Archives – May, 2014

Proceedings of the Royal Society on Neonicotinoids

Editor’s Note: The complete article, “A restatement of the natural science evidence base concerning neonicotinoid insecticides and insect pollinators” published by The Proceedings of the Roay Academy B is available here. Below are excepts.

There is clear evidence of the great value of neonicotinoids in agriculture as well as the importance of the ecosystem services provided to agriculture by managed and wild pollinators.
Different stakeholders will quite naturally differ in the weightings they attach to the variety of objectives affected by insecticide use, and there is no unique answer to the question of how best to regulate neonicotinoids, an issue that inevitably has both economic and political dimensions. But economic and political arguments need to be consistent with the natural science evidence base, even though the latter will always be less complete than desirable.
Neonicotinoids are efficient plant protection compounds and if their use is restricted farmers may switch to other pest-management strategies (for example, different insecticides applied in different ways or non-chemical control measures) that may have effects on pollinator populations that could overall be more or less damaging than neonicotinoids. Alternatively, they may choose not to grow the crops concerned, which will reduce exposure of pollinators to neonicotinoids but also reduce the total flowers available to pollinators

Leave a Comment May 29, 2014

Beer for bees? Not exactly, but hop plant extract is a defense against catastrophic pest

From: Associated Press via The Republic


BISMARCK, North Dakota — Beekeepers in the nation’s top honey-producing state are getting help through a product tied to a plant typically associated with beer.

The federal government is once again allowing North Dakota beekeepers to use Hopguard pesticide — made from an extract of the hop plant — to control a pest thought to be connected to colony collapse disorder.

“Left uncontrolled, varroa mites cause deep and widespread losses in bee colonies,” Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring said. “They are the most serious pest problem facing beekeepers.”

Leave a Comment May 27, 2014

Research Article: Varroa destructor and sporadic global declines in domestic honeybee populations

Editor’s Note: The original research article, “Identification of developmentally-specific kinotypes and mechanisms of Varroa mite resistance through whole-organism, kinome analysis of honeybee,” by Albert J. Robertson, Breet Trost, et al, published in Frontiers in Genetics is available here.  Below is an excerpt from the Abstract.

Recent investigations associate Varroa destructor (Mesostigmata: Varroidae) parasitism and its associated pathogens and agricultural pesticides with negative effects on colony health, resulting in sporadic global declines in domestic honeybee (Apis mellifera) populations. These events have motivated efforts to develop research tools that can offer insight into the causes of declining bee health as well as identify biomarkers to guide breeding programs. Here we report the development of a bee-specific peptide array for characterizing global cellular kinase activity in whole bee extracts. The arrays reveal distinct, developmentally-specific signaling profiles between bees with differential susceptibility to infestation by Varroa mites.

Leave a Comment May 22, 2014

Explainer: Varroa mite, the tiny killer threatening Australia’s bees

From: The Conversation

A tiny mite has been killing honey bees all around the world, and will inevitably reach Australian shores. So what is this destructive mite, and what we can do to protect Australian honey bees?

The Varroa mite, also known as Varroa destructor, is only the size of a pin head but it is the most serious threat to the viability of the Australian honey bee industry.

The mite is parasitic and feeds on the blood of adult and larval honey bees. It also transmits viral and other pathogens, which kill entire bee colonies. Varroa mite is part of the syndrome leading to honey bee declines in many places around the world.

Leave a Comment May 20, 2014

The New “Harvard Study” on neonics, May 2014

From:, Beekeeping Through the Eyes of a Biologist 

The New “Harvard Study” on neonics, May 2014

Dr. Lu of Harvard Medical School, who has no background with honey bees, attempted to run an experiment in 2012 (The 2012 Harvard Study) that would “prove” that the seed treatment of corn put so much imidacloprid into high fructose corn syrup that the feeding of such was the cause of CCD.  Although both the notion and the way in which the “study” was run were preposterous, and were dismissed by all serious bee researchers, it nevertheless got a lot of press.

Leave a Comment May 19, 2014

What’s really killing bees?

From: Bloomberg News (via HeraldOnline)

By Lisa Beyer

For activists eager to blame pesticides for the declining health of bees, researcher Chensheng Lu has offered what looks like valuable ammunition and the credibility provided by his affiliation with Harvard’s School of Public Health. Lu and his associates have just published a second study implicating a class of insecticides called neonicotinoids. What Lu’s research actually does, however, is distract attention from the need to limit more of the real causes of bee deaths.

Leave a Comment May 16, 2014

Will we ‘bee’ smart about pesticide regulation?

From: The Daily Caller

Henry Miller/Fellow, Hoover Institution

On April 29, the European Commission failed for the second time to get the votes necessary to pass a proposed two-year ban on several innovative agricultural pesticides known as neonicotinoids (“neonics”). But immediately after reporting that a “qualified majority” of member states had not been reached, the Commission’s health and consumer affairs commissioner, Tonio Borg, announced that he would institute the ban administratively.

Such is the democratic process in the E.U., where the “precautionary principle” — ban or overregulate a product, process or activity, in the absence of complete assurance of safety — reigns.

Leave a Comment May 15, 2014

Helping Honey Bees’ Health

Editor’s Note: USDA’s blog post, below, discusses the complex, multi-variate challenges to bee health–with a particular emphasis on the role of the Varroa destructor. The USDA discussion of bee health serves contradicts the discredited work found in the Lu et al study conducted by Harvard University.

Two years ago CRE initiated a detailed  review of the role of Varroa mites in bee health decline.  Subsequent to the review CRE advised EPA that:

Finally, a substantial number of recent scientific studies conclude that Varroa Mites are the major cause of bee health decline, not clothianidin.  Consequently there is no basis for suspending  the registration of clothianidin.

Leave a Comment May 14, 2014

The Australian Government’s Neonicotinoid Report Discredits the Lu “Harvard” Study

Editor’s Note:  The Australian government recently released a comprehensive assessment of neonicotinoids and pollinator health.  The report study, Overview Report: Neonicotinoids and the Health of Honey Bees in Australia, attached here, dismiss the Lu et al (2012) (“Harvard”) study as not credible. 

The Australian government report was included in CRE’s comments to DEFRA, the UK’s Deparment of Food and Rural Affairs, on their pollinator protection consultation. CRE’s detailed science-based comments on neonicotonoids and honey bee health are attached here.

Leave a Comment May 13, 2014

Good News for Guam’s Honey Bees, They Appear to Be Varroa Free

From: Pacific News Center

University of Guam

Guam – In a United Nations report The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity, Pavan Sukhdev speaks to the invaluable service bees provide for humankind. 

“Not a single bee has ever sent you an invoice. And that is part of the problem – because most of what comes to us from nature is free, because it is not invoiced, because it is not priced, because it is not traded in markets, we tend to ignore it.”  

Leave a Comment May 12, 2014

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