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Like PUTTING the fox in the henhouse. What a load of hogwash.
Are you referring to the "new data furnished by the Nonprofit honeybee research association comprised of 360 scientific professionals from 60 countries"?
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I believe it's that Houstonbees is discounting it because it was published by Bayer. Nothing about actually sifting through the report and taking it to task for anything improper.
 

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Be interesting to see how WLC explains this one....
 

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Well, it is an old game to claim that "everywhere else all is fine". In Germany some people working for Bayer tell beekeepers that in Australia "all is fine" in their presentations. You find that claim (you can't proof because it's over the big pond...) in the above article, too. Yet we have had professional beekeepers from Australia visiting us reporting something else. Whatever...anecdotes...they are just beekeepers. And beekeepers are a bit simple, you know...Maybe too dumb to treat against varroa...oh wait, they don't have any varroa in Australia...Some more anecdotes in the Australian BeeKeeper ABK journal: http://www.theabk.com.au/article/neonicotinoids-australia

We have bad experience with the German Bee Monitoring project. It seems that the project was more or less shut down because of lack of credibility and a new project on an European level was started as a replacement.

This is the original press release of the COLOSS group: http://www.coloss.org/announcements/losses-of-honey-bee-colonies-over-the-2013-14-winter

Also see the map: http://www.coloss.org/announcements...S Press Release colony losses July 14 Map.pdf (you can see enough red I'd say...)
 

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I guess the results of one overwintering season tell it all...it's funny how they chocked up the first season of proven losses to neonics here as an anomaly due to weather, but now want to point to a more favourable year to support that neonics are safe.

The reality is no single season really tells you much of anything.
 

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They mentioned COLOSS and their findings but also mentioned THEIR(Bayer) findings. I'm reading again after 3 times and still encounter smoke and mirrors. I'm gonna let my 12 year old grandson read it and see what he says.
Aint no herbicide or insecticide or fertilizers ever good for the bees. Great for feeding humans and keeping us all alive.
I listened to Mr. Rik ter Horst and BeeingAlive.com at our association meeting and he may be on the right track with missing minerals in soil carried over from plant to bees in their diet that has just as much effect. Lots of opinions and findings to sort through.
I'm with you Houstonbees.
 

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http://ec.europa.eu/food/animals/live_animals/bees/docs/bee-report_en.pdf

Another more detailled report.

Quote: "The COLOSS network recently published results on colony mortalities recorded through a questionnaire filled in by beekeepers during the winter 2012-2013 in 13 European member states (at most 30% of the total number of colonies in Europe)."

Nothing better than solid scientific work done by 360 scientific professionals from 60 countries...
 

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One season doesn't mean much to me, but if they crash this winter with neonics being banned get ready for a big "I told you so", that still doesn't mean much but look at happened at just one good winter.... The bees are apparently just fine again... I will say, at least they point it in the right direction by saying the decline in general isn't specificically caused by one thing.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Everyone should always question the results when anything is reported by anyone. Time will tell if it's a trend. It is nice to see some good news though.

It does bring one pause as if it was bad news you'd see it heavily on the TV and in the Newspapers. All types of organizations would be wringing their hands, pointing fingers, asking for Govt. funding and coming up with "solutions" that invariably line up with their agenda. The CCD hype comes to mind.

It's good news though, yet it's not widely reported. Interesting....
 

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Hi all
It's pretty plain that the demise of the honey bee is a media darling, not supported by actual facts. I recently wrote a summary of bee declines in the past, and our subsequent recovery from them. The article is titled "The Fall and Rise of the Honey Bee."

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B5dxtbosHna7bklaZ0ZEaGVkdkE/edit?usp=sharing
That's a useful and interesting piece Peter.

As well as the points you bring out one thing that struck me was the potential insight toward disease management in this extract:

"In 1835 [Dzierzon] commenced bee-keeping in the common way, with 12 colonies — in 1846 his stock had increased to 360 colonies, and he realized from them that year six thousand pounds of honey, besides several hundred weight of wax. At the same time most of the cultivators in his vicinity who pursued the common methods, had fewer hives than they had when he commenced. In the year 1848, a fatal pestilence, known by the name of “foul brood,” prevailed among his bees, and destroyed nearly all his colonies before it could be subdued—only about ten having escaped the malady, which attacked alike the old stocks and his artificial swarms.

He estimates his entire loss that year at over 500 colonies. Nevertheless he succeeded so well in multiplying by artificial swarms, the few that remained healthy, that in the fall of 1851 his stock consisted of nearly 400 colonies. He must, therefore, have multiplied his stocks more than three fold each year. His eminent success in re-establishing his stock after suffering so heavily from the devastating pestilence — in short the recuperative power of the system demonstrates conclusively, that it furnishes the best, perhaps the only means of reinstating bee-culture [to] a profitable branch of rural economy. Dzierzon modestly disclaimed the idea of having attained perfection in his hive. He dwelt rather upon the truth and importance of his theory and system of management
. (Langstroth, 1853)

It would be intersting to know more about this sytem of management; but the point I raise here is: Dzierzon's bees underwent the same process known in 'organic' circles as 'taking your losses', and by Kufuss' expression 'Live and let die'.

