Bees

rynner2

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Cornish bee 'could help save species from killer disease'

A rare Cornish bee species could save dwindling populations from a disease that has wiped out millions of colonies worldwide, scientists have said.
New research suggests the Cornish Black honey bee is better at dealing with varroa mites, which carry a strain of a disease called deformed wing virus.
The virus has killed vast numbers of the world's bees.

Scientists at Paignton Zoo are researching how the breed has survived the mite.
The zoo hopes its findings will help protect colonies and encourage more bee keepers to take on the Cornish breed.
Colonies of the bees have been moved to the zoo to monitor their health over the summer.
The mites act as tiny incubators of one deadly form of the disease, and inject it directly into the bees' blood.

Michael Bungard from the zoo said: "It's important that zoos look in our own backyard.
"Our bee project is predominantly education, so we can get the message across about the Cornish black bees and the varroa mite."

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-cornwall-22811683
 

sherbetbizarre

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Not Your Ordinary Buick – Check Out This Cluster of Bees Inside a Car!

The phone rang about 2:30 today and the caller identified himself as the manager of the local fast food restaurant.

He had found my name on the internet as ‘somebody who takes care of bees’ and said:’There is a customer’s car out here with bees’, so I headed over.

Now, I’ve been keeping bees on and off since I was 12 ( 4-H project ) and I’ve seen bees on cars’ radio antennas, tires, bumpers, and outside mirrors. But I was not prepared for this:
http://wliqlite1530.com/not-your-ordinary-buick/
 
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Thousands of bees die at start of National Pollinator Week
http://rt.com/usa/mass-death-bees-oregon-090/

Days before National Pollinator Week, an estimated 25,000 bees were found dead in an Oregon parking lot. Some scientists attribute the mass die-off to pesticides, and worry that local crops may be affected.

“To our knowledge this is one of the largest documented bumblebee deaths in the Western U.S. It was heartbreaking to watch,” Rich Hatfield, a conservation biologist at the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, said in a press release about the incident.

“They were literally falling out of the trees,” he added, describing the mysterious scene at a Target parking lot in Wilsonville, Ore. Between Saturday and Wednesday, the bodies of about 25,000 dead bumblebees had littered the Target parking lot, perplexing scientists and conservationists.

The bees fell from the European linden trees, began twitching on the ground, and eventually died in the masses.

“I visited the site (June 19), and saw bees on the ground in the process of dying. It’s a very unfortunate situation. Hopefully, (the Oregon Department of Agriculture) can provide some information,” Kerry Rappold, a Wilsonville natural resources program manager, told the Portland Tribune.

The mass die-off coincided with National Pollinator Week, an annual celebration of pollinating species, designated by the US Department of Agriculture. From June 17-23, the department is raising awareness about the importance of bees, birds, bats, butterflies, and other pollinator species that are vital to agriculture and ecosystems.

The bumblebee deaths served as an unfortunate disturbance to agriculturists who were participate in the weeklong celebration.

“I’ve never encountered anything quite like [this] in 30 years in the business,” Dan Hilburn, director of plant programs at the Oregon Agriculture Department, told the Oregonian.

It remains unclear what caused the die-off, but Xerces Society executive director Scott Hoffan Black believes that pesticide are to blame.

“It seems a landscape company did not follow label directions as it is not supposed to be sprayed during bloom,” he said. “We now assume this is the cause of the massive bee die-off. Lots of bees still dying — almost all bumblebees.”

The state’s agriculture department has collected some of the bodies to test for pesticides. Bumblebees are particular crucial for the pollination of blueberries and raspberries in Oregon, and it is possible that the incident could affect that crop industry. If the landscape company suspected of spraying pesticides violated any state or federal pesticide laws, the business could face fines ranging from $1,000 to $10,000.

The US honeybee population has been on the decline for years, suffering annual death rates of 30 percent. The widespread bee shortage is one of the biggest threats to the US agriculture industry. US officials have long been concerned about the economic ramifications of the dwindling population. The latest mass die-off adds to an already-dire situation, slashing several hundred colonies from the few that are left.
 

rynner2

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Imported bumblebees pose 'parasite threat' to native bees
By Victoria Gill, Science reporter, BBC News

Bumblebees imported from Europe carry pathogens that pose a threat to native honeybees and bumblebees in the UK, according to scientists.
Between 40,000 and 50,000 bumblebee colonies are imported into England each year to assist with crop pollination.

For a study in the Journal of Applied Ecology, scientists bought 48 colonies - hives containing up to 100 bees each - from three producers in Europe.
They found 77% had parasites that could infect native bees.

Lead researcher Prof William Hughes, of the University of Sussex, said commercial production and importation of bumblebees had been "going on for decades".
"We couldn't grow tomatoes in this country without these bumblebees," he said.
And with the decline in pollinating insects in recent years, food producers are increasingly reliant upon imported bees.

"Over a million colonies are imported globally - it's a huge trade," said Prof Hughes. "And a surprisingly large number of these are produced in factories, mainly in Eastern Europe.
"We sought to answer the big question of whether colonies that are being produced now have parasites and, if so, whether those parasites are actually infectious or harmful."

With his colleagues from the universities of Leeds and Stirling, the researcher set out to buy colonies "in exactly the same way a farmer would".
The team then screened the bees for parasite DNA.
"We found quite a number of parasites within the bees," Prof Hughes said.
The imported bumblebee colonies carried a range of parasites including the three main bumblebee parasites (Crithidia bombi, Nosema bombi and Apicystis bombi), three honeybee parasites (Nosema apis, Ascosphaera apis and Paenibacillus larvae), and two parasites that infect both bumblebees and honeybees (Nosema ceranae and deformed wing virus).

