Posted on June 12, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Frozen semen bank, targeted breeding could bolster collapsing colonies
U.S. honeybees may get some help from European relatives. Bob Berwyn photo.
By Bob Berwyn
FRISCO — A promising project by Washington State University researchers may help bolster honey bee colonies that have been in steep decline the past several years. U.S. beekeepers said they lost almost a third of their colonies during the past winter, nearly double the acceptable rate.
The WSU scientists have developed a way to use liquid nitrogen to freeze bee semen, enabling them to use genetic cross-breeding methods to produce more diverse, resilient honey bee subspecies that could help thwart the nation’s current colony collapse crisis. (more…)
Filed under: agriculture, biodiversity, Environment | Tagged: Colony collapse disorder, honey bee colony collapse, honey bee decline, honey bees, Washington State University, Western honey bee | 2 Comments »
Posted on May 8, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Shortage of honeybee colonies for agriculture growing
Bees help pollinate commercial crops and wild plants. Bob Berwyn photo.
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — U.S. beekeepers said they lost almost a third (31.3 percent) of their managed honeybee colonies during the 2012-2013 winter, more than double the “acceptable” loss rate of 15 percent.
Colony losses increased 42 percent from the previous year, with about 70 percent of the beekeepers surveyed reporting that they lost more than 15 percent of their honeybee colonies, according to the preliminary results of an annual survey.
An estimated one-third of all food and beverages are made possible by pollination, mainly by honey bees. A decline in managed bee colonies puts great pressure on the sectors of agriculture reliant on commercial pollination services. This is evident from reports of shortages of bees available for the pollination of many crops. (more…)
Filed under: agriculture, biodiversity, Environment | Tagged: agriculture, Colony collapse disorder, Environment, EPA, honeybees | Leave a Comment »
Posted on October 3, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
A new study shows how bee keepers might be able to protect their apiaries against colony collapse disorder
New research might help recover honeybee populations. Bob Berwyn photo.
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — With a little bit of housekeeping, honeybees may be able to fend off the worst effects of a parasitic mite believed to a major factor in the recent spread of colony collapse disorder.
The blood-sucking mites weaken larval and adult bees, leaving them with a reduced ability to fight off infections, which is a problem because bees don’t have strong immune systems to begin with.
New research published in BioMed Central’s open access journal Genome Biology finds that specific proteins, released by damaged larvae and in the antennae of adult honey bees, can drive hygienic behavior of the adults and promote the removal of infected larvae from the hive. (more…)
Filed under: biodiversity, Environment, Uncategorized | Tagged: Beekeeping, Colony collapse disorder, honey bees, University of British Columbia, Varroa destructor, Varroa mites | Leave a Comment »
Posted on September 22, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
Earlier research may have some flaws
Honeybees and bumblebees are in big trouble. Photo by Bob Berwyn.
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Honeybees may be dying from ingesting remnants of insecticides, but that in itself may nor be causing the widespread colony collapse being observed in many areas, according to new research published in the journal Science.
Starting in about 2006, beekeepers started reporting declines of 30 to 90 percent in many of their hives, in part due to a phenomenon known as Colony Collapse Disorder.
There are several studies showing that ingestion of pesticides leads to direct mortality, as well as a decline in the number of queen bees, which are critical to the establishment of new colonies following the winter die-off. (more…)
Filed under: biodiversity, Environment | Tagged: colony collapse, Colony collapse disorder, Environment, honeybees, Insecticide, neonicotinoids, pesticides | 2 Comments »
Posted on June 11, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
Hawaiian research serves as case study for watching evolution and spread of virus
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Along with recent studies showing that exposure to pesticides is affecting honeybee colonies, a new study suggests that an emerging virus, transmitted by parasitic mites, is another key factor in death of millions of bee colonies.
Researchers in Hawaii and the UK said they’ve pinpointed the Varroa mite as causing the “Deformed Wing Virus” to proliferate in honey bee colonies, probably contributing the worldwide loss of honeybee colonies. The current monetary value of honey bees as commercial pollinators in the United States alone is estimated at about $15-$20 billion annually.
The study shows how mites spread the virus to colonies by directly transmitting it to the bees, thereby bypassing some of the insects’ natural defenses. This change was accompanied by a million-fold increase in the number of virus particles infecting each honey bee and a massive reduction in viral strain diversity leading to the emergence of a single virulent strain. (more…)
Filed under: agriculture, biodiversity, Environment | Tagged: biodiversity, Colony collapse disorder, Deformed Wing Virus, Environment, honeybees, Varroa, Varroa destructor | Leave a Comment »
Posted on May 29, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
Bee colonies are declining dramatically in the U.S. and Europe. PHOTO BY BOB BERWYN.
Exposure to neonicotinoid also reduces bees’ ability to communicate about food sources
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — There’s more evidence that even small doses of common pesticides are at least a factor — if not the main cause — of a dramatic decline in bee populations that’s threatening pollination of both wild and domesticated plants.
By closely studying the response of individual bees to the chemical, biologists at the University of California San Diego showed that the bees turn into picky eaters. The study also showed that bees exposed to the pesticide reduced the number of “waggle dances” between fourfold and tenfold, reducing the number of nestmates recruited to good food sources.
Bee colonies in the U.S. and Europe have declined by about one-third since 2006 in what has been called colony collapse disorder. In the last couple of years, research has established strong direct links between the decline and common agricultural pesticides, including several recent European studies showing that colonies exposed to neonicotinoids produce fewer queen bees. (more…)
Filed under: biodiversity, Environment, Summit County news | Tagged: biodiversity, Colony collapse disorder, Environment, Honey bee, neonicotinoid, Pesticide | Leave a Comment »
Posted on April 1, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
Sub-lethal doses affect queen reproduction, homing ability
A bumblebee feeds on a fireweed in Summit County, Colorado. PHOTO BY BOB BERWYN.
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY — Bumblebee and honeybee populations have declined dramatically in recent years, and while researchers have suspected that insecticides are at least part of the problem, they haven’t been able to pinpoint exactly how the bees are affected by the poisons.
But a pair of new studies from Europe link the use of neonicotinoid insecticides, introduced in the early 1990s, with impacts to bees’ central nervous system and show how the chemicals spread to to the nectar and pollen of flowering crops. Neonicotinoid insecticides have been favored because of a lower toxicity to mammals.
One study showed that bumblebees exposed to a widely used insecticide produced 85 percent fewer queen bees, which are critical to the establishment of new colonies following the winter die-off.
In the second study, the researchers found that bees exposed to a second type of neonicotinoid insecticide were two to three times as likely to die while away from their nests, possibly because the toxin interfered with the bees’ homing systems. (more…)
Filed under: agriculture, biodiversity, Environment | Tagged: agriculture, bumblebee decline, Colony collapse disorder, Environment, honeybee decline, neonicotinoid insecticides | 3 Comments »