America is one bad winter away from a food disaster, thanks to dying bees Forget the plight of the polar bear for a moment and consider the coming collapse of the $30 billion honey bee economy in the US. Since 2006 honey bees responsible for pollinating more than 100 crops—from apples to zucchini—have been dying by the tens of millions. As a new report from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) details, scientists are still struggling to pinpoint the cause of so-called Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) and time is running out. “Currently, the survivorship of honey bee colonies is too low for us to be confident in our ability to meet the pollination demands of U.S. agricultural crops,” the report states. Some signs of beemageddon: CCD has wiped out some 10 million bee hives worth $2 billion over the past six years. If that sounds scary, it is. If the death toll continues at the present rate, that means there will soon be barely enough bees to pollinate almonds, let alone avocadoes, blueberries, pears or plums. So how to save the bees?
UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA SAN FRANCISCO 07/06/11 UCSF Finds New Bee Viruses, Offers Baseline to Study Colony Collapse Working in the lab, from left, are Michelle Flenniken, a postdoctoral scholar, Joseph DeRisi, PhD, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator and professor of biochemistry and biophysics at UCSF, and Charles Runckel, a graduate student. A 10-month study of healthy honey bees by University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) scientists has identified four new viruses that infect bees, while revealing that each of the viruses or bacteria previously linked to colony collapse is present in healthy hives as well. The study, which followed 20 colonies in a commercial beekeeping operation of more than 70,000 hives as they were transported across the country pollinating crops, was conducted to answer one basic question: what viruses and bacteria exist in a normal colony throughout the year? The results depict a distinct pattern of infections through the seasons and provide a normal baseline for researchers studying a colony – the bee population within a hive – that has collapsed.
Coordinated responses to honey bee decline in the USA Apidologie Review article Coordinated responses to honey bee decline in the USA* Réponses coordonnées au déclin des abeilles aux États-Unis Koordinierte Antworten auf die Abnahme von Honigbienen in den USA Jeffery S. 1 USDA-ARS Bee Research Laboratory, 476 BARC-E, Beltsville, MD 20705, USA 2 Department of Entomology, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602, USA Corresponding author: J.S. Received: 9 October 2009 Revised: 28 January 2010 Accepted: 2 February 2010 Abstract In response to successive years of high honey bee mortality, the United States Congress mandated the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) to increase funding for research and education directed at reducing honey bee decline. Zusammenfassung Daten über imkerlich gehaltene Bienenvölker vom US amerikanischen Landwirtschaftsministerium (US Department of Agriculture, USDA) zeigen eine kontinuierliche Abnahme der Bienenvölker vom Spitzenwert von 6 Mio. in den 1940er Jahren auf 2,3 Mio. im Jahr 2008 (Abb. 1).
PLOS 30/06/11 Lack of Evidence for an Association between Iridovirus and Colony Collapse Disorder Colony collapse disorder (CCD) is characterized by the unexplained losses of large numbers of adult worker bees (Apis mellifera) from apparently healthy colonies. Although infections, toxins, and other stressors have been associated with the onset of CCD, the pathogenesis of this disorder remains obscure. Recently, a proteomics study implicated a double-stranded DNA virus, invertebrate iridescent virus (Family Iridoviridae) along with a microsporidium (Nosema sp.) as the cause of CCD. We tested the validity of this relationship using two independent methods: (i) we surveyed healthy and CCD colonies from the United States and Israel for the presence of members of the Iridovirus genus and (ii) we reanalyzed metagenomics data previously generated from RNA pools of CCD colonies for the presence of Iridovirus-like sequences. Figures Citation: Tokarz R, Firth C, Street C, Cox-Foster DL, Lipkin WI (2011) Lack of Evidence for an Association between Iridovirus and Colony Collapse Disorder.
You Asked: Are the Honeybees Still Disappearing? | TIME From almonds to cherries, dozens of food crops are partially or totally dependent on honeybee pollination. And while media attention has waned, there’s still reason to worry about the country’s smallest and most indispensable farm workers. Bee researchers first reported massive die-offs back in the 1990s. But the plight of the honeybee didn’t truly buzz into the national consciousness until the spring of 2013, when data revealed the average beekeeper had lost 45% of her colonies the previous winter. A mysterious phenomenon known as colony collapse disorder (CCD) further stoked the fires of public interest. Jump to 2015. You Asked: Your Top 10 Health Questions Answered Illustration by Peter Oumanski for TIME Dr. Varroa mites, properly (and frighteningly) named Varroa destructor, likely migrated to the U.S. sometime in the 1980s. Of the two other major bee-killers vanEngelsdorp listed, pesticides have arguably gotten the most press—especially a commonly used category called neonicotinoids.