The team also found parasites in the pollen food supplied with the bees.

The scientists say that current regulations governing bumblebee imports are ineffective.
In England, for example, the non-departmental public body responsible for the protection of the environment, Natural England, issues licences for the release of non-native bumblebee subspecies.

But this study found parasites in both native and non-native subspecies that were commercially reared in Europe, and no licences are required to release native subspecies into the environment.

Natural England said under current regulations it was "not possible to impose disease control conditions or environmental safeguards on the release of imported bumblebees which originally descended from British bumblebees".
"It is therefore of particular concern that this research has revealed that imported bees - descended from British stock - have been found to be carrying disease," its statement added.
"Our licensing regime stipulates that where non-native bumblebees are used, they must be disease free, only used within polytunnels or greenhouses, using hives from which queens cannot escape, and that all hives and surviving bees must be destroyed at the end of their use."

But the researchers say that regulatory authorities need to strengthen measures to prevent importation of parasite-carrying bumblebee colonies, including checking bees on arrival in the UK and extending regulations to cover imported colonies of the native subspecies.
Prof Hughes said: "If we don't act, then the risk is that potentially tens of thousands of parasite-carrying bumblebee colonies may be imported into the UK each year, and hundreds of thousands worldwide.
"Many bee species are already showing significant population declines," he said.
"The introduction of more or new parasite infections will at a minimum exacerbate this, and could quite possibly directly drive declines."

A Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) representative responded to the study, saying: "Imported colonies of non-native bees are required to be screened for parasites and disease.
"We will continue to work with Natural England to ensure that growers who break the rules are punished."

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-23347867
 
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'Beemageddon' delayed: Bumblebee reemergence puzzles scientists
http://rt.com/usa/beemageddon-bumblebee ... state-493/

AFP Photo / Joel SagetAFP Photo / Joel Saget

A disappearing North American bumblebee species has reemerged in Washington state, stunning scientists and conservationists who long feared that “Beemageddon” would cause the collapse of the agriculture industry.

The Bombus occidentalis, also known as the Western Bumble Bee, has disappeared from half of its natural range, but was recently spotted among the flowers of a park north of Seattle, Reuters reports.

Multiple sightings of the vanishing bee, including several queens, have instilled new hope that it could make a comeback in the Pacific Northwest.

“It gives us hope that we can do some conservation work, and perhaps the species has a chance at repopulating its range,” Rich Hatfield, a biologist at the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, told Reuters, noting that the sightings are “a pretty big deal.”

The Western Bumble Bee vanished from parts of the US more than a decade ago. Since their disappearance, the first sighting in Washington state occurred last year, when an insect enthusiast found such a bee in her garden. Earlier this month, Will Peterman, a 42-year-old freelance writer and photographer, captured photos of the Bombus occidentalis searching for nectar in a park in Brier.

Peterman returned to the park with a group of entomologists on Sunday, and took additional photos of some of the queen bees. He described the scientists’ mood as “almost giddy” and “optimistic”.

Scientists have attributed bumblebee declines to parasites, pesticides and habit fragmentation. Hatfield believes a deadly fungus might have contributed to the decline of the Bombus occidentalis. He now wonders whether the species has developed a resistance to this fungus, thereby repopulating the Pacific Northwest.

Bees are crucial for the agriculture industry, since they pollinate crops such as tomatoes, cranberries, almonds, apples, zucchinis, avocados and plums. More than 100 types of US crops, valued at more than $200 billion each year, rely on bees to pollinate them.

A recent University of California study conducted by Berry J. Brosi, an assistant professor, and Heather M. Briggs, a graduate student, also found that the loss of bees could threaten certain types of plants and flower species that rely on pollination to produce their seeds.

The honey bee population has taken a particularly hard toll. The US is currently home to about 2.5 million honey bee colonies, which is a drastic decrease from the 6 million that existed in 1947 and the 3 million that existed in 1990.

Bumblebees have also faced dwindling populations, and an estimated 50,000 bees died in an Oregon parking lot in June, just days before National Pollinator Week.

“Bees across the country are not in as good a shape as last year,” Eric Mussen, a University of California bee specialist, told the Christian Science Monitor. But with the reemergence of the Bombus occidentalis in Washington state, “Beemageddon” might be delayed.
 
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Short-haired bumblebee nests in Dungeness
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-kent-24112752

Short-haired bumblebee (Nikki Gammans)

Further releases are now being planned to help build the population

A species of bee reintroduced to the UK after becoming extinct has nested for the first time in a quarter of a century.

The short-haired bumblebee started dying out in Britain in the 1980s and officially became extinct in 2000.

A reintroduction project saw queen bees brought over from Sweden.

After two releases of queens at the RSPB's Dungeness reserve in Kent, offspring worker bees have been recorded there for the first time.

Short-haired bumblebees were once widespread across the south of England but declined as their wildflower rich grasslands disappeared.

Nikki Gammans, who leads the project, said: "This is a milestone for the project and a real victory for conservation.

"We now have proof that this bumblebee has nested and hatched young and we hope it is on the way to become a self-supporting wild species in the UK.

'Fantastic reward'
"It's been a long journey to get here, from creating the right habitat for them, collecting queens in the Swedish countryside, scanning them for diseases and then eventually releasing them at Dungeness.

"Seeing worker bees for the first time is a fantastic reward for all that hard work but we still have a long way to go to ensure this population is safe and viable."

A first generation of queens, which were released last year, struggled in the summer's cold, wet conditions.

But a second release of queens from Sweden bolstered the colony.

