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  1. #1
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    Default Eye witness to colony collapse: Bee-farmer loses 2,000 hives in one month

    Please see the LINK below to an account of the devastating collapse of over 2,000 bee colonies in California.

    The eye-witness account was provided to me by the bee-farmer in question, who arrived in California with 3,150 healthy hives on November 1st 2012. All of the hives were examined and 'passed' as fit for the Almond Pollination - which takes place in February (right now). The inspection is critical, since each healthy hive receives a pollination fee of up to $200 and the almond-growers will not pay for anything that is less than healthy.

    The bee-farmer in question had contracted to supply 3,000 hives at a fee of up to $200 per hive, so conceivaby he stood to earn $600,000 for one month's work pollinating almonds. He has already lost 2/3rds of that planned income.

    More than 2,000 of his colonies died while waiting for the almond pollination to start. They did not die as a result of pesticides they encountered in the California winter (November/ December). Rather they died because of the systemic neonicotinoid insecticides, and other pesticides they had been exposed to back in the Midwest, from May to September, among the pesticide-treated crops of soybeans, corn and other crops.

    The article can be downloaded from Google Docs here:

    https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B7FC...it?usp=sharing

    Having possibly lost $400,000 worth of bees, and an additional loss of pollination income - for the same amount $400,000 - it is questionable whether his business can ever recover. There may be hundreds of other American bee-farmers suffering a similar fate this season, since, according to USDA, more than 240 million acres of American crops were treated with systemic neonicotinids in 2012. Of that - around 92 million acres of GM corn were treated with clothianidin, as well as being blasted with roundup and fungicides.

    Many of the 1.5 million hives brought to California from all over America for the almond plination will have been exposed to the same hyper-toxic, bee killing pesticides. So this year may prove to be a watershed both for bee-farmers and for the almond industry - as many people have already commented.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Eye witness to colony collapse: Bee-farmer loses 2,000 hives in one month

    Let me get this straight---

    It's an "eyewitness" report, but the name isn't mentioned, plus all kinds of hard data
    The bees arrived in CA in November
    The bees get sprayed in CA
    Bees die over a course of months in CA
    But last summers midwest crop is blamed
    Too few facts and too much conjecture
    WHO wrote this article? I'm not seeing actual names.
    Was this meant to be circulated to influence people?

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Eye witness to colony collapse: Bee-farmer loses 2,000 hives in one month

    Just someone with an agenda and can't back them up with facts.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Eye witness to colony collapse: Bee-farmer loses 2,000 hives in one month

    No it is an honest account by a bee farmer who is in California right now, and this is his analysis of what has happened to his bees.

    The bees cannot have been killed by any pesticides in the almonds because the 2000 hives died before they went into the almonds. They were independently inspected and declared healthy on November 1st; 2,158 hives were dead when inspected again on February 5th. Those are the facts.

    It is entirely up to the bee-farmer in question when he chooses to go public and put his name to it. I feel that he WILL go public in the next fwe weeks. For the moment he is in a difficult position; he still has to work his remaining hives in the almonds and he has to deal with the commercial aspects of the business.

    He has issued the article in this way to encourage other bee-farmers to come forward and tell what has been happening every year since 2003. The fact that 10,000,000 colonies have been lost, and apart from Dave Hackenberg, almost nobody has 'gone public' should tell you something about the kind of pressures that are being brought to bear: politically, commercially and socially.

    In conclusion, the article speaks for itself. It's a hypothesis - from a man who has just been financially ruined.

    It is entirely up to him what he chooses to do next. He has shared this 'for the public good' - and can have no other motive. Nobody is paying him for this.

  5. #5
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    Thumbs down Re: Eye witness to colony collapse: Bee-farmer loses 2,000 hives in one month

    Quote Originally Posted by borderbeeman View Post
    Many of the 1.5 million hives brought to California from all over America for the almond plination will have been exposed to the same hyper-toxic, bee killing pesticides. .
    Yep, mine have been expose to the same thing here in Calif where I live, mine are doing fine over all, sure which they would post some more threads like this one.
    NUTRA-BEE feed supplements

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Eye witness to colony collapse: Bee-farmer loses 2,000 hives in one month

    Sorry but you have obviously NOT read and understood the article. His bees have NOT been exposed to pesticides in California. They were brought to California the last week in october and inspected, passed as healthy on November 1st. The 2,150 colonies died BEFORE they were exposed to any pesticides in California since they were parked in beeyards, not in the almonds. They were waiting to go into the Almonds in early February but 2,150 hives were found dead and empty of bees in the week of February 1st-5th. I guess he discovered this when he went to load the bees for transport from the holding yards into the almonds. He says that he had to combine as many as six remnant clusters to make a single viable hive; so the 900 he salvaged are mostly damaged and weak.

