Colony Collapse Disorder In Bees: Part Six

Added 1 March 2013

The Guardian now reports – depressingly and alarmingly:

UK’s national ‘inaction’ plan on pesticides betrays bees
A legal requirement for reduction targets is apparently ignored, as ministers’ fig leaf for delaying EU-wide action is blown away by their own chief scientist

Article in Business Week on Europe and how it could get a reprieve from pesticides – with a cautionary note about the UK government’s position on this.

Added 12 April 2013

The American Bird Conservancy has issued a press release under the title ‘Birds, Bees, and Aquatic Life Threatened by Gross Underestimate of Toxicity of World’s Most Widely Used Pesticide’ in which it states:

“It is clear that these chemicals have the potential to affect entire food chains. The environmental persistence of the neonicotinoids, their propensity for runoff and for groundwater infiltration, and their cumulative and largely irreversible mode of action in invertebrates raise significant environmental concerns,” said Cynthia Palmer, co-author of the report and Pesticides Program Manager for ABC, one of the nation’s leading bird conservation organizations.

Added 1 May 2013

Under the title ‘Honey constituents up-regulate detoxification and immunity genes in the western honey bee Apis mellifera’ the PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA (PNAS) reports that:

The widespread apicultural use of honey substitutes, including high-fructose corn syrup, may thus compromise the ability of honey bees to cope with pesticides and pathogens and contribute to colony losses

I note the ‘may’. But leaving that aside, we can say that if pesticides are the cause and pesticides were banned, then there would be nothing for the bees to have to cope with and nothing to be compromised by using corn syrup.

The European Union has just banned neonicotinoid pesticides.

Added 8 May 2013

Bad news from Bee Informed, which reports that winter bee losses in the United States are up 42% compared to the previous year.

Added 15 August 2013

A bit late to the party, but the EPA has issued new guidelines for the use of neonicotinoids in relation to risks to honeybees.

But see this article from ezezine which says as follows, and more:

News From Beyond Pesticides and others. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) new pesticide label for honey bee protection, announced last Thursday and published in CATCH THE BUZZ, has been widely criticized by beekeepers and environmentalists as offering inadequate protection in the face of devastating bee decline.

Added 28 August 2013

Science Insider reports that Bayer and Syngenta take the EU to court to try to get a reversal of the decision to suspend the use of neonicotinoid pesticides:

BRUSSELS—Two agrochemical companies are fighting back against an E.U.-wide ban on three common neonicotinoid pesticides. Syngenta Crop Protection, which manufactures and sells one of the compounds in Europe, announced yesterday that it has brought a legal case earlier this month before the Court of Justice of the European Union, based in Luxembourg. Bayer CropScience, another producer, has done the same, a company spokesperson tells ScienceInsider.

Added 13 October 2013

From the Clinton Global Initiative a commitment from Monsanto (showing how to let the fox rule the henhouse)…

In 2013, Monsanto committed to addressing the collapse of the honey bee population in United States through the implementation of on the ground solutions to restore and protect honey bee populations. This commitment will tackle four key issues: parasites and pathogens, poor nutrition, the use of pesticides, agricultural practices, and the economic empowerment of bee keepers. Our planet’s food security is largely dependent on an abundance of natural pollinators; including honey bees, birds, and other insects. Since 2006, honey bee colonies in the United States have been declining at an alarming rate. This commitment seeks to address issues related to dwindling honey bee populations by investing in increased foraging spaces for existing honey bees; funding R&D for solutions to honey bee collapse; training over 50,000 farmers and growers on pesticide stewardship; and training dozens of female beekeepers in the US Midwest. Each of these will promote growth in honey bee populations and provide a mechanism for sustaining healthy honey bee colonies. This commitment is an important step in restoring vital honey bee populations and ensuring sustainable crop yields; a critical need for global food security.

Added 22 October 2013

Under the title Crop Pollination Exposes Honey Bees to Pesticides Which Alters Their Susceptibility to the Gut Pathogen Nosema ceranae researchers led by Jeff Pettis (see references above) published a study in PlosOne on July 24th this year and found that:

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.

(Esfenvalerate is a a pyrethroid type fungicide and Phosmet is an organo-phosphate.)