The reintroduction project has involved work with farmers to create flower-rich meadows in Dungeness and Romney Marsh which have also boosted the numbers of other threatened bumblebees.

Further releases are planned to help build the population at Dungeness.
 
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Dino impact also destroyed bees, says study
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-24637889

Carpenter bee Sandra Rehan, University of New Hampshire

The team found the signal of a mass extinction in the DNA of carpenter bees

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

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

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

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

Continue reading the main story
EARLY LIFE ON EARTH

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

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

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

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

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

Post K-T impact
The impact that wiped out the dinosaurs created opportunities for other animals
However, the researchers were able to use an extinct group of Xylocopinae as a calibration point for timing the dispersal of these bees.

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

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

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

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

"Understanding extinctions and the effects of declines in the past can help us understand the pollinator decline and the global crisis in pollinators today," Dr Rehan explained.
 
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US govt’s wanton approval of harmful pesticides fueling ‘bee holocaust’ - lawsuit
Published time: December 27, 2013 23:34 Get short URL
http://rt.com/usa/bees-death-pesticides-lawsuit-894/

In response to rapidly dwindling global honey bee populations - vital in pollinating a third of the world’s crops - environmental and food safety groups have sued the EPA for approving bee-ravaging pesticides despite damning evidence of their effects.

The Center for Food Safety filed in mid-December a legal brief in support of a lawsuit backed by many organizations that seeks a reversal of the US Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) May decision to approve sulfoxaflor - a type of insecticide chemical known as a neonicotinoid that is associated with mass death among bee populations worldwide.

In fact, the European Union has banned neonicotinoids for two years based on scientific studies that have linked their use to sudden eradication of entire beehives - a phenomenon dubbed ‘Colony Collapse Disorder’ (CCD).

Since 2006, CCD has caused the devastation of an estimated 10 million beehives at an average value of $200 each, according to a May report by the US Department of Agriculture. Nevertheless, the report has been criticized for underplaying the role of pesticides in CCD, instead leaning on “multiple factors...including parasites and disease, genetics, poor nutrition and pesticide exposure” as well as last summer’s drought. The report preceded the EPA’s approval of sulfoxaflor by only a few days.

The lawsuit is the first to invoke the US Endangered Species Act to protect bees.

“EPA inadequately considered, or ignored entirely, sulfoxaflor’s harm to pollinators and the significant costs that harm will impose on the agricultural economy, food security, and natural ecosystems,” the Center for Food Safety and other groups argued in a legal brief attached to the lawsuit targeting sulfoxaflor’s sanctioning.

The new litigation - which includes many beekeepers hit hard by the recent wave of CCD - adds to a previous lawsuit filed in March in federal court by the Center for Food Safety that asks for a block of the EPA’s endorsement of two other popular neonicotinoid pesticides - clothianidin and thiamethoxam.

The suits both claim the EPA violated the Endangered Species Act by not sufficiently considering the impact of pesticides on honey bees and other imperiled wildlife categorized as threatened or endangered under federal law.

The Endangered Species Act prohibits government agencies from taking any action that could compromise a species in jeopardy before first consulting with the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS). Groups challenging the EPA’s decision cite government records showing the EPA did not follow proper protocol.

“For at least one neonicotinoid insecticide, FWS scientists are on record stating ‘EPA is ignoring their duties with respect to consulting with FWS,’” the lawsuit states.

The EPA counters that it followed the mandated steps in approving the challenged pesticides. Though in August, the agency acknowledged their potentially harmful effects when it prohibited their use around bees and other pollinators.

“Scientists have linked the drastic declines in honey bee and other pollinator populations to systemic pesticides and, more specifically, to a category of systemic pesticides known as neonicotinoids,” the Center for Food Safety explains in its brief.

“Sulfoxaflor is a systemic pesticide with the same mode of action as neonicotinoids, that EPA determined is ‘very highly toxic’ to bees. EPA’s registration of sulfoxaflor will introduce yet another systemic and highly toxic insecticide into the environment, intensifying the ecological crises of CCD and other pollinator losses.”

In July, scientists from the University of Maryland and the Department of Agriculture published a study that linked chemicals - including fungicides - to the mass die-offs. The research shows that bees exposed to common agricultural chemicals while pollinating US crops are less likely to resist a parasitic infection. As a result of chemical exposure, honey bees are more likely to succumb to the lethal Nosema ceranae parasite and die from the resulting complications.

Last winter, the honey bee population declined by 31.1 percent, with some beekeepers reporting losses of 90 to 100 percent of their bees. Scientists are concerned that “beemageddon” could cause the collapse of the $200 billion agriculture industry, since more than 100 US crops - including apples, zucchinis, avocados, and plums - rely on honey bees to pollinate them.

Bees are declining at such a fast rate that one bad winter could trigger an agricultural disaster. California’s almond crop would be hit particularly hard, since the state supplies 80 percent of the world’s almonds. Pollinating California’s 760,000 acres of almond fields requires 1.5 million out-of-state bee colonies, which make up 60 percent of the country’s beehives. CCD is a major threat to this $4 billion industry.

“This case and brief is a critical part of the story for our nation’s beekeepers and their survival,” said Peter Jenkins, Center for Food Safety attorney. “Beyond that, sulfoxaflor threatens native bees, other insects, birds and ecosystem health generally. The many groups joining our brief – and we think all Americans -- have a huge stake in ensuring EPA does not continue its ‘business as usual’ approach of green lighting more and more dangerous insecticides.”

In June, days before National Pollinator Week, an estimated 25,000 bees were found dead in an Oregon parking lot. Scientists linked the deaths to pesticide use.

