Bee die-off perplexes scientists

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Postby chiggerbit » Thu Apr 12, 2007 10:21 am

To me, it's odd that some of the hives survive. What's scary is the possibility that honeybees could become extinct in a matter of one or two years.
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Postby orz » Thu Apr 12, 2007 10:49 am

So long and thanks for all the nectar.
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Postby chiggerbit » Sat Apr 14, 2007 1:45 pm

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Postby marmot » Sun Apr 15, 2007 1:54 am

chiggerbit wrote:Found this pdf at wowonder's site:

http://maarec.cas.psu.edu/pressReleases ... te0107.pdf


chiggerbit


great find. thank you!!!
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Are mobile phones wiping out our bees?

Postby seemslikeadream » Sun Apr 15, 2007 9:31 am

http://news.independent.co.uk/environme ... 449968.ece

Are mobile phones wiping out our bees?
Scientists claim radiation from handsets are to blame for mysterious 'colony collapse' of bees
By Geoffrey Lean and Harriet Shawcross
Published: 15 April 2007
It seems like the plot of a particularly far-fetched horror film. But some scientists suggest that our love of the mobile phone could cause massive food shortages, as the world's harvests fail.

They are putting forward the theory that radiation given off by mobile phones and other hi-tech gadgets is a possible answer to one of the more bizarre mysteries ever to happen in the natural world - the abrupt disappearance of the bees that pollinate crops. Late last week, some bee-keepers claimed that the phenomenon - which started in the US, then spread to continental Europe - was beginning to hit Britain as well.

The theory is that radiation from mobile phones interferes with bees' navigation systems, preventing the famously homeloving species from finding their way back to their hives. Improbable as it may seem, there is now evidence to back this up.

Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) occurs when a hive's inhabitants suddenly disappear, leaving only queens, eggs and a few immature workers, like so many apian Mary Celestes. The vanished bees are never found, but thought to die singly far from home. The parasites, wildlife and other bees that normally raid the honey and pollen left behind when a colony dies, refuse to go anywhere near the abandoned hives.

The alarm was first sounded last autumn, but has now hit half of all American states. The West Coast is thought to have lost 60 per cent of its commercial bee population, with 70 per cent missing on the East Coast.

CCD has since spread to Germany, Switzerland, Spain, Portugal, Italy and Greece. And last week John Chapple, one of London's biggest bee-keepers, announced that 23 of his 40 hives have been abruptly abandoned.

Other apiarists have recorded losses in Scotland, Wales and north-west England, but the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs insisted: "There is absolutely no evidence of CCD in the UK."

The implications of the spread are alarming. Most of the world's crops depend on pollination by bees. Albert Einstein once said that if the bees disappeared, "man would have only four years of life left".

No one knows why it is happening. Theories involving mites, pesticides, global warming and GM crops have been proposed, but all have drawbacks.

German research has long shown that bees' behaviour changes near power lines.

Now a limited study at Landau University has found that bees refuse to return to their hives when mobile phones are placed nearby. Dr Jochen Kuhn, who carried it out, said this could provide a "hint" to a possible cause.

Dr George Carlo, who headed a massive study by the US government and mobile phone industry of hazards from mobiles in the Nineties, said: "I am convinced the possibility is real."

The case against handsets

Evidence of dangers to people from mobile phones is increasing. But proof is still lacking, largely because many of the biggest perils, such as cancer, take decades to show up.

Most research on cancer has so far proved inconclusive. But an official Finnish study found that people who used the phones for more than 10 years were 40 per cent more likely to get a brain tumour on the same side as they held the handset.

Equally alarming, blue-chip Swedish research revealed that radiation from mobile phones killed off brain cells, suggesting that today's teenagers could go senile in the prime of their lives.

Studies in India and the US have raised the possibility that men who use mobile phones heavily have reduced sperm counts. And, more prosaically, doctors have identified the condition of "text thumb", a form of RSI from constant texting.

