Bees

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Preponderance of field studies and latest research still concludes bees not disappearing Henry Miller; Genetic Literacy Project; 25 Aug 2016 The Buzz: Six Reasons Not To Worry About The Bees Henry I Miller; Forbes; 24 Aug 2016

First multi-year study of honey bee parasites and disease reveals troubling trends Varroa mite infestations more severe than previously thought, with links to spread of viral diseases Science Daily; 26 Apr 2016

Honey bee colonies in the United States are in decline, due in part to the ill effects of voracious mites, fungal gut parasites and a wide variety of debilitating viruses. Researchers from the University of Maryland and the U.S. Department of Agriculture recently completed the first comprehensive, multi-year study of honey bee parasites and disease as part of the National Honey Bee Disease Survey. The findings reveal some alarming patterns, but provide at least a few pieces of good news as well.

Science by news release: Media miss on bee “extinction” reports Jon Entine; Genetic Literacy Project; 18 May 2016

When it comes to covering bees and farming, a week does not go by without an out of context headline or a poorly written story creating misconceptions about a genuinely important issue. The latest fumble came over the past week when the USDA released its first-ever honey bee health survey showing an 8 percent drop in total honey bee hives since last January. A number of reporters turned this dip into scare headlines, but few dropped the ball as badly as Alan Bjerga, writing for Bloomberg. His headline: U.S. Bee Colonies Continue to Decline as Pests, Chemicals Blamed. But it wasn’t just the headline that failed to contextualize the issue correctly, the report itself also missed the mark. To be clear: bee colonies in the U.S. are not ‘continuing to decline.’ Yes, they declined in the one-year survey—falling from recent highs. But there is no downward trend, in the U.S. or anywhere in the world, despite the insinuations in the headline and article.

USDA_NASS_honeybee_colonies.jpg

Genetic Literacy Project AMA Jon Entine; Reddit; Dec 2016

I’m Jon Entine, a science journalist and founder of the Genetic Literacy Project and Epigenetics Literacy Project (501c3 as the Science Literacy Project), which cover the intersection of human genetics and agricultural sciences with public policy.

In recent years, I’ve written dozens of articles about honeybees, wild bees, neonicotinoids, plant pests and the critical importance of pollinator health on the GLP, Huffington Post, Forbes, Wall Street Journal and elsewhere. My reporting — examining the research and interviewing the top entomologists — has shown that claims of mass bee die offs (bee-appocalypse) due to pesticides grossly misstates the data. Managed honey bee populations are increasing or stable in North America, Europe and worldwide and wild bees are not endangered. Numerous factors that have led to some problems in bee health. What I believe are advocacy-based explanations for manageable health challenges, and recommended solutions--bans of effective, low impact pesticides--are simplistic and will do more harm than good. I’ve written three books about the politics of food and farming, including "Let Them Eat Precaution: How Politics is Undermining the Genetic Revolution in Agriculture" and "Crop Chemophobia: Will Precaution Kill the Green Revolution? Numerous Redditors linked to my writing on bees during a recent AMA by Chensheng Lu, whose research I've addressed in my writings...so I came here for my own.

Beepocalypse Myth Handbook: Dissecting claims of pollinator collapse Genetic Literacy Project; 28 Jul 2016

Myths and truths about bees: There is no dangerous decline in the global honeybee population – in fact, bee populations are rising in North America and globally – and a class of pesticides known as neonicotinoids are not fostering a global pollinator crisis.

Butterflies and Bees: real facts about pollinators Genetic Literacy Project

links to resources

Neonicotinoids

Neonicotinoids: Trying To Make Sense of the Science Randy Oliver; Scientific Beekeeping ; First published in: American Bee Journal, August, 2012

Science is all about trying to understand things. When a scientist gets a hunch about why is it that something happens, he puts his hypothesis to the test in an experiment. He may then publish the results, including his own interpretation of the data—at which point other scientists are duty bound to question every aspect of the study, as well as to attempt to replicate the original results. In the end, we hope to learn what is actually true. And this is my intent, to get to the truths of the neonicotinoid issue. In this series of articles, I am essentially “thinking out loud.” I find that the neonic issue is so emotionally charged that folk try to pigeonhole you as holding a black or white position, and then try to paint you as defending that position. Please let me be clear—I hold no position, and am not trying to defend anything! I’m simply asking that we stick to the facts, rather than playing to irrational fears and supposition. To that end I am intentionally taking on the role of “mythbuster,” which is predictably rubbing some folk the wrong way. But if I can get people actually thinking, rather than merely parroting, then I feel that my efforts have been successful!

'Advocacy Research' Discredits Science And Aids Unprincipled Activism Henry I. Miller; Forbes; 5 Oct 2016

Atrazine & frogs
Neonicotinoids and bees - Chensheng Lu, University of Sussex scientist David Goulson. Jonathan Lundgren; Task Force on Systemic Pesticides of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, “the world’s largest and most diverse environmental network” of government and civil society organizations. They intended to orchestrate the production and publication of a series of “high impact” scientific papers, using respected scientist authors and targeting the most prominent scientific journals, to support a pre-determined conclusion: that neonicotinoid pesticides were dangerous and must be banned.

