Bee die-off perplexes scientists

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Postby chiggerbit » Mon Feb 12, 2007 4:05 pm

Some interesting bee history here:

http://www.fellsanddales.org.uk/trails/ ... _honey.php

I love the old architecture built to hold bees, bee walls, bee boles, usually built to protect skeps(?). I'll have to see if I can find any pics of the ones in France.
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Postby wintler2 » Mon Feb 12, 2007 7:03 pm

Global warming has already had measured effects on seasonal temperatures, which in turn determine bud-break, flowering, fruiting etc of many plant and insect species. How is the bee forage (plants actually flowering) in the regions involved, i could imagine eg. early warming followed by frost wiping out flowerbuds, but i'm not even in the right hemisphere to know.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/3815833.stm
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/20 ... 191544.htm
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varroa and tracheal mites and viruses

Postby marmot » Mon Feb 12, 2007 7:30 pm

ninakat wrote:For this to be happening all across the country seems to indicate something has changed or been introduced suddenly, or within a very short period of time. It's not like the bees have been gradually dying off each year for awhile now. The article seems to indicate this is sudden, and it doesn't seem to be related to mites (at least, not as of this report, and again would that happen over such a huge area all at the same time?).


Not to say the writer of this article is uninformed or being sensational, but this has been a huge problem for beekeepers for years. My late grandfather was once the president of the Pennsylvania Beekeepers Association; he was an educator and innovator too. He was very up on the mite and virus problem. He had three large apriaries in Southwestern PA. I remember way back in the early nineties hearing reports of local and U.S. beekeepers loosing all their hives to the varroa and tracheal mites and related viruses. This has been a perennial and widespread problem for twenty years now. ninakat, I remember my Grandfather treating his hives with something to prevent such an infestation. There are preventative measures you can take to help guard against the mites and related viruses.
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fruit blossom honey

Postby marmot » Mon Feb 12, 2007 7:35 pm

ninakat wrote:just two days ago I decided to put a bee hive in my back yard to help pollinate my small grove of fruit trees...


ninakat, IMHO--fruit blossom honey is the best tasting of honeys!!
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Re: varroa and tracheal mites and viruses

Postby ninakat » Mon Feb 12, 2007 8:37 pm

marmot wrote:This has been a perennial and widespread problem for twenty years now.


Interesting. Thanks for the information -- I really am a novice and still amazed at the coincidence of deciding to get a bee hive just a couple of days before that news report. Seems strange how the report seems to infer that this is a sudden problem or mystery.

Great to know that honey from fruit blossoms is the best. Something to look forward to, if I'm successful at this and can keep the bees happy and healthy.
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Postby ninakat » Mon Feb 12, 2007 8:56 pm

chiggerbit, thanks for the links to Dadant.com -- looks like they have a lot of great products and information. I've got it bookmarked.

That's a very touching story about your experiences growing up with bees. Thanks for sharing. I grew up around nature too and have always had a fascination with the natural world -- something that a lot of people miss, growing up in big cities.

I know what you mean about feeling sorry for the bee you just stepped on, even though you just got stung. Right now I've got an ant problem in my kitchen and keep having to kill them as I see them crawling around. Each and every time, I feel bad about it, somewhat guilty even.... I mean, aren't we humans just "ants" as well, just on another level?
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Postby chiggerbit » Mon Feb 12, 2007 9:09 pm

Don't know which fruits you are wanting pollinated, ninakat, but apples do better if there aren't too many on the tree.

Another story. I got really upset one year after moving to an old house that had an old apple tree when I saw some cedar waxwings eating the blossoms while standing in a row, the first "picking" the blossom, then handing it to the next one on the branch, the next one handing it to the next one, and so on. I thought I wouldn't have any apples. Too wrong. If anything, I had too many, and the apples were all small. I find that apples grow bigger if there are fewer of them on the tree.

Still, you make me think about getting a bee hive. I've ordered 35 Cynthiana grape vines, and the bees would be a help when the vines are old enough to bear. Actually, after the weird weather in California, as well as global warming, I'm thinking of planting LOTS of perennial fruits. I have two Montmorency(?) cherry trees that are now old enough to do really well, but the birds eat more than I do, so I thought I might as well plant enough for all of us.
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Postby ninakat » Tue Feb 13, 2007 2:24 pm

chiggerbit wrote:Don't know which fruits you are wanting pollinated, ninakat, but apples do better if there aren't too many on the tree.


Thanks for yet more useful info chiggerbit. My mini-orchard in my backyard just got started last year -- about 6 semi-dwarf apple trees, a few Asian pear trees, and some other interesting fruit trees (Che fruit -- ever heard of it?). I'm in NC so we have winters to contend with -- nothing like up north, but still below freezing temps which means only hardy varieties can be planted. Still, you'd be amazed about what's available -- I have two hardy orange trees (much smaller oranges than those grown in Calif. or Florida, but surprising that these even exist). Check out Edible Landscaping-- a great little mail-order company (although it seems California doesn't allow quite a few agricultural products to be shipped there).

Back to bees. Since ordering my hive and 3 pounds of bees which will arrive in early May (hopefully), I've come across some other options for pollination, which you might be interested in, and these are cheaper/easier solutions, but you don't get the honey: (1) orchard mason bees -- I've seen several homes for sale in catalogs, but just did a search and found a site just for these -- http://www.masonbeehomes.com/; (2) bumble bees from Planet Natural -- this is an inexpensive alternative, but only temporary (the hive's life span is only 4-5 weeks).

I'm thinking about getting a couple of those orchard mason bee homes, sort of as a back-up plan in case my honey bees don't make it. Good luck with your grape vines -- I'm trying a few different varieties of those too.

On edit: Mason bee homes are incredibly easy to make, so no need in buying them. Info here.
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Postby MASONIC PLOT » Tue Feb 13, 2007 3:19 pm

Woke up 3 days ago to a HUGE swarm of bees on the air conditioning unit on top the roof. The biggest swarm I have ever seen, covered an entire 5 foot by 5 foot square AC unit. They didnt budge for 3 days. Rain last night and they are gone. Never seen anything like it.
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Postby ninakat » Tue Feb 13, 2007 3:45 pm

Masonic, that seems bizarre -- isn't it too early for swarms? Probably depends on where you live.... or, maybe the "dead" bees that the news report talked about are just on the run.... to your roof, and beyond! Well, one can hope they aren't dead anyway....
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Postby MASONIC PLOT » Tue Feb 13, 2007 4:16 pm

http://cryptogon.com/?p=375


Beekeepers in 22 states have reported losses of up to 80 percent of their colonies in recent weeks
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Postby MASONIC PLOT » Tue Feb 13, 2007 4:45 pm

I've been reading a lot the past few years now, perhaps more, about problems with honeybees. A mold, I believe, or some parasite, has been killing them off in large numbers.

I don't know if these die-offs are related. But it seems odd that these stories aren't mentioning the existing, prior problems with the bees.

For people who don't know, honeybees are actually very important for agriculture. Honey bee farmers are paid to bring their hives to field for pollination purposes, and for the past few years there have been big problems in finding enough bees.

Something strange about these past stories and now this one.
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bees dying

Postby marmot » Tue Feb 13, 2007 5:00 pm

Here's a 2004 French article gleaned from MP's above link

"If bees were to disappear, man would only have a few years to live." ---Albert Einstein

Insecticide Ban as Billions of Bees Die
BENOIT HOPQUIN / Le Monde (France) 4mar04

On February 23, after some hesitation, the French agriculture minister, Hervé Gaymard, ruled on the highly controversial issue of fipronil, an active ingredient used in insecticides, which beekeepers in southwest France claim has been responsible for deaths of billions of bees. He suspended the future sale and use of several fipronil-based products, including Regent, a seed coating currently produced by BASF, one of the world's largest chemicals manufacturers. Gaymard added, however, that this spring farmers will be allowed to sow fipronil-coated seeds already in their possession. Similarly, wholesalers will be permitted to dispose of all their existing stocks.

The minister's move followed an earlier decision by an investigating magistrate in St-Gaudens, southwest France, to prosecute BASF and Bayer [Chipco TopChoice and Chipco Choice and a fire ant bait] (which manufactured fipronil-based products from June 2002 to March 2003) in connection with a mysteriously high death rate among bees. He charged the firms with "the sale of a toxic product harmful to the health of human beings and animals", "complicity in the destruction of livestock" and "the marketing of a product without authorisation".

