Cletus Calendar
September 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.

*****Check out the new easy to use book link above*****

Cletus Notes

Hello Everyone,

Here in Bryan, Texas as well as most of Texas, the temperatures normally soar into the triple digits in August and September. Our bees work feverously to keep their hive cooled down. There should be a good water source close by for the bees to collect water (preferably not the neighbors swimming pool.) and take it back to the hive where it is stored inside the uncapped cells. The house bees stand close to these water filled cells and fan their wings. The air movement will evaporate the water which will in turn help cool down the inside of the hive.

In some areas around the state, the aster and goldenrod plants are beginning to bloom and the bees have an opportunity to collect nectar from them that will be stored for their winter food source. Sometimes there will be enough nectar coming in for the beekeeper to add a honey super or two and make a surplus.

Here at Lone Star Farms September is usually a slow work month because we rarely ever place honey supers on our hives for the fall flow. We believe that it is better to leave the fall flow for the bees. We run each hive in two brood boxes and allow the bees to fill both their boxes with the fall nectar. That is one reason we don’t have to feed our bees very often. Remember, honey is much healthier for the bees than sugar water. Besides, the bees have already provided us with a good early spring and early summer surplus.

If you take care of your bees first, they will take care of you. Enjoy your bees.

Dennis Brown


Asian Hornet to Colonize UK Within
2 Decades Without Action

Honey bees across Europe have been impacted by Asian hornet
since it first arrived in France in 2004

University of Warwick

  Honey bees across Europe have been impacted by Asian
hornet since it first arrived in France in 2004

The yellow legged or Asian hornet - a voracious predator of honey bees and other beneficial insects - could rapidly colonize the UK unless its spread is combatted, according to new research by the Universities of Warwick and Newcastle, working with the National Bee Unit.

Professor Matt Keeling, from Warwick's Zeeman Institute for Systems Biology & Infectious Disease Epidemiology Research (SBIDER), predicts that if Asian hornet nests are left to thrive in the UK, there could be hundreds of thousands of them in just over two decades - putting a critical strain on British populations of honey bees and other beneficial insects.

The researchers simulated the likely spread of Asian hornet across the UK over a twenty-five year period, starting from a single active nest in a location near Tetbury, Gloucestershire - where the first verified nest in the UK was discovered and destroyed in 2016.

It is believed that Asian hornet first came to Europe in 2004, in an import of Chinese pottery to France. Since then, Asian hornet has spread through France to infest Italy, Spain, Portugal, Switzerland, Germany and Belgium - and was first identified in the UK in 2016.

Using recent data from the Andernos-les-Bains region in South-West France - where there has been detailed observation and destruction of Asian hornet nests during the past eight years - Professor Keeling and his collaborators mapped a similar potential invasion in the UK.

Professor Matt Keeling, the lead author of the research, commented:

"Our research shows the potential for this predator to successfully invade and colonize the UK, spreading rapidly from any new invasion site. Even if we have managed to successfully control this first invasion, the presence of a growing population of these hornets in Northern Europe makes future invasions inevitable."

The Asian hornet, scientifically named Vespa velutina nigrothorax, preys predominantly on honey bees - hovering outside their hives, waiting to catch and kill them as they return from foraging, but it also eats other beneficial insects such hoverflies and bumblebees.

The likely invasion of Asian hornet in the UK - and consequent destruction of bee populations - could be halted if beekeepers and the general public (especially in the South-West) are vigilant, and able to identify them.

Dr Giles Budge, a fellow author from Fera Science and Newcastle University, commented:

"Our work highlights the importance of early detection for the successful eradication of this hornet. To do this, we need members of the public and beekeepers to familiarize themselves with this hornet, look out for signs of foraging hornets particularly near honey bee colonies, and check the tallest trees for their large nests. Rapid reporting could make all the difference between eradication and widespread establishment."

Vespa velutina nigrithoraxis smaller than our native hornet, with adult workers measuring from 25 millimetres in length, and queens measuring 30 millimeters. Its abdomen is mostly black except for its fourth abdominal segment, which has a yellow band located towards the rear. It has yellow legs, and its face is orange with two brownish red compound eyes.

In spring, surviving Asian hornet queens begin a small nest, often in a sheltered location such as in the eaves of a roof or in a garden shed. Here they raise the first clutch of workers who take over the queen's foraging duties. At this stage the nest grows quickly, and the hornets often move to establish a secondary nest where there is more space to expand. These nests can become very large, and are often located high up in the tree canopy, close to a food source such as apiaries.

Should you find a suspect Asian hornet or nest, you can contact the Non Native Species Secretariat immediately using their alert email address: as much detail as possible such as your name, the location where the hornet was found and if possible an image of the suspect hornet.

Alternatively you can download an app to help you identify the report the hornet.

A confirmed hornet sighting will trigger an eradication plan by the National Bee Unit, who are using the results of this research to help focus search efforts.

