Disappearing Bees

Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) occurs when a hive's inhabitants suddenly disappear, leaving only queens, eggs and a few immature workers, like so many apian Mary Celestes. The vanished bees are never found, but thought to die singly far from home. The parasites, wildlife and other bees that normally raid the honey and pollen left behind when a colony dies, refuse to go anywhere near the abandoned hives.
The alarm was first sounded last autumn, but has now hit half of all American states. The West Coast is thought to have lost 60 per cent of its commercial bee population, with 70 per cent missing on the East Coast.
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I just asked an entomologist about this. He said that there are a couple of things that might be happening: mites and/or wasting disease. Apparently a similar thing happened about thirty years ago which was due to wasting disease. He said that most of the bees in this country are of Italian origin and when brought here they displaced the natural pollinators that we had here. He seems unalarmed that the bees are disappearing and seems to think that other pollinators will replace the missing bees and/or we will engineer a better bee from this.
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Great! First frankenfood and, now, frankenbees, just spiffy. Remember, if you keep your head while all those around you are losing theirs, perhaps you don't really understand the problem.
There have been other scientists that have long preached that technology will save the day, such as Edward Teller (aka Dr. Strangelove) or those knuckleheads that tell us that we can safely store "nu-cu-lar" (to quote our President) waste for 20 thousand years. Uh-huh.
Those of you who are old enough, will remember that it took 3 years to get thalidomide off the market, when babies were being born with out arms and legs. Cigarettes were a clear and present danger but, you couldn't PROVE that they were causing cancer. The FDA is over regulated and underfunded and if you think they can quickly find something as subtle as immune suppressing chemicals in the environment . . .
Why is everyone looking at me like that? I always foam at the mouth like this and it was a perfectly good rant.
Anyways, check out http://news.independent.co.uk/environment/wildlife/article2314202.ece
The part of the article that caught my eye was:
The disease showed a completely new set of symptoms, "which does not seem to match anything in the literature", said the entomologist.
One(-O)* was that the bees left the hive and flew away to die elsewhere, over about a week. Another (Two-O)* was that the few bees left inside the hive were carrying "a tremendous number of pathogens" - virtually every known bee virus could be detected in the insects, she said, and some bees were carrying five or six viruses at a time, as well as fungal infections. Because of this it was assumed that the bees' immune systems were being suppressed in some way.
Professor Cox-Foster went on: "And another unusual symptom (Three-O)* that we're are seeing, which makes this very different, is that normally when a bee colony gets weak and its numbers are decreasing, other neighbouring bees will come and steal the resources - they will take away the honey and the pollen.
"Other insects like to take advantage too, such as the wax moth or the hive beetle. But none of this is happening. These insects are not coming in.
"This suggests that there is something toxic in the colony itself which is repelling them." . . .
------
And so it goes.
Yesterday I had four carpenter bees buzzing my wisteria and a Common Buckeye butterfly flitted around the tea-rose. At least Pandora didn't let hope out of the box.
- Bill Cloribus gustibus non disputatum (mostly) *Boy, I miss Molly.
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While I'm all for the native pollinators to kick in, Dr. Frankenstein and his cohorts should bow out on this one.
I saw alot of non-honeybees out here 2 years ago. A bit smaller than honeybees. They were attracted to anything with a bright color including my clothing. They loved the contents of the almost empty soda cans dropped by the people building my house. Lack of rain and flowers drove their hunger.
--
Dave

Apathy and denial are close cousins
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Think long and hard about which pesticides you use, there is anecdotal evidence to suggest the compound found in Merit a common turfgrass pesticide (imidacloprid) may be a causative factor in colony collapse. If I am not mistaken this was banned in France after beekeepers there suffered tremendous losses.
Use the search terms "Gaucho bees" if you wish to read a bit more.
Here is a quote from one article that shows some of the economics of the situation. This url is the source.- http://www.newmediaexplorer.org/sepp/2003/11/26/millions_of_bees_dead_bayers_g aucho_blamed.htm
The pesticide GAUCHO (containing the active substance Imidacloprid) is produced by the German BAYER-group. With an annual turnover of more than 500 million Euro this is the group´s top selling agricultural agent. Critics assume that the high sales figures are the reason why the company is contesting a ban on its use.
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It's due to cell phones ;)
http://news.independent.co.uk/environment/wildlife/article2449968.ece
I don't know but look for the fruits and the nuts (politicians and media) to offer solutions. Don't tell Al Gore - he'll blame global warming.
Frank
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http://earthfiles.com/news/news.cfm?ID 23&category=Environment
http://maarec.cas.psu.edu/ColonyCollapseDisorder.html
The MAAREC link has many more links to learn from.
--
Ann, gardening in Zone 6a
South of Boston, Massachusetts
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