Cletus Calendar
December 2017

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,

At this time of year (December) here at Lone Star Farms in Bryan, Texas, we are concerned about the mite count, the hive population and the food stores for the bees to winter on. As most of you know by now, we never place any kind of chemical in our hives. By using hygienic queens along with good management techniques, there is never a need to use chemicals.

It’s important for everyone to understand that this time of year (In the South) it’s not unusual for the hives mite count to appear higher than normal. The breeding mites have no place to retreat to, because there are fewer brood cells available for them to breed/hide in. That means the mites are out in the open. This would be a great time to perform a powdered sugar treatment because of the mite’s exposer.

 We take the time to equalize our hives and to unite hives that have smaller hive populations. By doing so, our winter lose is less than 1% and our hives are strong in early spring for the honey flow. Our bees will go through the winter with a minimum of thirty-five to forty pounds of food stores. Those of you who live in much colder places should make sure your bees have a higher amount of stores available to them.

There are two types of beekeepers out there. There’s the psychic beekeeper that never has to open/work the hive in order to know what’s going on and then there’s the beekeeper who actually works their hive. If you want to be successful in beekeeping, be the beekeeper who works their hive. Enjoy your bees!

Dennis

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Experts See Dawn of Environmental Sustainability in Technology-driven 'Age of Optimization'

 

 

Insect Hotel. Location, Mien Ruys Gardens.
Credit: Dominicus Johannes Bergsma

Can technology help improve our environment, bringing greater stability to our agricultural system? Can smart systems reduce pesticide use and improve honey bee health?

The world is entering "a technology-driven Age of Optimization" bringing about more sustainable production, consumption and work in many manifestations and at every scale.

That's the message from international experts meeting in Malaysia at the Global Innovation Summit 2017, the 8th in a series focused this year on environmental sustainability.

"The digital, biotechnological, nanotechnology, and cognitive revolutions are colliding and converging to re-write the rules of production, consumption and work in ways we could only imagine a decade ago," Says the Hon. Deborah Wince-Smith, President of the GFCC and CEO of the US Council on Competitiveness:

"These technologies could also answer the grand global challenges of adequate food, clean water, energy, the environment, and global health."

Digitization, sensorization, and big data will help optimize all aspects of manufacturing production, Ms. Wince-Smith says.

"We will have the ability to illuminate the operation of every machine and device, the cut of every blade, every movement of material, and the consumption of energy minute by minute -- providing insight for greater efficiency, waste reduction and lower energy consumption."

Systems designed for optimal efficiency of buildings, meanwhile, make 60% to 80% energy savings possible without sacrificing comfort or cost effectiveness.

Other early examples of high-tech driven resource optimization include sensor-based, smart farming focused to the square meter level, with irrigation water delivered precisely when and where needed while saving energy. Similar technologies could be applied to pesticide applications, reducing risk to pollinators.

Information platforms like the new Turo, which enables individuals to rent out their idle private vehicles, are also part of a fast-moving trend towards social network sharing.

In the US, Ms. Wince-Smith notes, some 150,000 neighbourhoods now use social networks to rationalize the local labor market through referrals of local handymen and hairdressers, and by finding consumers for the unused work hours of nannies, gardeners, and house helpers.

"Neighbors moving in pass on moving boxes to neighbours moving out; new homes are found for furniture being discarded that would otherwise end up in the landfill; alerts tell neighbours when toys, bicycles, kitchenware or other items are sitting at the curb and up for grabs for free. Reuse is a main tenant of sustainability, and here is it being organized at a very local level."

Encouraged by these development, she says, "the big question is how can we leverage new technologies across the spectrum of human activity for the most positive impact on society and sustainability?"

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Genomic Study Explores Evolution of Gentle 'Killer Bees' in Puerto Rico

 

A genomic study of Puerto Rico's Africanized honey bees - which are more docile than other so-called "killer bees" - reveals that they retain most of the genetic traits of their African honey bee ancestors, but that a few regions of their DNA have become more like those of European honey bees. According to the researchers, these changes likely contributed to the bees' rapid evolution toward gentleness in Puerto Rico, a change that occurred within 30 years.

The findings, reported in the journal Nature Communications, could lead to advances that will bolster honey bee populations in the Americas, the researchers said.

Africanized bees are the offspring of African honey bees and their European counterparts. In the late 1950s, these aggressive "killer bees" escaped from an experimental breeding program in Brazil. That program had set out to produce a desirable mix of traits from the gentle European bees and their African counterparts, which were more aggressive, disease-resistant and adapted to a tropical climate.

Ironically, what scientists failed to do in the laboratory was eventually accomplished by happenstance. Africanized honey bees arrived in Puerto Rico (most likely on a ship, by accident) in the 1990s, and within three decades had evolved into the gentle, yet hardy, Africanized bees that dominate the island today. Biology professor Tugrul Giray, of the University of Puerto Rico, first reported on the gentle Puerto Rican bees in the journal Evolutionary Applications in 2012. Giray is a co-author of the new study.

To gain insight into how the bees became gentle, the researchers sequenced the genomes of 30 gentle Puerto Rican bees, 30 Africanized bees from Mexico and 30 European honey bees from central Illinois.

"The benefit of having these three populations is that you can compare and contrast between the three," said University of Illinois postdoctoral researcher Arian Avalos, who conducted the research with U. of I. entomology professor Gene Robinson; crop sciences professor Matthew Hudson; and Guojie Zhang and Hailin Pan, of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. "We asked, 'How is the genome of the gentle Africanized bee different than other Africanized populations? What parts of the genome are similar to European bees?'"

The team discovered that, for the most part, the genomes of the gentle bees resembled those of their Africanized forebears. Specific regions of the DNA, however, had shifted in the gentle bees, reflecting more of their European heritage. These regions appeared to be under "positive selection." This means that something in the bees' environment was favoring these genetic signatures over others.

The scientists hypothesize that the bees evolved to be more docile as a result of living on a very densely populated island from which they could not easily escape. Humans likely eradicated the most aggressive bees, aiding their more docile counterparts.

"Evolution involves changes in the frequency of gene variants across a population, and that's what we're seeing in Puerto Rico," said Robinson, who directs the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology at Illinois. "Now we know that these gentle Africanized bees can be genetically distinguished both from other Africanized honey bees and from European honey bees."

The new findings offer a bit of hope for the beleaguered beekeeping industry, the researchers said. European honey bees tend to have less genetic diversity than Africanized bees, which carry both European and African honey bee genes. European honey bees also are more susceptible to a host of debilitating parasites and pathogens. Their rapid decline since 2005, a phenomenon known as colony collapse disorder, is disrupting agriculture around the world.

"The fact that we've shown that the genetics of these Puerto Rican bees are very distinct from the European bees, and the fact that they are demonstrably gentle, makes it very interesting as a potential way to mitigate pollinator decline," Hudson said.

In particular, the Africanized bees are highly resistant to the varroa mite, a parasite of bees that undermines their health and spreads disease. The mites - along with pesticides used to treat infested bees - are believed to be major factors in the widespread decline of honey bees across the globe.

In previous research in the Giray laboratory, scientists showed that Puerto Rico's gentle Africanized bees groom themselves aggressively when infested with varroa, removing the mites almost as soon as they appear.

"Infestation of European honey bees with the mites elicits very little response," said Avalos, who previously worked with Giray in Puerto Rico. "This could be good news for beekeepers who want to develop a gentle honey bee that is also varroa-resistant."