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,

Here on Lone Star Farms in Bryan, Texas we usually check out the mite level in our hives this month.

We like to use the Kelley screen bottom board that comes with the slide in monitoring board. It is easy to use and it doesn`t disrupt the activities inside the hive. We merely paint a thin layer of vegetable oil on the board and slide it in the groove on the bottom board. We pull the board out and count the number of mites on the board after a twenty-four hour period. In my book “Beekeeping: A Personal Journey” I cover the acceptable levels of mite load according to the time of year.

If the mite load is too high, we will treat the hive using powdered sugar. Most books you read will tell you to treat the hive once every week for three weeks. This is not good information. You should treat each for a period of “four” weeks in order to cover the “Drone” brood which hatches in twenty-four days. Drone brood contains 80% of the mite load. If you only treat for twenty-one days you have missed the larger portion of mite load.

To treat a hive you should sprinkle one-cup of powdered sugar into each box on the hive. You should separate each box to perform the treatment not just dump the powdered sugar on the top box and hope that it goes down to the lower box. When you treat each box, leave some of the powdered sugar on the top bar of each frame. Most books will tell you to scrape it off down between the frames. If you leave some on the top bars, it will act like a time release. The bees will over time knock it down between the frames as they move around inside the hive.

You should perform this treatment once a week for four weeks. After that time, perform another mite load test. If the mite level is still too high after that second four week treatment, you should re-queen with a hygienic queen. If it is too late in the season to purchase a new queen, you will need to perform more powdered sugar treatments until it gets too cold in order to help keep the hive alive until a queen becomes available.

Finally, you should splash water under each have after each powdered sugar treatment. Powdered sugar will pass through the hive and land on the ground below the hive. The water will dissolve the powdered sugar. The bees in the area will forge under the hive to pick up the sweet sugar if present and in doing so the mites that have fallen to the ground will merely hitch a ride on a forging bee and return to that bees hive.

Enjoy your bees.



Nectar-Living Microbes Influence Pollinator's Foraging Preference

Hear that honey bee buzzing toward a flower? It's not just the nectar that she's scented.

Nectar-living microbes release scents or volatile compounds, too, and can influence a pollinator's foraging preference, according to newly published research led by UC Davis community ecologist 
Rachel Vannette.

Honey bee heading toward lupine. Bees are drawn to the scent of blossoms
but nectar-living microbes release scents or volatile compounds, too, according
to newly published research by UC Davis community ecologist Rachel Vannette.

Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey

The groundbreaking research, published in the current edition of New Phytologist journal, shows that nectar-inhabiting species of bacteria and fungi “can influence pollinator preference through differential volatile production,” said Vannette, an assistant professor in the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology.
In their study, the Vannette team researchers first examined field flowers for the presence of nectar-inhabiting microbes, and in collaboration with co-authors Caitlin Rering and John Beck of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS), Gainesville, Fla, characterized the headspace of four common fungi and bacteria in a nectar analog. Next, they used an intricate setup to quantify the antennal and behavior responses of honey bees to the chemical compounds. Finally, when they examined the scent of flowers in the field, they found that flowers which contained high densities of microorganisms also contained volatile compounds likely produced by those microbes, suggesting that microbial scent production can be detected and used by pollinators.
Although microbes commonly inhabit floral nectar, microbial species differ in volatile profiles, they found. “Honey bees detected most of the microbial volatiles or scents that we tested,” Vannette said, “and they distinguished the solutions of yeasts or bacteria based on volatiles only.” This suggests that pollinators could choose among flowers based on the microbes that inhabit those flowers.

Microbial stains (fungi and bacteria) isolated from floral nectar.
Photo by Rachel Vannette

The yeast Metschnikowia reukaufii produced the most distinctive compounds (some shared with the fruity flavors in wine) and was the most attractive of all microbes compared. This yeast is commonly found in flower nectar and is thought to hitch a ride on pollinators to travel from one flower to the next. Its scent production may help it attract pollinators, which then help the yeast disperse among flowers.

The Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility, UC Davis, provided the honey bees. More than 20 species of flowers--mostly natives--were used in the survey, including canyon delphinium or canyon larkspur (Delphinium nudicaule), sticky monkey flower (Mimulus aurantiacus), salvia (Lepechinia calycina) and purple Chinese houses (Collinsia heterophylla). The samplings were done in the spring and early summer, when the natives are at their peak.

Co-authors of the paper are Caitlin Rering, postdoctoral fellow at USDA-ARS, Gainesville, Fla.; John Beck researcher at USDA-ARS; Griffin Hall, junior specialist in the Vannette lab; and Mitch McCartney in UC Davis Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering.

The USDA and USDA-ARS funded the research.
Kathy Keatley Garvey
UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology
Website: http://entomology.ucdavis.edu/
Department News:  http://ucanr.edu/blogs/entomology/
Bug Squad blog: http://ucanr.edu/blogs/bugsquad/index.cfm



Varroa Mites - Bees' Archenemies - Have Genetic Holes in Their Armor

Michigan State University

Michigan State University scientists have found genetic holes in Varroa mites'
armor that could potentially reduce or eliminate the marauding invaders.
Credit: Photo by Zachary Huang

EAST LANSING, Mich. - Seemingly indestructible Varroa mites have decimated honeybee populations and are a primary cause of colony collapse disorder, or CCD.

Michigan State University scientists have found genetic holes in the pests' armor that could potentially reduce or eliminate the marauding invaders. The team's results, published in the current issue of Insect Science, have identified four genes critical for survival and two that directly affect reproduction.

"The Varroa mite is the worst threat to honeybee health worldwide," said Zachary Huang, MSU entomologist. "They have developed resistance to many pesticides, so it's urgent that we explore and target these genes to develop better control methods."

The mite sucks the blood of honeybees and transmits deadly viruses. Its lifecycle consists of two phases: one where they feed on adult bees, called the phoretic phase, and a reproductive phase that takes place within a sealed honeycomb cell, where the mites lay eggs on a developing bee larva.

Having the double-whammy of eating bees and spreading disease makes Varroa mites the number-one suspect of honeybee population declines worldwide.

Controlling pests like Varroa mites succeeds by either eliminating them or reducing their ability to reproduce. The team used RNA interference to identify the key genes, which could achieve these outcomes. They injected the mites with double-stranded RNA, or dsRNA.

Interfering reduces transcription of a specific gene, the first step of making a gene, a piece of DNA, into a protein. This process, also known as "gene knockdown," has been successful in reducing the mating success and the number of eggs produced by cattle ticks, which threaten cows and other livestock around the world.

Using this approach, the team identified two genes that caused high mortality in Varroa mites - Da and Pros26S. In fact, Da killed more than 96 percent of mites. They also identified four genes - RpL8, RpL11, RpP0 and RpS13 - that control reproduction.

Earlier research has shown that a combination of dsRNAs can be fed to bees at the colony level. Varroa mites absorb the "genetic cocktail" via bee blood and their population was reduced. Future research will explore whether a single-gene approach can be scaled up and achieve the same effect at a colony-wide setting. Using a single gene with a known mechanism will be more cost effective and safe to the honeybees.

The results may have applications beyond honeybees, too.

"It's worth noting that Da reduced reproduction in species of mosquitoes and Drosophila," Huang said. "Future research could help not only protect honeybees, but also reduce disease-carrying mosquitoes or crop-damaging pests."