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


Bees' Ability to Forage Decreases as Air     Pollution Increases


Air pollutants interact with and break down plant-emitted scent molecules, which insect pollinators use to locate needed food, according to a team of researchers led by Penn State. The pollution-modified plant odors can confuse bees and, as a result, bees' foraging time increases and pollination efficiency decreases. This happens because the chemical interactions decrease both the scent molecules' life spans and the distances they travel.

While foraging for food, insects detect floral scent molecules in the air. Wind currents can carry these molecules up to thousands of feet from their original source to where bees have their hives.

"Many insects have nests that are up to 3,000 feet away from their food source, which means that scents need to travel long distances before insects can detect them," said Jose D. Fuentes, professor of meteorology and atmospheric science, Penn State. "Each insect has a detection threshold for certain kinds of scents and they find food by moving from areas of low concentrations of scents to areas of high concentrations."

Plant-emitted hydrocarbons break down through chemical interactions with certain air pollutants such as ozone. This breakdown process results in the creation of more air pollutants, including hydroxyl and nitrate radicals, which further increase the breakdown rate of plant odors.

The researchers sought to understand how these chemical interactions, which start with the presence of air pollutants, would impact bees' ability to find food. They first estimated the changes in concentrations of flower scents as a result of air turbulence and chemical interactions using a computer simulation, which allowed them to track the concentration and movement of multiple plumes of scents from different flower beds over time. Then, the researchers ran 90,000 simulations representing various bees' foraging and movement patterns amid differing scent levels modified by air pollution and diluted by wind speeds.

The team reported in the current issue of Atmospheric Environmentthat, as air pollution increases, hydrocarbons' lifetime and travel distance decreases. For example, at 60 parts per billion ozone levels, which the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency considers a 'moderate' level, the researchers found that enough chemical changes took place to thoroughly confuse bees and hinder their ability to identify the plumes of floral scents they needed to locate food.

The scent molecule alpha-pinene, which survives nearly 40 hours in an ozone-free environment, survived fewer than 10 hours when ozone rose to 60 parts per billion and only 1 hour when ozone was at 120 parts per billion. Another molecule, beta-myrcene, which travels more than 3,000 feet in an ozone-free, windy environment, traveled an average of 1,500 feet when ozone was 60 parts per billion and, when ozone rose to 120 parts per billion, most traveled fewer than 1,000 feet.

The changes in air chemistry impacted the number of bees able to detect food sources in a given time frame. In an ozone-free environment, it took 10 minutes for 20 percent of foragers to find the scent molecule beta-caryophyllene. When ozone rose to only 20 parts per billion, it took 180 minutes for the same amount of bees to find the scent. The team found similar results for the six different scent molecules they analyzed.

"We found that when we confused the bees' environment by modifying the gases present in the atmosphere, they spent more time foraging and would bring back less food, which would affect their colonies," said Fuentes. "It's similar to being asked to get a cup of coffee at the nearest cafeteria while you are blindfolded. It will be hard to locate the coffee shop without using visual cues. The same could happen to insect pollinators while foraging for food in polluted air masses."

Because the concentration of scents changes drastically in air polluted environments, this could impact important interactions between plants and insects.

"There are two types of pollinators, generalists and specialists," said Fuentes. "Generalists can detect a mixture of scents, while specialists can only detect one type of scent. This means that as certain scents decrease their travel distance and life span, specialists and generalists may both have trouble finding food."

Declines in the pollination of wild plants may lead to increases in the population of plants that do not rely on pollinators, and pollinator declines would lead to decreases in crop yields, Fuentes noted.

These findings highlight that air pollution is one of many factors influencing the decline of the bee population.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, managed honeybee populations in the U.S. have declined between 25 and 45 percent per year since 2010, including a 44 percent decline from 2015 to 2016.

"Honeybees and other pollinators are in trouble almost everywhere, and they pay us a lot of services through their pollination," said Fuentes. "The more we can understand about what factors are affecting their decline in numbers, the more equipped we will be to intervene if needed."


