial that blooms from late July through October, offers bees some of the last available pollen before winter. Bees that overwinter must store substantial amounts of pollen to rear their winter young. Declines in pollen protein could potentially threaten bee health and survival and weaken bees' ability to overwinter on a continental scale, said Jeffery Pettis, study co-author and research entomologist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service.

"A poor diet sets bees up for failure," he said. "Previous research shows bees have shorter lifespans when fed lower quality pollen."

The researchers noted, however, that this study only assessed pollen protein levels and did not look at the impact of protein reductions on bee health and populations.

"Our work suggests there is a strong possibility that decreases in pollen protein could contribute to declines in bee health, but we haven't yet made that final link," said Dukes, who is also director of the Purdue Climate Change Research Centerhoused in Discovery Park.

Dukes collaborated with a team led by USDA-ARS researchers to examine protein levels in historical and experimental samples of goldenrod pollen. They found that pollen protein levels dropped about a third in samples collected from 1842-2014, a period during which the amount of carbon dioxide in the Earth's atmosphere rose from about 280 parts per million to 398 ppm. The greatest drop in protein occurred during 1960-2014, a time when atmospheric carbon dioxide levels rose dramatically.

A 2-year controlled field experiment that exposed goldenrod to a gradient of carbon dioxide levels from 280 to 500 ppm showed strikingly similar decreases in pollen protein, Dukes said.

"These data provide an urgent and compelling case for establishing CO2 sensitivity of pollen protein for other floral species," the researchers concluded in their study.

Bees provide a valuable service to U.S. agriculture through pollination, contributing more than $15 billion in added crop value each year.

But a number of new and mounting pressures are crippling colonies and endangering bee populations. These threats include emerging diseases and parasites such as deformed wing virus, Varroa mites and Nosema fungi; a lack of diversity and availability of pollen and nectar sources; and exposure to a wide variety of pesticides. From 2006 to 2011, annual losses of managed honeybee colonies averaged about 33 percent per year, according to the USDA-ARS.

"Bees already face a lot of factors that are making their lives hard," Dukes said. "A decline in the nutritional quality of their food source going into a critical season is another reason to be concerned."

Elevated levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide - a building block for plant sugars -have allowed many plants to grow faster and bigger. But this growth spurt can dilute plants' total protein, rather than concentrating it in the grain, resulting in a less nutritious food source.

Slowing the degrading effects of rising carbon dioxide levels on plant nutrition hinges on reducing carbon emission rates from deforestation and burning fossil fuels, Dukes said.

"The impact of carbon emissions on the nutritional value of our food supply is something people need to be aware of. This issue isn't just relevant to honeybees and people - it will probably affect thousands or even millions of other plant-eating species around the world. We don't yet know how they'll deal with it."

The study was published in Proceedings of the Royal Society Bon Wednesday (April 13) and is available to journal subscribers and on-campus readers at http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2016.0414.

Researchers from Williams College, the Smithsonian Institution and the University of Maryland also co-authored the study.

The work was funded by the USDA-ARS. 

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