from the these-are-varroa-bad-people;-why-can't-they-bee-nice? dept.
With the advent of Colony Collapse Disorder early this millennium, and the resulting drops in bee populations across the USA, Europe, and Asia, people and organizations have been making efforts to house, protect and nurture honeybee populations for the sake of their crops, the good of the environment, or as a service to humanity at large.
Use of the land for the bees destroyed was donated by a private citizen and the location is visible to the road so passers by can watch and enjoy the bee keepers working with the bees.
Then we get people that do things like this:
Over the weekend, someone set fire to two dozen bee colonies in Alvin, Texas belonging to the Brazoria County Beekeepers Association. The perpetrator also dumped some of the bee boxes into a nearby pond.
According to one of the beekeepers:
I broke down in tears when I saw a floating brood frame in the water with bees still caring for the brood.
It is expected that the perpetrators were very likely stung and the community is on the lookout for individuals with bee stings.
Perhaps more remarkably, this is not a completely new idea. Multiple Facebook comments speak of past attacks on bees elsewhere attributed to teenagers and rival bee keepers.
We've already seen bees persevering through fire and smoke, according to beekeepers the surviving bees are stressed and many will have lost their queens, but is also possible some hives will survive.
Previous coverage of Bee troubles:
Some Honeybee Colonies Adapt in Wake of Deadly Mites
Backyard Beekeeping Now Legal in Los Angeles
Honeybees Pick Up 'Astonishing' Number of Pesticides Via Non-crop Plants
Bees Dead from Aerial Zika Spraying in South Carolina
Pesticide Companies' Own Secret Tests Showed Their Products Harm Bees
Extensive Study Concludes Neonicotinoid Pesticides Harm Bees
EU Bans Outdoor Use of Pesticides That Harm Bees
A new genetics study of wild honeybees offers clues to how a population has adapted to a mite that has devastated bee colonies worldwide. The findings may aid beekeepers and bee breeders to prevent future honeybee declines.
The researchers genetically analyzed museum samples collected from wild honeybee colonies in 1977 and 2010; the bees came from Cornell University's Arnot Forest. In comparing genomes from the two time periods, the results – published Aug. 6 in Nature Communications – show clear evidence that the wild honeybee colonies experienced a genetic bottleneck - a loss of genetic diversity - when the Varroa destructor mites killed most of the bee colonies. But some colonies survived, allowing the population to rebound.
"The study is a unique and powerful contribution to understanding how honeybees have been impacted by the introduction of Varroa destructor, and how, if left alone, they can evolve resistance to this deadly parasite," said Thomas Seeley, the Horace White Professor in Biology at Cornell and the paper's senior author. Sasha Mikheyev '00 [sic], an assistant professor of ecology and evolution at Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology (OIST) in Japan, is the paper's first author.
More after the break.
The Los Angeles City Council voted [October 14] to allow backyard beekeeping, joining cities like Santa Monica, New York, Denver, and other cities where the hobby is legal.
[...] Councilman Paul Koretz [....] said bees "do especially well in Los Angeles" and Wednesday's move could help address bee colony collapse disorder which has claimed about a third of the global bee population.
[...] City leaders and members of HoneyLove, a nonprofit that promotes beekeeping, said the activity aids urban farming efforts such as community gardens. They also said urban areas offer a pesticide-free environment for insects that are critical to the health of agriculture and plants.
[...] The ordinance allows no more than one hive per 2,500 square feet per lot area to be kept in the backyards of single-family homes citywide. Front yard beekeeping is barred by the ordinance.
It also sets buffer zones and areas on a property where hives can be kept and requires that beekeepers raise walls or hedges high enough to ensure bees need to fly up before leaving the backyard.
A water source also needs to be maintained near the hives so the bees would not need to venture outside of the beekeeper's backyard to get hydrated, under the rules.
The backyard beekeepers also need to register with the County of Los Angeles Agricultural Commission.
The commission has 129 beekeepers registered with 219 locations countywide, according to commission spokesman Ken Pellman. Of those registered, 39 are commercial beekeepers, which means they have eight or more hives.
[...] Los Angeles already averages about eight to 10 feral bee hives per square mile.
A Purdue University study shows that honeybees collect the vast majority of their pollen from plants other than crops, even in areas dominated by corn and soybeans, and that pollen is consistently contaminated with a host of agricultural and urban pesticides throughout the growing season.
Christian Krupke, professor of entomology, and then-postdoctoral researcher Elizabeth Long collected pollen from Indiana honeybee hives at three sites over 16 weeks to learn which pollen sources honeybees use throughout the season and whether they are contaminated with pesticides.
The pollen samples represented up to 30 plant families and contained residues from pesticides spanning nine chemical classes, including neonicotinoids - common corn and soybean seed treatments that are toxic to bees. The highest concentrations of pesticides in bee pollen, however, were pyrethroids, which are typically used to control mosquitoes and other nuisance pests.
"Although crop pollen was only a minor part of what they collected, bees in our study were exposed to a far wider range of chemicals than we expected," said Krupke. "The sheer numbers of pesticides we found in pollen samples were astonishing. Agricultural chemicals are only part of the problem. Homeowners and urban landscapes are big contributors, even when hives are directly adjacent to crop fields."