Deformed Wing Virus:
Honeybees Threatened by a
More Virulent Virus

According to an international research group, a genetic variant of the deformed wing virus (DWV) is more dangerous to honeybees than the original virus strain. The consortium of researchers is based at Freie Universität Berlin and Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg. The emerging variant could represent a threat to honeybees worldwide and is probably already widespread in many parts of Europe. The findings were published in the recent edition of the international journal “Proceedings of the Royal Society B”.

Honeybees as pollinators are indispensable for the yield of many wild and cultivated flowering plants and for the preservation of biodiversity. Losses in honeybee populations are an on-going concern. Deformed wing virus (DWV), which causes crippled wings and is transmitted by varroa mites, is implicated as a major driver of colony decline.

DWV is composed of at least two unique genotypes, DWV-A and DWV-B. The team of researchers, including Prof. Dino McMahon at Freie Universität Berlin and the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing and Prof. Robert Paxton at Martin Luther University in Halle, Germany, and the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) were able to show the DWV-B is extremely virulent for the bees: it kills them faster than the traditional DWV-A. The researchers tested bees in Great Britain and Germany. A lot of them were infected with DWV-B.

The researchers stress the importance of identifying and characterizing the full diversity of pathogens thought to be responsible for disease. Prof. Dino McMahon, who co-led the research with Dr. Myrsini Natsopoulou, now at the University of Copenhagen, said, “Our findings are interesting because they show that one of the main culprits of honeybee decline – deformed wing virus transmitted by varroa mites – is in fact composed of different strains. Importantly, we have shown that an emerging variant of DWV, termed DWV-B, is more virulent than the globally established form of the virus, termed DWV-A.” Prof. Robert Paxton added, “Scientists have been searching for a cause or causes for the increased colony mortality that beekeepers have experienced over the past decade; the emergence of DWV-B in Europe may be just that cause.”

“Our study also reveals the geographic distribution of this virulent virus genotype in honeybees across Great Britain. This may help us understand regional differences in honey bee mortality,” said Professor Brown, of Royal Holloway University of London.

This study was funded by the Insect Pollinators Initiative, Great Britain, and iDiv.


Homeland Security Investigations
Chicago Seizes Nearly 60 Tons
of Honey Illegally Imported
from China

(Department of Homeland Security News Release)

CHICAGO— Special agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) seized nearly 60 tons of illegally imported Chinese honey June 29, 2016 that was destined for U.S. consumers.

The smuggled honey was contained in 195 55-gallon drums that were falsely declared as originating from Vietnam to evade anti-dumping duties applicable to Chinese-origin honey.

The honey likely originated from the same exporter in Vietnam as another 60 tons of honey that was seized by HSI Chicago in the Midwest in April. Wednesday’s seizure was allegedly imported into the United States by a shell importer of record in New York, New York. Agents located the honey by combing through transportation shipping records to piece together its whereabouts.

Prior to seizing the smuggled honey, HSI sent samples to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Laboratory for analysis, where it was determined that the honey had a greater than 99 percent probability match with honey from China. Similar to the April seizure, the June 29 seizure was accompanied by altered reports from a private laboratory with analyses completely unrelated to the seized honey. The private laboratory fully cooperated with HSI and is considered a victim of identity theft.

With assistance from CBP Chicago, HSI seized the illicit honey June 29 from a warehouse in suburban Chicago.  The seized honey will be destroyed in its entirety following its successful forfeiture at the conclusion of the government’s ongoing investigation.

HSI has stepped up its efforts regarding commercial fraud investigations that focus on U.S. economic, and health and safety interests. These anti-dumping criminal schemes create a divergent market that negatively affects legitimate businesses. In the case of honey, the United States relies on legitimately imported foreign-origin honey to meet the demand in the foodservice and commercial baking sectors; but that honey must be lawfully sourced from reputable buyers and sellers.

With the recent enactment of the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015 (TFTEA), Congress recognized that industries and companies that circumvent U.S. law and regulation remain a risk to this nation’s economic security.  Among its provisions, TFTEA requires ICE and CBP to collaborate to enhance trade enforcement, with specific emphasis on honey illegally imported into the United States in violation of U.S. customs and trade laws.

