Tag Archives | Bees

United Nations Sounds Alarm Over Vanishing Bees

vanishing bees smalldisinformation readers have been aware of the frighteningly rapid onset of Colony Collapse Disorder for some time, and indeed here at disinfo we’ve allied with filmmakers George Langworthy and Maryam Henein to help distribute their superb film Vanishing of the Bees. The United Nations will be supporting the release of the film including screenings around World Environment Day (June 5), and are putting the word out on what is a very, very serious issue (as a reminder, commercial honeybee operations pollinate crops that make up one out of every three bites of food on our tables). From AFP via Yahoo News:

GENEVA (AFP) – The UN on Thursday expressed alarm at a huge decline in bee colonies under a multiple onslaught of pests and pollution, urging an international effort to save the pollinators that are vital for food crops.

Much of the decline, ranging up to 85 percent in some areas, is taking place in the industrialised northern hemisphere due to more than a dozen factors, according to a report by the UN’s environmental agency.

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The Bee Crisis

Over a million people have signed this petition calling on governments to ban pesticides that kill bees:

We call on you to immediately ban the use of neonicotinoid pesticides until and unless new independent scientific studies prove they are safe. The catastrophic demise of bee colonies could put our whole food chain in danger. If you act urgently with precaution now, we could save bees from extinction.

If you are curious as to just why this is so important, here’s Tom Theobald, the whistleblowing beekeeper who “leaked” an EPA memo about the systemic pesticide Clothianidin. EPA scientists do not approve of the use of this toxic poison because of the damage caused to honeybees and other insects and invertebrates. Yet the EPA proposes the sale will simply continue. Here he discusses the EPA and the bigger picture problems that allowed this toxic chemical to be released onto the market – despite concerns of the EPA scientists.

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The Dark World Of Honey Laundering

cheng3 As domestic bee colonies collapse in droves, the United States is being flooded with cheap, perhaps dangerous, Chinese honey in “the largest case of food fraud in history.” The Globe and Mail reports:

As crime sagas go, a scheme rigged by a sophisticated cartel of global traders has all the right blockbuster elements: clandestine movements of illegal substances through a network of co-operatives in Asia, a German conglomerate, jet-setting executives, doctored laboratory reports, high-profile takedowns and fearful turncoats.

What makes this worldwide drama unusual, other than being regarded as part of the largest food fraud in U.S. history, is the fact that honey, nature’s benign golden sweetener, is the lucrative contraband.

What consumers don’t know is that honey doesn’t usually come straight – or pure – from the hive. Giant steel drums of honey bound for grocery store shelves and the food processors that crank out your cereal are in constant flow through the global market.

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U.S. Bee Deaths Caused By EPA Approved Pesticide

Bees_Collecting_PollenCould this be the answer to the mysterious case of the disappearing bees? It could certainly be one reason for colony collapse. Report from Fast Company:

The world honey bee population has plunged in recent years, worrying beekeepers and farmers who know how critical bee pollination is for many crops. A number of theories have popped up as to why the North American honey bee population has declined–electromagnetic radiation, malnutrition, and climate change have all been pinpointed. Now a leaked EPA document reveals that the agency allowed the widespread use of a bee-toxic pesticide, despite warnings from EPA scientists.

The document, which was leaked to a Colorado beekeeper, shows that the EPA has ignored warnings about the use of clothianidin, a pesticide produced by Bayer that mainly is used to pre-treat corn seeds. The pesticide scooped up $262 million in sales in 2009 by farmers, who also use the substance on canola, soy, sugar beets, sunflowers, and wheat, according to Grist.

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Brooklyn’s Bees Are Addicted To Junk Food

The Dell's Maraschino Cherries building in Red Hook

The Dell's Maraschino Cherries building in Red Hook

Well what do expect from bunch of Brooklyn Bees, living in the borough of Junior’s Cheesecake, Nathan’s Famous Hot Dogs and other not so healthy culinary delights? The New York Times relates the tale of the bright red bees:

Cerise Mayo expected better of her bees. She had raised them right, given them all the best opportunities — acres of urban farmland strewn with fruits and vegetables, a bounty of natural nectar and pollen. Blinded by devotion, she assumed they shared her values: a fidelity to the land, to food sources free of high-fructose corn syrup and artificial food coloring.

