Monday, April 16, 2007

Mystery of the Dying Bees

7 March 2007
Cosmos Online
Mystery of the dying bees
One of the most important crop pollinators in the world, honey bees in the United States have been decimated in recent months by a mysterious disease.
Image: Jon Sullivan/Wikipedia
Something mysterious is killing honey bees, and even as billions are dropping dead across North America, researchers are scrambling to find answers and save one of the most important crop pollinators on Earth.

The almond trees are blooming and the bees are dying, and nobody knows why. All up and down California's vast San Joaquin Valley, nearly 2,500 square kilometres of small nut trees arranged in laser-straight rows are shaking off the cobwebs of winter. They're gearing up once again to produce nearly half a billion kilograms of nuts, worth US$3 billion to the U.S. economy.

The trees cannot produce the bounty on their own, however. They need bees - a million hives worth - trucked in from nearly forty U.S. states to move pollen from one tree to another, fertilising the blooms in the largest managed pollination event on Earth.

But even as the beekeepers reap record fees for renting their hives, their livelihood is now threatened by the largest loss of honey bees in the history of the industry.

Since October 2006, 35 per cent or more of the United States' population of the Western honey bee (Apis mellifera) - billions of individual bees - simply flew from their hive homes and disappeared.

When the almonds were being plucked from the trees late last year, Gene Brandi of Los Banos, California had 2,000 hives, but by late February he had just 1,200 - a loss of 40 per cent.

And Brandi is one of the more fortunate. Across the 24 U.S. states affected by the mysterious phenomenon, losses have ranged up to 90 per cent. "I've had a couple of yards where I've had 200 hives and they're down to 10 hives that are alive," says David Bradshaw of Visalia, about 180 kilometres southeast of Los Banos along California's Route 99.

What's causing the carnage, however, is a total mystery; all that scientists have come up with so far is a new name for the phenomenon - Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) - and a list of symptoms.

In hives hit by CCD, adult workers simply fly away and disappear, leaving a small cluster of workers and the hive's young to fend for themselves. Adding to the mystery, nearby predators, such as the wax moth, are refraining from moving in to pilfer honey and other hive contents from the abandoned hives; in CCD-affected hives the honey remains untouched.

The symptoms are baffling, but one of the emerging hypotheses is that the scourge is underpinned by a collapse of the bees' immune systems. Stressed out by cross-country truck journeys and drought, attacked by viruses and introduced parasites, or whacked out by harmful new pesticides, some researchers believe the bees' natural defences may have simply given way. This opens the door to a host of problems that the bees can normally suppress.

What's surprising is that mysterious declines are nothing new. As far back as 1896, CCD has popped up again and again, only under the monikers: 'fall dwindle' disease, 'May dwindle', 'spring dwindle', 'disappearing disease', and 'autumn collapse'.

Even the current outbreak has possibly been going on undetected for two years, according to the CCD Working Group - a crack group of U.S. researchers from institutes including the Pennsylvania State University and University of Montana, who are trying to unravel the mystery.

What has made the members of the Working Group - as well as conservationists, beekeepers, and farmers - really sit up and notice is the scale of this year's decimation; something in the environment has allowed CCD to reach an unprecedented scale that threatens the very survival of the pollination industry.

"We have never seen a die-off of this magnitude with this weird symptomology," says Maryann Frazier, a bee researcher at Pennsylvania State University. "We've seen bees disappear over time and dwindle away, but not die-off so quickly."

More @ Cosmos.com

43 comments:

DEN said...

Penn State sez:

HONEY BEE DIE-OFF ALARMS BEEKEEPERS, CROP GROWERS AND RESEARCHERS

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- An alarming die-off of honey bees has beekeepers fighting for commercial survival and crop growers wondering whether bees will be available to pollinate their crops this spring and summer.

Researchers are scrambling to find answers to what's causing an affliction recently named Colony Collapse Disorder, which has decimated commercial beekeeping operations in Pennsylvania and across the country.

