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

Hive beetles don’t have to be a problem.

Keeping strong hives is priority. Removing hiding places like frame spacers/holders and yes, those “Club Med” for beetles inner covers. The bees will run the beetles up into the inner cover where the beetles will lounge around in comfort until they get hungry or want to lay some eggs. Then they dash down onto the comb, lay a few eggs, grab something to eat and then get chased back up into the inner cover. Don’t leave inside feeders on for long periods. Old equipment with cracks and holes should be repaired or replaced. I buy the Kelley bottom board that has the slide-in screen and the slide-in monitoring board.

From December to the first of March (where I live in Bryan, Texas) I slide the monitoring board in place. I first take a paint brush and spread some inexpensive vegetable oil on the board. This board provides better hive insulation from the winter drafts and it provides a trap for any beetles that may be hanging out.

About every two or three weeks I take an eight-inch putty knife and scrape the board off (You don’t have to open the hive if you’re using the Kelley bottom board with the slots.) after first looking the board over for mite loads and any other stress signs. The bees will run the beetles through the screen and they fall onto the oil that I spread on the board. In my part of Texas we get some warm days so I can easily pull the boards off or out to provide good ventilation.

So, don’t worry about those pesky hive beetles. Keep strong hives, don’t provide your bees with more room than they can take care of and take away their hiding places. “Enjoy your bees”

On a liter note;

July brings about a second occasion for us here in the South to decide if we need to increase our hive numbers. The first occasion came about in early spring. Sometimes hear at Lone Star Farms, we make a few splits to increase our hive count in July. The hives have just come off a strong tallow flow and are loaded with bees and honey. A split will have ample time to build-up into two brood boxes and collect fall nectar from aster and goldenrod that will carry them through the winter months.

So, if hive numbers are needed in your bee yard and you live in the South, July is a great time to make those splits.



Blind Beekeeper from Uganda Wins International Award to Support Blind and Low Vision Entrepreneurs

‘Hive Uganda’ Founder plans to bring honey production
and beekeeping training to the blind community of Uganda
as an inaugural winner of the Holman Prize.

Ojok Simon, at left, holds jars of honey and stands with his colleagues.

GULU, UGANDA – June 29, 2017– Imagine tending a beehive – or a whole farm of bees – with hundreds of thousands of buzzing, pollen-loving insects crawling all over you, stingers at the ready. Now imagine doing it blind. Unimaginable for most, this is just a normal day for Ojok Simon.

Today, Ojok became one of the three inaugural winners of the 
Holman Prize for Blind Ambition – an unprecedented $25,000 award for blind and low vision adventurers offered by the LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired in San Francisco.

Ojok, who is in his mid-thirties, lost his vision more than 20 years ago when Ugandan rebels beat him severely and he incurred serious head injuries. Due to a lack of medical attention, his vision quickly deteriorated. Yet he didn’t stop pursuing his education, or later, his passion for beekeeping.

“I was walking in the bush close to our home, when I found a clay pot with bees and honey inside,” says Ojok. “That became a turning point for me.” Now with more than 100 colonized hives, Ojok has become somewhat of a celebrity in his community – even more so now that he can call himself one of the three first-ever recipients of the Holman Prize.

Intriguingly, centuries before Ojok began cultivating honey, the scientific understanding of beekeeping biology was first worked out by a blind scientist, François Huber, who met blind adventurer James Holman during his world travels in the 19th century.

Ojok’s name was announced today along with two others, Penny Melville-Brown (UK) and Ahmet Ustunel (US by way of Turkey), who represent a wide variety of ambitions and geographical areas, with blindness being the unifying factor. Ojok will use the $25,000 Holman Prize to teach blind and low vision Ugandans to become beekeepers and entrepreneurs as part of his 
HIVE Uganda program. “I always feel a lot of pain when I see blind and partially sighted people living below the poverty line with limited employment opportunities,” he says.

The award will provide Ojok’s trainees with 60 high quality beehives and the necessary honey extraction equipment, as well as honey harvesting suits, gloves and boots, for a new generation of blind and low vision beekeepers. “I will prove to the whole world that being ‘out of sight’ does not mean ‘out of mind,” says Ojok.
About LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired
Founded in 1902, San Francisco’s LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired promotes the independence, equality and self-reliance of people who are blind or have low vision. LightHouse offers blindness skills training and relevant services such as access to employment, education, government, information, recreation, transportation and the environment. LightHouse also pursues the development of new technology, encourages innovation, and amplifies the voices of blind individuals around the world. To receive services, volunteer or make a donation, visit lighthouse-sf.org.


