EPA Needs to Hear from Beekeepers

The following is a FB post from Virginia Bee Supply dated 2/12/18:

"This message is for all beekeepers having problems with their honeybee colonies collapsing failing to build up etc.

Tom Steeger EPA 703-305-5444 (email: steeger.thomas@epa.gov) would like to hear from you. He would to hear from as many beekeepers as he can. His comment to me was a few days ago if we don't hear from beekeepers and many of them we EPA can't began to fix the problem.
 
Send this to fellow beekeepers as well as encourage them to call. Don't put it off Do it today!!
If Tom doesn't answer leave him a message with your phone number and best time to contact you and which time zone you are in.

Tom will get back to you. He is concerned. I have known Tom for over 10 years and one of few people at EPA trying to help.

This message was sent to me this weekend for me to spread the word."

Accidental Discovery Could Save Bees From Their Greatest Threat

Real Clear Science     By Ross Pomeroy     January 15, 2018

Agricultural Research ServiceGerman scientists primarily based out of the University of Hohenheim have stumbled upon a simple solution that could deal a blow to honeybees' greatest threat. They've found that a tiny dose of the compound lithium chloride kills Varroa destructor mites without harming bees.

The scientists detailed their incredible findings in the January 12th publication of Scientific Reports.

V. destructor, more commonly known as the Varroa mite, is a scourge of honeybees across the globe. Upon infiltrating a colony, the mites latch on to bees, sucking their hemolymph (essentially blood) and spreading the diseases they carry. According to the USDA, 42 percent of commercial hives in the U.S. were infested in summer 2017, and 40 percent of beekeepers said the parasite seriously harmed their colonies. By comparison, only 13 percent reported harm from pesticides.

Chemical compounds exist to combat the parasites but they are outdated and growing increasingly ineffective, the researchers write, adding that no new active compounds have been registered in the last 25 years.

The dearth of options prompted scientists at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem to experiment with a technique called RNA interference. In their study, they fed bees double-stranded RNA via a sugar solution to knockout vital genes in Varroamites. The mites ingested the lethal RNA via bees' hemolymph and subsequently died.

Inspired by those results, the German researchers sought to replicate them by repeating the experiment with slightly tweaked methods. Indeed, mites infesting bees that were fed sugar water with the designed RNA rapidly died, but so did mites in a control group given another RNA that should have been ineffective. The astonishing results prompted the researchers to suspect that the lithium chlorideused to produce the RNA – and thus present in the sugar water – was actually killing the parasites. A battery of subsequent examinations confirmed their hypothesis.

The scientists then carried out numerous experiments testing lithium chloride against Varroa mites, including ones that approximated field studies. They found that feeding honeybees minuscule amounts of lithium chloride (at a concentration of no more than 25 millimolar) over 24 to 72 hours wiped out 90 to 100 percent of Varroa mites without significantly increasing bee mortality. (Below: The figure shows the surviving proportion of bees and mites fed lithium chloride compared to those not fed lithium chloride.) Ziegelmann et al. / Scientific Reports

According to the researchers, lithium chloride could be put to use very quickly as it is easily applied via feeding, will not accumulate in beeswax, has a low toxicity for mammals, and is reasonably priced. However, wider studies on free-flying colonies testing long-term side effects are required first, as well as analyses of potential residues in honey.

Francis Ratnieks, a Professor of Apiculture at the University of Sussex, expressed skepticism about the new finding.

"We can kill 97% of the Varroa in a brood less hive with a single application of oxalic acid, which takes five minutes to apply and is already registered and being used by beekeepers," he told RCScience via email. "I think it will be difficult in practice to apply lithium salts to colonies to kill varroa and get the same level of control... There are also the wider issues of registration and potential contamination of the honey with a product that would not normally be there."

It should be noted that studies have shown oxalic acid to be inconsistent at managing mites during the summer months as well as in colonies with capped broods

Regardless, the Hohenheim researchers are pressing forward. They're already speaking with companies to get a lithium chloride treatment refined, approved, and in the hands of beekeepers.

"Lithium chloride has potential as an effective and easy-to-apply treatment for artificial and natural swarms and particularly for the huge number of package bees used for pollination in the United States," they conclude.

Source: Bettina Ziegelmann, Elisabeth Abele, Stefan Hannus, Michaela Beitzinger, Stefan Berg & Peter Rosenkranz. "Lithium chloride effectively kills the honey bee parasite Varroa destructor by a systemic mode of action." Scientific Reports 8, Article number: 683 (2018) doi:10.1038/s41598-017-19137-5

*Article updated 1/15 to include Professor Ratnieks' statement and to include information about oxalic acid.

*An earlier version of this article mistakenly reported that the researchers are based out of the University of Hoffenheim. They are from the University of Hohenheim.

https://www.realclearscience.com/quick_and_clear_science/2018/01/15/accidental_discovery_could_save_bees_from_their_greatest_threat.html

Related articles/info:
http://scientificbeekeeping.com/home/news-and-blogs/

http://www.beesource.com/forums/showthread.php?341995-Lithium-chloride-as-miticide&s=cf01c15735e4ecac52336121d381e000

https://badbeekeepingblog.com/2018/01/17/have-you-lithium-chlorided-your-bees-yet/

Asia’s Bee Mites Alarmingly Resistant

AsianScientist       Asian Scientist Newsroom     March 7, 2017

A study of the Tropilaelaps mercedesae genome has revealed that conventional mite control strategies might not work.

