via Todd Woody | qz.com
As we’ve written before, the mysterious mass die-off of honey bees that pollinate $30 billion worth of crops in the US has so decimated America’s apis mellifera population that one bad winter could leave fields fallow. Now, a new study has pinpointed some of the probable causes of bee deaths and the rather scary results show that averting beemageddon will be much more difficult than previously thought.
Scientists had struggled to find the trigger for so-called Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) that has wiped out an estimated 10 million beehives, worth $2 billion, over the past six years. Suspects have included pesticides, disease-bearing parasites and poor nutrition. But in a first-of-its-kind study published today in the journal PLOS ONE, scientists at the University of Maryland and the US Department of Agriculture have identified a witch’s brew of pesticides and fungicides contaminating pollen that bees collect to feed their hives. The findings break new ground on why large numbers of bees are dying though they do not identify the specific cause of CCD, where an entire beehive dies at once.
When researchers collected pollen from hives on the east coast pollinating cranberry, watermelon and other crops and fed it to healthy bees, those bees showed a significant decline in their ability to resist infection by a parasite called Nosema ceranae. The parasite has been implicated in Colony Collapse Disorder though scientists took pains to point out that their findings do not directly link the pesticides to CCD. The pollen was contaminated on average with nine different pesticides and fungicides though scientists discovered 21 agricultural chemicals in one sample. Scientists identified eight ag chemicals associated with increased risk of infection by the parasite.
Most disturbing, bees that ate pollen contaminated with fungicides were three times as likely to be infected by the parasite. Widely used, fungicides had been thought to be harmless for bees as they’re designed to kill fungus, not insects, on crops like apples.
“There’s growing evidence that fungicides may be affecting the bees on their own and I think what it highlights is a need to reassess how we label these agricultural chemicals,” Dennis vanEngelsdorp, the study’s lead author, told Quartz.
Labels on pesticides warn farmers not to spray when pollinating bees are in the vicinity but such precautions have not applied to fungicides.
Bee populations are so low in the US that it now takes 60% of the country’s surviving colonies just to pollinate one California crop, almonds. And that’s not just a west coast problem—California supplies 80% of the world’s almonds, a market worth $4 billion.
In recent years, a class of chemicals called neonicotinoids has been linked to bee deaths and in April regulators banned the use of the pesticide for two years in Europe where bee populations have also plummeted. But vanEngelsdorp, an assistant research scientist at the University of Maryland, says the new study shows that the interaction of multiple pesticides is affecting bee health.
“The pesticide issue in itself is much more complex than we have led to be believe,” he says. “It’s a lot more complicated than just one product, which means of course the solution does not lie in just banning one class of product.”
The study found another complication in efforts to save the bees: US honey bees, which are descendants of European bees, do not bring home pollen from native North American crops but collect bee chow from nearby weeds and wildflowers. That pollen, however, was also contaminated with pesticides even though those plants were not the target of spraying.
“It’s not clear whether the pesticides are drifting over to those plants but we need take a new look at agricultural spraying practices,” says vanEngelsdorp.
[read original article via qz.com]
2015 NORTH AMERICAN BEEKEEPING CONFERENCE & TRADESHOW
A few of us HoneyLovers went down to the opening day at the American Beekeeping Federation Convention in Anaheim, held at the Conference Center of the Disneyland Hotel. It was a big and corporate-filled world compared to our hobbyist, urban beekeeper ways (The California Almonds® and Bayer CropScience Bee Care Center had booths). The big equipment suppliers were there, as well: Brushy Mountain, Kelley, Mann Lake and Dadant, along with a few smaller companies like Blue Sky Bee Supply. We picked up a few fresh suits for Sunday mentoring.
The big equipment suppliers were there, as well: Brushy Mountain, Kelley, Mann Lake and Dadant, along with a few smaller companies like Blue Sky Bee Supply. We picked up a few fresh suits for Sunday mentoring. There were the standard displays of beek tools (like a dandy 10” smoker or steel entrance rounds) along with a one-handed Queen catcher and marker gizmo. Forklifts, extractors the size of Smart cars and treatment booths were plentiful along with solo entrepreneurs with the latest new bee vac waiting for the world to beat a path to their doors.
There were a few choice t-shirt vendors, fancy honey labels and jars, wax blocks and fire starter pellets, too. The ABF breakout sessions were largely designed for the commercial beekeeper such as honey bottling management and Queen breeding.
As with most things bee-related, it was the people who were captivating, as well. We met David Hackenberg, a beekeeper from “Vanishing of the Bees” and the BeeMan.
Rob McFarland from HoneyLove will be back down to NAB Friday morning (today!) from 9:00-Noon, when elementary-aged kids are welcomed to The Disneyland Resort to participate in the “Kids and Bees” program led by Sarah Red-Laird (BeeGirl).
This no-charge event has been a tradition with the ABF conference for over 20 years, and is a “don’t miss” opportunity for school groups, home schooled kids, scouts, and clubs. Kids and their teachers or parents can expect a room full of hands-on activities under the themes of, “The Art of Beekeeping,” “The Science of Beekeeping,” “The World of Beekeeping,” and “The Future of Bees: It’s Up to You!” Favorites such as beeswax candle rolling, bee finger puppet making, and hive displays will be there. The highlights this year will be face painting, a photo booth with costumes, and an ultraviolet “Bee View” demonstration. Students will make their way through each station, engaging with beekeepers and Honey Queens from around the US, and activities that will harness their senses and imaginations. For up-to-the-minute details check out BeeGirl’s Kids and Bees facebook page here!
Conference runs through Saturday afternoon. Check the event schedule before you go—tickets available at the door.
Big thanks to our speaker John Lyons for leading this year’s POLLINATION WORKSHOP, and thanks to Marina del Rey Garden Center for hosting!
More photos on instagram.com/honeyloveorg
John Lyons designs, installs and maintains edible landscapes, orchards and CA native gardens as well as teaches at the LA Arboretum and Descanso Gardens. Most recently John developed a permaculture oriented garden at his home and worked on his first grey water swale garden in Altadena that was featured in the LA Times. http://www.thewovengarden.com
LINKS FOR REFERENCE:
We are the month of AUGUST ? Which you all know is an awesome month ?
August 17th, 2013 = NATIONAL HONEY BEE AWARENESS DAY!!
ARTICLE — TRAVERSE CITY, MI:
Residents buzzing over urban beekeeping approval
“Traverse City officials approved a proposal to allow urban beekeeping within the city on Monday night.
Commissioners voted to amend zoning rules which will allow city residents to have up to two honey bee colonies or hives per property. The idea was initially brought up in may by a group of interested community members.
Since then, the commission says they have done a lot of research on the practice. Community members at Monday night’s meeting were very supportive of the idea and are happy with the outcome.”
HoneyLove Beekeepers visit the garden!
“There was a buzz in the air when Chelsea from HoneyLove Beekeeping came to visit Farm King garden this week! Students were educated and entertained by all things bees. So much thanks to Chelsea and HoneyLove for opening up the students’ eyes to the wonderfully exciting and important role that bees play!”
Help Us Save A Million Honeybees!!
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Help us save the honey bees!!
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