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 easy to use book link above*****

Cletus Notes

Hello Everyone,

March has arrived and I would like to offer you a simple but efficient system for performing a hive inspection. Hive inspections are important, but it is also important how you perform that inspection. I have over the years developed a system that will allow you to work your hive efficiently, and with ease. It is important for you to get in and out of the hive without causing much interruption to the daily activity. I have outlined this system in my book; “Beekeeping A Personal Journey” as well.

1. Always pry up the second comb closest to you first. The first comb is usually anchored to the side wall in several places by the bees, and it is much harder to remove first.

2. Once you removed the second comb, hold it to the side and look at the face of the third comb for the queen. You will be able to locate the queen much easier if you adopt this system because you are always looking ahead to the face of the next comb. (Don’t worry about looking for the queen on the comb in your hand first, because if the queen is on it you already have her.)

3. If you don’t see the queen on the face of the third comb, then inspect the second comb (the one in your hand). After inspecting this comb for all of the things you should be looking for, stand it on its end up against the back of the hive to avoid kicking it. By leaving this comb out, you have provided more space to work in. (In the Kelley bee catalog you can find a new comb rack that hooks onto the side of the hive, and gives you a place rest that first comb.)

4. Next, remove the third comb; hold it to the side while you inspect the face of the fourth comb for the queen.

5. After inspecting the third comb place it next to the first comb which is still in the hive next to the wall.

6. Remove the fourth comb, hold it to the side, and inspect the face of the fifth comb for the queen.

Note: If at any time during the inspection you find the queen, you should inspect her carefully and slide the frame back into the hive. Never place the frame that has the queen on it outside the hive no matter which frame you find her on.

7. After looking at the face of the fifth comb, inspect the fourth comb. After inspecting the forth comb, place it back inside the hive next to the third comb.

8. Remove the fifth comb, hold it to the side, and inspect the face of the sixth comb for the queen.

9. After inspecting the fifth comb place it back inside the hive next to the fourth comb.

10. Remove the sixth comb, hold it to the side, and inspect the face of the seventh comb for the queen.

11. After inspecting the sixth comb place it back in the hive next to the fifth comb.

Keep working the hive this way until all of the combs have been inspected.

Always place the combs back in the exact position they were in when you started. The last comb you remove should be placed back where you got it. Then, all you need to do is slide each of the other combs into their original position. Remove the first comb, which is still on the side wall, inspect it, and place it back on the wall. Take the second comb, which is outside the hive, and place it in the second position in the hive. At this time all of the combs are back in their original position, and the inspection is complete.

Get in the habit of looking for the queen herself, not the colored dot on her back. Beekeepers who order their queens to be marked always get in a habit of looking for the colored dot instead of the queen herself when they inspect their hives. Sometimes this dot fades, and is not visible. Sometimes the same queen you started with is not there any longer, and the new queen doesn’t have a colored dot. Use the colored dot as a sec­ondary means of locating the queen, not the primary means.

You will know you have become skilled at opening and working your hive when you find the queen still laying eggs in the cells as you watch. That means you have performed the inspection with very little disruption to the hive, which is what you should strive for.

I hope this helps you as much as it has me over the years.

Enjoy your bees.

Dennis 

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Common Crop Chemical Leaves
Bees Susceptible to Deadly Viruses

Penn State

This is a healthy bee larva developing seen on day six.
Credit: Julia Fine, Penn State

A chemical that is thought to be safe and is, therefore, widely used on crops -- such as almonds, wine grapes and tree fruits -- to boost the performance of pesticides, makes honey bee larvae significantly more susceptible to a deadly virus, according to researchers at Penn State and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

"In the lab, we found that the commonly used organosilicone adjuvant, Sylgard 309, negatively impacts the health of honey bee larvae by increasing their susceptibility to a common bee pathogen, the Black Queen Cell Virus," said Julia Fine, graduate student in entomology, Penn State. "These results mirror the symptoms observed in hives following almond pollination, when bees are exposed to organosilicone adjuvant residues in pollen, and viral pathogen prevalence is known to increase. In recent years, beekeepers have reported missing, dead and dying brood in their hives following almond pollination, and exposure to agrochemicals, like adjuvants, applied during bloom, has been suggested as a cause."

