segunda-feira, abril 02, 2007

Honey Bee / Honeybee

See just this Post & Comments / 0 Comments so far / Post a Comment /   Home
Next, Back.

Friday May 9 2008

Unexplained Mass Die-Off Hits German Hives, May 09, 2008 Bee Emergency, Andrew Curry.

Bees in the German state of Baden-Württemburg are dying by the hundreds of thousands. In some places more than half of hives have perished. Government officials say the causes are unclear -- but beekeepers are blaming new pesticides.

In Germany's bucolic Baden-Württemburg region, there is a curious silence this week. All up and down the Rhine river, farm fields usually buzzing with bees are quiet. Beginning late last week, helpless beekeepers could only watch as their hives were hit by an unprecedented die-off. Many say one of Germany's biggest chemical companies is to blame.

In some parts of the region, hundreds of bees per hive have been dying each day. "It's an absolute bee emergency," Manfred Hederer, president of the German Professional Beekeeper's Association, told SPIEGEL ONLINE. "Fifty to 60 percent of the bees have died on average, and some beekeepers have lost all their hives."

The crisis hit its peak last weekend. Beekeepers from Germany's Baden-Württemburg reported hives full of thousands of dead bees. The worst-hit region, according to state officials, was along the upper Rhine river between the towns of Rastatt and Lorrach. The Rhine valley is one of Germany's prime agricultural regions.

Regional officials spent the week testing bees, pollen, honey and plant materials to look for the die-off's causes. The Julius Kühn Institute in Braunschweig, a federal research institute dealing with agricultural issues, set up a special hotline for beekeepers to send in dead bees for analysis.

Blaming the Pesticides

But on Friday, Baden-Württemburg Agriculture Minister Peter Hauk said scientists still weren't sure what was behind the disaster. "As long as the causes are still unclear, we must consider all the possible ways we can reduce the risks for the bees," Hauk said. Hauk encouraged beekeepers to move their hives outside the affected area to prevent further damage.

Meanwhile, Germany's beekeepers were pointing fingers at one of Germany's largest companies, blaming a popular, recently-introduced pesticide called clothianidin for the recent die-off. Produced by Monheim-based Bayer CropScience, a subsidiary of German chemical giant Bayer AG, clothianidin is sold in Europe under the trade name Poncho. It's designed to attack the nervous systems of insects "like nerve gas," says Hederer. The chemical was used last year to fight an outbreak of corn rootworm, and its success against the pest led to a much wider application this spring up and down the Rhine.

But clothianidin is not a particularly selective poison. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency's fact sheet on the pesticide, "clothianidin is highly toxic to honey bees." Seeds are treated with the clothianidin in advance or sprayed with it while in the field, and the insecticide can blow onto other crops as well. The chemical is often sprayed on corn fields during the spring planting to create a sort of protective film on cornfields. Beekeepers say it's no coincidence that the bee die-off began at the beginning of May, right when corn planting started. "It's the pesticides' fault, one hundred percent," Baden Beekeeper Association chairman Ekkehard Hülsmann told the Bädische Zeitung newspaper.

The circumstantial evidence is piling up. Beekeepers and agricultural officials in Italy, France and Holland all noticed similar phenomena in their fields when planting began a few weeks ago. French beekeepers recently protested the use of clothianidin in the Alsace region, just across the Rhine from Baden-Württemburg. Hederer said German officials have been ignoring the damage pesticides do to bee populations for years. "The people who work in government agencies are all in the pockets of manufacturers," he said. Beekeepers are fed up, he says: "We've decided that keeping bees is more important than keeping our mouths shut."

The Canary in the Coal Mine

Nonetheless, government officials say the early results aren't conclusive. "The bees that were tested showed a buildup of [clothianidin] … but in such small amounts that the scientists couldn't say it was definitely the cause," the Baden-Württemburg Agriculture Ministry said in a statement on Friday. "The expert commission will continue its urgent investigation." Hauk said the ministry was developing new guidelines for farmers using clothianidin to reduce the amount bees were exposed to.

