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  1. #1
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    Default What is causing massive bee deaths in the US?

    There are reports of massive deaths of bee colonies in the US. I think that there are at least two major problems in American beekeeping: 1) autumn and spring syrup feeding (instead of honey); 2) usage of chemicals as a bee management technique (prevention against mites, American foulbrood, and Nosema disease). In my opinion, both of these factors weaken the immune systems of bees. Therefore, when these new viruses or diseases arrive, the bees are not strong enough to combat
    them.

    Does anyone have any statistical data that confirms that all colonies that have died were fed with syrup and were chemically treated? Also, does anyone have any data regarding deaths among colonies that were not fed with syrup and were not chemically treated?

    Also, for information about raising your own SMR/VSH bees, click here: http://www.beebehavior.com/bee_enemies.php

    Boris
    Last edited by Boris; 03-09-2007 at 11:55 AM.

  2. #2
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    Default

    > There are reports of massive deaths of bee colonies in the US

    Yes, but the root causes have yet to be determined.

    > I think that there are at least two major problems in American
    > beekeeping: 1) autumn and spring syrup feeding (instead of honey);

    Well, honey has indigestible components ("ash") that cause all sorts
    of problems for both overwintering and early spring bees, and these
    problems (including dysentery) simply don't show up when nice clean
    pure syrup is fed. So (1) is not a problem at all.

    > 2) usage of chemicals as a bee management technique (prevention
    > against mites, American foulbrood, and Nosema disease). In my opinion,
    > both of these factors weaken the immune systems of bees.

    There is no consensus on this claim. The immune systems of bees
    ARE weakened by the viruses that are transmitted by varroa, but
    there is no suggestion that any of the treatments you listed have
    any effect at all on the immune systems of bees. More to the
    point, these types of drugs/chemicals would be very unlikely to have
    any impact on immune response.

    > Does anyone have any statistical data that confirms that all colonies
    > that have died were fed with syrup and were chemically treated?

    No, in fact, there are colonies that were neither fed nor treated
    with chemicals that showed exactly the same symptoms as all the
    other "CCD" colonies.

    > Also, does anyone have any data regarding deaths among colonies
    > that were not fed with syrup and were not chemically treated?

    You are going to have to wait with the rest of us for the reports to
    come out from the group looking at CCD for data like that, but your
    approach of declaring a diagnosis, and then looking for data to
    support it is just a bit bass-ackwards.

    One looks at the data, and THEN makes conclusions as to the
    proximate cause and the contributing factors.

  3. #3
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    Default

    "There is no consensus on this claim."

    Jim,

    "According to Pennsylvania State University entomologist Diane Cox-Foster, another possibility is that neonicotinoids are another factor impairing bee immunity". More details are here:
    http://www.cosmosmagazine.com/node/1087

    Boris

  4. #4
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    Default

    The problem with blaming neonicotinoids is that not all the hives that
    have shown CCD symptoms were exposed to neonicotinoids, or could
    have been exposed.

    I wish that the problem were as "easy" as a simple pesticide problem.
    It ain't, so it ain't.

  5. #5
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    Default

    Jim, please read this article also:

    "The nicotinic acetylcholine receptor gene family of the honey bee, Apis mellifera" :http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/art...?artid=1626644

    Boris

  6. #6
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    Default Good story today on Science Friday NPR

    on CCD. THey had the President of the American Beeks, Weaver. He was very articulate and did a nice job.

    Also a professor from U. of Illinois I think. I will try to find the link to the story.

  7. #7
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Fischer View Post
    The problem with blaming neonicotinoids is that not all the hives that
    have shown CCD symptoms were exposed to neonicotinoids, or could
    have been exposed.
    Hi Jim
    I keep hearing that not all hives could be exposed to neonicotinoids, but then I read of the prevalence of these pesticides.....including golf courses, residential lawns, as well as a host of agricultural uses.
    I am wondering how they can be so sure they are NOT involved, especially when these colonies were often in multiple locations.
    Sheri

  8. #8
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    Good Point Sheri

    Quote Originally Posted by JohnK and Sheri View Post
    Hi Jim
    I keep hearing that not all hives could be exposed to neonicotinoids, but then I read of the prevalence of these pesticides.....including golf courses, residential lawns, as well as a host of agricultural uses.
    I am wondering how they can be so sure they are NOT involved, especially when these colonies were often in multiple locations.
    Sheri
    Sheri

    You would have enjoyed the comments of May Baranboim (see post in Bee forum on CCD on NPR) yesterday.

    She made a very interesting comment: We cannot rule out any pesticides or chemicals, even those that have been approved. WHile pesticides are tested for direct impacts on bees, they have not been tested for the impacts on bee communication or other social interaction.

