Pesticides may harm growing brains


Two neonicotinoid chemicals may affect the developing nervous system in humans, according to the EU.

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) proposed that safe levels for exposure be lowered while further research is carried out.

They based their decision on studies that showed the chemicals had an impact on the brains of newborn rats.

bees

One of the pesticides was banned in the EU last April amid concerns over its impact on bee populations.

Neonicotinoids are “systemic” pesticides that make every part of a plant toxic to predators.

They have become very popular across the world over the past two decades as they are considered less harmful to humans and the environment than older chemicals.

But a growing number of research papers have linked the use of these nicotine-like pesticides to a rapid fall in bee numbers.

New levels needed

In April, the European Union introduced a two year moratorium on the use of several types of these chemicals, despite opposition from the UK.

Now EFSA, in a statement, says that it has concerns that two types of neonicotinoids, imidacloprid and acetamiprid, may “affect the developing human nervous system“.

They have proposed that guidance levels for acceptable exposure be lowered while further research is carried out.

The decision has been based on a review of research carried out in rats.

In one study, young rodents exposed to imidacloprid suffered brain shrinkage, weight loss and reduced movement.

In the statement, EFSA said that the two neonicotinoids may “adversely affect the development of neurons and brain structures associated with functions such as learning and memory”.

Current guidelines, it went on, “may not be protective enough to protect against developmental neurotoxicity and should be reduced”.

According to EU Commission health spokesman Frederic Vincent, they would now allow the chemical companies involved to comment on the findings.

“In principle, the next step would then be to amend the reference values,” he said, indicating that this would begin next March.

In their findings, EFSA pointed out that the available evidence had limitations but that they believed the health concerns that have been raised are legitimate.

But other experts said the move by EFSA was more of a precaution than anything else.

“The reduction in the reference values in most cases was modest,” said Prof Alan Boobis, from Imperial College London.

“Whilst there is clearly a question mark over the possible effects of these compounds on the developing brain, the conclusions of EFSA do not suggest that exposure of humans to these compounds at the levels that occur normally in food or in the environment is a cause for concern.

Scientists discover another cause of bee deaths.


So what is with all the dying bees? Scientists have been trying to discover this for years. Meanwhile, bees keep dropping like… well, you know.

Is it mites? Pesticides? Cell phone towers? What is really at the root? Turns out the real issue really scary, because it is more complex and pervasive than thought.

Quartz reports:

Scientists had struggled to find the trigger for so-called Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) that has wiped out an estimated 10 million beehives, worth $2 billion, over the past six years. Suspects have included pesticides, disease-bearing parasites and poor nutrition. But in a first-of-its-kind study published today in the journal PLOS ONE, scientists at the University of Maryland and the US Department of Agriculture have identified a witch’s brew of pesticides and fungicides contaminating pollen that bees collect to feed their hives. The findings break new ground on why large numbers of bees are dying though they do not identify the specific cause of CCD, where an entire beehive dies at once.
The researchers behind that study in PLOS ONE — Jeffery S. Pettis, Elinor M. Lichtenberg, Michael Andree, Jennie Stitzinger, Robyn Rose, Dennis vanEngelsdorp — collected pollen from hives on the east coast, including cranberry and watermelon crops, and fed it to healthy bees. Those bees had a serious decline in their ability to resist a parasite that causes Colony Collapse Disorder. The pollen they were fed had an average of nine different pesticides and fungicides, though one sample of pollen contained a deadly brew of 21 different chemicals. Further, the researchers discovered that bees that ate pollen with fungicides were three times more likely to be infected by the parasite.

The discovery means that fungicides, thought harmless to bees, is actually a significant part of Colony Collapse Disorder. And that likely means farmers need a whole new set of regulations about how to use fungicides. While neonicotinoids have been linked to mass bee deaths — the same type of chemical at the heart of the massive bumble bee die off in Oregon — this study opens up an entirely new finding that it is more than one group of pesticides, but a combination of many chemicals, which makes the problem far more complex.