And then this. Her bees, the ones she had been raising in Red Hook, Brooklyn, and on Governors Island since May, started coming home to their hives looking suspicious. Of course, it was the foragers — the adventurers, the wild waggle dancers, the social networkers incessantly buzzing about their business — who were showing up with mysterious stripes of color.

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Finally A Lead In The Case Of The Disappearing Bees

Bees_Collecting_PollenThe rapidly dwindling population of honey bees in the United States and other western countries (a/k/a colony collapse) has been a serious concern for pretty much anyone who is aware of our dependence on bees in maintaining the food chain. All sorts of solutions have been tried unsuccessfully, including importing healthy bees from Australia, and farmers’ demand for traveling apiarists and their beehives has been off the scale. Now it seems that we may finally have a lead in the race to find a cure for our ailing bees, reported in the New York Times:

It has been one of the great murder mysteries of the garden: what is killing off the honeybees?

Since 2006, 20 to 40 percent of the bee colonies in the United States alone have suffered “colony collapse.” Suspected culprits ranged from pesticides to genetically modified food.

Now, a unique partnership — of military scientists and entomologists — appears to have achieved a major breakthrough: identifying a new suspect, or two.

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Bees Fight to Death Over Females

By Matt Walker of BBC Earth News:

It is rare for any species of animal to regularly kill its own in combat. However, male Dawson’s bees, one of the world’s largest bee species, are so aggressive that they kill each other en masse in a bid to mate with females.

The bees enter a frenzy of fighting, and by the time their deadly combat is over, every male bee is either killed or has perished. The extreme behaviour, which can lead to even females being killed, is caught on film by a BBC natural history crew.

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High-Fructose Corn Syrup Produces Toxic Chemical “HMF” When Heated

Mike Adams writes in NaturalNews:

If you know anything about the food supply, you know that honey bees are a crucial part of the food production chain. In the United States, they pollinate roughly one-third of all the crops we eat, and without them, we’d be facing a disastrous collapse in viable food production.

That’s why, when honey bees started to disappear a few years ago, scientists scrambled to find the root cause of the phenomenon, which has since been dubbed “Colony Collapse Disorder.”

The name is a bit of a misnomer, though. It’s not really a “disorder.” It’s more of a poisoning. Or at least that’s what we may be learning from new research that’s just been published in the ACS’ Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

It’s been difficult, of course, trying to determine the cause of colony collapse disorder. Some of the suggested theories for explaining the phenomenon included chemical contamination from pesticides, genetic contamination from genetically modified crops, changes in the Earth’s magnetic field, climate change and air pollution.

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Mobile Phones And Towers Kill Bees

Mobile towers are posing a threat to honey bees in Kerala [India] with electromagnetic radiation from mobile towers and cell phones having the potential to kill worker bees that go out to collect nectar from flowers, says a study.

A plunge in beehive population has been reported from different parts of Kerala and if measures are not taken to check mushrooming of mobile towers, bees could be wiped out from Kerala within a decade, environmentalist and Reader in Zoology, Dr Sainudeen Pattazhy says in his study.

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Cocaine Buzz for Bees

Buzz has a whole new meaning now that scientists are giving bees cocaine.

To learn more about the biochemistry of addiction, scientists in Australia dropped liquefied freebase cocaine on bees’ backs, so it entered the circulatory system and brain.

The scientists found that bees react much like humans do: cocaine alters their judgment, stimulates their behavior and makes them exaggeratedly enthusiastic about things that might not otherwise excite them.

What’s more, bees exhibit withdrawal symptoms. When a coked-up bee has to stop cold turkey, its score on a standard test of bee performance (learning to associate an odor with sugary syrup) plummets.

“What we have in the bee is a wonderfully simple system to see how brains react to a drug of abuse,” said Andrew B. Barron, a senior lecturer at Macquarie University in Australia and a co-leader in the bees-on-cocaine studies. “It may be that when we know that, we’ll be able to stop a brain reacting to a drug of abuse, and then we may be able to discover new ways to prevent abuse in humans.”

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