It looks like you're using an Ad Blocker.

Please white-list or disable in your ad-blocking tool.

Thank you.


Some features of ATS will be disabled while you continue to use an ad-blocker.


Senator Requests Expedited Report from USDA on Honeybee Mystery

page: 1

log in


posted on Apr, 20 2007 @ 08:04 AM

Senator Requests Expedited Report from USDA on Honeybee Mystery


The full text of the Senators' letter to Secretary Johanns is as follows:

The Honorable Michael Johanns
U.S. Department of Agriculture
1400 Independence Avenue SW
Washington, D.C. 20250-0003

Dear Mr. Secretary:

America's beekeepers and their bees are an indispensable pillar of U.S. Agriculture. Our nation's beekeepers provide essential pollination services for over 90 different food, seed and fiber crops, contributing over $14 billion of added agricultural value as documented by a Cornell University study in 2000. Crops that depend upon or benefit from honey bee pollination include alfalfa, almonds, apples, avocados, blueberries, cantaloupes, carrots, cherries, citrus, cotton, cranberries, kiwis, plums, pumpkins, seed crops, soybeans, squash, sunflowers and watermelons.

As you are no doubt aware, a new and unexplained condition known as Colony Collapse Disorder ("CCD") is decimating bee colonies through the United States. CCD is causing some beekeepers to lose upwards of 90 percent of their bee colonies, and is causing serious reductions in the supplies of bees for essential commercial pollination. These severe losses are in addition to other problems such as higher production costs, mite infestations and unfairly traded imports that have been making it very difficult for beekeepers to operate profitably. If these alarming trends are allowed to continue, they will place at risk in excess of $14 billion in annual U.S. farm output that depends on bee pollination. Ultimately, the shortage of pollination services could impact the supply of healthful and affordable food for U.S. consumers.

We are writing on an urgent basis to ask that you provide us with an expedited report on the immediate steps that the Department is and will be taking to determine the causes of CCD, and to develop appropriate countermeasures for this serious disorder. In particular, we ask for a specific explanation of how the Department plans to utilize its existing resources and capabilities, including its four Agricultural Research Service honeybee research labs, and to work with other public and private sector enterprises in combating CCD. We also request that the Department identify any additional resources and capabilities that would be necessary or useful in its efforts to stop the spread of CCD.

In addition, we would also ask that you outline the Department's long-term plans to help restore the health of the U.S. beekeeping industry, including implementation of a crop insurance program for beekeepers that Congress authorized in 2002.

We look forward to receiving your report and any recommendations on this urgent matter for U.S. agricultural producers and American consumers.

Source: Senator Hillary Clinton

(visit the link for the full news article)

Related Discussion Threads:
Deadly Bee Mite may have Reached Manoa Honey Farm
Are Cell Phones Wiping Out Our Bees?!
GM Crops to Blame for Disappearing Bees? German Study Says 'Yes'.
Mystery Illness Killing U.S. Honeybees by the Thousands

posted on Apr, 20 2007 @ 08:04 AM
It is a good effort on Senator Clinton's part to light a fire under the USDA's feet to find out the cause and cure of the disappearing bee mystery.

Hopefully this action is not too late.

While searching for threads that relate to the bee mystery, I found an old one by deltaboy from 2006 concerning the militaries use of bees to sniff out explosives, and I wanted to link it here and add another conspiratorial aspect to this mystery. Has the military done something to cause this, I don't think so, but I wanted to put it here for discussion.

Air force of bomb sniffing bees.

(visit the link for the full news article)

[edit on 2007/4/20 by JacKatMtn]

posted on Apr, 22 2007 @ 10:01 PM
This is an article from the Washington Post I found while searching for the Einstein Hoax prediction , that another member is pursuing, the article is from 2002, and gives come more backdrop on the current situation.

It seems in this artcile that the beekeepers were upset by the Bush administrations budget cuts and closing 3 of 4 bee labs in the country at the time, the only one proposed to stay open was in Texas.

The article discusses 3 pests, varroa mite, tracheal mite, and the latest which didn't have much description, small hive beetle.