And it is not just the types of chemicals used that need to be considered, but also spraying practices. The bees sampled by the authors foraged not from crops, but almost exclusively from weeds and wildflowers, which means bees are more widely exposed to pesticides than thought.

The authors write, “[M]ore attention must be paid to how honey bees are exposed to pesticides outside of the field in which they are placed. We detected 35 different pesticides in the sampled pollen, and found high fungicide loads. The insecticides esfenvalerate and phosmet were at a concentration higher than their median lethal dose in at least one pollen sample. While fungicides are typically seen as fairly safe for honey bees, we found an increased probability of Nosema infection in bees that consumed pollen with a higher fungicide load. Our results highlight a need for research on sub-lethal effects of fungicides and other chemicals that bees placed in an agricultural setting are exposed to.”

While the overarching issue is simple — chemicals used on crops kill bees — the details of the problem are increasingly more complex, including what can be sprayed, where, how, and when to minimize the negative effects on bees and other pollinators while still assisting in crop production. Right now, scientists are still working on discovering the degree to which bees are affected and by what. It will still likely be a long time before solutions are uncovered and put into place. When economics come into play, an outright halt in spraying anything at all anywhere is simply impossible.

Quartz notes, “Bee populations are so low in the US that it now takes 60% of the country’s surviving colonies just to pollinate one California crop, almonds. And that’s not just a west coast problem—California supplies 80% of the world’s almonds, a market worth $4 billion.”

Dino impact ‘also destroyed bees’


Scientists say there was a widespread extinction of bees 66 million years ago, at the same time as the event that killed off the dinosaurs.

Carpenter bee     Sandra Rehan, University of New Hampshire

The demise of the dinosaurs was almost certainly the result of an asteroid or comet hitting Earth.

But the extinction event was selective, affecting some groups more than others.

Writing in Plos One journal, the team used fossils and DNA analysis to show that one bee group suffered a serious decline at the time of this collision.

The researchers chose to study bees within the subfamily known as Xylocopinae – which included the carpenter bees.

This was because the evolutionary history of this group could be traced back to the Cretaceous Period, when the dinosaurs still walked the Earth.

Previous studies had suggested a widespread extinction among flowering plants during the Cretaceous-Paleogene (K-Pg) extinction event 66 million years ago.

And it had long been assumed that the bees that depended upon these plants would have met the same fate.

Yet, unlike the dinosaurs, “there is a relatively poor fossil record of bees,” said the paper’s lead author Sandra Rehan, a biologist at the University of New Hampshire in Durham, US. This has made the confirmation of such an extinction difficult.

Post K-T impact
The impact that wiped out the dinosaurs created opportunities for other animals

However, the researchers were able to use an extinct group of Xylocopinae as a calibration point for timing the dispersal of these bees.

They were also able to study flower fossils that had evolved traits that allowed them to be pollinated by bee relatives of the Xylocopinae.

“The data told us something major was happening in four different groups of bees at the same time,” said Dr Rehan.

“And it happened to be the same time as the dinosaurs went extinct.”

The findings of this study could have implications for today’s concern about the loss in diversity of bees, a pivotal species for agriculture and biodiversity.

“Understanding extinctions and the effects of declines in the past can help us understand the pollinator decline and the global crisis in pollinators today,” Dr Rehan explained.

Bee brains challenge view that larger brains are superior at understanding conceptual relationships.


The humble honeybee may not seem very intelligent at first sight, but recent research has shown that it possesses a surprising degree of sophistication that is not expected in an insect brain. Specifically, the honeybee can understand conceptual relationships such as “same/different” and “above/below” that rely on relationships between objects rather than simply the physical features of objects.

In primates, this ability to understand conceptual relationships is attributed to neuronal activity in the prefrontal cortex (PFC). However, honeybees don’t have PFCs. Their brains are so small and lacking in complex brain structures that scientists have traditionally thought that the ability to understand conceptual relationships was beyond them.