    She went on to state how critical pheromones and so forth are to the hive's success, how thegenome study has shown us so much, and how interference with an aspect of the bee's ability to communicate could cause CCD.

    Her thoughts were entirely consistent with my pet theory, which is that there are environmental pathogens that are interfereing with the ability of the bees to communicate via pheromones. Since we now know via the genome studies that the bees have highly developed olfactory abilities and no doubt use these to communicate the various duties, needs and jobs, something may be interfereing with this.

  9. #9
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    Default

    While we might all wish that the proximate cause were so simple, it ain't.

    If the common factor were a pesticide, the folks doing the investigating wouldn't still be investigating, would they?

    Yes, it would be nice to have a chemical company to blame, but the
    symptoms just don't add up to anything similar to any know pesticide
    issue, including the "Gaucho" symptoms seen in Europe.

  10. #10
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    Default

    What are the differences between "CCD" and France's problem?
    Am I remembering correctly from reading about the problems France saw that these pesticides have been shown, in submortal doses, to impact the bee's navigational ability? Was this Gaucho, Jim? If I understand this correctly, when brought to light in France, Bayer chose to settle the claims and withdraw from that market. Why, if there was no potential problem, didn't they go to court and defend their product?

    I realize these substances have been on the market for a while but would this, in and of itself rule them out? Many substances can be tolerated at small doses with increasingly severe impact showing at increased dosages. Has the task group had a chance to do the parts per million tests on the bees that disappeared?
    The implications of being impacted by any substance or condition is not necessarily a "simple" thing. There might be several factors involved, including poor nutrition, genetics, past or concurrent treatments for mites, etc etc etc. of which any two or three might be tolerated and the addition of the third being the final straw.
    The last I heard is that these substances had not been ruled out as a factor. Is this not the case?
    Sheri

  11. #11
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    Default

    I expect many will be saddened if and when no clear boogieman surfaces. No pesticide company to blame, no conspiracy of GM crops, no links to Bush/Cheney/Halliburton/oil (although I suppose some will always claim it), no new virus for someone to name, no reason that would be as simple as developing a new strip to shove in a box and make it just all go away.

    Imagine a combination of things, to include beekeeping practices, industry ignorance, and many factors coming into play, all somehow promoted and multiplied by beekeepers themselves. Bet that would be a hard pill for some to swallow.

  12. #12
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    Default

    Have any of the researchers tried infecting colonies that have not been infected? Do we even know yet whether or not this is a contagious disease?

    Seems to me that if -- at the cost of sacrificing some colonies -- researchers could demonstrate whether or not this is a contagious disease, we would narrow the possibilities of the cause.

  13. #13
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    Default Infection

    So how do you infect another colony if you have no idea as to what is causing this infection????

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by soupcan View Post
    So how do you infect another colony if you have no idea as to what is causing this infection????
    This is a very good question.

    Boris

  15. #15
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    Simple. Take bees from colonies that have collapsed from CCD (of course, you have to catch them at the point when a few bees are still left), and introduce them to isolated colonies that have shown no signs of CCD.

    If the colonies "get" CCD and collapse, the disease may be contagious, and is likely caused by an infectious agent.

    If the colonies do not "get" CCD, the disease is likely cause by some other factor(s).

  16. #16
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    Default

    Bayer has what can kindly be described as a checkered record on the environmental health and safety of their products. This was recently demonstrated by their insistance that Baytril use in chickens was not causing fluroquinilone (antibiotic) resistance above and beyond that created by poor hospital procedures. Bayer ultimately withdrew the poultry label, but not before having several public screaming matches with CDC officials and concerned infectious disease specialists. They make good products, but need to rethink the labelling they do.

  17. #17
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by BjornBee View Post
    I expect many will be saddened if and when no clear boogieman surfaces.
    American agriculture may certainly be saddened. If this goes away as some other (the same?) unidentified occurances in the past have, it won't matter long term except to those who are bankrupt. If this continues to be a big problem or accelerates, with no clue as to cause, many commercial operations just won't bother with repeated rebuilds.

    Quote Originally Posted by BjornBee View Post
    No pesticide company to blame, no conspiracy of GM crops, no links to Bush/Cheney/Halliburton/oil (although I suppose some will always claim it), no new virus for someone to name, no reason that would be as simple as developing a new strip to shove in a box and make it just all go away.
    I don't get this post, Bjorn, could you clarify your point a bit? Are you suggesting that the researchers shouldn't be looking at the possibilities of pesticides having an (even indirect?) impact? They shouldn't look at what, if any, viruses might be involved? You seem to negate any problems with chemicals, then condemn the beeks for wanting a chemical strip in their hives? And what does Bush/Cheney/Haliburton have to do with any of it? Are you suggesting the researchers are conspiracy theorists?

