Archives – March, 2015

Honey Bee Antiviral Activity Is Abuzz with Epigenetic and Transcriptomic Activity

From: Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News

The agriculture importance of the honey bee cannot be overstated and in recent years declines in bee populations has become troubling, leaving scientists scrambling to understand the intricacies that encapsulate this essential insect. To that end, scientists from Penn State University and Georgia Institute of Technology have found that honey bees use collections of genes, from two distinctly separate mechanisms, to ward off viruses, bacteria, and gut parasites.

“Our results indicate that different sets of genes are used in immune responses to viruses versus other pathogens, and these antiviral genes are regulated by two very distinct processes—expression and DNA methylation,” explained David Galbraith, graduate student in entomology at Penn State University and lead author on the study.

Leave a Comment March 30, 2015

‘Neonics Not Key Driver of Bee Deaths’–USDA Study May Clash With White House Poised to Restrict Pesticide

From: Huffington Post | Science

, Exec Director, Genetic Literacy Project; Senior Fellow, World Food Center, University of California-Davis

Even as a special White House created task force is poised any day now to address concerns over supposedly vanishing honeybees, new research suggests that the very premise of the federal investigation may be misplaced.


“This is a really complex issue with no quick and easy solutions,” May Berenbaum told me. These papers simplistically fingering neonics are” just not good science.”

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Leave a Comment March 27, 2015

Ontario introduces neonic regulations

Editor’s Note: The new Ontario restrictions are going into place as additional evidence accumulates demonstrating that neonics are not the cause of bee health decline.

From: The Western Producer

by Robert Arnason

Ontario unveiled regulations this morning to reduce the use of insecticide seed treatments by 80 percent.


GFO chair Henry Van Ankum said last fall that the government is ignoring those efforts and attacking grain farming for political gain.

“With this announcement, agriculture and rural Ontario has been put on notice: the popular vote trumps science and practicality.”

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Leave a Comment March 25, 2015

Pesticides not behind bee decline – study

From: 3 News (New Zealand)


Bee numbers have been plummeting since the 1990s, with pesticides usually taking the brunt of the blame.

But a three-year study in the United States has now shown that at real-world dosage levels, bee colonies are remarkably tolerant of insecticides; therefore, there must be something else driving what’s become known as colony collapse disorder.

Scientists at the University of Maryland subjected colonies to imidacloprid, the world’s most commonly used insecticide, and found it had no real effect on colony numbers when used at recommended levels.

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Leave a Comment March 23, 2015

Study Finds Imidacloprid Safe for Honey Bees at Realistic Exposure Levels

Editor’s Note: For more information about the study, Assessment of Chronic Sublethal Effects of Imidacloprid on Honey Bee Colony Health, see here.

From: by Entomology Today

Honey bee colony declines are a major threat worldwide. Among the lineup of possible causes — including parasites, disease, climate stress, and malnutrition — many have pointed the finger squarely at insecticides as a prime suspect, especially at a class of pesticides known as neonicotinoids.

However, a new study from the University of Maryland shows that the world’s most common insecticide — imidacloprid — does not significantly harm honey bee colonies at real-world dosage levels.

Leave a Comment March 20, 2015

EPA Study Finds That Neonics Not Causing Colony Collapse Disorder In Bees

Editor’s Note: The study, Assessment of Chronic Sublethal Effects of Imidacloprid on Honey Bee Colony Health, is available here. The study concludes, “To our knowledge, this study is the first to examine the chronic sublethal effects on whole honey bee colonies subjected to worse-case scenarios as well as normal dietary exposure (5μg/kg) to imidacloprid. …  Our results provide evidence that imidacloprid exposure doses up to 100 μg/kg had no significant effects on foraging activity or colony performance during and shortly after 12 weeks of exposure….” [Emphasis added.]

From: Science 2.0

By Hank Campbell

Leave a Comment March 18, 2015

Swarm sensing: tiny technology creates a buzz

From: CSIRO | Australia’s national science agency

Thousands of honey bees in Australia are being fitted with tiny sensors as part of a world-first research program to monitor the insects and their environment using a technique known as ‘swarm sensing’.


The Challenge

Honey bee populations at risk

Bees are the world’s most prolific pollinators of food crops – with one third of the food that we consume each day relying on pollination, these little creatures contribute billions every year to the global economy. Healthy bees are a sign of a healthy agricultural industry.

Leave a Comment March 18, 2015

Ontario Pollinator Health Blueprint

From: Grain Farmers of Ontario

Ontario Pollinator Health Blueprint

The Pollinator Task Force (Task Force) was assembled by Grain Farmers of Ontario in the winter of 2014 to help identify opportunities to enhance pollinator and managed bee health. The Task Force reviewed the results of consultations with over 900 grain farmers across Ontario in early January 2015, collected information from a variety of sources, and met with experts with field experience to formulate recommendations. These recommendations have been compiled into the Ontario Pollinator Health Blueprint.

Read the Ontario Pollinator Health Blueprint here. •

Leave a Comment March 16, 2015

‘Pollinator Protection Act’ won’t save the bees

From: The Baltimore Sun | Sharelines

Bee losses probably are caused by a combination of stressors

I am writing to oppose passage of the Pollinator Protection Act in Maryland’s General Assembly this year (“Maryland measure seeks to protect bees from pesticides,” Feb. 17).

I use very few pesticides at my home in Prince Georges County. Those I do use are incorporated as part of an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program. I do use Imidacloprid in my greenhouse during the winter months. I am also a beekeeper and have nesting blocks for native pollinators.

Read Complete Letter

Leave a Comment March 13, 2015

Rapid behavioral maturation accelerates failure of stressed honey bee colonies

From: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

Clint J. Perrya, Eirik Søvika, Mary R. Myerscoughd, and Andrew B. Barrona


Honey bee colony death rates are unsustainably high. While many stressors have been identified that contribute to this problem, we do not know why colonies transition so rapidly from a state of apparent health to failure. It is well known that individual bees react to nutritional and pathogen stresses by foraging precociously: our study explains how colony failure arises from the social responses of individual bees to stress. We used radio tracking to monitor performance of bees and found that workers who begin foraging prematurely perform very poorly. This compounds the stresses on the colony and accelerates failure. We suggest how colonies at risk can be identified early, and the most effective interventions to prevent failure.

Leave a Comment March 10, 2015

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