The research, 'Predicting the spread of the Asian hornet (Vespa velutina) following its incursion into Great Britain', is published in Nature's Scientific Reports.

It is co-authored by researchers at the University of Warwick's School of Life Sciences and Mathematics Institute, Fera, Newcastle University, and the Animal and Plant Health Agency.


Pollen Stays on Bee Bodies
Right Where Flowers Need it
For Pollination


Ungroomed sites correspond with flower pollen-sacs and stigmas


After grooming, bees still have pollen on body parts that match the position of flower pollen-sacs and stigmas, according to a study published September 6, 2017 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Petra Wester from Heinrich-Heine-University, Germany, and colleagues.

Flowers depend on pollen for pollination, and flower-visiting bees collect large quantities of pollen to feed their larvae. However, there has been little work on flower-pollinator interactions in view of this conflict over pollen. Field observations suggest that flower-visiting bees have residual patches of pollen after grooming, and it has been hypothesized that these ungroomed body parts serve as "safe sites" that transfer pollen from one flower to another.

Wester and colleagues tested this hypothesis with two experiments: one assessed bee grooming patterns, and the other assessed whether plants contact these safe sites on bees. In the first experiment, the researchers put individual Bombus terrestris bees and pollen grains in covered jars. As the bees flew, they stirred up the pollen grains and became evenly coated with pollen within minutes. After transferring the bees to clean jars and letting them groom themselves, the researchers counted the pollen grains that remained on safe sites. In the second experiment, the researchers put B. terrestris and Apis mellifera bees in indoor flight cages with flowers where the anthers and stigmas were marked with fluorescent dye. By observing the transfer of the dye to the bee, the authors could determine which areas touched the flowers' reproductive organs.

The researchers found that B. terrestris and A. mellifera had similar safe sites after grooming, and that these areas were less groomed by the bees' legs. In both bee species, the waist had the most pollen, followed by the dorsal parts of the thorax and abdomen. Importantly, the fluorescent dye experiment showed that the flowers contacted these same safe sites, allowing for pollen deposition by the anther and for pollen uptake by the stigma. These findings could help focus future studies on, for example, the morphological match between pollinators and flowers, as well as on strategies that both pollinators and flowers use to bypass the conflict over pollen.

For the first time, we experimentally demonstrated the position, area and pollen amount of so-called safe sites at the body of honeybees and bumblebees," says Wester. "We also showed that these specific body areas bees cannot groom are contacted by pollen-sacs and stigmas of several plant species, confirming the importance of the bees' safe sites."



Evolutionary Ecology Could
Benefit Beekeepers Battling
Honey Bee Diseases

Some commercial beekeeping practices may harm
honey bees more than help them

Emory Health Sciences

Some commercial beekeeping practices may harm honey bees more than help them, scientists warn in a paper published in the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution.

"Western honey bees -- the most important pollinators for U.S. food crops -- are facing unprecedented declines, and diseases are a key driver," says Berry Brosi, an evolutionary biologist at Emory University and a lead author of the review paper. "The way commercial operations are managing honey bees might actually generate more damaging parasites and pathogens by creating selection pressure for higher virulence."

The paper draws on scientific studies to recommend ways to reduce disease impacts, such as limiting the mixing of bees between colonies and supporting natural bee behaviors that provide disease resistance. The paper also highlights honey bee management practices in need of more research.

During the past 15 years, ecological and evolutionary approaches have changed how scientists tackle problems of infectious diseases among humans, wildlife and livestock. "This change in thinking hasn't sunk in with the beekeeping field yet," says Emory evolutionary biologist Jaap de Roode, co-lead author of the paper. "We wanted to outline scientific approaches to help understand some of the current problems facing beekeepers, along with potential control measures."

Co-authors of the paper include Keith Delaplane, an entomologist at the University of Georgia, and Michael Boots, an evolutionary biologist at the University of California, Berkeley.

Managed honey bees are important to the production of 39 of the 57 leading crops used for human consumption, including fruits, nuts, seeds and vegetables. In recent years, however, managed honey bee colonies have declined at the rate of more than one million per year, representing annual losses between 30 and 40 percent.

While pesticides and land-use changes are factors involved in these losses, parasites are a primary driver -- especially the aptly named Varroa destructor. The parasitic Varroa mite and the numerous viruses it carries are considered the primary causes of honey bee colony losses worldwide.

Varroa mites are native to Asia, where the Eastern honeybee species co-evolved with them before humans began managing bee colonies on commercial scales. As a result of this co-evolution, the Eastern honey bee developed behaviors -- such as intensive mutual grooming -- that reduce the mites' negative impacts.

The Western honey bee species of the United States and Europe, however, has remained relatively defenseless against the mites, which spread to the United States during the late 1970s and 1980s. The mites suck the blood of the bees and reduce their immunity. Even more potentially destructive, however, are the multiple viruses the mites transmit through their saliva. Deformed-wing virus, for instance, can cripple a honey bee's flying ability and is associated with high bee larval mortality.