As intensive agriculture becomes more and more common in Germany, the country's insects are beginning to suffer. Like the proverbial canary in the coal mine, bees are a prime indicator of the environment's health. The consequences could be dire -- bees pollinate 80 percent of German crops, from apples to rapeseed. A total bee collapse could cost German farmers billions of euro.

The latest die-off is hitting a bee population already battered by a particularly long, wet and cold winter. Infestations of bee parasites like the varroa mite have also taken a heavy toll on bees in the past few years. Germany's bees are still in better shape than those in the United States, where the mysterious "Colony Collapse Disorder," or CCD, has devastated the American beekeeping industry. "Bees in the US -- with its huge farms -- get a lot more attention than Germany, with its little fields the size of handkerchiefs," Hederer says. "It's sad, but true: There always has to be a huge catastrophe before people start to use their brains."

Thursday May 8 2008

U.S. honey bee deaths up over last year


The Associated Press

May 7, 2008 at 9:41 AM EDT

SAN FRANCISCO — A survey of bee health released Tuesday revealed a grim picture, with 36.1 per cent of commercially managed hives in the United States lost since last year.

Last year's survey commissioned by the Apiary Inspectors of America found losses of about 32 per cent.

As beekeepers travel with their hives this spring to pollinate crops, it is clear the insects are buckling under the weight of new diseases, pesticide drift and old enemies such as the parasitic varroa mite, said Dennis vanEngelsdorp, president of the group.

This is only the second year that the association has measured colony deaths, so there are not enough numbers to show a trend, but clearly bees are dying at unsustainable levels and the situation is not improving, said Mr. vanEngelsdorp, also a bee expert with the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture.

“For two years in a row, we've sustained a substantial loss,” he said. “That's an astonishing number. Imagine if one out of every three cows, or one out of every three chickens, were dying. That would raise a lot of alarm.”

The survey included 327 operators who account for 19 per cent of the country's approximately 2.44 million commercially managed bee hives. The data is being prepared for submission to a journal.

About 29 per cent of the deaths were from colony collapse disorder (CCD), a mysterious disease that causes adult bees to abandon their hives. Beekeepers who saw CCD in their hives were much more likely to have major losses than those who did not.

“What's frightening about CCD is that it's not predictable or understood,” Mr. vanEngelsdorp said.

On Tuesday, Pennsylvania's Agriculture Secretary Dennis Wolff announced that the state would pour an additional $20,400 into research at Pennsylvania State University looking for the causes of CCD. This raises emergency funds dedicated to investigating the disease to $86,000.

The issue also has attracted federal grants and funding from companies that depend on honey bees, including ice-cream maker Haagen-Dazs.

Because the berries, fruits and nuts that give about 28 of Haagen-Dazs's varieties their flavour depend on honey bees for pollination, the company is donating up to $250,000 to research into CCD and sustainable pollination at Penn State University and the University of California, Davis.

Saturday September 6 2007

Martin Mittelstaedt, Pathogen causing bee blight?.

Tuesday May 1 2007

A personal note: Bees have been flying into my apartment in numbers in recent weeks. I find them in the morning on the walls of the bathroom, dead and dying. I have not been here long enough to know if this is normal autumn behavior or not. Sometimes a dozen, sometimes just one or two ...

Tuesday April 24 2007

24/04/07, Alexei Barrionuevo, Bees Vanish, and Scientists Race for Reasons, Source.

Wednesday April 18 2007

18/04/07, Geoffrey Lean & Harriet Shawcross, Are mobile phones wiping out our bees?, Source.
18/04/07, Holger Dambeck, Debunking a New Myth - Mobile Phones and Dying Bees, Source.

Monday April 2 2007

Honey BeeWikipedia: Honey Bee, Apis mellifera / Western honey bee, Fall Dwindle Disease / CCD: Colony Collapse Disorder / VBS: Vanishing Bee Syndrome, Genetic Engineering / Genetically Modified, Bacillus thuringiensis / Bt (used in GM);

And some good pictures.

Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) was initially developed for tobacco (if Karma has anything to do with it then we may be doomed) and nobody really knows what will happen with it; if, for example, it gets shape shifted into grass and other wild plants. It is not supposed to affect 'pollinators' - How do they know? Rats get liver damaged eating GM corn ... so you can't call it nutritionally or dietarily 'neutral' by any means.

As for the bees: the the Yanks are losing money (that's all of why they noticed eh?), the Brits are hand-wringing, the Germans are on the case, and the k-k-k-Canadians are in denial:
01/03, Michael McCarthy, Honey, who shrunk the bee population?, (Source).
22/03, Gunther Latsch, Are GM Crops Killing Bees?, (Source).
02/04, John Partridge, Apiarists buzzing about soaring rate of honeybee deaths, (Source).

Pennsylvania State University, Mid-Atlantic Apiculture, Research and Extension Consortium (MAAREC), CCD related Items, likely not GM they say ($#@! pdf!), Fall Dwindle / CCD Overview (that's a big "I don't know") (another $#@! pdf!).

David Suzuki blog: What's Become of the Bees.

Peter Kevan at the University of Guelph - Applied Ecology and Anthecology Laboratory.

anthecology (just in case the meaning of this word does not spring to mind)
1. The study of pollination and the relationships between insects and flowers.
2. The interrelationship of flowers and flowering plants with their environments.

Best Guess: Others in the 20,000-odd family of bees slide on over to take up the pollination shortfall - fill the empty niches that is. Farmers figgure out that maybe crop-rotation was a better idea for pest control in the first place.

Worst Guess: They have to Genetically Engineer every single food plant to be self-pollinating. Then we all die of cirrhosis of the liver without ever even having to be drunk once - let's call it 'Presbyterian Cirrhosis' with apologies to Weber & Tawney and their connections between Protestantism and Capitalism, made in the first quarter of the 20th century ... about the time when the Methodist, Presbyterian, and Congregational churches united in Canada. Not exactly news eh?

Tarot The FoolThe Fool TarotJohnny Depp Edward ScissorhandsDon Quixote Pablo PicassoDon Quixote Salvador Dali

Jimmie Rodgers, Honeycomb

Well it's a darn good life
And it's kinda funny
How the Lord made the bee
And the bee made the honey
And the honeybee lookin' for a home
And they called it honeycomb
And they roamed the world and they gathered all
Of the honeycomb into one sweet ball
And the honeycomb from a million trips
Made my baby's lips

Oh, Honeycomb, won't you be my baby
Well, Honeycomb, be my own
Got a hank o' hair and a piece o' bone
And made a walkin' talkin' Honeycomb
Well, Honeycomb, won't you be my baby
Well, Honeycomb, be my own
What a darn good life
When you got a wife like Honeycomb

And the Lord said now that I made a bee
I'm gonna look all around for a green, green tree
And He made a little tree and I guess you heard
Oh, then well he made a little bird
And they waited all around till the end of Spring
Gettin' every note that the birdie'd sing
And they put 'em all into one sweet tome
For my Honeycomb

Oh, Honeycomb, won't you be my baby
Well, Honeycomb, be my own
Got a hank o' hair and a piece o' bone
And made a walkin' talkin' Honeycomb
Well, Honeycomb, won't you be my baby
Well, Honeycomb, be my own
What a darn good life
When you got a wife like Honeycomb

And the Lord says now that I made a bird
I'm gonna look all round for a little ol' word
That sounds about sweet like "turtledove"
And I guess I'm gonna call it "love"
And He roamed the world lookin' everywhere
Gettin' love from here, love from there
And He put it all in a little ol' part
Of my baby's heart

Oh, Honeycomb, won't you be my baby
Well, Honeycomb, be my own
Got a hank o' hair and a piece o' bone
And made a walkin' talkin' Honeycomb
Well, Honeycomb, won't you be my baby
Well, Honeycomb, be my own
What a darn good life
When you got a wife like Honeycomb