37 MILLION BEES FOUND DEAD In Ontario, Canada After Large GMO Corn Field Planted


Dead Bee

Local Ontario farmer, Nathan Carey, reported that this spring there were not enough bees on his farm. He believes, as do many others, that there is a strong correlation between the disappearance of bees and the use of insecticides. For the last seven consecutive years, honeybees have been in decline, something scientists have coined, “colony collapse disorder” (CCD).

GMO Corn Field Kills 37 Million Bees in Ontario

If the global honeybee population were to collapse, we would be in serious trouble. It’s estimated that one-third of everything we eat depends on honeybee pollination- that means bees contribute over 30 billion to the global economy. And for some things like almonds, bees do 100% of the work. No more bees equals no more almonds.

From the article:

“A new study published in the Journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences revealed that neonicotinoid pesticides kill honeybees by damaging their immune system and making them unable to fight diseases and bacteria.”

And we can see that the pesticides linger; scientists have found 121 different pesticides in samples of bees, wax, and pollen. “We believe that some subtle interactions between nutrition, pesticide exposure, and other stressors are converging to kill colonies,” said Jeffery Pettis, of ARS’s bee research laboratory.

And why are the pesticides in bees, wax, and pollen? Because two of the best-selling pesticides, Imidacloprid and Clothianidin (by Bayer), are known to get into pollen and nectar. In fact, while these drugs were being marketed in Europe and the US, there were large-scale bee deaths in those places.

Thankfully, after large bee losses were reported- after exposure to Imidacloprid- it was banned for use on corn and sunflowers (as you can imagine Bayer protested this decision). And France rejected Bayer’s application for Clothianidin.

While we are happy for the common sense approach to bee and public health in Europe, it’s time that starts happening here.

Watch the video. URL:https://youtu.be/WnrpTHNPjaU

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Colony collapse disorder is no longer the existential threat to honeybees you thought it was.


After years of uncertainty, honeybees appear poised to recover from collapse.

bee hive.

In the far corner of Socrates Sculpture Park in Queens, there is a depression, 5 feet deep and 70 feet in diameter, that is filled with more than 1,000 individual plants. There are sunflowers and oregano and geraniums—and bees. By the thousands. This sculpture, called Concave Room for Bees, is an earthen work of art designed to attract the insects by providing a rich and steady source of nutrition. Its creator, artist Meg Webster, hopes it will draw attention to the fact that bees are dying globally at an alarming rate.

Ask people on the street if they’re aware of this great bee die-off, and if they’re regular users of the internet, odds are they’ll say yes. When the Broncos won the Super Bowl in 2015, a bee-collapse meme was born thanks to a tweeted video of Eli Manning captioned “when ur brother wins the super bowl but then u remember that bees are dying globally at an alarming rate”

It may not be the Ice Bucket Challenge, but even minor environmental awareness is good, right? Actually, in this case, it may not be necessary. That’s because honeybee populations are not in decline. They haven’t been for a few years now. In fact, many experts believe that honeybees are not in any imminent danger of extinction.

So why do we think they are? Ten years ago, a man named Dave Hackenberg discovered that bees were disappearing. Not dying, just disappearing. Unlike previous plagues where whole colonies could be wiped out, leaving a pile of bee bodies on the floors of the hives, this new wave of affliction was rendering hives completely empty, with no bodies for pathologists to examine, leading some bloggers to dub the phenomenon “the bee rapture.

In the past decade, research has found that a new class of pesticides, neonicotinoids, increases the honeybees’ susceptibility to a specific parasite—the varroa mite (these mites have been around since the 1980s but weren’t known to cause any serious problems until the bees started disappearing). Alone, neither factor poses a species-level threat to honeybees, but the combination of the two led to the catastrophe that ultimately came to be known as colony collapse disorder.

The strange thing is that no one knows exactly how the interaction of bad pesticides and this parasite caused bee colonies to collapse. Some researchers have arguedthat the pesticides make the queen more susceptible to varroa mite, which kills her reproductive capabilities and causes other members of the hive to give up and depart for greener pastures, so to speak. Others think it’s that the neonicotinoids cause a disruption in the homing mechanisms of the honeybees that prevents them from navigating back home, though it’s unclear how the mites play a role. In both cases, the result is the same: an empty hive.