It appears to offer a good example of a population being struck by an epidemic, losing all vulnerable individuals, and rebuilding rapidly from the resistent core, into a population no longer troubled by the disease.

It's interesting too that other beekeepers in your piece describe methods recognisable as traditional husbandry:

"Most think like George Rea in his article in this issue, “Keeping Colonies Strong” that this [35% losses] is the result of neglect, or poor management, or shiftless methods. That is not the case. I think, in our own experience, we have learned more than the average beekeeper has learned that only the best colonies pay.

Therefore, from the very beginning of the season, when all hives are full of bees, we keep taking out any poor ones which arise from any causes rather than to fool with them, or try to get them back into shape. So we concentrate our energies on those that are able to produce a crop. After all, petting and pampering, and the endeavor to get indifferent colonies into honey producing condition is not worth what it costs.

Losses, however, may be made up by using these very colonies that are not good for honey to divide out into nuclei which, with new queens, can grow back into full colonies and of themselves, partly, if not wholly, replace their own loss.
"

This is a straightforward description of tradional low-level systematic genetic husbandry - the removal of the weak and their replacement from - though this is unstated I'll bet good money its what he did - the strong.

"So we admit frankly that, in our own practice, we do not fool with queenless colonies, drone-laying colonies, poor honey producing colonies, with queens no longer tenable, and we do not try to winter any colony which is not in the very best possible shape for winter. Now, is this good practice or bad practice? (Cale, 1944)

Its very recognizable traditional husbandry, applied to bees.

Mike (UK)
 

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Peter, what kind of facts would you accept?
Facts, you know. Facts. Like FAO statistics showing a steady increase in the number of colonies world wide. Like long range stats showing the fall and rise of numbers, depending on such cyclical things as disease epidemics, wars and economic factors.

Not isolated statistics presented in a skewed way. Like the poster I saw worked up by a hapless college student. She made a graph showing the effect of 30% loss over time. After about four years, there were no bees left. Evidently nobody told her that the winter losses are routinely made back up in summer.

For example, last year my home yard died out all but one hive. I ordered eight queens, divided the one hive up and by mid-June had eight populous hives. Made a decent amount of honey in July from basswood, and then a bumper goldenrod crop.
 

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Yes, it gets frustrating trying to explain the math to people. We have seen a prominent poster in another thread get livid about the notion that nobody believes his methods of beekeeping are sustainable. Well I get frustrated being continually lectured to about how commercial beekeeping models are flawed and totally unsustainable because of the constant drum beat in the media about how all the bees are dying. Sure it's a bit tougher than to keep ones numbers up than it was pre-varroa but pretty much every commercial operation I know (including us) is operating more hives today than they were 10 years ago. It may not fit the preconceived notions many have but these are the facts as I know them and as long as pollination and honey prices remain high this will continue whether there is enough good forage out there for the additional hives or not.
 

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I think the most misunderstood number is the 'number of hives'.

It is presented by the media (and many if not most beekeepers) as a report of the health of a natural population.
But the number of hives is largely an economic side effect of the market for pollination. Double the demand for pollination and within 2 years the number of hives will be doubled.

It is a number more like the number of tomato plants being grown than it is the number of butterflies in a given area. It is not a direct reflection of the environmental health.
 

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I think the most misunderstood number is the 'number of hives'.

It is presented by the media (and many if not most beekeepers) as a report of the health of a natural population.
But the number of hives is largely an economic side effect of the market for pollination. Double the demand for pollination and within 2 years the number of hives will be doubled.

It is a number more like the number of tomato plants being grown than it is the number of butterflies in a given area. It is not a direct reflection of the environmental health.
That's true to an extent Dean but let's not forget that if you wish to do almond pollination they must meet size requirements. That's the great "lay your cards on the table" moment. Some may bring bees to the Dakotas for a summer build up and just to get them out of California but the vast majority are bringing strong "post almond" bees with the intent of cashing in on a large honey crop.
 

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I think the most misunderstood number is the 'number of hives'.
And then there's the question of 'health'. Do we mean 'health as an economic unit' or some other way.

With the former its fine to count hives that need three treatments a year just to stay alive as 'healthy' as long as the overall economic performance is relatively unaffected.

But is that really the measure we want? Where does it end? If they needed six different treatments to treat six different ailments three times a year, but they could all be given quickly and easily, and were cheap, would they still be 'healthy'?

Isn't there a cost to this approach in the wider picture, and in the longer term?

Isn't there something wrong with the commonly accepted notion that winter losses are falling because beekeepers are getting better at managing varroa, and that's commensurate with 'improving health'?

Mike (UK)
 
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