    Quote Originally Posted by BjornBee View Post
    Imagine a combination of things, to include beekeeping practices, industry ignorance, and many factors coming into play, all somehow promoted and multiplied by beekeepers themselves. Bet that would be a hard pill for some to swallow.
    As I see it, we need to determine the sickness before we try to force down any pills, bitter or not. To throw up one's hands, blame the victims, and discourage an openminded investigation only promotes the previously mentioned "industry ignorance". A bitter pill is better than not trying to cure the patient at all.
    If CCD has any positive impact at all, it might be the extra scrutiny given to all dimensions of our beekeeping, including beekeeper practices and outside environmental impacts. How does one get past ignorance without ever asking questions?
    Sheri

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kieck View Post
    Simple. Take bees from colonies that have collapsed from CCD (of course, you have to catch them at the point when a few bees are still left), and introduce them to isolated colonies that have shown no signs of CCD.

    If the colonies "get" CCD and collapse, the disease may be contagious, and is likely caused by an infectious agent.

    If the colonies do not "get" CCD, the disease is likely cause by some other factor(s).
    Kieck,

    Your approach is possible, but there is a probability that the new result will not be entirely correct due to bacterial mutations and virus evolution. Please see the two links included below.

    Bacterial Mutations: http://www.accessexcellence.org/RC/A...Mutations.html

    "Vesicular Stomatitis Virus Evolution during Alternation between Persistent Infection in Insect Cells and Acute Infection in Mammalian Cells Is Dominated by the Persistence Phase": http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/art...i?artid=525086

    Boris

  19. #19
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    Default

    Is there any constants between sick colonies in different operations?
    Seeing enough of it now, you would think there could be some corresponding conditions and issues,.?

    reading the article Silverfox posted,
    they were mentioning it being primarily found in pollination hives.
    And also mentioned that symptoms of CCD has been documented as far back as into the 1800's, and again in 1960. They referred it to "disappearing disease"
    Now I think about it, my bee bible has mention of disappearing disease.

    If these references hold to their claims, this problem might be associated to something far removed from modern day agriculture as many like to speculate.
    Last edited by Ian; 03-10-2007 at 03:25 PM.
    Ian Steppler >> Canadian Beekeeper's Blog
    www.stepplerfarms.com

  20. #20
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    Sheri, My comments are clear enough. Just try not to read into them too deeply.

    A couple examples just to compare industries....

    I was talking to one of the farmers I pollinate for, and ask "Who's that guy driving through the orchard?" He replied "Thats my pesticide consultant' I said "Whats he do?" And the reply in short was, "He advises me to the timing of spray, the right mixture, what I can save by not spraying, etc." I said that there must be alot that goes into growing apple.

    I can also pick up a newspaper called the "lancaster farming". It details milk analysis, fat content, and other items from the past weeks milk production farms. I talked to several farmers about milk herds, and it was amazing how detailed milk herds are with scheduling, nutrition feeding, and such. Its down to a science in more ways than one.

    I know even the cutting of alfalfa is based on timing, with nutrition and formulas to maximize number of cuts, etc.

    All I'm saying Sherri, is that beekeeping as an industry is far behind in nutrition analysis, research, and anything else you could mention. Most farming today has credited classes, continuing education, and have researched whats best for their particular industry down to a science. I think the Australian are way ahead on nutrition, the Canadians are way ahead with breeding efforts as two examples.

    I see a bee industry in the U.S. that is 20 years in research behind other countries when it comes to keeping bees. We are fragmented at every level of the industry, including research, breeding efforts, and anything even remotely close to calling something a standard.

    I am not for goverment control or intervention, so don't get me wrong. But there are many within the industry that see major problems with industry practices, chemical abuse, etc.

    I have spoken to three clubs recently about nutrition, bee protein, and other items. Some of what I speak is from 20 year old studies. But yet even the commercial guys are lost when I ask them what the nutritional value of the suppliment they are feeding. And lets not fool anyone, I have seen more chemicals, and many off-label also, in commercial hives than most would believe.

    If they find a single cause, hopefully it can be easily fixed. I think its a multi-level problem that may actually get american beekeeping on a better path. I don't see it as a single new virus, or some new chemical. I see it as an industry problem. A problem that has been brewing for years. I do see beekeeping as an industry. Just not one that is very healthy right now. And if its not a one time easily fixed problem, maybe the industry, through change, can be better for it in the future.

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