Here is some of the article:


Which is why beekeepers from California to Virginia are scratching their heads at the Bush administration's proposal to close three of the four Department of Agriculture bee research laboratories, including the first, opened in the 1890s in Chevy Chase and moved to Beltsville in 1939.

To save money and avoid possible duplication, the president has proposed closing the bee labs at Beltsville, Baton Rouge, La., and Tucson. The laboratory at Weslaco, Tex., would remain open. Funding would be reduced from $5.7 million to $2.5 million, and the number of positions cut from 21 to 9.

"We certainly recognize the concern, but at the same time we have to reflect some national priorities right now," said Alisa Harrison, spokeswoman for Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman.

Did National priorities, and budget cuts compound the problems researchers faced, fighting to save the bees?

I have to do some more checking to see if this bee lab proposed closings actually occurred, but it appears this is mystery has been going on alot longer than we know.

[edit on 2007/4/22 by JacKatMtn]

posted on Apr, 22 2007 @ 10:57 PM
This is just a thought, but what if Morgellons disease is playing a role? From my studies it is not host specific, infecting everything from humans to insects. The only problem I have with this theory is the sparse cases among humans. I doubt if any studies have been done on insects much less honey bees, but I know it is possible. Improbable? Maybe moreso, but I don't want to fall in that trap of ruling out both possibilities for lack of information.

There have been a few (two I know of for sure) threads on this board devoted to the disease, and they are full of valuable findings. I just came from another site with microscopic photos of the lesions and their behavior in human skin. Some theories flying around at the present moment accuse nanotech, alien biology, and escaped laboratory experiments, but no one is any closer to the truth. The truth may be all of the above or none at all.

But your post definately provides another reason I should vote for Hillary, even though I believe she has already passed through the looking glass

posted on Apr, 22 2007 @ 11:35 PM

Originally posted by Matyas
This is just a thought, but what if Morgellons disease is playing a role?

Can you explain more specifically what you mean? How or why would this disease be causing bees to disappear? it seems like in your post you are solely talking about humans, so I'm unclear as to the point you are making..

posted on Apr, 23 2007 @ 12:45 AM
Hello Inanna. The majority of data I have run across regarding Morgellons is associated with humans, but I have heard of it infecting animals and insects also.

My point is it could be infecting bees too, but we just don't know yet how to tell and if any studies have been done. In humans it primarly effects the nervous system with a good number of associated skin disorders. If it can infect insects I don't see why it wouldn't have an effect on their nervous system as well.

Like I said, it is just a hunch, maybe with no foundation. But after studying Morgellons I am wary to underestimate its ability to adapt. It is an especially nasty disease with far too many unknowns to be discounted.

In the real world, CCD is something we can have an impact on, each of us as individuals, just by allowing dandilions and wildflowers to grow on our properties, and in the private sector by banning certain types of pesticides. Morgellons, otoh, is something we can do precious little about. So I doubt any findings of that variety will be forthcoming.

posted on Apr, 23 2007 @ 07:58 AM

Originally posted by JacKatMtn
I have to do some more checking to see if this bee lab proposed closings actually occurred, but it appears this is mystery has been going on alot longer than we know.

It appears that the four USDA labs are still in the bee research business which is good you can check them out here:

There is some good info on what these labs are doing with bee research. Some is about the pests and others are concerning Genome research which something that can be sdded to the list of possible causes of the Bee mystery.

I found a white paper from and it goes over the project, once again the terminology makes it difficult for me to fully understand but I know some here speak this language

Upgrading the honey bee genome sequence-pdf

Honey bees (Apis mellifera, A.m.), insects endowed with great cognitive and social abilities and amenable to
molecular, genetic, neural, and ecological manipulation, provide an important model for understanding and
improving human health. The Honey Bee Genome Project (HBGP) has successfully organized a large and
diverse research community around the bee model. With 7.5x genomic sequence coverage and a robust
assembly carried out at the Baylor College of Medicine NHGRI Sequencing Center, and gene-prediction
strategies based on orthology, transcript evidence and de novo models, A.m. is able to fill a central role in
research on diverse issues related to behavior, development, reproduction, and immunity.