Scientists Aurore Avarguès-Weber and Martin Giurfa, both from the University of Toulouse and CNRS in Toulouse, France, have analyzed the implications of the honeybee’s ability to understand conceptual relationships, and have published a paper on the subject in a recent issue of Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

https://i0.wp.com/cdn.physorg.com/newman/gfx/news/2013/honeybeebrains1.jpg

“One thing that should be clear from this analysis is that, although it is always a matter of debate what is unique to humans and what to animals, these results show at least something that is not,” Giurfa told Phys.org. “While the capacity of conceptual elaboration has been considered (and is still considered) a higher-order capacity proper from primates and other ‘highly-evolved’ animals (the quotes are ironic in this case), the fact that a 950 000-neuron [honeybee] brain can achieve this kind of task shows that the frontier does not reside there.

“The obvious question would be then, what brings as advantage a 100-billion-neuron [human] brain? Obviously several advantages can be cited: language, for instance. Consciousness, whose existence is a matter of debate and of investigation in animals. And the idea that human brains have perhaps replicated redundant and modifiable modules to solve problems that small brains solve with single microcircuits at a smaller scale.”

Bee-friendly plants put to the test


Honeybee on lavender (c) Science Photo Library

Researchers have used an experimental garden to put pollinator-friendly plants to the test.

The University of Sussex scientists counted the number of insects visiting the plants in their garden.

They say their findings show that insect-friendly plants are just as pretty, cheap and easy to grow as less pollinator-friendly varieties.

Their results are published in the Journal of Functional Ecology.

PhD student Mihail Garbuzov used 32 different varieties of popular garden plants. These included some nectar-rich and highly scented plants he thought would be attractive to insects and some that seemed to be less attractive.

While the small-scale study did not produce an exhaustive list of the best plants for pollinating insects, the team says the data has put a number on just how many more pollinators the right plants can attract.

Mr Garbuzov told the BBC: “Some of the best plants attracted approximately 100 times as many insects as the worst.

“And the plants that are attractive to insects are not more expensive, and they’re just as pretty.”

The researchers wrote in their paper that there was “great scope for making gardens and parks more insect friendly” by selecting the right plants.

Tips for insect-friendly gardening are already available from a variety of sources, but the researchers say they are largely based on “opinion and general experience”.

The aim of this study, said Prof Francis Ratnieks, from the University of Sussex, was to “put that advice on a firmer scientific footing, by gathering information about the actual number of insects visiting the flowers to collect nectar or pollen”.

Counting bees

Honeybee on a flower (c) Ethel M Villalobos
  • Bees have different colour-detection systems from humans, and can see the world in ultraviolet. This helps them to detect the flowers they pollinate and take nectar from.
  • Pollination is essential for agriculture, as well as the reproduction of non-food flowers and plants. According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, pollinators including bees, birds and bats are involved in more than a third of the world’s crop production.
  • Honeybees evolved to make honey as a food source for the colony. Selective breeding of European honeybees by humans has produced colonies that make excess honey for us to harvest.

The researchers gathered their data simply by visiting each of the patches of flowers every day over two summers and counting the number of insects on the flowers.

Their results did lead them to make some horticultural recommendations – they found that borage, lavender, marjoram and open-flower dahlias varieties were very good for insects.

The colourfully named bowles mauve everlasting wallflower was also very attractive to pollinators, while the least attractive flowering plant for insects was the very popular geranium.

Marjoram, the researchers say, was probably the best “all-rounder”, attracting honey bees, bumble bees, other bees, hover flies, and butterflies.

Borage was the best for honey bees and lavender and open-flowered dahlias were most attractive to bumblebees.

The team put a number of varieties of lavender to the test and found that highly bred hybrids, including some with novel colours – such as white or pink – that have been carefully bred into the plants proved the most attractive to insects.

Dr Nigel Raine, from Royal Holloway University of London, commented that with bee populations declining across the world, “we can all give bees a helping hand by planting the right flowers to give them the nectar and pollen they need”.

“This study highlights that it’s important for bee-friendly gardeners to choose what you plant with care,” he added.

“Gardeners and town planners should think carefully about the mixture of flowers they plant to ensure food is available for a wide range of bees and other important insect pollinators.

“It’s also important to cater for the needs of the rarer species and provide food at times when there might be fewer wild flowers in bloom.”

