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ramonmercadoOffline
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PostPosted: 15-03-2012 18:28    Post subject: Reply with quote

I knew that farmers would turn out to be the villains of the piece.

Quote:
Corn Insecticide Linked to Great Die-Off of Beneficial Honeybees
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/03/120314170511.htm

New research has linked springtime die-offs of honeybees critical for pollinating food crops -- part of the mysterious malady called colony collapse disorder -- with technology for planting corn coated with insecticides. (Credit: © darios44 / Fotolia)

ScienceDaily (Mar. 14, 2012) — New research has linked springtime die-offs of honeybees critical for pollinating food crops -- part of the mysterious malady called colony collapse disorder -- with technology for planting corn coated with insecticides.

The study, published in ACS' journal Environmental Science & Technology, appears on the eve of spring planting seasons in some parts of Europe where farmers use the technology and widespread deaths of honeybees have occurred in the past.

In the study, Andrea Tapparo and colleagues explain that seeds coated with so-called neonicotinoid insecticides went into wide use in Europe in the late 1990s. The insecticides are among the most widely used in the world, popular because they kill insects by paralyzing nerves but have lower toxicity for other animals. Almost immediately, beekeepers observed large die-offs of bees that seemed to coincide with mid-March to May corn planting. Scientists thought this might be due to particles of insecticide made airborne by the pneumatic drilling machines used for planting. These machines forcefully suck seeds in and expel a burst of air containing high concentrations of particles of the insecticide coating. In an effort to make the pneumatic drilling method safer, the scientists tested different types of insecticide coatings and seeding methods.

They found, however, that all of the variations in seed coatings and planting methods killed honeybees that flew through the emission cloud of the seeding machine. One machine modified with a deflector to send the insecticide-laced air downwards still caused the death of more than 200 bees foraging in the field. The authors suggest that future work on this problem should focus on a way to prevent the seeds from fragmenting inside the pneumatic drilling machines.

The authors acknowledge funding from the University of Padova and the Ministero delle Politiche Agricole Alimentari e Forestali, Italy.

The above story is reprinted from materials provided by American Chemical Society.

Journal Reference:

Andrea Tapparo, Daniele Marton, Chiara Giorio, Alessandro Zanella, Lidia Soldà, Matteo Marzaro, Linda Vivan, Vincenzo Girolami. Assessment of the Environmental Exposure of Honeybees to Particulate Matter Containing Neonicotinoid Insecticides Coming from Corn Coated Seeds. Environmental Science & Technology, 2012; : 120217095058002 DOI: 10.1021/es2035152
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ramonmercadoOffline
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PostPosted: 16-03-2012 12:25    Post subject: Reply with quote

More on the hornets. Rather cruel towards hornets actually. How about inserting a BBC reporter into a bee hive instead?

Quote:
Hornet-killing honeybees’ brain activity measured
http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/17381710
By Victoria Gill
Science reporter, BBC Nature

Bees gather around a hornet inserted into their hive. Footage courtesy of Masato Ono, Tamagawa University.

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Honeybee mobs overpower hornets

Japanese honeybees' response to a hive-invading giant hornet is efficient and dramatic; they form a "bee ball" around it, serving to cook and asphyxiate it.

Now, researchers in Japan have measured the brain activity of honeybees when they form this killer ball.

One highly active area of the bees' brains, they believe, allows them to generate the constant heat which is deadly for the hornet.

The team published their findings in the open-access journal, PLoS One.

Prof Takeo Kubo from the University of Tokyo explained that "higher centres" of the bee's brain, known as the mushroom bodies, were more active in the brains of Japanese honeybees when they were a part of the "hot defensive bee ball".

To find this out, the team lured the bees to form their ball by attaching a hornet to the end of a wire and inserting the predator into the hive.

This simulated invasion caused the bees to swarm around the hornet. The researchers then plucked a few of the bees from the ball and measured, throughout each of their tiny brains, the relative amount of a chemical that is known to be a "marker" of brain activity.

