like Facebook follow Twitter watch YouTube subscribe RSS Feed
Tag Archives | agriculture

ARTICLE: Mystery of the disappearing bees: Solved!
By Richard Schiffman
 

If it were a novel, people would criticize the plot for being too far-fetched – thriving colonies disappear overnight without leaving a trace, the bodies of the victims are never found. Only in this case, it’s not fiction: It’s what’s happening to fully a third of commercial beehives, over a million colonies every year. Seemingly healthy communities fly off never to return. The queen bee and mother of the hive is abandoned to starve and die.
 

Thousands of scientific sleuths have been on this case for the last 15 years trying to determine why our honey bees are disappearing in such alarming numbers. “This is the biggest general threat to our food supply,” according to Kevin Hackett, the national program leader for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s bee and pollination program.
 

Until recently, the evidence was inconclusive on the cause of the mysterious “colony collapse disorder” (CCD) that threatens the future of beekeeping worldwide. But three new studies point an accusing finger at a culprit that many have suspected all along, a class of pesticides known as neonicotinoids.
 

In the U.S. alone, these pesticides, produced primarily by the German chemical giant Bayer and known as “neonics” for short, coat a massive 142 million acres of corn, wheat, soy and cotton seeds. They are also a common ingredient in home gardening products.
 

Research published last month in the prestigious journal Science shows that neonics are absorbed by the plants’ vascular system and contaminate the pollen and nectar that bees encounter on their rounds. They are a nerve poison that disorient their insect victims and appear to damage the homing ability of bees, which may help to account for their mysterious failure to make it back to the hive.
 

Another study published in the American Chemical Society’s Environmental Science and Technology journal implicated neonic-containing dust released into the air at planting time with “lethal effects compatible with colony losses phenomena observed by beekeepers.”
 

Purdue University entomologists observed bees at infected hives exhibiting tremors, uncoordinated movement and convulsions, all signs of acute insecticide poisoning. And yet another study conducted by scientists at the Harvard School of Public Health actually re-created colony collapse disorder in several honeybee hives simply by administering small doses of a popular neonic, imidacloprid.
 

But scientists believe that exposure to toxic pesticides is only one factor that has led to the decline of honey bees in recent years. The destruction and fragmentation of bee habitats, as a result of land development and the spread of monoculture agriculture, deprives pollinators of their diverse natural food supply. This has already led to the extinction of a number of wild bee species. The planting of genetically modified organism (GMO) crops – some of which now contain toxic insecticides within their genetic structure – may also be responsible for poisoning bees and weakening their immune systems.
 

Every spring millions of bee colonies are trucked to the Central Valley of California and other agricultural areas to replace the wild pollinators, which have all but disappeared in many parts of the country. These bees are routinely fed high-fructose corn syrup instead of their own nutritious honey. And in an effort to boost productivity, the queens are now artificially inseminated, which has led to a disturbing decline in bee genetic diversity. Bees are also dusted with chemical poisons to control mites and other pathogens that have flourished in the overcrowded commercial colonies.
 

In 1923, Rudolph Steiner, the German founder of biodynamic agriculture, a precursor of the modern organic movement, predicted that within a hundred years artificial industrial techniques used to breed honey bees would lead to the species’ collapse. His prophecy was right on target!

Honey bees have been likened to the canaries in the coal mine. Their vanishing is nature’s way of telling us that conditions have deteriorated in the world around us. Bees won’t survive for long if we don’t change our commercial breeding practices and remove deadly toxins from their environment. A massive pollinator die-off would imperil world food supplies and devastate ecosystems that depend on them. The loss of these creatures might rival climate change in its impact on life on earth.
 

Still, this is a disaster that does not need to happen. Germany and France have already banned pesticides that have been implicated in the deaths of bees. There is still time to save the bees by working with nature rather than against it, according to environmentalist and author Bill McKibben:
 

“Past a certain point, we can’t make nature conform to our industrial model. The collapse of beehives is a warning – and the cleverness of a few beekeepers in figuring out how to work with bees not as masters but as partners offers a clear-eyed kind of hope for many of our ecological dilemmas.”
 

[PHOTO: A bumblebee sits on a rhododendron bloom on a sunny spring day in Dortmund, Germany, March 28, 2012. REUTERS/Ina Fassbender]

Read full story · Posted in Uncategorized

TOMORROW!!! 

National Honey Bee Awareness Day is AUGUST 18TH!!! 
1:30pm-4pm @ West LA Civic Center Bandshell 
Free!! All ages welcome!! No RSVP necessary!! 
View event on: facebook | meetup 

The 2012 Theme:
“Sustainable Agriculture Starts with Honey Bees!”

