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.

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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The following article was sent in by reader “Emma Weaver.”

Health Benefits of Honey

Health Benefits of Honey

Bees are one of the most important and beneficial insects in nature. When it comes to honeybees, they help pollinate many of the plants that are important sources of food for people in the U.S. and around the world. In addition, they also produce honey. Sticky, golden honey is a sweet and edible substance that is added to food, enjoyed on its own, and used in a variety of other ways. Humankind has used honey in one form or another since ancient times. The best way to fully appreciate and enjoy honey is to better understand it and where it comes from.

Bees and Honey

A honeybee’s journey toward the production of honey starts with flowers such as clovers, orange blossoms, or dandelions. The bee flies from flower to flower collecting sweet nectar for food. The nectar that it collects and stores in its belly has carbohydrates that provide the bee with energy. In varying degrees, nectar also contains magnesium, calcium, and other minerals. When the bee is full of nectar, it returns to the hive to offload it and reduce the amount of moisture that it contains.

To make honey, the nectar’s moisture content must be reduced to roughly 17 percent and enzymes from the bees must be introduced. This process begins when the foraging bee passes drops of nectar from its belly into the mouths of bees within the hive. These bees accept the drops and work in the necessary enzyme. While this reduces the moisture to some degree, more of it must be removed to make honey. To accomplish this, the nectar and enzyme mixture is regurgitated into unfilled cells of the honeycomb. Other bees then fan the cells rapidly with their wings to reduce the remaining moisture to the desired amount, leaving honey behind. The honey is then sealed within the honeycomb cell with wax to prevent moisture gain and for storage until it is ready for use.

Beekeeping

While some may consider beekeeping to be a way to make money, others view it as a hobby that allows them to study bees while also benefiting from the honey that they produce. Both the professional beekeeper and the hobbyist must understand what it takes to successfully maintain a colony of honeybees. This includes being educated about bee science and botany. It also includes having the right equipment and establishing the colony in the right location. The ideal location will have a nearby water source and protection from cold winds. For equipment, beekeepers must have a hive, which includes a hive stand, bottom board, hive bodies that contain frames, a queen excluder, supers, and covers. The hive is where the bees will live, and its size depends on the number of colonies. Bees may be purchased in packages from bee producers or from local beekeepers who will install the bees into the equipment. A bee smoker, frame lifter, and protective equipment such as gloves, a bee veil, and coveralls to protect the body are also some of the basics needed for beekeeping.

Before one begins, it is also important to understand any laws that pertain to beekeeping in the area where they live. This prevents any costly surprises and will make them aware of rules that must be followed. It will also provide information on potential inspections and let them know what permits or licenses they will need. Ideally, one should start small when starting beekeeping for the first time and consider working with an established beekeeper first to gain more experience.

Honey and Health

Honey is generally considered safe to eat and offers many health benefits. Historically, it has been used for medicinal purposes and is thought to have antibacterial properties that may help prevent infections. Honey may be used for the treatment of certain sores, ulcers, and other wounds and can help soothe minor burns. For small cuts and abrasions, applying honey beneath bandages can potentially aid the healing process. Honey is also commonly used to suppress coughing, and according to studies, it is equal to or better than some cough syrups. Additionally, it may help soothe the sore, inflamed throats of people suffering from colds. Honey also has some antiviral benefits, which may boost one’s immunity and prevent them from getting sick.

One notable exception, however, is the threat that it presents to children who are under the age of 1 year old. Feeding an infant honey exposes them to Clostridium botulinum spores. While these bacterial spores are typically not a problem for adults, even pregnant women, the immune system of an infant who is younger than 1 cannot defend itself adequately against them. As a result, feeding an infant honey is not recommended by health officials, as it may give them botulism.

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Honey Bees More Likely to Regulate
Hive's 'Thermostat' During Rapid
Temperature Increases


University of Colorado at Boulder

Honey bee at hive entrance. (Credit: Richard Bartz)

Honey bees use their wings to cool down their hives when temperatures rise, but new University of Colorado Boulder research shows that this intriguing behavior may be linked to both the rate of heating and the size of a honey bee group.