"We found that similar [brain] activity is evoked when the Japanese honeybees are simply exposed to high temperature (46C) in the laboratory," the researcher told BBC Nature.

Continue reading the main story

Honeybees' brain activity may help them maintain the 46C temperature on the inside of the ball

Bee videos, news and facts
This suggests that this area of the brain is important for processing temperature information.

The team thinks that the mushroom bodies allow the bees to precisely control the temperature they generate inside the bee ball. The same researchers previously discovered that this remains at 46C until the hornet is successfully killed.

Prof Kubo said that this brain region might "modulate the vibration of the flight muscle", which is what generates this heat.

The bees, he explained, must maintain the temperature in the bee ball around 46 degrees "because, if the temperature of the bee ball is below [that], the hornet will not be killed".

"[And] if the temperature is above 46 degrees, not only the hornet but also the bees will be killed."

Dr Masato Ono from Tamagawa University, who also took part in the study, added: "The crucial function is to keep temperature inside the bee ball within the range of 46 to 48C, [like] a thermostat."

The team hope eventually to find out what kind of brain function is unique to the Japanese honeybees compared to that of the European honeybees, which do not form these spherical armies.
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ramonmercadoOffline
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PostPosted: 29-03-2012 21:17    Post subject: Reply with quote

More bad news. Full text atn link.

Quote:
Pesticides hit queen bee numbers
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-17535769
By Richard Black
Environment correspondent, BBC News

Pesticides are not the whole problem, but some think they could be a significant one

Related Stories

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Infections link to bees decline
Plant loss 'leads to fewer bees'

Some of the world's most commonly used pesticides are killing bees by damaging their ability to navigate and reducing numbers of queens, research suggests.

Scientific groups in the UK and France studied the effects of neonicotinoids, which are used in more than 100 nations on farm crops and in gardens.

The UK team found the pesticides caused an 85% drop in queen production.

Writing in the journal Science, the groups note that bee declines in many countries are reducing crop yields.

In the UK alone, pollination is calculated to be worth about £430m to the national economy.

And the US is among countries where a succession of local populations has crashed, a syndrome known as Colony Collapse Disorder.

Many causes have been suggested, including diseases, parasites, reduction in the range of flowers growing wild in the countryside, pesticides, or a combination of them all.

The neonicotinoids investigated in the two Science papers are used on crops such as cereals, oilseed rape and sunflowers.

Often the chemical is applied to seeds before planting. As the plant grows, the pesticide is contained in every part of it, deterring insect pests such as aphids.

But it also enters the pollen and nectar, which is how it can affect bees.

Dave Goulson from the UK's University of Stirling and colleagues studied the impact of the neonicotinoid imidacloprid on bumblebees.

They let bees from some colonies feed on pollen and sugar water containing levels of imidacloprid typically found in the wild, while others received a natural diet.

Then they placed the colonies out in the field.

'Severely compromised'
After six weeks, colonies exposed to the pesticide were lighter than the others, suggesting that workers had brought back less food to the hive.

But the most dramatic effect was on queen production. The naturally-fed hives produced around 14 queens each - those exposed to the pesticide, just two.


Pollination is calculated to be worth about £430m to the UK economy
"I wouldn't say this proves neonicotinoids are the sole cause of the problems bees face," said Dr Goulson, "but it does suggest they're likely to be one of the causes, and possibly a significant one.

"The use of these pesticides is so widespread that most bee colonies in areas of arable farming are likely to be exposed to them, so there is potential for them to be playing a significant role in suppression of bee populations on a pretty staggering scale."

The French research group investigated the impact of a different neonicotinoid, thiamethoxam, on the number of bees able to make it back to the colony after release.

Using tiny tags attached to the bees' backs, they showed that significantly fewer insects came back if they had previously been exposed to levels of thiamethoxam that they might encounter on farms.