The genome of the parasitic bee mite Tropilaelaps mercedesae suggests that existing methods to prevent bee colony collapse might be ineffective. These findings have been published in GigaScience.

Although there are many potential causes for the decline in honey bee colonies, pathogens and parasites of the honey bee, particularly mites, are considered major threats to honey bee health and honey bee colonies. The bee mite T. mercedesae is honey bee parasite prevalent in most Asian countries, and has a similar impact on bee colonies that the globally present bee mite Varroa destructor has. With the global trade of honey bees, T. mercedesae is likely become established world-wide.

To preempt the impact of T. mercedesae infestation, an international team of researchers from Jiaotong-Liverpool University sequenced its genome and compared it to the genome of free-living mites.

 

As opposed to the free-living mites, T. mercedesae has a very specialized life history and habitat that depends strictly on the honey bee inside a stable colony. The researchers found that the T. mercedesae genome has been shaped by interaction with the honey bee and colony environment.

Interestingly, the authors found that the mite does not rely on sensing stimulatory chemicals to affect their behavior. The researchers noted that this discovery meant that, “control methods targeted to gustatory, olfactory, and ionotropic receptors are not effective.” Instead, control measures will have to use other targets when trying to disrupt chemical communication.

“There will be a need to identify targets for biological control,” they added.

Furthermore, the researchers found that T. mercedesae is enriched with detoxifying enzymes and pumps for the toxic xenobiotics, which help them quickly acquire resistance to miticides.

However, the study also revealed a potential alternative to miticides. The researchers found that Rickettsiella grylli commonly infect T. mercedesae, suggesting that targeting these bacteria might be one way to control the mite population.

They also found that R. grylli was involved in horizontal gene transfer of Wolbachia genes into the mite genome. Wolbachia is a bacteria that commonly infects arthropods, but is not present in T. mercedesae.

Although up to a horizontal gene transfer has been detected in as many as a third of all sequenced arthropod genomes, this is the first example of horizontal gene transfer in mites and ticks, the authors noted. Since Wolbachia bacteria do not currently infecting the mites, these findings indicate that Wolbachia was once a symbiont for T. mercedesae or its ancestor but has been replaced with R. grylli-like bacteria during evolution, they added.

The extent of honey bee colony destruction remains a complex problem, but one that has an extensive impact crop productivity since honey bees are needed for pollination of a variety of plants. Indeed, in several places in China, farm workers have begun to carry out manual pollination to maintain high crop yield in orchards. Thus, research and resources to help combat this global threat are needed now. These genome, transcriptome, and proteome resources from the T. mercedesae study add another weapon in the fight to save bee colonies.

The article can be found at: Dong et al. (2016) Draft Genome of the Honey Bee Ectoparasitic Mite, Tropilaelaps Mercedesae, is Shaped by the Parasitic Life History.” ——— Source: GigaScience. Disclaimer: This article does not necessarily reflect the views of AsianScientist or its staff.

Read more from Asian Scientist Magazine at: https://www.asianscientist.com/2017/03/in-the-lab/tropilaelaps-mercedesae-genome-bee-mite/

Honeybee Hive Collapse Mystery Rooted In Hive Size

Phys.Org     February 24, 2016

Honeybee. Credit: Adam SiegelUniversity of Idaho professor Brian Dennis is helping scientists understand a baffling but vitally important puzzle: What is causing the decline of honeybees? Working in collaboration with William Kemp, a U.S. Department of Agriculture scientist and UI alumnus, Dennis has built a mathematical model that lays the blame squarely on the bees themselves.

"The tightly organized social lives of honeybees, once such an amazing adaptation for success in the world, turns out to lack resilience against the numerous environmental degradations contributed by humans across the landscape," said Dennis, who has a joint appointment in the UI College of Science and College of Natural Resources.

Humans depend on honeybees for pollinating many crops, especially orchard crops and vegetables. In the U.S. alone, the economic value of honey bees' crop pollination services has been estimated as high as $15 billion a year. If honey bees continue to decrease, it would lead to disastrous upheavals in agriculture and the food on our tables. The decrease is already pushing many beekeepers to the edge of economic viability.

North American scientists have been noting with alarm the increasing collapse of honeybee colonies, during the last decade. In a typical hive collapse, the bees in the hive fail to thrive and end up abandoning the hive or dying. Research studies have tried to pinpoint the cause of hive collapse, investigating such factors such as viruses, fungi, poor nutrition, parasites, pesticides and global warming.

Dennis and Kemp's model indicates that any or all of the suspected environmental factors, alone or in combination, could lead to hive collapse by destabilizing a hive's adult bee population.

