Still pathetic after all these years: US and Honey Bee colony collapse

Submitted: Jun 25, 2014
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

 Here are four articles about Honey bee colon- collapse disorder, one Russian, one and a partial article American, one Canadian. Scientists actually seem to have found the main cause, a class of nicotinoid pesticides applied to seeds before planting so that they provide protection against later pesticide applications and, incidently, cause serious harm to the nervous systems of bees and other creatures, including humans.

There are marked differences in the articles. The Russian and Canadian articles are actual journalism. The Washington Post article is nearly pure crap because it is corporate mainstream media influenced by the powerful pesticide lobby that has managed to prevent for a decade serious science on this deadly serious topic. This is the sort of lettered swill that is befogging the nation on this topic. Add to it financial inducement to congressional idiocy on the issue and you have our present grotesque situation -- the campaign to solve the problem being run by the White House chef out of the organic garden on the White House grounds. -- blj

 

6-24-14

RT.com

Pesticides linked to honeybee decline are affecting other species, scientists say

http://rt.com/news/168108-pesticides-harm-bees-birds-fish/

Neurotoxic pesticides blamed for the decline of honeybees is also harming butterflies, worms, fish, and birds, and contaminating habitats worldwide which are crucial for food production and wildlife, scientists have concluded after a four-year assessment.

Societal regulations have not stopped habitats from being poisoned, said the analysis, despite neurotoxic pesticides already being held responsible for the global collapse in the bee population. 

“Undertaking a full analysis of all the available literature (800 peer reviewed reports) the Task Force on Systemic Pesticides – a group of global, independent scientists has found that there is “clear evidence of harm sufficient to trigger regulatory action,”
 a press release accompanying the report noted. 

Twenty-nine scientists from four different continents conducted the 
study, which found the unmistakable evidence of the link. 

“I think the only acceptable dose of this systemic pesticide is just nothing – zero,” said Dr. Jean Marc Bonmatin, a researcher at CNRS-CBM lab in France. “We are able, in this laboratory, to detect very, very small amounts of these neurotoxins. And as toxicologists, we are able to test these toxicants on drosophila – on bees – and so on. So we are able to see the effect of such tiny amounts of neurotoxins.” 

The pesticides referred to in the report are neonicotinoids (neonics) and fipronil. Farmers spend some US$2.6 billion on neonicotinoids worldwide every year. They are used as a general practice rather than a response to a pest problem. 

“The majority of the pesticide doesn't go into the crop at all,” said Professor Dave Goulson from the UK’s University of Sussex, who contributed to the study. “More than 90 percent of it goes elsewhere into the environment and they're really persistent in the environment.” 

Goulson said that cumulatively, we as humans are “contaminating the global environment with highly toxic, highly persistent chemicals.” 

“If all our soils are toxic, that should really worry us, as soil is crucial to food production,”
 he added.

Butterflies, bees, birds suffering...humans next?

In Marinduque, a province of the Philippines, the rural population practices butterfly farming to encourage the sustained pollination growth of local vegetation. “All the people here in the rural areas depend on the butterflies, and continued use of pesticides could destroy their livelihood,” said Elizabeth Lumawig-Heitzmann, director of Romeo Lumawig Memorial Museum. 

In addition to butterflies, maintaining bee and insect populations are necessary for the pollination of crops. “These days many people are completely detached from nature – they buy their food in a supermarket, they live in a city...biodiversity is vitally important for us,” said Bonmatin. 

Bees are affected because chemicals hurt their ability to both navigate and learn. Neonics can be 5,000 to 10,000 times more toxic to bees than DDT – which itself has been banned in agriculture. 

“The classic measurements used to assess the toxicity of a pesticide (short
term lab toxicity results) are not effective for systemic pesticides and conceal their true impact. They typically only measure direct acute effects rather than chronic effects via multiple routes of exposure,” the report found. 

However, bees are not the only ones affected by the pesticides; birds and mammals which feed on the insects, as well as worms, are also harmed. Worms aerate soil, and chemicals can disrupt their ability to tunnel properly. 