According to Chris Mullin, professor of entomology, Penn State, adjuvants in general greatly improve the efficacy of pesticides by enhancing their toxicities.

"Organosilicone adjuvants are the most potent adjuvants available to growers," he said. "Based on the California Department of Pesticide Regulation data for agrochemical applications to almonds, there has been increasing use of organosilicone adjuvants during crop blooming periods, when two-thirds of the U.S. honey bee colonies are present." Fine noted that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency classifies organosilicone adjuvants as biologically inert, meaning they do not cause a reaction in living things.

"As a result," she said, "there are no federally regulated restrictions on their use."

To conduct their study, the researchers reared honey bee larvae under controlled conditions in the laboratory. During the initial stages of larval development, they exposed the larvae to a low chronic dose of Sylgard 309 in their diets. They also exposed some of the larvae to viral pathogens in their diets on the first day of the experiment.

"We found that bees exposed to the organosilicone adjuvant had higher levels of Black Queen Cell Virus," said Fine. "Not only that, when they were exposed to the virus and the organosilicone adjuvant simultaneously, the effect on their mortality was synergistic rather than additive, meaning that the mortality was higher from the simultaneous application of adjuvant and virus than from exposure to either the organosilicone adjuvant or the viral pathogen alone, even if those two mortalities were added together," said Fine. "This suggests that the adjuvant is enhancing the damaging effects of the virus."

The researchers also found that a particular gene involved in immunity -- called 18-wheeler -- had reduced expression in bees treated with the adjuvant and the virus, compared to bees in the control groups.

"Taken together, these findings suggest that exposure to organosilicone adjuvants negatively influences immunity in honey bee larvae, resulting in enhanced pathogenicity and mortality," said Fine.

The results appeared Jan. 16 in Scientific Reports.

Mullin noted that the team's results suggest that recent honey bee declines in the United States may, in part, be due to the increased use of organosilicone adjuvants.

"Billions of pounds of formulation and tank adjuvants, including organosilicone adjuvants, are released into U.S. environments each year, making them an important component of the chemical landscape to which bees are exposed," he said. "We now know that at least Sylgard 309, when combined at a field-relevant concentration with Black Queen Cell Virus, causes synergistic mortality in honey bee larvae."

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Honey Bee Genetics Sheds Light on Bee Origins

University of California - Davis


Honey bees provide 'pollination services' worth billions of dollars to US agriculture. Understanding honey bee populations requires understanding their origins in the Middle East and Africa. New work from UC Davis and UC Berkeley clears up some of the confusion around honey bee origins. Image: Honey bees collecting pollen.
Credit: Kathy Keatley Garvey

Where do honey bees come from? A new study from researchers at the University of California, Davis and UC Berkeley clears some of the fog around honey bee origins. The work could be useful in breeding bees resistant to disease or pesticides.

UC Davis postdoctoral researcher Julie Cridland is working with Santiago Ramirez, assistant professor of evolution and ecology at UC Davis, and Neil Tsutsui, professor of environmental science, policy and management at UC Berkeley, to understand the population structure of honey bees (Apis mellifera) in California. Pollination by honey bees is essential to major California crops, such as almonds. Across the U.S., the value of "pollination services" from bees has been estimated as high as $14 billion.

"We're trying to understand how California honey bee populations have changed over time, which of course has implications for agriculture," Ramirez said.

To understand California bees, the researchers realized that they first needed to better understand honey bee populations in their native range in the Old World.

"We kind of fell into this project a little bit by accident," Cridland said. "Initially we were looking at the data as a preliminary to other analyses, and we noticed some patterns that weren't previously in the literature."

The new study combines two large existing databases to provide the most comprehensive sampling yet of honey bees in Africa, the Middle East and Europe.

