Save the Bees

2 May 2013

Since 2006, discussions and speculations about honeybee Colony Collapse Disorder have been rampant. Reportedly, the disorder has wiped out roughly half of the commercial hives used to pollinate farmer fields.  This is an environmental problem with huge commercial ramifications.  There are many species of fruits and nuts that cannot easily reproduce without the honeybee.  Speculation as to what is causing the disorder has included high fructose corn syrup fed to bees, newer pesticides, and other causes.

On Thursday, the USDA and EPA released a report summarizing the “state of the art” knowledge of the situation and ultimately concludes that this disorder results from a confluence of causes.  Key findings include:

  • A parasitic Varroa mite is a major factor – while beekeepers treat for this, there are resistant mites;
  • Genetic diversity and variation is needed to improve bee thermoregulation and disease and mite resistance;
  • Nutritional opportunities need to be improved – like anyone else, weaker bees are more susceptible to harm from disease and parasites;
  • The report recommends improving forage and a variety of plants to support colony health – even to the point of encouraging innovative land management techniques to maximize available nutritional forage to promote and enhance bee health;
  • Most interestingly, the report recognizes Best Management Practices for bees and pesticide use exist, but notes that they are not widely or systematically followed – this needs to be improved;
  • The report concludes that additional research is needed to determine risks from pesticides.

Hopefully, this is a solid step toward minimizing this disorder.  One thing the report says we can do is plant a variety of flowers to give the surviving bees a healthy environment to feed.

Leave a Comment to “Save the Bees”

  1. Arthur Siegal 25. Jul, 2013 at 2:39 pm #

    A new study has focused on pesticides and fungicides which make bees more susceptible to certain pathogens – if correct, this will likely require a much greater overhaul of our farming approaches to ensure bee pollination can continue – in short – much harder to fix. http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0070182#authcontrib

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