Because birds eat insects and worms, declines in their populations can also lead to a loss in the birds feeding on them. The report also postulates that even eating only a few contaminated seeds may kill birds directly.

Insecticides and pesticides seep into rivers and streams from the fields they are used on. "Microbes, fish and amphibians were found to be affected after high levels of or prolonged exposure," the report said.


“Overall, a compelling body of evidence has accumulated that clearly demonstrates that the wide-scale use of these persistent, water-soluble chemicals is having widespread, chronic impacts upon global biodiversity and is likely to be having major negative effects on ecosystem services such as pollination that are vital to food security,” the study concluded. 

The report is part of a special edition of thepeer-reviewed journal 'Environmental Science and Pollution Research.' 

The EU has already placed a three-year ban on using three neonicotinoids (clothianidin, imidacloprid, and thiametoxam) on flowering crops which bees feed on. However, they can still be used on winter crops. 

Pesticide manufacturers were critical of the study’s findings. “It is a selective review of existing studies which highlighted worst-case scenarios, largely produced under laboratory conditions,” said Nick von Westenholz, chief executive of the Crop Protection Association, before reiterating the need to“protect pollinator health.” 

According to Goulson, the focus has so far only been on honeybees. “It’s clear that the impacts of neonics are more profound than that,” he said, adding that the story stretches beyond bees “to all wildlife that lives on farmland.”

Pesticides linked to honeybee decline are affecting other species, scientists say.

6-23-14

 Washington Post

Do bees freak you out? Well, President Obama wants to keep them around.

BY 

JULIET EILPERIN

 

 

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/wp/2014/06/23/do-bees-freak-you-out-well-president-obama-wants-to-keep-them-around/ 

Not many White House fact sheets mention honeybees and Monarch butterflies. But one issued on Friday talked about them in detail, explaining why President Obama had signed a memorandum establishing the first-ever federal pollinator strategy.

The memo creates a new inter-agency task force charged with developing a federal strategy to protect pollinators, which aims to stave off the declinesthat pollinators such as honeybees, butterflies and bats have suffered in recent years. Obama instructed all federal agencies to use their powers "to broadly advance honey bee and other pollinator health and habitat," and the Agriculture Department announced $8 million in incentives to farmers and ranchers in five states who establish new habitats for honeybees.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Friday "there is a clear economic incentive for us" to protect pollinators because the crops they pollinate "have an impact of about $24 billion a year on the United States economy."

"And we’re going to continue to work in collaborative fashion with industry, with state and local leaders, with private landowners to address this problem," Earnest said,

In fact, one-third of our food supply--the fruits, vegetables and nuts we eat--are pollinated by bees. But the current U.S. honeybee population is now less than half of what it was in 1945.

The president's interest in pollinators is not simply economic, however: he has raised the issue with some of his top aides. White House senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer said in an interview this spring with Politico's Mike Allen that Obama had mentioned an article to him that had to do with "the disappearing bees and the fact this is an issue that there are fewer bees, and this has to do with climate change."

And the White House senior adviser for nutrition policy Sam Kass--who also cooks dinner for the Obama family most weeknights--has also discussed the issue in depth with the president. It's one of the reasons the White House vegetable garden expanded to include a pollinator's gardenthis year.

And if the Democrats have their way, Washington will have one more high-profile bee advocate after the mid-term elections: Michael Eggman, who is hoping to unseat Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Calif.). Eggman, a third-generation beekeeper and self-described member of the "beekeeper mafia," praised the administration for taking on the issue, "although until this point, not enough has been done."

"Colony Collapse Disorder appears to be a crisis with multiple factors including pesticide use and catastrophic climate change," Eggman said in a statement. "I am hopeful that the administration will carefully examine all possible causes and all potential solutions."

In other words, if you're rooting for bees to disappear, you might want to reassess. There are people in high places who are on their side.

6-24-4

We all get stung by bee colony collapse

By Patterson Clark

http://apps.washingtonpost.com/g/page/national/we-all-get-stung-by-bee-colony-collapse/1108/

...Studies show no links between colony collapse and either cellphone-tower radiation or genetically modified crops.