Declining Bee Populations Pose A Threat to Global Agriculture by Elizabeth Grossman 30 Apr 2013: Report by elizabeth grossman One of every three bites of food eaten worldwide depends on pollinators, especially bees, for a successful harvest. And in the past several months, a scramble in California’s almond groves has given the world a taste of what may lie in store for food production if the widespread — and still puzzling — decimation of bee colonies continues. For much of the past 10 years, beekeepers, primarily in the United States and Europe, have been reporting annual hive losses of 30 percent or higher, substantially more than is considered normal or sustainable. But this winter, many U.S. beekeepers experienced losses of 40 to 50 percent or more, just as commercial bee operations prepared to transport their hives for the country’s largest pollinator event: the fertilizing of California’s almond trees. ‘In the long run, if we don't find some answers, we could lose a lot of bees,’ says one expert. necessary number of healthy bee colonies. University of California
IOWA STATE UNIVERSITY 11/06/12 Iowa State Researchers Explore Possible Causes of Honeybee Disappearance AMES, Iowa — Iowa State University is taking a team approach in studying what is behind the disappearance of honeybees known as "Colony Collapse Disorder." Amy Toth, assistant professor in Iowa State's ecology, evolution and organismal biology department, was awarded an Agriculture and Food Research Initiative grant by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to explore the importance of nutritional stress and viruses on honeybee health. "We're taking a novel approach to studying the colony collapse phenomenon," Toth said. Colony Collapse Disorder was recognized in 2006, but Toth said honeybees have been in trouble for decades. The effects of colony collapse are sudden. Fewer honeybees to pollinate food crops has led some farmers to import bees from Australia to ensure an adequate supply. "This is a food security issue that seeks to maintain competitiveness of U.S. agriculture," she says. Scientists have so far been frustrated in pointing to one cause of the disorder.
Death of the Bees. Genetically Modified Crops and the Decline of Bee Colonies in North America This article was originally published by Global Research in March 2008 Commercial beehives pollinate over a third of [North}America’s crops and that web of nourishment encompasses everything from fruits like peaches, apples, cherries, strawberries and more, to nuts like California almonds, 90 percent of which are helped along by the honeybees. Without this pollination, you could kiss those crops goodbye, to say nothing of the honey bees produce or the flowers they also fertilize’.1 This essay will discuss the arguments and seriousness pertaining to the massive deaths and the decline of Bee colonies in North America. As well, it will shed light on a worldwide hunger issue that will have an economical and ecological impact in the very near future. Genetically modified seeds are produced and distributed by powerful biotech conglomerates. I will argue that the media reports tend to distract public opinion from the true cause which underlies the destruction of bee colonies. Conclusion: Ho, Dr.
NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC 10/05/13 The Plight of the Honeybee - Billions of dollars—and a way of life—ride on saving pollinators. Part of our weekly "In Focus" series—stepping back, looking closer. Bees are back in the news this spring, if not back in fields pollinating this summer's crops. The European Union (EU) has announced that it will ban, for two years, the use of neonicotinoids, the much-maligned pesticide group often fingered in honeybee declines. The U.S. hasn't followed suit, though this year a group of beekeepers and environmental and consumer groups sued the EPA for not doing enough to protect bees from the pesticide onslaught. For the last several years scientists have fretted over the future of bees, and although research has shed much light on the crisis, those in the bee business—from hive keepers to commercial farmers—say the insects remain in deep trouble as their colonies continue to struggle. The current crisis arose during the fall of 2006 as beekeepers around the country reported massive losses—more than a third of hives on average and up to 90 percent in some cases. The Threat From Pesticides
Varroa destructor Varroa destructor is an external parasitic mite that attacks the honey bees Apis cerana and Apis mellifera. The disease caused by the mites is called varroosis. Varroa destructor can only reproduce in a honey bee colony. Physical description The adult mite is reddish-brown in color; has a flat, button shape; is 1–1.8 mm long and 1.5–2 mm wide; and has eight legs. Reproduction, infection and hive mortality The adults suck the "blood" (hemolymph) of adult honey bees for sustenance, leaving open wounds. The model for the population dynamics is exponential growth when bee brood are available and exponential decline when no brood is available. Low temperature scanning electron micrograph of V. destructor on a honey bee host Varroa destructor on bee larva Introduction around the world As of mid-2012, Australia was thought to be free of the mite. In early 2010, an isolated subspecies of bee was discovered in Kufra (southeastern Libya) that appears to be free of the mite.
Crop Pollination Exposes Honey Bees to Pesticides Which Alters Their Susceptibility to the Gut Pathogen Nosema ceranae Abstract Recent declines in honey bee populations and increasing demand for insect-pollinated crops raise concerns about pollinator shortages. Pesticide exposure and pathogens may interact to have strong negative effects on managed honey bee colonies. Such findings are of great concern given the large numbers and high levels of pesticides found in honey bee colonies. Citation:Pettis JS, Lichtenberg EM, Andree M, Stitzinger J, Rose R, et al. (2013) Crop Pollination Exposes Honey Bees to Pesticides Which Alters Their Susceptibility to the Gut Pathogen Nosema ceranae. Editor: Fabio S. Received: March 25, 2013; Accepted: June 16, 2013; Published: July 24, 2013 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. Competing interests: Dennis vanEngesldorp is a PLOS ONE Editor. Introduction One pathogen of major concern to beekeepers is Nosema spp. Methods Table 1.
Museum specimens reveal loss of pollen host plants as key factor driving wild bee decline in The Netherlands Author Affiliations Edited by May R. Berenbaum, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL, and approved October 30, 2014 (received for review July 9, 2014) Significance Growing concern about bee declines and associated loss of pollination services has increased the urgency to identify the underlying causes. Abstract Evidence for declining populations of both wild and managed bees has raised concern about a potential global pollination crisis. Footnotes Author contributions: J.S., R.v.K., J.H.J.S., H.S., and D.K. designed research; J.S., M.R., W.A.O., G.T.J.v.d.L., and D.K. performed research; J.S., M.R., R.v.K., W.A.O., and G.T.J.v.d.L. analyzed data; and J.S., J.H.J.S., H.S., and D.K. wrote the paper.