"During the last three months of 2006, we began to receive reports from commercial beekeepers of an alarming number of honey bee colonies dying in the eastern United States," says Maryann Frazier, apiculture extension associate in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences. "Since the beginning of the year, beekeepers from all over the country have been reporting unprecedented losses.

"This has become a highly significant yet poorly understood problem that threatens the pollination industry and the production of commercial honey in the United States," she says. "Because the number of managed honey bee colonies is less than half of what it was 25 years ago, states such as Pennsylvania can ill afford these heavy losses."

A working group of university faculty researchers, state regulatory officials, cooperative extension educators and industry representatives is working to identify the cause or causes of Colony Collapse Disorder and to develop management strategies and recommendations for beekeepers. Participating organizations include Penn State, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the agriculture departments in Pennsylvania and Florida, and Bee Alert Technology Inc., a technology transfer company affiliated with the University of Montana.

"Preliminary work has identified several likely factors that could be causing or contributing to CCD," says Dennis vanEngelsdorp, acting state apiarist with the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture. "Among them are mites and associated diseases, some unknown pathogenic disease and pesticide contamination or poisoning."

Initial studies of dying colonies revealed a large number of disease organisms present, with no one disease being identified as the culprit, vanEngelsdorp explains. Ongoing case studies and surveys of beekeepers experiencing CCD have found a few common management factors, but no common environmental agents or chemicals have been identified.

Penn State

DEN said...

Are the Bee's dying a greater threat than terrorism?

You bet it is. "If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe then man would only have four years of life left. No more bees, no more pollination, no more plants, no more animals, no more man," said Albert Einstein.

DEN said...

Micki, there does not seem to be a tremendous amount of work being done, there are some like Penn State and a few others trying to find clues.

I think it is time to study alternative pollinating techniques to keep the food supply out of danger.

Mother nature worked very hard for thousands of years to make bees and in less than 200 years humanity has decimated them, could this be our comeuppance?

DEN said...

Must see Freeway Blogger.

micki said...



MAAREC is a regional group focused on addressing the pest management crisis facing the beekeeping industry in the Mid-Atlantic Region.



Bees are not only working for our welfare, they are also perfect indicators of the state of the environment. We should take note.

micki said...

THE HORNETS NEST: cheney's threats to the Dems on Iraq war bills are disgusting.

DEN said...

A number of agricultural crops are almost totally dependent on honey bee pollination (90-100%), including almonds, apples, avocados, blueberries, cranberries,
cherries, kiwi fruit, macadamia nuts, asparagus, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, celery, cucumbers, onions, legume seeds, pumpkins, squash, and sunflowers. Other
specialty crops also rely on honey bee pollination, but to a lesser degree. These crops include apricot, citrus (oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruit, tangerines, etc.), peaches, pears, nectarines, plums, grapes, brambleberries, strawberries, olives, melon
(cantaloupe, watermelon, and honeydew), peanuts, cotton, soybeans, and sugarbeets.4
Another study found that pollinators are essential for the production of some U.S.-
grown crops, particularly macadamia nuts, squash, and pumpkins.

Can live without this stuff?

I doubt it.

micki said...

The kick-off question posed to Al Fredo on April 17th should be: Which time were you telling the truth?

...and go from there.

Hammer away, Senators, and find out if he fulfilled his duty to keep the U.S. prosecutors independent, or did he act as a political extension of the bush White House?

Man oh man, Al Fredo's story changes with the wind!

micki said...

...somewhere I read that over 130,000 different crops are dependent on pollinators.

Could that be right? That's a lot of stuff.

DEN said...

Big news: Shooting at Virginia Tech, Raw Story claims there might be 22 dead.

YIKES!!

DEN said...

Reuters has this; story.

micki said...

If the American electorate/citizens and the media got just as exercised about the bush administration lies and stonewalling as they did over Imus's inexcusable, racist/sexist remarks, we might see some progress in setting our country back on track.