SOURCE: Science; Nature; Nature Communications; PLOS ONE; Environmental Pollution; Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry; Journal of Applied Ecology; Environmental Health; USDA; Apidologie; Psyche: A Journal of Entomology; Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences; Naturwissenschaften; University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences; Journal of Invertebrate Pathology; Biochemical Society; British Ecological Society; Southwest Agricultural Conference; Society for Experimental Biology, Springer Life Sciences; scientificbeekeeping.com; “Natural Beekeeping,” by Ross Conrad; Environmental Health Perspectives; Australia Honey Bee Industry Council...

 

1-5-14

Global Research

GMO Agriculture and Chemical Pesticides are Killing the Bees

US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Slapped with Lawsuit

Dr. Joseph Mercola

http://www.globalresearch.ca/neonicotinoid-pesticides-ongoing-death-of-the-beas-epa-slapped-with-lawsuit/5334816

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has failed to protect bees from neonicotinoid pesticides, according to a lawsuit against the agency, filed by beekeepers and environmental groups. Said Paul Towers, spokesperson for the Pesticide Action Network (PAN), one of the groups involved in the lawsuit:

“Despite our best efforts to warn the agency about the problems posed by neonicotinoids, the EPA continued to ignore the clear warning signs of an ag system in trouble.”

Lawsuit Maintains the Link Between Neonicotinoids and Bee Die Off Is ‘Crystal Clear’

Neonicotinoid pesticides are a newer class of chemicals that are applied to seeds before planting. This allows the pesticide to be taken up through the plant’s vascular system as it grows, where it is expressed in the pollen and nectar.

These insecticides are highly toxic to bees because they are systemic, water soluble, and pervasive. They get into the soil and groundwater where they can accumulate and remain for many years and present long-term toxicity to the hive as well as to other species, such as songbirds.

Neonicotinoids affect insects’ central nervous systems in ways that are cumulative and irreversible. Even minute amounts can have profound effects over time.

The disappearance of bee colonies began accelerating in the United States shortly after the EPA allowed these new insecticides on the market in the mid-2000s. The lawsuit alleges that the EPA allowed the neonicotinoids to remain on the market despite clear warning signs of a problem.

It also alleges the EPA acted outside of the law by allowing conditional registration of the pesticides, a measure that allows a product to enter the market despite the absence of certain data.

European Food Safety Authority Ruled Neonicotinoids ‘Unacceptable’

The EPA’s continued allowance of neonicotinoids becomes all the more irresponsible in light of recent findings by other government organizations. Earlier this year, for instance, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) released a report that ruled neonicotinoid insecticides are essentially “unacceptable” for many crops.1 The European Commission asked EFSA to assess the risks associated with the use of three common neonicotinoids – clothianidin, imidacloprid and thiamethoxam – with particular focus on:

<!--[if !supportLists]-->§  <!--[endif]-->Their acute and chronic effects on bee colony survival and development

<!--[if !supportLists]-->§  <!--[endif]-->Their effects on bee larvae and bee behavior

<!--[if !supportLists]-->§  <!--[endif]-->The risks posed by sub-lethal doses of the three chemicals

One of the glaring issues that EFSA came across was a widespread lack of information, with scientists noting that in some cases gaps in data made it impossible to conduct an accurate risk assessment. Still, what they did find was “a number of risks posed to bees” by the three neonicotinoid insecticides. The Authority found that when it comes to neonicotinoid exposure from residues in nectar and pollen in the flowers of treated plants:2

“…only uses on crops not attractive to honeybees were considered acceptable.”

As for exposure from dust produced during the sowing of treated seeds, the Authority ruled “a risk to honeybees was indicated or could not be excluded…” Unfortunately, neonicotinoids have become the fastest growing insecticides in the world. In the US, virtually all genetically engineered Bt corn crops are treated with neonicotinoids.

Serious Risks to Bees Already Established

One of the observed effects of these insecticides is weakening of the bee’s immune system. Forager bees bring pesticide-laden pollen back to the hive, where it’s consumed by all of the bees.

