[permaculture] TheBigGarden-Insects-Honey Bee Die-off.us

Kenneth Benway ken at arcadiandesign.org
Thu Jun 14 23:28:19 EDT 2007


Before I start, I must make it clear that I am, at best a novice when it
comes to the fine art of honeybee keeping. None the less I am very
concerned about their health not only because they pollinate but because
the creator has manifested them as part of the whole.
Recently I saw an article, I can't remember exactly where but I've got
it archived somewhere, I just need to poke around to find it. Anyway it
was talking about a biodynamic honeybee keeper that had vibrant colonies
without disease. 
Her husband had died in the recent past. In the article she was
discussing the size of the wax cell diameter on the manufactured bases
being to large, 5.2mm maybe? They are forced to grow larger and
facilitate them for commercial production. These larger size bees are
subject to immune deficiencies.
Over a period of years by reducing the size of the comb template
gradually, they where able to reduce the honeybee size to more closely
resemble their natural size. They have resilient immune systems and are
thriving well.

If anyone could begin channeling information on bee keeping as it
relates to the current crisis I would love to read it. In the mean time
I will try to find the biodynamic resource I mentioned and drop it in
this bucket (topic) when I find it.


-----Original Message-----
From: permaculture-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org
[mailto:permaculture-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org] On Behalf Of Lawrence F.
London, Jr.
Sent: Thursday, June 14, 2007 10:19 PM
To: permaculture
Subject: [permaculture] Scientists examine cause of bee die-off - Yahoo!

Scientists examine cause of bee die-off

By GENARO C. ARMAS, Associated Press Writer 1 hour, 15 minutes ago

LEWISBURG, Pa. - Scientists investigating a mysterious ailment that
killed many of the nation's honeybees are 
concentrating on pesticides and a new pathogen as possible culprits, and
some beekeepers are already trying to keep 
their colonies away from pesticide-exposed fields.

After months of study, researchers are finding it difficult to tie the
die-off to any single factor, said Maryann 
Frazier, a senior extension associate in Penn State University's
entomology department.

"Two things right now ... that are really keeping us focused are the
pathogen and the role of pesticides," Frazier said.

Scientists from Penn State and the U.S.
Department of Agriculture are leading the research into colony-collapse
disorder, including study of the yet-to-be 
identified pathogen, a microorganism capable of causing disease.

But commercial beekeeper David Hackenberg isn't waiting to take action.
He's asking growers whether they use pesticides 
on fields before bringing his bees for pollination.

Honeybees don't just make honey; they pollinate more than 90 tasty
flowering crops, including apples, nuts and citrus fruit.

Hackenberg, 58, trucks his bees around the country for pollination —
from oranges in Florida to blueberries in Maine. He 
was the first beekeeper to report the disorder to Penn State researchers
last fall, having lost nearly 75 percent of his 
3,200 colonies.

He said he is convinced pesticides, and in particular a kind of
pesticide called neonicotinoids, were harming his bees.

"I'm quizzing every farmer around," Hackenberg said. "If you're going to
use that stuff, then you're going to have go to 
somebody else."

The beekeeper of 45 years is back up 2,400 colonies and doesn't want to
lose his bees again.

He and his son, Davey Hackenberg, who operate Hackenberg Apiaries, are
considering raising prices to cover the cost of 
replacing hives that may die off because of colony collapse. They charge
about $90 a hive now to "lease" their bees in 
fields; it costs $120 to replace a hive with new bees, the Hackenbergs

Beekeeper Jim Aucker, of Millville, was left with just 240 of his 1,200
hives earlier this spring after the illness 
struck. He said he's back up to just under 600 now. He is convinced
pesticides are playing a role.

"I have found spray materials in our dead hives. Whether it's 100
percent the cause, I'm not sure, but I'm positive it's 
not helping," Aucker said. He doesn't plan to return to fields where he
thinks there might be a pesticide problem.

Daniel Weaver, president of the American Beekeeping Federation, said he
wasn't surprised some beekeepers were staying 
away from fields with insecticides.

"I try to limit my association to growers that I know will be
responsible bending over backward and to go out of their 
way to avoid pesticide application while the bees are flying," he said
of his own colonies. "Of course, I can't escape 
it completely."

He also cautioned what other scientists have echoed — that bees' immune
systems might be weakened and vulnerable for 
reasons besides pathogens and pesticides, such as mites.

Bayer Crop Science is one of the top producers of the neonicotinoid
pesticides in the country, and the product has been 
on the market since 1994.

"We have done a significant amount of research on our products, and we
are comfortable this it is not the cause," said 
company spokesman John Boyne, an entomologist by training.

"The current research indicates that a number of nonchemical causes may
be to blame," Boyne said when asked beekeepers' 
concerns regarding pesticides. Bayer is cooperating with federal and
university scientists.

Some of the neonicotinic pesticides are available in stores to
homeowners, though some bottles may not have the same 
warning labels as those available commercially, researchers and
beekeepers said. Bayer officials said they were not 
aware of the issue but were looking into it.

Some beekeepers worry fruit and vegetable growers may be spraying
pesticides in ways other than the directions on 
labels, said University of Montana bee expert Jerry Bromenshenk. His
survey of beekeepers found instances of colony 
collapse in about 35 states.

Reports are across the board as of mid-June, a time when bee colonies
are supposed to be thriving. Some beekeepers have 
said they are losing bees, while others are holding steady or growing
colonies again.

Hackenberg said he went to the extreme of trying to disinfect many of
his hives with radiation.

But he fears what might happen if his bees get struck again. A call came
in on his cell phone as he worked with a 
thriving hive of honeybees on a hill above his house — a caller was
trying to line up bees for 2008.

"Yeah, we sell bees," Hackenberg said, "if we're still in business next

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