News24

Bee colony collapses stump experts

2011-03-06 19:16

South Deerfield - Birds do it, fleas do it but when bees do it, it is worth some $200bn to the world economy.

That's why scientists are seeking a way to stem mass deaths of the world's primary pollinator - the honeybee - which affect more than 30% of bee colonies in the United States and more than 20% in some European countries.

Researchers have identified some probable causes of colony collapse disorder, including blood-feeding parasites, bee viruses, fungi, pesticide exposure and decreased plant diversity causing poor nutrition for honeybees, experts say.

"It's a complex interaction of several different factors that are causing bees to die, resulting in quick colony decline," said Jeff Pettis, entomologist and chief researcher at the US Department of Agriculture's Bee Research Lab in Beltsville, Maryland.

Losses are alarming not just for honey lovers but for a huge chunk of the global agricultural market. Some 52 of the world's 112 leading crops - from apples and soybeans to cocoa and almonds - rely on pollination. One 2009 study by economists put the value of insect pollination, mainly by bees, at about $212bn.

With the human population increasing quickly, observers worry that the bee decline will deepen a global crisis unfolding from limited crops and soaring food prices.

The threat to bees is international. England lost more than half its hives in the past two decades, and baffling bee losses are occurring in Asia, South America and the Middle East.

Viral-fungal duo

A single silver bullet to end the problem is still out of reach. But recent discoveries are shedding light on possible answers to the puzzle.

Some scientists blame commercial agricultural pesticides such as clothianidin, which has been linked to millions of bee deaths near farming areas in different countries.

Banned in some European countries, clothianidin remains approved by the US Environmental Protection Agency and is commonly used on US crops such as mealies, wheat and soy.

Another bee threat is parasites such as the varroa destructor, which clings to a bee as it feeds on hemolymph, or bee's "blood," and spreads dangerous viruses. Major infestations will typically wipe out beehives, said Keith Delaplane, entomology professor at the University of Georgia.

To fight those viral infections, a US-Israeli biotech called Beeologics now makes an antiviral medicine that exploits a native immune mechanism and boosts bees' tolerance for disease, say multiple researchers involved with the studies.

Finally, another possible cause for bee deaths is a combination of a virus and a fungus, which was found in all collapsed colonies in a US study last year. The viral-fungal duo may destroy bees' memory or navigation functions and contribute to colony collapse.

Commercial apiaries are far harder hit than independent honey producers, said small producer Dan Conlon, who owns 700 hives at Warm Colors Apiary in South Deerfield, Massachusetts. His bees tend to be resilient, living in a rural, diverse habitat.

One-third of colonies

"Most of those reporting heavy losses run large operations and are focused on migratory pollination for their income," Conlon said.

Early bee reports are poor throughout the United States this winter, including Georgia, which appears to be losing about one-third of its colonies, said Delaplane.

Managed US hives numbered 2.68 million last summer, the US Agriculture Department said. That's only about half of the nation's 5 million hives tallied back in the 1940s.

The nation produced 80 million kg of honey last year, with wholesale prices reaching a record $1.603 per pound, the USDA said.

Comments
  • CharVal@24.com - 2011-03-06 20:03

    Mayby a cleaning up of our current human being system?

  • Ozymandios - 2011-03-06 20:16

    Its called GMO and when you have bees trying to live off Pollen made with fish enzymes and a few other unkowns that defires everything nature developed properly, then the bees die out. You do not have to be a rocket scientist to work that out. That's why all GM seed is sterile. You cannot pollinate those plants but the bees don't know that. They take that sterile pollen back to their hives and then the K&K begins.Their bodies cannot break it down and then they cannot produce the honey that you would like to eat. I wwouldn't eat any present day honey produced from where GM crops are grown. And just about all our wheat and soy in this country is GMO. And you are told thats all it is. But try and plant seeds from Butternut, Gem Squash, pumpkin that you buy in your local shop and see if you get a fruit from one of these plantings. They will grow leaves and and a great flower or two but thats it. The bees come to pollinate them but nothing grows that you can eat.So do not believe what they tell you about GMO foods. Monsanto owns you. No farmer soon will be able to grow any crops unless he/she buys seed from this company and its affiliates and then that seed is only for one harvest. Thats why they do not care if the bees die out. They own your food and can change those enzymes to do a multitude of strange things to you and your health. And you will only know when its too late. Thats why the bees are dying out. I know I used to export Honey. Note Used to export Honey- not anymore.

      CharVal@24.com - 2011-03-06 20:39

      The human is a funny thing, knows how it works and then f.... it up!

      CharVal@24.com - 2011-03-06 20:39

      The human is a funny thing, knows how it works and then f.... it up!

      cr1t - 2011-03-06 21:55

      I think you are filled with mis perceptions about how GM foods works

      cr1t - 2011-03-06 21:55

      I think you are filled with mis perceptions about how GM foods works

      FatPenguin - 2011-03-07 09:22

      There are hundreds of people looking into this, not for research sake or out of greenie-love but for money and they're stumped. How silly they are! They could just have asked you. I mean if the scientists can't figure it out obviously the exporters can.