In another prior study, a team from the University of California San Diego used this ‘taste test’ to work out if bees are able to detect the scent of a flower. If the bee detects a floral scent, it will stick out its tongue.

Scientists Discover Fungicide and Pesticide are Killing Bees―and It’s Worse Than You Thought.


Story at-a-glance

  • Researchers analyzed pollen from bee hives and found 35 different pesticides along with high fungicide loads.
  • Each sample contained, on average, nine different pesticides and fungicides, although one contained 21 different chemicals.
  • While previously assumed to be safe for bees, bees fed pollen contaminated with high levels of fungicides had a significant decline in the ability to resist infection with the Nosema ceranae parasite, which has been implicated in Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD)
  • In the US, the “Save America’s Pollinators Act” has been introduced; if passed, this bill, HR 2692, would require the EPA to pull neonicotinoid pesticides, also implicated in bee die-offs, from the market until their safety is proven.
  • killing-bees

Bee populations are dwindling across the globe, putting one in three food crops like apples and almonds, which depend on pollination from bees, at serious risk.

In the US, beekeepers have reported annual losses of about 33 percent of their hives each year, a level of loss that the Agricultural Research Services reports could threaten the economic viability of the bee pollination industry if it continues1(and some beekeepers report much higher losses than this at upwards of 70 or, in some cases, 100 percent).

Despite the growing losses, the causes of the massive bee die-offs have yet to be firmly defined, although accumulating research is pointing to a cocktail of agricultural chemicals as a likely primary culprit.

New Study: Fungicides May Be Killing Bees

Systemic neonicotinoid pesticides have been increasingly blamed for bee deaths (and were implicated in a recent mass bee die-off of 25,000 bumblebees along with millions of bee deaths in Canada), prompting the European Union (EU) to ban them for two years.

Now, it appears measures that target single classes of pesticides, though a move in the right direction, may be falling short. In a first-of-its-kind study, researchers analyzed pollen from bee hives in seven major crops and found 35 different pesticides along with high fungicide loads.2 Each sample contained, on average, nine different pesticides and fungicides, although one contained 21 different chemicals.

Furthermore, when the pollen was fed to healthy bees, they had a significant decline in the ability to resist infection with the Nosema ceranae parasite, which has been implicated in Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD).

What makes the research particularly unique is the concerning data on fungicides, which has so far been assumed to be safe for bees. While farmers are advised to avoid spraying pesticides when bees are present, for instance, fungicides contain no such warnings.

The researchers explained:

“While fungicides are typically seen as fairly safe for honey bees, we found an increased probability of Nosema infection in bees that consumed pollen with a higher fungicide load. Our results highlight a need for research on sub-lethal effects of fungicides and other chemicals that bees placed in an agricultural setting are exposed to.”

Also concerning, the researchers found that the bees in the study collected pollen almost exclusively from weeds and wildflowers, and this, too, was contaminated with pesticides even though they were not directly sprayed.

“It’s not clear whether the pesticides are drifting over to those plants but we need take a new look at agricultural spraying practices,” the study’s lead author told Quartz.3

US Bill Introduced to Take Neonicotinoids Off the Market

Following the June incident that killed 25,000 bumblebees, the Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) announced that they were restricting the use of 18 pesticide products containing dinotefuran, a type of neonicotinoid.

These chemicals are typically applied to seeds before planting, allowing the pesticide to be taken up through the plant’s vascular system as it grows. As a result, the chemical is expressed in the pollen and nectar of the plant, and hence the danger to bees and other pollinating insects.

As mentioned, the EU has also banned these pesticides, beginning December 1, 2013, to study their involvement with large bee kills they, too, are experiencing.

To date, however, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has failed to take action and has already been sued once by beekeepers and environmental groups for failing to protect bees from neonicotinoid pesticides. 

They have also green-lighted another pesticide that is a close cousin to these toxic chemicals (sulfoxaflor) and, as a result, several beekeeping organizations and beekeepers have filed a legal action against the EPA for approving sulfoxaflor, which is considered by many to be a “fourth-generation neonicotinoid.