"If you care about bees as a homeowner, only use insecticides when you really need to because bees will come into contact with them," she said.
Organic vegetables with a few insect-caused holes taste better than unblemished supermarket ones.
South Carolina County Sprays for Zika, Kills Honey Bees
As Found here:
Following cases of Zika in the area, the county dispersed insecticides through aerial spraying using aircraft. They did not notify local populations, leading to the mass death of area bee keepers' entire population of honeybees.
This seems especially bad, given the context of continuing decline in bee populations:
Common Dreams reports
Millions of honeybees are dead in Dorchester County, South Carolina, and local beekeepers say the mass death was a result of the county spraying the area with the controversial pesticide Naled on [August 28] in an effort to combat Zika-spreading mosquitoes.
[...] A single apiary in Summerville, South Carolina lost 2.5 million bees in 46 hives, according to a local resident [...] Kristina Solara Litzenberger.
[...] "Without honeybees, we have no food", Litzenberger added. "Additionally, one can only deduct that if that much damage was caused to the bees, how will this affect people, wildlife, and the ecosystem?"
Beekeepers are supposed to be warned prior to any pesticide spraying, so that they can cover their hives to protect them. But local bee owners say they were not given any warning about Sunday's spraying, according to the local news station WCBD--and this was also the first time the community was subjected to aerial spraying, rather than spraying from trucks.
[...] Naled is a particularly dangerous pesticide, as the Miami Herald reported earlier this month:
Several studies suggest that long-term exposure to even low levels of Naled can have serious health effects for children and infants as well as wildlife, including butterflies and bees, for whom exposure can be lethal. Some studies suggest it might have neurological and developmental effects on human fetuses, including on brain size, echoing the severe consequences that eradication of the Aedes aegypti mosquito that carries the Zika virus is meant to prevent.
[...] The EU banned the chemical's use in Europe in 2012.
Common Dreams reports
Agrochemical giants Syngenta and Bayer discovered in their own tests that their pesticides caused severe harm to bees, according to unpublished documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request by the environmental group Greenpeace.
The companies conducted the trials on products that used the controversial pesticides known as neonicotinoids, or neonics, which have long been linked to rapid bee decline. Neonics are also the world's most commonly used pesticide.
According to their own studies, Syngenta's thiamethoxam and Bayer's clothianidin were found to cause severe harm at high levels of use, although the effect was lessened when used under 50 parts per billion (ppb) and 40ppb respectively, the Guardian reports.
However, as Greenpeace notes, the research "assumes a very narrow definition of harm to bee health and ignores wild bees which evidence suggests are more likely to be harmed by neonicotinoids".
That means the findings may "substantially underestimate" the impact of neonics, Greenpeace said.
[...] the studies are not realistic. The bees were not exposed to the neonics that we know are in planting dust, water drunk by bees, and wildflowers wherever neonics are used as seed treatments. This secret evidence highlights the profound weakness of regulatory tests.
Our previous discussions about neonicotinoids.
The most extensive study to date on neonicotinoid pesticides concludes that they harm both honeybees and wild bees. Researchers said that exposure to the chemicals left honeybee hives less likely to survive over winter, while bumblebees and solitary bees produced fewer queens.
The study spanned 2,000 hectares across the UK, Germany and Hungary and was set up to establish the "real-world" impacts of the pesticides. The results are published in Science [open, DOI: 10.1126/science.aaa1190] [DX]. Neonicotinoids were placed under a temporary ban in Europe in 2013 after concerns about their impact on bees. The European Commission told the BBC that it intends to put forward a new proposal to further restrict the use of the chemicals.
Bees just got a helping hand from the European Union who banned outdoor use of harmful pesticides.
The European Union voted Friday to ban outdoor use of pesticides that harms bees. Specifically, there's now a complete ban on three substances referred to as neonicotinoids -- imidacloprid, clothianidin and thiamethoxam. Scientific studies have shown that these substances can harm bees when used outside.
Also at EU Times.
Notre Dame's bees rather surprisingly have survived the conflagration that has consumed the cathedral's wooden roof.
Notre Dame is home to 180,000 bees that have lived in several hives on the roof of the stone sacristy since 2003. The bees were installed as part of a city wide initiative to help with the declining bee population. The cathedral was only one of the historic sites where hives were placed.
"When bees sense fire, they gorge themselves on honey and stay to protect their queen, who doesn't move," [Notre Dame beekeeper Nicolas Geant] said. "I saw how big the flames were, so I immediately thought it was going to kill the bees. Even though they were 30 meters (nearly 100 feet) lower than the top roof, the wax in the hives melts at 63 degrees Celsius (145.4 Fahrenheit)."
If the wax that protects their hive melts, the bees simply die inside, Geant explained.
Fortunately the smoke itself is relatively innocuous for bees, beekeepers regularly smoke hives to put bees to sleep.
Notre Dame officials saw the bees on top of the sacristy Friday, buzzing in and out of their hives.
"I wouldn't call it a miracle, but I'm very, very happy," Geant added.
The honey from the hives (about 165lbs/75kgs annually) is sold to Notre Dame employees. Presumably this year's batch will have a unique smokey flavor.