Professor Sir William Stewart, who has headed two official inquiries, warned that children under eight should not use mobiles and made a series of safety recommendations, largely ignored by ministers.
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Postby kristinerosemary » Sun Apr 15, 2007 5:03 pm

thanks for these posts...we live in washington state, one of the
affected regions .. in same house for about 20 years, have
oregon grape shrub in full flower every april buzzing with
bees. this spring, today, looks like perhaps 50 percent fewer
than in the past. but there are a few bees working out there
in the sun, i'm really grateful to see them.
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Postby rocco11 » Mon Apr 16, 2007 4:42 am

I'll bet this is Morgellons disease. I have it and it's a nanotech disease. I've been real sick for over a year now. Rense has done some great work on this one... Check out his page.
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Postby nomo » Mon Apr 16, 2007 3:19 pm

Saw this on DU this morning:

http://www.democraticunderground.com/di ... _id=664435


What causes CCD?

The "cause" of CCD is under investigation. To be sure, the hysteria
surrounding CCD has outpaced the science. Beekeepers and investigators have
suggested varroa, inadequate rainfall, proximity to power lines, colony
treatments, moving stresses, genetically modified crops, lack of genetic
diversity, inadequate nutrition and chemicals present in the environment,
just to name a few, as possible causes of CCD. At this point, almost every
conceivable and realistic cause remains a possibility. The leading
candidates and a brief explanation of their potential role are listed below.



1. *Traditional bee pests and diseases (including American foulbrood,
European foulbrood, chalkbrood, nosema, small hive beetles, and tracheal
mites): These bee maladies likely are not responsible for CCD because
they do not have a history of causing CCD-like symptoms. That said,
traditional bee pests and diseases may exacerbate CCD. With that in mind,
scientists have not abandoned experiments investigating these candidates.

2. *Style of feeding bees and type of bee food: The style of feeding
bees and types of bee food used to feed bees vary considerably among
beekeepers reporting CCD losses. As such, no correlation has been found
between what colonies were fed and their likelihood of survival. Despite
this lack of evidence, many beekeepers have abandoned the practice of
feeding high fructose corn syrup to bees due to indications that it can form
byproducts that are harmful to bees.

3. *How the bees were managed: Management style is a broad category
but it can include the type of income pursued with bees (honey production,
pollination services, etc.) or what routine colony management beekeepers
perform (splitting hives, swarm control, chemical use, etc.). As you can
imagine, both of these vary considerably among beekeepers so this possible
cause of CCD is given less attention. That said, poor management can make
any colony malady worse.

4. Queen source: Initial investigations considering queen source as
a cause of CCD have turned up no evidence that the disorder is tied to queen
production. Yet, scientists are investigating the lack of genetic diversity
and lineage of bees, both related to queen quality, as possible causes of
CCD. Regarding the former, it has been said that fewer than 500 breeder
queens produce the millions of queen bees (and therefore all bees) used
throughout the U.S. Geneticists refer to this as a genetic bottle
neck. This lack of genetic biodiversity has, in effect, made U.S.
honey bees a virtual monoculture. Monocultures usually are susceptible to
any pest/disease that invades the system. Honey bees are no exception.

5. Chemical use in bee colonies: Without doubt, the beekeeping
industry is overly-dependent on chemical pesticides and antibiotics used to
treat various bee-related maladies. Overuse and misuse of these chemicals
(including insecticides, vitamins, snake oils, etc.) is rampant. In many
cases, the pesticides used to control varroa
mite<http://creatures.ifas.ufl.edu/misc/bees/varroa_mite.htm >and small
hive beetles<http://creatures.ifas.ufl.edu/misc/bees/small_hive_beet... (just
to name two examples) double as insecticides in other pest management
schemes. Putting insecticides into insect colonies cannot be beneficial to
bees, even if the chemicals are not killing the bees outright. A number of
newly-discovered, sub-lethal effects of these chemicals on honey bees
(workers, queens, and drones) should be given stronger consideration as
possible causes of CCD.

