Archives – January, 2014
Jeff Nesbit was the director of public affairs for two prominent federal science agencies. This article was adapted from one that first appeared in U.S. News & World Report. Nesbit contributed the article to LiveScience’s Expert Voices: Op-Ed & Insights.
Another potentially significant answer in the long-running mystery behind colony collapse disorder (CCD) may have just emerged: Researchers have found a virus that typically infects plants has been systemically infecting honeybees in the United States and China.
January 31, 2014
From: Associated Press
Beth Garbitelli, Associated Press
ESSEX JUNCTION, Vt. (AP) — Vermont beekeepers face mite infestations, extreme temperature swings and the possibility of colony collapse. Last fall, a new threat emerged: zombie bees.
Beekeeper Anthony Cantrell of Burlington discovered zombie bees in his hive in October, the first time they’d been found in the eastern United States.
John Hafernik, a professor from San Francisco State University, discovered the first zombie bees in 2008. A fly called Apocephalus borealis attaches itself to the bee and injects its eggs, which grow inside the bee, Hafernik said. Scientists believe it causes neurological damage resulting in erratic, jerky movement and night activity, “like a zombie,” Hafernik said by phone Tuesday.
January 28, 2014
From: The StarPhoenix
By Pierre Petelle, The Starphoenix
Re: U of S research serves as check (SP, Jan. 11). The plant science industry cares about the environment and its inhabitants, which is why it is committed to the responsible use of its products, including neonicotinoids.
Although seed treatments are a valuable part of modern agriculture, minimizing exposure of non-target organisms is a primary focus. Farmers have embraced our industry’s best management practices to safely plant treated seed, which reduce the potential for non-targeted organisms to be exposed.
January 27, 2014
As growers and agronomists look ahead to growing oilseed rape without crucial insecticide seed treatments, they are told that pest control will be far from easy. Adam Clarke reports
Multiple pyrethroid sprays to control flea beetles and reliance on just one product for aphid control will be the short-term solution for oilseed rape growers after the neonicotinoid seed treatment ban.
That was the message from entomologist and crop protection expert Alan Dewar, who described the ban as “a scandal” and not based on scientific fact.
January 24, 2014
From: University Herald
By Scott Bickard, UniversityHerald Reporter
Could scientists one day be tasked to create robotic bees or devise some other solution to pollinate plants (a $14 billion industry)? The situation isn’t that desperate yet, but a virus born from pollen, spread to plants, and now found in bees is one big factor decimating honey bee colonies, the Los Angeles Times reported.
January 22, 2014
Editor’s Note: The article “Systemic Spread and Propagation of a Plant-Pathogenic Virus in European Honeybees Apis mellifera,” by Ji Lian Li, R. Scott Cornman, Jay D. Evans, Jeffery S. Pettis, Yan Zhao, Charles Murphy, Wen Jun Peng, Jie Wu, Humberto F. Boncristiani Jr., Liang Zhou, John Hammond abd Yan Ping Chen is attached here.
The study provides further evidence that a rush to judgement on the cause of bee health decline endangers bees by ignoring crucial ongoing research.
From: Los Angeles Times
By Geoffrey Mohan
January 21, 2014
Editor’s Note: The study “Impact of chronic exposure to a pyrethroid pesticide on bumblebees and interactions with a trypanosome,” by Gemma L. Baron, Nigel E. Raine and Mark J. F. Brown is available here. The authors note: “The vast majority of recent available data on the sublethal impacts of pesticides on bumblebees focuses on neonicotinoids, whilst other pesticide classes remain relatively understudied.”
To what extent has pyrethroid exposure been controlled for in studies of neonics?
From: University Herald
Worker Bees’ Size Shrinking Due to Pesticide Use, Study
By Stephen Adkins, UniversityHerald Reporter
January 20, 2014
Editor’s Note: The following article highlights the essential role of ongoing research in protecting pollinator health.
From: Smithsonian Magazine
David Roubik, who pioneered the field of tropical bee studies, says what will save them is a better understanding of their natural state
In a quiet neighborhood on the outskirts of Panama City, David Roubik, one of the world’s top bee experts, led me into a cramped workshop at the back of his one-story, red-roofed house, pried open a wooden chest filled with bees, and told me to stick my hand in.
January 17, 2014
From: Australian Broadcasting Corporation
By Ellen Coulter
Scientists in Tasmania are fitting thousands of honey bees with tiny sensors as part of a project aimed at understanding the insect’s behaviour and population decline.
CSIRO is working with the University of Tasmania, beekeepers and fruit growers to trial the monitoring technology, in an attempt to improve honey bee pollination and productivity.
They are fitting tiny sensors to the insects, a process which sometimes involves shaving them first.
“This has been done before,” CSIRO science leader Paulo de Souza said.
January 15, 2014
Editor’s Note: Europe needs neonicotinoids because bees fare worse in countries that ban the advanced pesticides. As discussed here, bee populations have sharply declined in France following a neonicotinoid ban and while bees are thriving in Ontario which allows neonics. Thus, it’s not surprising that beekeepers in the UK fear a ban on neonicotinoids.
Europe short of bees to pollinate crops, warns report from Reading university
Europe needs an extra seven billion bees to pollinate its crops, with Britain in the poor position of having less than a quarter of the honeybees it requires. The demand for insect pollination across Europe is outpacing the growth of honeybee colonies as farmers grow more oil-bearing crops like oilseed rape and sunflowers, and also fruit.
January 13, 2014