Unrelated Bee Lineages in Close Proximity

Previously, researchers had assumed an origin for honey bees in north-east Africa or the Middle East. But the situation turns out to be more complicated than that, Cridland said.

"You might think that bees that are geographically close are also genetically related, but we found a number of divergent lineages across north-east Africa and the Middle East," she said.

There are two major lineages of honey bees in Europe - C, "Central European," including Italy and Austria and M, including Western European populations from Spain to Norway - which give rise to most of the honey bees used in apiculture worldwide. But although C and M lineage bees exist side by side in Europe and can easily hybridize, they are genetically distinct and arrived in different parts of the world at different times.

M lineage bees were the first to be brought to north America, in 1622. The more docile C lineage bees came later, and today many California bees are from the C lineage, but there is still a huge amount of genetic diversity, Ramirez said.

"You can't understand the relationships among bee populations in California without understanding the populations they come from," Cridland said.

In the Middle East, the O lineage hails from Turkey and Jordan, and Y from Saudia Arabia and Yemen. The main African lineage is designated A.

At this point, the researchers cannot identify a single point of origin for honey bees, but the new work does clear up some confusion from earlier studies, they said. In some cases, diverged lineages that happen to be close to each other have mixed again. Previous, more limited studies have sampled those secondarily mixed populations, giving confusing results.

"We're not making any strong claim about knowing the precise origin," Cridland said. "What we're trying to do is talk about a scientific problem, disentangling these relationships between lineages, the genetic relationships from the geography."

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Despite Few Taste Genes, Honey Bees Seek Out Essential Nutrients Based on Floral Resources

Tufts University

Despite having few taste genes, honey bees are fine-tuned to know what minerals the colony may lack and proactively seek out nutrients in conjunction with the season when their floral diet varies.

This key finding from a new study led by Tufts University scientists sheds light on limited research on the micronutrient requirements of honey bees, and provides potentially useful insight in support of increased health of the bee population, which has declined rapidly in recent years for a variety of complex reasons.

The research, published in Ecological Entomology, suggests that beekeepers should provide opportunities for their bees to access specific nutrients, possibly through a natural mineral lick, to support their balanced health because the bees will search for the minerals when they need them. It is also an opportunity for the general public to support the bee population by planting a diverse range of flowers that bloom throughout the year.

"Currently, there are micronutrient supplements for managed bee hives on the market but there is little research backing up which minerals the bees actually need," said Rachael Bonoan, the lead study author and a Ph.D. candidate in biology in the School of Arts and Sciences at Tufts. "The fact that honey bees switch their mineral preferences based on what is available in their floral diet is really exciting. This means that somehow, honey bees know which nutrients the colony needs. This insight helps us support honey bees and other pollinators by providing access to diverse nutrient sources all year long."

The findings show that honey bees forage for essential minerals that aid their physiological health, even though they have relatively few taste genes. In the fall, when floral resources dwindle, the study showed that bees seek out specific nutrients - calcium, magnesium, and potassium, all commonly found in pollen - by foraging in compound-rich or "dirty" water. When flowers and pollen are abundant in the summer, the bees prefer deionized water and sodium, ultimately suggesting that bees are foraging for minerals in water based on what is lacking in their floral diet.

Bonoan and her research team studied eight honey bee hives that were located about 100 yards from the research area. The bees were trained to come to the research site because researchers placed jars of sugar water at staged intervals until the worker bees became accustomed to the ready food supply.

Researchers set up water vials with different minerals such as sodium, magnesium or phosphorus and catalogued the number of bees that visited each vial. At the end of the day, they also measured how much the bees drank from each vessel to determine which minerals were most in demand.

The researchers also tracked the hive each bee belonged to by dusting worker bees with different colored powders as they left the hives. The team noted which colored bees were drinking from which mineral-laden water source, and later measured the amount of brood to determine whether there is a connection between bee health and specific minerals.

The study results related to hive health were inconclusive. While stronger colonies do tend to visit more minerals than weaker colonies, it was difficult to determine which came first, being a stronger colony or accessing mineral resources. Additional data is necessary to assess colony fitness.