6. Chemical toxins in the environment: A popular theory is that
chemical toxins in the environment are responsible for CCD. In many
instances, the beekeepers reporting colony losses manage large migratory
beekeeping operations. In migratory operations, beekeepers move bees from
blooming crop to blooming crop around the country. Because pesticides are
used widely in cropping systems in an effort to kill herbivorous insects,
one is left to consider the potential for non-target chemical effects on
bees. In addition to being exposed to chemicals while foraging on our
nation's crops, honey bees also may acquire chemicals through contaminated
water sources as they drink water containing chemical runoff. Conceivably,
these chemical residues can accumulate in wax and food stores in the colony,
thus killing bees.

7. Genetically modified crops: A number of people have blamed
genetically modified crops for the widespread bee deaths. Scientists have
begun initial investigations into this theory but all available data suggest
that genetically modified crops are not the culprit, at least as far as the
plants themselves are concerned. Interestingly, many seeds from which
genetically modified crops are grown are dipped first in systemic
insecticides that later appear in the plants' nectar and pollen. This makes
genetically modified plants suspect because of their chemical treatment
history, not because they are genetically modified.

8. Varroa mites and associated pathogens: Even with the hysteria
surrounding CCD, varroa
mite<http://creatures.ifas.ufl.edu/misc/bees/varroa_mite.htm >remains
the world's most prolific honey bee killers. Not surprisingly,
varroa and the viruses they transmit have been considered as possible causes
of CCD. The primary flaw with this theory is that varroa have been in the
U.S. only since 1987. Therefore, it is impossible for varroa to have
caused the CCD-like outbreaks that occurred prior to 1987. A final point
worth considering in the varroa/CCD issue is that many of the chemicals used
in bee colonies are used to control varroa. So varroa (perhaps not directly)
has been considered a leading candidate because the mite itself is damaging,
it transmits viruses to bees, and it elicits an all-out chemical assault
from beekeepers.

9. Nutritional fitness: Scientists have proposed nutritional fitness
of adult bees as a potential cause of CCD. This topic is being investigated
although little information exists currently to suggest nutrition is playing
a role. Malnutrition is a stress to bees, possibly weakening the bees'
immune system. This could have devastating effects on the bees' ability to
fight pests and diseases.

10. Undiscovered/new pests and diseases: Finally, undiscovered or
unidentified pests/pathogens are considered a possible cause of CCD. Many of
the known bee pests and diseases in the U.S. were introduced in the
last 30 years. We can expect this trend to continue as globalization
increases. This is already happening. For example, Nosema apis (a
protozoa that lives in the digestive tract of honey bees) has been present
in the U.S. for many years. In 2006, scientists discovered and
identified a new nosema species, Nosema ceranae, present in some
colonies displaying symptoms of CCD (it also has been found in bee samples
dating back to 1995). When this disease is present in bees in elevated
levels, the bees wander from colonies, never to return. Although many do not
consider *N. ceranae* to be the cause of CCD, it and other new
pathogens may play an important role in elevated bee deaths.

Many scientists believe that CCD is caused by a combination of the factors
above. To illustrate this point, some dead bees showing symptoms of CCD have
had high numbers of normally-benign pathogens in their bodies. The data
suggest a massive immune system crash in infected bees, an event that allows
normally-benign pathogens to kill the bees. In theory, any stress or
combination of stresses (chemicals, genetic bottlenecks, varroa, etc.) can
suppress a bee's immune system. Considering synergistic effects as a
potential cause of CCD makes the disorder increasingly harder to study, but
for now, this conclusion seems to be the safest assumption.

Mid-Atlantic Apiary Research and Extension Consortium:
http://www.ento.psu.edu/MAAREC/index.html
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Postby yesferatu » Mon Apr 16, 2007 10:56 pm

orz wrote:So long and thanks for all the nectar.