Hive Size Matters

Adult worker bees cooperate to make the hive function almost as a single organism. The workers feed and tend to the egg-laying queen and eggs, larvae and pupae; regulate the temperature of the hive; fight enemies and predators; search for food and communicate its location; and gather food and transport it back to the hive.

Beekeepers know that a hive that has too few workers will tend not to thrive. Dennis and Kemp noted the reason for this: a queen can lay only so many eggs in a time interval, and too few adult workers cannot maintain all the functions of the hive at a quality level where new workers are produced faster than deaths of existing workers. Like a hotel with inadequate staff, the hive with too few bees fails to serve its residents.

If the number of adult bees drops below a threshold known as critical hive size, the bees decrease in number, leading to collapse. Normally, critical hive size does not pose a problem for bees. With favorable environmental conditions, the critical size for a beehive is quite small, in the neighborhood of 1,000 bees. Commercial bee packages for starting a hive contain well over 10,000 bees.

However, Dennis and Kemp's model found an unexpected surprise: Critical hive size turned out to be extraordinarily sensitive to any degrading of cooperative hive functions.

Dennis and Kemp built a mathematical model of the growth of adult worker numbers in a beehive. The presence of more adult workers reduced the deaths of adult workers. Likewise, having more adult workers improved "rearing effectiveness," or how well eggs, larvae and pupae are nurtured and raised to adulthood.

The critical hive size increases in response to any environmental factors that reduce rearing effectiveness or increase deaths of  in the hive. In the presence of such an environmental factor, a beehive could find itself below the new, larger critical hive size. Loss of viability and hive failure would result.

Dennis and Kemp point out that a beehive is a severe example of an "Allee effect," a concept in ecology named after animal ecologist Warder Allee. Working in the 1930s, Allee suggested that a critical population size might exist when organisms become rare—for example, when mates cannot find each other, or when groups of cooperatively hunting predators are too small for effective hunting.

Help for Honeybees

In light of this study, how can honeybees be helped? Dennis and Kemp conclude that much might be gained from coordinated regional management of pesticides for beekeepers and crop producers and from conservation programs that contribute to improving foraging resources for all pollinator species.

Dennis and Kemp further warn that evidence of Allee effects has been found in many other species, and the prospect that minimum critical population sizes exist argues for adopting more stringent precautionary principles in environmental management.

Explore further: Honeybees entomb to protect from pesticides

More information: How hives collapse: Allee effects, ecological resilience, and the honey bee, PLoS ONEdx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0150055 

http://phys.org/news/2016-02-honeybee-hive-collapse-mystery-rooted.html

Study Blames Pollinator Decline on Disease, Despite Overwhelming Evidence Pointing to Bee-Killing Pesticides

Beyond Pesticides    February 12, 2015

A new study published last week asserts a viral epidemic driven by parasitic mites is contributing to the global decline in bees, problematically underplaying the significant impact that bee-toxic neonicotinoid insecticides have on pollinator populations, as supported by a growing body of scientific literature, especially findings that show bees’ increased vulnerability to parasites and viruses.

BeesResearchers of the study, titled“Deformed wing virus is a recent global epidemic in honeybees driven by Varroa mites” and published in the journal Science, conclude that the deformed wing virus (DWV), which is typically transmitted through its main vector, the Varroa mite, is globally distributed and recently spread from a common source, European honeybee Apis mellifera. Lead researcher Lena Bayer-Wilfert, PhD, of the University of Exeter, said European bees are at the heart of the global spread of what she calls a “double blow” for colonies. “This is clearly linked to the human movement of honey bee colonies around the globe,” she told BBC News.

Co-researcher Professor Roger Butlin of the University of Sheffield said DWV was a major threat to honey bee populations across the world with the epidemic “driven by the trade and movement of honeybee colonies.” Professor Stephen Martin of the University of Salford, another co-researcher, said the combination of the virus and the mite were at the heart of the crash in honeybee populations. “It supports the idea that DWV is the main cause for the colony losses associated with Varroa and that this comes from European bees,” he said, according to BBC.

The new study, however, fails to acknowledge the role that neonicotinoids are playing in the pollinator decline. Other studies on the subject reveal a clear link between these chemicals and the synergistic effects they have on bees when combined with parasites and disease, such one published by Di Presco et al. (2013), which found that the neonicotinoid clothianidin reduced insect immunity, as well as promoted of viral replication in honey bees by up to 1,000-fold, after exposure to field-realistic and sublethal doses. A review of recent literature concludes that the weight of evidence “strongly confirms that systemic insecticides, notably the neonicotinoids…, are the primary factor in the death of millions of bee colonies globally.”

Neonicotinoid are taken up by a plant’s vascular system and expressed through pollen, nectar, and guttation droplets from which bees forage and drink. They are particularly dangerous because, in addition to being acutely toxic in high doses, they also result in serious sublethal effects when insects are exposed to chronic low doses, as they are through pollen and water droplets laced with the chemical, as well as dust that is released into the air when coated seeds are planted with automated vacuum seed planters. These effects cause significant problems for the health of individual honey bees as well as the overall health of honey bee colonies. Effects include disruptions in bee mobility, navigation, feeding behavior, foraging activity, memory and learning, and overall hive activity.

