Bees may become addicted to nicotine-like pesticides,
Bees may become addicted to nicotine-like pesticides in the same way humans get hooked on cigarettes, according to a new study, which was released as a landmark field trial provided further evidence that such neonicotinoids harm bee populations.
In a study published in the journal Nature, scientists from Newcastle Univeristy showed that bees have a preference for sugar solutions that are laced with the pesticides imidacloprid and thiamethoxam, possibly indicating they can become hooked on the chemicals.
Honey Bee Diseases Strike in All Seasons
The two bacteria are often lumped together, since both are in the genus Spiroplasma, an intriguing class of bacteria found in some insects, ticks, and plants. S. melliferum was discovered in the late 1970s by ARS researchers who noticed higher mortality rates in bees carrying it. French researchers discovered S. apis a few years later and called it “May disease,” because that’s the month of year when it struck. It made bees “quiver and creep,” left some unable to fly, and in that instance, cut honey production by about 25 percent. Scientists, however, don’t know if S. melliferum and S. apis are factors in colony collapse disorder or other major bee mortalities, and they are unsure how lethal the bacteria are to bees.
Schwarz, Evans, and their colleagues at the Brazilian Honey Bee Laboratory in São Paulo analyzed the DNA of bees they collected in Beltsville and Brazil at different times of the year between 2011 and 2013. Bees were collected from 11 states in Brazil and 2 areas in Beltsville. Schwarz had recently developed genetic markers that allow researchers to distinguish S. apis from other bacteria in bees. They used those markers and another recently developed set of S. melliferum markers to determine the year-round prevalence of the two pathogens in both locations.
As expected, the researchers found that both pathogens were prevalent in the spring. But they also found that they were common at other times of the year and that prevalence rates varied depending on the location. In Beltsville, they were more prevalent in the spring, while in Brazil they were more prevalent in the fall. They also found high infection rates: 33 percent of the U.S. colonies and 54 percent of the Brazilian colonies were infected. The results also showed that S. melliferum was the more prevalent of the two and that the presence of one pathogen made bees more susceptible to the other. Schwarz says the different genetics and prevalence patterns show that the two pathogens should not be lumped together.
Certain plants can act as bacteria-transmission sites, and bees pick up the pathogens when they feed on plant nectar, Schwarz says. The results add to what is known about microbe transmission between plants and pollinators and should help beekeepers and scientists monitor the health of honey bees by raising awareness about the year-round nature of any threat the pathogens may pose. With the new genetic markers now available, scientists will also be better equipped to screen bee colonies for them.—By Dennis O'Brien, Agricultural Research Service Information Staff.
"Honey Bee Diseases Strike in All Seasons" was published in the February 2015 issue of Agricultural Research magazine.
A lecture given by Ricarda Kather at the National Honey Show 2013 entitled "Ghosts in the Hive - Varroa's life cycle inside a Honey Bee Colony".
Bees vs. beetles: Beekeeper saving hives with new invention
The bee industry is buzzing about a new device designed to save lives in the beehives.
Many beekeepers across the country are losing their bee hives to the small hive beetle, which can overwhelm the beehive by building up a population inside, ultimately destroying the entire colony.
I've had several hives that have been taken over with the hive beetles,” Walter McKay, a beekeeper from Gluckstadt, Miss., told FoxNews.com.
Mississippi beekeeper and inventor Haynes Haselmaier hopes to stop the destructive beetle with his invention, a gizmo he calls the Beetle Baffle.
"I've just kind of, in a civil way, declared war against the beetles," Haselmaier said.
The Beetle Baffle is not very complicated. It places a selective barrier between honey bees and their deadly nemesis. Aluminum strips are stapled on top of the bottom board of the bee hive. Bees can then walk over the aluminum strips in both directions, but the beetles cannot. That means the beetles can’t get to the colony where the honey and eggs are located. Haselmaier said this gives the bees a fighting chance against their enemy.
“To make them go away is probably not a reasonable goal, but to get it to a point where they're more reasonably managed is going to make a big difference," he said.
Ben Kern, a member of the Central Mississippi Beekeepers Association has seen financial losses due to the beetle.
"Within the last two years, I've lost 10 of my 20 bee colonies to the small hive beetle. It's a nuance and trouble for the hives especially if the beetles get ahead of the bees. I look forward to using this product, and if this baffle can deter the small hive beetle, it will be a real benefit for us beekeepers," Kern told FoxNews.com.
The Beetle Baffle sells for $16 each. More information about the invention can be found at beetlebaffle.com.