That was pathetic if you were trying to be funny. If you weren't being funny, then on behalf of the bees, "You're a dick."
But the bees will get the last laugh when when you cry in great lament for your precious cell phone when they power down to cold all the cell towers.
Humans are so fucking stupid and mesmerized with their shitty little technologies, however, that I am betting they will continue putting up more antennas and will refuse to give their pathetic cell phone addiction up for some stupid insects.
So on behalf of the bees, "So long to you too you selfish psychotic shit-bringers."
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Postby Sweejak » Mon Apr 23, 2007 5:32 pm

Linda Howe's segment is towards the end. After download move the slider to 1:07 for her segment.

http://www.unknowncountry.com/podcast/
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I wouldn't jump to the cell phone conclusion just yet

Postby bobdobbs » Mon Apr 23, 2007 10:29 pm

From Wiki -
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colony_collapse_disorder#Electromagnetic_radiation:

A 2006 University of Landau pilot study looking for non-thermal effects of RF on honey bees (Apis mellifera carnica) suggested that when bee hives have DECT cordless phone base stations embedded in them, the close-range EMF emissions may reduce the ability of bees to return to their hive; they also noticed a slight reduction in honeycomb weight in treated colonies. [37] In the course of their study, one half of their colonies broke down, including some of their controls which did not have DECT base stations embedded in them.

The team's 2004 exploratory study on non-thermal effects on learning did not find any change in behavior due to RF exposure from the DECT base station operating at 1.9 GHz.[38]

In April 2007, news of this study began appearing in major media; at least one article, in The Independent, stated that the subject of the study was "mobile phones",[6] a term usually used to refer to cellular phones. Cellular phones were in fact not covered in the study, and the researchers have since emphatically disavowed any connection between their research, cellphones, and CCD, specifically indicating the aforementioned article in The Independent as misinterpreting their results and creating "a horror story"[39].

Many possible biological effects of non-ionizing electromagnetic fields have been postulated but it is generally accepted that the most significant effects are thermal.[40]. The amount of RF radiation routinely encountered by the general public is too low to produce significant heating or increased body temperature.[41]

At present the link of either cordless or cellular phones to CCD is entirely speculative, and no research has been done to suggest or demonstrate such a link between the two phenomena. Regardless, such an explanation is not compatible with the historical and present patterns of CCD appearance, which have been intermittent and sudden.


I read a report from one of the leading national researchers on this topic where he refuted the cell phone theory, but I can't find it right now.

Basically the instances of this occurance are not necessarily in areas with high concentrations of cell phone towers, bees are disappearing in rural areas of the US and Russia, but not in some areas where hives can be close to a cell phone tower. Not only that but cell phone signals operate on different protocols in Europe as they do in the US, Japan and Russia where this is occurring.
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Postby ninakat » Mon Apr 23, 2007 11:18 pm

My ex suggested to me that perhaps the coming shift of the magnetic poles could be confusing the bees. So I did a quick search and found quite a few articles, the following being among the more scientific ones which might support this theory.

Fatal Attraction

Thursday July 4, 2002
The Guardian

The Earth could be about to turn upside down. The planet's magnetic field is showing signs of wanting to make a gigantic somersault, so that magnetic north heads towards Antarctica, and magnetic south goes north. Compasses will point the wrong way, and migrating birds, fish and turtles are going to be very confused.

Just when this will happen, how long it will take and what the consequences will be, is difficult to fathom. What is not in doubt, though, is that it will happen. About every half a million years or so, the Earth's magnetic field flips upside down.

(...)

Even more creatures such as bees and some bacteria use a sense of magnetism for finding their way around their local territories, for a north/south or up/down axis.
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Postby philipacentaur » Tue Apr 24, 2007 1:28 am

Bees only use electromagnetic fields as a backup system. Their ability to discern polarization of sunlight is the primary facility by which they navigate.
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Postby judasdisney » Tue Apr 24, 2007 5:49 am

Bees Vanish, and Scientists Race for Reasons
New York Times, April 24, 2007 Monday
By ALEXEI BARRIONUEVO
BELTSVILLE, Md., April 23 — What is happening to the bees?