Nation's Beekeepers Lost
33 Percent of Bees in 2016-17


Annual losses improved over last year;
winter losses lowest in survey history

Beekeepers across the United States lost 33 percent of their honey bee colonies during the year spanning April 2016 to April 2017, according to the latest preliminary results of an annual nationwide survey. Rates of both winter loss and summer loss--and consequently, total annual losses--improved compared with last year.

Total annual losses were the lowest since 2011-12, when the survey recorded less than 29 percent of colonies lost throughout the year. Winter losses were the lowest recorded since the survey began in 2006-07.

The survey, which asks both commercial and small-scale beekeepers to track the survival rates of their honey bee colonies, is conducted each year by the nonprofit Bee Informed Partnership in collaboration with the Apiary Inspectors of America. Survey results for this year and all previous years are publicly available on the Bee Informed website.

"While it is encouraging that losses are lower than in the past, I would stop short of calling this 'good' news," said Dennis vanEngelsdorp, an assistant professor of entomology at the University of Maryland and project director for the Bee Informed Partnership. "Colony loss of more than 30 percent over the entire year is high. It's hard to imagine any other agricultural sector being able to stay in business with such consistently high losses."

Beekeepers who responded to the survey lost a total of 33.2 percent of their colonies over the course of the year. This marks a decrease of 7.3 percentage points over the previous study year (2015-16), when loss rates were found to be 40.5 percent. Winter loss rates decreased from 26.9 percent in the previous winter to 21.1 percent this past winter, while summer loss rates decreased from 23.6 percent to 18.1 percent.

The researchers noted that many factors are contributing to colony losses, with parasites and diseases at the top of the list. Poor nutrition and pesticide exposure are also taking a toll, especially among commercial beekeepers. These stressors are likely to synergize with each other to compound the problem, the researchers said.

"This is a complex problem," said Kelly Kulhanek, a graduate student in the UMD Department of Entomology who helped with the survey. "Lower losses are a great start, but it's important to remember that 33 percent is still much higher than beekeepers deem acceptable. There is still much work to do."

The number one culprit remains the varroa mite, a lethal parasite that can easily spread between colonies. Mite levels in colonies are of particular concern in late summer, when bees are rearing longer-lived winter bees.

In the fall months of 2016, mite levels across the country were noticeably lower in most beekeeping operations compared with past years, according to the researchers. This is likely due to increased vigilance on the part of beekeepers, a greater availability of mite control products and environmental conditions that favored the use of timely and effective mite control measures. For example, some mite control products contain essential oils that break down at high temperatures, but many parts of the country experienced relatively mild temperatures in the spring and early summer of 2016.

This is the 11th year of the winter loss survey, and the seventh year to include summer and annual losses. More than 4,900 beekeepers from all 50 states and the District of Columbia responded to this year's survey. All told, these beekeepers manage about 13 percent of the nation's estimated 2.78 million 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. Honey bees pollinate an estimated $15 billion worth of crops in the U.S. annually.

"Bees are good indicators of the health of the landscape as a whole," said Nathalie Steinhauer, a graduate student in the UMD Department of Entomology who leads the data collection efforts for the annual survey. "Honey bees are strongly affected by the quality of their environment, including flower diversity, contaminants and pests. To keep healthy bees, you need a good environment and you need your neighbors to keep healthy bees. Honey bee health is a community matter."

This summary chart shows the results of an 11-year annual survey that tracks honey bee
colony losses in the United States, spanning 2006-2017. Credit: University of Maryland/Bee Informed Partnership


Honey Bee Health Coalition Urges Collaboration, Multifactor Strategies Following Release of National Survey of Colony Losses

Report Showed 21.1 Percent of U.S. Managed Colonies Were Lost Over 2016-2017 Winter

KEYSTONE, CO, May 25, 2017 — The Honey Bee Health Coalition, a diverse group of more than 40 organizations working to support pollinator health, urged continued cross-sector collaboration following the release of a national surveyshowing “an estimated 21.1 percent of colonies managed in the United States were lost over the 2016-2017 winter.” These losses, tracked by the Bee Informed Partnership, were an improvement over the past winter as well as the 10-year average loss rate of 28.4 percent.

“Beekeepers, farmers, businesses, and NGOs have made tremendous progress supporting honey bee health. These results show movement in the right direction, but more collaboration and broad-based strategies are needed to further reduce overwintering losses,” said Julie Shapiro, the facilitator of the Honey Bee Health Coalition and a senior policy director at the Keystone Policy Center. “The Honey Bee Health Coalition is committed to continuing to bring together diverse organizations to find action-driven solutions to improve honey bee forage and nutrition, support sound hive management practices, reduce incidental pesticide exposure, and enhance collaboration and communication.”

