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  1. Not totally bulging at the seams but definitely growing. This is the 2 frame nuc that I have been feeding protein substitutes and sugar syrup all winter. They finally graduated to a second brood box today. By the End of October I think they will be ready to split and add a mated queen to The queenless half. Bam! doubled a hive count instantly and plenty of time to build up for the summer honey flow.

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    Because I went right through the hive yesterday and they are holding a grudge. Saw a drone inspecting the hive looking for an easy way in as there is a traffic jam at the front door. 

  2. For most of us viruses are confusing. Many people are unable to distinguish between viruses and bacteria and expect them to be much the same kind of thing, which they are not. Viruses don’t fit easily in to the various categories of living things we are used to dealing with, and actually whether they even are living organisms is arguable, and how they came to be still more controversial. Which is why there is never a clear answer about how we might kill a harmful virus.

     

    Viruses are not cells and can’t reproduce on their own, and some see them merely as parcels of genetic material (most often RNA) that have just gone rogue, a molecular accident. To coin a phrase ‘bad news in a protein coat’, although, not all viruses are harmful. For others they are an extreme simplification evolved from ancient living cells. At the moment, the former guess seems the more likely.

     

    Part of the reason for that is a growing understanding about how cells communicate. While we have known for a long time the cells can secrete chemicals, it’s only in the last ten years or so that scientists have realised that they do much more. Cells produce small ‘packages’ of molecules, including the RNA that can be translated into proteins or which affect gene expression, in great quantities all the time, and in every body fluid they have tested. These packages are produced as ‘bud’s from the cell wall, or from within the cell contents and released through the cell wall, and many of them are uncannily like viruses in size and structure. Not un-naturally this has led to speculation that maybe extra-cellular vesicles and viruses were two extremes on the same continuum.

    The evidence that ‘messenger’ fragments of RNA in extra-cellular vesicles are a form of communication is substantial, and we are beginning to realise how widespread this is, finding it throughout animal and plant kingdoms. What is also becoming clear that part of this communication is involved in the on-going ‘war’ between infectious viral agents and their hosts, facilitating or defending against invasion. Viral RNA communicated to another organism in an extra-cellular vesicle can pre-emptively prepare a response, a non-infectious vesicle-virus ‘inoculating’ a host against the infectious ‘real thing’. Scientists have also found instances where host genetic material and viral genetic material have become intertwined over millennia, not just as junk or contamination, but conferring new functions on the host. Viruses seem to provide a ‘library’ of genetic material, freely used by all other organisms.

     

    Instances of RNA ‘interference’ (iRNA) in honey bee biology have popped up in recent years. It has been suggested that iRNA (or gene ‘silencing’) has a role in determining honey bee castes (worker vs queen) and other epigenetic effects, and that a honey bee virus (IAPV, once talked about as a candidate for causing CCD) can be treated with iRNA from the right dsRNA fed in syrup. An iRNA treatment for varroa mites is the subject of a US patent*. iRNA is now known to be an important response to control viral infections in many insects, not just bees. What the latest paper from Maori et al (who hold the RNA/varroa patent) suggests is that social honey bees have the ability to pass an acquired immune response to each other and to larvae while food sharing, providing long-term, intergenerational, colony level protection circumventing a non-existent hereditary mechanism and boosting a naturally depauperate immune response.

    “It is generally agreed that RNAi evolved as a defense mechanism against selfish nucleic acids and further diversified to regulate endogenous gene expression. The presence of differential naturally occurring RNA among worker and royal jellies points towards a potential effect of transmissible RNA on genome function in recipient bees. Indeed, supplementing jelly with endogenous or exogenous miRNAs that are naturally enriched in worker jelly affected gene expression as well as developmental and morphological characters of newly emerged workers and queens. We speculate that bee to-larva RNA transfer could also play a role in epigenetic dynamics among honey bees…”

     

    Esther Nolte-‘t Hoen, Tom Cremer, Robert C. Gallo, and Leonid B. Margolis (2016). Extracellular vesicles and viruses: Are they close relatives? PNAS August 16, 2016 vol. 113 no. 33 9155–9161. www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.1605146113

     

    Knip M, Constantin ME, Thordal-Christensen H (2014). Trans-kingdom Cross-Talk: Small RNAs on the Move. PLoS Genet 10(9): e1004602. doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1004602

     

    Zhu, K., Liu, M., Fu, Z., Zhou, Z., Kong, Y., Liang, H., Lin, Z., Luo, J., Zheng, H., Wan, P., et al. (2017). Plant microRNAs in larval food regulate honeybee caste development. PLoS Genet. 13, e1006946.

     

    Garbian, Y., Maori, E., Kalev, H., Shafir, S., and Sela, I. (2012). Bidirectional transfer of RNAi between honey bee and Varroa destructor: Varroa gene silencing reduces Varroa population. PLoS Pathog. 8, e1003035.

     

    Eyal Maori, Yael Garbian, Vered Kunik, Rita Mozes-Koch, Osnat Malka, Haim Kalev, Niv Sabath, Ilan Sela and Sharoni Shafir, A transmissible RNA pathway in honey bees (2018). bioRxiv preprint, doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1101/299800.

     

    * https://patentimages.storage.googleapis.com/e5/73/68/9da2474916fe03/US8962584.pdf

  3. I have been experimenting with moisture removal over the last few years and we now have the ability to build machines to remove water at 4 litres p/hr from honey at 35 degrees. If you have fermentation issues or concerns I have been investigating this issue a lot but there is still lots to learn. Always keen to share and learn from others. 

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    Looking for somebody that may have some beehives that they may wish to put on our property that has many fruit trees and a large garden.

    We are in the middle of a big residential area that has plenty of food for bees so would be very keen to hear from somebody.

    Thank you

  4. Checked both hives.

     

    The split hive was fed syrup for the past week to encourage comb-drawing, which has worked very well - the checkerboarded top box has a good amount of uncapped syrup on freshly drawn comb and the queen is busily laying in the middle - no queen cups / cells. Sugar shake tested for varroa from brood frames, no mites fell on the plate. Removed varroa strips and the top feeder, added a honey super above QE. Happier about the stores situation now than I was last week - the bees have put a good amount of syrup / nectar away and there's plenty of pollen around the brood nest, both coming in and stored away. 

     

    The other hive was doing well, however saw 2 queen cups with eggs. Not properly drawn, just a play cup shapes...but with an egg in each. Moved emptier frames from the bottom box to the top FD in the middle where the queen is laying to give her space, removed one old frame with mostly drone brood and replaced with an empty frame. Removed varroa strips and added a honey super above QE. I need to keep an eye on this one in the next week to see if I need to take further measures to prevent swarming. Didn't do sugar shake but tore open and inspected a bunch of capped brood from the frame I removed. No varroa seen - either it's a good result and the strips have knocked them back or I'm not very good at spotting the mites...but I've seen them before easily enough so I'm reasonably confident that the treatment was effective.

     

    A pretty disruptive day at the hives - tried to be careful but wasn't 100% sure of where the queens were for some of the time. I hope I didn't roll one by accident.

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