Kyle Rothenberg is part of the Junior Reporter program at Fox News. Get more information on the program here and follow them on Twitter: @FNCJrReporters
Managed honeybees linked to new diseases in wild bees, UK study shows
Managed honeybees linked to new diseases in wild bees, UK study shows
Date: February 19, 2014
Source: Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council
Diseases that are common in managed honeybee colonies are now widespread in the UK's wild bumblebees, according to new research. The study suggests that some diseases are being driven into wild bumblebee populations from managed honeybees.
Take a flight around a honey bee
2013 — for beekeepers, there's nothing sweet about it
Parasites, weather, pesticides all taking a toll on pollinators
June 11, 2013|By Joan Cary, Special to the Tribune
Commercial beekeeper Tim May has worked 16-hour days, six or seven days a week for the past month to get more than a thousand hives with millions of honeybees settled in the countryside of northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin.
Spring has not been easy for northern Illinois beekeepers like him who lost anywhere from 40 to more than 80 percent of their hives over the fall and winter. Now they struggle to rebuild.
It was "the perfect storm" that did them in, beekeepers say. And this season, which some call their worst ever, follows what was for many one of their best — 2011-12, when their bees were healthy and the honey abundant.
Problems exist throughout the country, where preliminary figures from the American Beekeeping Federation show that 31 percent of managed bee colonies were lost this season — more than 40 percent higher than a year ago.
"I have yet to talk to anybody who came out of this year (2012-13) and didn't have some losses, notable losses," said Jim Belli, a Wadsworth beekeeper and president of the Illinois State Beekeepers Association.
In northern Illinois, last summer's drought meant less nectar and pollen available for the bees, which left bee colonies weak as autumn arrived. Then came a long winter followed by a cold spring with late blooms. That was topped off with the usual assault of parasitic mites and viruses, exposure to crop pesticides, an increasing number of single-crop farms and the decrease of bee habitat — weeds, flowers and fence rows.
Habitat is important for bees to get the nourishment they need to produce honey and pollinate plants. About one-third of our foods and beverages are made possible through pollination, mainly by honeybees, according to the federal government.
May, a third-generation beekeeper in Marengo, estimates he lost 80 percent of his 1,400 hives in the fall and winter. He found in late fall that his bees were stressed and hurting.
After replenishing, he is working with 1,300 hives this year. He bought many new bees that come in 2- and 3-pound packages, and he split some of his stronger hives into two, moving half the bees and a new queen into a new box to form a colony.
Commercial beekeeper Phil Raines, of Davis, west of Rockford, had 150 of his 500 hives die at Raines Honey Farm. He estimated his financial loss at about $30,000.
And as the bees decline in number, the price for them goes up. Raines and others predict that honey and other food prices will follow.
"There are all these straws on the camel's back, and the poor bees can't take it anymore," Raines said. "It doesn't matter how small or how large your operation is. Your bees are dying. This year is worse than any year we've had."
May agrees. He owns and operates May's Honey Farms with his father, Phil, and son, Colin. They keep 30 to 40 hives at 44 locations, generally on parcels of rural land they call bee yards. In business since 1948, the Mays sell packaged Sunny Hill Honey through independent grocers and farmers markets.
"It's gotten more and more difficult to keep bees," he said. "We had it bad about 15 years ago, but this is the worst."
Not a simple job
Downstate beekeepers like Rich Ramsey in Rochester, east of Springfield, report minimal loss. Ramsey lost just one of his 25 hives and said he does not think beekeepers around him suffered any significant losses, but he points out that losses vary from year to year. It is not unusual, experts said, for a beekeeper to lose 5 to 25 percent of his hives each year.
But, Ramsey said, beekeeping even in the best years is not as simple as it used to be.
"I don't know much, but I do know that 30 years ago you could put bees in a hive, turn them loose and not have to worry about them," said Ramsey, vice president of the state beekeepers association. "It's a management issue now. You have to do things you didn't have to do before. It's more work."
Nationwide, the biggest news among beekeepers since 2006 has been colony collapse disorder, during which bees die and disappear. CCD is most widely recognized among large commercial operations that truck hives into California each spring to pollinate the almond groves, then move them on to orchards and crops around the country.
"We think (CCD) occurs more in large commercial operations," said Gene Robinson, entomologist and director of the Bee Research Facility at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. "However, they may be in a position to monitor more carefully and intensively than some hobby beekeepers … and those are the bees most stressed."
According to apiary inspection supervisor Steve Chard of the Illinois Department of Agriculture, there has been only one documented case of CCD in Illinois — last year in Boone County, near Rockford.
There are about 2,000 registered beekeepers statewide, managing 21,000 colonies, Chard said. Eighty-five percent are hobbyists.