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Bee Colony Collapse Disorder

  1. Feb 23, 2007 #1
    I have read several articles about this lately. The bees apparently fly away and never come back. Is this something new or just a periodic natural occurrence? I really couldn't find anything on Google that gave an adequate answer.

    I know there was a mite infestation that killed millions of bees a few years ago, but that was defined and positively diagnosed.
     
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  3. Feb 23, 2007 #2

    Evo

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  4. Feb 23, 2007 #3
    Wow this could be really bad. I find it odd that the bees leave the colonies and then don't come back. Bees have a highly evolved sense of direction, they could probably perform as well as a GPS system in their own element.

    This is not my area of expertise, but I spent a lot of time working with bees as a youth. I was mostly pulling the honey supers out of the hives. I guess that is why the articles caught my eye.

    The fact that the bees do not come back to the colony, which is about the only thing that we do know, would indicate to me a possibility that whatever this disorder is affects the bees built in guidance system. It would also appear that the mechanism of the disorder acts quickly.
     
  5. Feb 26, 2007 #4

    chemisttree

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    See here too...

    http://www.ento.psu.edu/MAAREC/pressReleases/FallDwindleUpdate0107.pdf

    From the above report (page 9-10)... Imidacloprid (a chloronicotinide) in sublethal doses can cause problems with the area of the nervous system that makes new memories in honeybees. This pesticide is known to be highly toxic to honeybees but sub lethal doses from seed coating can cause problems as well.

    It seems that just about everything used on agricultural crops can affect honeybees.

    http://www.honeycouncil.ca/users/folder.asp?FolderID=4967

    I wonder if anyone is looking into what sublethal doses of all this stuff does to the honeybee memory system?
     
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2007
  6. Feb 26, 2007 #5

    turbo

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    When genetically-engineered crops are developed, are they tested to make certain that bees can digest the pollen, and that substances in the pollen will not re-activate in the bees guts and poison them or cause neurological damage? These articles seem to indicate that non-target insects can be injured by plants that are engineered to be resistant to insect damage.

    http://www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_637.cfm
    http://www.foe.org/safefood/geplants.html

    If the toxin inhibits neural function, it does not have to kill the bees directly to destroy the hive. Bees leaving the hive may not be able to accurately store their flight path in memory, and simply not be able to return to the hive. This would explain why the bees simply disappeared without a large apparent kill-off and without obvious swarming activity.
     
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2007
  7. Feb 26, 2007 #6
    It is going to be an interesting spring. In northern states bee colonies are not even active at this time of year.

    I found an old Wiki link to a 1998 French study about bees and a particular pesticide that was used on sunflowers. In this case only the sunflower seeds were pretreated with Imidacloprid. Dam it looks like anything is possible.

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

    Now I am curious to see if I can find any new pesticides that hit the market last year. Pennsylvania was hit particulary hard by the Colony collapse.
     
  8. Feb 28, 2007 #7
    Imidacloprid, the pesticide mentioned above has been banned in France due to a suspected relation to Bee colony collapse disorder. The manufacturer of the chemical, Bayer, claimed that they found no sufficient evidence to warrant a ban. The problem was, however, resolved when the pesticide was banned.
    http://www.bbka.org.uk/articles/imidacloprid.php

    Imidacloprid is used widely in the U.S. on a wide range of crops. Due to the systemic nature of the chemical's action it is frequently applied directly to the row of soil where the crops are to be planted.

    During recent years some insects have developed a resistance to the pesticide.
    http://www.msstate.edu/entomology/v8n2/art06.html

    I have not yet found a link, but feel that it is a logical conclusion that the concentration of Imidacloprid in the soil would be increased to counter the resistance.
     
  9. Mar 1, 2007 #8

    Moonbear

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    I haven't had time to read through all the articles posted yet, but ONE reason I've heard for bees leaving a colony is when a new queen is hatched, if she moves location, the rest of the colony might follow (I think I've heard that more often, a colony will split when this happens...maybe a reaction to overpopulation?). But, that doesn't mean it accounts for all cases, just one. I don't know how common that would be anyway if the colony is thriving where it is.
     
  10. Mar 1, 2007 #9
    MB, professional bee keepers handle the colony split situation on a regular basis. Just keeping empty hives around for them to move into is usually all that is needed. Although sometimes they do leave and end up some distance away, usually to be found as a clump of bees on a tree limb.

    I guess I am just playing amateur bee detective here.:cool: But I sure do enjoy looking into a good mystery. And as I mentioned above, I worked with bees when I was a teenager.
     
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2007
  11. Mar 1, 2007 #10

    turbo

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    Two factors make me lean toward contaminants/toxicity. First off there was no mention of swarming. Beekeepers are quite aware of swarming behavior and will take measures to ensure that the splits are productive. Next, there was apparent tissue damage (as evidenced by discolored organs) in effected bees. Low-level neurotoxicity could easily allow the bees to appear to function normally (forage, etc), but if it prevented them from imprinting the path from the hive to food, they would be unable to return, thus "wasting" the hive population without swarming. Bees rely on collective behavior to keep themselves warm, fed, and protected. Once separated from the colony, it may not possible for them to survive for long.
     