Beyond Pesticides has long advocated a regulatory approach that prohibits high hazard chemical use and requires alternative assessments. Farm, beekeeper, and environmental groups, including Beyond Pesticides, have urged EPA to follow in the European Union’s footsteps and suspend the huge numbers of other bee-harming pesticides already on the market. We suggest an approach that rejects uses and exposures deemed acceptable under risk assessment calculations, and instead focuses on safer alternatives that are proven effective, such as organic agriculture, which prohibits the use of neonicotinoids. See how you can help through Bee Protective.

Sources: ScienceBBC

http://goo.gl/7aDQfx

Hop-Based Pesticide Could Help Fight Colony Collapse Disorder

New Times   By Doug Fairall   October 26, 2015

Bees. Nature's pollinators, honey makers, and wing shakers. They're one of man's greatest resources and one of the oldest insects we have exploited.

But they are constantly under attack by pests, including the Varroa destructor mite: a parasite that infests a honey bee colony and is believed to contribute to colony collapse disorder. There are ways of handling these pests, though they've mostly been synthetic-chemical-based, through physical means, or derived from herbal essential oils.

Now there's another tool in the fight against pests: a hop-based pesticide. Yes, the same ingredient that gives beer its signature bitterness is now being used as a pesticide to help save bees...

Continue reading...http://www.browardpalmbeach.com/restaurants/hop-based-pesticide-could-help-fight-colony-collapse-disorder-7346261

What Is Killing America's Bees and What Does It Mean For Us?

Rolling Stone   By Alex Morris   August 18, 2015

There was a moment last year when beekeeper Jim Doan was ready to concede defeat. He stood in the kitchen of his rural New York home, holding the phone to his ear. Through the window, he could see the frigid January evening settling on the 112-acre farm he'd just been forced to sell two weeks earlier. On the other end of the line, his wife's voice was matter-of-fact: "Jimmy, I just want to say I'm sorry, but the bees are dead."

By then, Doan was used to taking in bad news. After all, this was long after the summer of 2006, when he had first started noticing that his bees were acting oddly: not laying eggs or going queenless or inexplicably trying to make multiple queens. It was long after the day when he'd gone out to check his bee yard and discovered that of the 5,600 hives he kept at the time, all but 600 were empty. And it was long after he'd learned back in 2007 that he was not alone, that beekeepers all around the country, and even the world, were finding that their bees had not just died but had actually vanished, a phenomenon that was eventually named colony collapse disorder and heralded as proof of the fast-approaching End of Days by evangelicals and environmentalists alike. Theories abounded about what was causing CCD. Were bees, the most hardworking and selfless of creatures, being called up to heaven before the rest of us? Were they victims of a Russian plot? Of cellphone interference? Of UV light? Were they the "canary in the coal mine," as the Obama administration suggested, signaling the degradation of the natural world at the hands of man? Possibly. Probably. No one knew.

Even to Doan, at the epicenter of the crisis, none of it had made a lick of sense. As a third-generation beekeeper, he and his family had been running bees since the 1950s...

Continue reading... http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/what-is-killing-americas-bees-and-what-does-it-mean-for-us-20150818#ixzz3mhvUJske 

Insecticide Could Be Culprit in Honey Bee Die Offs

New York Post     Reuters   August 18, 2015

A type of insecticide under scrutiny by the White House because of fears about its impact on honeybees has been found in more than half of streams sampled across the United States, according to a study by government researchers published Tuesday.

The study, published in Environmental Chemistry and conducted by US Geological Survey researchers, found that five types of insecticides that are known as neonicotinoids were present in varying degrees in 149 samples taken from 48 streams.

At least one type was detected in 63 percent of the samples collected, USGS researcher Michael Focazio said. The samples included many waterways through the Midwest and Southeast. Concentration levels varied.

Over the last few years, evidence has mounted that links the use of neonics, as they are known, to widespread die-offs of honeybees needed to pollinate crops. There are also fears the insecticides are harming other pollinators.

Neonicotinoids, chemically similar to nicotine, are one of the fastest-growing classes of insecticides worldwide and are used both in agricultural and urban settings. They are popular with farmers and are often used to coat seeds before they are planted.

The study represents the first national-scale investigation of the environmental occurrence of neonicotinoid insecticides in agricultural and urban settings, the USGS said. The research spanned 24 states as well as Puerto Rico.

“In the study, neonicotinoids occurred throughout the year in urban streams while pulses of neonicotinoids were typical in agricultural streams during crop planting season,” USGS research chemist Michelle Hladik, the report’s lead author, said in a statement.

Neonics and their impact on the environment have been a topic of debate in Washington lately.

The US Environmental Protection Agency in May proposed a rule that would create temporary pesticide-free zones to protect commercial honeybees.

The restrictions are aimed at protecting honeybees, which pollinate plants that produce roughly a quarter of the food consumed by Americans. Losses of managed honeybee colonies hit 42.1 percent from April 2014 through April 2015, up from 34.2 percent for 2013-2014, and the second-highest annual loss to date, according to the US Department of Agriculture.