Added 15 April 2014

National Taiwan University study of the effects of imidacloprid – a neonicotinoid pesticide – concludes that it impairs the ability of bees to return to the hive, even in very low concentrations

Colony Collapse Disorder In Bees: Part Five

Added June 28, 2012

Reported in PlosOne, Kimberly A. Stoner of the Department of Entomology, The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, New Haven, Connecticut, and Brian D. Eitzer of the Department of Analytical Chemistry, The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, New Haven, Connecticut looked into the amount of neonictinoids (imidacloprid and thiamethoxam) in squash plants when sprayed into soil before seeding, or applied through drip irrigation in a single treatment after transplant.

They found the levels to be higher than that found in the nectar of canola and sunflower grown from treated seed and similar to the concentrations found in a recent study of neonicotinoids applied to pumpkins at transplant stage and through drip irrigation.

So that is now two studies with similar results.

Added July 04, 2012

United States Department Of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service reports today:

When it comes to solving the puzzling syndrome known as “colony collapse disorder” (CCD), which has been attacking honey bee colonies since 2006, the best that can be said is that there is good news and bad news. The good news is that the rate of honey bee losses seems to have leveled off rather than continuing to increase. The bad news is that the cause or causes of CCD remain unclear.

“We know more now than we did a few years ago, but CCD has really been a 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzle, and the best I can say is that a lot of pieces have been turned over. The problem is that they have almost all been blue-sky pieces—frame but no center picture,” Pettis explains.
The bee lab’s scientists have been looking for the cause or causes of CCD within four broad categories: pathogens; parasites, such as Varroa mites or Nosema; environmental stressors, such as pesticides or lack of nectar diversity; and management stressors.

Added August 24, 2012

Everyone should watch this:

Added August 26, 2012

Pathogen Webs in Collapsing Honey Bee Colonies

This paper was published on plosive by R. Scott Cornman, Yanping Chen, Dawn Lopez, Jeffery S. Pettis, and Jay D. Evans of the Bee Research Laboratory, Agricultural Research Service, United States Department of Agriculture, David R. Tarpy and Lacey Jeffreys of the Department of Entomology, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, and Dennis van Engelsdorp of the Department of Entomology, University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland

Added September 19, 2012

This article in the Huffington Post under the title ‘Bee Deviled: Scientists No Longer Bumbling Over Cause of Colony Collapse Disorder’ describes the author’s investigation into CCD and her talk with Pesticide Action Network, North America who lay the blame for CCD at the door of neonicotinoid pesticides.

Added September 24, 2012

With a hat-tip to Jamie Hamilton comes the unhappy news that DEFRA is not convinced that neonicotinoids are involved in bee deaths.

Added September 25, 2012

The Soil Association states that it is against the use of neonicotinoids because of the danger to honeybees.

Added October 2, 2012

There is an article in Symmetry magazine about cleaning hives with a particle accelerator.

Bees use wax combs to store larvae, pollen and honey—often using the same wax combs for several years, allowing intruders like fungi and bacteria to build up over time. One of the worst wax-inhabiting infections, a common disease known as American foulbrood, can form and release spores that live for up to 40 years. No amount of cleaning will eradicate the spores, so beekeepers often burn or bury their hives to prevent the disease from spreading. Particle accelerators offer an alternative that allows beehives to be put back into use.

Added November 6, 2012

As reported in the Yale Daily News:

…in the Oct. 30 issue of the mBio journal, Yale professor of ecology and evolutionary biology Nancy Moran published a study showing that beneficial bacteria found in the guts of honeybees have acquired genes that make bees resistant to tetracycline, an antibiotic used to prevent colony-destroying infections and other bacterial diseases.

The lead author of the paper was former Yale postdoctoral researcher Baoyu Tian, and other authors included Yale researchers Nibal H. Fadhil and J. Elijah Powell. The research was funded through a grant from the National Science Foundation.

Added 16 January 2013

From the Guardian today

The world’s most widely used insecticide has for the first time been officially labelled an “unacceptable” danger to bees feeding on flowering crops. Environmental campaigners say the conclusion, by Europe’s leading food safety authority, sounds the “death knell” for the insect nerve agent.

The Guardian article refers to a report by the European Food Safety Authority which states:

EFSA scientists have identified a number of risks posed to bees by three neonicotinoid pesticides. The Authority was asked by the European Commission to assess the risks associated with the use of clothianidin, imidacloprid and thiamethoxam, with particular regard to their acute and chronic effects on bee colony survival and development; their effects on bee larvae and bee behaviour; and the risks posed by sub-lethal doses of the three substances.

