Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Urgent Breaking News!!! New Honey Bee Research

I was going to take the time to create a pretty post with photos I took in Peru, but I've decided to save that for later this week.   A friend alerted me to a recently published article that may have cracked the issue of Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) wide open.  

The article is published on, PLOS ONE is a peer-reviewed, open-access journal.  This means that if you care about this issue, you should read the article, save it, and share it. Simply use this link to access the original article: Save the Honey Bees!

See below for their freedom of use statement:

This is an open-access article, free of all copyright, and may be freely reproduced, distributed, transmitted, modified, built upon, or otherwise used by anyone for any lawful purpose. The work is made available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication. 

The long and the short of this study and the authors' conclusions is that the synergistic effects of a variety of pesticides and fungicides (previously thought not to affect honey bees) are weakening the bees' resistance to the parasite Nosema ceranae.   This is bad news for honey bees but also really 
bad news for humanity.   If you don't know why it's truly bad news humans (ie for food production), 
check out the American Beekeeping Federation page on  Pollination Facts   Apples, broccoli, and 
almonds are only a few of the important crops that depend on honey bees for pollination, not to mention
the many crops and natural plants that feed other animals or prey of other animals in the food chain.

See below for the article in a snapshot.   Remember to read the actual article using the link above and 
SHARE it!!   Our lives and our children's lives just might depend on it.

Bee pollinating a cone flower at Shepherd's Flock Farm
Photo by K. A. Payne de Chavez

The article is: 

Crop Pollination Exposes Honey Bees to Pesticides Which AltersTheir Susceptibility to the Gut Pathogen Nosema ceranae
Jeffery S. Pettis, Elinor M. Lichtenberg, Michael Andree, Jennie Stitzinger, Robyn Rose,
Dennis vanEngelsdorp

The authors come from a variety of backgrounds and universities:

Jeffery S. Pettis

Bee Research Laboratory, USDA-ARS, Beltsville, Maryland, United States of America

Elinor M. Lichtenberg, Jennie Stitzinger, Dennis vanEngelsdorp
Department of Entomology, University of Maryland, College Park, College Park, Maryland, United States of America

Michael Andree
Cooperative Extension Butte County, University of California, Oroville, California, United States of America

Robyn Rose
USDA-APHIS, Riverdale, Maryland, United States of America

[Dennis vanEngelsdorp is a PLOS ONE editor. All the other authors
have declared that they have no competing interests.]

Tidbits from the article include:
Recent research suggests that honey bee diets, parasites, diseases and pesticides interact to have stronger negative effects on managed honey bee colonies.

While fungicides are typically seen as fairly safe for honey bees, we found an increased probability of Nosema infection in bees that consumed pollen with a higher fungicide load. Our results highlight a need for research on sub-lethal effects of fungicides and other chemicals that bees placed in an agricultural setting are exposed to. 

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