Bee Mite Arrival in Hawaii Causes Pathogen Changes in Honeybee Predators

UC Riverside By Iqbal Pittalwala January 8, 2019

bee mite arrival in Hawaii.jpg

UC Riverside-led research, done on the Big Island, shows effects of mite introduction have cascaded through entire pathogen communities

The reddish-brown varroa mite, a parasite of honeybees and accidentally introduced in the Big Island of Hawaii in 2007-08, is about the size of a pinhead. Yet, its effects there are concerning to entomologists because the mite is found nearly everywhere honeybees are present.

A team led by entomologists at the University of California, Riverside, performed a study on the Big Island and found viruses associated with the mite have spilled over into the western yellowjacket, a honeybee predator and honey raider. The result is a hidden, yet remarkable, change in the genetic diversity of viruses associated with the larger pathogen community of the mite and wasp, with repercussions yet to be understood.

Erin Wilson Rankin examines a western yellowjacket. (I. Pittalwala/UC Riverside)

Erin Wilson Rankin examines a western yellowjacket. (I. Pittalwala/UC Riverside)

“Already, we are seeing that the arrival of the varroa mite in honeybee populations in Hawaii has favored a few virulent strains,” said Erin E. Wilson Rankin, an assistant professor of entomologyand lead investigator of the study published Jan. 9 in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B. “We do not know what the effects of these strains will be. What we know is that the effects of the varroa mite have cascaded through entire communities in Hawaii and probably around the world.”

In particular, the researchers saw a loss in the diversity of deformed wing virus, or DWV, variants, resulting in new strains whose impact is hard to predict. DWV, widespread in honeybee populations globally and made up of several variants, is thought to be partly responsible for global die-off of honeybee colonies. DWV infects bumblebees and has been detected in other insects. The yellowjacket wasps can acquire this virus directly or indirectly from honeybees.

The western honey bee.

The western honey bee.

By a stroke of luck, the researchers had the benefit of studying the honeybee and yellowjacket populations on the Big Island both before and after the varroa mite was introduced there. They saw more association of honeybees with pathogens after the appearance of the mite. Indeed, some pathogens were detected in the honeybee and wasp populations only after the mite was introduced to the island.

“This is one of the first descriptions of pathogens in the western yellowjacket,” Wilson Rankin said. “Evidently, pathogens known to be associated with varroa have spread into non-bee species, despite the mite itself being a bee specialist. We suspect the spread in yellowjackets is partly due to the wasp’s propensity to prey upon bees, which is one way the wasps may be exposed to the pathogens.”

Wilson Rankin noted the pathogens are often incorrectly called “bee pathogens” because they were first found in bees. The pathogens, however, are found in a wide variety of insects.

“We are seeing entirely different predators being affected,” she said. “The mite is not vectoring viruses to the wasps. The viral spread is happening through predation and through flowers. Predators may be passing on pathogens to other species. The yellowjacket, for example, preys on both honeybees and native bees, and may explain why both bee populations are showing the same viruses.”

Wilson Rankin explained wasps have been overlooked by researchers because these arthropods do not have “warm, fuzzy, and furry connotations.”

The western yellowjacket is a honey bee predator and honey-raider.

The western yellowjacket is a honey bee predator and honey-raider.

“They look scary,” she added. “People also get stung by them. People are more afraid of wasps than bees. But our work shows we can examine the health of the arthropod community by using species other than bees. We show for the first time that a predator is being affected by a parasite that does not even infect it.”

The researchers sampled 25-45 bees and wasps for one part of the study, and then about 100 individuals, analyzed in groups, for each of the species during the period before and after the mite was introduced to the Big Island. The researchers did not study native bees, focusing instead on honeybees and yellowjacket wasps, neither of which is native to Hawaii. 

“Our findings suggest that pathogen transmission from domesticated bees, such as honeybees, may be important even for non-bee insects like the wasps we studied,” said Kevin J. Loope, the research paper’s first author, who worked as a postdoctoral scholar in the Wilson Rankin lab during the study. “The impacts may be more subtle than previously observed: we found changes in the genetic variation of viruses found in the wasps, but not changes in the amount of virus. These findings suggest we should look more broadly and in greater detail to figure out how moving domesticated bees for agriculture may influence wild populations of insects.

Loope, now a research assistant professor in the Department of Biology at Georgia Southern University, explained that finding overlap in the pathogens of yellowjacket wasps and domesticated bees also means that using pathogens to control undesirable wasp populations is risky.

“Any biological control efforts using pathogens should be carefully evaluated to prevent inadvertent harm to beneficial bees,” he said.

Kevin Loope excavates a yellowjacket nest in Volcano, Hawaii. (Jessica Purcell/UC Riverside)

Kevin Loope excavates a yellowjacket nest in Volcano, Hawaii. (Jessica Purcell/UC Riverside)

He added that the research team was surprised to find a dramatic difference in the viral genetic diversity between the wasp samples from the two periods — before and after the varroa mite was detected on the Big Island.

“We had predicted we would observe a decline in wasp viral diversity matching the decline described in honeybees in Hawaii, but we were still surprised to see this borne out in the data,” he said. “It’s not so often that you see what you’ve predicted in biology.”

Wilson Rankin and Loope were joined in the research by Philip J. Lester of Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand; and James W. Baty of Malaghan Institute of Medical Research, New Zealand. Genetic analyses on the bee and wasp samples were performed at UCR and in New Zealand.

Wilson Rankin was supported by grants from the National Science Foundation and the Hellman Fellows Fund. Loope was supported by a postdoctoral fellowship from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

https://news.ucr.edu/articles/2019/01/08/bee-mite-arrival-hawaii-causes-pathogen-changes-honeybee-predators

Stronger Pesticide Regulations Likely Needed To Protect All Bee Species, Say Studies

Wild bee Credit: Nigel Raine

Wild bee Credit: Nigel Raine

December 11, 2018, University of Guelph

Pesticide regulations designed to protect honeybees fail to account for potential health threats posed by agrochemicals to the full diversity of bee species that are even more important pollinators of food crops and other plants, say three new international papers co-authored by University of Guelph biologists.

As the global human population grows, and as pollinators continue to suffer declines caused by everything from habitat loss to pathogens, regulators need to widen pesticide risk assessments to protect not just honeybees but other species from bumblebees to solitary bees, said environmental sciences professor Nigel Raine, holder of the Rebanks Family Chair in Pollinator Conservation.

"There is evidence that our dependency on insect-pollinated crops is increasing and will continue to do so as the global population rises," said Raine, co-author of all three papers recently published in the journal Environmental Entomology.

With growing demands for crop pollination outstripping increases in honeybee stocks, he said, "Protecting wild pollinators is more important now than ever before. Honeybees alone simply cannot deliver the crop pollination services we need."

Government regulators worldwide currently use honeybees as the sole model species for assessing potential risks of pesticide exposure to insect pollinators.

But Raine said wild bees are probably more important for pollination of food crops than managed honeybees. Many of those wild species live in soil, but scientists lack information about exposure of adult or larval bees to pesticides through food or soil residues.

The papers call on regulators to look for additional models among solitary bees and bumblebees to better gauge health risks and improve protection for these species.

"Everybody is focused on honeybees," said Angela Gradish, a research associate in the School of Environmental Sciences and lead author of one paper, whose co-authors include Raine and SES Prof. Cynthia Scott-Dupree. "What about these other bees? There are a lot of unknowns about how bumblebees are exposed to pesticides in agricultural environments."

She said bumblebee queens have different life cycles than honeybee counterparts that may increase their contact with pesticides or residues while collecting food and establishing colonies.

"That's a critical difference because the loss of a single bumblebee queen translates into the loss of the colony that she would have produced. It's one queen, but it's a whole colony at risk."

Like honeybees, bumblebees forage on a wide variety of flowering plants. But because bumblebees are larger, they can carry more pollen from plant to plant. They also forage under lower light conditions and in cloudier, cooler weather that deter honeybees.

Those characteristics make bumblebees especially vital for southern Ontario's greenhouse growers.

"Greenhouse tomato producers rely on commercial bumblebee colonies as the only source of pollination for their crops," said Gradish.

The new studies stem from workshops held in early 2017 involving 40 bee researchers from universities and representatives of agrochemical industries and regulatory agencies in Canada, the United States and Europe, including Canada's Pest Management Regulatory Agency.

"I hope we can address shortfalls in the pesticide regulatory process," said Raine, who attended the international meeting held in Washington, D.C.

"Given the great variability that we see in the behaviour, ecology and life history of over 20,000 species of bees in the world, there are some routes of pesticide exposure that are not adequately considered in risk assessments focusing only on honeybees."

Read at: https://phys.org/news/2018-12-stronger-pesticide-bee-species.html#jCp

Explore further: Bee flower choices altered by exposure to pesticides

More information: Environmental Entomology (2018). DOI: 10.1093/ee/nvy103 , https://academic.oup.com/ee/advance-article/doi/10.1093/ee/nvy103/5216322 

Provided by: University of Guelph

The More Pesticides Bees Eat, The More They Like Them

Science Daily / Imperial College London     August 28, 2018

Bumblebee. Credit: © Jolanta Mayerberg / FotoliaBumblebees acquire a taste for pesticide-laced food as they become more exposed to it, a behaviour showing possible symptoms of addiction.