Calculations showed the impairment was bad enough that the capacity of colonies survive could be severely compromised.

"What we found is that actually if colonies are exposed to pesticides, the population might decline to a point that would put them at risk of collapse due to other stressors," said lead scientist Mickael Henry from the French National Insitute for Agricultural Research (Inra) in Avignon.
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ramonmercadoOffline
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PostPosted: 13-04-2012 16:20    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Call for crop-spraying after 6pm to aid bee colonies
http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/ireland/2012/0413/1224314683080.html
Fri, Apr 13, 2012

The crop-spraying activities of farmers, which will increase in coming months, could have serious consequences for Ireland’s bee colonies.

Independent MEP Marian Harkin has called on tillage farmers to, where possible, spray crops after 6pm, when the threat to bee colonies would be greatly reduced.

“There is a worldwide threat to bees from identified and unidentified sources which is having a multibillion adverse economic effect across the EU and countries throughout the world.

“Last year the European Parliament overwhelmingly voted for programmes to tackle bee colony collapse on the basis that approximately 75 per cent of EU food production depended on the pollination activity of bees.”

She said recent studies in the UK and France have indicated an acceleration of the collapse in bee populations.
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MythopoeikaOffline
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PostPosted: 13-04-2012 18:18    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm frankly surprised that progress in this area has been so slow.
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Spudrick68Offline
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PostPosted: 17-04-2012 19:18    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm not personally. I suspect there is too much money for companies who produce the sprays etc... Like we could have massively reduced our dependency on oil years ago I also suspect.
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ramonmercadoOffline
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PostPosted: 18-04-2012 11:13    Post subject: Reply with quote

George Galloway has proposed an early day motion to repeal the laws of gravity.

Quote:
Gravity disturbs bees' dancing
http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/17727811
By Ella Davies
Reporter, BBC Nature

Watch a forager perform a vertical waggling figure of eight dance in the hive

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Honey bees that dance to give directions to flowers make more errors when performing horizontally due to gravity, say researchers.

Female foragers perform "waggle runs" on the hive's honeycomb for other bees.

The intricate movements display the direction and distance of the flowers from the hive.

Researchers from the University of Sussex are "eavesdropping" on bees to find out more about where they feed in Britain.


Dr Couvillon decodes angles in the dances by hand
Dr Margaret Couvillon has spent three years decoding the bees' unique method of communication.

Using observation hives with a glass wall, researchers have filmed the bees without disturbing their natural behaviour.

In honey bee society, forager bees scout out flower resources and return to the hive to perform a detailed dance made up of "waggle runs" on the honeycomb that communicate direction and distance.

The angle the waggle is performed at communicates the position of the flower relative to the sun, while the duration of the waggle tells nest mates how far away the flower is from the hive.

Foragers repeat these runs in a figure of eight with the number of repetitions signifying the quality of the resource.

"For a really good resource she'll repeat it 70 to 100 times," explained Dr Couvillon.

Continue reading the main story
Honey bee facts


There are three "castes" of honey bee in a hive: a single reproductive queen, males called drones and non-reproductive females called workers or foragers
Foragers will visit 2000 flowers a day to collect pollen and nectar
The Varroa jacobsoni mite is devastating British honey bee populations and scientists are investigating how to save the species
Watch forager bees on a mission
By studying the video footage, Dr Couvillon found that bees dancing vertically on the honeycomb made few "errors", repeating identical runs throughout the dance.

But bees dancing on the horizontal had more scattered runs.

"They have a hard time when they're dancing horizontally - the angles that they dance repeatedly are very different," Dr Couvillon told BBC Nature.

She explained that due to these errors a more holistic approach was needed to understand the message contained in horizontal dances.

Although the individual runs contained errors, an average calculated from all of the runs still provided accurate directions.

Dr Couvillon suggested that the inconsistencies could be attributed to gravity; when the bees are vertical on the comb they are aligned with the downward force but dancing horizontally requires more effort.

