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Pesticide issues in the works: Honeybee colony collapse disorder
world of pollinators poster illustrating a variety of animals and plants on around a picture of the earth
Current as of February 18, 2011
Discovering a problem
During the winter of 2006-2007, some beekeepers began to report unusually high losses of 30-90 percent of their hives. As many as 50 percent of all affected colonies demonstrated symptoms inconsistent with any known causes of honeybee death: sudden loss of a colony’s worker bee population with very few dead bees found near the colony. The queen and brood (young) remained, and the colonies had relatively abundant honey and pollen reserves. But hives cannot sustain themselves without worker bees and would eventually die. This combination of events resulting in the loss of a bee colony has been called Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD).
Though agricultural records from more than a century ago note occasional bee “disappearances” and “dwindling” colonies in some years, it is uncertain whether the colonies had the same combination of factors associated with CCD. What we do know from the most recent data from beekeepers for 2009 is that that CCD appears to still be with us. www.epa.gov...
Dead bees don’t necessarily mean CCD
Certain pesticides are harmful to bees. That’s why we require instructions for protecting bees on the labels of pesticides that are known to be particularly harmful to bees. This is one of many reasons why everyone must read and follow pesticide label instructions. When most or all of the bees in a hive are killed by overexposure to a pesticide, we call that a beekill incident resulting from acute pesticide poisoning. But acute pesticide poisoning of a hive is very different from CCD and is almost always avoidable.
There have been several incidents of acute poisoning of honeybees covered in the popular media in recent years, but sometimes these incidents are mistakenly associated with CCD. A common element of acute pesticide poisoning of bees is, literally, a pile of dead bees outside the hive entrance. With CCD, there are very few if any dead bees near the hive. Piles of dead bees are an indication that the incident is not colony collapse disorder. Indeed, heavily diseased colonies can also exhibit large numbers of dead bees near the hive.
Why it's happening
There have been many theories about the cause of CCD, but the researchers who are leading the effort to find out why are now focused on these factors:
increased losses due to the invasive varroa mite (a pest of honeybees);
new or emerging diseases such as Israeli Acute Paralysis virus and the gut parasite Nosema;
pesticide poisoning through exposure to pesticides applied to crops or for in-hive insect or mite control;
bee management stress;
foraging habitat modification
inadequate forage/poor nutrition and
potential immune-suppressing stress on bees caused by one or a combination of factors identified above.
Additional factors may include poor nutrition, drought, and migratory stress brought about by the increased need to move bee colonies long distances to provide pollination services.www.epa.gov...
Originally posted by Quadrivium
reply to post by Afterthought
CCD (colony collapse disorder) is not nessasarily a "die off" in most cases the bees just up and leave the hives.
They leave all the honey, brood and everything behind, with no sign of where or why they went.
I am not a commercial bee keeper as in I do not rent my hives out. Most of CCD cases have been observed in colonies that are frequently moved for hired pollination.
Honeybees are intelligent creatures, I enjoy just sitting and watching my hives, they do some amazing things.
With that being said, they do have a couple of interesting qualities.
Did you know that in some cases if you move a hive, in the middle of a warm spring day, just 10 feet, a lot of the worker bees will not be able to find the hive. They will go to where it was when they left it and just fly around and around?
It is recomended that if a hive must be moved, it should only be moved a couple of feet a day until it is in the desired location.
I have always felt that the constant movement of the hives by commercial beekeepers may play a role in CCD. But that's just my 2 cents. Many of the hives that are used to pollinate crops in the north east are wintered in SC, Gorgia and Florida.
The Chicago bees' success could be due to the city's abundant and mostly pesticide-free flowers. Many bee experts believe city bees have a leg up on country bees these days because of a longer nectar flow, with people planting flowers that bloom from spring to fall, and organic gardening practices. Not to mention the urban residents who are building hives at a brisk pace.
Beekeeping is thriving in cities across the nation, driven by young hobbyists and green entrepreneurs. Honey from city hives makes its way into swanky restaurant kitchens and behind the bar, where it's mixed into cocktails or stars as an ingredient in honey wine.
Millions of bees were found dead, and investigators said they believe the bees were poisoned.