WE HAVE A ROCKSTAR LINEUP OF SPEAKERS FOR YOU!!
2PM GEORGE LANGWORTHY > “Vanishing of the Bees” 
2:30PM KIRK ANDERSON > Backwards Beekeepers 
3PM DAVID KING > The Learning Garden 

AFTER PARTY @ 423 West Gallery (7-10pm) 
http://www.facebook.com/events/466949993334201/

[click here to download the flyer]

Read full story · Posted in Uncategorized

Thank you SO much to everyone who came all the way out to our Bee-Day @ the HoneyLove Sanctuary!! What an amazing crew of HoneyLovers we have!!

We brought up a rain barrel, and planted some California Native BEE-friendly plants (from Matilija Nursery). We branded and painted 9 medium supers (bee-boxes) with linseed oil, and made starter strips for all of the boxes’ frames… and we cleared and leveled out spots to better situate our hives for some hands-on mentoring!!!

YAY BEES!!

[click here to view more photos!]

Read full story · Posted in Uncategorized

TUNE IN TODAY @ 3PM ?!!!(Thursday 6/28/12)
HONEYLOVE is being interviewed on KPFK 90.7 FM @FocusOnFoodFM

If you missed the show… here is the link to hear it ?!!! http://archive.kpfk.org/mp3/kpfk_120628_150030focusfood.MP3

Read full story · Posted in Uncategorized

Born to bee wild: How feral pollinators may help prevent colony collapse disorder
By Enrique Gili

According to the Department of Agriculture, CCD has accounted, at least in part, ?for 30 percent of bee losses annually, since 2007. It’s also jeopardizing beekeepers, rural economies, and the farm communities that depend on those bees. Worldwide honeybees pollinate 400 crops, while adding an estimated $15 billion in revenues per year to the U.S. farm economy.

Despite their pastoral image, the burden placed on the domesticated honeybees is a weighty one. Bred for their non-aggressive demeanor and ample honey production, they’re also expected to help propagate tens upon of thousands of acres of flower-pollinated crops on farms throughout the U.S. and Europe.

As scientists and beekeepers have been literally and figuratively? beating the bushes to understand CCD, they’ve often turned to the? role genetic diversity plays in the overall health of bee colonies. And recent research published in the peer-reviewed science journal PLoS ONE suggests honeybees are as adverse to monogamy as they are to monocrops.? In fact, mixing it up, so to speak, can yield unexpected and surprising benefits for honeybee populations. Honeybees — whether feral or domesticated — need variety. Not only do worker bees spend their waking hours hopping from plant to plant, but some queen bees are also promiscuous, mating with multiple males in a brief period of time. And, as it turns out, there’s a biological rationale for this promiscuity; the overall fitness of the hive depends upon these multiple partners.

“Most bees, ants, and wasps mate singly. Honeybee queens are different ?in that regard — producing highly productive hives that dominate their landscape,” says Heather Mattila, a researcher at Wellesley College.

In the study published in PLoS ONE, Mattila and her co-author Irene Newton found that bees — like humans and other species — depend on helpful bacteria to aid in digestion. And the genetically diverse bee colonies they studied had a significantly greater number of probiotic species living in their guts than the more uniform hives. Moreover, the uniform beehives were 127 percent more likely to contain harmful pathogens than their more diverse counterparts.

“We’ve never known how genetic diversity leads to healthier bees, but this ?study provides strong clues,” says Matilla.
 

…not that there’s one simple fix for CCD. Diversity is just one part of the equation. “A lot has to do with pesticides and nutrition,” Cobey adds. “The amazing thing about bees is they bounce back [for a while]. But at some point they collapse.”

Scientists and beekeepers alike are working furiously to prevent that from happening. But in the meantime, it might be wise to ask: What if we turned back the clock on agricultural production and allowed honeybees to forage and frolic more freely?

[click here to read the full article on grist.org]

Read full story · Posted in Uncategorized

“The honey bee is a vital pollinator of important New Jersey crops, such as blueberries, apples, cranberries, cucumbers, squash and pumpkins… Having beehives in an urban setting, such as on the roof of the Hyatt, enhances backyard gardens in the surrounding area and provides honey that can possibly help neighboring allergy sufferers.”-New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Douglas H. Fisher

http://media.nj.com/star-ledger/photo/2012/04/10925350-standard.jpg http://media.nj.com/star-ledger/photo/2012/04/10925346-standard.jpg

Click here to read more about the Hyatt’s bees!!

Read full story · Posted in Uncategorized

HONEY OF THE UNTOUCHABLES / Keystone Foundation  ?

Read full story · Posted in Uncategorized

Old School…. Beekeeping in the Thirties!
(North of Scotland College of Agriculture Beekeeping)

Want more? Click here —-> 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

Read full story · Posted in Uncategorized

Small beekeepers could be the solution to Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD).