The findings, which were recently published in the journal Animal Behaviour, indicate that honey bees anticipate and react to rapid temperature increases sooner than they do when the increase is gradual -- but only when the bees are clustered in groups of 10.

"Larger groups of bees seem to be better than individuals or small groups at cuing in on how quickly an environment is changing," said Chelsea Cook, a doctoral researcher in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at CU-Boulder and lead author of the study.

The research may have implications for future studies on how self-organization and decentralized information gathering can influence biological and artificial environments alike.

Previous research has shown that honey bees fan their hives in order to maintain a stable temperature and protect the developing larvae inside. Larvae are vulnerable to death or deformation if temperatures exceed 96.8 degrees Fahrenheit.

Due to the decentralized nature of insect collectives, however, no authority figure tells the bees when to start fanning or for how long. Researchers have repeatedly observed that bees initiate fanning simultaneously rather than independently, though the exact mechanisms of this timing remain unknown.

When the researchers heated up groups of bees at different rates, they found that the bees began fanning sooner when temperatures rose by 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit per minute versus a more gradual increase.

Individual bees and small clusters of three bees did not begin fanning as quickly. Only in larger groups of 10 did the bees act quickly to address the rising temperatures.

The results suggest that large decentralized groups are better than individuals at assessing and reacting to rapid changes because each member can gather distinct localized information, allowing for a more effective response.

"Much like a large office building with one central thermostat, systems are often built with the assumption that every unit is the same whereas in reality, units are diverse," said Cook. "Exploring self-organization structures on a biological level can help us improve hypotheses, predictions and models."

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Nation’s Beekeepers Lost 44 Percent of Bees in 2015-16

(Courtesy of the Bee Informed Partnership)


Summer losses rival winter losses for the second year running

Beekeepers across the United States lost 44 percent of their honey bee colonies during the year spanning April 2015 to April 2016, according to the latest preliminary results of an annual nationwide survey. Rates of both winter loss and summer loss—and consequently, total annual losses—worsened compared with last year. This marks the second consecutive survey year that summer loss rates rivaled winter loss rates.

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 Partnershipin collaboration with the Apiary Inspectors of America, with funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Survey results for this year and all previous years are publicly availableon the Bee Informed website.

“We’re now in the second year of high rates of summer loss, which is cause for serious concern,” said Dennis vanEngelsdorp, an assistant professor of entomologyat the University of Maryland and project director for the Bee Informed Partnership. “Some winter losses are normal and expected. But the fact that beekeepers are losing bees in the summer, when bees should be at their healthiest, is quite alarming.”

Beekeepers who responded to the survey lost a total of 44.1 percent of their colonies over the course of the year. This marks an increase of 3.5 percent over the previous study year (2014-15), when loss rates were found to be 40.6 percent. Winter loss rates increased from 22.3 percent in the previous winter to 28.1 percent this past winter, while summer loss rates increased from 25.3 percent to 28.1 percent.

The researchers note that many factors are contributing to colony losses. A clear culprit is the varroa mite, a lethal parasite that can easily spread between colonies. Pesticides and malnutrition caused by changing land use patterns are also likely taking a toll, especially among commercial beekeepers.

A recent study, published online in the journal Apidologieon April 20, 2016, provided the first multi-year assessment of honey bee parasites and disease in both commercial and backyard beekeeping operations. Among other findings (summarized in a recent University of Maryland press release), that study found that the varroa mite is far more abundant than previous estimates indicate and is closely linked to several damaging viruses. Varroa is a particularly challenging problem among backyard beekeepers (defined as those who manage fewer than 50 colonies).

“Many backyard beekeepers don’t have any varroa control strategies in place. We think this results in colonies collapsing and spreading mites to neighboring colonies that are otherwise well-managed for mites,” said Nathalie Steinhauer, a graduate student in the UMD Department of Entomology who leads the data collection efforts for the annual survey. “We are seeing more evidence to suggest that good beekeepers who take the right steps to control mites are losing colonies in this way, through no fault of their own.”

