Archive for ‘Bees’

Infections link to bees decline

Wednesday, May 26th, 2010

US researchers claim to have identified a new potential cause for Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) in honeybees.

The disease is responsible for wiping out many beekeepers’ entire colonies over the past few years.

Scientists from the US Department of Agriculture say the pathogens to blame are a fungus and a family of viruses.

The results of the study were presented at the 110th General Meeting of the American Society for Microbiology in San Diego, California.

Jay Evans of the USDA Agricultural Research Service, a researcher on the study, says that when these two very different pathogens show up together, “there is a significant correlation with colony decline”.

Daniel Weaver, a commercial beekeeper from Texas and head of the BeeWeaver Apiaries Inc, remembers the shock he experienced when he opened his hives in the early spring of 2007 – only to find them empty.

Source: Infections link to bees decline - BBC

Date: 26 May 2010

Beekeepers lose one sixth of hives

Monday, May 24th, 2010

The losses are much higher than the natural rate of up to 10 per cent and reflect growing concerns that bee numbers are falling in Britain.

However, beekeepers are optimistic that colonies are in better shape than previous years, especially after such a harsh winter. In 2008/09, one in five hives were lost over the winter and a third died out the year before.

The British Beekeepers’ Association (BBKA) said it was good news that 80 per cent of honey bee colonies made it through the coldest winter in 31 years. The highest losses of 26 per cent were recorded in the north of England, and lowest losses of 12.8 per cent were recorded in the south west of England.

As Chelsea Flower Show kicks off this week, Martin Smith, BBKA President, said it was important to celebrate the importance of honey bees.

“Winter losses between 7 to 10 per cent are acceptable. The current rate is not and neither are the vast regional differences. Yet there is still no answer to what is causing the losses. Disease, bad weather and poor nutrition due to habitat loss are the prime suspects,” he said.

“British beekeepers are having to work even harder at this time of year to replace their missing colonies to keep the stream of honey flowing and more vitally to maintain the -pollination army- on which we depend for so much of our food, and the beauty of our countryside.”

Source: Beekeepers lose one sixth of hives - Telegraph.co.uk

Date: 24 May 2010

Quarter of UK’s endangered species ‘declining despite government action’

Saturday, May 22nd, 2010

The Government is part of an international treaty to stop global biodiversity loss by 2010 in order to protect hundreds of endangered species like the bumblebee, common toad and house sparrow.

But an official report, published quietly this week by the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) discloses that 88 species are continuing to decline such as sky larks, pearl-bordered fritillary butterfly, fen orchid, freshwater pearl mussel and black grouse.

Of the 370 species identified as under threat only half are stable or increasing meaning the rest are in decline or there is simply not enough data. This includes wild asparagus, great yellow bumblebee, basking shark, lady’s slipper orchid and capercaillie.

Since 1994 when the UK first drew up its ‘Biodiversity Action Plan’ to stop species loss, it is thought 19 species have gone extinct, mostly insects and lichens but also the greater mouse-eared bat and colourful Ivell’s sea anemone.

Conservationists have pointed out that other species which are not including in the original action plan are also suffering including hedgehogs, wildcats and cuckoos.

Source: Quarter of UK’s endangered species ‘declining despite government action’ – Telegraph

Date: 22 May 2010

Fears for crops as shock figures from America show scale of bee catastrophe

Sunday, May 2nd, 2010

Disturbing evidence that honeybees are in terminal decline has emerged from the United States where, for the fourth year in a row, more than a third of colonies have failed to survive the winter.

The decline of the country’s estimated 2.4 million beehives began in 2006, when a phenomenon dubbed colony collapse disorder (CCD) led to the disappearance of hundreds of thousands of colonies. Since then more than three million colonies in the US and billions of honeybees worldwide have died and scientists are no nearer to knowing what is causing the catastrophic fall in numbers.

The number of managed honeybee colonies in the US fell by 33.8% last winter, according to the annual survey by the Apiary Inspectors of America and the US government’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS).

The collapse in the global honeybee population is a major threat to crops. It is estimated that a third of everything we eat depends upon honeybee pollination, which means that bees contribute some £26bn to the global economy.
Potential causes range from parasites, such as the bloodsucking varroa mite, to viral and bacterial infections, pesticides and poor nutrition stemming from intensive farming methods. The disappearance of so many colonies has also been dubbed “Mary Celeste syndrome” due to the absence of dead bees in many of the empty hives.

US scientists have found 121 different pesticides in samples of bees, wax and pollen, lending credence to the notion that pesticides are a key problem.

We believe that some subtle interactions between nutrition, pesticide exposure and other stressors are converging to kill colonies

said Jeffery Pettis, of the ARS’s bee research laboratory.

A global review of honeybee deaths by the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) reported last week that there was no one single cause, but pointed the finger at the “irresponsible use” of pesticides that may damage bee health and make them more susceptible to diseases. Bernard Vallat, the OIE’s director-general, warned:

Bees contribute to global food security, and their extinction would represent a terrible biological disaster.

Source: Fears for crops as shock figures from America show scale of bee catastrophe – Guardian UK

Date: 2 May 2010

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