This study of bumblebee behaviour indicates that the risk of pesticide-contaminated food entering bee colonies may be higher than previously thought, which can have impacts on colony reproductive success.

In research published today in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, a team from Imperial College London and Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) have shown that bumblebee colonies increasingly feed on pesticide-laced food (sugar solution) over time.

The researchers tested the controversial class of pesticides the 'neonicotinoids', which are currently one of the most widely used classes of pesticides worldwide, despite the near-total ban in the EU. The impact of neonicotinoids on bees is hotly debated, and the ban is a decision that has received mixed views.

Lead researcher Dr Richard Gill, from the Department of Life Sciences at Imperial, said: "Given a choice, naïve bees appear to avoid neonicotinoid-treated food. However, as individual bees increasingly experience the treated food they develop a preference for it.

"Interestingly, neonicotinoids target nerve receptors in insects that are similar to receptors targeted by nicotine in mammals. Our findings that bumblebees acquire a taste for neonicotinoids ticks certain symptoms of addictive behaviour, which is intriguing given the addictive properties of nicotine on humans, although more research is needed to determine this in bees."

The team tracked ten bumblebee colonies over ten days, giving each colony access to its own foraging arena in which bees could choose feeders that did or did not contain a neonicotinoid.

They found that while the bees preferred the pesticide-free food to begin with, over time they fed on the pesticide-laced food more and visited the pesticide-free food less. They continued to prefer the pesticide-laced food even when the positions of the feeders were changed, suggesting they can detect the pesticide inside the food.

Lead author Dr Andres Arce, from the Department of Life Sciences at Imperial, said: "Many studies on neonicotinoids feed bees exclusively with pesticide-laden food, but in reality, wild bees have a choice of where to feed. We wanted to know if the bees could detect the pesticides and eventually learn to avoid them by feeding on the uncontaminated food we were offering.

"Whilst at first it appeared that the bees did avoid the food containing the pesticide, we found that over time the bumblebees increased their visits to pesticide-laden food. We now need to conduct further studies to try and understand the mechanism behind why they acquire this preference."

Dr Gill added: "This research expands on important previous work by groups at Newcastle and Dublin Universities. Here, we added a time dimension and allowed the bees to carry out more normal foraging behaviour, to understand the dynamics of pesticide preference. Together these studies allow us to properly assess the risks of exposure and not just the hazard posed.

"Whilst neonicotinoids are controversial, if the effects of replacements on non-target insects are not understood, then I believe it is sensible that we take advantage of current knowledge and further studies to provide guidance for using neonicotinoids more responsibly, rather than necessarily an outright ban."


Story Source:

Materials provided by Imperial College London. Original written by Hayley Dunning. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

Andres N. Arce, Ana Ramos Rodrigues, Jiajun Yu, Thomas J. Colgan, Yannick Wurm, Richard J. Gill. Foraging bumblebees acquire a preference for neonicotinoid-treated food with prolonged exposure. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 2018; 285 (1885): 20180655 DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2018.0655

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/08/180828204911.htm?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=facebook

National Honey Bee Day 2018: Brush Up On Your Knowledge of Bee Protection

University of California - Kearney News Updates    By Stephanie Parreira    August 15, 2018

Honey bee on almond blossom. Photo by Jack Kelly Clark.Celebrate National Honey Bee Day by brushing up on your knowledge of bee protection—check out the newly revised Best Management Practices to Protect Bees from Pesticides and Bee Precaution Pesticide Ratings from UC IPM. These resources will help you strike the right balance between applying pesticides to protect crops and reducing the risk of harming our most important pollinators.

The best management practices now contain important information regarding the use of adjuvants and tank mixes, preventing the movement of pesticide-contaminated dust, and adjusting chemigation practices to reduce bee exposure to pesticide-contaminated water. The Bee Precaution Pesticide Ratings have also been updated to include ratings for 38 new pesticides, including insecticides (baits, mixtures, and biological active ingredients), molluscicides (for snail and slug control), and fungicides.

Most tree and row crops are finished blooming by now, but it is a good idea to learn about bee protection year-round. Visit these resources today to choose pesticides that are least toxic to bees and learn how you can help prevent bees from being harmed by pesticide applications.

http://ucanr.edu/blogs/blogcore/postdetail.cfm?postnum=27973

Protecting Honey Bees and Wild Pollinators From Pesticides

Beyond Pesticides

Beyond Pesticides advocates for widespread adoption of organic management practices as key to protecting pollinators and the environment, and has long sought a broad-scale marketplace transition to organic practices that legally prohibits the use of toxic synthetic pesticides, and encourages a systems-based approach that is protective of health and the environment. Learn more (below) on the role that pesticides play in pollinator decline, and actions you can take to BEE Protective. For information on growing plants to protect pollinators, see our Pollinator-Friendly Seeds and Nursery Directory. Use the Bee Protective Habitat Guide to plant a pollinator garden suited for your region, and consider seeding white clover into your lawn; learn more from Taking a Stand on Clover.

Read more: https://www.beyondpesticides.org/programs/bee-protective-pollinators-and-pesticides/bee-protective

Breakthrough Could Aid Development of Bee-Friendly Pesticides

Science Daily    University of Exeter     March 22, 2018

A new discovery opens up the door to designing bee-friendly insecticides. Credit: © Igor / Fotolia

Efforts to create pesticides that are not toxic to bees have been boosted by a scientific breakthrough.

A joint study by the University of Exeter, Rothamsted Research and Bayer AG has discovered the enzymes in honeybees and bumblebees that determine how sensitive they are to different neonicotinoid pesticides.

The potential impact of neonicotinoids on bee health is a subject of intensive research and considerable controversy, with the European Union having restricted three compounds on crops that are attractive to bees in 2013.

However, both honeybees and bumblebees exhibit profound differences in their sensitivity to different members of this insecticide class. The researchers aimed to understand why this is, in order to aid the development of pesticides that are non-toxic to them.

Just as in other organisms, toxins in bees can be broken down by enzymes called cytochrome P450s. The study identified one subfamily of these enzymes in bees -- CYP9Q -- and found it was responsible for the rapid breakdown of certain neonicotinoids.

"Identifying these key enzymes provides valuable tools to screen new pesticides early in their development to see if bees can break them down," said Professor Chris Bass, who led the team at the University of Exeter.

"It can take a decade and $260 million to develop a single pesticide, so this knowledge can help us avoid wasting time and money on pesticides that will end up with substantial use restrictions due to intrinsic bee toxicity."

Dr Ralf Nauen, insect toxicologist and lead investigator of the study at Bayer added: "Knowing the mechanisms contributing to inherent tolerance helps us and regulators to better understand why certain insecticides have a high margin of safety to bees."

"The knowledge from our study can also be used to predict and prevent potential harmful effects that result from inadvertently blocking these key defence systems, for instance by different pesticides (such as certain fungicides) that may be applied in combination with insecticides."

Professor Lin Field, Head of the Department of Biointeractions and Crop Protection at Rothamsted Research added: "Some neonicotinoids are intrinsically highly toxic to bees but others have very low acute toxicity, but in public debate they tend to get tarred with the same brush.

"Each insecticide needs to be considered on its own risks and merits, not just its name."

The researchers carried out the most comprehensive analysis of bee P450 detoxification enzymes ever attempted.

Comparing the effects of two neonicotinoids, they found bees metabolise thiacloprid very efficiently, while they metabolise imidacloprid much less efficiently.

Although previous work had suggested rate of metabolism might explain why bees react differently to different neonicotinoids, the specific genes or enzymes were unknown until now.

The research was part funded by Bayer, which is a manufacturer of neonicotinoid insecticides.


Story Source:

Materials provided by University of Exeter. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

Cristina Manjon, Bartlomiej J. Troczka, Marion Zaworra, Katherine Beadle, Emma Randall, Gillian Hertlein, Kumar Saurabh Singh, Christoph T. Zimmer, Rafael A. Homem, Bettina Lueke, Rebecca Reid, Laura Kor, Maxie Kohler, Jürgen Benting, Martin S. Williamson, T.G. Emyr Davies, Linda M. Field, Chris Bass, Ralf Nauen. Unravelling the Molecular Determinants of Bee Sensitivity to Neonicotinoid Insecticides. Current Biology, 2018; DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2018.02.045

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/03/180322125021.htm

How Bees Defend Against Some Controversial Insecticides

ScienceNews.org     By Dan Garisto    March 22, 2018

Researchers have discovered enzymes that can help resist some neonicotinoids

WHAT’S THE BUZZ Honeybees (shown) and bumblebees can resist a type of neonicotinoid insecticide thanks to a family of enzymes that metabolize toxic compounds.

Honeybees and bumblebees have a way to resist toxic compounds in some widely used insecticides.