“CCD was a real problem, probably six or seven years ago,” says Jeff Pettis, an entomologist whose research played a major role in uncovering the causes of CCD. He adds that in the past three to five years, though, researchers in his field have as not seen much CCD and that globally honeybee populations are not in decline.

The reasons for this apparently miraculous departure from the fast-track toward extinction are not hard to understand, now that research has borne out the causes. First, both the U.S. and several European countries have passed regulations that restricts the use of pesticides and fungicides that are suspected to have played a role in CCD to begin with.

The second reason there’s no longer an immediate threat of extinction is that bees aren’t, say, giant pandas, an animal that is actually, seriously endangered. That is to say, bees can recover their population numbers reasonably quickly. Compared with the once-a-year ovulatory habits of pandas, queen honeybees regularly lay 1,500 eggs per day, and if the conditions call for it, can up that figure to as many as 2,000 eggs per day or more. Even if honeybee keepers report losing as much 30 to 45 percent of their bees in a single year, this doesn’t actually mean the honeybee population will decline by that much. The beekeepers’ response will be to simply leverage the queens’ enormous reproductive abilities, which will quickly recoup those losses.

So even though bees were disappearing in alarming ways and at alarming rates, their population never actually saw a significant decline. The number of honeybee colonies peaked in 1989, at 3.5 million colonies; in 2008, two years after CCD was first characterized, that number dipped to 2.4 million, the worst year for honeybee populations in recorded history. Since their lowest point, honeybee populations in the U.S. have climbed at a modest pace and now stand at 2.7 million colonies.

So if the bees are all right, why don’t we think they are? Why are we constantly lamenting their demise or building large-scale nature-based art in their honor? For one thing, the story of thousands of bees vanishing from the Earth was inherently more fascinating than, say, this one, which explains that reasonable and largely bureaucratic measurements helped stymie the decline.

The consequences a honeybee extinction would have held for human existence are severe. About one-third of all crops—including almost all fruits and nongrain vegetables—are pollinated by honeybees. “I would hate to live in a world without bees,” said Pettis, emphasizing the diversity in diet that the insects afford us. “We’d still have oatmeal, but we wouldn’t be able to have blueberries in our oatmeal.”

That would be too bad, but it almost certainly won’t come to pass. So the next time you’re watching your brother win the Super Bowl, you’ll need a better excuse for looking sour.

37 Million Bees Found Dead In Ontario.


It was just a few weeks ago that 50,000 bees were found dead in an Oregon parking lot, and now the ongoing problem has hit north of the border in Ontario, Canada where more than 37 million bees have been found dead. 

In the past, many scientists have struggled to find the exact cause of the massive die-offs, a phenomenon they refer to as “colony collapse disorder” (CCD). In the United States, for seven consecutive years, honeybees are in terminal decline.The problem has brought beekeepers to crisis in an industry responsible for producing apples, broccoli, watermelon, onions, cherries and a hundred other fruits and vegetables. Commercial honeybee operations pollinate crops that make up one out of every three bites of food on our tables. 

37 Million Bees Found Dead In Ontario

According to the annual survey by the Apiary Inspectors of America and the US government’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS), The number of managed honeybee colonies has fallen by over 30%.US scientists have found 121 different pesticides in samples of bees, wax and pollen, lending credence to the notion that pesticides are a key problem. “We believe that some subtle interactions between nutrition, pesticide exposure and other stressors are converging to kill colonies,” said Jeffery Pettis, of the ARS’s bee research laboratory.The collapse in the global honeybee population is a major threat to crops. It is estimated that a third of everything we eat depends upon honeybee pollination, which means that bees contribute over 30 billion to the global economy. 37 Million Bees Dead in Ontario Dave Schuit, who runs a honey operation in Elmwood, Ontario says he’s lost more than 600 hives — that’s more than 37 million bees — in 2012 alone. Schuit says he’s been seeing his bees die at a rapid rate every spring in the last few years. “This is how they die,” Schuit explained to The Toronto Star, pointing with a broad hand to a bee that’s gone haywire, flailing erratically in the grass. “Their tongue sticks out and the venom drips out their backside.” According to the 48-year-old apiarist, neonicotinoid pesticides are to blame for the loss. The Collective Evolution finds that the deaths occur after the pesticide dust is blown into the air (used to coat corn seed with air seeders). A study from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) shows that the causes of CCD may be more varied than scientists expect. The bees may be dying not from a single toxin or disease but rather from an assault directed by a collection of pathogens. A research team led by entomologist May Berenbaum at the University of Illinois compared the whole genome of honeybees that came from hives that had suffered from CCD with hives that were healthy. The sick bees exhibited genetic damage that could account for the die-off, and that damage indicated that they might be afflicted with multiple viruses simultaneously. This could weaken them enough to trigger CCD. “It’s like a perfect storm,” says Berenbaum. Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Industry began taking samples from dead bees in Ontario and Quebec. Schuit’s bee’s were a part of that study and now the agency is now “re-evaluating” the pesticides status while analyzing more samples this year. Bayer Pesticides Long Implicated in Colony Collapse Disorder Two of Bayer’s best-selling pesticides, Imidacloprid and Clothianidin, are known to get into pollen and nectar, and can damage beneficial insects such as bees. The marketing of these drugs also coincided with the occurrence of large-scale bee deaths in many European countries and the United States.