In December 2001, the U.S. Commerce Department imposed anti-dumping duties after determining that Chinese-origin honey was being sold in the United States at less than fair-market value. The duties first imposed were as high as 221 percent of the declared value. Later these duties were assessed against the entered net weight, currently at $2.63 per net kilogram, in addition to a "honey assessment fee" of 1.5¢ per pound on all honey.

In 2008, federal authorities in Chicago began investigating allegations of organizations circumventing anti-dumping duties through illegal imports, including transshipment and mislabeling, on the “supply side” of the honey industry. The second phase of the investigation involved the illegal buying, processing and trading of honey that illegally entered the U.S. on the “demand side” of the industry.  In these multi-year investigations, HSI Chicago and the Department of Justice together convicted nine individuals (not including 10 remaining foreign fugitives) in a series of global schemes which evaded nearly $260 million in anti-dumping duties on honey from China, and which also involved honey containing antibiotics prohibited in food.


Sweet News for Honey as Consumption Rising in United States 

USDA Estimates Annual Consumption of Nearly One Pound of Honey Per Person

(National Honey Board News Release)

Firestone, Colorado – According to latest data from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), honey consumption continues to rise in the country with an average of nearly one pound (0.9 pound) of honey being consumed per person compared to 0.5 pounds consumed per person in 1990.
“It is exciting to see more Americans continuing to add honey to their daily diet,” said Margaret Lombard, chief executive officer of the National Honey Board.  She added, “While our industry continues to struggle with hive loss, we have been successful in reaching consumers with our message that honey is a pure natural sweetener which clearly appeals to consumers at a time when they are searching for authentic foods.  In addition, when consumers purchase honey, they are not only helping to support the beekeeper, but they are also contributing to the welfare and survival of the honey bees.”
The USDA report found that consumption of all caloric sweeteners has been falling for the last 15 years while per capita consumption of honey has been increasing over the same time period. Domestic net production of honey was once at an annual average of 167.9 million pounds in the early 1990s but has now fallen to an average of 106.7 million pounds over the last seven years.  Honey bees are critically important to agriculture as pollinators contributing over $14 billion to the value of U.S. crop production.
The increased popularity of honey is due to the fact that people are finding pure honey to be irresistible.  In fact, similar to wine and olive oil, honey tastings are now being held at farmers markets, restaurants and grocery stores to showcase the more than 300 unique kinds of honey produced in the United States ranging from diverse floral sources as Clover, Eucalyptus and Orange Blossoms.  There are lighter colored honeys which are mild in flavor, while darker honeys are usually more robust in flavor.  In addition, honey is in high demand in the growing artisan food category for use in a range of diverse items such as pastries, ice creams, cheese and craft cocktails.  It has also become wildly popular with beverage manufactures including craft brewers and ready-to-drink beverages.
“Since honey is slightly sweeter than sugar many people prefer using it to achieve the same level of sweetness with less volume and honey can easily be substituted for other sweeteners in recipes,” said Lombard. She added, “To learn more, visit our website,


Similarities Found in Bee and Mammal Social Organization 


New research shows similarities in the social organization of bees and mammals, and
provides insight into the genetics of social behavior for other animals. These findings,
published in PLOS Computational Biology, use sociogenomics -- a field that explores the
relationship between social behavior and the genome -- to show strong similarities in
socially genetic circuits common in honey bees and mammals.
Credit: Sharon Sperry Bloom / Flickr

New research shows similarities in the social organization of bees and mammals, and provides insight into the genetics of social behavior for other animals. These findings, published in PLOS Computational Biology, use sociogenomics - a field that explores the relationship between social behavior and the genome - to show strong similarities in socially genetic circuits common in honey bees and mammals.

The last common ancestor of the animals and insects is thought to be a legless creature that lived over 600 million years ago, for which we have no evidence of social behavior. Since then social insects such as honey bees and social mammals such as ourselves have pursued separate paths to our well-developed complex sociality. But a major unanswered question in understanding the genomic bases of social behavior is whether these separate paths towards sociality emerged from common molecular roots or drew upon different molecular substrates each time.