These bees make enzymes that help the insects break down a type of neonicotinoid called thiacloprid, scientists report March 22 in Current Biology. Neonicotinoids have been linked to negative effects on bee health, such as difficulty reproducing in honeybees (SN: 7/26/16, p 16). But bees respond to different types of the insecticides in various ways. This finding could help scientists design versions of neonicotinoids that are less harmful to bees, the researchers say.

Such work could have broad ramifications, says study coauthor Chris Bass, an applied entomologist at the University of Exeter in England. “Bees are hugely important to the pollination of crops and wild flowers and biodiversity in general.”

Neonicotinoids are typically coated on seeds such as corn and sometimes sprayed on crops to protect the plants from insect pests. The chemicals are effective, but their use has been suspected to be involved in worrisome declines in numbers of wild pollinators (SN Online: 4/5/12).  

Maj Rundlöf, of Lund University in Sweden, helped raise the alarm about the insecticides. In 2015, she reported that neonicotinoid-treated crops reduced the populations of bees that fed from the plants. Rundlöf, who was not involved with the new study, says the new research is important because it clarifies differences between the insecticides. “All neonicotinoids are not the same,” she says. “It’s a bit unrealistic to damn a whole group of pesticides.”

Bass and his colleagues, which include scientists from Bayer, one of the main producers of neonicotinoids, investigated resistance to thiacloprid by looking at bees’ defense systems. The team focused on enzymes known as P450s, which can metabolize toxic chemicals, breaking them down before they affect the bee nervous system. The researchers used drugs to inhibit groups of P450 enzymes. When the family enzymes called CYP9Q was inhibited, bees became 170 times as sensitive to thiacloprid, dying from a much smaller dose, the researchers found. Discovering the enzymes’ protective power could lead to more effective ways to simultaneously avoid harming bees and help crops.

“We live in an era that uses pesticides,” Rundlöf says. “We need to figure out the ones that are safest.”

Citations:
C. Manjon et al. Unravelling the molecular determinants of bee sensitivity to neonicotinoid insecticides. Current Biology. Published online March 22, 2018. doi:10.1016/j.cub.2018.02.045.

Further Reading:
L. Hamers. Much of the world’s honey now contains bee-harming pesticides. Science News. Vol. 192, October 28, 2017, p. 16.

S. Milius. Neonicotinoids are partial contraceptives for male honeybees. Science News. Vol. 190, August 20, 2016, p. 16.

S. Milius. Bees may like neonicotinoids, but some may be harmed. Science News. Vol. 187, May 16, 2015, p. 13.

J. Raloff. Yet another study links insecticide to bee losses. Science News Online, April 5, 2012.

https://www.sciencenews.org/article/how-bees-defend-against-some-controversial-insecticides

NC State Researcher Awarded Grant to Improve Honeybee Health

NC State University     By Dee Shore     March 14, 2018

David Tarpy, of the Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology, leads new CALS research related to honeybee health.With a grant from the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research’s Pollinator Health Fund, NC State University scientist David Tarpy is researching the impact of pesticide exposure on honeybee colony disease prevalence and reproductive potential.

Tarpy, a professor of entomology and plant pathology and the NC State Extension apiculturist, recently received a $217,000 grant from FFAR, a nonprofit established through bipartisan congressional support in the 2014 Farm Bill. The FFAR grant is being matched by a graduate fellowship from the North Carolina Agricultural Foundation Inc., supporting a Ph.D. student in the NC State Apiculture Program, Joe Milone.

Milone and Tarpy’s research will generate new knowledge about the multiple interacting stressors that lead to declines in pollinator populations. “By studying the interactions among queens, pesticides and disease, we are determining how the entire exposome – or all of the things that the queen and colony are exposed to – affects overall bee health,” Tarpy said.

Noting that managed and native pollinators are vital to many crop production systems and the ecological resources that support them, FFAR Executive Director Sally Rockey congratulated Tarpy and NC State for undertaking research that will inform science-based approaches to improving pollinator health.

FFAR established its Pollinator Health Fund in response to the agricultural threat posed by declining pollinator health. Insect pollinators contribute an estimated $24 billion to the United States economy annually.

NC State is one of 16 organizations that received a total of $7 million in FFAR funding toward research and technology development designed to contribute to healthy pollinator populations that support crop yields and agricultural ecosystems.

To learn more about the FFAR Pollinator Health Fund, please visit foundationfar.org/pollinator-health-fund/.

https://cals.ncsu.edu/news/nc-state-researcher-awarded-grant-to-improve-honeybee-health/

Weed-Killer Prompts Angry Divide Among US Farmers

MSN News    By Juliette Michael     November 12, 2017

© Getty Brian Smith and his cousin Hughes, both fifth generation soybean farmers, stand in soybean fields their family tend to that show signs of having been affected by Dicamba use.Little Rock (United States) (AFP) - When it comes to the herbicide dicamba, farmers in the southern state of Arkansas are not lacking for strong opinions.

"Farmers need it desperately," said Perry Galloway.

"If I get dicamba on (my products), I can't sell anything," responded Shawn Peebles.

The two men know each other well, living just miles apart in the towns of Gregory and Augusta, in a corner of the state where cotton and soybean fields reach to the horizon and homes are often miles from the nearest neighbor.

But they disagree profoundly on the use of dicamba.

Last year the agro-chemical giant Monsanto began selling soy and cotton seeds genetically modified to tolerate the herbicide.

The chemical product has been used to great effect against a weed that plagues the region, Palmer amaranth, or pigweed -- especially since it became resistant to another herbicide, glyphosate, which has become highly controversial in Europe over its effects on human health.

The problem with dicamba is that it vaporizes easily and is carried by the wind, often spreading to nearby farm fields -- with varying effects.

Facing a surge in complaints, authorities in Arkansas early this summer imposed an urgent ban on the product's sale. The state is now poised to ban its use between April 16 and October 31, covering the period after plants have emerged from the soil and when climatic conditions favor dicamba's dispersal.

- A bitter dispute -

"Dicamba has affected my whole family," said Kerin Hawkins, her voice trembling. Her brother, Mike Wallace, died last year during an altercation with a worker from a neighboring farm whom he had met to discuss his concerns over the herbicide.

A jury is set to rule on whether Wallace's fatal shooting constituted homicide or self-defense.

This year, the family says, drifting dicamba has affected some 75 acres (30 hectares) of peanuts and 10 acres of new varieties of vegetables planted on their farm, sharply reducing profits.

To protect themselves against the product's impact, the family has decided to plant cotton seeds genetically modified to resist dicamba.

"This is not just a dicamba issue, this is not just a Monsanto issue, this is about how we as human beings treat other people," Kerin Hawkins said.

She was testifying Wednesday at a public hearing in Little Rock, the state capitol, organized by the agency that regulates pesticide and herbicide use in Arkansas.

Immediately afterward the agency called for curbs on the use of dicamba, a decision subject to legislative approval.

So large was the turnout for the hearing that the agency had to move it from its own offices to a meeting room in a hotel. In all, 37 people stepped up to the microphone to explain -- often in voices shaking with emotion -- why they favored or strongly opposed the product.

- Dealing with diversity -

"I'm here to tell you we used dicamba and we had a wonderful year," said Harry Stephens, who with his son grows soybeans in Phillips County.

At a time when some younger farmers are struggling to make ends meet, he said, banning dicamba could "put them out of business."

Richard Coy, who raises bees, said dicamba has had a devastating impact on hives located near farm fields where dicamba is in use.

"I lost $500,000 in honey production and $200,000 worth of pollination contracts to California farms due to the poor health of my beehives," he said.

On the edge of his farm field, Perry Galloway points out some of the weeds -- dead but still standing, many of them head-high -- that ruined several of his past crops.

He has since sprayed dicamba twice over an area of 4,000 acres, and says that "we had the cleanest fields we had in a long time."

He favors a compromise, allowing the herbicide to be applied only once, after plants have sprouted.

But Shawn Peebles, who grows organic vegetables, was able to deal with pigweed by hiring workers to pull them up by hand.

"It is known for a fact dicamba will move," he said. If he gets any in his fields -- which has not happened this year -- "I have to destroy the crop."

"Diversity is what made agriculture what it is today," he said.

"It is not just dicamba (and) soybeans; there is organic farms such as myself, there is vineyards in Arkansas, and we all need to work together."

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/weed-killer-prompts-angry-divide-among-us-farmers/ar-BBET8RH?li=BBnb7Kz

Bee-Harming Pesticides In 75 Percent Of Honey Worldwide: Study

 PHYS.ORG    By Kerry Sheridan     October 5, 2017

Bees help pollinate 90 percent of the world's major crops, but in recent years have been dying off from "colony collapse disorder" Read more at: https://phys.org/news/2017-10-bee-harming-pesticides-percent-honey-worldwide.

Traces of pesticides that act as nerve agents on bees have been found in 75 percent of honey worldwide, raising concern about the survival of these crucial crop pollinators, researchers said Thursday.

Human health is not likely at risk from the concentrations detected in a global sampling of 198 types of honey, which were below what the European Union authorizes for human consumption, said the report in the journal Science.

However, the study found that 34 percent of honey samples were contaminated with "concentrations of neonicotinoids that are known to be detrimental" to bees, and warned that chronic exposure is a threat to bee survival.