In the US, the tide may be turning, however, as just last month the “Save America’s Pollinators Act” was introduced. If passed, this bill, HR 2692, would require the EPA to pull neonicotinoid pesticides from the market until their safety is proven. Please contact your representative today to voice your support for this incredibly important issue.

US Almond Crops Are Already At Risk

We’re beginning to get a taste of what the world would be like without bees. This year, many of the 6,000 almond orchard owners in California simply could not find enough bees to pollinate their almond trees, at any price. This is alarming, considering that 80 percent of the world’s almonds come from California’s central valley, an 800,000-acre area of almond orchards that are 100 percent dependent on bees pollinating the trees. Surprisingly, almonds are the number one agricultural product in California.

Fortunately, unsurpassed efforts that included persuading beekeepers as far away as Florida to ship their bees cross country, delayed bloom, and unseasonably good weather thereafter allowed almond growers to dodge the bullet – this year – despite having fewer and weaker-than-ever hives…

This narrowly achieved success may lead some to reach the mistaken conclusion that beekeepers’ concerns are overblown, but don’t be fooled. One beekeeper went so far as to say he believes the beekeeper industry is doomed and cannot survive for more than another two to three years unless drastic changes are implemented immediately…

What Are Some of the Top Theories for Bee Die-Offs?

Environmental chemicals are a forerunner for what’s causing so many bees to die, but it’s likely that there are multiple factors at play here. Among the top proposed culprits include:

·         Pesticides, insecticides and fungicides – Neonicotinoids, such as Imidacloprid and Clothianidin, kills insects by attacking their nervous systems. These are known to get into pollen and nectar, and can damage beneficial insects such as bees.

·         Malnutrition/Nutritional deficiencies – Many beekeepers place the hives near fields of identical crops, which may result in malnutrition as the bees are only getting one type of nectar. Essentially, this theory is identical to that of human nutrition; we need a wide variety of nutrients from different foods.

If you keep eating the same limited range of foods, you can easily end up suffering from nutritional deficiencies. Poor nutrition suppresses immune function, making the bees far more susceptible to toxins from pesticides, viruses, fungi, or a combination of factors that ultimately kill them.

·         Viruses and fungi – There’s even the possibility that some new form of “AIDS-like” viral infection is affecting the bees.

·         Electromagnetic fields (EMFs) – Researchers have discovered that when a cellular phone is placed near a hive, the radiation generated by it (900-1,800 MHz) is enough to prevent bees from returning to them, according to a study conducted at Landau University several years ago.4

More recently, a study published in 2011 found that the presence of microwaves from cell phones have a dramatic effect on bees, causing them to become quite disturbed.5

·         Lack of natural foraging areas – Mass conversions of grasslands to corn and soy in the Midwest has dramatically reduced bees’ natural foraging areas.

·         Genetically modified (GM) crops – In 2007, a German study demonstrated that horizontal gene transfer appears to take place between the GM crop and the bees that feed on it.6 When bees were released in a field of genetically modified rapeseed, and then fed the pollen to younger bees, the scientists discovered the bacteria in the guts of the young ones mirrored the same genetic traits as ones found in the GM crop.

You Can Start Helping Bees Right in Your Own Backyard

The Pollinator Partnership has revealed many ways you can help the urgent issue of declining pollinator populations.7 Clearly major steps need to be taken on a national level to protect pollinators from toxic chemicals and other threats, and you can help in this regard by supporting the Save America’s Pollinators Act. Friends of the Earth has also launched the Bee-Action Campaign to tell stores to take bee-killing pesticides like neonicotinoids off of their shelves, and you can help by signing their petition now.

That said, you can even make a difference right in your own backyard:

·         Reduce or eliminate your use of pesticides

·         Plant a pollinator-friendly garden by choosing a variety of plants that will continue flowering from spring through fall; check out the Bee Smart Pollinator App for a database of nearly 1,000 pollinator-friendly plants

·         Choose plants native to your region and stick with old-fashioned varieties, which have the best blooms, fragrance and nectar/pollen for attracting and feeding pollinators

·         Install a bee house

Finally, if you would like to learn even more about the economic, political and ecological implications of the worldwide disappearance of the honeybee, check out the extremely informative documentary film Vanishing of the Bees.