The non-profit group NRDC filed a lawsuit in August 2008 to force the U.S. government to release the studies it ordered on the effect of clothianidin on honeybees. NRDC attorneys believed the EPA already had evidence of a link between pesticides and the mass honeybee die-offs, yet was not making the information public. NRDC is now being allowed to look through the studies. There is some information already publicly available, though, and that’s the EPA’s fact sheet on clothianidin. It says right there in black and white that: “Clothianidin has the potential for toxic chronic exposure to honey bees, as well as other nontarget pollinators, through the translocation of clothianidin residues in nectar and pollen…In honey bees, the effects of this toxic chronic exposure may include lethal and/or sub-lethal effects in the larvae and reproductive effects on the queen.”

Unfortunately, the EPA approved neonicotinoid pesticides on the basis that the amounts found in pollen and nectar are not enough to kill bees. This says nothing of their potential to impact the bees on a non-lethal level, and, in fact, studies have shown that the substances can impair bees’ learning and memory even at low doses. France, meanwhile, after reporting large losses of bees after exposure to Imidacloprid, banned it for use on corn and sunflowers, despite protests by Bayer. In another smart move, France also rejected Bayer’s application for Clothianidin, and other countries, such as Italy, have banned certain neonicotinoids as well. After record-breaking honeybee deaths in the UK, the European Union has banned multiple pesticides, including neonicotinoid pesticides. Sources: thestar.com – mercola.com – guardian.co.uk 

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.”

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

Beepocalypse Redux: Honeybees Are Still Dying — and We Still Don’t Know Why.


bee
The honeybees are dying — and we don’t really know why. That’s the conclusion of a massive Department of Agriculture (USDAreport that came out late last week on colony-collapse disorder (CCD), the catchall term for the large-scale deaths of honeybee groups throughout the U.S. And given how important honeybees are to the food that we eat — bees help pollinate crops that are worth more than $200 billion a year — the fact that they are dying in large numbers, and we can’t say why, is very, very worrying.

CCD was first reported in 2006, when commercial beekeepers began noticing that their adult worker honeybees would suddenly flee the hive, ending up dead somewhere else and leading to the rapid loss of the colony. On normal years, commercial beekeepers might expect to lose 10% to 15% of their colony, but over the past five years, mortality rates for commercial operations in the U.S. have ranged from 28% to 33%. Since 2006 an estimated 10 million beehives worth about $200 each have been lost, costing beekeepers some $2 billion. There are now 2.5 million honeybee colonies in the U.S., down from 6 million 60 years ago. And if CCD continues, the consequences for the agricultural economy — and even for our ability to feed ourselves — could be dire. “Currently, the survivorship of honeybee colonies is too low for us to be confident in our ability to meet the pollination demands of U.S. agricultural crops,” the USDA report said.

So what’s causing CCD — and how can we stop it?