Beekeepers, environmental groups and some scientists say it is the neonics that are harming the bees.

Agrichemical companies including Bayer and Syngenta disagree, and instead blame mite infestations and other factors.

Read at: http://nypost.com/2015/08/18/insecticide-could-be-culprit-in-honeybee-die-offs/

USGS Summary: Insecticides Similar to Nicotine Found in About Haqlf of Sampled Streams Across the United States

To Save Bees, Some States Take Aim At Pesticides

The PEW Charitale Trusts    By Sarah Brietenbach   July 29, 2015

A Varroa mite feeds on a honeybee. Varroa mites, thought to be a cause of the decline in the bee population, suck a blood-like substance from honeybees, leading to disease and deformities. (AP)The orange groves in Fort Myers, Florida, have turned to poison for David Mendes’ honeybees. The onetime winter havens for bees have been treated with a popular pesticide that he says kills his livelihood.

States and the federal government are searching for ways to protect managed bees like Mendes’

and their wild counterparts. The White House issued a strategy in May to promote the health of honey

bees and at least 24 states have enacted laws to protect bees and other pollinators such as bats, birds and butterflies.

Of the 100 crops that supply about 90 percent of the food for most of the world, 71 are pollinated by bees. Pollination has a direct effect on the quality of food and the diversity of crops. Declines in bee populations mean fruit and vegetables are less available and more expensive.

Though the number of honeybee colonies managed by beekeepers appears to be on the rise for the first time since “colony collapse disorder” was identified in 2006, U.S. bee populations have not returned to what they had been before a devastating parasite appeared in the late 1980s, causing the loss of up to 70 percent of managed bee colonies.

Advocates hope they can stem future colony losses by...

Continue reading: http://www.pewtrusts.org/en/research-and-analysis/blogs/stateline/2015/07/29/to-save-bees-some-states-take-aim-at-pesticides

Pesticides Found in Most Pollen Collected from Foraging Bees in Massachusetts

ABJ Extra    July 24, 2015

Boston, MA -- More than 70% of pollen and honey samples collected from foraging bees in Massachusetts contain at least one neonicotinoid, a class of pesticide that has been implicated in Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), in which adult bees abandon their hives during winter, according to a new study from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

The study will be published online July 23, 2015 in the Journal of Environmental Chemistry.

"Data from this study clearly demonstrated the ubiquity of neonicotinoids in pollen and honey samples that bees are exposed to during the seasons when they are actively foraging across Massachusetts. Levels of neonicotinoids that we found in this study fall into ranges that could lead to detrimental health effects in bees, including CCD," said Chensheng (Alex) Lu, associate professor of environmental exposure biology in the Department of Environmental Health at Harvard Chan School and lead author of the study.

Since 2006, there have been significant losses of honey bee colonies. Scientists, policymakers, farmers, and beekeepers are concerned with this problem because bees are prime pollinators of roughly one-third of all crops worldwide.

Previous studies analyzed either stored pollen collected from hives or pollen samples collected from bees at a single point in time. In this study, the Harvard Chan School researchers looked at pollen samples collected over time--during spring and summer months when bees forage--from the same set of hives across Massachusetts. Collecting pollen samples in this way enabled the researchers to determine variations in the levels of eight neonicotinoids and to identify high-risk locations or months for neonicotinoid exposure for bees. To do so, the researchers worked with 62 Massachusetts beekeepers who volunteered to collect monthly samples of pollen and honey from foraging bees, from April through August 2013, using pollen traps on the landings of beehives. The beekeepers then sent the samples to the researchers.

The researchers analyzed 219 pollen and 53 honey samples from 62 hives, from 10 out of 14 counties in Massachusetts. They found neonicotinoids in pollen and honey for each month collected, in each location--suggesting that bees are at risk of neonicotinoid exposure any time they are foraging anywhere in Massachusetts.

The most commonly detected neonicotinoid was imidacloprid, followed by dinotefuran. Particularly high concentrations of neonicotinoids were found in Worcester County in April, in Hampshire County in May, in Suffolk County in July, and in Essex County in June, suggesting that, in these counties, certain months pose significant risks to bees.

The new findings suggest that neonicotinoids are being used throughout Massachusetts. Not only do these pesticides pose a significant risk for the survival of honey bees, but they also may pose health risks for people inhaling neonicotinoid-contaminated pollen, Lu said. "The data presented in this study should serve as a basis for public policy that aims to reduce neonicotinoid exposure," he said.

Read at: http://goo.gl/ae562o

Stung By Dead Bees

California Lawyer    By Glen Martin  July 2015

Commercial pollinators demand that regulators protect honeybees from potent insecticides.

Photo: Vern EvansFor about two weeks in the early spring, the San Joaquin Valley is a vast confection of pink and white, and the air is heavy with a magnolia-like scent. To some, the odor may seem overpowering, almost cloying. But to Jeff Anderson, a beekeeper in the small Stanislaus County town of Oakdale, it is the smell of money.