The findings for clothianidin, imidacloprid, and thiamethoxam are that:

A high risk was indicated or could not be excluded in relation to certain aspects of the risk assessment for honey bees for some of the authorised uses. For some exposure routes it was possible to identify a low risk for some of the authorised uses.

The Guardian report also states that:

The effect of neonicotinoids on pollinators is under investigation by the UK parliament and the Guardian has learned that Bayer’s spokesman, Little, is being recalled to explain “discrepancies” in his evidence. “Our inquiry has identified apparent flaws in the assessment of imidacloprid,” said Joan Walley MP, chair of the environmental audit committee. “Despite data from field trials showing the pesticide could linger in the environment at dangerous levels, imidacloprid was approved for use in the EU. We have asked chemical giant Bayer to return to parliament to explain discrepancies in its evidence on the amount of time that imidacloprid remains in the environment.”

Colony Collapse Disorder In Bees: Part Four

Added March 30th 2012

Center For Foood Safety Press release

Beekeepers & Environmental Groups to EPA: Pesticide Approval is “Irresponsible” & “Damaging.” Over 1 million urge EPA to suspend use of pesticide harmful to bees, fix broken regulatory system

March 21, 2012 – Today, commercial beekeepers and environmental organizations filed an urgent legal petition with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to suspend further use of a pesticide the agency knows poses harm to honey bees, and adopt safeguards to ensure similar future pesticides aren’t approved by the agency. The legal petition is supported by over one million citizen petitions also submitted today that were collected from people across the country calling out one pesticide in particular – clothianidin – for its harmful impacts on honey bees.

Added April 9th 2012

Discovery News is one of several news sources over the past couple of days that have been reporting a new study linking a neonicotinoid with CCD.

Harvard University biologist Chensheng Lu found a correlation between an imidicloprid contaminated diet and one of the symptoms of colony collapse disorder.

Lu replicated commercial bee keeping procedures by feeding bees high-fructose corn syrup, an enzymatically-treated super-sweet sugar used to give bees an energy boost. He spiked some of the syrup with imidicloprid. Many of the bees that fed on the neonicotinoid tainted syrup left their hives in the middle of winter, a deadly mistake associated with colony collapse disorder.

Lu’s study will be published in the Bulletin of Insectology in June.

Added April 25, 2012

This is courtesy AllGov, which reported that last September Monsanto bought Beelogic.

The ‘Breaking News‘ page on Beelogic’s site describes the takeover.

ST. LOUIS, Sept. 28, 2011 /PRNewswire/ — Monsanto Company (NYSE: MON) today announced it has acquired Beeologics, which researches and develops biological tools to provide targeted control of pests and diseases. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

AllGov reports the takeover somewhat differently:

Monsanto has purchased a research company whose mission is to combat the massive die off of honeybees—a problem blamed in part on the biotech giant’s genetically modified corn.

Last fall, Monsanto quietly purchased Beeologics, which is “dedicated to restoring bee health and protecting the future of insect pollination,” by combating Colony Collapse Disorder, according to the company’s website.

Since then, beekeepers and agricultural officials in Poland publicly blamed Monsanto’s MON810 corn for killing off thousands of bees. More than 1,500 people demonstrated in Warsaw against the company, and later the Ministry of Agriculture banned MON810 from use on Polish farms.

Wikipedia describes MON810 as follows:

MON 810 contains a gene from the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis that expresses a toxin (Bt toxin) poisonous to insects in the order Lepidoptera, such as the European Corn Borer.

It was approved for use in the European Union in 1998, but since then, several countries (Austria, Hungary, Greece, France, Luxembourg, Bulgaria and Germany) have banned its cultivation due to concerns that it causes environmental damage.

Until it was banned in April 2009, MON 810 was the only GM crop that could be cultivated commercially in Germany.

A 2010 systematic review in the journal Transgenic Research… concluded that the German decision to ban the cultivation of MON 810 was “scientifically unjustified.”

In 2011 the European Court of Justice and the French Conseil d’État ruled that the French farm ministry ban on the cultivation of MON810 was illegal.

On the 5th of April 2012, Poland has announced that it will completely ban growing MON810 on its territory because the “pollen of this strain could have a harmful effect on bees.”

MON 810 is approved for use in Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Colombia, the European Union, Japan, Korea, Mexico, the Philippines, South Africa, Switzerland, South Korea, Taiwan, the United States and Uruguay.