"If you were a rock climber and I asked you to get something to your right, at 90 degrees, it would be more difficult than getting something straight ahead of you," she explained.

The results feed into an ongoing debate in the scientific community over whether the variation in waggle dances happens because bees are communicating a general area, not a specific flower, or simply because they are trying their best in difficult circumstances.

"There's no reason why a bee would need to introduce scatter into a dance," said Dr Couvillon.

"I do think the bees are challenged but I still think they're pretty good at what they're doing."
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PostPosted: 07-05-2012 11:50    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bees support the Maoists!

Quote:
Bees swarm India paramilitary troops in Chhattisgarh
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-india-17980228
By Salman Ravi
BBC Hindi, Raipur

Operations against Maoist rebels have been stepped up recently

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Life in an Indian Maoist jungle camp
Profile: India's Maoist rebels

At least 19 Indian paramilitary troops were swarmed and badly stung by bees while on a counter-insurgency operation against Maoist rebels in Chhattisgarh state.

The troops were clearing landmines in the dense forests of Narayanpur district when they were attacked.

Four of the soldiers were in "a real bad state" with serious swelling on their faces and hands, police said.

The men have been admitted to a local government hospital.

The paramilitary personnel from the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) were deployed in the Farasgaon area of Bastar region.

The area contains dense forests and has been the scene of a bitter Maoist insurgency, police and local officials told the BBC.

Officials said that on Sunday afternoon a storm in the area is believed to have knocked a tree or a branch onto a bee hive while the paramilitary police were combing the area for landmines.

Insects and reptiles pose a major problem for the security forces deployed against the Maoists in the forests of Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Orissa.

According to rough estimates, malaria and insects kill as many security personnel as die in combat against Maoist rebels.

The Maoists are active in more than a third of India's 600-odd districts. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has described them as the biggest internal security challenge facing India.

The rebels say they are fighting for the rights of indigenous tribes people and the rural poor, who they say have been neglected by governments for decades.

India has deployed tens of thousands of federal paramilitary troops and policemen to fight the rebels.
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PostPosted: 28-05-2012 19:11    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
'Extinct' short-haired bumblebee returns to UK
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-18194778
By Rebecca Morelle
Science reporter, BBC News

Nikki Gammans explains how the short-haired bumblebee has been brought back to the UK

Related Stories

Scientists, leave our bees alone!
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New attempt to return bumblebee

A species of bee not seen in the UK for a quarter of a century is being reintroduced to the countryside.

The short-haired bumblebee was once widespread across the south of England but it vanished in 1988.

However, after a healthy stock of the bees was found in Sweden, conservationists were able to collect some to seed a new UK colony.

About 50 queen bumblebees are being released at the RSPB's Dungeness reserve in Kent.

Nikki Gammans, from the Short-haired Bumblebee Project, said: "Normally, extinction means a species is gone forever.

"But it is magnificent that we can bring back this bee species and give it a second chance here in the UK."

Plan bee

The loss of the short-haired bumblebee (Bombus subterraneus) was caused by the dramatic decline of wildflower meadows that occurred after World War II as agriculture intensified to feed the growing population.

It is estimated that 97% of Britain's flower-rich grasslands, which the bees needed to forage and thrive, has vanished over the past 70 years.


The short-haired bumblebee was hit hard by the loss of wildflower meadows in the UK
But in southern Sweden, the species is doing much better as fewer people live there and farming practices are more bee-friendly.

Dr Gammans said: "The bee population in Sweden is expanding and growing whereas for everywhere else in Europe it has been contracting - it is either rare, threatened, or extinct like in the UK.

"So Sweden was really the only place we could go to collect the bees."

A team of conservationists, with the permission of the Swedish authorities, captured nearly 100 spring queens to bring back to the UK.

Before the release, the bees were put in quarantine for two weeks at Royal Holloway, University of London.