Pesticides Are Leading Cause of Bee Die-Offs..


As we’ve written before, the mysterious mass die-off of honey bees that pollinate $30 billion worth of crops in the US has so decimated America’s apis mellifera population that one bad winter could leave fallow. Now, a new study has pinpointed some of the probable causes of bee deaths and the rather scary results show that averting beemageddon will be much more difficult than previously thought.

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Scientists had struggled to find the trigger for so-called Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) that has wiped out an estimated 10 million beehives, worth $2 billion, over the past six years. Suspects have included pesticides, disease-bearing parasites and poor nutrition. But in a first-of-its-kind study published today in the journal PLOS, scientists at the University of Maryland and the US Department of Agriculture have identified a witch’s brew of pesticides and fungicides contaminating pollen that bees collect to feed their hives. The findings break new ground on why large numbers of bees are dying though they do not identify the specific cause of CCD, where an entire beehive dies at once.

When researchers collected pollen from hives on the east coast pollinating cranberry, watermelon and other crops and fed it to healthy bees, those bees showed a significant decline in their ability to resist infection by a parasite called Nosema ceranae. The parasite has been implicated in Colony Collapse Disorder though scientists took pains to point out that their findings do not directly link the pesticides to CCD. The pollen was contaminated on average with nine different pesticides and fungicides though scientists discovered 21 agricultural chemicals in one sample. Scientists identified eight ag chemicals associated with increased risk of infection by the parasite.

Most disturbing, bees that ate pollen contaminated with fungicides were three times as likely to be infected by the parasite. Widely used, fungicides had been thought to be harmless for bees as they’re designed to kill fungus, not insects, on crops like apples.

“There’s growing evidence that fungicides may be affecting the bees on their own and I think what it highlights is a need to reassess how we label these agricultural chemicals,” Dennis VanEngelsdorp, the study’s lead author, told Quartz.

Labels on pesticides warn farmers not to spray when pollinating bees are in the vicinity but such precautions have not applied to fungicides.

Bee populations are so low in the US that it now takes 60% of the country’s surviving colonies just to pollinate one California crop, almonds. And that’s not just a west coast problem—California supplies 80% of the world’s almonds, a market worth $4 billion.

In recent years, a class of chemicals called neonicotinoids has been linked to bee deaths and in April regulators banned the use of the pesticide for two years in Europe where bee populations have also plummeted. But VanEngelsdorp, an assistant research scientist at the University of Maryland, says the new study shows that the interaction of multiple pesticides is affecting bee health
.
“The pesticide issue in itself is much more complex than we have led to be believe,” he says. “It’s a lot more complicated than just one product, which means of course the solution does not lie in just banning one class of product.”

The study found another complication in efforts to save the bees: US honey bees, which are descendants of European bees, do not bring home pollen from native North American crops but collect bee chow from nearby weeds and wildflowers. That pollen, however, was also contaminated with pesticides even though those plants were not the target of spraying.

“It’s not clear whether the pesticides are drifting over to those plants but we need take a new look at agricultural spraying practices,” says VanEngelsdorp.

Sources: Raw For Beauty

THE BEE ISSUE..


Did you know… Bee pollen contains almost twice the amount of protein in beef, twice as much iron than any other food, substantial amounts of highly-absorbable vitamins and minerals, and thousands of world-class athletes even take bee pollen as a “legal sports enhancer”.

So… Just another reason to save our bees. As it turns out there is much more that bee’s can do. But first we must make you aware of the dangers of pesticides on the bee population. There are many that are petitioning to stop this and increase the chance of our friends living. (the bees)

2.6 million people have signed this petition to save our bees. We believe this makes the largest petition of human history. The 2nd following currently is the petition to stop Monsanto in Europe. Here is both in case you are interested. Please sign and share this article to help.

bee

2.6 million people have signed this to save our bees!

http://www.avaaz.org/en/save_the_bees_global/

2.1 million have signed this petition to stop Monsanto:

http://www.avaaz.org/en/monsanto_vs_mother_earth_loc/

More reasons to save our bees – Here are all the related articles we have written.