Also found a couple of bee related papers from the UK :

Small Hive Beetle-pdf

Foulbrood- pdf

posted on Apr, 24 2007 @ 08:34 PM
I have been doing some research into the bee mystery, focusing on the recent history of bees and have found a couple of articles and a video to share for those interested.

This first article from Cornell University in 1997, describes a concern and bee loss due to the varroa mite. IMO this is still one of the reasons for the loss of bees this season, as documented by the substantial loss at this period of time only explains part of the problem. In this article it says that 95-98% of wild colonies were lost, this was 1997.

Apiculture Research Will Save Honeybee And Pollination Industries, Cornell Entomologists Predict

Despite dramatic losses in wild honeybees and in coloniesmaintained by hobbyist beekeepers, Cornell University apiculturists say thepollination needs of commercial agriculture in the United States are beingmet -- for now -- by commercial beekeepers, although their supplies areprecarious.

"Parasitic mite and mite-related diseases have caused the death of mostwild honeybees, and left the commercial colonies at tremendous risk," saidNicholas W. Calderone, head of the university's Dyce Laboratory for HoneyBee Studies and an assistant professor of entomology in the College ofAgriculture and Life Sciences at Cornell. Calling the Varroa mite "thegreatest threat to beekeeping," Calderone said beekeepers have only oneregistered chemical (Apistan) to control Varroa mites, "and European miteshave already become resistant to that chemical, so we must assume the samething will happen in the U.S."

In another article from the University of Delaware, from 1998 it discusses the mites and loss of wild hives, but also introduces something else, the fact that the killer bee from South America is not affected like the honeybee we were used to seeing.

Where Have All The Honeybees Gone? UD 'Bee Guy' Asks Why--From America To The Amazon

Well-meaning South American bee breeders also brought the Africanized or"killer" bee to Brazil, Caron says. And, the varroa mite may have hitched a ridefrom Japan to South America, then hopped on the backs of bees headed for theUnited States, appearing in the United States in 1987.

"Our bees had little natural resistance to this imported mite," he says, "and losses started showing up immediately, particularly over the winters, when bees are clustered together with their honey."...

...Surprisingly, the varroa mite lives on killer bees, too, but "doesn't seem to cause any problems in tropical regions," Caron says. He's quick to caution, however, that intentionally importing killer bees to Delaware or any other cool-weather regions would be "an extremely bad idea."

Remember high school science class?, the films, well here is a 10 min film from the USDA, that goes through the life cycle of the bee and the varroa mite, it is very informative and will give you a better idea of this particular pest.

WARNING: If you are squeamish to bugs and creepy crawlies, you might not like it, it is also science class boring, you have to want to learn it to enjoy it.

Google Video Link

[edit on 2007/4/24 by JacKatMtn]

posted on Apr, 24 2007 @ 08:57 PM
Apparently whatever it is that is affecting the bees comes and goes.

As an example in Idaho last year there were loses in populations of bees, but this year the populations have increased.

But while other states are seeing a drop in bees and honey production, Johnson says his business has recovered from last year's losses.

“This year they were great bees, so we're able to make our increase this year and get our number of colonies back up,” said Johnson.

Johnson believes the bees have a way of going away but somehow returning in their own time.

Idaho is one of the few states that did not see colonies collapse this year.

In fact, honey prices are up 14 percent here, and production is up 19 percent in the state.

There is also a video on that link where the bee keeper was interviewed and the statistics are given.

If the problem was "cell phones" or "predators" or even mites or some sort of bacteria/virus why are some places recovering their populations of bees?

One more thing, in that video they are saying bees are "dying" although they don't specify exactly how they know that.

Anyways, whatever is happening that is affecting them apparently comes and goes.

One year they are affected and large part of their populations dissapear the next year the populations of bees increase as well as their production of honey.

I think this point to natural sources such as changes in the magnetic field of the Earth and the Sun.

Bees use two ways to find their way to flowers and their colonies, one they utilize a polarize part of their eyes to look at the sun and use it as a reference point to where they have to go and two when the skies are cloudy and the sun is not in sight they use the magnetic field of the Earth to find their way.