      FatPenguin - 2011-03-07 09:22

      There are hundreds of people looking into this, not for research sake or out of greenie-love but for money and they're stumped. How silly they are! They could just have asked you. I mean if the scientists can't figure it out obviously the exporters can.

      horst.o.muller - 2011-03-07 17:00

      I am a small (very) scale beekeeper and recently lost two out of five hives. They just buggered off. Why would that be? I am not growing any GM stuff on my farm. I think I rather go with FatPenguin and wait for the scientist to get me an answer. If GM was the cause of the problem this would have been established already. Or is perhaps big bad corporation Monsanto withholding the truth? FatPenguin I like your contributions to the discussion.

  • isabeljones101 - 2011-03-06 21:38

    The burgeoning human population is the root cause of all the k@k on this planet. Testosterone being the primary biological weapon here. Time to encourage males who have already fathered 2 kids to be sterilised ...(all the pleasure, with no costly, lifetime consequences!). Although in SA it's hard to keep track as we have the polygamy problem - a typical indigenous male may have several kids with many women, being the 'nooky bandits' that they are, in keeping with their 'culture', with no regard for the consequences, or ongoing financial support for the fruit of their loins. As a result, poverty and malnutrition is on the increase, and feeding, clothing and educating the unwanted children is now someone else's problem - usually a bleeding-heart charity. At some stage of evolutionary development the breeding masses will equate smaller families with better quality of life; (thankfully some have realised this through their pursuit of a first-world lifestyle - EDUCATION, hygiene, brick & mortar homes, cars, etc.) Until the third world populace cease to increase their numbers exponentially, we have a ticking time-bomb and potential for mass tragedy on our hands.

  • jvdspuy - 2011-03-07 09:34

    as the theory goes......when the bees go......we go.

  • ludlowdj - 2011-03-07 10:08

    @CR1T and FatPenguin, Please enlighten us as to the "truth" about GM seeds, quiet obviously we all ignorant to the "benefits" but please leave out the popular propaganda bullshit, we chocking on that already. Personally I would not buy or eat anything coming from GM sources, but as we all know most of what you buy is miss labelled and lied about anyway

      FatPenguin - 2011-03-07 11:11

      The truth? Okay, without genetically modified foods there is not hope in hell of feeding everyone in africa. You can go on about natural farming practices and organic goodness but they just don't have the cost/yield ratio to make cheap, available food. Is this ideal? No, but it's the truth. Seeds not germinating is not isolated to just GM products. Some plants don't breed true. That's just the way it is. It's what happens when you've got polyploidy. You ever grown strawberries from seeds instead of runners? Ever tried to grow a fruit tree from the pip? Nothing to do with GMO's. The fact that the imported nuts/fruit/veggies you buy from the supermarket doesn't germinate has got to do with it being irradiated, again nothing to do with being GM'ed. The use of any kind of "terminator" gene is banned [http://www.historycommons.org/timeline.jsp?timeline=seeds_tmln&seeds_cases_studies-other=seeds_terminatorSeeds]. You've probably eaten lots of GM'ed food already. You can argue that all crops have been altered from their "natural" form thousands of years ago when selective breeding started

      FatPenguin - 2011-03-07 11:11

      The truth? Okay, without genetically modified foods there is not hope in hell of feeding everyone in africa. You can go on about natural farming practices and organic goodness but they just don't have the cost/yield ratio to make cheap, available food. Is this ideal? No, but it's the truth. Seeds not germinating is not isolated to just GM products. Some plants don't breed true. That's just the way it is. It's what happens when you've got polyploidy. You ever grown strawberries from seeds instead of runners? Ever tried to grow a fruit tree from the pip? Nothing to do with GMO's. The fact that the imported nuts/fruit/veggies you buy from the supermarket doesn't germinate has got to do with it being irradiated, again nothing to do with being GM'ed. The use of any kind of "terminator" gene is banned [http://www.historycommons.org/timeline.jsp?timeline=seeds_tmln&seeds_cases_studies-other=seeds_terminatorSeeds]. You've probably eaten lots of GM'ed food already. You can argue that all crops have been altered from their "natural" form thousands of years ago when selective breeding started

      Irené - 2011-03-07 11:33

      Fat penguin, so you are trying to tell us monsato's goal is to feed all the starving masses in the world? agh please, if the global commuinty wanted to stop starvation, we could have done so 2 decades ago already, but you know as well as i that monsanto is not a charitable company- they are there for profits, so please do not use that pathetic argument of organic and sustainable farming does not yield enough produce. The harm caused by GM will far outweigh the benefits ( the issues are clear as day in the US and India where large scale GM crops are used). but hey there are non blinder than those who refuse to see.