Bees help pollinate 90 percent of the world's major crops, but in recent years have been dying off from "colony collapse disorder," a mysterious scourge blamed on mites, pesticides, virus, fungus, or some combination of these factors.

"The findings are alarming," said Chris Connolly, a neurobiology expert at the University of Dundee, who also wrote a Perspective article alongside the research in Science.

"The levels detected are sufficient to affect bee brain function and may hinder their ability to forage on, and pollinate, our crops and our native plants."

Neonicotinoids have been declared a key factor in bee decline worldwide, and the European Union issued a partial ban on their use in 2013.

For the Science study, the European samples were collected largely before this ban took effect, Connolly said. Further research is needed to gauge the effectiveness of the EU steps.

Five common pesticides

Bees collect nectar as they pollinate plants, and over time this sugary liquid accumulates into the thick syrup of honey.

To test contamination levels, samples of honey were taken from local producers worldwide, and researchers tested for five commonly used neonicotinoids: acetamiprid, clothianidin, imidacloprid, thiacloprid, and thiamethoxam.

These pesticides, introduced in the mid 1990s, are based on the chemical structure of nicotine and attack the nervous systems of insect pests.

"Overall, 75 percent of all honey samples contained at least one neonicotinoid," said the study, led by Edward Mitchell of the University of Neuchatel in Switzerland.

"Of these contaminated samples, 30 percent contained a single neonicotinoid, 45 percent contained two or more, and 10 percent contained four or five."

The frequency of contamination was highest in the North American samples (86 percent), followed by Asia (80 percent) and Europe (79 percent).

The lowest concentrations were seen in South American samples (57 percent).

"These results suggest that a substantial proportion of world pollinators are probably affected by neonicotinoids," said the study.

'Serious concern'

Our planet is home to some 20,000 species of bees, which fertilize more than 90 percent of the world's 107 major crops.

The United Nations warned in 2016 that 40 percent of invertebrate pollinators—particularly bees and butterflies—risk global extinction.

Experts said that while the findings are not exactly a surprise, the threat posed by neonicotinoids should be taken seriously.

"The levels recorded (up to 56 nanogram per gram) lie within the bioactive range that has been shown to affect bee behavior and colony health," said plant ecologist Jonathan Storkey, who was not involved in the study.

"Scientists showed earlier this year that levels of less than 9 ng/g reduced wild bee reproductive success," he added.

"I therefore agree with the authors that the accumulation of pesticides in the environment and the concentrations found in hives is a serious environmental concern and is likely contributing to pollinator declines."

According to Lynn Dicks, natural environment research council fellow at the University of East Anglia, the findings are "sobering" but don't offer a precise picture of the threat to bees.

"The severity of the global threat to all wild pollinators from neonicotinoids is not completely clear from this study, because we don't know how the levels measured in honey relate to actual levels in nectar and pollen that wild pollinators are exposed to," she said.

The levels of exposure to harmful pesticides may be far higher than what can be measured in honey, said Felix Wackers, a professor at Lancaster University who was not involved in the research.

"This shows that honeybees are commonly exposed to this group of pesticides while collecting neonicotinoid-contaminated nectar from treated crops or from flowers that have come into contact with spray drift or soil residues," he said.

"The actual level of exposure can be substantially higher, as the honey samples analyzed in this study represents an average of nectar collection over time and space."

Read more at: https://phys.org/news/2017-10-bee-harming-pesticides-percent-honey-worldwide.html#jCp

Field Tests Show How Pesticides Can Wreak Havoc on Honeybees

Los Angeles Times/Science Now   By Mira Abed     June 29, 2017

CLICK IMAGE TO VIEW VIDEO AT LA TIMES: York University Professor Amro Zayed explains how a class of pesticides known as neonicotinoids can leach into the environment, harming honeybee workers and queens. (Credit: York University)

Humans are big fans of bees. We rely on them to pollinate crops like almonds, watermelons and apples.

But bees probably aren’t big fans of humans — at least, not of our agricultural practices.

In particular, they ought to be offended by our fondness for a widely used class of pesticides called neonicotinoids (neonics, for short).

Studies in the lab have shown that some doses of neonics are outright lethal to many bees and that even sub-lethal doses can shorten a colony’s lifespan and harm its overall health. Results have been similar in small-scale field studies.

A red-belted bumblebee covered in pollen visits a chive flower in Canada. (Jeremy T. Kerr)

Still, exactly how these pesticides, which are applied to seeds before planting, would affect bees in the real world remains something of a mystery. Scientists have been locked in a fierce debate over how much — and for how long — bees encounter these pesticides in their daily lives. After all, the conditions in a field are far more complex than those in a lab.

Now, two studies published side by side in the journal Science attempt to answer this contentious question.

One of the studies was conducted in Canada. It combined large-scale field work and laboratory experiments to better understand real-world neonic exposure levels and their effects on honeybees.

The other was conducted in large fields in Hungary, Germany and the U.K. Its goal was to understand how the effects of neonics vary between countries and how exposure during the flowering season affects the long-term health of a bee colony.

The research, published Thursday, provides a lot of new information and poses still more questions. Here are some of the key takeaways:

Bees are exposed to neonicotinoids for longer than we thought

In the Canadian study, biologist Amro Zayed and his team at York University in Toronto monitored 55 honeybee colonies in 11 locations from May through September 2014, a longer time than previously measured. They found that honeybees placed near cornfields planted with neonic-coated seeds were exposed to detectable levels of neonicotinoids for three to four months.

Even some of the bees placed far away from agricultural crops were exposed for around one month as the pesticide moved through the ecosystem. (More on that in a bit).

Ecologists from the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology assess rapeseed crops planted with neonicotinoids (Centre for Ecology & Hydrology)

In the European study, a team led by Ben Woodcock and Richard Pywell from the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology in England studied bees in 33 sites, each split into areas that were treated with pesticides and areas that weren’t. They found that bees were exposed to neonics even in the untreated fields. This was particularly surprising considering that the chemicals have been restricted in Europe since 2014.

The researchers said this indicates that the pesticides remain in the environment long after a treated crop has been harvested.

Real-world doses of neonicotinoids are bad for bees

In general, both studies showed that the concentrations of neonicotinoids that bees actually encounter in fields are indeed dangerous for bees.

Woodcock’s team found that, in Hungary and the U.K., the more neonicotinoids there were in the ecosystem, the smaller the size of the honeybee colonies and the lower the fertility rate of wild bees.

Zayed and his team showed that worker honeybees died around five days sooner when exposed to neonics. That amounted to a 23% decrease in lifespan.

Exposed worker bees also displayed different behavior than unexposed bees. They tended to fly farther from the hive, as if they were lost. That symptom has been seen in previous studies.

A honeybee worker has an RFID attached to its back that allows York University researchers to monitor when it leaves and returns to the colony, as well as when it no longer is active and presumed dead. (Amro Zayed, York University)

A honeybee worker has an RFID attached to its back that allows York University researchers to monitor when it leaves and returns to the colony, as well as when it no longer is active and presumed dead. (Amro Zayed, York University)

The worker bees also were slower to recognize and remove dead or dying bees from the hive. This is important because removal keeps colonies healthy by eliminating potential sources of disease, Zayed said.

Perhaps most devastating, exposed honeybee colonies had difficulty keeping a laying queen. This can be catastrophic because if a replacement queen is not raised within three days of the previous queen’s death, no new eggs can be produced, and the colony will quickly die.

Between 70% and 80% of Zayed’s exposed colonies would have died without outside help, he said.

Neonic exposure can come from untreated plants

In both studies, neonicotinoids were found in untreated areas and plants.

Zayed’s group found that most of the contaminated pollen collected by Canadian honeybees actually was from untreated wildflowers, not from treated corn or soy.

While scientists don’t know how neonicotinoids spread in the environment, there are several plausible explanations.

Since these pesticides can dissolve in water, it is likely that dispersal occurs when neonic-contaminated water is sucked up by other plants, Zayed said.

Richard Shore and Pywell, both researchers from the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, said that water, soil and dust are all possible ways that neonics might spread.

Environment matters — and it’s really, really complicated

One of the biggest messages from the European study is that the real world is incredibly complex, said Maj Rundlöf, who studies bees at UC Davis and Lund University and was not involved in either of the new studies. The variation is so great, both within and between countries, she said, that there must be a wide variety of factors at play.

One is the particular combination of agrochemicals to which bees are exposed. Farmland may be treated with pesticides, herbicides, fungicides and more. Just as some medications can interact with others, Zayed said, agrochemicals can join forces to intensify harm to bees.

Zayed’s team analyzed the toxicity effects of the two most common combinations found in their field tests. In one case, the results were startling: When the neonicotinoid thiamethoxam was combined with the fungicide boscalid, the neonic became twice as toxic to honeybees.

An eastern bumblebee pollinates lupine flowers in Canada. (Jeremy T. Kerr)

Additionally, the Woodcock team found that neonics had different effects in different countries. The pesticides did the least damage in Germany, and the team has a number of ideas as to why.

