If you are a member and have something to share that is "Bee" related such as a story or information, please send it to me by email.

Remember that the "Cletus Calendar" page will tell you what you should be doing this month and the "Archive" page contains all of the previous months of the "Newsletter and Cletus Calendar".

Please preview my new book ****** "Beekeeping: A Personal Journey" ****** on the book page. You can purchase it here on this site or in the classroom.

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Your host---Bee Talk---Days Gone By

Those of us who live in Texas are very thankful for the rain we have received so far. The experts are still saying that we will have another dry year this year but it sure has started off a lot wetter than it did last year. The early yaupon flow should be good if this rain continues.

I want to remind all of you Texas folks that we will be having a club meeting this Saturday (February 4th) at Lone Star Farms starting at 1 pm until my wife runs us off. We will be talking about how to make sure that your bees are ready for the early flow. Most beekeepers wait until the flow is to close for your bees to make a huge impact on storing surplus nectar.

I would like to congratulate member "Amy Hutto" on her taking the plunge in marrage this past weekend. We hope that she has a life time of good memories in her marrage. Good luck to you Amy.

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For sale

Nucs: I am a member of the Lone Star Farms bee club. I have never used any chemicals in my hives and I have been raising bees continuously for 35 years. I will be offering a limited number of nucs for sale beginning in April. The cost for each nuc will be $145.00 and can be picked up at Lone Star Farms in Bryan, in Houston or in Galveston.  If you are interested or need further information, please call me at 281.932.4887 or email me at demosautomotive@aol.com

Costa Kouzounis

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Bee Talk

 This letter is in response to the article written by Howard Scott in the January issue of the ABJ on page 35.

I agree with the logic Mr. Scott has that you should not go into winter with a weak hive. However, I disagree with his solution to the matter. The first thing a beekeeper should do is determine why the hive is weak. There are many reasons for a hive to be weak. A failing queen, high mite levels, diseases, pesticide use and low food stores to name a few.

You should look first at the queen’s brood pattern. If the queen is failing, it will be obvious because of the spotty brood pattern.

You should perform a mite load check. If the mite load is high, this is a reason for low population of bees in the hive.

Look for any diseases that may be present in the hive.

Check for low food stores in the hive, both honey and pollen. A hive could have plenty of honey but if there is no pollen stored or coming into the hive, the queen will reduce her egg laying activities. Unsealed brood requires pollen to eat.   

You should “Never” unite two hives together before you dispose of the inferior queen. It is intentionally cruel to force two queens to fight to the end. It is also intentionally cruel to pull all the food from a hive and leave them to suffer a long slow cold death. You should “Never” move comb from one hive to another before you are absolutely certain that there is no disease present in that hive.

After performing the above inspection you will usually find out which problem (maybe more than one thing) the hive is suffering from. If it is just that the queen is failing, (the bees are still good) dispose of the queen and properly unite the hive with a hive that could use the boost in bees and food. If the problem is from a high mite population, dispose of the queen and start a powdered sugar treatment to reduce the mite level (and dispose of any queen cells that are made). After the level is down, go ahead and unite the hive. If the hive has a disease, you should take all necessary measures according to the type of disease. If the weak hive is suffering from low food supply, you have options according to how much time you have before the cold weather hits and or how much this hive is worth to you. If possible, you may have time to feed this hive if it is worth saving. A nuc is better than a package of bees in the spring time. People winter nucs up North all the time.

Let’s not forget all the pesticide use that you have subjected the hive to all year long. It is certainly enough to have caused the hives to become weak. If you have to use chemicals in the hive, then you do not have a hygienic queen. A hygienic queen will produce bees that will keep the mite level down and keep the hive clean without the use of pesticides in the hive.

More and more beekeepers are getting away from chemical use and it works. You just have to have the right queen source.

www.lonestarfarms.net      Dennis Brown, Bryan, Texas

 

 Dennis,

I truly enjoyed your class last Saturday; it was exactly what I was looking for. I am looking forward to the next one.   Chris Lasater

Chris, 

I am glad that the class was helpful to you. Thanks for responding about the class. Most folks don't, so it is hard for me to know if the students have enjoyed themselves while learning from the information given in class. Thanks again.     Dennis

 Hi Dennis,

 Hope you and your family had a very nice Xmas's, and new year. Some of you have wrote asking why there are no  letters in bee magazines about chemical free bee hives, well I was going to write to the editor of two honeybee magazines that I receive, but looking through my past magazines most of the articles are about honey bee diseases, and the so called chemical fixes. So I am willing to bet that the answers are Advertisements and articles on chemicals and those company's may not like competition against there chemicals.

But I am willing to try and find the answer for us, by writing to the American Bee Journal in Illinois and see what they might come up with, say an alternative article on using, How to chemical free in Bee Hive Management.

I feel that would be a great start. Thank you for your time Dennis.      Ralph D Gruner

 Hello Ralph, 

I hope that you and your family had a happy Holiday season as well. How did your bees do this past year? Thanks for helping out the club with your efforts. It is interesting that the magazines do not mention how a beekeeper can raise bees without using chemicals. You are right in thinking that it is because of the advertisements that they have supporting the magazine. It seems to be more about the money then the health of the bees.

 Keep us posted on your progress. Thanks again for your support.     Dennis

   This information was submitted to us by member; "Ralph Gruner"

Good Morning Dennis, hope you are well. Well, I received a very quick response from Joe Graham editor of American Bee Journal, impressed! Thought you might want to add this response to monthly club issue for our members to read?  I am going to start looking for issues from 2009 through 2010.

Thank you for your time.  Ralph D Gruner

Attention Joe Graham,

Hello Mr. Graham, I belong to the Lone Star Farm Honeybee Association and we are a Chemical free, organic club who raises Honey Bees Naturally. All our members are readers of American Bee Journal for many years and was hoping for your help in putting articles in your magazine on raising organic, chemical free Bees. We understand that you have a lot of chemical advertisers who support and pay good money for sales in the American Bee Journal, but since there are so many people asking for more information on Raising Organic, Chemical free Honey Bee Hives. Would you be able to help us with adding more articles of this nature Raising Organic, Chemical, Free, Honey Bees?

Thank you for your time.  Ralph D Gruner   grunerralph@gmail.com

Hello Ralph,

Thanks for your email.  We are happy to consider good articles on chemical-free beekeeping.  In fact, we published quite a few on this subject within the last couple of years.  Our series on avoiding use of chemical by making nucs each year--in other words, keeping ahead of the mites through prolific new colonies is one excellent way to avoid use of chemicals.  Our series on the subject was very well received by readers and quite a few are pursuing the methods outlined with success.

We have also printed articles on use of varroa-resistant queens and hope that more bee breeders continue to strive for this ideal.

In addition, we have printed articles on use of other varroa-control methods such drone brood removal used in combination with screened bottom boards and regular powdered sugar application.  These methods are more labor intensive, but are certainly practical for the hobbyist or sideliner with only a few colonies.

These are all articles that have been printed within the last couple years or so in case you have access to articles from 2009 and 2010.

Best regards,       Joe

Days Gone By