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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    lewisberry, Pa, usa
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    6,080

    Arrow CCD - disease - plants

    I had a talk with a beekeeper in the mid-west a couple days back. He was mentioning that when they do blueberry pollination, they only leave their bees on the crop for a short period of time due to AFB concerns. I said "Huh? I never heard of AFB being associated with blueberries. I said "Are you telling me that blueberry pollination can infect your hives with AFB?" as I wanted to be very clear. He stated that when he first started pollinating, he would come down with AFB after doing blueberry pollination and he would quickly lose hives. He said it was a mystery for a few years until he spoke up at a bee club, and it was confirmed by others that also pollinate blueberries in the area, that all experience the same thing. That if they leave their bees for more than a few days on blueberries, they also would lose hives and come down with cases of AFB.

    This of course set off many questions......

    In nature, if certain plants were detrimental to the bees health, and perhaps are growing in large numbers in a particular area, the bees would die, and perhaps seek other areas as they spread through swarming. But what about when bees have no option, and are placed in these highly planted areas, such as with commercial pollination?

    I truly believe that there could be plants that could effect bees in any number of ways. Poor nutrition, chemical poisoning, degrading the internal enzymes, etc.

    Do we really know the nutritional values of plants we force our bees to feed on, or what about the make up of the plants when it comes to being toxic to the bees? Could there be plants, like the blueberry conversation above, that fosters certain spores and disease to attack the bees health, and make hives crash? We certainly know that some plants are downright toxic and will kill bees. But what about viral or bacterial spread by a new pest or introduced vector?

    I question whether the blueberry comments are in fact due to AFB. I've seen AFB, and for the most part, its a slow steady death that could be over a couple years. The guy mentioning the blueberry/AFB details mentioned losing hives rather quickly. Could they be misdiagnosing this as AFB, and perhaps other forces are in play on a more deadly level? I remember a somewhat baffling aspect of the CCD samples being testing in the fact that all samples had extremely high levels of EFB and nosema. A coincidence?

    Could one of these plants species harbor a spore or virus that is now being planted on a more widespread application allowing more bees to be effected? And could it be a case where some infected hives from contact from such plants, now have the ability to infect even more based on large holding yards and migratory movement?

    Comments?
    Last edited by BjornBee; 02-28-2008 at 07:37 AM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    College Station, Texas
    Posts
    6,973

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    bjorn writes:
    I never heard of AFB being associated with blueberries.

    tecumseh replies:
    my understanding is that their is some associated problem concerning blueberries and afb. I have never really read the why or whatfore of the problem but here is my guess (as Lorentz suggested it is always good practice to throw out a hypothesis before breakfast). blueberries require a fairly acidic soil to thrive and require almost no fertilization. so typically you don't find them on the best agriculture lands.. matter of fact blueberries are likely to be on the poorest plots of soil. other crops that thrive on acidic soils are pine trees and azaleas. pine can be tagged as a pollen producing plant with almost NO crude protein content and azaleas as a plant that the bees rarely visit and the nectar is poisonous.

    does that picture suggest why afb might thrive?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    St. Albans, Vermont
    Posts
    5,609

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    >I remember a somewhat baffling aspect of the CCD samples being testing in the fact that all samples had extremely high levels of EFB and nosema. A coincidence?<

    Not sure about AFB and Blueberries. Increased incidence of EFB has been reported in bees working Blueberries. Maybe that's what he's talking about. As I understand it, working blueberries leads to an acidic environment within the hive, and that leads to increased EFB. This report was told to me years ago, by beekeepers pollinating Blueberries in the Blueberry barrens on New Jersey. Not sure if I have it correct...anyone else heard that?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Location
    Knoxville, TN
    Posts
    1,933

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    I've also heard a theory that viruses can be transmitted via blossoms.
    Maybe that could compound such problems especially in areas saturated
    with bees and short periods of time between flower visits.???????

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    Location
    Wheatfield, IN
    Posts
    2,068

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    Here is my uneducated/unscientific opinion:

    When these guys are pollinating blueberries there are often other beekeepers hives in the general area... In fact, last year when I pollinated one farm... there were another beekeepers hives also at the farm... they called me in at the last minute as he had failed to deliver as promised. His hives were incredibly weak (half not even flying) and I suspect some were completely dead. There are decent number of blueberry farms all around me... and come bloom time... there are alot more hives in the general area than is normal.

    Prime scenarios where AFB could potentially be transmitted.

    Maybe some plants also play a factor... but I tend to gravitate towards other factors.
    Dan Williamson
    B&C Honey Farm http://www.flickr.com/photos/9848229@N05/

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Cleveland, Texas
    Posts
    1,378

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    I think a great deal can be said about our placement of the bees to benefit us instead of them. Late last summer I cut out 4 hives from a property that was surrounded by large fields of what I would call blooming weeds (mostly hogweed, boneset and a really stinky smelling blooming shrub/small tree of some kind). The honey was the worst tasting stuff I had ever put in my mouth, but the bees thrived in the area. One of the hives was one I have mentioned before, it required 17 full deep frames to accomodate the brood I removed.
    "The UNKNOWN, huh? That would be SNORBERT ZANGOX over in Waycross."

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Troupsburg, NY
    Posts
    4,072

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Williamson View Post
    Here is my uneducated/unscientific opinion:

    When these guys are pollinating blueberries there are often other beekeepers hives in the general area... In fact, last year when I pollinated one farm... there were another beekeepers hives also at the farm... they called me in at the last minute as he had failed to deliver as promised. His hives were incredibly weak (half not even flying) and I suspect some were completely dead. There are decent number of blueberry farms all around me... and come bloom time... there are alot more hives in the general area than is normal.

    Prime scenarios where AFB could potentially be transmitted.

    Maybe some plants also play a factor... but I tend to gravitate towards other factors.
    In talking to other beekeeps that have done blueberries in the past, they have also indicated problems with AFB, and also thought it came from some of the hundreds of hives in the area.

    Goldenrod also thrives on acidic soils, and I am surrounded by the stuff, haven't had any problems with AFB.
    "I reject your reality, and substitute my own." Adam Savage

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