Chensheng Lu

[Bee Experts Dismantle Touted ‘Harvard’ Neonics-Colony Collapse Disorder Study As ‘Activist Science’] Jon Entine; Huffington Post; 13 Feb 2015

Lu is convinced, unequivocally, that a popular pesticide hailed by many scientists as a less toxic replacement for farm chemicals proven to be far more dangerous to humans and the environment is actually a killer in its own right. “We demonstrated that neonicotinoids are highly likely to be responsible for triggering Colony Collapse Disorder in bee hives,” claimed Lu. The future of our food system and public health, he said, hangs in the balance.
One of the central problems with Lu’s central conclusion—and much of the reporting—is that despite the colony problems that erupted in 2006, the global bee population has remained remarkably stable since the widespread adoption of neonics in the late 1990s. The United Nations reports that the number of hives has actually risen over the past 15 years, to more than 80 million colonies, a record, as neonics usage has soared. Country by country statistics are even more revealing. Beehives are up over the past two decades in Europe, where advocacy campaigns against neonics prompted the EU to impose a two-year moratorium beginning this year on the use of three

WSU study

Neonicotinoids pose little risk to bees in ‘real world settings’ study says Maegan Murray; Genetic Literacy Project; 16 Aug 2016

Study: Neonicotinoid pesticides pose low risk to honey bees Maegan Murray; Washington State University; 15 Aug 2016

While neonicotinoid pesticides can harm honey bees, a new study by Washington State University researchers shows that the substances pose little risk to bees in real-world settings.
The team of WSU entomologists studied apiaries. . . in Washington state, looking at potential honey bee colony exposure to neonicotinoid insecticides from pollen foraging. The results were published in the Journal of Economic Entomology (http://jee.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2016/01/19/jee.tov397) this spring.

Survey and Risk Assessment of Apis mellifera (Hymenoptera: Apidae) Exposure to Neonicotinoid Pesticides in Urban, Rural, and Agricultural Settings T. J. Lawrence, E. M. Culbert, A. S. Felsot, V. R. Hebert, W. S. Sheppard; Journal of Economic Entomology; 19 Jan 2016

A comparative assessment of apiaries in urban, rural, and agricultural areas was undertaken in 2013 and 2014 to examine potential honey bee colony exposure to neonicotinoid insecticides from pollen foraging. Apiaries ranged in size from one to hundreds of honey bee colonies, and included those operated by commercial, sideline (semicommercial), and hobbyist beekeepers. Residues in and on wax and beebread (stored pollen in the hive) were evaluated for the nitro-substituted neonicotinoid insecticides imidacloprid and its olefin metabolite and the active ingredients clothianidin, thiamethoxam, and dinotefuran. Beebread and comb wax collected from hives in agricultural landscapes were more likely to have detectable residues of thiamethoxam and clothianidin than that collected from hives in rural or urban areas (∼50% of samples vs. <10%). The maximum neonicotinoid residue detected in either wax or beebread was 3.9 ppb imidacloprid. A probabilistic risk assessment was conducted on the residues recovered from beebread in apiaries located in commercial, urban, and rural landscapes. The calculated risk quotient based on a dietary no observable adverse effect concentration (NOAEC) suggested low potential for negative effects on bee behavior or colony health.

37 Million Bees dead near GMOs

37 Million Bees Dead After GMO Seeds Planted Nearby YourNewsWire.com

Rumor: 37 million bees were found dead in Ontario after the planting of a large GMO cornfield. David Mikkelson; Snopes

endangered species list

Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Endangered Status for 49 Species From the Hawaiian Islands Federal Register

Hawaiian bees are first on US endangered species list BBC News; 1 Oct 2016

Seven species of yellow-faced bee native to Hawaii have become the first bees to be added to the US federal list of endangered and threatened species.

Conservationists say the bees face extinction through habitat loss, wildfires and the introduction of non-native insects and plants. The bees are crucial to pollinating some of Hawaii's endangered plants.

No, the Bee-Pocalypse Isn’t Here Yet Matt Miller; Slate; 5 Oct 2016

Yes, seven species of bee were just added to the endangered species list. But they’re all in Hawaii, and none of them are honeybees.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service added 49 species of plants and animals to the endangered species list on Friday, all native to Hawaii. Unlike the dozens of similar releases the FWS publishes each month (this is the sad state of the environment in 2016), the 75-page document garnered national media attention thanks to the seven notable inclusions nestled in the middle of the list: yellow-faced bees.
If you’ve been paying attention to the news or the internet in the past decade or so, you’re probably aware of the idea that bees are dying globally at an alarming rate, thanks to something called colony collapse disorder. Given the national panic about bee populations, you can see why this addition to the endangered species list might make something of a splash.
But we should not be panicking about the bees. OK, yes, we can worry about the recently listed bees, but that’s a separate problem. The threat of colony collapse disorder, though, has largely passed. As I wrote in a piece for Slate this summer, the global bee problem most of you have heard about is almost entirely a problem with captive honeybees (nicknamed the tiniest livestock, due to their role in pollinating as much as a third of our crops). But despite troubling population declines in the late ’00s, honeybees are not actually in imminent danger of extinction. They’re doing fine, have largely recovered well, and are still pollinating our plants.

CO2 levels

How Rising CO2 Levels May Contribute to Die-Off of Bees Lisa Palmer; Yale environment 360; 10 May 2016

As they investigate the factors behind the decline of bee populations, scientists are now eyeing a new culprit — soaring levels of carbon dioxide, which alter plant physiology and significantly reduce protein in important sources of pollen.