The problem is that there doesn’t seem to be a single smoking gun behind CCD. The USDA report points at a range of possible causes, including:

  • A parasitic mite called Varroa destructor that has often been found in decimated colonies
  • Several viruses
  • A bacterial disease called European foulbrood that is increasingly being detected in U.S. bee colonies
  • The use of pesticides, including neonicotinoids, a neuroactive chemical

Since CCD isn’t so much a single disease as it is a collection of symptoms, chances are that some or all of these factors, working in concert, might be behind the disappearance of the honeybees. The presence of the Varroa mite, for instance, can worsen the impact of existing viruses, while the stress of shipping bees back and forth across the country — increasingly common in commercial beekeeping — may be amplifying the stress on the insects and leaving them more vulnerable to CCD. (If you think a cross-country flight is rough on you, just imagine what it’s like for a honeybee hive.) The fact that CCD is increasingly seen in other countries as well gives more weight to the notion that there may be multiple factors at work.

Still, environmentalists have focused most on the potential role of pesticides — especially the powerful neonicotinoids — and some lab studies have found that the chemicals can adversely affect bee health. It’s not that the pesticides — which are aimed at other insects — are killing the bees outright, but rather that sublethal exposure in nectar and pollen may be interfering with the honeybees’ internal radar, preventing them from gathering pollen and returning safely to the hive.

The USDA report mostly withholds judgment on neonicotinoids, citing the need for more research, and the Environmental Protection Agency is conducting a very slow review of the evidence. Last week, though, the E.U., which is also grappling with CCD, decided it was done waiting, and announced a two-year ban on neonicotinoids. The European Commission enacted the ban on the recommendation of the European Food Safety Authority, which said in January that the pesticides should be restricted until scientists had cleared the chemicals of a role in CCD.

The chemical industry, unsurprisingly, disputes the finding. Bayer CropScience, a major pesticide manufactuer, said in a statement after the ban was announced:

As a science-based company, Bayer CropScience is disappointed that clear scientific evidence has taken a backseat in the decisionmaking process. This disproportionate decision is a missed opportunity to reach a solution that takes into consideration all of the existing product-stewardship measures and broad stakeholder concerns. The further reduction of effective crop-protection products will put at risk farmers’ ability to tackle important pests that can severely restrict their ability to grow high-quality food.

As Brad Plumer pointed out over at the Washington Post, it’s not that the E.U. necessarily has more evidence about the role that the chemicals might be playing in CCD. This is a classic case of policymaking by the precautionary principle. The pesticides are considered guilty until proven innocent, and so they’re preventively banned, even before the scientific case is rock solid. That’s not unusual for European environmental regulation, especially in regard to chemicals. In the U.S. it’s the reverse — before the federal government is likely to take the step of banning a class of pesticides, and pissing off the multibillion-dollar chemical industry, you’re likely to see a lot more science done.

So what we may get in Europe and the U.S. is a de facto field test of the real impact of neonicotinoids on CCD. In two years, if American bees are still dying and their European cousins are thriving, we might just have our answers. And if not, well, I hope you don’t like cashews, beets, broccoli, cabbage, brussels sprouts, chestnuts, watermelons, cucumber, fennel, strawberries, macadamia, mangoes, apricots, almonds or any of the other dozens of food crops pollinated by our hardworking, six-legged, unpaid farmworkers.

Source: Time.com

 

 

EPA Slapped with Lawsuit over Ongoing Bee Deaths.


dead-bees

 

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has failed to protect bees from neonicotinoid pesticides, according to a lawsuit against the agency, filed by beekeepers and environmental groups. Said Paul Towers, spokesperson for the Pesticide Action Network (PAN), one of the groups involved in the lawsuit:

“Despite our best efforts to warn the agency about the problems posed by neonicotinoids, the EPA continued to ignore the clear warning signs of an ag system in trouble.”

Lawsuit Maintains the Link Between Neonicotinoids and Bee Die Off Is ‘Crystal Clear’

Neonicotinoid pesticides are a newer class of chemicals that are applied to seeds before planting. This allows the pesticide to be taken up through the plant’s vascular system as it grows, where it is expressed in the pollen and nectar.

These insecticides are highly toxic to bees because they are systemic, water soluble, and pervasive. They get into the soil and groundwater where they can accumulate and remain for many years and present long-term toxicity to the hive as well as to other species, such as songbirds.

Neonicotinoids affect insects’ central nervous systems in ways that are cumulative and irreversible. Even minute amounts can have profound effects over time.

The disappearance of bee colonies began accelerating in the United States shortly after the EPA allowed these new insecticides on the market in the mid-2000s. The lawsuit alleges that the EPA allowed the neonicotinoids to remain on the market despite clear warning signs of a problem.