More than a quarter of the country’s 2.4 million bee colonies have been lost — tens of billions of bees, according to an estimate from the Apiary Inspectors of America, a national group that tracks beekeeping. So far, no one can say what is causing the bees to become disoriented and fail to return to their hives.

As with any great mystery, a number of theories have been posed, and many seem to researchers to be more science fiction than science. People have blamed genetically modified crops, cellular phone towers and high-voltage transmission lines for the disappearances. Or was it a secret plot by Russia or Osama bin Laden to bring down American agriculture? Or, as some blogs have asserted, the rapture of the bees, in which God recalled them to heaven? Researchers have heard it all.

The volume of theories “is totally mind-boggling,” said Diana Cox-Foster, an entomologist at Pennsylvania State University. With Jeffrey S. Pettis, an entomologist from the United States Department of Agriculture, Dr. Cox-Foster is leading a team of researchers who are trying to find answers to explain “colony collapse disorder,” the name given for the disappearing bee syndrome.

“Clearly there is an urgency to solve this,” Dr. Cox-Foster said. “We are trying to move as quickly as we can.”

Dr. Cox-Foster and fellow scientists who are here at a two-day meeting to discuss early findings and future plans with government officials have been focusing on the most likely suspects: a virus, a fungus or a pesticide.

About 60 researchers from North America sifted the possibilities at the meeting today. Some expressed concern about the speed at which adult bees are disappearing from their hives; some colonies have collapsed in as little as two days. Others noted that countries in Europe, as well as Guatemala and parts of Brazil, are also struggling for answers.

“There are losses around the world that may or not be linked,” Dr. Pettis said.

The investigation is now entering a critical phase. The researchers have collected samples in several states and have begun doing bee autopsies and genetic analysis.

So far, known enemies of the bee world, like the varroa mite, on their own at least, do not appear to be responsible for the unusually high losses.

Genetic testing at Columbia University has revealed the presence of multiple micro-organisms in bees from hives or colonies that are in decline, suggesting that something is weakening their immune system. The researchers have found some fungi in the affected bees that are found in humans whose immune systems have been suppressed by the Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome or cancer.

“That is extremely unusual,” Dr. Cox-Foster said.

Meanwhile, samples were sent to an Agriculture Department laboratory in North Carolina this month to screen for 117 chemicals. Particular suspicion falls on a pesticide that France banned out of concern that it may have been decimating bee colonies. Concern has also mounted among public officials.

“There are so many of our crops that require pollinators,” said Representative Dennis Cardoza, a California Democrat whose district includes that state’s central agricultural valley, and who presided last month at a Congressional hearing on the bee issue. “We need an urgent call to arms to try to ascertain what is really going on here with the bees, and bring as much science as we possibly can to bear on the problem.”

So far, colony collapse disorder has been found in 27 states, according to Bee Alert Technology Inc., a company monitoring the problem. A recent survey of 13 states by the Apiary Inspectors of America showed that 26 percent of beekeepers had lost half of their bee colonies between September and March.

Honeybees are arguably the insects that are most important to the human food chain. They are the principal pollinators of hundreds of fruits, vegetables, flowers and nuts. The number of bee colonies has been declining since the 1940s, even as the crops that rely on them, such as California almonds, have grown. In October, at about the time that beekeepers were experiencing huge bee losses, a study by the National Academy of Sciences questioned whether American agriculture was relying too heavily on one type of pollinator, the honeybee.

Bee colonies have been under stress in recent years as more beekeepers have resorted to crisscrossing the country with 18-wheel trucks full of bees in search of pollination work. These bees may suffer from a diet that includes artificial supplements, concoctions akin to energy drinks and power bars. In several states, suburban sprawl has limited the bees’ natural forage areas.

So far, the researchers have discounted the possibility that poor diet alone could be responsible for the widespread losses. They have also set aside for now the possibility that the cause could be bees feeding from a commonly used genetically modified crop, Bt corn, because the symptoms typically associated with toxins, such as blood poisoning, are not showing up in the affected bees. But researchers emphasized today that feeding supplements produced from genetically modified crops, such as high-fructose corn syrup, need to be studied.