Dr Mark Brown, from the university's school of biological sciences, said: "We've screened for four different parasite species, which can all damage bees in different ways.

"The key reason why we are looking for them is we don't want to introduce populations of these parasites from Sweden into the UK. Those with the parasites haven't been released."

Bee-friendly habitat

Continue reading the main story

Start Quote

There will be a really good chance that it will establish, it will become self sustainable and spread”

Nikki Gammans
Short-haired Bumblebee Project
The preparations for the bees' arrival in Kent have also been extensive.

At the RSPB's reserve in Dungeness, the site for the bees' release, conservationists have spent the last three years preparing the land.

Martin Randall, the site manager at the reserve, said: "The most important thing we've had to do to get this ready for the bees is to encourage wild flowers, like clovers and vetches.

"So the first thing we did was to collect locally grown clover seed and spread it across the grasslands, and then we followed it up by grazing it sensitively with cattle and sheep."

The work is already helping other endangered bee species in the local area: the shrill carder bee, which was absent from Dungeness for 25 years, was recently found there.


The fields at the RSPB's Dungeness reserve are now packed full of wild flowers
Mr Randall said: "When you come here on a still day, this is just buzzing with bees, and we're hoping that the short-haired bumblebee will join that group."

Local farmers have also been involved in the project, which has been funded by Natural England, the RSPB, Hymettus and the Bumblebee Conservation Trust.

By leaving margins unfarmed at the edges of their fields, flower-rich, green "corridors" are created, which will help the bees to spread out across the area.

Plight of the bumblebee

This is the second attempt to release the short-haired bumblebee in the UK.

In 2009, Dr Gammans collected bees from New Zealand, which had been introduced there from the UK in 1895 to pollinate red clover.


Habitat improvements can help other endangered bees, such as the shrill carder bee
But DNA tests found the colony lacked genetic diversity and many of the queens did not survive their hibernation once in the UK.

But the ecologist is much more optimistic about the success of the Swedish bees.

Dr Gammans said: "We think there will be a really good chance that it will establish, it will become self sustainable and spread."

She said she expected between 20-30% of the reintroduced queen bees would survive after their release and create nests.

"This is about the usual survival rate for queens. After that, we want to add further reintroductions to increase the genetic diversity and increase their chances," she explained.

The team hopes the return of this species could give a boost to bee conservation.

Continue reading the main story
Fuzzy buzzers


Bumblebees are vital pollinators of wild flowers and crops. They appear to be particularly effective at pollinating tomato plants; the frequency of their buzz releases a cloud of pollen from the flowers, covering the bees' fuzzy bodies and the reproductive parts of other flowers. Some tomato-growers use pollination vibrators or even electric toothbrushes to mimic this effect.
These large, robust members of the bee family visit flowers that are up to 2km from their hive. UK scientists recently found that the bees "optimise their journeys" - taking the shortest possible distance from one flower to another before returning to the hive.
Bee identification: How to spot the stingers
Over the past few decades, bumblebees have been in serious decline. As well as the loss of the short-haired bumblebee, another bee species - the Cullem's bumblebee (Bombus cullumanus) - has also been declared extinct in the UK and others species are at risk of vanishing from the UK.

Conservationists warn that the loss of the bees and other insect pollinators would be disastrous.

With about 80% of Britain's plants reliant on insects for pollination, it has been estimated that these creatures contribute more than £400m a year to the UK economy.

Dr Pete Brotherton, head of biodiversity at Natural England, said: "We depend upon nature in so many ways, yet across England many species and habitats are in decline.

"These losses can be stopped - today is a fantastic example of what conservation organisations, the government and farmers can achieve when we work together.