It also alleges the EPA acted outside of the law by allowing conditional registration of the pesticides, a measure that allows a product to enter the market despite the absence of certain data.

European Food Safety Authority Ruled Neonicotinoids ‘Unacceptable’

The EPA’s continued allowance of neonicotinoids becomes all the more irresponsible in light of recent findings by other government organizations. Earlier this year, for instance, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) released a report that ruled neonicotinoid insecticides are essentially “unacceptable” for many crops.1 The European Commission asked EFSA to assess the risks associated with the use of three common neonicotinoids – clothianidin, imidacloprid and thiamethoxam – with particular focus on:

  • Their acute and chronic effects on bee colony survival and development
  • Their effects on bee larvae and bee behavior
  • The risks posed by sub-lethal doses of the three chemicals

One of the glaring issues that EFSA came across was a widespread lack of information, with scientists noting that in some cases gaps in data made it impossible to conduct an accurate risk assessment. Still, what they did find was “a number of risks posed to bees” by the three neonicotinoid insecticides. The Authority found that when it comes to neonicotinoid exposure from residues in nectar and pollen in the flowers of treated plants:2

“…only uses on crops not attractive to honeybees were considered acceptable.”

As for exposure from dust produced during the sowing of treated seeds, the Authority ruled “a risk to honeybees was indicated or could not be excluded…” Unfortunately, neonicotinoids have become the fastest growing insecticides in the world. In the US, virtually all genetically engineered Bt corn crops are treated with neonicotinoids.

Serious Risks to Bees Already Established

One of the observed effects of these insecticides is weakening of the bee’s immune system. Forager bees bring pesticide-laden pollen back to the hive, where it’s consumed by all of the bees.

Six months later, their immune systems fail, and they fall prey to secondary, seemingly “natural” bee infections, such as parasites, mites, viruses, fungi and bacteria. Pathogens such as Varroa mites, Nosema, fungal and bacterial infections, and Israeli Acute Paralysis Virus (IAPV) are found in large amounts in honeybee hives on the verge of collapse.

Serious honeybee die-offs have been occurring around the world for the past decade but no one knows exactly why the bees are disappearing.

The phenomenon, dubbed Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), is thought to be caused by a variety of imbalances in the environment, although agricultural practices such as the use of neonicotinoid pesticides are receiving growing attention as more research comes in. As written in the journal Nature:3

Social bee colonies depend on the collective performance of many individual workers. Thus, although field-level pesticide concentrations can have subtle or sublethal effects at the individual level, it is not known whether bee societies can buffer such effects or whether it results in a severe cumulative effect at the colony level. Furthermore, widespread agricultural intensification means that bees are exposed to numerous pesticides when foraging, yet the possible combinatorial effects of pesticide exposure have rarely been investigated.”

This is what the Nature study set out to determine, and it was revealed that bees given access to neonicotinoid and pyrethroid pesticides were adversely affected in numerous ways, including:

  • Fewer adult worker bees emerged from larvae
  • A higher proportion of foragers failed to return to the nest
  • A higher death rate among worker bees
  • An increased likelihood of colony failure

The researchers said:

“Here we show that chronic exposure of bumble bees to two pesticides (neonicotinoid and pyrethroid) at concentrations that could approximate field-level exposure impairs natural foraging behavior and increases worker mortality leading to significant reductions in brood development and colony success.

We found that worker foraging performance, particularly pollen collecting efficiency, was significantly reduced with observed knock-on effects for forager recruitment, worker losses and overall worker productivity. Moreover, we provide evidence that combinatorial exposure to pesticides increases the propensity of colonies to fail.”

Why the Food Supply Could Be Dependent on Urgent Action by the EPA

The EPA acknowledges that “pesticide poisoning” may be one factor leading to colony collapse disorder,4 yet they have been slow to act to protect bees from this threat. The current lawsuit may help spur them toward more urgent action, which is desperately needed as the food supply hangs in the balance.

There are about 100 crop species that provide 90 percent of food globally. Of these, 71 are pollinated by bees.5 In the US alone, a full one-third of the food supply depends on pollination from bees. Apple orchards, for instance, require one colony of bees per acre to be adequately pollinated. So if bee colonies continue to be devastated, major food shortages could result.