The scientists say that definitive answers for the colony collapses could be months away. But recent advances in biology and genetic sequencing are speeding the search.

Computers can decipher information from DNA and match pieces of genetic code with particular organisms. Luckily, a project to sequence some 11,000 genes of the honeybee was completed late last year at Baylor University, giving scientists a huge head start on identifying any unknown pathogens in the bee tissue.

“Otherwise, we would be looking for the needle in the haystack,” Dr. Cox-Foster said.

Large bee losses are not unheard of. They have been reported at several points in the past century. But researchers think they are dealing with something new — or at least with something previously unidentified.

“There could be a number of factors that are weakening the bees or speeding up things that shorten their lives,” said Dr. W. Steve Sheppard, a professor of entomology at Washington State University. “The answer may already be with us.”

Scientists first learned of the bee disappearances in November, when David Hackenberg, a Pennsylvania beekeeper, told Dr. Cox-Foster that more than 50 percent of his bee colonies had collapsed in Florida, where he had taken them for the winter.

Dr. Cox-Foster, a 20-year veteran of studying bees, soon teamed with Dennis vanEngelsdorp, the Pennsylvania apiary inspector, to look into the losses.

In December, she approached W. Ian Lipkin, director of the Greene Infectious Disease Laboratory at Columbia University, about doing genetic sequencing of tissue from bees in the colonies that experienced losses. The laboratory uses a recently developed technique for reading and amplifying short sequences of DNA that has revolutionized the science. Dr. Lipkin, who typically works on human diseases, agreed to do the analysis, despite not knowing who would ultimately pay for it. His laboratory is known for its work in finding the West Nile disease in the United States.

Dr. Cox-Foster ultimately sent samples of bee tissue to researchers at Columbia, to the Agriculture Department laboratory in Maryland, and to Gene Robinson, an entomologist at the University of Illinois. Fortuitously, she had frozen bee samples from healthy colonies dating to 2004 to use for comparison.

After receiving the first bee samples from Dr. Cox-Foster on March 6, Dr. Lipkin’s team amplified the genetic material and started sequencing to separate virus, fungus and parasite DNA from bee DNA.

“This is like C.S.I. for agriculture,” Dr. Lipkin said. “It is painstaking, gumshoe detective work.”

Dr. Lipkin sent his first set of results to Dr. Cox-Foster, showing that several unknown micro-organisms were present in the bees from collapsing colonies. Meanwhile, Mr. vanEngelsdorp and researchers at the Agriculture Department lab here began an autopsy of bees from collapsing colonies in California, Florida, Georgia and Pennsylvania to search for any known bee pathogens.

At the University of Illinois, using knowledge gained from the sequencing of the bee genome, Dr. Robinson’s team will try to find which genes in the collapsing colonies are particularly active, perhaps indicating stress from exposure to a toxin or pathogen.

The national research team also quietly began a parallel study in January, financed in part by the National Honey Board, to further determine if something pathogenic could be causing colonies to collapse.

Mr. Hackenberg, the beekeeper, agreed to take his empty bee boxes and other equipment to Food Technology Service, a company in Mulberry, Fla., that uses gamma rays to kill bacteria on medical equipment and some fruits. In early results, the irradiated bee boxes seem to have shown a return to health for colonies repopulated with Australian bees.

“This supports the idea that there is a pathogen there,” Dr. Cox-Foster said. “It would be hard to explain the irradiation getting rid of a chemical.”

Still, some environmental substances remain suspicious.

Chris Mullin, a Pennsylvania State University professor and insect toxicologist, recently sent a set of samples to a federal laboratory in Raleigh, N.C., that will screen for 117 chemicals. Of greatest interest are the “systemic” chemicals that are able to pass through a plant’s circulatory system and move to the new leaves or the flowers, where they would come in contact with bees.

One such group of compounds is called neonicotinoids, commonly used pesticides that are used to treat corn and other seeds against pests. One of the neonicotinoids, imidacloprid, is commonly used in Europe and the United States to treat seeds, to protect residential foundations against termites and to help keep golf courses and home lawns green.