“It seems a landscape company did not follow label directions as it is not supposed to be sprayed during bloom,” Xerces Society executive director Scott Hoffan Black told the Oregonian. “We now assume this is the cause of the massive bee die-off. Lots of bees still dying — almost all bumblebees.”

The European Union’s moratorium in April on the use of neonicotinoid pesticides like sulfoxaflor came as a number of European countries were monitoring the declining health and colony collapses in their bee populations, including France, the Netherlands, Greece, Italy, Portugal, and Spain.

Powerful chemical producers voiced harsh disapproval of the EU’s ban.

“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 new lawsuit - Pollinator Stewardship Council et al. v. U.S. EPA - was filed by Earthjustice in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco.
 

rynner2

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Honeybee shortage threatens crop pollination in Europe
By Matt McGrath, Environment correspondent, BBC News

In more than half of European countries, there are not enough honeybees to pollinate crops, according to new research.
Scientists believe that a boom in biofuels has sparked a massive increase in the need for pollination.
The shortage is particularly acute in Britain which has only a quarter of the honeybees required.
Researchers believe that wild pollinators including bumblebees and hoverflies are making up the shortfall.
The study is published in the journal Plos One.

The number of honeybees in the UK and elsewhere has been in decline in recent years, with both pesticide use and disease being blamed for losses.
Across Europe though, overall numbers of honeybee colonies increased by 7% across 41 countries between 2005 and 2010.
But in the same period, the area of biofuel feed crops, like oilseed rape, sunflowers and soybeans, increased by almost a third.

"There have been big increases in lots of countries with oilseed rape," said lead author Dr Tom Breeze from the University of Reading.
"In Greece in 2005, there were a few hundred hectares grown, but since then it has exploded because they can get biofuel subsidies for it."

The scientists say that the deficit across Europe now amounts to 13.4 million colonies or around seven billion honeybees.
The research suggests that much of the work is now being done by wild pollinators including bumblebees, solitary bees and hoverflies.

Britain is one of the countries with the biggest shortfall - only Moldova, with an economy 300 times smaller than the UK, has a bigger honeybee shortage.
Little is known about the number of wild pollinating species as they are not being monitored in the UK. The researchers believe this reliance on them could be hampering yields and putting UK crops at risk.

"We face a catastrophe in future years unless we act now," said Prof Simon Potts, from the University of Reading, a co-author on the paper.
"Wild pollinators need greater protection. They are the unsung heroes of the countryside, providing a critical link in the food chain for humans and doing work for free that would otherwise cost British farmers £1.8b to replace."

While steps have been taken at the EU level to protect bees by introducing a moratorium on neonicotinoid pesticides, the researchers say other European legislation is exacerbating the pollinator shortage.
Under the EU renewable fuel directive, 10% of transport fuel must come from renewable sources by 2020, though the final figure is still being negotiated.
Whatever the ultimate target, the directive has seen large increases in the planting of oil crops including soybeans, oil palm as well as oilseed rape.

"There is a growing disconnection between agricultural and environmental policies across Europe," said Prof Potts.
"Farmers are encouraged to grow oil crops, yet there is not enough joined-up thinking about how to help the insects that will pollinate them
.
"We need a proper strategy across Europe to conserve wild bees and pollinators through habitat protection, agricultural policy and farming methods - or we risk big financial losses to the farming sector and a potential food security crisis."

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-25656283
 

Spudrick68

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Nevermind, there is probably some politician somewhere with a big wad of cash and a happy pesticide company. As long as they are happy, sod everyone else.
 
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WTF? I reckon its farmers hoping for a handout.

FEARS that swarms of bees will chase frightened cattle through the Burren have put a stop to plans for a bee apiary in the area.
http://www.independent.ie/irish-news/th ... 17333.html

Farmers say that the bees would cause significant upset for the local livestock and, for the moment at least, Clare County Council agrees.

Cllr Michael Kelly (FF), who is leading the charge against plans to locate the bee apiary in the Burren, claims that the centre "will result in death or injury for the cattle concerned".

"I'm farming 50 years in the Burren and I know how cattle behave around bees," he said.

"I am not being flippant about this, this is serious and the Burren shouldn't be treated as some kind of no-man's land. The bees should be brought elsewhere.

DAMAGE

"I have seen the damage that swarms of bees can do, especially when they are in close proximity to cattle. There are serious ramifications for the Burren if this apiary is allowed to establish there.

"If the Burren is to thrive, cattle need to graze but cattle won't graze if there are bees swarming all over them."

Cllr Kelly was yesterday responding to a motion at the council's January monthly meeting by Cllr Johnny Flynn (FG) asking for the support of the establishment of a native Irish honey bee apiary or centre in the Burren.

Cllr Flynn said its establishment would be for the conservation, protection and development of native bees, pointing out that the most recent figures show that bees are an important pollinator of crops, and worth €58m a year to the Irish agricultural economy.

"And that doesn't take into account the importance of the bee to the food chain," he said.

"The research that would commence in the Burren would be to establish a strong strain of the native Irish honey bee that is currently under threat," he added.

Cllr Flynn said that Cllr Kelly had identified risks to farmers and he was quite happy for councillors to hear expert opinion from both the conservation and agriculture sectors in order for councillors to support the proposal.

"It is very worthwhile for Clare, which already has a reputation for high-quality, artisan food," Cllr Flynn said.

Clare mayor Cllr Joe Arkins (FG) quipped "to bee, or not to bee" before adjourning the matter to allow the experts come before the council to give their views at a future meeting.
 
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Strewth!