If there are changes in the Sun or the Earth's magnetic field then the bees get lost and can't find their way back to their colonies.

[edit on 24-4-2007 by Muaddib]

posted on Apr, 24 2007 @ 09:18 PM

Originally posted by Muaddib
If the problem was "cell phones" or "predators" why are some places recovering their populations of bees?

My theories lean to the eco-friendly pesticides, along with the pests as the cause of the bee mystery, I am not ready to leap on the cellphone theory.

I am glad that one state was spared though in the article you linked, I found this segment a little confusing:

“I can tell you we're seeing mortality all around Idaho,” said Jake Putnam, Idaho Farm Bureau spokesman. “In Baker, Oregon they've had a lot of mortality losses of bees there. They've also had losses in the Tri-cities area, and they've also had had losses in the Spokane and Coeur d’Alene areas.”

But while other states are seeing a drop in bees and honey production, Johnson says his business has recovered from last year's losses.

IMO, the pest problem has been prevalent in recent years, but signs of this type of devastation is documented, you have evidence in the hive, the fact that bees are now leaving the hive and not returning, is a new and added pressure on the bees.......

How much can they take?

posted on Apr, 24 2007 @ 10:02 PM
That's one of the things i was saying about that video. They are saying the bees are "dying", although they are not being specific how they know this, they repeat it several times in the video.

About the pesticide. I think i read somewhere that all bees except the queen and some bee assistants have been dissapearing.. kind of wierd thou, anyways, if there was a pesticide that was affecting all the bees then the queens would be affected too as well as the queen assistants.

Pesticides would get taken back to the beehive and the queen should be dying too, but that's not the case, only the workers are dissapearing/dying once they leave the beehives.

Bees Disappearing Nationwide. Thune Seeks Answers on Bee Plague ... The queen and a handful of workers are left behind.

I read it somewhere else but found that as the first link in my search.

[edit on 24-4-2007 by Muaddib]

posted on Apr, 24 2007 @ 10:10 PM

Originally posted by Muaddib
Pesticides would get taken back to the beehive and the queen should be dying too, but that's not the case, only the workers are dissapearing once they leave the beehives.

That is one of the new problems, in my "varroa mite in hawaii" thread linked in OP, I found some good info on the new pesticides being used,

These pesticides can affect the bees to the point they can not return to the hive, it has to do with a nicotine based pesticide messing with the bees homing capabilities.

What I do not know is how fast this affects the bees, if it is during one pollen gathering trip away from the hive, these bees would never return to spread this to the queen.

It is a mystery for sure, but one that needs to be solved quickly.

posted on Apr, 24 2007 @ 10:16 PM
But the bees use two different systems to get back to the hive. One of them is using the sun as a reference point through a polarized system they have in their eyes. The other is they have magnetite based magneto-receptors which uses the magnetic field of the Earth as their backup guide to go back to their beehives. Both systems are being affected, and we know for a fact that both the Earth's magnetic field and the Sun have been out of whack lately.

[edit on 24-4-2007 by Muaddib]

posted on Apr, 24 2007 @ 10:45 PM
I could be wrong, but it is too much of a coincidence imo.

Since the late 1970s, the amount of solar radiation the sun emits, during times of quiet sunspot activity, has increased by nearly .05 percent per decade, according to a NASA funded study.

"This trend is important because, if sustained over many decades, it could cause significant climate change," said Richard Willson, a researcher affiliated with NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies and Columbia University's Earth Institute, New York. He is the lead author of the study recently published in Geophysical Research Letters.

"Historical records of solar activity indicate that solar radiation has been increasing since the late 19th century. If a trend, comparable to the one found in this study, persisted throughout the 20th century, it would have provided a significant component of the global warming the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports to have occurred over the past 100 years," he said.

In this next sun cycle, it is predicted that the cycle will be up to 50% stronger, and that cycle could have started already.

NARRATOR: Beneath the South Atlantic, Jeremy has found clear evidence for a region of magnetic anomalies, places were the field has already started to reverse. And these anomalies are growing.