In the late 1990s, French beekeepers reported large losses of their bees and complained about the use of imidacloprid, sold under the brand name Gaucho. The chemical, while not killing the bees outright, was causing them to be disoriented and stay away from their hives, leading them to die of exposure to the cold, French researchers later found. The beekeepers labeled the syndrome “mad bee disease.”

The French government banned the pesticide in 1999 for use on sunflowers, and later for corn, despite protests by the German chemical giant Bayer, which has said its internal research showed the pesticide was not toxic to bees. Subsequent studies by independent French researchers have disagreed with Bayer. Alison Chalmers, an eco-toxicologist for Bayer CropScience, said at the meeting today that bee colonies had not recovered in France as beekeepers had expected. “These chemicals are not being used anymore,” she said of imidacloprid, “so they certainly were not the only cause.”

Among the pesticides being tested in the American bee investigation, the neonicotinoids group “is the number-one suspect,” Dr. Mullin said. He hoped results of the toxicology screening will be ready within a month.
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'Killer bees' seem resistant to disorder

Postby marmot » Tue Apr 24, 2007 10:08 am

an interesting question was asked in the comments to this article: What were the native pollinators in the Americas before the Europeans brought bees?


'Killer bees' seem resistant to disorder
<link>

By Dan Sorenson
arizona daily star
Tucson, Arizona | Published: 03.30.2007

Although experts are stumped about what's causing the colony-collapse disorder die-off in U.S. commercial beehives, there is some speculation that Arizona's famed Africanized — or "killer bee" — wild-bee population is somehow immune.

Dee Lusby's bees are doing fine. Actually, they're doing better than that, says the owner of Lusby Apiaries & Arizona Rangeland Honey of Arivaca.
Lusby has 900 hives of "free range" organic bees spread out over ranches from Benson to Sasabe.

"I've only lost one or two, maybe three (hives) out of every 30 or 40 hives," said Lusby.

She's not surprised by her good fortune or the modern commercial beekeepers' hive-mortality rates.

Lusby has a hunch the disorder is the result of a number of factors, including the use of pesticides, bee-growth formulas, artificial food supplements, breeding for size, inbreeding — all or some of which may make them susceptible to mites, viruses and fungi — and maybe even some strange side effects from feeding on genetically modified crops.
Breeding for size is a major factor, Lusby believes. She says the commercial honeybees are now too large to feed on some of the very plants that historically may have given them immunity to diseases and parasites. They're simply too big to get into those plant's flowers, she says.

And the man who takes the bees out of Bisbee, Reed "The Killer Bee Guy" Booth, says he's not surprised Africanized bees are thriving.

Booth started out with beekeeping to make retail honey and honey mustard, and branched out to do bee removals after the Africanized bees invaded Arizona in the early 1990s. He says he gets one to five eradication calls a day from around Cochise County during warm weather.
"It's going to be a banner year for bees," he says.

"The Africanized bees are somewhat more resistant" than the European honeybees, he says of the aggressive, slightly smaller wild bees that produce bumper crops of honey and bad press. "But they're somewhat resistant to anything, probably including nuclear war."

Booth says he switched from European bees to wild Africanized bees not long after they spread through Arizona.

"I used to have two sets of hives," says Booth. "But I got tired of going down and either finding my European bees Africanized or dead. I gave up, so, Killer Bee Honey."

But Gloria DeGrandi-Hoffman, research leader of the USDA's Carl Hayden Bee Research Center in Tucson, is not so quick to crown the wildly enthusiastic Africanized honeybees as superior.

"We don't push the African populations like we do Europeans," DeGrandi-Hoffman said of the carefully genetically controlled honeybees used by commercial beekeepers for field work.

"We're putting them on trucks and taking them halfway across the country. We're stressing them in almost a feedlot situation, feeding them protein supplements. We're stressing them pretty good. And that doesn't happen with Africans."
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