Honey bees play an essential role in North American agriculture and global food supplies — with bees supporting approximately one in three bites of the food we eat every day. The Coalition has worked since 2014 to collaboratively implement solutions that will help to achieve a healthy population of honey bees while also supporting healthy populations of native and managed pollinators in the context of productive agricultural systems and thriving ecosystems.

“These continued and sustained heavy losses — year after year — show the urgency for working to address the variety of factors and drivers of honey bee health,” said Danielle Downey, executive director of Project Apis m. “Honey bees are integral to modern agriculture, and there is no available replacement for what commercial pollinators do. We look forward to continuing to work as a Coalition to reverse this ongoing trend and ensure we have healthy bees and a sustainable food supply for generations to come.”

Since its inception, the Coalition has focused on finding collaborative, science-based solutions to improving the health of honey bees and other pollinators. Through this approach, based on finding common ground, the Coalition has developed a wide array of resources and tools for beekeepers and others, including:

About the Honey Bee Health Coalition
The Honey Bee Health Coalition brings together beekeepers, growers, researchers, government agencies, agribusinesses, conservation groups, manufacturers and brands, and other key partners to improve the health of honey bees and other pollinators. Its mission is to collaboratively implement solutions that will help to achieve a healthy population of honey bees while also supporting healthy populations of native and managed pollinators in the context of productive agricultural systems and thriving ecosystems. The Coalition is focusing on accelerating collective impact to improve honey bee health in four key areas: forage and nutrition, hive management, crop pest management, and communications, outreach, and education.

Through its unique network of private and public sector members, the Coalition fosters new partnerships, leverages existing efforts and expertise, and incubates and implements new solutions. The Coalition brings its diverse resources to bear in promoting communication, coordination, collaboration, and investment to strategically and substantively improve honey bee health in North America.

Learn more about the Coalition, its members, and ongoing work at honeybeehealthcoalition.org.

The Honey Bee Health Coalition is a project of the Keystone Policy Center, a nationally recognized nonprofit working to find collaborative, actionable solutions to public policy challenges. Keystone operates under a statement of independence to serve all of its project participants. Learn more at keystone.org.


Stingless Bees Have Specialized Guards to Defend Their Colonies, Study Reveals

The emergence of colonies with individuals more robust and larger than other workers coincided with the appearance of "robber bees"

Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo

   Like ants and termites, several species of stingless bees have specialized guards or soldiers to defend their colonies from attacks by natural enemies.

The differentiation of these guardian bees, which are more robust, larger, and in some cases differently colored compared with the more numerous worker bees, evolved in the last 25 million years and coincided with the appearance of parasitic "robber" bees, which represent a major threat to many stingless bee species.

These discoveries were made by a group of researchers at the Ribeirão Preto campus of the University of São Paulo (USP) in Brazil, in collaboration with colleagues from EMBRAPA Eastern Amazon in Belém (Pará State, Brazil) and Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz in Germany.

The study resulted from two projects supported by FAPESP, one led by Eduardo Andrade de Almeida and the other led by Fábio Santos do Nascimento, both professors in the Biology Department of USP's Ribeirão Preto School of Philosophy, Science & Letters (FFCLRP). The findings have been published in the journal Nature Communications.

"Guards also behave differently from worker bees. They don't leave the nest to search for food like foragers. They fly near the colony entrance and are the first to engage in a fight if parasitic bees invade," Almeida told.

A previous study, published in 2012, had shown that colonies of Tetragonisca angustula (a Brazilian stingless bee species called jataí in Portuguese) are defended by a population of guards approximately 30% larger and differently shaped compared with their nestmates and that their larger body size compared with workers is directly linked to their fighting capabilities.

The researchers followed up on this finding by investigating whether task-related worker differentiation is common to stingless bee species, the largest group of eusocial bees with over 500 described species, of which more than 300 are found in Brazil.

To this end, they compared the size and other morphological characteristics of nest guards and foragers for 28 species of stingless bees from different areas of Brazil. They chose species that are both relatively common and ecologically varied, with a range of habitats, nesting habits and foraging methods, and with colony sizes varying from a few hundred to tens of thousands of workers.

They found that guards were significantly larger than foragers in 10 out of the 28 species analyzed. The species with larger guards displayed 10%-30% more variation in overall worker size.

The three species with the largest degree of size differentiation were T. angustula and T. fiebrigi (both jataí), and Frieseomelitta longipes.

In several Frieseomelitta species, guards were not only larger but also displayed darker coloring than other bees in the same colony.

"We found that the difference between workers and guards is far more common among stingless bee species than was previously thought and that the evolution of guards with a larger body size apparently relates to the risk of attack by parasitic bees," Almeida said.