The authors note that, "When we began this study there were three possible outcomes: a) Our tools would not be adequate to determine whether sociality in honey bees and mammals shared a common genomic origin, b) we would discover there was no common genomic origin discernible from the data, or c) we would discover that there is a common origin. The answer turned out to be c), which is nice, because it is the most interesting answer."

To discover this, Hui Liu, Gene Robinson, and Eric Jakobsson of the University of Illinois developed new computational tools to analyze patterns of gene conservation across a wide range of animals, for genes activated and inhibited in the honey bee brain by exposure to a chemical communication signal that triggers alarm.

The study shows that these genes are more widely conserved between honey bees and mammals, compared to either honey bees and asocial insects, or honey bees and asocial vertebrates. Most of the genes with this provocative pattern of conservation are involved in activities related to cellular remodeling, such as protein folding. The authors hypothesize that these activities are components of cellular reconfigurations that are involved in processing communication signals essential for social organization.

This work shows the power of using the tools of computational genomics to analyze gene expression patterns for the purpose of elucidating the evolution of behavior.


Honey Bee Circadian Rhythms
are Affected More by
Social Interactions 

Hebrew University field study shows for the first time that social time cues override influence of light and darkness in regulating the natural body clock of honey bees, highlighting the complexity of clock regulation in natural habitat

The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Nurse honey bees working around the social clock at an experiment by Hebrew
University researchers. Credit: Muki Nagari

Circadian rhythms are internal clocks that determine many of an organism's daily rhythms, for example sleep-wake, feeding, urinary output and hormone production. Aligned with the environment by external forces such as sunlight and ambient temperature, circadian rhythms are important for animal health and survival. Disturbances of the circadian clock are associated with a variety of diseases in humans and animals, including cancer, mental illnesses and metabolic disorders, such as diabetes and obesity.

The dominant role of light in adjusting the circadian rhythm to the local environment has consistently been emphasized in studies on individually-isolated animals in laboratories. Interactions with others of the same species, while very important for animal survival and fitness in nature, are not considered important external stimuli that affect the animal circadian clock.

Now, a study conducted by researchers from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and published in the journal Nature Communicationschallenges this view.

The researchers performed a set of large scale experiments in which they manipulated social interactions and light exposure for more than 1,000 honey bees in cages, or in freely foraging colonies housed in observation hives, allowing research in an ecologically relevant context. Every experiment was repeated two to four times, each with bees from a different source colony (which were genetically different).

"We show for the first time that social time cues stably adjust the clock, even in animals experiencing conflicting light exposure and social cycles," said Prof. Guy Bloch from the Department of Ecology, Evolution & Behavior at The Hebrew University's Alexander Silberman Institute of Life Sciences, who led the study.

The researchers collected a massive data set which demonstrated that in honey bees, social interactions can override potent light exposure as external cues that influence the biological clock.

The data showed that resetting the circadian rhythm by manipulating the social environment had a robust and stable effect for several days even for 2-day-old bees, which are typically active around the clock with no overt circadian rhythms. Remarkably, young bees that experienced conflicting light and social cycles showed a phase that was more similar to the social cycle. When removed from the hive and monitored individually in constant laboratory conditions, they maintained the phase of the social cycle, meaning this potent social factor does not depend on physical contact with other bees in the colony.

"This study provides the strongest available evidence for the power of social entrainment, and emphasizes the importance of studying circadian rhythms in a species-specific, ecologically-relevant context," said Prof. Bloch.

Social insects are ecologically important and offer attractive model systems for studies on the interplay between social behavior and circadian rhythms. The best evidence for the influence of social activity on the internal clock is found in dark cavity-dwelling social animals, such as bees and bats. These species may be especially responsive to social influence, because individuals may not experience ambient conditions directly, but rather rely on information received from group mates that forage outside their domicile.

This study adds to recent research showing the circadian rhythms in complex natural environments may profoundly differ from those in controlled laboratory conditions. "Studies in the real world will provide a better understanding of the function and regulation of biological clocks," said Prof. Bloch.

The study also indicates that social signals may be important time-givers for the clocks of other animals, including mammals, and could contribute to the research on sleep and behavioral disorders, as well as for the understanding of the complex life of bee societies.