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  1. #1
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    Default Newly published Harvard study on neonics

    Here's a link to an article in the Bulletin of Insectology that reports the results of a Harvard study on the effects of neonicotinoids on overwintering bee colonies. It certainly seems to provide further evidence that neonics are harming bees.

    http://www.theguardian.com/environme...-harvard-study
    Nobody ruins my day without my permission, and I refuse to grant it...

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Newly published Harvard study on neonics

    There is a link in the article to the actual study.

    A quick first scan.... it looks like they make significant claims about pathogens, yet the only pathogen tests appear to be two mite counts (alcohol washes), and didn't even test the control colony that died for nosema.... which they claim it died from.

    You can't really make conclusions about pathogens in general based only on mite counts...especially of a substance that is known to affect the immune system.

    Barry, I think it show how neonics can harm bees....it's hard to assume they are harming bees without data on the real world exposure.
    The perils of benefactors; The blessings of parasites; Blindness blindness and sight -Joni Mitchell 'Shadows and Light'

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Newly published Harvard study on neonics

    I'm not clear on your last sentence Dean, but yes, it will take a little time to digest the study.
    Nobody ruins my day without my permission, and I refuse to grant it...

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Newly published Harvard study on neonics

    My quick first scan is that there is not much to this "study" I concur w/ Dean's statements. They also don't describe what the dead hives looked like except to show a bottom board with a few dead bees. I have lots of those after this winter.

    What are "CCD like symptoms." From the description is sounds like the bees dwindled and froze. It does, again, prove that if you feed an insecticide to insects they die. I do not believe the dosage of the neonics are realistic for bees - even around neonic treated crops. The canola experiment in Canada with millions of hives is much more instructive than half a dozen hives fed poison.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Newly published Harvard study on neonics

    I had heard that Alex Lu was doing a new study on neonics and Honeybees.

    Looks like it has finally been published.

    It'll take some time for me to read and digest it too.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Newly published Harvard study on neonics

    Quote Originally Posted by deknow View Post
    There is a link in the article to the actual study.

    A quick first scan.... it looks like they make significant claims about pathogens, yet the only pathogen tests appear to be two mite counts (alcohol washes).
    They do reference an examination of the total RNA pools " In addition, a recent re-analysis of genomic data previously generated from RNA pools of CCD colonies has also excluded the association of pathogen infection and CCD"

    If there were particularly high levels of a pathogen, its RNA should show up in tests - provided they are done properly and you know what to look for. They reference the following article, which seems to be ruling out a particular virus of interest:
    http://www.plosone.org/article/info%...l.pone.0021844

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Newly published Harvard study on neonics

    Its a repeat of Lu's previous study with the addition of clothiadinin.

    They fed the bees syrup dosed with neonics, and there was overwinter colony mortality with colonies showing 'CCD like' symptoms.

    It offers an explanation for winter losses, IMHO.

    "...why do honey bees vanish from neonicotinoid-treated colonies during the winter?"

    That is the question.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Newly published Harvard study on neonics

    Nice work. You feed the bees syrup laced with poison for winter, and they die. CCD like.

    Brilliant.
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Newly published Harvard study on neonics

    They do reference an examination of the total RNA pools
    They didn't test THESE HIVES. That is old data. There is no testing of the dead colonies for nosema, tracheal mites or virus. All those tests are easily performed. I still wait to hear what "resembling CCD" symptoms are. And what are nosema like symptoms. Surely they could find a microscope at Harvard to look at bees from all the dead hives.

    And the bees were not dosed with field realistic levels of neonics. Feed them poison and they will die, nothing new about that.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Newly published Harvard study on neonics

    It's a delayed response experiment.

    Frankly, I would ask, "Why didn't you kill those colonies outright when you fed them neonic laced syrup?"

    It's an interesting find, IMHO.

    However, as far as experimental design goes, the same issues exist as in the first study.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Newly published Harvard study on neonics

    Prolly cos as they eat the stored syrup with poison added they get more poisoned till they die?
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Newly published Harvard study on neonics

    Sound like a Jim Jones type experiment.

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Newly published Harvard study on neonics

    Convincingly demonstrates that insecticide kills insects when added in large amounts to sugar syrup.

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Newly published Harvard study on neonics

    A couple of other thoughts.

    1. There looks to be some circular references....for instance, he seems to reference his last paper for a definition of ccd. This leads to a weird circle where the symptoms of pesticide poisoning are defined as ccd in one paper, and the symptoms of pesticide poisoning are diagnosed as ccd in the next...all without looking at a single ccd colony that hasn't been fed neonics in a feeder on purpose...a disease that isn't always associated with neonic exposure and has been a "mystery" since 2007.