5,000 bees chilled, shaved and microchipped in Australian study to prevent killer diseases
Published time: January 17, 2014 14:23
http://rt.com/news/bees-microchip-study-research-772/

Australian scientists have attached small sensors onto thousands of honey bees to monitor their movements in a study aimed at stopping the spread of the illnesses that wiped out entire bee populations in the northern hemisphere.

The microchips, weighing about 5 milligrams and measuring 2.5 square millimeters, are glued to the bees after scientists at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) in Tasmania soothe the insects to sleep at 5 degrees Celsius.

Some young bees tend to be hairier than the older ones, so they are shaved.

A total of 5,000 bees will be included in the study, which is taking place over the Australian summer.

The study could help deal with the so-called colony collapse disorder, a situation where bees mysteriously disappear from hives, and the encroachment of the parasitic varroa mite, the researchers say.

Since 2006, CCD has caused the devastation of an estimated 10 million beehives at an average value of $200 each, according to the May report by the US Department of Agriculture, mainly due to the use of pesticides.

The experiment will also give farmers and fruit growers a chance to manage their crops better, as it will study the bee’s role in pollination, CSIRO said in a statement.

"Using this technology, we aim to understand the bee's relationship with its environment," research project leader Paulo de Souza said.

The radio frequency identification sensors work like an electronic tag for cars on a toll road, recording when insects pass a checkpoint, and that will allow researchers to construct a 3D image of the insects' movements, a process described as "swarm sensing," Reuters reported.

The scientists are also working on diminishing the sensor to 1 square millimeter, so they can be glued to smaller insects, such as mosquitoes.

“This will be the largest study ever done of this kind, given that there will be 5,000 sensors. Two months is quite a long time to be studying them, too,” De Souza told The Guardian newspaper.
 
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‘Beemageddon’ linked to tobacco virus - study
Published time: January 22, 2014 23:00
http://rt.com/usa/tobacco-plant-tied-be ... eaths-049/

Reuters / David W Cerny

The strange and unexplained massive honeybee die-off that has killed a staggering number of bees each year since 2006 could be caused by a virus found in tobacco plants, according to a new study.

Tens of millions of bees began dropping off nearly a decade ago, a phenomenon that scientists have largely been unable to explain. A 2013 report from the Department of Agriculture warned that if the honey bee die-off continues, the existence of the more than 100 crops they pollinate could be put at risk.

Research published Tuesday in the online version of mBio, an academic journal that focuses on microbiology, determined that the annual deaths generally begin in autumn, with most of the bees dropping off in the winter months before stabilizing again in the spring. The tobacco ringspot virus (TRSV) is also at its peak during that time, according to the study, and appears to have quickly jumped from tobacco plants to soy plants and now bees.

The honeybees are thought to contract the virus when they are foraging, and then spread it when they mix their saliva and nectar with the pollen (which contains the virus) for honeybee larvae to eat. Researchers at mBio theorized that the virus may also be spread to the mites that feed on honeybee larvae.

“Toxic viral cocktails appear to have a strong link with honey bee Colony Collapse Disorder (CDC), a mysterious malady that abruptly wiped out entire hives across the United States and was first reported in 2006,” explained authors at Science Codex.

“When these researchers investigated bee colonies classified as ‘strong’ or ‘weak,’ TRSV and other viruses were more common in the weak colonies then they were in the strong ones. Bee populations with high levels of multiple viral infections began failing in late fall and perished before February, these researchers report. In contrast, those in colonies with fewer viral assaults survived the entire cold winter months,” the science site continued.

Other sources compared the virus to a sexually transmitted disease that spreads throughout the human population. The researchers, however, warned that infection via pollination could be disastrous for the honeybee if it goes uncorrected.

“The increasing prevalence of TRSV in conjunction with other bee viruses is associated with a gradual decline of host populations and supports the view that viral infections have a significant negative impact on colony survival,” the biologists concluded.

This is not the first time bees have faced increasingly difficult odds for their survival. A study published in October from the University of New Hampshire revealed that approximately 90 percent of the bee population was wiped out 65 million years ago by the same meteor that rendered the dinosaurs extinct. The impact killed a large share of the plant life that bees rely on to eat, and the insects that did survive were forced to inter-mingle to avoid the same fate.

“We discovered that there was a long period of stasis in all four tribes of bees around 65 million years ago,” UNH professor Sandra Rehan told NPR. “Mutation should occur at a constant rate over time, and so when you see this long period where nothing occurred, that’s indicative of a mass extinction event.”
 
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Starving hives: Pesticides cause bees to collect 57% less pollen, study says
Published time: February 02, 2014 21:15
Edited time: February 03, 2014 05:06
http://rt.com/news/bees-pesticides-pollen-study-553/

Reuters / Leonhard Foeger

?Bees exposed to "field-realistic" doses of insecticides gather less than a half the pollen that they normally do, dooming their young to starvation, UK researches have said. While some scientists hailed the findings, pesticide makers remained unimpressed

In a spin-off of their earlier study, a team of British scientists have revealed how the neurotoxic chemicals contained in agricultural neonicotinoids affect the very basic function of the honeybees – the gathering of pollen, or flower nectar.

“Pollen is the only source of protein that bees have, and it is vital for rearing their young. Collecting it is fiddly, slow work for the bees and intoxicated bees become much worse at it. Without much pollen, nests will inevitably struggle,” explained University of Sussex professor Dave Goulson, who has led the study. His comments were made in a statement released alongside the research.

Goulson’s latest paper called “Field realistic doses of pesticide imidacloprid reduce bumblebee pollen foraging efficiency” was published at the end of January in peer-reviewed journal Ecotoxicology.

