The Agricultural Research Service (ARS) is organizing a national bee genebank as part of the agency’s response to ongoing problems facing the country’s beekeepers. Average losses of managed honey bee colonies have increased to more than 30 percent per year due to pathogens, pests, parasites, and other pressures including deficient nutrition and sublethal impacts of pesticides. These stresses have threatened the continued business sustainability of commercial beekeepers.
Early in January, Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA), together with the Environmental Protection Agency in the U.S., released research showing no potential risk to bees as a result of on-label use of these seed treatments. Further, PMRA scientists demonstrated that the treatments generated significant advantages for farmers. The right response to this new evidence would be for the Government of Ontario to reverse course and repeal the regulatory restrictions.
Editor’s Note: Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency determined that neonicotinoid seed treatments pose ““No potential risk to bees. . . .” It is varroa destructor, not neonics, that is threatening honeybee health, see here.
Summary: The parasitic mite Varroa destructor (varroa) is generally agreed to be the greatest threat facing honey bees worldwide. Despite much research, losses continue due to lack of effective control measures, because the mite has become resistant to several commonly used chemicals. The natural product oxalic acid has been widely used in mainland Europe but surprisingly little previous research has directly compared different methods of application, their efficacies, and their adverse effects on bees.
The point of my previous post was that collapse by Varroa is often mistaken for absconding. ButVarroa mites—or more accurately, the diseases they carry—are responsible for a wide array of maladies that are often mistaken for something else. When we don’t see physical evidence of mites—that is, when they are not parading across the bottom board with flags and banners—we tend to blame the something else, whether that something else be absconding, queen failure, starvation, cold, moisture, Nosema, or yellowjackets.
This past fall, I received many reports and questions about absconding bees, perhaps fifty in all. Every year I get these and I must admit that I’ve always taken the beekeepers’ word for it when they said their bees absconded.
But this year I realized the sheer number of reports was off-kilter somehow. Yes, honey bees abscond on occasion, but it is rare, and it is usually the result of untenable conditions in the hive.