The "I don't recall" defense is getting old. What the busheviks "don't recall" they just change to fit their fantasies.  The bush administration has "edited" reports that are unfavorable to their agenda -- reports on alleged voter fraud, reports linking greenhouse gases and climate change, the National Intelligence Estimate on WMD, to name just a few.

Too many of us put up with this crapola as though there is nothing we can do about it. Baloney.

DEN said...

Death toll at VT is now 31 dead with 28 injured, killer described as young Asian male.

Worst shooting in US history.

Carey said...

Wow. This bee problem is massive.

All I can say is: (not to the bee problem) GUN CONTROL!

Somebody awful got a hold of automatic weapons, it looks like. To this I reply: "You asses. GUN CONTROL!"

I just saw this at What Really Happened.

Bush administration pushes for expansion and deepening of police state

By Larry Chin

The George W. Bush administration seized the White House in 2000 by way of an openly stolen election, then cemented its criminal power into place with the unprecedented 9/11 mass murder, and its two resulting abominations: the fabricated “war on terrorism” (the pretext for endless global war), and the USAPATRIOT Act (the full-scale destruction of the Constitution, and the militarization of the US homeland).

The deepening of the war and security state continues unabated and relatively unopposed, in spite of meager posturing of (largely complicit) congressional Democrats. Nothing has been done to stop, reverse or undo the Bush administration’s boundless criminality, its wide open corruption, or the absolute and systematic rape of law itself. Few if any of Bush’s criminals have been brought to justice.

Three new examples leave no doubt:

In yet another attack on the separation of powers, the Bush administration is pushing for a “war czar”, giving the White House even more centralized war power, over and above the power it already wields through the Pentagon, the State Department and the CIA. Through the concocted war and intelligence “czars,” the White House inner circle -- Bush, Cheney, Rove, etc. -- wields total dictatorial power, and the power to bypass and silence any hint of opposition from the rest of the government.
Mike McConnell, the National Intelligence Director (intelligence “czar” himself) is pushing for greatly expanded power to spy on US citizens and potential “terrorists.” McConnell is requesting more warrantless wiretapping and surveillance of US citizens, and more spying without Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court approval or other court orders.

McConnell is also demanding that telecommunications companies receive immunity from civil liability for “cooperating” with the Bush administration. Two companies, AT&T and Verizon, now face lawsuits for handing phone records to the NSA. AT&T’s “secret rooms” provided the Bush administration direct access to the lives of US citizens.

See: “Bush administration caught red-handed spying on US citizens”

The Bush administration wants not only the full legal authority, but the permission, to violate and destroy the lives of anyone it targets.

It is a fact, detailed in a new investigation by Jeremy Scahill, that Blackwater, the private mercenary firm, manages and runs many aspects of the Bush administration’s criminal wars all over the world, as well as domestic “security” operations (such as police operations in the post-Hurricane Katrina New Orleans). Blackwater, one of the many poison-fanged corporate military faces of Bush-Cheney’s neocon political apparatus, headed by hardwired Bush-connected neocon military-intelligence figures, is above the law -- not controlled by either the US military or the US Congress. Blackwater, which is thriving, and building new facilities all over the world, including the United States, is the face of the new international and homeland security state -- a criminal state.

As written by Mike Ruppert in Crossing the Rubicon, “American fascism is something different now. It’s not just private, elite control over the legal system, nor private evasion of the rule of law. It’s a crisis-induced transition from a society with a deeply compromised legal system to a society where force and surveillance completely supplant the system.”

Consider the system supplanted.

________________________________

My italics.

Gerald said...

Let me start by saying that I just read an article about no one is applying for the war czar job. That is not true. Everyone in D.C. knows that I want that job. I am still waiting by my phone for a call.

Our ecosystem is very important. There must be a balance for the system to work. The killing of the honey bees brings out an imbalance that will effect us.