  12. Mar 1, 2007 #11
    It is recent only to the USA. It had been seen in France in the late 90's and in Canada in 2002. The problem in France ended when the pesticide, Imidacloprid, was banned.

    http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/features/article2316697.ece

    Many insects have become resistant to Imidacloprid since it was introduced to this country 11 years ago. I would suggest that either the concentration of Imidacloprid has been increased or some new systemic product has replaced it. There is also the possibility that there is now a combination of insecticides being used that is new to agriculture. Systemic pesticides are often sprayed into the soil in the row where the seeds are planted. Some times the seeds, or in the case of potatoes, the sections of potato with sprouts, are pretreated with the chemical. When the soil itself is treated there is also the possibility that a toxic build up occurs over time.

    I tend to be practical more than scientific when there is no scientific data available. I start with what I do know and go from there. What I have found about the pesticide question is:

    The manufacturer of the pesticide usually conducts the testing.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Imidacl...bee_population

    This seems to fit the pattern of what is happening.
     
  13. Mar 1, 2007 #12

    Q_Goest

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    The one reference provided by chemisttree is interesting. It says:
    Ref: http://www.ento.psu.edu/MAAREC/pressReleases/FallDwindleUpdate0107.pdf
    That report is dated Dec. 15, '06


    So although it sounds pretty serious, it doesn't sound quite as serious as the reference Evo sited which says:
    Ref: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/us_and_americas/article1403349.ece
    That report is dated Feb. 19, '07

    I wonder if the second report has collected additional information or if it's just sensationalized?
     
  14. Mar 1, 2007 #13
    There is nothing new about this. Beekeepers have been moving crop pollination hives for decades. Most probably those same migratory beekeepers had moved hives the same number of times in 02 03,04.05. The normal life span of a worker bee is only 6 weeks from egg to death in the summer months. They of course live longer in the winter.

    In adition this is only one report from one area, the problem is now in 24 states. This spring is going to be interesting and hopefully not a Silent Spring for honeybees.
     
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2007
  15. Mar 1, 2007 #14

    Q_Goest

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    Is there any indication that this a significant phenomenon happening to bee hives that are not 'migratory'? Is it increasing in non-migratory bee hives?
     
  16. Mar 1, 2007 #15
    At this point it appears that no one seems to know about that except for this tid bit:

    http://www.ento.psu.edu/MAAREC/pressReleases/FallDwindleUpdate0107.pdf

    Migratory bees would definitely be exposed to more stress, but then they always have. They would probably also be exposed to more of anything toxic on crops because they travel from south to north following the flowering season of the various crops.

    To make matters worse I have read that bee keepers have moved the remaining food supply left in a collapsed colony to new colonies.
     
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2007
  17. Apr 4, 2007 #16

    chemisttree

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    The headline in today's San Antonio paper reads, "Why Have the Bees Disappeared?"

    Texas is having problems as well. A beekeeper south of SA in Moore has lost 1200 hives. He reports that the bees seem to get lost and he finds the hives either empty or with the queen and a handful of inmmature junior workers who are rife with disease. He noticed the loss last fall and by Christmas half of his 5,500 hives were either completly empty or barely hanging on. He ships his bees all the way to California to pollinate the almond trees every February.

    The 1,200 hive loss translates into about $500,000 of business.

    I didn't realize that beekeeping was that lucrative. His "ranch" is only 26 acres....

    Edit: CBS News posted this 5 hours ago:

    http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2007/04/04/national/main2646409.shtml

    Last week the House Committee on Agriculture held meetings on the problem.
    In addition to the Imacloprid contamination, pollination of genetically-engineered crops developed to express the BT toxin are being eyed as a potentiator for parasitic attack.
     
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2007
  18. Apr 5, 2007 #17

    Astronuc

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


    Anecdotally, we see fewer bees during spring and summer on our flowers. We see far fewer honeybees, but more bumblebees. The decrease in honey bees has been a general trend for about a decade. I think there were a couple of years where we didn't see any.

    http://podcasts.psu.edu/node/265

    WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, Congressman Dennis Cardoza, Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee's Subcommittee on Horticulture and

    Organic Agriculture, held a hearing to investigate colony collapse disorder in honey bee colonies across the United States.

    http://www.minnesotafarmguide.com/articles/2007/03/31/ag_news/updates/update02.txt
    Across the U.S., Keepers Say Their Bees Are AWOL
    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=7806292
     
  19. Apr 16, 2007 #18

    wolram

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    Bee population in decline

    http://albionmonitor.net/9607a/beedecline.html

    "A pollination crisis is flaring," write authors Stephen Buchman and Gary Nabhan. "It threatens rare, endangered plants as well as the common ones that keep people clothed and fed... At risk is every plant crop that depends on pollination for reproduction: one in three mouthfuls of the food people eat."

    The decline of a single species, even one as important as the honey bee, would not usually have such far- reaching effects, but with the crisis in biodiversity, the loss of even one keystone species can bring down several others.

    In the past many different animals pollinated plants, including mosquitos, butterflies, flying foxes, bats, and more than 40,000 native species of bees. As more and more development projects disrupted native habitats, specialized pollinators were driven to extinction. The honey bee filled in for a time, pollinating a wide range of plant species, but now even the honey bee is at risk. The combination of killer bees and tracheal mites is ravaging feral honey bee populations, destroying up to 85 percent of hives in some parts of the country.

    May be more worrying and imediate than global warming.
     
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2007
  20. Apr 16, 2007 #19

    Q_Goest

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  21. Apr 16, 2007 #20
    In my view, the decline of the bee is the most alarming environmental problem faced by humans.
     
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2007
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