The scientists exposed some of the studied bees to low doses of imidacloprid and tracked their movement with the help of electronic tags. Unexposed bees were also tracked, and each insect flying out and returning to a hive was weighed to find out the amount of pollen it gathered.

It turned out that bees exposed to the neonicotinoid brought back pollen from only 40 percent of their trips asopposed to 63 percent of useful trips which their “healthy” counterparts undertook.
Intoxicated bees cut the amount of pollen gathered by nearly a third - overall, the comparative study showed that the hives exposed to the pesticide received 57 percent less pollen.

“Even near-infinitesimal doses of these neurotoxins seem to be enough to mess up the ability of bees to gather food. Given the vital importance of bumblebees as pollinators, this is surely a cause for concern,” Hannah Feltham of the University of Stirling, another member of the research team, stated.

For bees themselves, the cut appeared to represent a sharp decline in the amount of food that the hive’s population received.

Feltham believed the study adds “another piece to the jigsaw” of why the bees have been in sharp decline lately.

Three types of controversial neonicotinoids have been temporarily banned in the European Union after the European Food Safety Authority carried out peer review of several studies showing that widely-used pesticides could harm the bees’ populations.

“It is unclear what will happen when the [EU ban] expires, as the agrochemical companies that produce them are in a legal dispute with the EU over their decision. Our new study adds to the weight of evidence for making the ban permanent,” Goulson said.

But the dispute over the role of pesticides in the so-called Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), or mass extinction of bees, is far from being over, the reaction to the study has shown.

“This is a very important study, because it provides further detail on how bumblebee foraging is made less efficient by exposure to imidacloprid at these levels,” said Lynn Dicks, an ecologist at the University of Cambridge.

However, she then questioned the “field-realistic” dose of chemical used by the UK scientists in their study.

“The [levels in this study], particularly the pollen level, are at the upper end of what is found in the field, and likely to be higher than what bumblebee colonies are actually exposed to, because they don’t feed exclusively on oilseed rape,” Dicks argued.

Pesticide manufacturers appeared to be even more dismissive of the study’s results, comparing it to a practice of force-feeding in laboratory conditions.

“It would appear the bumble bees are essentially force-fed relatively high levels of the pesticide in sugar solutions, rather than allowing them to forage on plants treated with a seed treatment. Real field studies, such as those being initiated this autumn in the UK will give more realistic data on this subject,” Julian Little, a spokesman for major German imidacloprid producer Bayer AG has said.

Whether such open-field tests could provide a more balanced data is another issue the researchers have been arguing over. Some say that properly controlled field trials are difficult to conduct, as neonicotinoids have been widely used and bees range over wide areas to gather pollen.
 
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Half of European bumblebees in decline, quarter face extinction – study
Published time: April 02, 2014 19:40
http://rt.com/news/european-bumblebees- ... osses-933/

Reuters / Stephen Ausmus

Almost one-quarter of European crops’ vital pollinators – bumblebees – could die out in the coming years, as half of the species are declining, a new study says. Citing human factor and climate change, it warns of “serious implications” for agriculture.

A preview of the recent European Commission-funded study, published on the website of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) on Wednesday, says it has some “bad news” for Europe’s bumblebees.

As much as 46 percent of the 68 bumblebee species living in Europe have a declining population and just 13 percent are increasing in numbers, the study shows. According to IUCN, 24 percent of those species are “threatened with extinction.”

The study, which contributes to the European Red List of pollinators and is part of the Status and Trends of European Pollinators (STEP) project, stresses that three of the five “most important insect pollinators of European crops” are bumblebee species.

Bumblebees have for thousands of years played a “critical role” in agriculture as they help crops reproduce by transferring pollen from plant to plant. However, as agriculture and urban development have intensified in recent years and cultivated land has been changed, bumblebees have been hit by the loss of habitat and the loss of their preferred forage, as well as pollution and insecticides.

The population of critically endangered Bombus cullumanus, for example, has declined by more than 80 percent over the last decade alone, according to the study. Once widespread in Europe, the so-called Cullum’s Bumblebee now survives only “in a few scattered locations,” much due to the mass removing of its favorite clovers from farming practices.

A beef-up in agriculture has also been blamed by the study’s authors for the shrinking population of the endangered Bombus fragrans (Steppe Bumblebee), whose native habitat is being “destroyed” in Ukraine and parts of Russia.

Increasing temperatures and long periods of drought brought about by climate change are also responsible for “major changes” in the insects’ habitat. Those species living in Arctic and sub-Arctic regions, like the Scandinavian tundra and Russia’s extreme north, are vulnerable to a dramatic decline, the study concludes.

‘22 billion euro a year’
Scientists have been “very concerned” with the findings of the study, Ana Nieto, European biodiversity officer of IUCN and the study’s coordinator, said, adding that “such a high proportion of threatened bumblebees can have serious implications for our food production.”

According to Simon Potts, coordinator of STEP, this shows an increasing threat to Europe’s “natural capital,” an essential part of which is “the contribution of bumblebees to food security and the maintenance of wider plant biodiversity.”

The study itself offers an even more striking assessment of this “capital.”

Together with other pollinators, bumblebees contribute “more than 22 billion euros [over US$30 billion] to European agriculture per year,” according to IUCN.

The EU’s top environment official, Janez Potocnik, said the EU has already banned or restricted the use of certain pesticides dangerous for pollinators, but their efforts “clearly need to be scaled up.”

Potocnik believes the solution lies in “mainstreaming of biodiversity into other policies” and in raising awareness about the benefits that bumblebees bring.

