Archives – January, 2014

As Plant Virus Jumps to Bees, Does it Cause Colony Collapse?

From: LiveScience

Jeff Nesbit

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.

Leave a Comment January 31, 2014

‘Zombie’ bees discovered in Vermont

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.

Leave a Comment January 28, 2014

Consider context

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.

Leave a Comment January 27, 2014

Neonicotinoids ban makes pest control harder for OSR

From: FarmersWeekly

Adam Clarke

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.

Leave a Comment January 24, 2014

Pollen-Borne Virus Resembling HIV Affecting Already Hurting Honey Bee Populations And The $14 Million Industry They Represent

From: University Herald

By , 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.

Leave a Comment January 22, 2014

New virus linked to bee colony collapse disorder

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

Leave a Comment January 21, 2014

Worker Bees’ Size Shrinking Due to Neonic Alternative, Study

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 , UniversityHerald Reporter

Leave a Comment January 20, 2014

Smithsonian’s Bee Man Delivers Up Some Advice for Dealing with Colony Collapse Disorder

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.

Leave a Comment January 17, 2014

CSIRO, University of Tasmania scientists fit tiny sensors onto honey bees to study behaviour

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.

Leave a Comment January 15, 2014

Why Europe Needs Neonicotinoids

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.

From: MercoPress

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.

Leave a Comment January 13, 2014

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