Following are some of the potential solutions, in need of further study, outlined in the Nature Ecology & Evolution paper.

Reduce mixing of colonies: A common practice at beekeeping apiaries is to move combs containing brood -- eggs and developing worker bees -- between colonies. While the practice is meant to equalize colony strength, it can also spread parasites and pathogens.

Colonies are also mixed at regional and national scales. For instance, more than half of all honey bees in the country are involved in almond pollination in California. "For a lot of beekeeping operations, trucking their bees to California for almond pollination is how they make ends meet," Brosi says. "It's like the Christmas season for retailers."

Pollination brokers set up contracts for individual beekeepers on particular almond farms. "If the brokers separated individual beekeeping operations beyond the distance that the average honey bee forages, that could potentially help reduce the mixing of bees and the rate of pathogen transmission between the operations," Brosi says.

Improve parasite clearance: Most means of dealing with Varroa mites focus on reducing their numbers in a colony rather than wiping them out, as the mites are developing increased resistance to some of the chemicals used to kill them. Such incomplete treatments increase natural selection for stronger, more virulent parasites. Further compounding the problem is that large commercial beekeeping operations may have tens of thousands of colonies, kept in close quarters.

"In a natural setting of an isolated bee colony living in a tree, a parasite that kills off the colony has nowhere to go," de Roode explains. "But in an apiary with many other colonies nearby, the cost of parasite virulence goes way down."

Allow sickened colonies to die out: Keeping bees infected with parasites and viruses alive through multiple interventions dilutes natural selection for disease resistance among the bees. In contrast, letting infections take their course in a colony and using the surviving bees for stock could lead to more resistant bees with fewer disease problems.

Support behavioral resistance: Beekeepers tend to select for bees that are more convenient to manage, but may have behavioral deficiencies that make them less fit. Some honey bees mix their saliva and beeswax with tree resin to form what is known as propolis, or bee glue, to seal holes and cracks in their hives. Studies have also shown that propolis helps keep diseases and parasites from entering the hive and inhibits the growth of fungi, bacteria and mites.

"Propolis is sticky. That annoys beekeepers trying to open hives and separate the components so they try to breed out this behavior," de Roode says.

The paper concedes that commercial beekeeping operations face major challenges to shift to health management practices rooted in fundamental principles of evolution and ecology.

"Beekeeping is a tough way to make a living, because it operates on really thin margins," Brosi says. "Even if there are no simple solutions, it's important to make beekeepers aware of how their practices may affect bees in the long term. And we want researchers to contribute scientific understanding that translates into profitable and sustainable practices for beekeeping."


BIP National Loss Survey
Comparison with NASS Results

Courtesy of

Bee Informed Partnership


The National Agricultural Statistical Service (NASS) recently reported the results of its second honey bee colony loss survey. The Bee Informed Partnership (BIP) also recently published preliminary loss results covering the same period. Despite the differences in methodology and sample sizes, these two surveys yielded comparable results. Specifically, we estimate 33.23% losses based on the BIP survey, and we estimate 35.39% losses when we use BIP methods to calculate losses from the NASS survey (Table 1). This is reassuring as it suggests past BIP surveys are representative of national losses despite the non-random nature of the BIP respondent pool.

Both of these surveys were created to track honey bee colony losses in the US, but they differ in survey design (participants’ recruitment and questions asked), delivery, data presentation, and the methodology by which loss rates are calculated. This blog aims to help compare the results of these two surveys while taking into account the limitations of these comparisons.

An explanation of our methodology can be found in previous peer reviewed reports.

To compare NASS and BIP estimates, we combined the quarterly numbers published by NASS to correspond to BIP’s division of the year into “summer” and “winter” (see Table 1). The reasoning for these recalculations is provided in last year’s blogand details of calculations are presented below (Tables 2-5). It is important to note that this comparison was done by BIP personnel using publically available NASS data.

NASS does not include in its loss estimates the splits (“added”) made during the respective quarter. In our opinion, when pooling 2 quarters together, the splits made during the first quarter need to be added to the pool of starting colonies, as their loss (if any) would be counted in the second quarter. We therefore include them in the divisor of our recalculations of seasonal loss estimates. For annual estimates, the additions from the first 3 quarters are added to the starting colonies. In each case, as per NASS standards, splits made during the most recent quarter (most recent splits) are not considered in the pool of colonies at risk. We welcome recommendations on an alternative method to pool quarterly results into seasonal (summer/winter) estimates.

To imitate the BIP methodology of indirectly calculating the number of colonies lost over a season, we used the published numbers of colonies at the start of the season and colonies added. We estimated the number of colonies at the end of the season using the number of colonies at the start of the following season.

This is an adaptation of an original work by NASS. Views and opinions expressed in the adaptation are the sole responsibility of the author of the adaptation and are not endorsed by NASS.