According to Nieto, the negative trends can be reversed by “protecting bumblebee species and habitats, restoring degraded ecosystems and promoting biodiversity-friendly agricultural practice.”

More precisely, such measures may include “increasing the margins and buffer strips around agricultural fields that are rich in flowers and wildlife and the preservation of grasslands.”

Calls for awareness of bumblebees’ plight come as the EU strategy to halt biodiversity loss remains under review. The previously approved plan, set by EU leaders in March 2010, must be “fully implemented,” IUCN has stressed.
 

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Exeter shopping centre becomes home to 10,000 bees

The roof of a shopping centre in Exeter has become home to 10,000 honey bees.
Bee-friendly plants and features have been installed on top of the Princesshay centre, consisting of raised beds and an irrigation system to ensure the plants thrive.

Centre operations manager Andrew Littlejohns said he thought of the idea after watching a programme about the honey bee's demise.
Staff have been invited to train as beekeepers to help manage the project.
Mr Littlejohns added he hoped more hives would be set up on the roof by the end of 2014.
His said the turning the idea of housing city bees into a reality was a "really exciting project".

Jason Wallis, of WeeTree Nurseries, which has provided training sessions, said: "The environment created by Princesshay on their sheltered rooftop is fantastic.
"The first colony of bees has settled in well and we're ready now to help establish the second colony in their new hive.
"The decline of the honey bee is a well-documented problem and projects like this all help to keep this important species part of the UK habitat."

The project is being funded by Princesshay landlord, Land Securities.

http://www.forteantimes.com/forum/posti ... ly&t=26363
 

Analogue Boy

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Harvard points the finger at insecticide use.....

The mysterious vanishing of honeybees from hives can be directly linked to insectcide use, according to new research from Harvard University. The scientists showed that exposure to two neonicotinoids, the world's most widely used class of insecticide, lead to half the colonies studied dying, while none of the untreated colonies saw their bees disappear.

"We demonstrated that neonicotinoids are highly likely to be responsible for triggering 'colony collapse disorder' in honeybee hives that were healthy prior to the arrival of winter," said Chensheng Lu, an expert on environmental exposure biology at Harvard School of Public Health and who led the work.

The loss of honeybees in many countries in the last decade has caused widespread concern because about three-quarters of the world's food crops require pollination. The decline has been linked to loss of habitat, disease and pesticide use. In December 2013, the European Union banned the use of three neonicotinoids for two years.

In the new Harvard study, published in the Bulletin of Insectology, the scientists studied the health of 18 bee colonies in three locations in central Massachusetts from October 2012 till April 2013. At each location, two colonies were treated with realistic doses of imidacloprid, two with clothianidin, and two were untreated control hives.

"Bees from six of the 12 neonicotinoid-treated colonies had abandoned their hives and were eventually dead with symptoms resembling CCD," the team wrote. "However, we observed a complete opposite phenomenon in the control colonies." Only one control colony was lost, the result of infection by the parasitic fungus Nosema and in this case the dead bees remained in the hive.


Previously, scientists had suggested that neonicotinoids can lead to CCD by damaging the immune systems of bees, making them more vulnerable to parasites and disease. However, the new research undermines this theory by finding that all the colonies had near-identical levels of pathogen infestation.

"It is striking and perplexing to observe the empty neonicotinoid-treated colonies because honey bees normally do not abandon their hives during the winter," the scientists wrote. "This observation may suggest the impairment of honey bee neurological functions, specifically memory, cognition, or behaviour, as the results from the chronic sub-lethal neonicotinoid exposure." Earlier research showed neonicotinoid exposure can damage the renowned ability of bees to navigate home.

The new research follows similar previous work by the same group and comparison of the two studies shows that cold winters appear to exacerbate the effects of neonicotinoids on the bees. In the cold winter of 2010-11, 94% of the insecticide-exposed colonies suffered CCD compared to 50% in the new study.

"Sudden deaths of entire honey bee colonies is a persistent concern in North America," said Paul de Zylva, Friends of the Earth's senior nature campaigner. "Comprehensive research into the role pesticides play in bee decline is urgently required – including how they may compound other pressures, such as a lack of food and loss of habitat." Lu agreed: "Future research could help elucidate the biological mechanism that is responsible for linking sub-lethal neonicotinoid exposures to CCD. Hopefully we can reverse the continuing trend of honeybee loss."

In April, a landmark European study revealed the UK is suffering one of the worst rates of honeybee colony deaths in Europe. "The UK government [which opposed the EU's neonicotinoid ban] has accepted the need for a national action plan to reverse bee and pollinator decline," said de Zylva. "But its draft plan is dangerously complacent on pesticides, placing far too much trust in chemical firms and flawed procedures."
http://www.theguardian.com/environment/ ... vard-study
 

PeteByrdie

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jimv1 said:
Harvard points the finger at insecticide use.....
http://www.theguardian.com/environment/ ... vard-study
...and no doubt Monsanto will continue to say the case against neonicotinoids is not proven and restricting their use is unwarranted as long as they can pay one scientist to point out the research is not 100% conclusive.
 

Anome

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PeteByrdie said:
jimv1 said:
Harvard points the finger at insecticide use.....
http://www.theguardian.com/environment/ ... vard-study
...and no doubt Monsanto will continue to say the case against neonicotinoids is not proven and restricting their use is unwarranted as long as they can pay one scientist to point out the research is not 100% conclusive.
What, large industries paying scientists to provide a beneficial counter-argument to the general scientific consensus just so they can claim the science isn't settled? Who could think of such a thing?

I mean just because it's happened before is no reason to assume they'll do it again. Or keep doing it until someone finally wakes up to them and stops it.
 

