Theres news on the honey bee help line ... not much, but more than youd expect with absolutely no money coming in and none expected from the government for at least 5 or 6 months. I guess its bailout 1, bees 0 on the help the helpless front.
Down in Florida researchers have proven what everybody suspected ... simply, that tiny doses of pesticide kill baby bees ... thats the headline in the PalmBeachPost.com that came out the third week of October.
Florida citrus growers have a real problem ... its called greening, and its killing citrus trees faster than you can imagine. No citrus, no orange juice tomorrow morning, no lemon in your ice tea at lunch, and no lime in your gin and tonic tonight. This is serious stuff. Especially the lime part. I mean, what do they expect us to do...
Tricia Toth is an entomology grad student working with Dr. Jamie Ellis at the University of Florida. Dr. Ellis did his work at the University of Georgia with Dr. Keith Delaplane, who is masterminding that $4.1 million dollar grant we talked about a while ago. Its a small world, isnt it?
For the past several months Tricia has been studying the effects of feeding tiny, tiny amounts of imidacloprid, one of the neonicitinoid family chemicals to baby bees, the larvae in the colony, to see what happens. The amount, apparently, was small enough that it didnt kill the adults that were exposed to it, and was below the threshold of what the manufacturer said would cause problems. In theory it should not have been a problem. But it was.
The manufacturer, Bayer Chemical, has been on the hot seat for years because beekeepers world-wide allege that these chemicals are causing monumental numbers of colony deaths. Moreover, louder and louder voices are claiming that there is a direct connection between these chemicals and colony collapse disorder. Maybe, maybe not.
Nevertheless, there are serious and significant problems with honey bees and these plant systemic pesticides that have not been fully explored, or have been and not published (Bayer is on guard due to a suit claiming that they are withholding just this kind of evidence filed by the NRDC).
This new research coming from Florida seems to support the claims of beekeepers that these chemicals are harmful, even in amounts claimed to be harmless by the manufacturer. Bayer, in an effort to find the real answers to these questions, has contacted a few relatively neutral University research organizations in an effort to find the answers and to have them found by scientists that are not affiliated with Bayer, but at the same time are not influenced by the beekeeping or environmental community. Moreover, they want to have the results viewed by these same groups so there is no question about the outcome this is still some distance from today, but it is a welcome change in attitude and I applaud their approach while I await verification on the results.
Meanwhile, more research needs to be done along the lines of the Florida work, the Georgia work, the Pennsylvania work, and the USDA work ... if only there was some money to do all that work.
This Florida finding is a good first step in helping beekeepers understand what is going on inside their colonies. This is not the answer to the cause of colony collapse disorder, it is not the answer to what is causing problems in areas that arent exposed to these chemicals, and it is not the answer to what happened to the lime for my gin and tonic last night ... but it is getting closer.
Meanwhile, cross the pond last week there was a major meeting of the minds on the global honey bee crisis ... or supposed crisis ... in London. Colony collapse disorder researchers from several nations met to compare notes and make sure they were caught up with the rest of their peers.
But first, I want to introduce you to a news source you probably arent aware of ... its called CATCH THE BUZZ. Our news hounds at Bee Culture magazine routinely feed us news and information from the beekeeping world that is of interest to beekeepers, honey packers, growers relying on pollination, and anyone interested in the whole world of the honey bee. Its free, and those news stories will show up in your email randomly ... we send them when they happen ... sometimes 2 or 3 a week, sometimes 2 or 3 a day, sometimes 2 or 3 a month. They cover anything and everything we find interesting. But heres the catch. This story on the meeting in London is long ... too long for here. But it will be played out this weekend to the thousands who are already signed up to, yes, CATCH THE BUZZ. Ill summarize that report here in a week or so, when Ive had time to analyze and examine it, but the full story, sent to us by our world-wide reporter Alan Harman, wont be here ... So I urge you to go to our web page at www.BeeCulture.com, find the CATCH THE BUZZ link and sign up. Its free, and youll begin receiving a whole different world of beekeeping information ...
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