JEREMY BLOXHAM: As we get into the beginning of the 20th century, we see the emergence of a new patch of reverse flux, a region where the field lines, instead of coming out of the core, are looping back into the core. And that patch then drifts towards the west, hooking up with this other patch of reverse flux to create a large region of what we call the "South Atlantic anomaly," where the field is about 30 percent weaker. And that patch has grown substantially during the last hundred years in particular. So one question we're all asking ourselves at the moment is, "Is the Earth's magnetic field about to flip?"

NARRATOR: In a region of the core 2,000 miles beneath the South Atlantic, the magnetic currents have reversed direction, canceling out the main field, causing its strength to decline. If things continue like this, then we could experience a magnetic phenomenon the Earth has not seen for 780,000 years, a complete flip of the entire global field.

[edit on 24-4-2007 by Muaddib]

posted on Apr, 25 2007 @ 06:28 AM

Thanks for your contribution and references to the Earth's changing magnetic field, I know from seeing your posts on GW and other areas of the environment that you are keyed into this field. In no way am I dismissing your point of view, this mystery is so overwhelming and has so many suspects, that I am focusing on the pesticides and pests angle, your contributions in other areas is very much welcomed. I am very concerned with the current situation and who knows, it could be the overall effect of the many theories being tossed around. I hope that something can be done quickly, we need bees.

posted on Apr, 25 2007 @ 06:45 AM
I found some information on another natural pesticide which has the potential to affect honeybees navigational skills, it is called spinosad, here is a little bit of an article where tests were done on bumblebees, the article showed concerns for untested honeybees saying that it could be affected:


Bee colonies were fed the pesticide in a manner that mimicked contact in an agricultural setting. Adult bees and developing larva were exposed to spinosad in pollen. The bees’ foraging ability on an array of ‘complex’ artificial flowers made of centrifuge tubes was then evaluated. High levels of spinosad residues (about 10 times what bees should experience in the environment) caused rapid colony death. Colonies exposed to more realistic levels of spinosad in pollen did not show any lethal effects and only minimal immediate colony health effects.

However, bees that were fed realistic levels of spinosad during larval development were slower foragers. They took longer to access complex flowers, resulting in longer handling times and lower foraging rates. The bees also displayed “trembling”, which impaired their ability to land on the flowers and enter the flower tubes.

More on spinosad:

Development of Spinosad
and Attributes

Against lepidoptera targets the activity values for spinosad and cypermethrin generally overlap. It is extremely exciting to have this level of activity coupled with large margins of selectivity, for predacious insects, which are an important component of IPM programs. The topical acute activity of spinosad against honeybees is less than 1 µg per bee which places spinosad in the highly toxic to bees category of the EPA. However, once residues have dried completely, toxicity of foraging bees is considered negligible (Mayer and Lunden, 1998). There are minimal safety precautions and preharvest and reentry intervals for this reduced risk product.

Concerning neonicotinoids, this article tells of the France 1990's bee loss due to the pesticide and how the bees are affected, the disorientation and the inability to return to their hives. This article also sites preliminary findings of pathogens in bees adding another suspect, these bees are in a battle for their lives and the list of possible causes is alarming, how can they beat this multipronged attack on their existence?

Mystery causes billions of bees not to be

In the late 1990s, French beekeepers reported large losses of their bees and complained about the use of imidacloprid, sold under the brand name Gaucho. The chemical, while not killing the bees outright, was causing them to be disoriented and stay away from their hives, leading them to die of exposure to the cold, French researchers later found. The beekeepers labeled the syndrome "mad bee disease."
The French government banned the pesticide in 1999 for use on sunflowers, and later for corn, despite protests by the German chemical giant Bayer, which has said its internal research showed the pesticide was not toxic to bees. Subsequent studies by independent French researchers have disagreed with Bayer. Alison Chalmers, an eco-toxicologist for Bayer CropScience, said at the meeting Monday that bee colonies had not recovered in France as beekeepers had expected. "These chemicals are not being used anymore," she said of imidacloprid, "so they certainly were not the only cause."
Among the pesticides being tested in the American bee investigation, the neonicotinoids group "is the No. 1 suspect," Mullin said. He hoped results of the toxicology screening would be ready within a month.