    2. The text is unclear when it talks about testing the sucrose syrup and hfcs.... the text states that they found "non-detectable residues" of neonics in the plain feed. If this were the case, there would be big problems with the experiment. I'm quite sure he means "no detectable"...I would tend to think of this as a typo/wordo (Lu's English is quite good, but not quite a native speaker), except that implying that neonic residues are in everyone's feed seems to be what he claimed in the last study and part of his thesis that ccd is simply neonic poisoning.
    The perils of benefactors; The blessings of parasites; Blindness blindness and sight -Joni Mitchell 'Shadows and Light'

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Newly published Harvard study on neonics

    This is a small study on one apiary with a low number of hives. That's not evil or anything ... the results are what they are but they're not sufficient to reach any conclusions sufficient to shut down an industry.

    What they do justify is application of the approach, with more rigor, multiple study sites, and a lot more colonies, to see if the results hold. On a small scale like this it could also be that the hives with high mortality had something else in common.

    I've seen some of Bayer's data. I think they're pretty good at knowing immediate toxicity levels. They may have developed some skill at asking questions they know the answer to and like the answer. They might avoid questions where they don't like the answer. This could turn out to be one of those, but the results must be replicated on a larger scale. We've had a lot of small-scale studies that thought they had found the answer to CCD that wouldn't replicate.

    This doesn't change my personal approach to pesticides. Our bees are far away from agricultural fields, and we're glad of it. The only pesticides we use are Bti mosquito dunks in our rain barrels and a touch of foaming insecticide down into carpenter bee holes.

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Newly published Harvard study on neonics

    What they do justify is application of the approach, with more rigor, multiple study sites, and a lot more colonies, to see if the results hold. On a small scale like this it could also be that the hives with high mortality had something else in common.
    I think it's pretty clear that these bees were poisoned. the dosage of Imidacloprid approached the LD50 for those bees. However, it's a poor study for other reasons, like not checking dead bees for other pathogens. They say nosema like symptoms. What are those symptom? Were there other problems. They also didn't treat the hives for mites until most of the winter bees had been raised. Just another terrible study from these guys.

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Newly published Harvard study on neonics

    >except that implying that neonic residues are in everyone's feed seems to be what he claimed in the last study and part of his thesis that ccd is simply neonic poisoning.

    They are using neonics on corn (->corn syrup) and on sugar beets (->beet sugar) but as far as I've heard, not on sugar cane (->cane sugar) and those would be the typical feeds. I'd be curious to see a study just on the neonic content of those three sources of bee feed. After those numbers are established, we could move on to other questions...
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Newly published Harvard study on neonics

    I fail to see why people are concentrating on the lack of nosema testing for his one dead control hive - who cares? He had one reported fatality in a control hive, it either was nosema or it wasn't, either way it has no bearing on the findings with respect to the neonic. treated hives. This is an (admittedly small) statistical look at hives, with one single factor changed and most others well controlled for - and shows that sub-lethal doses of neonic. laced syrup cause "CCD-like" death of the colonies.
    It might be that this acute exposure is greater than most instances of systemic chronic exposure, but that might not be what is causing the collapse - brood wax is a bioaccumulator of insecticides, perhaps the acute exposure pretty much built up brood wax levels to the same levels that chronic exposure of lower doses might achieve over time. More experiments would need to be done to establish or rule out this possibility, but I don't think that the experiment as run was lacking merit.

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Newly published Harvard study on neonics

    I'd be curious to see a study just on the neonic content of those three sources of bee feed. After those numbers are established, we could move on to other questions...
    Interestingly the authors of this paper tested HFCS for neonics and could not detect any. Further, HFCS is tested for insecticides by the govt. and it has been undetectable for years.

    Not sure about sugar.

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Newly published Harvard study on neonics

    Quote Originally Posted by nschomer View Post
    I fail to see why people are concentrating on the lack of nosema testing for his one dead control hive - who cares? He had one reported fatality in a control hive, it either was nosema or it wasn't, either way it has no bearing on the findings with respect to the neonic. treated hives. This is an (admittedly small) statistical look at hives, with one single factor changed and most others well controlled for - and shows that sub-lethal doses of neonic. laced syrup cause "CCD-like" death of the colonies.
    It might be that this acute exposure is greater than most instances of systemic chronic exposure, but that might not be what is causing the collapse - brood wax is a bioaccumulator of insecticides, perhaps the acute exposure pretty much built up brood wax levels to the same levels that chronic exposure of lower doses might achieve over time. More experiments would need to be done to establish or rule out this possibility, but I don't think that the experiment as run was lacking merit.
    It shows a lack of dotting the i's and crossing the t's. Like not testing all the hives for pathogens. I contend that the results of the Canadian experiment in the canola fields with millions of hives over the last many years and the results from Australia where there is no varroa, but there are neonics, have not demonstrated any detrimental effects to hives. Further, any tests of field relevant doses of neonics have not demonstrated results approaching this paper. Interestingly, one of the authors of the paper lost a large portion of his hives in that winter. He didn't feed them neonics. He admits he does not know what the cause of this large loss was. I had bad winter losses this year. Didn't feed neonics and two yards are not near neonic treated crops. Some years bee losses are worse than others. If my bees had been fed neonic syrup last fall I'm sure all would be dead. They don't call it an insecticide for nothing.

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