      Irené - 2011-03-07 11:33

      Fat penguin, so you are trying to tell us monsato's goal is to feed all the starving masses in the world? agh please, if the global commuinty wanted to stop starvation, we could have done so 2 decades ago already, but you know as well as i that monsanto is not a charitable company- they are there for profits, so please do not use that pathetic argument of organic and sustainable farming does not yield enough produce. The harm caused by GM will far outweigh the benefits ( the issues are clear as day in the US and India where large scale GM crops are used). but hey there are non blinder than those who refuse to see.

      FatPenguin - 2011-03-07 11:50

      Where did I say that? Read again, nowhere do i mention anything about bleeding hearts doing it for the good of humanity or the yields not being enough. It's the cost/yield ratio. Are you going to feed the populace on bulk food from checkers or organic veggies from woolworths? What harms? Where are your references? What problems are the US and india having? Is this how you make a point? GM does increase crop yields. http://bio4eu.jrc.ec.europa.eu/documents/FINALGMcropsintheEUBIO4EU.pdf

      FatPenguin - 2011-03-07 11:50

      Where did I say that? Read again, nowhere do i mention anything about bleeding hearts doing it for the good of humanity or the yields not being enough. It's the cost/yield ratio. Are you going to feed the populace on bulk food from checkers or organic veggies from woolworths? What harms? Where are your references? What problems are the US and india having? Is this how you make a point? GM does increase crop yields. http://bio4eu.jrc.ec.europa.eu/documents/FINALGMcropsintheEUBIO4EU.pdf

      Irené - 2011-03-07 13:08

      http://www.gmwatch.org/latest-listing/1-news-items/11849-monsantos-qcorrupt-scienceq-in-gm-assessment http://www.methodsofhealing.com/top-3-lies-about-genetically-modified-organisms/ http://www.groovygreen.com/groove/?p=2921 http://www.vanityfair.com/politics/features/2008/05/monsanto200805?currentPage=1 http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/worldnews/article-1082559/The-GM-genocide-Thousands-Indian-farmers-committing-suicide-using-genetically-modified-crops.html Question is, will you actually read any of these articles, and with an open mind? I tried to get articles from different magazines and websites, so that you will accuse me of being a 'bleeding heart hippy' because I use natural news as a source.

      Irené - 2011-03-07 13:08

      http://www.gmwatch.org/latest-listing/1-news-items/11849-monsantos-qcorrupt-scienceq-in-gm-assessment http://www.methodsofhealing.com/top-3-lies-about-genetically-modified-organisms/ http://www.groovygreen.com/groove/?p=2921 http://www.vanityfair.com/politics/features/2008/05/monsanto200805?currentPage=1 http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/worldnews/article-1082559/The-GM-genocide-Thousands-Indian-farmers-committing-suicide-using-genetically-modified-crops.html Question is, will you actually read any of these articles, and with an open mind? I tried to get articles from different magazines and websites, so that you will accuse me of being a 'bleeding heart hippy' because I use natural news as a source.

      FatPenguin - 2011-03-07 15:46

      gmwatch:Strong anti-GM website. Article nearly unreadable but details one series of Monsanto crop trials. Argues that control of trail was poor and that the decisions based on trails was flawed. Doesn't deal with whether or not GM provides greater yields. methodsofhealing: Argues about the current perception of GM. Doesn't deal with whether or not GM provides greater yields. grooveygreen: Magazine article. Deals with poor Monsanto business ethics. Doesn't deal with whether or not GM provides greater yields. vanityfair: Magazine article. Details poor business ethics again by Monsanto. Doesn't deal with whether or not GM provides greater yields. dailymail: Sensationalist article regarding Indian farmer suicide. Suggests GM crop failure is the root cause of suicide. Doesn't deal with whether or not GM provides greater yields. What are we arguing about again? Big, bad, evil corporations or the possible benefits of genetically modified foods?

      FatPenguin - 2011-03-07 15:46

      gmwatch:Strong anti-GM website. Article nearly unreadable but details one series of Monsanto crop trials. Argues that control of trail was poor and that the decisions based on trails was flawed. Doesn't deal with whether or not GM provides greater yields. methodsofhealing: Argues about the current perception of GM. Doesn't deal with whether or not GM provides greater yields. grooveygreen: Magazine article. Deals with poor Monsanto business ethics. Doesn't deal with whether or not GM provides greater yields. vanityfair: Magazine article. Details poor business ethics again by Monsanto. Doesn't deal with whether or not GM provides greater yields. dailymail: Sensationalist article regarding Indian farmer suicide. Suggests GM crop failure is the root cause of suicide. Doesn't deal with whether or not GM provides greater yields. What are we arguing about again? Big, bad, evil corporations or the possible benefits of genetically modified foods?

  • Looter - 2011-03-07 18:51

    i would love to be GM!

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