Archives – February, 2013

Bees under the Microscope

From: Scientific American


By Charles Crookenden


Much has been written about the continuing disappearance of the honey bee, the corresponding demise of commercial beekeeping and the various culprits that account for the decline or colony collapse disorder (CCD) as it is known in the trade. Ask a dozen beekeepers what is causing CCD and you will receive as many responses: Pesticides, fungi, excessive antibiotics, poor husbandry, loss of habitat, cell phones or the inevitable repetition of History. Hang on! History?


Leave a Comment February 22, 2013

Activity in Lieu of Accomplishment, Europe Proposes an Unjustified Pesticide Ban

Editor’s Note:  As explained here,  the EFSA press release is based on “a high level of uncertainty” and limited data with substantial shortcomings.


From: Bloomberg/BusinessWeek


To Revive Honey Bees, Europe Proposes a Pesticide Ban


Posted by: Bernhard Warner


The honey bees are still dropping dead. Nearly seven years after a sudden and unexplained drop in the bee populations of North America and Europe first made international headlines, these vital pollinators are still at risk. In the U.S., beekeepers reported the loss of one-third of their colonies each year from 2006 to 2011. Much of Europe has witnessed similar declines—not good for a species that pollinates 90 percent of the food we eat, at a value of €153 billion ($204 billion) globally to farmers.

Leave a Comment February 20, 2013

Update from the UMD Lab

From: Bee Informed


by  Rachel Bozarth


Beekeeping this time of year in the Northeastern US is practically nonexistent. Honey bees cluster around their queen in their hives as below freezing temperatures, wind, and snow challenge their survival. Opening the hive in these kinds of conditions would be setting yourself up for failure. Winter this year in Maryland has been very unpredictable. For instance, just last week we experienced a 65 degree day and the next day the temperature dropped and we had snow on the ground. I originally thought that our diagnostic lab would experience a lag in receiving samples, but man was I wrong!

Leave a Comment February 18, 2013

Healthy bee colonies constantly under attack by viruses

Editor’s Note:  The 2011 study, “Temporal Analysis of the Honey Bee Microbiome Reveals Four Novel Viruses and Seasonal Prevalence of Known Viruses, Nosema, and Crithidia” by Charles Runcke, Michelle L. Flenniken, et al is attached here


From: Mother Nature Network


Scientists hope that by looking at disease that already circulate in bee hives, they can determine the cause of colony collapse disorder.            


Even healthy bee colonies are constantly under attack from viruses, bacteria, fungi and other parasites. New research finds that these pathogen levels are constantly in flux in colonies, information that could help rule out the prime suspects in colony collapse disorder.

Leave a Comment February 15, 2013

EFSA Neonicotinoid Statement: Unfit for Government Use

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) recently made news around the world with a Press Release that implied, without actually stating, that use of three neonicotinoid insecticides were harmful to bees.1

It is important to note that the EFSA Press Release hedged its views by noting that:

  • “In some cases EFSA was unable to finalise the assessments due to shortcomings in the available data;” and
  • “there is a high level of uncertainty in the latest evaluations.”

Not surprisingly, and in keeping with federal law and common sense, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has rebuffed calls to suspend use of the pesticides discussed by EFTA.2

Leave a Comment February 12, 2013

Troubling honey bee shortage in almond orchards across California

From: Daily Democrat (Woodland, CA)


By KATHY KEATLEY GARVEY/Special to The Democrat


California almond growers may not have enough honey bees to pollinate this year’s crop of 800,000 acres, says extension apiculturist Eric Mussen of the UC Davis Department of Entomology. He attributes the difficulty to winter losses and less populous hives.


“We need 1.6 million colonies, or two colonies per acre, and California has only about 500,000 colonies that can be used for that purpose,” he said. “We need to bring in a million more colonies but due to the winter losses, we may not have enough bees.”

Leave a Comment February 11, 2013

Social media abuzz about how to breed super queen bees

From: Ag Professional


Penn State University


While honey bee populations dwindle across the globe, Penn State researchers aim to use communication technologies to spread revolutionary beekeeping techniques that will help offset the effects of Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD).


CCD is an epidemic that started making headlines in 2006 when beekeepers began reporting unusual losses of 30-90 percent of their hives. Even before this phenomenon gained international attention, the number of domesticated honey bee colonies in Pennsylvania dropped from 80,000 to 30,000 in just 20 years. These sizable losses decreased the in-state production of honey by more than 2 million pounds annually – and if the trend continues, it could threaten the stability of $60 million worth of Pennsylvania’s bee-dependent agriculture.

Leave a Comment February 8, 2013

Honey bee conference spotlights need for more research

From: Western Farm Press


Gabriele Ludwig, Associate Director, Environmental Affairs, Almond Board of California


Scientists and stakeholders on the leading edge of honey bee health came together last fall during a national workshop focused on current and future issues facing domestic honey bees and the growers who rely on them to pollinate their crops.


The joint USDA-EPANational Stakeholders Conference on Honey Bee Health, held in Alexandria, Va., brought together leading national honey bee researchers to explore the status of various factors on honey bee health. The meeting not only highlighted what has been learned from some five years of research on Colony Collapse Disorder, but also helped inform the USDA as it focuses federally funded honey bee research over the next five years.

Leave a Comment February 6, 2013

EPA Rebuffs Latest Call To Suspend Neonicotinoids In Wake Of EU Studies

From: Inside EPA

EPA is signaling that it will not grant environmentalists’ call to suspend use of the neonicotinoid pesticides amid concerns raised in recent European Union risk assessments — which drew on new methods that EPA may include in its new pollinator risk framework — but the agency is not ruling out restrictions if its upcoming analyses indicate more risk.

“We are continuing our comprehensive scientific evaluation on all the neonicotinoid pesticides,” an EPA spokesman says. “If during the course of our review we determine that mitigation is needed to protect pollinators, we will require mitigation action in advance of completing our re-evaluation of the neonicotinoids.”

Leave a Comment February 4, 2013

Stinging Attack On Bee Study

From: Chemcial and Engineering News


By Alex Scott

The agrochemical companies Syngenta and Bayer are attacking a study by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) that investigated the cause of bee population decline in Europe. The study finds that the neonicotinoid insecticides clothianidin, imidacloprid, and thiamethoxam, which target the nervous systems of insects, are implicated in bee population decline in Europe—or at least can’t be ruled out as a cause.


Leave a Comment February 1, 2013


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