"Exciting projects like this one are vital in helping to turn the tide on biodiversity loss."
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rynner2Offline
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PostPosted: 31-05-2012 20:19    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bees given new home on Truro Town Hall roof

Twenty-thousand bees have a new home on top of Truro's town hall.
The installation of two hives in the Cornish city is part of an initiative by Truro's new Green Party mayor, Lindsay Southcombe.
Ms Southcombe wants to raise awareness of the insects' decline and has entitled her first term in office as "The Year of the Bee".
Scientists claim bees numbers are being severely threatened by pesticides, disease and environmental changes.

Colin Reece, president of Cornwall's beekeepers' association, said the bee was "responsible for every third mouthful of food that we eat".
"Without the honey bee, we would not have the range of food that we take for granted available to us now," he said.
"The bee is responsible for every third mouthful of food that we eat through their pollination. We think of the honey bee as making honey, but their primary role in life is pollination."

Experts said the initiative was "perfectly safe" and would not pose any threat to the public.
Flowers and shrubs enjoyed by bees will be planted on the roof of the town hall and Ms Southcombe said the honey produced would be harvested and sold for charity.

David Aston, from the British Beekeepers' Association, said bees could often do better in urban areas than in the countryside, because city parks and gardens contained a higher diversity of plant life.

Scientists have previously warned that if bees and other pollinators were to disappear completely, the cost to the UK economy could be up to £440m per year - about 13% of the income from farming.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-cornwall-18276194
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PostPosted: 01-06-2012 19:09    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Winter honey bee losses decline
http://phys.org/news/2012-06-winter-honey-bee-losses-decline.html
June 1st, 2012 in Biology / Plants & Animals

Total losses of managed honey bee colonies from all causes dropped to 21.9 percent nationwide for the 2011/2012 winter, a decline of some 8 percentage points or 27 percent from the approximately 30 percent average loss beekeepers have experienced in recent winters, according to the latest annual survey conducted by the Bee Informed Partnership, the Apiary Inspectors of America and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

This is certainly an improvement over recent years, but it is still far too high a loss rate, says University of Marylands Dennis vanEngelsdorp, the leader of the survey and a research scientist in the department of entomology at Maryland. One in five bees lost is still huge and still quite a ways from the 13-14 percent loss that beekeepers say would be sustainable says vanEngelsdorp, who authored the preliminary report on the groups survey findings.

Understanding the health of bees and other native pollinators is important to ecosystems and our economy because of the crucial role pollinators play in plant reproduction. It is estimated that bees pollinate about a third of the food that we eat, at a value of about $15 billion per year.

The groups surveys for the previous five years found total colony losses of 30 percent in 2010/2011, 34 percent in 2009/2010, 29 percent in 2008/2009, 36 percent in 2007/2008 and 32 percent in 2006/2007.

Honey bee landing on a watermelon flower. Honey bee colony losses were substantially down for the winter of 2011-2012. Credit: Stephen Ausmus
vanEngelsdorp and other scientists involved in the survey say they dont know the reason for improved bee survival this winter, but that the unusually warm winter during 2011/2012 is one possible contributing factor. January 2012 ranks as the fourth warmest January in U.S. history. However they say no direct scientific investigation of the weather connection has been done.
A warm winter means less stress on bee colonies and may help them be more resistant to pathogens, parasites and other problems, said Jeff Pettis, co-leader of the survey and research leader of the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Bee Research Laboratory in Beltsville, Md. ARS is USDAs chief intramural scientific research agency.

Of beekeepers who reported losing any colonies, 37 percent said they lost at least some of their colonies without the presence of dead bees, which is one of the defining symptoms of colony collapse disorder (CCD), a serious problem that beekeepers began facing in 2006. Since this was an interview-based survey, it was not possible to confirm that these colonies had CCD or if the losses were the result of other causes that share the "absence of dead bees" symptom.

Beekeepers who reported colony losses with no dead bees present had average colony losses of 47 percent, compared to beekeepers who lost colonies, but did report dead bees. Those beekeepers lost 19 percent of their colonies.

