Fair and Balanced Questions Need to be asked _ the key word is “balanced” …

American Bee Journal Extra

June 5, 2015

Bee Warned – Study Finds Pesticides

Threaten Native Pollinators


ITHACA, N.Y. – A new Cornell study of New York state apple orchards finds that pesticides harm wild bees, and fungicides labeled “safe for bees” also indirectly may threaten native pollinators.

The research, published June 3 in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, finds the negative effects of pesticides on wild bees lessens in proportion to the amount of natural areas near orchards.

Thirty-five percent of global food production benefits from insect pollinators, and U.S. farmers have relied almost exclusively on European honey bees.

“Because production of our most nutritious foods, including many fruits, vegetables and even oils, rely on animal pollination, there is an intimate tie between pollinator and human well-being,” said Mia Park, an assistant professor at the University of North Dakota and the paper’s first author, who worked on the study as a Cornell entomology graduate student. Co-authors include professor Bryan Danforth and associate professor John Losey, both in entomology.

The researchers studied 19 New York state apple orchards over two years, 2011 and 2012. They determined the health of bee populations by analyzing the numbers of wild bees and honey bees and the number of species for each orchard. They also created an index of pesticide use from low to high use, then quantified the amount of natural areas that surrounded each orchard.

“We found there is a negative response of the whole bee community to increasing pesticide use,” Park said, adding that fungicides also are contributing to the problem.

The effects of pesticides on wild bees were strongest in the generation that followed pesticide exposure, Park said, possibly suggesting pesticides affect reproduction or offspring. Park said her research only looked at one generation to the next, and more study is needed. The study found no effect of pesticides on honey bees, but European honey bee hives are brought in to an orchard for short periods during blossoming then removed. In addition, growers are careful not to spray while honey bees are in the area. “Honey bees may have shown a response if they were allowed to stay,” Park said.

“Our studies of wild bees in apple orchards are showing how important wild bees are for apple pollination in the eastern U.S.,” said Danforth. With more than 20,000 known bee species, native bees are abundant and diverse in many agricultural habitats, and likely pollinate watermelons, squashes, blueberries and other orchard crops, he said.

Excerpts from Bee Symposium 2015 : Keeping Bees Healthy

The theme that kept resonating throughout the symposium hosted by the UCD Pollinating Center was  there is no single “smoking gun” regarding honey bee health and that nutrition, bee genetics, and GMP’s were the backbone to keeping bees healthy.  The  is an example of the grounded discussions that took place _ no one was thrown under the proverbial bus that is so commonly found in the general media and blog-o-sphere.  The full proceeding can be found online.

“Neonicotinoid Pesticides and Declines in Honey Bee Health; Will a Ban Solve the Issue?” _  a poster session

(This poster is based on the 2014 UC Davis Debate Team topic for the Endangered Species Act 2014 meeting.) Over the past decade, there have been public concerns over large losses in domesticated honey bee populations. These losses could threaten honey production and, more importantly, pollination services for crops such as almonds, stone fruits, and berries. Researchers have worked feverishly to identify the most salient factors contributing to these declines. The introductions of Varroa destructor, Nosema ceranae, and Israeli Acute Paralysis Virus have coincided with the onset of colony collapse disorder (CCD) and are suspected to play a role in these losses. Calls to ban neonicotinoids, a relatively new class of insecticides, overlook the fact that the magnitude of the relationship between pesticides and CCD remains disputed. Numerous studies that implicate neonicotinoids as a cause of CCD are insufficient in rigor and depth. Other classes of pesticides, including those used to control hive pests and fungal diseases, have been found to impact honey bee health and performance. Part of the perceived pollinator crisis stems from the monetization of ecosystem services, as our reliance on the honey bee shifts from demand for honey production to agricultural pollination. However, the reliance on pollinator services does not come from its necessity for overall food stability, but rather for the production of certain specialty crops. In instances where crops require pollination, stable populations of alternative pollinators can compensate for possible honey bee losses. Given the current state of knowledge, we argue that banning neonicotinoids is a premature and disproportionate response to a complex issue.”

“The Honey and Pollination Center  mission is to help make UC Davis the world’s leading authority on honey bee health, pollination, and honey quality.stablished in October 2012, the Honey and Pollination Center has continually grown its programmatic initiatives to help establish UC Davis as the world’s leading authority on bee health, pollination and honey quality.