“We can thank the honeybee for four of every 10 bites of food we eat, so for area beekeepers, their efforts aren’t just about the honey. Many beekeepers feel they are doing their part in helping the survival of what is likely our most important domestic species.

The Lou Marchi Total Recycling Institute at McHenry County College (MCC) hosted a screening of the documentary Queen of the Sun: What are the bees telling us? Oct. 25, followed by a panel discussion with beekeepers from the Northern Illinois Beekeepers Association.

The critically-acclaimed film by Taggart Seigel tells the story of the mysterious disappearance of bees through stunning photography, humorous animations, and some very entertaining and colorful beekeepers.

The film looks at the 10,000-year history of honeybees as a domesticated species, from ancient times when honeybees were considered sacred to today’s corporate agriculture practice of shipping honeybees thousands of miles in flatbed trucks to pollinate almond groves in California and blueberries in Maine.

In recent years, honeybees have been disappearing mysteriously; America has lost millions of colonies. The sudden death of honeybee colonies is called Colony Collapse Disorder. Beekeepers and scientists in the film point to chemical pesticides, single-crop farming or monoculture, and the industrialization of beekeeping as reasons for CCD.

“Their crisis is our crisis. It’s colony collapse disorder of the human being too,” said Gunther Hauk, a biodynamic beekeeper who operates Spikenard Farm, a honeybee sanctuary in Virginia.

Experts in the film see bees as a barometer of the health of the world. Queen of The Sun refers to Austrian scientist Rudolf Steiner who predicted the collapse of honeybees in 1923.  “The mechanization of beekeeping and industrialization will eventually destroy beekeeping,” Steiner predicted.

“We have to wake up early enough to make a change,” said biochemist and beekeeper David Heaf, in the documentary.

The film considers reasons for the crisis and presents solutions as well. Helping the honeybee survive can be as simple as growing bee-friendly flowers, shunning pesticides, and buying local, raw honey. Those really interested in helping honeybees should learn beekeeping.

“I really think that small time beekeepers are one of the solutions to the problem,” said Larry Krengel, a McHenry County beekeeper and panelist after the screening. Krengel is a member of the Northern Illinois Beekeeper Association and teaches beekeeping at MCC and other area colleges…

Like chicken keeping, many suburbs don’t allow beekeeping. However, big cities like Chicago and Milwaukee do allow both backyard chickens and beehives. Chicago’s City Hall even has beehives on its rooftop garden…”

[click here to read the full article on grayslake.patch.com]

Read full story · Posted in Uncategorized

Honeybees, the new urban dwellers

“Honeybees play a vital role in many areas of our lives – they pollinate our crops and medicinal plants – but their population has decreased by 30% since 2008. Could our towns and cities now provide them with a safe haven?


Major cities around the world such as London, New York, Hong Kong and Paris are encouraging bees to set up home in the city. Rooftops, small urban gardens and even balconies are providing potential safe-havens for honeybees, our newest and, in many ways, most-important urban dwellers.

The future of mankind is dependent on the survival of the bee.

Honeybees are responsible for pollinating 80% of our food crops worldwide, therefore risks to their health threaten our own food security. Many medicines, an enormous part of our textile industry and, of course, perfumes and cosmetics also rely on flowers and plants that are pollinated by bees.

In short we have the honeybee to thank for the basic components of our daily lives, from the food we eat and the drugs we need, to the clothes we wear – and that’s without beginning to consider items of luxury.

However, the honeybee population has decreased by 30% since 2008 and the reasons for their poor health are multifaceted. Today the rural environment poses severe health risks to bees through intensive farming methods and the use of pesticides.

“Mono crop” farming means that many bees now have a “mono pollen diet”. This could be detrimental to their health as pollen provides bees with protein; as each pollen variety contains different nutrients that are needed to maintain good health, missing out on certain nutrients leaves bees vulnerable to diseases.

Bees that miss out on a balanced diet can also become more susceptible to parasites, such as the varroa mite, or colony collapse disorder, which is believed to be caused by a combination of fungal and viral infections.

Such threats mean the honeybee could potentially have a better chance of survival in urban environments.

City living potentially provides a rich and varied source of pollen that gives bees all the nutrients and enzymes they require for their good health.

Bees that live in the city may also benefit from new kinds of beehive designs that have been created specifically for urban bees.

This growth in the urban honeybee population, and the need for it to be encouraged, calls for not only new type of homes which are suitable for beekeeping, but also a complete re-examination of our relationship with honeybees where they live beside us and we welcome their presence.”

[click here to read the original article on guardian.co.uk]

Read full story · Posted in Uncategorized