Pollinator Puzzle Continues to Grow

From: AgWeb

By Chris Bennett | Farm Journal, Technology and Issues Editor

Honeybee demise defies simple explanations

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In 15 years, agriculture will have 1 billion more people on the planet to feed. When advocacy groups charge after a single class of chemicals—neonicotinoids—and claim elimination will solve pollinator collapse, they ignore the fact 134 different chemicals have been identified in a single honeybee colony. The European Union restricted neonicotinoid use for two years beginning in December 2013, and some environmental organizations want the U.S. to follow suit.
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“Without neonicotinoids, we’d see corn prices about 25¢ per bushel higher,” he adds. “Also, a lot of land would move from non-crop use into crop production. Higher prices and lower yields equates to more land brought into production. It would be a gain of 350,000 to 400,000 acres—a big chunk of it coming from CRP.”

Leave a Comment January 25, 2015

EPA Broadens Pesticide Efficacy Reviews, Despite Industry Criticism

From: Inside EPA’s Risk Policy Report

EPA is broadening its consideration of whether neonicotinoid-treated seeds improve crop yields to include an analysis of whether the pesticide products improve corn crop yields, though industry officials are arguing that pesticide product efficacy reviews are beyond the scope of the agency’s usual practice and are unnecessary.

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Now EPA appears to be moving forward with a second efficacy study, announcing in a Dec. 12 meeting with environmentalists that the agency intends to review whether neonicotinoid-treated seeds improve yields in corn production, according to two sources who attended the meeting.

Leave a Comment January 23, 2015

Doubts raised over neonic ban as bee scientists clash

From: Farmers Weekly

Concerns are mounting over the scientific backing behind a ban on neonicotinoid seed treatments as two researchers at the same university row over possibly flawed experiments.

The two scientists at the University of Sussex disagree on whether neonicotinoids were to blame for a decline in bee populations, which was the main factor behind the ban on the pesticide.

Bee researcher Norman Carreck is accusing his colleague Dave Goulson of feeding bumblebees unrealistic high levels of the neonicotinoid imidacloprid in the laboratory to show an adverse effect on bees.

Leave a Comment January 20, 2015

Canadian Senator Percy Mockler on Bees

From: Ottawa Citizen

Q and A: Sen. Percy Mockler on bees and the meaning of politics (with video)

Jordan Press

Sen. Percy Mockler chairs a Senate committee that has spent more than a year studying bees. But there’s more to the New Brunswick Conservative’s vision than studying nature.

Q: Why study bee health and bee populations?

A: I had some farmers, bee producers, coming to me and saying, “Percy, we have a problem.” It’s a $2-billion industry in Canada. Every third bite (of food) in your mouth, it comes from bee pollination. That’s worldwide and there is a problem: colony collapse disorder.

1 Comment January 19, 2015

Wild pollinators at risk from diseased commercial species of bee

From: Phys.org

A new study from the University of Exeter has found that viruses carried by commercial bees can jump to wild pollinator populations with potentially devastating effects. The researchers are calling for new measures to be introduced that will prevent the introduction of diseased pollinators into natural environments.

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The main culprit of disease-related losses from commercial honeybee colonies is the Varroa mite. This parasite helps spread viral diseases and may increase their virulence. One of these viruses – the Deformed Wing Virus – has recently been identified as an emerging disease in pollinators and its prevalence in commercial honeybees has been linked to its existence in wild bumblebees.

Read Complete Article

Leave a Comment January 16, 2015

Mites bedevil Hoosier beekeepers

From: AgriNews

Erica Quinlan, Field Editor

INDIANAPOLIS — Varroa mites are a pest troubling many Hoosier beekeepers.

Honeybees are struggling to survive in many hives, and the problem has been growing for decades.

“We did not really see Colony Collapse Disorder in Indiana, but it seems like the symptoms involved in the disorder (rapid dwindling of the number of worker bees, leading to colony loss) are similar to what we often see in the fall — when the numbers of parasitic varroa mites are high and the virus levels in the bees increase,” said Greg Hunt, honeybee specialist at Purdue University.

Leave a Comment January 14, 2015

GFO rallies against new seed rules

From: NiagaraThisWeek

Grimsby Lincoln News

Regulating neonicotinoids is not the solution to decreasing bee populations in Ontario, and the Grain Farmers of Ontario is calling on the provincial government to find a real solution.

After meeting with government officials in December to discuss the new legislation that will regulate neonicotinoid seed treatment, GFO sent out a press release, calling on the Province and Premier Kathleen Wynne to “come back to the table and collaborate on a real solution to protect pollinators and the environment.”

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Leave a Comment January 12, 2015

EU Banned Pesticides to Help Bees. Now Other Bugs Are Invading

Editor’s Note: The moratoriums on neonicotinoids won’t help bees because neonicotinoids are not harming bees, see here.

From: Forbes

By Whitney McFerron

The European Union has a bug problem.

After regulators in late 2013 banned pesticides called neonicotinoids, linked in some studies to the unintended deaths of bees, farmers across the continent applied older chemicals to which many pests had developed a resistance, allowing them to survive. Now, infestations may lead to a 15 percent drop in this year’s European harvest of rapeseed, the region’s primary source of vegetable oil used to make food ingredients and biodiesel, according to researcher Oil World.

Leave a Comment January 9, 2015

Washington State Dept of Agriculture Bee Report Highlights Varroa

The Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) convened a Honey Bee Work Group. The Group’s report, A REPORT TO THE LEGISLATURE FROM THE HONEY BEE WORK GROUP, attached here, highlights the threat posed by the varroa parasite. The report explains,

The issues are connected: forage provides nutrition needed to resist disease; parasites such as the Varroa mite spread viruses and other pathogens; and a limited gene pool limits the honey bees’ ability to resist/overcome disease and environmental stressors such as pesticides. A limited gene pool also reduces bee breeders’ options as they attempt to improve bee stocks. Control of Varroa mites and genetic diversity are largely issues for beekeepers and researchers to address. Forage and pesticide issues, however, revolve around land ownership, land use, and land management; and addressing them requires the cooperation of many entities.

Leave a Comment January 7, 2015

The dose makes the poison: have “field realistic” rates of exposure of bees to neonicotinoid insecticides been overestimated in laboratory studies?

Editor’s Note: The complete International Bee Research Association study is attached here.

From: Journal of Apicultural Research 53(5): 607-614 (2014) © IBRA

Norman L Carreck and Francis L W Ratnieks

 Summary

Recent laboratory based studies have demonstrated adverse sub-lethal effects of neonicotinoid insecticides on honey bees and bumble bees, and these studies have been influential in leading to a European Union moratorium on the use of three neonicotinoids, clothianidin, imidacloprid, and thiamethoxam on “bee attractive” crops. Yet so far, these same effects have not been observed in field studies. Here we review the three key dosage factors (concentration, duration and choice) relevant to field conditions, and conclude that these have probably been over estimated in many laboratory based studies.

Leave a Comment January 5, 2015

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