This Bee Symposium is the culmination of a yearlong collaboration with the Department of Entomology and Nematology. The center plans to make the Bee Symposium an annual event, bringing top researchers to UC Davis.
The California Master Beekeeping Program was funded by the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. Course development is underway, guided by UC Davis Cooperative Extension apiculturist Elina Niño. This series of courses will help educate and strengthen the state’s beekeeping population through mentoring and hands-on experience.
Working with the Department of Viticulture and Enology, the center is developing a set of courses to meet the needs of mead makers at all levels, from beginners to commercial mead makers.
The Department of Food Science and Technology is collaborating with the center on honey authenticity research. This interest was enhanced by the publication of the Honey Flavor Wheel in summer 2014. The wheel has been featured at national honey tastings, in magazines and books, and online. The Honey and Pollination Center’s impact will increase as we forge stronger relationships with our university collaborators”

The State of Bee Health _ “anti-neonic hyperbola”

This a short update of the hyperbola around some the issues being bantered about in the blog-o-shere brought to you by Randy Oliver – respected beekeeper and well respected contributor to the publishing world.

The source is ScientificBeekeeping.com

Beekeeping Through the Eyes of a Biologist
“Neonics in Ontario”

A recent hotbed of anti-neonic activism is Ontario, Canada, in which an unlikely coalition of a few beekeepers and some media-savvy NGO’s is pushing the government to ban these insecticides. Let me state very clearly that I myself support organic and sustainable farming, use of Integrated Pest Management, and greatly reduced use of pesticides. That said, I feel that any pesticide regulations, and agricultural recommendations, should be based upon sound science.

“An exemplar of this philosophy is Dr. Terry Daynard, formerly a professor and Assistant Dean of the Ontario Agricultural College, and currently a farmer himself. Daynard recently received the “2014 Farm & Food Care Champion” award from Farm and Food Care.org, with the introduction that “Daynard is a champion of agriculture in many ways. He is respected as a farmer, scientist, innovator and agricultural advocate, speaking up and advocating sound science even in the presence of criticism by those that don’t agree with him.”

Dr. Daynard applies a sound and scientific assessment of how misinformation can taint well-intentioned environmental regulation in his blog “Critique of “A Proposal for Enhancing Pollinator Health.””

We all want to minimize agriculture’s negative effects on the environment. This includes greatly reducing our reliance upon pesticides. But such reduction needs to evolve as we learn (or re learn) alternate and more sustainable strategies for growing food. This is best done by rational and sober scientific assessment of current and alternative practices. I commend Dr. Daynard pointing this out.

I’m also impressed by a recent blog by Dr. David Zaruk, who is a Risk Governance Analyst at Risk Perception Management and an Assistant Professor Adjunct in Communications at Vesalius College, VUB, and Facultés universitaires St-Louis in Brussels. He blogs under the name of the “Risk Monger.” He recently posted about the real-life agricultural and ecological consequences of the politically- (as opposed to scientifically-) motivated suspension of neonic seed treatments in the EU. http://risk-monger.blogactiv.eu/2014/09/30/the-save-the-bees-ban-failed-crops-and-another-precautionary-fail-who-is-to-blame/

Read previous blogs here:


Dec 2, 2013 If you have interest in the recent petitions to ban the neonics, I recommend reading a letter to the respected journal Nature by a British bee researcher, Lynn Dicks, in which she points out the problems with hurried setting of policy based upon political pressure rather than upon careful scientific evaluation of the evidence http://www.nature.com/news/bees-lies-and-evidence-based-policy-1.12443

Such a careful evaluation of all evidence is what I’m all about, even if that is unpopular with those who don’t want to be confused by the facts. I currently feel that the problem with planting dust from corn seeding has finally reached the point where the manufacturers either have to take responsibility for compensating beekeepers who suffer losses due to the application of their products, or EPA and PMRA need to restrict the use of neonic seed treatments to only planters that pass dust emission certification. However, I feel that to date there is not enough evidence to call for a complete ban on the neonics–there are simply too many beekeepers successfully keeping healthy hives in areas of seed-treated crops. Clearly this is a hot issue, and the neonics, along with all pesticides need to be closely watched and regulated. It appears to me that our regulatory agencies are doing a good job at this, even if progress seems to be excruciatingly slow.

The most recent blog of interest is on the real people involved in biotechnology (GMO’s). Steve Savage writes:

“As with any new technology, the development and commercialization of biotech crops is a story about people. Its a story about people with ideas and vision; people who did hard and creative work; people who took career or business risks, and people who integrated this new technology into the complex business of farming… Their story is important, but it tends to get lost in much of the conversation about biotech crops.

Many narratives about “GMOs” leave out the people side, presenting it instead as some faceless, monolithic phenomenon devoid of human inspiration, intention and influence. Thats not how it happened. Other narratives about “GMOs” demonize those who made biotech crops a reality. Such portrayals are neither fair or accurate. The real stories of these people matter, because trust in a technology is greatly influenced by what people believe about those behind it.”

Read the rest at: