Archives – August, 2013

Careful breeding seen as fix for varroa mite

From: Otago Daily Times (N.Z.)

Genetics hold the key to the future of New Zealand’s bee population, Genetics Otago director Associate Professor Peter Dearden says.

Prof Dearden spoke to a crowd of about 50 people about ”Why honey bee genetics might improve your health” at the Alexandra Community House in Alexandra last week.

He covered many topics including sequencing the honey bee’s genome, predictive adaptive response, how this related to human health and genetics and the stress New Zealand’s honey bee population was under.

The varroa mite was the biggest threat to New Zealand’s honey bees, Prof Dearden said.

Leave a Comment August 30, 2013

Bee Breeding Program Shows Promise

From: Radio New Zealand News

Non-chemical varroa control shows promise

A bee breeding project that promises another non-chemical option for varroa control is gaining ground.

Nelson company, Rainbow Honey is continuing a programme started by Plant and Food Research to build up populations of honey bees that control the killer parasites in hives by interfering with their breeding cycle.

The bees carry a genetic trait, called the varroa sensitive hygienic or VSH trait.

Project leader Rae Butler says they’ve been building up VSH bee numbers in 80 trial hives to the stage where they’ve been able to reduce the number of chemical treatments needed to keep varroa under control.

Leave a Comment August 28, 2013

Bee mites threaten hives

From:  Associated Press/


FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — Dennis Arp downshifts his aging flatbed truck and slows to a crawl as he points across a grassy meadow near Mormon Lake. In years

past, the field would have been carpeted with flowers, but the coming bloom is late.

This trend has become the norm with recent dry spring seasons, he says. That’s likely bad news for this year’s honey crop.

“You look at these meadows out here and think, ‘Wow, I should be making tons of honey,’ but it just doesn’t work that way,” Arp says from the driver’s seat. “The bees do best when they have an almost unlimited food supply.”

Leave a Comment August 26, 2013

Vanishing Bees

Editor’s Note: NRDC is correct in indicating the extensive scientific research is needed to combat bee health decline.

From: Natural Resources Defense Council

Honey bees are disappearing across the country, putting $15 billion worth of fruits, nuts and vegetables at risk

The list of crops that simply won’t grow without honey bees is a long one: Apples, cucumbers, broccoli, onions, pumpkins, carrots, avocados, almonds … and it goes on.

Without bees to pollinate many of our favorite fruits and vegetables, the United States could lose $15 billion worth of crops — not to mention what it would do to your diet.

Leave a Comment August 23, 2013

Plan ‘bee’ on the agenda

From: Queensland Country Life

AUSTRALIA’S almond industry is researching the annual movement of tens of thousands of beehives around the country, to help plan for the possible arrival of the devastating Varroa mite.

The two-year research project is investigating the impact of a potential Varroa incursion on hive movements, and the effect that any movement restrictions would have on the ability of Australia’s horticulture industries to continue paid pollination.

It will investigate the effect of an incursion on paid pollination, and what strategies can be implemented to ensure industries dependent on pollination are not severely impacted.

Leave a Comment August 21, 2013

‘Killer bees’ could solve population crisis

From: The Telegraph (UK)

Honey bees are being cross bred with their more aggressive African cousins to produce a hybrid which is hardier and more resistant to parasites.

By Nick Collins, Science Correspondent

Bee populations in Britain, Europe and America are being decimated by Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), a term for the sudden disappearance of entire colonies which has left up to a quarter of hives in some countries empty.

The main culprit behind CCD in the northern hemisphere is thought to be a mite known as Varroa destructor, which leaves bees vulnerable to deformed wing virus.

Leave a Comment August 19, 2013

Honeybee live cam offers glimpse into a rapidly declining population

From: The Guradian, the site that brought us ‘bear cam’, has launched two live feeds that feature bee colonies in Germany

Amanda Holpuch

The live cam gives a glimpse into what life is like for the honeybee.

The average, unprotected human generally steers clear from a buzzing bee hive. As of today, however, people can safely explore the inside of a hive online. –  the site that brought the world the bear cam – launched two live feeds that feature a bee colony in Germany that has settled in a hollow log.

Leave a Comment August 16, 2013

Bee numbers dropping

Editor’s Note:  Dr. Pettis, interviewed below, is a senior researcher at the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service.

From: Australian Broadcasting Corporation

Reporter: Jane Cowan


EMMA ALBERICI, PRESENTER: Albert Einstein said that if bees become extinct, the human race was only going to have a few years to live because of the threat to the food supply. Now honey bees worldwide are dying at unprecedented rates leaving scientists scratching their heads. In the US it’s so serious the nation’s agricultural industry is said to be just one bad weather event from a pollination crisis. North America correspondent Jane Cowan explains.

Leave a Comment August 14, 2013

The Trouble with Beekeeping in the Anthropocene

Editor’s Note:  With respect to proposals to ban neonicotinoids, the article explains that “most scientists agree it wouldn’t solve the problem. (And getting rid of neonicotinoids would have unpredictable consequences for agriculture—the  pesticides were adopted in part because they are considered safer for mammals,  including human beings.)”

From: Time

The beepocalypse is on the cover of TIME, but it looks like managed honeybees will still pull through. Wild bees—and wild species in general—won’t be so lucky  in a human-dominated planet

By Bryan Walsh

Leave a Comment August 12, 2013

Bees endure despite pests, chemicals, habitat loss

From: AgProfessional

Clemson University

Since long before the name “colony collapse disorder” was given to the phenomenon in 2006, scientists have known that honey bee populations in Europe and America were on the decline.

“But we need to distinguish between long-term decline and short-term loss,” U.S. Department of Agriculture researcher Bob Danka told a state meeting of beekeepers at Clemson University last month. “Around the world, we are actually gaining bees.”

Danka’s work in honey bee breeding and genetics is focused on combatting the decline in U.S. hives, which has been precipitous.

Leave a Comment August 9, 2013

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