The magistrate's vigorous action was the latest episode in the long fight that beekeepers have been waging against pesticides. From 1994 on, they noted that swarms of bees were dying in large numbers and began to suspect that insecticides were the cause.

Fipronil in the seed coating is gradually released during the plant's growth and protects it against insect pests. In theory the extremely active molecule disappears before the plant flowers. Several studies quoted by beekeepers show, however, that the molecule is still present in the pollen of flowers (particularly those of the sunflower) when it is gathered by bees.

They maintain that fipronil is ingested by the bees and either kills them or disrupts the organisation of the hives. However, the manufacturers cite other studies that show their products to be harmless.

The controversy intensified recently when several studies suggested that fipronil was also a threat to human health. Researchers detected traces of the pesticide in silage consumed by cattle. It accumulated in the animals' fat and milk, they said, thus contaminating the food chain.

Gérard Arnold, a scientist with the National Scientific Research Centre (CNRS), issued a report last December that noted the presence of fipronil in the air. His report was passed on to Guary by Jean-François Narbonne, a professor at Bordeaux University and an expert on food safety.

Narbonne argued that until 2003 the product had benefited from an official classification that did not reflect its true level of toxicity. He said that the degree of its exposure in food often exceeded the admitted daily dose, particularly in the case of children. "The health minister should have been alerted," he said.

BASF rejects such claims. The food department of the agriculture ministry is equally categorical: "There's no threat to human health either through direct exposure or through the consumption of animal or vegetable products," says Thierry Klinger, its director.

When Guary searched the offices of BASF, Bayer and the food department, he found evidence that raised questions about the authorisation procedures used in the case of Regent. It would seem that since coming on to the market in 1996 the product has received a series of renewed temporary sales authorisations, rather than a marketing authorisation that requires a more rigorous procedure.

Meanwhile a knight in shining armour has appeared in the person of Viscount Philippe de Villiers, the rightwing president of the departmental council of Vendée, western France. In his recently published book, Quand Les Abeilles Meurent . . . (When Bees Die . . .), he describes how he was alerted to the problem of fipronil by a beekeeper whose hives had been devastated. As his shoes scrunched across a carpet of dead bees, De Villiers became increasingly angry with "the monstrous mating of the agrochemicals industry and the state".

The book, whose title quotes Albert Einstein's remark that "if bees were to disappear, man would only have a few years to live", charts the beekeepers' struggle and castigates the "servile" behaviour of civil servants, the use of disinformation, the agriculture ministry and Europe.

Not surprisingly, BASF and Bayer have issued libel proceedings against De Villiers. February 20 and 25

source:
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Postby wintler2 » Tue Feb 13, 2007 6:37 pm

holy f%&ing moly, thanks marmot & MP for the fipronil story. US beekeepers must have some kind of representative organisation, hopefully they're telling their members to ask farmers if they or their neighbours use fipronil. Mapping use vs. swarmloss might just nail BASF & Bayer to the floor. Litigants would include beekeepers and farmers, luckily both those companies are loaded - watch for when they start offshoring assets like James Hardie Co. did (to avoid mesothelioma payouts) then you know yr on a winner.
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Postby MASONIC PLOT » Tue Feb 13, 2007 7:24 pm

Well I am going to go ahead and say it even though I dont quite have the evidence yet but I believe they are dying from exposure to a bioagent that is naturally produced in GM plants to kill insects. The bees are coming in contact with the GM plants and its causing their population a lot of problems.

I have been studying GM foods for many years now, they are bad news as most of you know, and I have reason to believe this bee problem is largely due to bacillus thurengiensis, which is naturally produced in GM plants. The plants have been genetically engineered to produce this stuff to kill insects. This is the future we have to look forward to, it is quite ugly and I dont really like to talk about it too much because it is all very alarming.

The problem is nobody is considering the bees are eating massive amounts of the pollen -we just ASSOCIATE THEM WITH PLANT CROSS POLLINATION, but in fact they actually consume mass amounts of pollen and as a result of GM crops, they are also comsuming, along with it, mass amounts of bacillus thurengiensis, and we are now seeing the possible results of this.


To sum it up:

The bees are eating massive doses of GM insecticide we have genetically altered the plants to produce because the insecticide is specifically concentrated in the reproductive organs /components of the plants (pollen).

The importance of bees and the possible effects of this cannot be understated.

They are playing god and they are going to kill us all.
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