Oakdale is near the center of California's almond belt, and the pastel froth across the valley floor consists of hundreds of millions - maybe billions - of almond tree blooms. Each little blossom can produce a highly valuable nut - the 2012 crop was worth $4.8 billion. But the blossoms can't pollinate themselves.

That's where Anderson's bees come in. He sells honey, but he gets most of his income by providing pollination services to Central Valley growers. Some 35 percent of the world's food crops - including almonds, plums, kidney beans, okra, coffee, and watermelons - must be pollinated by insects to produce edible fruits, vegetables, and nuts, not to mention the seeds to sustain ensuing generations. Among all the insect pollinators, honeybees do...

Read more and comments...https://goo.gl/Er7JEk

What Would Happen If Honey Bees Disappeared (Video)

 Care2    By Ashlyn Kittrell  July 15, 2015

(Video "The Death of Bees Explained: Parasites, Poisons, and Humans from Kurzgesagt and The Nova Project)

Although we don’t entirely know why, bees are disappearing. While scientists have several theories as to why this might be happening, the overarching conclusion is that widespread impact will occur as the bee population dwindles. Some theories about the disappearance of bees include parasites called varroa mites that weaken the bee by sucking fluid from their bodies. It’s hard to kill these mites without also harming the bees, making this a particularly hard problem to navigate. Bees also need plenty of food and water to survive; but with human population growth their access to clean water and plants may be limited.

There are several things we can do to help bees stick around. Supporting local beekeepers by buying their honey products is one way to make sure that they have the resources to help their hives survive. Another helpful strategy is planting blooming plants. Not only does this provide bees with the pollen they need, but it’s also great motivation to have a beautiful garden. However, when planting anything it is important to avoid insecticide dusts as well as any neonicotonoid pesticides. Both of these can get carried back to the hive.

In 1988, there were five million hives. Today, there are 2.5 million. While we aren’t entirely sure why so many colonies are collapsing, we can be sure that the loss of bees would change the world.

To see what other effects the loss of bees would have as well as what may be causing the decline, watch the video from Kurzgesagt and The Nova Project.

Read more: http://www.care2.com/greenliving/what-would-happen-if-honey-bees-disappeared-video.html#ixzz3g5FeSNlp

Examining The Neonicotinoid Threat To Honey Bees

PHYS.org   American Chemical Society  July 8, 2015

The decline of honey bees has been a major concern globally for the past decade. One of the factors that could be contributing to the decline is the use of insecticides—specifically neonicotinoids—that persist in rivers and streams. Researchers now report in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology Letters that although sunlight plays an important role in degrading pollutants, its effects on neonicotinoids can diminish dramatically even in shallow water.

Neonicotinoids protect crops from pests, such as whiteflies, beetles and termites. They are a popular tool in a farmer's arsenal, but they end up washing into surface waters and soil. Some research has suggested the  play a role in the disappearance of bees, a phenomenon known as colony collapse disorder. But scientists didn't fully understand the fate of neonicotinoids in the environment, an important factor in determining how they might contribute to the disorder. Charles S. Wong and colleagues wanted to investigate sunlight's effects on these insecticides in water.

Out of five neonicotinoids the researchers tested in water under simulated sunny conditions, three degraded considerably within minutes.

Two took a few days to break down. But a depth of just 3 inches of water was enough to shield at least one, thiamethoxam, from the degrading effects of the sun. The researchers say that this persistence at shallow depths could increase the chances aquatic life and other wildlife, including bees, could get exposed to the insecticide.

Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2015-07-neonicotinoid-threat-honey-bees.html#jCp

The above post is reprinted from materials provided by American Chemical Society.

Swing & A Miss on Bee Harming Pesticides

Pesticide Action Network   May 28, 2015

Once again, it looks like federal decisionmakers are sidestepping the issue of bee-harming pesticides. The Pollinator Health Task Force, launched almost a year ago by President Obama, released its strategy for addressing pollinator declines last week — without tackling the pesticide problem.

While the plan sets an ambitious goal for reining in honey bee losses, and calls for state plans to increase habitat for pollinators, it fails to directly address the impact of neonicotinoids and other insecticides, despite crystal clear science that these chemicals are impacting pollinators. 

TELL CONGRESS TO ACT

Call on your Rep. to support the Saving America's Pollinators Act! Help get neonicotinoids and other bee-toxic pesticides off the shelf.Act Now

The creation of this inter-agency task force — led jointly by USDA and EPA — signaled a renewed commitment at the federal level to address the crisis facing bees and other pollinators. And while regulators were formulating their new strategy, more than four million beekeepers, farmers, scientists and concerned advocates across the country urged them to directly and meaningfully address the issue of bee-toxic pesticides.

Unfortunately, the plan falls short.

Goals without a plan

The task force strategy focuses on three goals:

  1. Reduce honey bee colony losses to economically sustainable levels;
  2. Increase monarch butterfly numbers to protect the annual migration; and
  3. Restore or enhance millions of acres of land for pollinators through combined public and private action.

All important, certainly. But it's unclear how regulators intend to meet their goal of reducing annual honey bee losses to an "economically sustainable" average of 15% — commonplace for healthy hives — when losses in recent years have hovered around 30-40% or more.