    The 2,100 dead hives not die of varroa or any obvious pathogen which leaves piles of dead bees in the hive.
    The bee-farmer's hypothesis - drawn from his 30 odd years of experience, is that they were killed by the pesticides they had collected and stored in soybean pollen and corn pollen, back in the Midwest, in July and August respectively.

    He believes that the bees stored this pollen and then worked down into it in October, November - and the combined effects of multiple exposures to neonics, cyhalothrins, fungicides and herbicides - stored in the pollen and bee-bread, had the effect of stopping the production of enough 'winter bees' to see the colony through the winter.

    You don't have to agree with any of this, it's just one man's experience, and his attempt to make sense of a pattern that has affected thousands and thousands of beekeepers in Europe, Australia, South America and the USA.
    Last edited by borderbeeman; 02-21-2013 at 07:02 AM.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Eye witness to colony collapse: Bee-farmer loses 2,000 hives in one month

    Quote Originally Posted by borderbeeman View Post
    No it is an honest account by a bee farmer who is in California right now, and this is his analysis of what has happened to his bees.
    Can you clarify? It looks like there are 2 paragraphs that are "eye witness account"....the vast bulk is someone (you?) writing your own copy...referring to the beekeeper in the third person, and referring to the beekeeper as your "correspondent".

    What have the bees been eating since November? Has their feed (I'm assuming HFCS) been tested for HMF? For other toxins?

    Who wrote the copy?

    deknow
    The irony is free. It's the sarcasm you are paying for....ironically.
    -Felicity Jones in "Chalet Girl"

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Eye witness to colony collapse: Bee-farmer loses 2,000 hives in one month

    I have no doubt this man honestly believes pesticides were a factor, and he may well be correct but evidence of residues and exposure would be critical to establishing a cause and effect here. Lots and lots of things can cause bees to die through the winter. It requires objective analysis to make a determination. If death through illegally applied pesticides can be determined to be a factor then there could potentially be culpability and a case brought against someone, if the cause was determined to be something like varroa or resulting viruses then there would not. I personally know of one excellant beekeeper who has no doubt that foliar spraying of bees he had near sunflowers this summer greatly weakened his hives. Sunflowers are routinely aerial sprayed for many different pests, he claimed all his bees near sunflowers were weak and all of his other hives came through the summer very strong (even though there would have been potential neonic exposure to both groups of bees). He made a pretty convincing case to me particularly since I have had similar experiences through the years near sunflower fields. I bring this up as a reminder that neonics were developed to alleviate the very real problems of foliar spraying that pretty much just kills every bug in the field, it's a real sledge hammer approach that is still being used on some crops such as sunflowers where there are no other alternative like systemic neonics.
    "People will generally accept facts as truth only if the facts agree with what they already believe."- Andy Rooney

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Eye witness to colony collapse: Bee-farmer loses 2,000 hives in one month

    Quote Originally Posted by jim lyon View Post
    I bring this up as a reminder that neonics were developed to alleviate the very real problems of foliar spraying that pretty much just kills every bug in the field, it's a real sledge hammer approach that is still being used on some crops such as sunflowers where there are no other alternative like systemic neonics.
    Yep spraying kills bees in the fields. Neonics kill subsequent generations of bees in the hive.
    Im really not that serious

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Eye witness to colony collapse: Bee-farmer loses 2,000 hives in one month

    Yep spraying kills bees in the fields. Neonics kill subsequent generations of bees in the hive.
    And you know this how?

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Eye witness to colony collapse: Bee-farmer loses 2,000 hives in one month

    It is actually all his text. I merely took his personal eye-witness account and translated it into a 'third person' account. I have no experience of bee-farming, merely a hobby beekeeper, who used to keep 10 hives - before I was surrounded by neonic treated canola. Now I am down to three hives, and two of them are so-so.

    I know nothing about the practicalities of American bee-farmng, and far less about migratory bee-farming, so I assure you I have not added or subtracted a single fact as related to me by the person who experienced this. I do not have sufficient knowledge of how bee-farming works in the USA to be able to invent or embellish any facts; it is simply beyond my experience.