The German bee colonies were much healthier overall, with fewer instances of disease and parasites. They also had different diets, consisting of only about 15% neonic-treated rapeseed; in Hungary and the U.K., by contrast, rapeseed accounts for 40% to 50% of the diet.

This doesn’t necessarily mean we should ban neonicotinoids

The study authors and multiple other experts said it would be premature to ban neonicotinoids.

Norman Carreck, who researches bees at the University of Sussex and did not work on the new studies, said the EU’s 2014 moratorium on neonics has led to pest problems in England. The moratorium forced farmers to use alternative pesticides, and their effects on bees are mostly unknown.

“Farmers do an important job,” Zayed said. In making a decision about neonicotinoid use, we need to find a solution that “would reduce the cost to pollinators but at the same time still allow farmers to produce an economically viable crop.”

http://www.latimes.com/science/sciencenow/la-sci-sn-bees-pesticides-neonicotinoids-20170629-htmlstory.html

Probiotics Could Improve Survival Rates in Honey Bees Exposed to Pesticides, Study Finds

Science Daily     Source: Lawson Health Research Institute    June 19, 2017

In a new study from Lawson Health Research Institute (Lawson) and Western University, researchers have shown that probiotics can potentially protect honey bees from the toxic effects of pesticides.

Honey bees are critical to agriculture as they pollinate approximately 35 per cent of the global food crop, contributing an estimated $4.39 billion per year to the Canadian economy. Pesticides are currently used to maximize crop yields, but the most common pesticides, neonicotinoid insecticides, are a major factor in colony collapse disorder which is killing honey bee populations.

"The demise of honey bees would be disastrous for humankind. A current dilemma in agriculture is how to prevent bee decline while mitigating crop losses," says Dr. Gregor Reid, Director for the Canadian Centre for Human Microbiome and Probiotic Research at Lawson, and Professor at Western's Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry. "We wanted to see whether probiotics could counter the toxic effects of pesticides and improve honey bee survival."

The study was performed by trainees Brendan Daisley and Mark Trinder in Dr. Reid's lab at St. Joseph's Hospital in London, Ontario. The researchers utilized fruit flies as a well-known model for studying pesticide toxicity in honey bees. Both insects are affected similarly by neonicotinoids, have very similar immune systems, and share many common microbes present in their microbiota -- the collection of microorganisms found in each insect.

The researchers found that fruit flies exposed to one of the world's most commonly used pesticides, imidacloprid (IMI), experienced changes to their microbiota and were more susceptible to infections. The flies were exposed to a comparable amount of pesticide as honey bees in the field.

By administering a specific strain of probiotic lactobacilli, survival among fruit flies exposed to the pesticide improved significantly. The mechanism involved stimulating the immune system through a pathway that insects use to adapt to infection, heat and other stresses.

"Our study showed that probiotic lactobacilli can improve immunity and potentially help honey bees to live longer after exposure to pesticides," says Daisley, an MSc candidate. He notes that probiotic lactobacilli could be easily administered through pollen patties, which are used by beekeepers to provide nutritional support and anti-pesticide effects to honey bees.

Over the winter months, honey bee mortality has been steadily increasing with ranges of 38 to 58 per cent in recent years, two to three times higher than the sustainable level. In Ontario alone, 340 bee keepers reported an abnormally high number of bee deaths, with over 70 per cent of dead bees testing positive for neonicotinoid residues (Government of Ontario).

"While cessation of pesticide use would be ideal, farmers currently have little alternative to obtain the yields that keep their businesses viable," says Dr. Reid. "Until we can cease using pesticides, we need to find ways to protect humans and wildlife against their side effects. Probiotics may prove as an effective protective intervention against colony collapse disorder."

The researchers hope to further study the mechanisms involved in this process and perform field tests on honey bee populations in Ontario.

Story Source: Materials provided by Lawson Health Research Institute. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Journal Reference: Brendan A. Daisley, Mark Trinder, Tim W. McDowell, Hylke Welle, Josh S. Dube, Sohrab N. Ali, Hon S. Leong, Mark W. Sumarah, Gregor Reid. Neonicotinoid-induced pathogen susceptibility is mitigated by Lactobacillus plantarum immune stimulation in a Drosophila melanogaster model. Scientific Reports, 2017; 7 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41598-017-02806-w

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/06/170619101827.htm

After Massive Bee Kill, Beekeepers Want Answers From Fresno County

Capital Public Radio / News     By Julia Metric    May 16, 2017

Dead bees in Reedley, CA from colonies belonging to Rafael Reynaga. (Photo courtesy of Rafael Reynaga.) 

The Beekeeper

When Rafael Reynaga came to check on his bee colonies in a Fresno almond orchard, he found a carpet full of dead bees on the ground.

Reynaga picked up a hive and found two inches of bees at the bottom. He says most were dead, but a few were still moving.

Dead bees reek, Reynaga says, like a dead rat.

He's been working with bees since the 1980s but he says he'd never experienced a bee kill firsthand until this February.

He'd lent two hundred hives to his brother, fellow beekeeper Raul Reynaga. The latter had a pollination contract with an almond grower in Reedley on the east side of Fresno. 

He suspects his honeybees died from pesticide exposure.

“The bees act in a specific way when they are poisoned,” adds Reynaga. “They fly in circles close to the ground.”

Apiarist Rafael Reynaga checks bee colonies in Tulare County

To Reynaga these bee deaths point to a pesticide spray to blooming crops. But he says his hives went in before the almond bloom. The closest blooming crop were nectarines.

Reynaga filed a "Report of Loss” with the Fresno County Agricultural Commissioner’s office. He says it’s a big hit to his business - a $100,000 loss.

Protecting The Bees

Almond pollination is the busiest time of year for California’s commercial beekeepers. They scramble around the state as they move their colonies into orchards just ahead of the bloom.

Gene Brandi is president of the American Beekeeping Federation and a longtime beekeeper from Madera.

Brandi says he works with fifteen different growers across the state during pollination. It’s a logistical feat to move thousands of hives into place just before almond bloom while weather changes hour by hour. Keeping the bees healthy and safe is a huge priority.

During pollination, some beekeepers rely on a notification system to find out about pesticide applications close to their hives.

Here’s how the notification system works in Fresno County. Beekeepers can register the location of hives as they place them for pollination. It’s voluntary. The county pins those locations to a digital bee map.

This interactive map shows approximate bee locations in Fresno County. (Credit: County of Fresno)

Growers, or the pesticide applicators they work with, must file a "Notice of Intent" with the Fresno County Agricultural Commissioner if they plan to apply anything toxic to bees according to the label. 

The county has 16 hours to check the spray location against the bee map and reply to the grower (or pesticide applicator) with contact details for anyone with registered hives within a one mile radius.

The last step: the grower (or pesticide applicator) is required to message registered beekeepers with a heads-up 48 hours ahead of the spray application.

Some beekeepers choose to register their hives and receive notification, but many do not, according to the Fresno County Agricultural Commissioner's office. They say several beekeepers in the bee kill areas were not registered for February pollination.

Gene Brandi says he registers his hives with the county. It’s a valuable source of information.

But here’s the catch. Brandi says the notification system is not the main safeguard in protecting honeybees from pesticide exposure.

It’s the label.

The Label Is The Law

Just because a beekeeper gets a phone or email notification about a pesticide application does not mean they’ll move their bees out, explains Gene Brandi.

The bees are in the almond orchards to do a job - pollination. “We can’t move them out until it’s done,” says Brandi.

In California, protection for honey bees comes in the form of bee warnings on specific pesticide labels.  Carzol SP insecticide bee warning label

The label is the law. That means regardless of where hives are registered, growers (and pesticide applicators on staff) are required to follow the label’s language.

Brandi is confident growers, pesticide applicators, beekeepers and county ag officials all understand following the label to mean: only apply these pesticides at night, when honey bees are not working.

Brandi is counting on the Fresno County Agricultural Commissioner to get to the bottom of what caused the bee kills in February. Regardless of the cause, he says, “This shouldn’t have happened.”

For Brandi, seeing pictures of Reynaga’s dead bees from Reedley brought back unwelcome memories of a bee kill his brother experienced decades ago.

“You can see it’s more than a claim,” says Brandi.

“It’s losses they have experienced. It’s real. And it’s a major negative economic impact on their businesses and on the growers, too. The growers are paying for good bees and they got these dead ones that aren’t going to pollinate one nut.”

Brandi says it’s key for the entire agriculture community to follow best practices so bees are protected while crops get treated.

The Almond Board of California adopted best management practices in 2014. Those include not applying insecticides during bloom and ensuring fungicides are applied late in the day and into the evening when bees are not out collecting pollen.

“Many growers have adopted these practices, but there are still quite a few that have not. They don’t have to. It’s strictly advisory,” explains Brandi.

Earlier this spring Brandi had a meeting at the Environmental Protection Agency in Washington, DC. Brandi urged them to take a closer look at the impact of popular tank mixes on the health of honey bee colonies and consider bee warning labels for them.

(A tank mix is a cocktail of pesticides in single tank.) 

"After all, tank mixes are what our bees 'see' in the field, not just individual pesticides," says Brandi. 