Recent reports show that last year's bee losses were the second worst on record for U.S. beekeepers.

An ever growing body of independent science shows that neonics and other pesticides play a critical role in declining bee populations. Without action on pesticides, the problem will persist.

In a media statement last week, PAN organizer Lex Horan put it this way:

“A lopsided federal policy that takes decisive action on habitat, mites and other issues, while remaining stuck on pesticides, will not turn the tide on bee declines.”

Read at: http://www.panna.org/blog/swing-miss-bee-harming-pesticides

Microbiome: The Puzzle in a Bee's Gut

Nature   By Alla Katsnelson    May 21, 2015

Sometimes, serendipity arrives on the wings of disease. It was colony collapse disorder (CCD), a mysterious condition that hit honeybee hives in autumn 2006, that brought bees to the laboratory of evolutionary biologist Nancy Moran. Moran, working at the time at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, had been studying microbes that live inside aphids and leafhoppers since the early 1990s. Owing to her knowledge of insect-associated bacteria, she was brought in by a team of genome sleuths...

Read more... http://goo.gl/JSpC2t

 

USDA Must Protect Its Scientists

The Pollinator Stewardship Council    By Michele Colopy  May 5, 2015

["Seriously, this has happened and it is important for us to write to our Senators to Take Action." 
Bill Lewis, 2013-2014 President California State Beekeepers Association, Past President Los Angeles County Beekeepers Association, Owner Bill's Bees]  

A recent article in Reuters (http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/03/27/usda-petition-idUSL2N0WT1TQ20150327 ) stated USDA scientists are being harassed and their work is being censored or suppressed, especially work related to insecticides and herbicides. The USDA Inspector General’s office should conduct a thorough investigation into this matter and take necessary steps to ensure the USDA maintains scientific integrity by not interfering with the valuable work of its scientists.

All of the research the USDA conducts must maintain scientific integrity and transparency to ensure it is guiding science-based policy decisions. 

Scientific evidence has implicated insecticides as a leading driver of bee declines, and herbicides as a leading driver of the destruction of pollinator habitat.  Beekeepers, honey producers, and the crops pollinated by managed and native pollinators rely on USDA scientists to protect the health of our food supply.  Honey bees and native bees pollinate one third of the human diet.  For a sustainable and affordable food supply pollinators are key to crop yields, affordable food, and diverse nutritious food.

In March, the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) filed a citizen petition requesting the U.S. Department of Agriculture adopt new policies to increase job protection for government scientists who question the health and safety of agricultural chemicals. The petition urges the agency to adopt policies to specifically prevent the “political suppression or alteration of studies and lay out clear procedures for investigating allegations and of scientific misconduct.”

PEER found more than ten USDA scientists who have faced consequences or investigations, when their work called into question the health and safety of agricultural chemicals. These scientists documented clear actions that violated their scientific integrity, including:
•    USDA officials retracting studies
•    watering down findings
•    removing scientists’ names from authorship
•    delaying approvals for publication of research papers.

The USDA must maintain scientific integrity, and not allow harassment, censorship or suppression of science-based findings.  Please join us in support of USDA scientists.  Email your Senator today urging the USDA Inspector General to take the necessary steps to ensure USDA maintains scientific integrity in the protection of the health and safety of the American public.

Thank you,
Michele Colopy
Program Director
The Pollinator Stewardship Council

http://pollinatorstewardship.org/

Mysterious Case of the Disappearing Honey Bee: New Clues About Decline

Science Daily     Source:  Wellesley College  April 30, 2015

A new study shows poor nutrition for honey bee larvae leads to compromised pollination capabilities as adult bees. This is a possible link to Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD).

A new study by Heather Mattila, a leading honey bee ecologist and Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences at Wellesley College, published this April in PLOS ONE, reveals that inadequate access to pollen during larval development has lifelong consequences for honey bees, leading not only to smaller workers and shorter lifespans, but also to impaired performance and productivity later in life. For the first time,...

Continue reading: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/04/150430141606.htm

Buzz Over Bee Health: New Pesticide Studies Rev Up Controversy

NPR All Things Considered    By Allison Aubrey April 22, 2015

Listen 

A honeybee forages for nectar and pollen from an oilseed rape flower. Albin Andersson/Nature

It's been about a decade since beekeepers and scientists began documenting a decline in honeybee populations and other important pollinators.

Even if you're not a lover of bees or honey, you should know that bees are critically important to our food supply. They help pollinate billions of dollars of crops each year, from apples and carrots to blueberries and almonds.

So if bees are threatened, ultimately, the production of these crops will be threatened, too.

Scientists have shown that a range of factors — from climate change to viruses to loss of habitat — are contributing to the global decline in bee health.

And two new studies published in the journal Nature add to the evidence that overuse of neonicotinoid pesticides may also be contributing to the decline of bees.

Neonics — as they're known for short — have become among the most widely used insecticides in the world. The pesticide is coated onto the seeds that farmers plant to grow their crops. These pre-treated seeds are used extensively in corn, soy and canola crops. In fact, it's estimated that treated seeds are used in more than 95 percent of the U.S. corn crop.