"This changes some interpretations regarding the evolution of the social behavior of stingless bees and the relationships among them in the nest, for example."

To find out when worker differentiation began and which factors triggered the process, the researchers analyzed the phylogeny (evolutionary history) of all 28 species of stingless bee included in the study.

The results of the phylogenetic analysis suggested that the common ancestor of the species included in the study had similarly sized guards and foragers and that increased guard size independently evolved five times during the last 20-25 million years.

This period, which is recent compared with the start of stingless bee diversification approximately 80 million years ago, coincides with differentiation of the kleptoparasitic genus Lestrimelitta from non-parasitic ancestors.

"The appearance of species belonging to this genus that display highly specialized behavior in terms of invading colonies of other bees to plunder them may have exerted evolutionary pressure on the species targeted by such attacks, favoring the development of defense mechanisms -- in this case, guards and soldiers," Almeida said.

Ten of the 28 studied species are known to be victims of Lestrimelitta "robber bees", whose attacks frequently destroy colonies.

The researchers found that the victims of robber bees were four times more likely to have larger guards than non-targeted species.

"As these stingless bee species that are targeted by robber bees suffer fewer attacks or are better able to intercept them, they have a chance to increase the survival of their offspring, which is an evolutionary advantage," Almeida said.


Bee Health is Topic of New Pollen Research at UMass Amherst

Biologist Lynn Adler at UMass Amherst has a $1 million USDA grant to study the possible role of sunflower pollen in boosting bee health

University of Massachusetts at Amherst

This is a wild sunflower, Helianthus annuus, in a tent at a UMass Amherst research
farm. The setup is used to study honey bees collecting pollen in biologist
Lynn Adler's experiments on the role that sunflower pollen may play in bee health.
Credit: UMass Amherst


AMHERST, Mass. - Biology professor Lynn Adler at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, an expert in pollination and plant-insect interactions, recently received a three-year, $1 million grant from a special "pollinator health" program of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to study the role that sunflower pollen may play in improving bee health.

In addition to basic research, the grant emphasizes extension outreach to the public and stakeholders such as amateur beekeepers, commercial bumblebee producers, vegetable and fruit growers, commercial seed producers and others to make the most useful results and new knowledge available to them. According to the USDA, pollinator populations have suffered serious losses for a number of reasons over the past 30 years, estimated at more than 40 percent in 2015.

The grant will also support hiring an extension bee educator for three years with an expected start date of summer 2018. Adler says, "Right now there are no university extension educators in Massachusetts that beekeepers can go to with questions and concerns about their bees' health and well-being, which is something the USDA is interested in addressing."

She adds, "The USDA is in general looking for creative new strategies to improve pollinator health over the next 10 years, and we feel that we have something to offer. We'll work with honeybees and bumblebees to look at how sunflower pollen and plantings affect bee health. There is strong evidence from our pilot studies that sunflower pollen can help bumblebees fight off a common pathogen called Crithidia."

The biologist says that in the course of her many years studying flower nectar, "it became clear that pollen would be of interest because the defense chemicals found in it can be 10 to 10,000 times more concentrated than they are in nectar. This grant intends to look at how sunflower pollen affects bee health."

Adler and dozens of her undergraduate and graduate students will study bee health to explore whether a medicinal supplement made from sunflower pollen might be helpful as an additive to bees' staple diet and whether adding sunflower to pollinator-friendly plantings can improve bee health. By the end of the grant, she says, "I hope we're going to have concrete recommendations to support bee health. It might even lead to commercial products."

Adler says she will work directly with beekeepers, an advisory board of apiarists, the Massachusetts state apiary inspector, extension fruit and vegetable educators, and UMass extension entomologist Tawny Simisky during both development of the experimental design details and to disseminate information, to ensure the experiments are asking the most useful questions and that results are available to the widest possible audience.

Further, Adler will collaborate with pollinator ecologist Rebecca Irwin at North Carolina State University, where the researchers can take advantage of the state's series of agricultural stations to assess the effect of different areas of sunflower plantings on wild bees, as well as pollen supplements available in different amounts and concentrations to wild and commercial bumble bees.

For other parts of the multi-institution grant, Adler will work with researchers including Jay Evans of the USDA in Beltsville, Md., an expert in honey bee biology and disease, genomics and honey bee gut parasites, and Quinn McFrederick of the University of California, Riverside, an expert in using molecular methods to characterize the bee microbiome.

Other members of the team include environmental economist Kathy Bayliss of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, pollinator ecologist Deborah Delaney of the University of Delaware and Dennis van Engelsdorp, director of the Bee Informed Partnership at the University of Maryland.