We have often heard that God works in mysterious ways. The importance of honey bees is one of God's mysterious ways.

We must protect the environment so the environment will be able to protect us!!!!!

A few years back my wife and I had quite an experience. In Bloomfield Hills, Michigan there is the Cranbrook Institute of Science. It was during the maple season from the trees or something. We were able to go into the area and on the grounds of these trees were hundreds, if not thousands of bees flying around. Before going out into this area the guide said that we were to stay on the path and do not be alarmed with the number of bees. If you do not disturb them, they will will not disturb you. So, off we went. Strange feeling in such a place!!! We came out with out a bite.

My wife heard on Speaking of Faith on NPR just Sunday that if we worked to eliminate some poverty in our country and the world, we could cut abortions by 30%. We keep hearing that The War Pimp is pro-life and I want you to know that that is bullshit. Has the Pimp worked to ease poverty or provide health care? You and I know that the answer is NO!!! It is my perceptual opinion that the Pimp is a murderer and a war criminal.

My wife also saw on television some information about Romanian women having children to receive money for the child. If there are no takers, the children are off to an orphanage with little care and not enough help to hold the babies to receive that loving touch. The situation is very sad.

A loving human touch for babies is very, very important for their development!!!

Carey said...

Look at this news cycle: The Don Imus firing and rampant racism/sexism in America, more American deaths in Iraq (besides may more Iraqis), the Green Zone and the Iraqi Parliament are penetrated and we're still asking the question, "is the surge working", killer storms and tornados, mass shootings in Virginia, Karl Rove and Dick Cheney still run free.

My goodness. And tomorrow we get Alfredo. An outsider would think this country is in the process of reassessing itself.

Gerald said...

Yes, the War Pimp is a lying sack of shit!!!

I hear an Asian youth killed at VT. Maybe we need to understand some Asian culture. I have heard that if an Asian student is not doing well in college that they are shamed. Being shamed a student could go off the deep end.

Sad state of affairs in Nazi America!!!

I recall from my spiritual advisor that Nazi America is experiencing pain and suffering.

The truth is that this pain and suffering is only the tip of the iceberg.

Shalom is the answer. WE ARE ALL TO SHARE IN GOD'S GIFTS TO US. WE ARE ALL GOD'S CHILDREN.

HATRED BEGETS HATRED!!! WE ARE A VERY HATEFUL PEOPLE!!!

Yes, it's only the tip of the iceberg for the pain and suffering we will encounter in our lives!!!!!

micki said...

For all you (if you're reading here) vocal defenders of your Second Amendment rights, as you interpret them, you are in *good* company with bush and his boyfriends:

A White House spokesman said President Bush was horrified by the rampage and offered his prayers to the victims and the people of Virginia.

"The president believes that there is a right for people to bear arms, but that all laws must be followed," spokeswoman Dana Perino said.


WOULDN'T YOU KNOW THAT BUSH AND THOSE OTHER BASTARDS WOULD BRING UP THEIR RIGHT TO BEAR ARMS AT A TIME LIKE THIS!!!!

micki said...

Dana Perino's remarks must have been ghost-written by the NRA and approved by Karl and the Decider.

Disgusting.

carey said...

Gerald,

I enjoyed reading your's and "Love's" humane but sober observations.


I checked the Freeway Blogger.

MARVELOUS!

Micki,

But of course! You don't expect any less for our leader of shining crap.

Can you believe that? (The right to bear arms shit.)

Yeah...we can. That's why we're so exhausted from fighting off depression and shame.

Can you believe that? Not a shred of decency.

carey said...

All of those poor friends and families. They all thought they were at such a good place in life with one of their own getting a good education. And zip. Nada.

Jesus. My God.

Oh, Gerald. I think speculating on an Asian-American person's motives might be a bit premature. But your theory, if the killer is Japanese, actually does have some validity. Do remember, however, this is Virginia Tech we're talking about. Still, it's too morbid to think about at this stage. The overriding issue will be gun control.