Brandi argues that even if a tank mix doesn't kill adult bees outright, it may impact the brood and hurt the bee colony longterm. 

According to Brandi, the acting head of the EPA's Office of Pesticide Programs said the agency would look into tank mixes later this year.

The Investigation

There were several clusters of bee kills in Fresno this winter. They happened on the east side of Fresno County in Sanger and Reedley, where Rafael Reynaga’s colonies were.

The other area is Kerman, on the west side of the county, where loss reports from several beekeepers total in the ballpark of $2 million.

Tom Ullmann works for the Fresno County Agricultural Commissioner’s office and he’s investigating the Kerman incident. On a tour of the Kerman area, he points out one spot where honeybee colonies got hit, between two vast almond orchards.

Tom Ullmann works for the Fresno County Department of Agriculture

The county collected bee bodies and swabs from outside the hives at this site and sent them to a lab at the California Department of Pesticide Regulation

As part of the investigation, Ullmann’s examined pesticide use reports in Kerman for the days leading up to the bee kill.

“So far, there’s nothing we’ve found that has been done that is in violation of any regulatory requirements according to the label,” says Ullmann.

In other words, pesticide applications were reportedly completed by midnight.

But the preliminary finding leaves bee broker Joe Traynor doubtful.

“I can’t totally blame the county,” Traynor says, “but they depend on use reports and those are only as good as the honesty of the guy that signs them, saying what he put on and what time of day he put it on. Anybody can fudge a use report.”

Traynor’s been wrangling bees for 50 years.

Think of the bee broker as the middleman for pollination. They gather bee hives from various beekeepers to fill contracts with growers. The bee broker gets a cut from both parties.

Traynor was the one who brought Rafael Reynaga’s hives to Reedley. Bee colonies Traynor put in Kerman also got hit. And, he says, bees he placed for pollination in Sanger orchards were hit even worse.

 Bee broker Joe Traynor, left, and beekeeper Rafael Reynaga in Tulare County.

To Traynor, the volume of dead bees and their location suggest exposure to a pesticide – the kind with a bee warning on the label. He suspects a spray was applied into the early morning hours.

Stace Leoni is Fresno County Deputy Agricultural Commissioner and she’s leading the bee kill investigation.

Leoni concedes that pesticide use reports, filed after the application occurs, rely on an honor system. But she doesn’t find it credible that pesticide applicators would intentionally break the rules.

“Why would you want to spend money on a product and apply it if it wasn’t going to work? Or do it at the wrong time or use too much?” asks Leoni.

In his search for answers, Traynor’s focused on the timing of the bee kill and what was going on nearby. He placed the hives in almond orchards before bloom, so there was no forage.

“But bees will visit nearby orchards up to two or three miles away to find bloom,” Traynor explains. He points to nearby blooming nectarines.

The county’s bee lab results are not yet available. But USDA lab reports show several insecticides in bee bodies and bee pollen from Kerman. One of them is Carzol. It’s commonly used by nectarine growers to control an insect called thrips. 

In both bee kill areas there are nectarines within three miles of almonds.

Leoni says the county’s preliminary finding is that a Carzol application to nearby nectarines was completed by midnight.

The county has come under vocal criticism from bee brokers, including Traynor, who say the county must do more to enforce night-time sprays for pesticides with bee warning labels.

“A lot of statements are being made that we don't care or that we're not turning over every stone to figure this out. That’s just not true,” Leoni says.

Leoni insists the county is looking into every possible cause of the February bee deaths. And she says the investigation takes time.

“We're doing the very best we can do because we don't want it to happen again,” explains Leoni.

“But we don't go out in the beginning with accusations. We ask questions. The whole point is to stay objective and try to figure out what happened.”

Leoni says it’s too early to say what lessons could come out of the bee kill. But she concedes that “some materials that are registered may need to be looked at again as far as their toxicity to bees.”

“It could be that the window (for spraying) has to be even shorter in the evening, that you have to finish six hours before the next time bees actively visit. Or maybe a lower dosage. I don’t know,” Leoni says.

Regenerating The Bee Colonies

Rafael Reynaga stands on a grassy mound nestled along the Fresno foothills. The fragrance of citrus blossom filters through the air. 

Citrus trees in Fresno County

This idyllic bee yard is where he brought his hives after the bee kill in Reedley. 

Reynaga cleaned out the stricken hives with bleach to remove possible contamination from dead bee bodies. Then he added brood from healthy colonies and a queen cell for each colony.

He put the bee boxes in their own spot where there’s plenty of forage from citrus bloom. It's like a bee sanctuary.

“I put them where they can thrive. Now, only time will tell,” says Reynaga as he looks out over the hives.

“I’m not going to make honey with these bees – they are just recovering. But at least I can rebuild the hive and put this thing behind me.”

Reynaga doubts he’ll put his bees in the Fresno County bee kill areas for almond pollination next year. “Even if I don’t put bees there again, I want this to stop,” says Reynaga.

“Because in the future, I don’t want this to happen to anybody else or me, down the road, in another place.”

At least six different beekeepers (or bee brokers) claimed losses of an estimated 8,000 bee hives in Fresno County.

Despite what happened in February, you can see from the green fuzzy nuts on almond trees that Fresno’s almond orchards were pollinated.

The county investigation is ongoing. It could be six months to a year before they issue a final report. 

Green nuts on almond trees in Fresno County

READ ARTICLE, LISTEN TO TWO RADIO BROADCASTS, AND LINK TO MORE RELATED STORIES: http://www.capradio.org/95104

 

California Considers Plant Warning Labels as Walmart & True Value Commit to Phasing Out Bee-Killing Pesticides

Pesticide Action Network North America  For Immediate Release May 3, 2017


Facing pressure from the pesticide lobby, California’s Pollinator Protection Act (SB 602) would create consistent and clear labels for seeds and plants pre-treated with neonicotinoid pesticides.

Sacramento, CA – As California considers legislation that would provide labels for seeds and plants that are pre-treated or pre-coated with bee-harming pesticides, two major retailers — True Value and Walmart — announced steps today to phase out the use of the products in their supply chain.  

“Despite pressure from the pesticide industry, gardeners and retailers are responding to the science. As two more major retailers commit to phasing out neonicotinoid pesticides on plants they sell, California legislators have an opportunity to create clear and consistent labels to allow consumers to purchase plants that are better for bees,” said Paul Towers, organizing director and policy advocate at PAN.  

California’s Pollinator Protection Act (Senate Bill 602, Allen-Wiener) would require mandatory labeling for any seed or plant that has been pre-coated or pre-treated with neonicotinoids, or “neonics.” But the legislation has faced significant opposition from pesticide manufacturers, and some industrial agricultural interest groups, that challenge both the science behind bee declines and the preponderance of evidence linking pollinator die-offs to pesticide exposure, among other factors.  

“It is great to see well-known retailers taking action to phase out products that include these harmful pesticides. I look forward to the passage of SB 602 so that California can enact a similar policy statewide,” said Senator Ben Allen (D-Santa Monica), a lead author of the bill, which is sponsored by Bee Smart California, a coalition of beekeepers, farmers, food and environmental organizations dedicated to protecting bees and other pollinators.  

Testing analyses conducted by PAN North America, Friends of the Earth, Center for Food Safety and the Pesticide Research Institute in 20132014 and 2016demonstrated the presence of bee-toxic neonics in more than half of bee-attractive flowers tested. The 2016 analysis found that 23 percent of flowers and trees tested nationally — and 15 percent tested in California — contain neonicotinoid insecticides at levels that can harm or kill bees. And all of the nursery plant samples where neonics were detected had the potential to harm or even kill bees.  

Large retailers Home Depot and Lowe's already made commitments to phase out use of these pesticides, and have also started to provide some form of labeling. Last year’s data demonstrated that these two companies are making progress toward that goal. With today’s news, True Value will phase out neonics on plants and products by 2018 and Walmart has already removed neonics from 80 percent of their flowering plants and nearly all of their products. 

“The actions taken by these national retailers show that there is broadening support for reducing and eliminating use of these awful pesticides. We need to continue to work to prevent the rapid and unprecedented collapse of bee colonies, which is threatening food security in the entire country, by enacting policies like SB 602,” said Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), co-author of the bill.    

Greenhouse Grower’s 2016 State Of The Industry Survey found 74 percent of growers who supply mass merchants and home improvement chains said they would not use neonicotinoid insecticides in 2016. 

“With today’s announcement, fewer nurseries and garden stores are selling plants pre-treated with systemic neonicotinoid insecticides,” said Terry Oxford, a beekeeper with UrbanBeeSF. “Yet it’s still not possible for gardeners and landscapers to be sure that the seeds, plants and trees they select at the store will be safe for bees and other pollinators. Labels would provide that level of security. California legislators should support SB 602.”  

Bees and other pollinators, essential for every one in three bites of food we eat, are in great peril. The United Nations estimates that 40 percent of invertebrate pollinator species, including bees and butterflies, are on the brink of extinction. Research indicates that bee-harming neonicotinoids are a primary factor of declining populations. These insecticides have been responsible for several high profile bee kills from high doses of the pesticides, and a strong and growing body of science shows that neonics contribute to bees’ impaired reproduction, learning and memory, hive communications and immune response at doses far below those that are lethal.   