Part of the appeal for farmers is that neonics are simple to use. Farmers plant the seeds in the spring. "The neonicotinoid [which is water soluble] is then absorbed as the plant grows ... and protects the tissues," explains scientist Nigel Raine, who authored a News & Views piece that accompanies the new Nature studies.

This is effective at protecting farmers' crops from pests. But it may be risky for the bees, because "you get [neonicotinoid] residues in the nectar and pollen, even when the plant is flowering months later, potentially," Raine says.

And this means that when bees come to feed on the nectar of these flowering crops, they can be exposed to the pesticide.

Now, neonicotinoids, as the name suggests, are derived from nicotine and act as a poison to the nervous system. There's been a theory that bees might actually be repelled by it, and avoid plants grown from treated seed. But one of the new studies published Wednesday suggests this is not the case.

Researchers in the U.K. conducted a lab experiment to see which kind of food sources bees are drawn to. They offered bees a choice between a plain, sugary solution and one laced with neonics. They found the bees preferred the pesticide solution.

"I think it's a surprising result," Raine says, "because the data suggest that they can't taste the [pesticides], but they are still preferring them."

It's possible that they're getting a little buzz from the neonics, similar to the way a human may get a buzz from nicotine.

And the upshot is that bees could be opting for the food source that may harm them.

In a second study published in Nature, researcher Maj Rundlof and colleagues document the negative effects on the growth and reproduction of commercial bumble-bee colonies feeding on flowering canola plants that were grown from seeds coated with neonicotinoids.

The study also documents a negative affect on populations of wild bees — both in seed-treated fields and in adjacent meadows.

Interestingly, the researchers did not observe a negative effect on honeybee colonies.

Scientists for Bayer CropScience, a leading producer of neonics, wrote in a statement emailed to The Salt that the research "demonstrates yet again there is no effect of neonicotinoids on honeybee colonies in realistic field conditions, consistent with previous published field studies." The statement goes on to question the methodology and the "overall robustness" of the data on wild bees.

But given the accumulating body of evidence on the potential risk of neonics, there's a growing movement to restrict their use.

The European Union already has a temporary, partial ban in place restricting the use of some neonics.

And the Ontario government in Canada has proposed a regulation aimed at reducing the number of acres planted with neonic-treated corn and soybean seed by 80 percent by 2017. The proposal, which is currently open for a public comment period, would take effect in July.

In the U.S., the Environmental Protection Agency announced earlier this month that it is unlikely to approve new neonicotinoid pesticide uses.

"I definitely think we are overusing neonicotinoids," Christian Krupke, an associate professor in the department of entomology at Purdue University, tells us.

"We're simply using too many of these compounds, in such an indiscriminate way," he says. He points to a recent EPA review that concludes that using neonic-coated seeds offers little, if any, economic benefit to soybean farmers' economic bottom lines. In other words, some farmers are using pesticide-treated seeds they don't need.

And around the globe, there's concern that this may be undermining the health of bees.

Read/Listen: http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2015/04/22/401536105/buzz-over-bee-health-new-pesticide-studies-rev-up-controversy

Related article: 

The New York Times  By Michael Wines April 22, 2015

Research Suggests Pesticide Is Alluring and Harmful to Bees

Research by European scientists raised fresh questions on Wednesday about the impact on bees of neonicotinoids, a ubiquitous and controversial class of pesticides whose future use was restricted this month by the Environmental Protection Agency...

Read more:  http://goo.gl/eWYxwK 

"Stressed" Young Bees Could Be the Cause of Colony Collapse

ABJ Extra - News   February 10, 2015

Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) is a major threat to bee colonies around the world and affects their ability to perform vital human food crop pollination. It has been a cause of urgent concern for scientists and farmers around the world for at least a decade but a specific cause for the phenomenon has yet to be conclusively identified.

Bees usually begin foraging when they are 2-3 weeks old but when bee colonies are stressed by disease, a lack of food, or other factors that kill off older bees, the younger bees start foraging at a younger age. Researchers attached radio trackers to thousands of bees and tracked their movement throughout their lives. They found that bees that started foraging younger completed less foraging flights than others and were more likely to die on their first flights.

The researchers, from Queen Mary University of London (QMUL), Macquarie University in Sydney, Washington University in St Louis, and University of Sydney, used this information to model the impact on honey bee colonies.

They found that any stress leading to chronic forager death of the normally older bees led to an increasingly young foraging force. This younger foraging population lead to poorer performance and quicker deaths of foragers and dramatically accelerated the decline of the colony much like observations of CCD seen around the world.

Dr Clint Perry from the School of Biological and Chemical Sciences at QMUL, said:

"Young bees leaving the hive early is likely to be an adaptive behavior to a reduction in the number of older foraging bees. But if the increased death rate continues for too long or the hive isn't big enough to withstand it in the short term, this natural response could upset the societal balance of the colony and have catastrophic consequences.

"Our results suggest that tracking when bees begin to forage may be a good indicator of the overall health of a hive. Our work sheds light on the reasons behind colony collapse and could help in the search for ways of preventing colony collapse."

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