What a tragedy.

carey said...

Micki, Gerald and all,

I think it's rather healthy for us to wish bad things for Dick Cheney and Karl Rove.

Let's make this a concerted daily practice. We could become masters of witchcraft (Gerald excluded--not his cup of tea).

Allergies are making me light-headed.

David B. Benson said...

King George XLIII, too...

micki said...

Oh, good for Al Fredo, he has two additional days to change his story -- again!

Gonzales was scheduled to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee Tuesday, but his testimony was postponed until Thursday because of the shootings at VTU.

David B. Benson said...

More about predictions of climate wars on Reuters today...

David B. Benson said...

Today is the anniversary of the safe landing of Apollo 13 in the Pacific in 1970.

My, it seems like another century...

Oh wait, it was in another century!

Gerald said...

Carey, micki, et el, what is becoming clear is that no place in America is an ideal place to live. I know that people become upset when I say that Americans must experience some pain and suffering to understand someone else's pain and suffering. Walking in someone's moccasins is a healthy experience. My family and I realize that times will be more difficult to survive in America and so we have for the past several years downsized our standard of living to include only our needs and we have excluded our wants. It is our wants that cause us problems. Everyone seems to want more and more. Do possessions really make you happier???

Gerald said...

Praying Each Day: April 16

We can see from the Korean legend that Americans are living in an eternal hell.

DEN said...

Gonzo put off till Thursday 'cause of the shooting in VA.

Whats the next delay in the lineup?

Why in the whole wide world would a President bring up the second ammendment in a consolation statement to VA Tech.??

Smells like fish!

Gerald said...

Belief in the Power of Prayer

“There are many people who will call when they are in severe trouble and they appreciate being put on the prayer line,” says Lucille Teresi who coordinates the prayer line for Christ the King church in Omaha. Teresi continues “When people really have tragedy or sickness…there’s comfort and hope.”

The pastor agrees. “It’s a great people-to-people ministry,” Rev. Steven Stillmunks says. “It’s healthy spirituality to ask others to share prayers with you.”

No matter the difficulty you or your loved ones face, reach out to others whether in church or synagogue, support group or prayer line, or one-on-one. You’re sure to find people who want to help practically and prayerfully.

And don’t neglect to pray for others as well.

I will give you my support. (2 Samuel 3:12)

Abba, teach us how to pray for each other as well as ourselves. Above all, help us draw closer to You day-by-day.

DEN said...

The truth is out there.

Gerald said...

The Apostles of Deception

Gerald said...

Heretofore, justice has not been the American way. We must make it the American way, and we must do it now. If we want to be more than economic slaves and pawns to the super rich, we must get involved in the issues. We must make government serve us, and we must make it just.

Millions of Americans claim to follow Jesus. Some even claim that we are a Christian nation. Yet every generation seems to crucify Christ all over again, to nail him to the cross and parade him through the streets with a crown of thorns on his head. We had Dr. Martin Luther King, the genuine article, but those in authority—the gluttonous counterfeiters of power—crucified him, aided by cheering throngs of racists. Dr. King, perhaps more than any man who has lived in our time, embodied the moral teachings of Jesus.

It is no irony that the most Christ-like among us today continue to be crucified by the money changers living in the present.

DEN said...

Gerald, you can start by praying for the families of the victims in the VA shooting.

Pray they can meet their struggle head on, accept what has happened, and know 33 kids have slipped the bonds of Earth for a better place.

While those kids were dying in VA, more kids (GI's) were dying in Iraq, and more kids were dying from self inflicted injuries, thousands of humans die every day, some deaths touch us personally, some seem far off.

We can pray that humanity redeems itself, it is in our power to do so.

Accidental death is one thing but needless slaughter is another.

Gerald said...

Finally, a war czar has been found

Gerald said...

The Party of Brownshirts

micki said...

Why in the whole wide world would a President bring up the second ammendment in a consolation statement to VA Tech.??

