US sets up honey bee loss task force

Jun 24, 2014

By BBC

 

The White House has set up a taskforce to tackle the decline of honey bees.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the agriculture department will lead the effort, which includes $8m (£4.7m) for new honey bee habitats.

Bee populations saw a 23% decline last winter, a trend blamed on the loss of genetic diversity, exposure to certain pesticides and other factors.

A quarter of the food Americans eat, including apples, carrots and avocados, relies on pollination.

Honey bees add more than $15bn in value to US agricultural crops, according to the White House.

The decline in bee populations is also blamed on the loss of natural forage and inadequate diets, mite infestations and diseases.

There has also been an increase in a condition called colony collapse disorder (CCD) in which there is a rapid, unexpected and catastrophic loss of bees in a hive.

13 comments on “US sets up honey bee loss task force

  • I watched a fabulous DVD documentary recently with the title “More Than Honey”. It tracked the contributing factors in the demise of the honey bee ( including the colony collapse disorder).One aspect that made me very happy was that the native Australian bee has a natural immunity to several problems affecting bees in Europe. It could be that our Aussie bees are able to save the honey bee population!



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  • http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-27980344

    Neonicotinoid pesticides are causing significant damage to a wide range of beneficial species and are a key factor in the decline of bees, say scientists.

    Researchers, who have carried out a four-year review of the literature, say the evidence of damage is now “conclusive”.

    The scientists say the threat to nature is the same as that once posed by the notorious chemical DDT.

    Manufacturers say the pesticides are not harming bees or other species.

    That looks like the well known “commercial interest denial”, of money talking in contradiction of scientific evidence.

    ‘Worldwide impacts’

    In 2011, environmental campaigners, the IUCN, established an international scientific taskforce on systemic pesticides to look into the impacts of these chemicals.

    The members have reviewed over 800 peer reviewed papers that have been published in the past 20 years.

    In their report, to be published next month, they argue that neonicotinoids and another chemical called fipronil are poisoning the earth, the air and the water.

    The pesticides accumulate in the soil and leach into water, and pose a significant problem for earthworms, freshwater snails, butterflies and birds.

    The researchers say that the classic measurements used to assess the toxicity of a pesticide are not effective for these systemic varieties and conceal their true impact.

    They point to one of the studies in the review carried out in the Netherlands.

    It found that higher levels of neonicotinoids in water reduced the levels of aquatic invertebrates, which are the main prey for a whole range of species including wading birds, trout and salmon.

    “There is so much evidence, going far beyond bees,” Prof Dave Goulson from the University of Sussex told BBC News.

    “They accumulate in soils, they are commonly turning up in waterways at levels that exceed the lethal dose for things that live in streams.

    “It is impossible to deny that these things are having major environmental impacts.”



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  • 6
    MoralFibre says:

    I would like to add, that Neonicotinoids have been in wide use in Australia for several years now. How does one explain the unaffected bee population in Aussie?
    Admittedly, statistics alone is not good enough evidence (and that works against many of the anti-Neonicotinoids ‘science’ as well).

    Overall, is there any good evidence to prove Neonicotinoid causes CCD? Let’s see some cites please.



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  • That was mentioned during the course of the program. Although the DVD was narrated by John Hurt, this was a translation of the German author. His son ( the German) is studying bees in Australia.



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  • The docu gives us plenty of possible reasons for the worldwide bee die-off. Causes discussed are inbreeding, parasitic mites (these look horrible in the macrophotography), invasive worms, microbial diseases, pesticides, and strains placed on the colonies through forced interruptions of their natural life cycles. The California beemaster ships colonies more than halfway across the country to maximize their usefulness, and receives specially selected larval queens to build new colonies afresh. One argument is that a lack of genetic diversity is producing bees incapable of fighting off infections. But the forced diversity of mass-scale bee management seems to aid the spread of disease. Down in Australia, beekeeping researchers are establishing colonies on isolated islands, to maintain healthy strains should mainland bees suffer a catastrophic kill-off.

    Above is a quote from a review of the doco “More Than Honey”.



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  • MoralFibre – Overall, is there any good evidence to prove Neonicotinoid causes CCD? Let’s see some cites please.

    See my earlier comment and link:- The members have reviewed over 800 peer reviewed papers that have been published in the past 20 years.

    I would like to add, that Neonicotinoids have been in wide use in Australia for several years now. How does one explain the unaffected bee population in Aussie?

    I’m guessing, – but it is probably the extensive pastoral and wild areas, providing extensive unsprayed areas sustaining healthy bee populations, which as Nitya points out, contain some native species which are resistant to some problems which are dominating elsewhere.



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  • MoralFibre Jun 26, 2014 at 12:18 am

    “Environmental campaigners”?
    Perhaps you should update Wikipedia ? …
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Imidacloprid_effects_on_bee_population

    Why? It seems quite clear on the subject and gives links to cited reports.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Imidacloprid_effects_on_bee_population

    In January 2013, the European Food Safety Authority stated that neonicotinoids pose an unacceptably high risk to bees, and that the industry-sponsored science upon which regulatory agencies’ claims of safety have relied may be flawed, concluding that, “A high acute risk to honey bees was identified from exposure via dust drift for the seed treatment uses in maize, oilseed rape and cereals. A high acute risk was also identified from exposure via residues in nectar and/or pollen.”[9] An author of a Science study prompting the EESA review suggested that industry science pertaining to neonicotinoids may have been deliberately deceptive, and the UK Parliament has asked manufacturer Bayer Cropscience to explain discrepancies in evidence they have submitted to an investigation.[10]

    April 2013 the EU decided to restrict thiamethoxam, clothianidin, along with imidacloprid.

    In a British parliamentary inquiry in 2012, the Environmental Audit Committee accused European regulators of ignoring evidence of imidacloprid risk to bees. The committee said that imidacloprid data available in the regulators’ own assessment report shows “unequivocally that imidacloprid breaks down very slowly in soil, so that concentrations increase significantly year after year with repeated use, accumulating to concentrations very likely to cause mass mortality in most soil-dwelling animal life.”



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  • 12
    MoralFibre says:

    Sorry, I’ve read your quoted wikipedia bit, but still seem to have missed the bit about neonicotinoids cause CCD. Or am I right – it doesn’t say that!



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  • MoralFibre Jun 26, 2014 at 6:29 pm

    Sorry, I’ve read your quoted wikipedia bit, but still seem to have missed the bit about neonicotinoids cause CCD. Or am I right – it doesn’t say that!

    It says it is toxic to bees, and other insects, and is persistent and accumulative in the environment.

    CCD has multiple causes of which insecticides appear to be proven to be one. Colony collapse syndrome, is probably a blanket term, which covers hive death from various causes, rather than one singular one. Other links have explained this.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Imidacloprid

    Imidacloprid is a systemic insecticide which acts as an insect neurotoxin and belongs to a class of chemicals called the neonicotinoids which act on the central nervous system of insects with much lower toxicity to mammals. The chemical works by interfering with the transmission of stimuli in the insect nervous system. Specifically, it causes a blockage in the nicotinergic neuronal pathway.

    It is a chemical which scrambles their brains and causes death, so it is obviously a prime suspect for wiping out colonies and leaving empty hives.



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