[edit on 2007/4/25 by JacKatMtn]

posted on Apr, 25 2007 @ 07:27 AM
This report goes into detail the effects of the neonicotinoids on the honeybee and the pesticide companies denial. It is very informative:


A team of scientist led by the National Institute of Beekeeping in Bologna, Italy, found that pollen obtained from seeds dressed with imidacloprid contains significant levels of the insesticide, and suggested that the polluted pollen was one of the main causes of honeybee colony collapse [4]. Analysis of maize and sunflower crops originating from seeds dressed with imidacloprid indicated that large amounts of the insecticide will be carried back to honey bee colonies [5]. Sub-lethal doses of imidacloprid in sucrose solution affected homing and foraging activity of honeybees. Bees fed with 500 or 1 000 ppb (parts per billion) of the insecticide in sucrose solutions failed to return to the hive and disappeared altogether, while bees that had imbibed 100 ppb solutions were delayed for 24 h compared with controls [6]. Imidacloprid in sucrose solution fed to the bees in the laboratory impaired their communication for a few hours [7]. Sub-lethal doses of imidacloprid in laboratory and field experiment decreased flight activity and olfactory discrimination, and olfactory learning performance was impaired [8].

Bayer corporation scientists reported that neither honeybees exposed to imidacloprid in sunflower seeds dressed with the insecticide [9] nor maize seeds dressed with the insecticide or released from the seeds during planting [10] were detrimental to honeybees. The Bayer studies did not deal with sub-lethal behaviour of intoxicated bees. An independent study found that imidacloprid was released to the environment from treated maize seeds during seed planting [11]. Bayer eco-toxicologists directed harsh criticisms at reports showing lethal or sub-lethal toxic effects of imidicloprid seed dressing and concluded that imidacloprid does not pose any significant risk to honeybees in the field [12], without, however, disproving the findings. It is simply yet another case of the anti-precaution principle being applied [13] (Use and Abuse of the Precautionary Principle, ISIS News 6)

There is alot of money in the pesticide business, could greed and deception on the pesticide companies be the honeybees downfall?

[edit on 2007/4/25 by JacKatMtn]

posted on Apr, 27 2007 @ 05:06 AM
Researchers at the University of San Francisco have found a pathogen called Nosema ceranae, which they call a "pathogen of interest", though they theorize that this particular pathogen could be taking advantage of honeybees' weakened immune system from another cause.

A US Department of Agriculture workshop has said it has discovered that the honeybee lacks an enzyme that other insects posess that helps to eliminate toxins, which leaves bees at risk, they also discussed weakened immune systems and dismissed the cellphone theory though this dismissal was not explained in the article.

Pesticides have not been ruled out, though no concrete results of this being the cause have been cited. All articles still have them as a suspect, I just wonder how long it will take to get the answers to this question.

UCSF scientist tracks down suspect in honeybee deaths

A UCSF researcher who found the SARS virus in 2003 and later won a MacArthur Foundation "genius grant" for his work thinks he has discovered a culprit in the alarming deaths of honeybees across the United States.

Tests of genetic material taken from a "collapsed colony" in Merced County point to a once-rare microbe that previously affected only Asian bees but might have evolved into a strain lethal to those in Europe and the United States, biochemist Joe DeRisi said Wednesday.

Fungus a possible culprit in bee loss

A FUNGUS that caused widespread loss of bee colonies in Europe and Asia may be playing a crucial role in the mysterious phenomenon known as Colony Collapse Disorder that is wiping out bees across the US.

Researchers at the University of California in San Francisco have been struggling for months to explain the disorder, and the new findings represent the first solid evidence pointing to a potential cause.

Dying bees Buzz off

What could be going on? The Department of Agriculture in America this week convened a workshop of apiarists and federal and university scientists to suggest some answers.

Colony collapse disorder, as the phenomenon has become known as, was first reported in America in mid-November 2006. It spread rapidly, with beekeepers reporting heavy losses of between 30% and 90% of bees. Some 24 American states have now reported cases of colony collapse disorder. It has also been seen in Greece, Italy, Poland, Portugal and Spain.

new topics

top topics


log in