Why indeed.

Den, because he had to kiss the NRA's collective asses.

I'm not sure of the current status on this....but remember in early March, a federal appeals court (including that jerk Silberman) ruled in a 2-1 decision to overturn the District of Columbia’s long-standing handgun ban, rejecting the city’s argument that the Second Amendment right to bear arms applied only to militias.

The NRA was ecstatic with the ruling. The city said it may take it to the Supreme Court. This shooting rampage today must be making the NRA nervous.

That's why bush mentioned the 2nd Amendment, IMO. Pure politics. Playing to the GOP base. (the base base!)

DEN said...

Micki, I always read the opposite into everything they say, so my first thought was, what a callous statement!

Playing political tricks?

Lower than whale poop comes to mind,

I'm getting a funny vibe, twice 4:44s spotted two different times today without trying on my digital clock, odds? Wednesday is 4-18, 4/4+4.

Jeez I'm getting jumpy!

Better have some beers, whew!

.

David B. Benson said...

Seafood collapse by 2048 due to overfishing and pollution...

DEN said...

Heres the problem in Virginia LAX GUN LAWS!!!!

Carey said...

The weapons were semi-automatic. My goodness.



The NRA and various local gun groups jumped instantly at the news. They've blanketed the country with pro-gun ownership crap, apparently with lightning speed.

The same old accusations are once again flying. Pro-gun control people are drawn as licking their chops in anticipation of just such a multiple shooting catastrophe. These gun people are well funded and oh-so-battle-ready.

As I went about my business this afternoon, I had a nagging criticism of myself. I didn't mean to imply that Virginia Tech is a bad school. The notion that any amount of academic pressure could cause a person to erupt into committing mass murder didn't make sense. The story is bigger, there are details about numerous other security scares the campus has recently endured.

Al Fredo's "execution" hearing had to be postponed. One, out of deference to the horrific tragedy and, two, more people will be able to view or pay closer attention to the hearing.

•c•arol said...

I first heard about the 150 Pat Robertson plants in the Bush administration on Bill Maher Friday night. I was shocked! It was the first I'd heard about that and then you posted more about that on the previous thread, Micki. That should be front page news. The people have to hear about the infiltration. It's scary as hell!

I've been gone the last two evenings and most of today. Finally, life is back to normal, I turned my computer on around 6:00 p.m. and low and behold, a mass murder in Virginia! I went to the LR and turned CNN on. Boy, are they into it. On the crawler below the news conference were stats on mass murders here in the U.S. One crawler said Queen Elizabeth was horrified, or something like that. This is our new, national distraction. Heck, Alberto got postponed over it. I'll have to see how many days it's front page news in the Detroit Free Press.

Carey, I don't think gun control is the answer. It's too late for that. Need good gun laws and they need to be inforced, that's for sure. And your list of bad things going on up above this post sounds like ARMAGEDDON!!! The rapture is almost upon us! Better get ourselves saved! Mwahahahaha................

NASA paid $26.6 million to the family members of the Columbia astronauts. The Orlando Sentinel used the Freedom of Information Act to get that info. Questions, questions.
#1 - Why did they get $26.6 million taxpayer dollars? They were astronauts, didn't they have a super-duper insurance policy on them? Bob has one thru HIS cheap-ass employer.
#2 - Why was the Freedom of Info Act needed to find that out? Why was the news secret? The blurb I saw said, "....to protect the privacy of the Columbia families." Huh? That handful of people matter more than we taxpayers knowing where our money went? Why is everything in this country so cockeyed?

Den, just about to post this and saw your article about lax gun laws in Virginia. I'll read it after I post this. I say if VA had the strongest gun laws in the country, that guy that shot all those innocent people would have still got his hands on a gun.

Well, I think I'm caught up on this blog. Off to catch up on Capt. That won't take long, I'm sure.

micki said...

By 2048, who's ever left wandering around is gonna be mighty hungry -- and thirsty.