Last year, beekeepers who reported colony losses with no dead bee bodies present had average colony losses of 61 percent, compared to beekeepers who lost colonies but did report dead bees. They had 34 percent in losses.
Despite intense efforts we still dont fully understand why bees are dying at such high rates, vanEngelsdorp says, It seems likely that several factors, including pesticides, parasitic mites and diseases, and nutrition problems all play a contributing roll.

Almost half of responding beekeepers reported losses greater than 13.6 percent, the level of loss that beekeepers have stated would be acceptable for their operations. Continued losses above that level threaten the economic sustainability of commercial beekeeping.

A total of 5,543 U.S. beekeepers, approximately 20 percent of the beekeepers in the United States, responded to the online survey.

Collectively, the responding beekeepers managed over 14.6 percent of the countrys estimated 2.49 million colonies. A complete analysis of the survey data will be published later this year. The abstract can be found at: http://beeinformed.org/2012/05/winter2012/ .

More information: More information about colony collapse disorder can be found at http://www.ars.usda.gov/ccd .

Provided by University of Maryland
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PostPosted: 01-06-2012 20:22    Post subject: Reply with quote

Coincidence?

Some of the usual suspects are noted here too.

Quote:
UK butterflies continue to decline


Quote:
"The spread in modern agricultural practices, like use of pesticides and herbicides, makes it very difficult for butterflies," she explained.


http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/18283251
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PostPosted: 01-06-2012 20:32    Post subject: Reply with quote

Cultjunky wrote:
Coincidence?

Some of the usual suspects are noted here too.

Quote:
UK butterflies continue to decline


Quote:
"The spread in modern agricultural practices, like use of pesticides and herbicides, makes it very difficult for butterflies," she explained.


http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/18283251


Theres an urgent need for a farmer cull.
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PostPosted: 10-06-2012 18:44    Post subject: Reply with quote

I mite have known this.

Quote:
Bee-killing virus gets supercharged by mites
http://www.newsdaily.com/stories/bre85613c-us-bees-virus/
By Ben HirschlerPosted 2012/06/07 at 2:07 pm EDT

LONDON, June 7, 2012 (Reuters) — Parasitic mites have turbo-charged the spread of a virus responsible for a rise in honey bee deaths around the world, scientists said on Thursday.

Bee populations have been falling rapidly in many countries, fuelled by a phenomenon known as colony collapse disorder. Its cause is unclear but the Varroa mite is a prime suspect, since it spreads viruses while feeding on hemolymph, or bee's "blood".

To clarify the link between mites and viruses, a team led by Stephen Martin of Britain's University of Sheffield studied the impact of Varroa in Hawaii, which the mites have only recently invaded.

They found the arrival of Varroa increased the prevalence of a single type of virus, deformed wing virus (DWV), in honey bees from around 10 percent to 100 percent.

At the same time the amount of DWV virus in the bees' bodies rocketed by a millionfold and there was a huge reduction in virus diversity, with a single strain of DWV crowding out others.

"It is that strain that is now dominant around the world and seems to be killing bees," Martin said in a telephone interview. "My money would be on this virus as being key."

Other factors - including fungi, pesticides and decreased plant diversity - are thought to play a role in colony collapse, but Ian Jones of the University of Reading said the latest findings pointed to the virus and mite combination as being the main culprit.

"This data provides clear evidence that, of all the suggested mechanisms of honey bee loss, virus infection brought in by mite infestation is a major player in the decline," he said.

Jones, who was not involved the research, said the findings published in the journal Science reinforced the need for beekeepers to control Varroa infestation in colonies.

The threat to bee populations extends across much of Europe and the United States to Asia, South America and the Middle East, experts say.

Bees are important pollinators of flowering plants, including many fruit and vegetable crops. A 2011 United Nations report estimated that bees and other pollinators such as butterflies, beetles or birds do work worth 153 billion euros ($191 billion) a year for the human economy.