Contact: Paul Towers, PAN, 916-216-1082, ptowers@panna.org(link sends e-mail)

Pesticide Action Network (PAN) North America works to create a just, thriving food system. For too long, pesticide and biotech corporations have dictated how we grow food, placing the health and economic burdens of pesticide use on farmers, farmworkers and rural communities. PAN works with those on the frontlines to tackle the pesticide problem — and reclaim the future of food and farming.

http://www.panna.org/press-release/california-considers-plant-warning-labels-walmart-true-value-commit-phasing-out-bee?utm_source=web&utm_medium=fb&utm_campaign=bees

Scientists Say Agriculture is Good for Honey Bees

Phys.org    By Ginger Rowsey    May 2, 2017

In a recent study, researchers with the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture found the overall health of honey bees improved in the presence of agricultural production, despite the increased exposure to agricultural pesticides. Credit: Scott Stewart While recent media reports have condemned a commonly used agricultural pesticide as detrimental to honey bee health, scientists with the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture have found that the overall health of honey bee hives actually improves in the presence of agricultural production.

The study, "Agricultural Landscape and Pesticide Effects on Honey Bee Biological Traits" which was published in a recent issue of the Journal of Economic Entomology, evaluated the impacts of row-crop agriculture, including the traditional use of pesticides, on honey bee health. Results indicated that hive health was positively correlated to the presence of agriculture. According to the study, colonies in a non-agricultural area struggled to find adequate food resources and produced fewer offspring.

"We're not saying that pesticides are not a factor in honeybee health. There were a few events during the season where insecticide applications caused the death of some foraging bees," says Mohamed Alburaki, lead author and post-doctoral fellow with the University of Tennessee Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology (EPP). "However, our study suggests that the benefits of better nutrition sources and nectar yields found in agricultural areas outweigh the risks of exposure to agricultural pesticides."

Alburaki and fellow researchers established experimental apiaries in multiple locations in western Tennessee ranging from non-agricultural to intense agricultural production. Over the course of a year, colonies were monitored for performance and productivity by measuring colony weight, brood production and colony thermoregulation. Colony thermoregulation, or the ability to maintain an optimal temperature within a hive, is an important factor in brood development and the health of the resulting adult bees.

According to the study, hives located in areas with high to moderate agricultural vegetation grew faster and larger than those in low or non-agricultural areas. Researchers suggest the greater population sizes enabled better colony thermoregulation in these hives, as well.

Meanwhile, bees located in a non-agricultural environment were challenged to find food. Although fewer pesticide contaminants were reported in these areas, the landscape did not provide sustainable forage. In fact, during the observations, two colonies in the non-agricultural areas collapsed due to starvation.

Disruptions and fluctuations in brood rearing were also more notable in a non-agricultural environment. Interestingly, brood production was highest in the location that exhibited a more evenly distributed mix of agricultural production, forests and urban activity.

"One possible explanation for this finding could be the elevated urban activity in this location," says Alburaki. "Ornamental plantings around homes or businesses, or backyard gardens are examples of urban activity that increase the diversity of pollen in an area. Greater pollen diversity has been credited with enhancing colony development."

Researchers also evaluated trapped pollen from each colony for pesticide residues. Low concentrations of fungicides, herbicides and insecticides were identified, but at levels well below the lethal dose for honey bees. Imidacloprid was the only neonicotinoid detected, also at sub-lethal levels.

Agricultural pesticides, particularly neonicotinoids, are considered by some to be a key factor in declining honeybee populations. The UTIA study found that higher exposure to pesticides in agricultural environments did not result in measurable impacts on colony productivity.

"We train agricultural producers on careful selection and conscientious application of pesticides to reduce bee exposure," says Scott Stewart, Integrated Pest Management Specialist with UT Extension, "but it's becoming more clear that the influences of varroa mite and food availability are more important factors in honey bee health than agricultural pesticides."

 Journal reference: Journal of Economic Entomology

https://phys.org/news/2017-05-scientists-agriculture-good-honey-bees.html

Common Pesticide Hampers Honey Bee's Ability to Fly

Phys.org

A honey bee (Apis mellifera) is harnessed for study on a flight mill in biology professor James Nieh's laboratory, UC San Diego. Credit: Simone Tosi

Biologists at the University of California San Diego have demonstrated for the first time that a widely used pesticide can significantly impair the ability of otherwise healthy honey bees to fly, raising concerns about how pesticides affect their capacity to pollinate and the long-term effects on the health of honey bee colonies.

Previous research has shown that foraging honey bees that ingested neonicotinoid pesticides, crop insecticides that are commonly used in agriculture, were less likely to return to their home nest, leading to a decrease in foragers.

A study published April 26 in Scientific Reports by UC San Diego postdoctoral researcher Simone Tosi, Biology Professor James Nieh, along with Associate Professor Giovanni Burgio of the University of Bologna, Italy, describes in detail how the neonicotinoid pesticide thiamethoxam damages honey bees. Thiamethoxam is used in crops such as corn, soybeans and cotton. To test the hypothesis that the pesticide impairs flight ability, the researchers designed and constructed a flight mill (a bee flight-testing instrument) from scratch. This allowed them to fly bees under consistent and controlled conditions.

Months of testing and data acquisition revealed that typical levels of neonicotinoid exposure, which bees could experience when foraging on agricultural crops—but below lethal levels—resulted in substantial damage to the honey bee's ability to fly.

"Our results provide the first demonstration that field-realistic exposure to this pesticide alone, in otherwise healthy colonies, can alter the ability of bees to fly, specifically impairing flight distance, duration and velocity" said Tosi. "Honey bee survival depends on its ability to fly, because that's the only way they can collect food. Their flight ability is also crucial to guarantee crop and wild plant pollination."

Long-term exposure to the pesticide over one to two days reduced the ability of bees to fly. Short-term exposure briefly increased their activity levels. Bees flew farther, but based upon other studies, more erratically.

"Bees that fly more erratically for greater distances may decrease their probability of returning home," said Nieh, a professor in UC San Diego's Division of Biological Sciences.

This pesticide does not normally kill bees immediately. It has a more subtle effect, said Nieh.

"The honey bee is a highly social organism, so the behavior of thousands of bees are essential for the survival of the colony," said Nieh." We've shown that a sub-lethal dose may lead to a lethal effect on the entire colony."

Honey bees carry out fundamentally vital roles in nature by providing essential ecosystem functions, including global pollination of crops and native plants. Declines in managed honey bee populations have raised concerns about future impacts on the environment, food security and human welfare.

Neonicotinoid insecticides are neurotoxic and used around the world on broad varieties of crops, including common fruits and vegetables, through spray, soil and seed applications. Evidence of these insecticides has been found in the nectar, pollen and water that honey bees collect.

"People are concerned about honey bees and their health being impaired because they are so closely tied to human diet and nutrition," said Nieh. "Some of the most nutritious foods that we need to consume as humans are bee-pollinated."

Read more at: https://phys.org/news/2017-04-common-pesticide-honey-bee-ability.html#jCp

Bees Face Heavy Pesticide Peril from Drawn-out Sources

Phys.org    By Blaine Friedlander    April 20, 2017

A honeybee collects the pollen from an apple blossom. Credit: Kent Loeffler/ProvidedHoneybees - employed to pollinate crops during the blooming season - encounter danger due to lingering and wandering pesticides, according to an analysis of the bee's own food.

Researchers used 120 pristine honeybee colonies that were placed near 30 apple orchards around New York state. After allowing the bees to forage for several days during the apple flowering period, the scientists examined each hive's "beebread" – the bees' food stores made from gathered pollen – to search for traces of pesticides.

In 17 percent of colonies, the beebread revealed the presence of acutely high levels of pesticide exposure, while 73 percent were found to have chronic exposure.

The new Cornell study was published April 19 in Nature Scientific Reports.

"Our data suggest pesticides are migrating through space and time," said lead author Scott McArt, assistant professor of entomology, who explained that bees may be gathering pollen from nontarget wildflowers, field margins and weeds like dandelions where insecticides seem to linger.

"Surprisingly, there is not much known about the magnitude of risk or mechanisms of pesticide exposure when honeybees are brought in to pollinate major agricultural crops," he said. "Beekeepers are very concerned about pesticides, but there's very little field data. We're trying to fill that gap in knowledge, so there's less mystery and more fact regarding this controversial topic."

More than 60 percent of the found pesticides were attributed to orchards and surrounding farmland that were not sprayed during the apple bloom season, according to the study. McArt said that persistent insecticides aimed at other crops may be surrounding the orchards. In addition, pre-bloom sprays in orchards may accumulate in nearby flowering weeds.

Honeybees create honey in their hive through the topped-out combs, and they keep beebread - their food - in the other combs. Credit: Emma Mullen/Provided"We found risk was attributed to many different types of pesticides. Neonicotinoids were not the whole story, but they were part of the story." he said. "Because neonicotinoids are persistent in the environment and accumulate in pollen and nectar, they are of concern. But one of our major findings is that many other pesticides contribute to risk."