The health benefits of real honey:

http://www.naturalcuresnotmedicine.com/2013/06/health-benefits-of-raw-honey.html

The U.S. Approves of bee damaging pesticides as E.U. bans them:

http://www.naturalcuresnotmedicine.com/2013/05/us-approves-pesticide-as-eu-bans.html

Pesticides damage bee brains:

http://www.naturalcuresnotmedicine.com/2013/04/pesticides-damage-brains-of-bees.html

Bee propolis found to slow tumor growth:

http://www.naturalcuresnotmedicine.com/2013/03/bee-propolis-found-to-slow-tumor-growth.html

Bee Venom Kills HIV study says:

http://www.naturalcuresnotmedicine.com/2013/03/bee-venom-can-kill-hiv-study-says.html

Read more at http://www.naturalcuresnotmedicine.com/2013/06/health-benefits-of-bee-pollen.html#IpObQzcJKYpO561C.99

Source: http://www.naturalcuresnotmedicine.com

 

 

Honey bee losses double in a year due to poor winter.


 

_68129783_c0065803-honeybee-spl

This winter’s losses of honey bee colonies were the worst since records began six years ago, according to a survey carried out by the British Beekeepers Association.

It says more than a third of hives did not survive the cold, wet conditions.

All regions of England saw dramatic declines with the numbers lost more than double the previous 12 months.

This year’s poor winter, following on from a disastrous summer, is said to be the main reason for the losses.

British beekeepers have been surveyed at the end of March for the last six years.

 “Start Quote

This loss of bees was in effect far more dramatic than foot and mouth was on the national beef herd”

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Tim LovettBritish Beekeepers Association

They are asked to compare the number of colonies that are still alive compared to the numbers they had back in October.

With overall losses at 33.8%, this year’s figures are the worst yet recorded.

The hardest hit region was the South West where over half of the hives were lost.

“It is desperate; it is a huge loss of bees,” Devon beekeeper Glyn Davies told BBC News.

“The weather last summer and this winter, the two combined meant there was virtually a whole year when bees were confined and stressed just because of the environmental conditions.”

Queens affected

The bad weather meant that honey bees were unable to get out and forage. There was a scarcity of pollen and nectar throughout the season.

Some beekeepers believe that the increased number of infections and disease that bees are subject to may have made them weaker and unable to cope with the colder conditions.

“We are in a different era; quite frankly the bees haven’t got the resistance and reserves that they once did because of various illnesses and viruses,” said Mr Davies, who himself lost around a quarter of his 25 colonies.

The weather also posed problems for newly emerged queen bees – “virgin queens”. The growth of colonies depends on these bees being able to mate properly so they can lay fertilised eggs. But the poor weather hampered these activities as well.

If the weather is changeable, a queen may not execute her mating flight properly, Tim Lovett from the British Beekeepers Association told BBC News.

“If she doesn’t get properly mated she can only lay drones, and if she is doing that, that’s the death knell for the hive.”

A colony that has only drones and no workers will not survive.

Another weather-related factor that has worked against the bees is what is called isolation starvation. Because of the cold, the bees cluster very closely together to maintain hive temperature and consume the stores of honey closest to them.

If the weather is so cold that they can’t actually move, the bees will starve – although there may be plenty of food sources nearby.

Beekeepers say that is very bad news for honey supplies in the coming months. Late last year, the British Beekeepers’ Association reported that the honey crop was down by over 70% compared to 2011. They do not have great hopes for a recovery this year.

“It’s disastrous for honey production,” said Mr Lovett. “There is a cumulative effect because you have got to replace those hives. That is something the beekeeper now has to do.

“This loss of bees was in effect far more dramatic than foot-and-mouth was on the national beef herd. It means a great deal of work ahead for beekeepers to get back to where they were.”

Source: BBC

 

UK study casts doubt on insecticide link to bee declines.


http://blogs.nature.com/news/2013/03/uk-study-casts-doubt-on-insecticide-link-to-bee-declines.html