Six months later, their immune systems fail, and they fall prey to secondary, seemingly “natural” bee infections, such as parasites, mites, viruses, fungi and bacteria. Pathogens such as Varroa mites, Nosema, fungal and bacterial infections, and Israeli Acute Paralysis Virus (IAPV) are found in large amounts in honeybee hives on the verge of collapse.

Serious honeybee die-offs have been occurring around the world for the past decade but no one knows exactly why the bees are disappearing.

The phenomenon, dubbed Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), is thought to be caused by a variety of imbalances in the environment, although agricultural practices such as the use of neonicotinoid pesticides are receiving growing attention as more research comes in. As written in the journal Nature:3

“Social bee colonies depend on the collective performance of many individual workers. Thus, although field-level pesticide concentrations can have subtle or sublethal effects at the individual level, it is not known whether bee societies can buffer such effects or whether it results in a severe cumulative effect at the colony level. Furthermore, widespread agricultural intensification means that bees are exposed to numerous pesticides when foraging, yet the possible combinatorial effects of pesticide exposure have rarely been investigated.”

This is what the Nature study set out to determine, and it was revealed that bees given access to neonicotinoid and pyrethroid pesticides were adversely affected in numerous ways, including:

<!--[if !supportLists]-->§  <!--[endif]-->Fewer adult worker bees emerged from larvae

<!--[if !supportLists]-->§  <!--[endif]-->A higher proportion of foragers failed to return to the nest

<!--[if !supportLists]-->§  <!--[endif]-->A higher death rate among worker bees

<!--[if !supportLists]-->§  <!--[endif]-->An increased likelihood of colony failure

The researchers said:

“Here we show that chronic exposure of bumble bees to two pesticides (neonicotinoid and pyrethroid) at concentrations that could approximate field-level exposure impairs natural foraging behavior and increases worker mortality leading to significant reductions in brood development and colony success.

We found that worker foraging performance, particularly pollen collecting efficiency, was significantly reduced with observed knock-on effects for forager recruitment, worker losses and overall worker productivity. Moreover, we provide evidence that combinatorial exposure to pesticides increases the propensity of colonies to fail.”

Why the Food Supply Could Be Dependent on Urgent Action by the EPA

The EPA acknowledges that “pesticide poisoning” may be one factor leading to colony collapse disorder,4 yet they have been slow to act to protect bees from this threat. The current lawsuit may help spur them toward more urgent action, which is desperately needed as the food supply hangs in the balance.

There are about 100 crop species that provide 90 percent of food globally. Of these, 71 are pollinated by bees.5 In the US alone, a full one-third of the food supply depends on pollination from bees. Apple orchards, for instance, require one colony of bees per acre to be adequately pollinated. So if bee colonies continue to be devastated, major food shortages could result.

There is also concern that the pesticides could be impacting other pollinators as well, including bumblebees, hoverflies, butterflies, moths and others, which could further impact the environment.

Four Steps to Help Protect the Bees

If you would like to learn more about the economic, political and ecological implications of the worldwide disappearance of the honeybee, check out the documentary film Vanishing of the Bees. If you’d like to get involved, here are four actions you can take to help preserve and protect our honeybees:

<!--[if !supportLists]-->1.   <!--[endif]-->Support organic farmers and shop at local farmer’s markets as often as possible. You can “vote with your fork” three times a day. (When you buy organic, you are making a statement by saying “no” to GMOs and toxic pesticides!)

<!--[if !supportLists]-->2.   <!--[endif]-->Cut the use of toxic chemicals in your house and on your lawn, and use only organic, all-natural forms of pest control.

<!--[if !supportLists]-->3.   <!--[endif]-->Better yet, get rid of your lawn altogether and plant a garden or other natural habitat. Lawns offer very little benefit for the environment. Both flower and vegetable gardens provide excellent natural honeybee habitats.

<!--[if !supportLists]-->4.   <!--[endif]-->Become an amateur beekeeper. Having a hive in your garden requires only about an hour of your time per week, benefits your local ecosystem, and you can enjoy your own honey!

 .

 

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