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Bees swarm on shop window in London's Victoria Street

Trained beekeepers had to tackle a 5,000-strong swarm of honeybees surrounding a central London store.
The insects were smoked out after gathering around a sign in front of a store in Victoria Street earlier.

Tony Mann, a trained beekeeper, said the bees were flying around the areas "like scouts".
The bees were moved to nearby Westminster Cathedral, where they will be looked after by beekeepers on the church's roof

Mr Mann said: "We have either had a virgin Queen or an old Queen, she has left the nest and she has brought the swarm and settled on the shopfront."
He added that some of bees were flying around "like scouts to try to find out where the next best place to go is".

It is not known where the bees came from, but some shops in the area have their own hives.
David Beamont, from the Victoria Business Improvement District, said: "Local beekeepers were able to respond swiftly to manage the swarm, collect them in a mobile hive and move them to a suitable location."

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-27444845
 

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Bees are once again doing weird stuff:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-dorset-27455561

Bees swarm around car at Bournemouth's Castlepoint centre

A beekeeper had to capture thousands of honey bees that had swarmed around a parked car at a Bournemouth shopping centre.

Shoppers outside Sainsbury's at Castlepoint saw the swarm cluster on the black car around midday.

Shopping centre manager Nick Staton said the beekeeper arrived fully dressed and "teased them into a basket with smoke".

It follows a similar bee swarm in London on Friday.
Rest of story at link.
 

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Dungeness bumblebee hopes rest on 50 Swedish queens

Conservationists are hoping a third release of queen bees in Kent will start a self-sufficient population of a species once extinct in Britain.
About 50 short-haired bumblebee queens from Sweden have been released at the RSPB's Dungeness reserve.

Worker bees bred from a batch released in 2013 were recorded last year, but no new queens were found.
The first batch of Swedish queens released in 2012 struggled in that summer's cold, wet conditions.

The RSPB said 2014's warm spring made conditions this year ideal for Britain's rarest bumblebee.
"We are hoping to recreate a self-sustainable, self-sufficient population," said project leader Dr Nikki Gammans.

"In 2013 we got our first workers, which was a really positive sign, but as the population starts to build up we will be able to test the DNA of all of the workers and then we know which queens have survived from which years.
"We will have to wait a few years to see how they are establishing."

The 2014 queens were collected earlier this month in Sweden by a team of scientists and volunteers.
They were taken to Royal Holloway University of London in Egham, Surrey to be screened for disease before being released.
A colony normally has just one adult queen, which is the mother of most, if not all, of its bees.

The short-haired bumblebee started dying out in Britain in the 1980s and officially became extinct in 2000 because of the loss of its wildflower-rich grassland habitat.
Its last recorded home was in Dungeness and Romney Marsh.
The RSPB is working with farmers, landowners and gardeners in the Dungeness area to re-establish a flower-rich habitat.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-27475915
 
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Now you try that.

Drugged Bees Still Find Their Way Home

Kidnapped, drugged, and left abandoned in a field, bees can still find their way home using mental maps of their surroundings, according to a new study that could pose a major challenge to current thinking about human memory and cognition. Curious to know more about the insects’ navigational abilities, a team of biologists and psychologists fit 57 bees with radio transponders to track their paths and then trained them to find a feeder 300 meters from their hive. Once the insects knew the route, the researchers captured the bees and placed about half of them into a dark box for 6 hours.

They anesthetized the others, disrupting their sense of time and, as a result, their ability to use the sun’s position in the sky to navigate. After a 6-hour delay and a move to a new location 600 meters from the hive, the experimenters released their captives. The paths that the drugged and undrugged groups took at first differed, reflecting the foggy bees’ skewed sense of time (imagine waking at sunset thinking it was sunrise and trying to find north), but the drugged bees soon corrected. Both groups ended up on similar paths, returned to the hive about the same time, and returned in similar numbers:

Twenty-nine of 36 drugged bees and 18 of 21 sober bees made it back to the hive. That means the insects weren’t relying solely on the sun to navigate and instead must be using mental maps, the team reports online today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Bees don’t have the brain structure, called the hippocampus, thought to store the spatial memories underlying mental maps in humans. So psychologists may have to rethink how we ourselves navigate, even when we’re not drugged and kidnapped on the way home.
http://news.sciencemag.org/biology/2014 ... r-way-home
 
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Strewth!

Bee colonies in Brisbane are waging war for months on end, sending waves of workers who collide, grapple and die.

A genetic analysis of the battlefield fatalities showed that two different species of stingless bees were fighting for control of a single hive. The attacking swarm eventually took over the hive entirely, placing a new queen of its own in the usurped nest. The study, published in the American Naturalist journal, suggests that such usurped nests are surprisingly common.

Ecologists from Brisbane, in Australia, and Oxford, in the UK, looked in detail at one particular hive. It was inhabited by a bee species native to the area around Brisbane, called Tetragonula carbonaria.

"They live in the hollows of trees and other cavities, so they're quite common in and around the city," said the study's lead author Dr Paul Cunningham, from the Queensland University of Technology. ...

http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-29694513
 
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'Stressed' young bees could be the cause of colony collapse
Date:
February 9, 2015

Source:
University of Queen Mary London

Summary:
Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) is a major threat to bee colonies around the world and affects their ability to perform vital human food crop pollination. It has been a cause of urgent concern for scientists and farmers around the world for at least a decade but a specific cause for the phenomenon has yet to be conclusively identified. Pressure on young bees to grow up too fast could be a major factor in explaining the disastrous declines in bee populations seen worldwide.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/02/150209161251.htm
 
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