from the earthfiles website (linda moulton howe is a regular contributor to coast to coast am, and is fairly out there on some topics, but does some reality based reporting as well)
a couple of highlights from the article
the full article is here
February 2007 map showing states so far affected by the honey bee collapse
disorder in which beekeepers have reported 60% to 100% honey bee disappearances
without explanation to date. Map courtesy MAAREC.
Honey Bee Disappearances Continue: Could Pesticides Play A Role?
© 2007 by Linda Moulton Howe
"How much of our food production do we want to turn over to other
countries that might be friendly now and not friendly in the future? The federal government is looking at this and my question is: Are honey bees the canary
in the coal mine? What are honey bees trying to tell us that we humans
should be paying more attention to?" - Jerry Hayes, Chief, Apiary Section,
Florida Dept. of Agriculture, Gainsville, Florida
Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) is the latest problem facing bee keepers today. Please take time to fill out a Bee Loss Survey, about whether or not you have experienced CCD. All data collected is confidential and helpful for determining the exact cause of CCD.
1) Symtoms of CCD in collapsed colonies are:
The complete absence of adult bees in colonies, with no or little build up of dead bees in the colonies or in front of those colonies.
The presence of capped brood in colonies.
The presence of food stores, both honey and bee bread.
i) which is not immediately robbed by other bees
ii) hive pests such as wax moth and small hive beetle are noticeably delayed in entering deserted hives.
2) In cases where the colony appear to be actively collapsing:
An insufficient workforce to maintain the brood that is present.
The workforce seems to be made up of young adult bees.
The queen is present.
The cluster is reluctant to consume provided feed, such as sugar syrup and protein supplement.
Nicotine-Based Pesticides Interfere
with Honey Bee Memories
In the past six years, a new group of nicotine-based pesticides have emerged called neonicotinoids. The most common is imidachloprid. Ironically, these were originally manufactured to be less lethal. But about four years ago, French and Italian beekeepers complained that imidachloprid crop spraying was killing their honey bees. So the French and Italian governments banned the nicotine-based pesticides.
American scientists now studying the Colony Collapse Disorder wrote in their first preliminary December 15, 2006, report that even though the neonicotinoids will not kill adult bees directly on flowers and plants:
"Recent research tested crops where seed was treated with imidacloprid. The chemical was present, by systemic uptake, in corn, sunflowers and rape pollen in levels high enough to pose a threat to honey bees. Additional research has found that imidacloprid impairs the memory and brain metabolism of bees, particularly the area of the brain that is used for making new memories.
"Implication: If bees are eating fresh or stored pollen contaminated with these chemicals at low levels, the pesticides might not cause mortality, but might impact the bees' ability to learn or make memories. If this is the case, young bees leaving the hives to make orientation flights might not be able to learn the location of the hive and might not be returning, causing the colonies to dwindle and eventually die. It is also possible that this is not the sole cause of the dwindling, but one of several contributing factors. "
I asked Jerry Hayes, Chief of the Apiary Section for Florida's Department of Agriculture in Gainsville, about the nicotine-based pesticide's ability to disable honey bee memory.
Jerry Hayes, Chief, Apiary Section, Florida Dept. of Agriculture, Gainsville, Florida:
"The interesting thing about the Colony Collapse Disorder is that bees are leaving the colony and not coming back, which is highly unusual for a social insect to leave a queen and its brood or young behind. They are seemingly going out and can't find their way back home.
Imidachloprid, when it is used to control termites, does exactly the same thing. One of the methods it uses to kill termites is that the termites feed on this material and then go out to feed and can't remember how to get home. And it also causes their immune systems to collapse, causing what would be normal organisms to become pathogenic in them (bees).
HAVE FARMERS BEEN USING IMIDACHLOPRID MORE THAN THEY HAVE IN THE PAST?
I think a couple of things. First, its use has changed. At first it started out as a seed treatment to protect the seed as it germinated and developed. Now it is being used as a foliage spray, it's being used as a systemic, it's being combined with fungicides, which increases its efficacy. So, it's use has changed. Especially systemically, it does what it's supposed to do - it takes care of agricultural pests, which we want it to do. But there seems to be a disconnect sometimes that researchers and horticulturists forget that a honey bee is an insect. And of course, there are other insects out there that are valuable pollinators as well.
So, systemically this material (imidachloprid) is found in the nectar - in many cases in low doses - not something that would kill a honey bee. So the question is: What does chronic exposure to the honey bee, either as an adult, or as the bees bring the material back to the nest to store and feed to developing young bees over time - what does chronic exposure (to pesticides) do to the colony?"