(Editing by Robert Woodward)
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PostPosted: 20-06-2012 21:58    Post subject: Reply with quote

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Pesticides hit bumblebee reproduction
June 20th, 2012 in Biology / Plants & Animals

The buff-tail bee.

Scientists already knew that neonicotinoid pesticides, which affect insects' nervous systems, can alter bee behaviour, putting these vital pollinators, already threatened by habitat loss and disease, further at risk.

This new piece of research shows that bumblebees with diets contaminated with levels of neonicotinoid pesticide typically found in the environment produce up to a third fewer offspring.

The scientists looked at other ways that neonicotinoids could have affected reproduction. They found the pesticides do not damage the development of ovaries or delay egg-laying, except at really high doses. But they noticed that the more pesticide a bumblebee ingested, the less pollen and syrup it ate. So exposed bees may not have had the nutrients needed to lay the normal number of eggs in the first place.

"There could be two reasons why they're feeding less," suggests Ian Laycock from the University of Exeter, whose research was published in Ecotoxicology last month. "They could be learning to avoid the food but we don't think this is the case, because the drop in feeding rates becomes more intense over time. We think there's a toxic effect altering their ability to feed. At higher exposures of the pesticide their movement is compromised, and the efficiency of their foraging is reduced."

This adds to a growing body of evidence that neonicotinoids alter bee behaviour and may affect bee populations. Studies published in Science in March this year showed that pesticide exposure below the lethal dose damages bees' normally good sense of direction. Bees were not only getting lost and dying outside the hive more often, but also bringing home less food being, leading to dramatic reductions in the number of queens being produced.

"In these more recent studies, people are starting to take account of the actual doses bees are likely to get," explains Laycock. 'The newer research is a lot more environmentally realistic, so it's attracting a lot more attention. They're coming up with very interesting evidence, such as the effect of pesticide exposure on the production of queens.'

"But we need more information before we can definitely say that pesticides are causing a decline," Laycock adds. "So far, we know that it harms the bees, but there are still so many questions, such as whether the queens can recover."

Neonicotinoid pesticides are not the only problem that bees face. The varroa mite, a bloodsucking parasite that lives on bees, has spread rapidly around the world in the last 50 years. It increases the transmission of a deadly virus to levels capable of wiping out whole colonies.

This threat is amplified by the reduction of habitat. The UK has lost most of its wildflower meadows, dramatically reducing the food sources available to bees, butterflies and moths. Add the threat of behaviour-altering pesticides to both kept and wild bee populations, and it's clear that pollinators are in for a rough time.

These threatened pollinators are essential to agriculture. French and German scientists valued the pollination service provided by insect pollinators at 153 billion euros, amounting to 9.5 per cent of total farm production.

"Bumblebees are increasingly important in agricultural pollination," says Laycock. "There are some crops, particularly fruit crops, where bumblebees are particularly good at pollination. Also, they're pretty much intrinsic to maintaining wildflower populations, so we also have to think about biodiversity."

The scientists now hope to look at whether the bumblebees can recover from the short pulses of the neonicotinoid pesticide released into the environment in the spring.

"In the UK, roughly 85 per cent of [the neonicotinoid] imidacloprid is used growing oilseed rape, so the bees are getting exposed in short bursts during the mass flowering," Laycock explains. "It's hitting them when they're building a workforce big enough to support the production of queens. If they can't build this workforce they could be vulnerable, so we need to answer the question on whether they can recover from that."

More information: Ian Laycock, et al., 2012. Effects of imidacloprid, a neonicotinoid pesticide, on reproduction in worker bumble bees. Ecotoxicoloy doi: 10.1007/s10646-012-0927-y

Provided by PlanetEarth Online
This story is republished courtesy of Planet Earth online, a free, companion website to the award-winning magazine Planet Earth published and funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC).

"Pesticides hit bumblebee reproduction." June 20th, 2012. http://phys.org/news/2012-06-pesticides-bumblebee-reproduction.html
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