This is the tenth year of the winter loss survey, and the sixth year to include summer and annual losses in addition to winter loss data. More than 5,700 beekeepers from 48 states responded to this year’s survey. All told, these beekeepers are responsible for about 15 percent of the nation’s estimated 2.66 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. 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 high rate of loss over the entire year means that beekeepers are working overtime to constantly replace their losses,” said Jeffery Pettis, a senior entomologist at the USDA and a co-coordinator of the survey. “These losses cost the beekeeper time and money. More importantly, the industry needs these bees to meet the growing demand for pollination services. We urgently need solutions to slow the rate of both winter and summer colony losses.”

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Honey Bees Pick Up 'Astonishing'
Number of Pesticides Via
Non-crop Plants

Purdue University

Purdue researchers found that honey bees collect pollen from a wide range
of plants, even in areas dominated by corn and soybeans.
Credit: Purdue University/Tom Campbell
 

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - A Purdue University study shows that honey bees collect the vast majority of their pollen from plants other than crops, even in areas dominated by corn and soybeans, and that pollen is consistently contaminated with a host of agricultural and urban pesticides throughout the growing season.

Christian Krupke, professor of entomology, and then-postdoctoral researcher Elizabeth Long collected pollen from Indiana honey bee hives at three sites over 16 weeks to learn which pollen sources honey bees use throughout the season and whether they are contaminated with pesticides.

The pollen samples represented up to 30 plant families and contained residues from pesticides spanning nine chemical classes, including neonicotinoids - common corn and soybean seed treatments that are toxic to bees. The highest concentrations of pesticides in bee pollen, however, were pyrethroids, which are typically used to control mosquitoes and other nuisance pests.

"Although crop pollen was only a minor part of what they collected, bees in our study were exposed to a far wider range of chemicals than we expected," said Krupke. "The sheer numbers of pesticides we found in pollen samples were astonishing. Agricultural chemicals are only part of the problem. Homeowners and urban landscapes are big contributors, even when hives are directly adjacent to crop fields."

Long, now an assistant professor of entomology at The Ohio State University, said she was also "surprised and concerned" by the diversity of pesticides found in pollen.

"If you care about bees as a homeowner, only use insecticides when you really need to because bees will come into contact with them," she said.

The study suggests that overall levels of pesticide exposure for honey bees in the Corn Belt could be considerably higher than previously thought, Krupke said. This is partly because research efforts and media attention have emphasized neonicotinoids' harmful effects on pollinators and their ability to travel and persist in the environment. Few studies, however, have examined how non-crop plants could expose bees to other classes of pesticides. Looking at Midwestern honey bees' environment through this wider lens and over an entire season could provide more accurate insights into what bees encounter as they forage, Krupke said.

Krupke and Long collected pollen weekly from May to September from hives placed in a nonagricultural meadow, the border of a cornfield planted with neonicotinoid-treated seeds and the border of a cornfield planted with non-treated seeds. They waited to begin their collection until after growers had planted their crops to avoid the heavily contaminated dust that arises during the planting of neonicotinoid-coated seeds.

The samples showed that honey bees collect the overwhelming majority of their pollen from uncultivated plants, particularly the plant family that includes clover and alfalfa.

The researchers found 29 pesticides in pollen from the meadow site, 29 pesticides in pollen from the treated cornfield and 31 pesticides in pollen from the untreated cornfield.

"These findings really illustrate how honey bees are chronically exposed to numerous pesticides throughout the season, making pesticides an important long-term stress factor for bees," Long said.

The most common chemical products found in pollen from each site were fungicides and herbicides, typical crop disease and weed management products.

Of the insecticides, neonicotinoids and pyrethroids were the most common in the pollen samples and pose the highest risks to bees, Krupke said. While both are toxic to bees, they differ in their relative risk levels. Neonicotinoids are more poisonous to bees but are primarily used on agricultural land. Conversely, pyrethroids are typically used where pollinators are likely to be - near homes and gardens with a diversity of flowering plants - potentially exposing bees to higher levels of chemicals and on a more frequent basis. The study showed distinct spikes of pyrethroids in August and September, months when many homeowners spray these chemicals to knock out mosquitoes, hornets and other nuisance pests.

Pollen from all three sites also contained DEET, the active ingredient in most insect repellents.

Krupke said that little is known about how these diverse pesticides interact with one another to affect bees. The toxicity of insecticides, for example, can increase when combined with certain fungicides, themselves harmless to insects.

The researchers did not assess colony health in this study.