There is also concern that the pesticides could be impacting other pollinators as well, including bumblebees, hoverflies, butterflies, moths and others, which could further impact the environment.

Four Steps to Help Protect the Bees

If you would like to learn more about the economic, political and ecological implications of the worldwide disappearance of the honeybee, check out the documentary film Vanishing of the Bees. If you’d like to get involved, here are four actions you can take to help preserve and protect our honeybees:

  1. Support organic farmers and shop at local farmer’s markets as often as possible. You can “vote with your fork” three times a day. (When you buy organic, you are making a statement by saying “no” to GMOs and toxic pesticides!)
  2. Cut the use of toxic chemicals in your house and on your lawn, and use only organic, all-natural forms of pest control.
  3. Better yet, get rid of your lawn altogether and plant a garden or other natural habitat. Lawns offer very little benefit for the environment. Both flower and vegetable gardens provide excellent natural honeybee habitats.
  4. Become an amateur beekeeper. Having a hive in your garden requires only about an hour of your time per week, benefits your local ecosystem, and you can enjoy your own honey!

Source: mercola.com

 

EPA Slapped with Lawsuit over Ongoing Bee Deaths.


dead-bees

 

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has failed to protect bees from neonicotinoid pesticides, according to a lawsuit against the agency, filed by beekeepers and environmental groups. Said Paul Towers, spokesperson for the Pesticide Action Network (PAN), one of the groups involved in the lawsuit:

“Despite our best efforts to warn the agency about the problems posed by neonicotinoids, the EPA continued to ignore the clear warning signs of an ag system in trouble.”

Lawsuit Maintains the Link Between Neonicotinoids and Bee Die Off Is ‘Crystal Clear’

Neonicotinoid pesticides are a newer class of chemicals that are applied to seeds before planting. This allows the pesticide to be taken up through the plant’s vascular system as it grows, where it is expressed in the pollen and nectar.

These insecticides are highly toxic to bees because they are systemic, water soluble, and pervasive. They get into the soil and groundwater where they can accumulate and remain for many years and present long-term toxicity to the hive as well as to other species, such as songbirds.

Neonicotinoids affect insects’ central nervous systems in ways that are cumulative and irreversible. Even minute amounts can have profound effects over time.

The disappearance of bee colonies began accelerating in the United States shortly after the EPA allowed these new insecticides on the market in the mid-2000s. The lawsuit alleges that the EPA allowed the neonicotinoids to remain on the market despite clear warning signs of a problem.

It also alleges the EPA acted outside of the law by allowing conditional registration of the pesticides, a measure that allows a product to enter the market despite the absence of certain data.

European Food Safety Authority Ruled Neonicotinoids ‘Unacceptable’

The EPA’s continued allowance of neonicotinoids becomes all the more irresponsible in light of recent findings by other government organizations. Earlier this year, for instance, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) released a report that ruled neonicotinoid insecticides are essentially “unacceptable” for many crops.1 The European Commission asked EFSA to assess the risks associated with the use of three common neonicotinoids – clothianidin, imidacloprid and thiamethoxam – with particular focus on:

  • Their acute and chronic effects on bee colony survival and development
  • Their effects on bee larvae and bee behavior
  • The risks posed by sub-lethal doses of the three chemicals

One of the glaring issues that EFSA came across was a widespread lack of information, with scientists noting that in some cases gaps in data made it impossible to conduct an accurate risk assessment. Still, what they did find was “a number of risks posed to bees” by the three neonicotinoid insecticides. The Authority found that when it comes to neonicotinoid exposure from residues in nectar and pollen in the flowers of treated plants:2

“…only uses on crops not attractive to honeybees were considered acceptable.”

As for exposure from dust produced during the sowing of treated seeds, the Authority ruled “a risk to honeybees was indicated or could not be excluded…” Unfortunately, neonicotinoids have become the fastest growing insecticides in the world. In the US, virtually all genetically engineered Bt corn crops are treated with neonicotinoids.

Serious Risks to Bees Already Established

One of the observed effects of these insecticides is weakening of the bee’s immune system. Forager bees bring pesticide-laden pollen back to the hive, where it’s consumed by all of the bees.

