Archives – February, 2017
From: Les Echos
Finding a modern replacement for Buckfast will be challenging. The bee will have to be as rustic as the Buckfast bee but also as resistant as the Asiatic bee, the Apis cerana. The latter can live alongside the Varroa destructor, a mite that can introduce parasites in a swarm in no time. While the parasite isn’t usually strong enough to kill a bee, it weakens the colony by enabling the spread of a whole range of viruses such as the deformed wing virus, a disease that shrinks the wings of infected bees.
February 28, 2017
From: Work It, Lynchburg
By Tonia Moxley
A budget shortfall has brought a premature end to a five-year, $1.4 million Virginia Tech study on honeybee health that officials had hoped would find the roots of the state’s high colony death rates.
Since Virginia began tracking colony losses in 2001, the death rate has increased dramatically. Historically, 10 percent or less of hives died annually, Keith Tignor, state apiarist for the commonwealth, has said. Yearly losses swelled to about 30 percent following the invasion of two parasitic mites — tracheal mites in the 1980s and Varroa destructor mites in the ’90s. Some years, rates are higher.
February 27, 2017
From: Aberdeen Press and Journal
More than a third of Scottish arable farmers say the ban on neonicotinoids has resulted in greater damage to oilseed rape crops.
Growers are currently unable to use neonicotinoids, which are normally present on seed dressings for oilseed rape, due to concerns they are harmful to bees.
A Scottish Government survey about the impact of the restrictions on Scottish winter oilseed rape crops (WOSR) revealed that although damage to crops during 2016 was minimal, more than a third of growers felt the lack of the seed dressing had led to greater crop damage.
February 24, 2017
From: A Science Enthusiast
By Sterling Ericsson
Both for domesticated honey bees, who appear to be suffering from a combination of negative effects with a main combatant being the Varroa destructor mite slowly wearing down hives and destroying them, and wild bees, who appear to be instead suffering from a combination of urbanization effects that are removing their habitat spaces.
The Emerging Threat
Tropilaelaps mercedesae is likely not a scientific name you’ve heard of before and you’d be forgiven for not knowing it. Thus far, it is a species that has been restricted in its range and none of that is felt in Western countries. These mites are a terror in the places that they do live.
February 23, 2017
Editor’s Note: The study, “Supporting data for “Draft genome of the honey bee ectoparasitic mite, Tropilaelaps mercedesae, is shaped by the parasitic life history” is available here.
February 22, 2017
From: The Citizens’ Voice [Wilkes-Barre, PA]
By Lois A. Grimm, Citizens’ Voice correspondent
“You have to know how to manage your bees, keep them alive of course, control varroa mites and manage your hives,” Keiner said.
Varroa mites are parasitic creatures which carry diseases and viruses that could be deadly to honey bees. Of the many health problems these parasites can cause, one of the most prevalent is deformed wing virus. Honey bee wings become shriveled leaving them unable to fly or flap their wings, which is integral in honey production.
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February 21, 2017
From: Rational Optimist
Brussels entrusted a known antipesticide activist with the task of preparing what was supposed to be an objective report on the testing procedures of pesticides. Instead, the EFSA working group, which included Mr. Arnold, resulted in a ban that contradicts scientific evidence and has devastated European farmers. Growers of oilseed rape have had to cut back on their plantings and turned to spraying with older, less safe pyrethroid insecticides, which can be especially harmful to aquatic invertebrates if they get into water courses. This winter 8.3% of the total British oilseed rape crop has been lost, with farmers blaming “savage flea beetle damage”. The total cost of the neonic ban has been estimated at some €900 million ($954.1 million) a year for oilseed rape alone. It would seem incumbent on the EFSA to at least perform a thorough investigation.
February 20, 2017
From: The Wall Street Journal via Genetic Literacy Project
[GLP Editor’s note: Matt Ridley is a columnist for the Times (UK), a member of the House of Lords and the author of “The Evolution of Everything.”]
A pesticides ban in Europe could soon be overturned on the grounds that it was based on unreliable data. Meanwhile, revelations that one of the scientists behind the ban was also involved with a nongovernmental organization that campaigns against pesticides continue to undermine the ban’s integrity.
February 17, 2017
From: FG Insight
The NFU has been challenging the EU’s neonicotinoids ban in court today, telling judges the restrictions were not science-based and have had a real impact on farmers’ livelihoods.
Nina Winter, the NFU’s chief legal adviser, said: “The NFU originally intervened in these cases for two key reasons – firstly, because decision-makers need to have a sound basis in science for the decisions they take, and no such a basis exists for the neonicotinoid restrictions; and secondly, because the impact of losing these critical products on British farmers’ ability to grow crops was not properly assessed, and it should have been.
February 16, 2017
From: Genetic Literacy Project
[GLP Editor’s note: The following is a letter by David Zaruk, Belgian-based environmental-health journalist specializing in science and public policy, to Vytenis Andriukaitis, EU commissioner in charge of Health and Food Safety.]
You have clear grounds to [retract the 2013 draft Bee Guidance Document] It was never approved by the European Council (for good reason); [the European Food Safety Authority] has learnt that their expert advisory working group had conflicts of interest which they had hidden from the authority; and the previous DG Sanco had several directors that had been found to be too close to anti-pesticide activist campaigners.
February 15, 2017