    If you want, I will ask him what the bees were fed and pass on his reply.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Eye witness to colony collapse: Bee-farmer loses 2,000 hives in one month

    the dead hives will still have pollen left in the frames, has he gotten any of the pollen tested for neonicotinoid insecticides residues or any other type insecticide residues ?
    Ian Steppler >> Canadian Beekeeper's Blog
    www.stepplerfarms.com

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Eye witness to colony collapse: Bee-farmer loses 2,000 hives in one month

    Quote Originally Posted by mac View Post
    Yep spraying kills bees in the fields. Neonics kill subsequent generations of bees in the hive.
    Any weakening of the hives has ramifications to subsequent generations. It takes a long time and it takes good conditions for hives to recover from a spraying event. More often than not there isn't time for a hive to recover. These are known facts. The potential insidious killing of hives by neonics is extremely difficult to determine. I think it's a fair statement to make that more research has concluded it does not have an effect than that it does. But frankly I just want real research to give me the answers to these questions not folks whose primary battle is with big government and big business in general and yes I do believe we have some really bright unbiased minds looking at these things.
    "People will generally accept facts as truth only if the facts agree with what they already believe."- Andy Rooney

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Eye witness to colony collapse: Bee-farmer loses 2,000 hives in one month

    I skimmed through the article, and I seen lots of mention of the neonicotinoid insecticides used through out the mid west, but where does it say anything about neonicotinoid insecticides residues in the tested pollen of the dead hives,.? Maybe I missed that part while skimming, can someone point it out to me?
    Ian Steppler >> Canadian Beekeeper's Blog
    www.stepplerfarms.com

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Eye witness to colony collapse: Bee-farmer loses 2,000 hives in one month

    Properly cared for Almond hives should have been fed many times since November... and in which case a crash in progress would have been noticed or possibly prevented... at least it would not be a surprise in Feb.

    We all face pesticide challenges and set backs from time to time and constant vigilance is required to get by in this day and age. That being said those I know doing the best coping with these challenges are feeding a lot and way in to nutrition which can take a lot of stress off a hive.
    John B Jacob www.oldsolbees.com

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Eye witness to colony collapse: Bee-farmer loses 2,000 hives in one month

    Quote Originally Posted by Ian View Post
    I skimmed through the article, and I seen lots of mention of the neonicotinoid insecticides used through out the mid west, but where does it say anything about neonicotinoid insecticides residues in the tested pollen of the dead hives,.? Maybe I missed that part while skimming, can someone point it out to me?
    Lets not clutter this issue up with facts Ian.
    "People will generally accept facts as truth only if the facts agree with what they already believe."- Andy Rooney

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Eye witness to colony collapse: Bee-farmer loses 2,000 hives in one month

    Why if he took them into Ca in Nov, was it Jan before he noticed a problem? seems very suspicious. keep in mind I don't know anything except that me and some of my friends have been keeping bees in the VERY MIDDLE of the Neonics for over 10 years and have not had this problem, in fact we have hives that are 8-10 years old, and personaly I have not removed brood comb in 5 years.... Now between me and a cpl of my friends we only represent about 5000 hives its a small group....

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Eye witness to colony collapse: Bee-farmer loses 2,000 hives in one month

    The good news is he knows where NOT to put his bees next season.

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Eye witness to colony collapse: Bee-farmer loses 2,000 hives in one month

    I think your writing in the article is very good, borderbeeman, but some of the statements overstate circumstances here. The writing reads very well, but it's clearly written by someone from the U. K. Terms used in the article are different than are used here commonly, and the references to beekeeping in the U. K. indicate that it was written for use in the U. K., likely by someone in the U. K.

    The writing style in the linked document is very similar to the writing style in your posts, so I'm presuming that you're the author.

    Speaking as a beekeeper in the state with the greatest acceptance of transgenic corn (Bt, almost always treated with neonicotinoid seed treatments), I have yet to experience CCD or losses that I can attribute to poisonings by neonicotinoids. I've experienced some acute pesticide kills, but nothing like is being blamed on neonicotinoids. The relationship that is claimed in the article is a cause-and-effect type relationship: bees exposed to neonicotinoids dwindle and die. Yet the experiences that I've had show pretty clearly that the relationship is not so clearly cause-and-effect.

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Eye witness to colony collapse: Bee-farmer loses 2,000 hives in one month

    So, he had contracted these hives for $200 back in November? Oh wait, it says they were contracted for UP TO $200 per hive, makes for easier math in the story using $200 for them all.

    How many here contracted their hives for $200 back in November?
    Ian Steppler >> Canadian Beekeeper's Blog
    www.stepplerfarms.com

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