Six months later, their immune systems fail, and they fall prey to secondary, seemingly “natural” bee infections, such as parasites, mites, viruses, fungi and bacteria. Pathogens such as Varroa mites, Nosema, fungal and bacterial infections, and Israeli Acute Paralysis Virus (IAPV) are found in large amounts in honeybee hives on the verge of collapse.

Serious honeybee die-offs have been occurring around the world for the past decade but no one knows exactly why the bees are disappearing.

The phenomenon, dubbed Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), is thought to be caused by a variety of imbalances in the environment, although agricultural practices such as the use of neonicotinoid pesticides are receiving growing attention as more research comes in. As written in the journal Nature:3

Social bee colonies depend on the collective performance of many individual workers. Thus, although field-level pesticide concentrations can have subtle or sublethal effects at the individual level, it is not known whether bee societies can buffer such effects or whether it results in a severe cumulative effect at the colony level. Furthermore, widespread agricultural intensification means that bees are exposed to numerous pesticides when foraging, yet the possible combinatorial effects of pesticide exposure have rarely been investigated.”

This is what the Nature study set out to determine, and it was revealed that bees given access to neonicotinoid and pyrethroid pesticides were adversely affected in numerous ways, including:

  • Fewer adult worker bees emerged from larvae
  • A higher proportion of foragers failed to return to the nest
  • A higher death rate among worker bees
  • An increased likelihood of colony failure

The researchers said:

“Here we show that chronic exposure of bumble bees to two pesticides (neonicotinoid and pyrethroid) at concentrations that could approximate field-level exposure impairs natural foraging behavior and increases worker mortality leading to significant reductions in brood development and colony success.

We found that worker foraging performance, particularly pollen collecting efficiency, was significantly reduced with observed knock-on effects for forager recruitment, worker losses and overall worker productivity. Moreover, we provide evidence that combinatorial exposure to pesticides increases the propensity of colonies to fail.”

Why the Food Supply Could Be Dependent on Urgent Action by the EPA

The EPA acknowledges that “pesticide poisoning” may be one factor leading to colony collapse disorder,4 yet they have been slow to act to protect bees from this threat. The current lawsuit may help spur them toward more urgent action, which is desperately needed as the food supply hangs in the balance.

There are about 100 crop species that provide 90 percent of food globally. Of these, 71 are pollinated by bees.5 In the US alone, a full one-third of the food supply depends on pollination from bees. Apple orchards, for instance, require one colony of bees per acre to be adequately pollinated. So if bee colonies continue to be devastated, major food shortages could result.

There is also concern that the pesticides could be impacting other pollinators as well, including bumblebees, hoverflies, butterflies, moths and others, which could further impact the environment.

Four Steps to Help Protect the Bees

If you would like to learn more about the economic, political and ecological implications of the worldwide disappearance of the honeybee, check out the documentary film Vanishing of the Bees. If you’d like to get involved, here are four actions you can take to help preserve and protect our honeybees:

  1. Support organic farmers and shop at local farmer’s markets as often as possible. You can “vote with your fork” three times a day. (When you buy organic, you are making a statement by saying “no” to GMOs and toxic pesticides!)
  2. Cut the use of toxic chemicals in your house and on your lawn, and use only organic, all-natural forms of pest control.
  3. Better yet, get rid of your lawn altogether and plant a garden or other natural habitat. Lawns offer very little benefit for the environment. Both flower and vegetable gardens provide excellent natural honeybee habitats.
  4. Become an amateur beekeeper. Having a hive in your garden requires only about an hour of your time per week, benefits your local ecosystem, and you can enjoy your own honey!

Story at-a-glance

  • The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has failed to protect bees from neonicotinoid pesticides, according to a lawsuit against the agency, filed by beekeepers and environmental groups
  • The lawsuit alleges the EPA has ignored warnings that neonicotinoid pesticides are poisoning bees, and acted outside the law by allowing “conditional registration” of the pesticides
  • Neonicotinoid pesticides are a newer class of chemicals that are applied to seeds and taken up through the plant’s vascular system as it grows, where it is expressed in the pollen and nectar, which bees depend on for food
  • The EPA acknowledges that “pesticide poisoning” may be one factor leading to colony collapse disorder, and the European Food Safety Authority has singled out risks to bees from neonicotinoids, but the EPA has been slow to act to protect bees from this threat.

Source: mercola.com