Mass-blooming crops flower in big bursts during the pollination season, so crop producers rent armies of honeybees to supplement the work of wild bees. "There are so many flowers at one given time, often there may not be enough wild bees to perform sufficient pollination services," said McArt.

Crop pollination by insects, particularly bees, can be valued at more than $15 billion annually to the U.S. economy, according to research by Nicholas Calderone, professor emeritus of entomology. Producers and beekeepers are now concerned about the high rates of hive declines – estimated to be about 42 percent in 2014-15 domestically. In New York, the losses are often over 50 percent.

To understand the economics, beekeepers may charge more than $100 per colony for pollination services for apple producers in New York, almond producers in California and blueberry growers in North Carolina. For large farms, several hundred to a thousand pollinating colonies are brought in via large trucks.

Commercial beekeepers sometimes assume they will lose entire colonies, which is why pollination service rates have tripled or quadrupled over the past 15 years, McArt said. He recently shared his research with growers at a New York State Integrated Pest Management meeting, and several farmers said they are interested in altering crop management practices to reduce honeybee injury.

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the Department of Agriculture and Markets assembled a Pollinator Protection Plan in 2016. Scientists are developing best management practices, reviving pollinator populations, researching and monitoring, and developing outreach and educational programs for beekeepers and producers.

Co-authors on the study, "High Pesticide Risk to Honeybees Despite Low Focal Crop Pollen Collection During Pollination of a Mass Blooming Crop," are lab manager Ashley Fersch; graduate student Nelson Milano; Lauren Truitt '17; and former research associate Katalin Böröczky.

https://phys.org/news/2017-04-bees-heavy-pesticide-peril-drawn-out.html

EPA Finds Pesticides Could Harm Endangered Species, Finally

Bee Culture     February 3, 2017

An environmental advocacy group called for “commonsense measures” to protect wildlife from three pesticides after a federal analysis found that they were likely to harm the country’s endangered species.

The Center for Biological Diversity said Wednesday that the final results of a study from the Environmental Protection Agency showed that 97 percent of plants and animals on the Endangered Species List would be hurt by chlorpyrifos and malathion, while 78 percent would be affected by diazinon.

The group said that all three are common organophosphate insecticides. Chlorpyrifos, in particular, drew concern from advocacy groups in recent years after it was linked to illnesses among farm workers and neurodevelopmental problems in children.

The EPA proposed banning the use of chlorpyrifos on food crops, but the agrichemical industry has resisted those efforts and advocates are worried about how the Trump administration will address the pesticide.

“We’re now getting a much more complete picture of the risks that pesticides pose to wildlife at the brink of extinction, including birds, frogs, fish and plants,” said CBD senior scientist Nathan Donley.

Federal environmental laws require the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service to incorporate the EPA evaluations into their opinions for pesticides “likely to adversely affect” endangered species or their habitats.

http://www.beeculture.com/catch-buzz-epa-finds-pesticides-harm-endangered-species-finally/?utm_source=Catch+The+Buzz&utm_campaign=491f309f5a-Catch_The_Buzz_4_29_2015&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_0272f190ab-491f309f5a-256242233

Millions of Dead Bees After Spraying for Zika Virus

CATCH THE BUZZ    By Dikran Arakelian, Blacklisted News    January 6, 2016

South Carolina honey bees have begun to die in massive numbers. Death of the area’s bees has come suddenly to Dorchester County, S.C. Stressed insects tried to flee their nests, only to surrender in little clumps at the hive entrances. Dead worker bees littering the farms suggested that ‘colony collapse disorder’ was not the culprit.

In colony collapse disorder, workers vanish as though raptured, leaving a living queen and young bees behind. Instead, the dead heaps in S.C signal a more devastating killer. The pattern matches acute pesticide poisoning. By one estimate, in one apiary in Summerville, 46 hives died on the spot, totaling around 2.5 million bees.

Walking through the farm, one Summerville woman stated it was “like visiting a cemetery, pure sadness.”

A Clemson University scientist collected soil samples from Flowertown on Tuesday, December 27, according to WCBD-TV.

The beekeepers have a clear opinion. Their bees had been poisoned by Dorchester’s own insecticide efforts, casualties in the war on disease-carrying mosquitoes.

On Sunday morning, parts of Dorchester County were sprayed with Naled, a common insecticide that kills mosquitoes on contact. The United States began using Naled in 1959, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, which notes that the chemical dissipates so quickly it is not a hazard to people. That said, human exposure to Naled during spraying “should not occur.”

Trucks trailing pesticide clouds are not an unusual sight in S.C. This is thanks to a mosquito-control program that includes destroying the insect’s larvae. Given the current concerns of Zika virus, Dorchester decided to try something different. It marked a departure from Dorchester County’s usual ground-based efforts. For the first time, an airplane dispensed the pesticide in a fine mist between 6:30 a.m. and 8:30 a.m. on Sunday.

The county says it provided plenty of warning, spreading word about the pesticide plane via a newspaper announcement Friday and a Facebook post Saturday.

Local beekeepers felt differently.

“Had I known, I would have been camping on the steps doing whatever I had to do screaming, ‘No you can’t do this,’” beekeeper Juanita Stanley said in an interview with Charleston’s WCSC-TV. Stanley told the Charleston Post and Courier that the bees are her income, but she is more devastated by the loss of the bees than her honey.

The county acknowledged the bee deaths Tuesday. “Dorchester County is aware that some beekeepers in the area that was sprayed on Sunday lost their beehives,” Jason Ward, county administrator, said in a news release. He added, according to the Charleston Post and Courier, “I am not pleased that so many bees were killed.”

Spraying pesticides from the air is not uncommon, particularly when you are covering a large area. In a single year in Florida, more than 6 million acres were sprayed with the chemicals, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The agency argued in January that the technique should be used to curb Zika in Puerto Rico.

This particular pesticide cannot discriminate between honey bees and mosquitos. A profile of the chemical in Cornell University’s pesticide database warned that “Naled is highly toxic to bees.”

Summerville resident Andrew Macke noted that the hot weather had left the bees particularly exposed. Once temperatures exceed 90 degrees, bees may exit the nest to cool down in what is called a beard, clustering on the outside of the hive. Neither Macke nor Stanley had covered their hives.

And then came the plane…

“They passed right over the trees three times,” Stanley said to ABC 4 News. After the plane left, the familiar buzzing stopped. The silence in its wake was like a morgue, she said.

As for the dead bees, as Stanley told the AP, her farm “looks like it’s been nuked.”

http://www.beeculture.com/catch-buzz-millions-dead-bees-spraying-zika-virus/?utm_source=Catch+The+Buzz&utm_campaign=5ec7b0b1ee-Catch_The_Buzz_4_29_2015&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_0272f190ab-5ec7b0b1ee-256242233

Light Therapy Can Protect Bees From Pesticide Poisoning

UPI Science News     November 15, 2016

Light therapy protects bees from the harms of pesticide exposure, new research shows.
Photo by Ismael Mohamad/UPI | License Photo

LONDON, Nov. 15 (UPI) --
 Light therapy offers protection to honey bees exposed to neonicotinoid pesticides, according to new research from University College London.

In a new study, scientists at UCL studied the effects of pesticides and light therapy on commercial honey bee hives. Two of the four studied hives were exposed to a neonicotinoid pesticide called Imidacloprid for 10 days. One of the two exposed haves were also treated with twice-daily 15-minute doses of near infrared light.

Previous research has proven pesticide exposure undermines honey bees' ability to produce ATP, the energy necessary for healthy cellular function.

In the experiments, pesticide-poisoned bees not treated to light therapy showed drastically reduced ATP levels. They also showed symptoms of diminished mobility. Bees poisoned and treated with near infrared light were more mobile and boasted better survival rates.

One of the two control groups was treated with light even though they hadn't been exposed to pesticides. The light-treated group had higher survival rates than the control group that was neither poisoned nor treated.

"Long-wavelength light treatments have been shown in other studies to reduce mitochondrial degeneration which results from aging processes," Glen Jeffery, a researcher with the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology, said in a news release. "It's beneficial even for bees that aren't affected by pesticides, so light therapy can be an effective means of preventing loss of life in case a colony becomes exposed to neonicotinoids. It's win-win,"

The new findings -- detailed in the journal PLOS ONE -- suggest light therapy works best as a preventative method, but can also trigger recovery in bees if doses begin within two days of pesticide exposure.

"We found that by shining deep red light on the bee which had been affected by the toxic pesticides that they could recover, as it improved mitochondrial and visual function, and enabled them to move around and feed again," added Michael Powner, a former UCL researcher now working at City, University of London.

Bees are now one of several animals shown to benefit from regular exposure to near infrared light.

"When a nerve cell is using more energy than other cells, or is challenged because of a lack of energy, red light therapy can give it a boost by improving mitochondrial function," Jeffery explained. "Essentially, it recharges the cell's batteries."

http://www.upi.com/Science_News/2016/11/15/Light-therapy-could-cure-pesticide-poisoned-bees/9591479240027/