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Friday, March 27, 2009

I was right! In part.

According to Scientific American, April 2009 issue, scientists are making some headway with the bee problem.

There is no one disease killing them off according to their findings. Though one does seem to be doing a lot of the damage, as bees are falling susceptible to it. That disease is called IAPV (Israeli Acute Paralysis Virus). What these scientists are saying is that they believe (no definitive answers, but they feel close) the bees are falling susceptible to diseases due to weakened immune systems. And why are their immune systems so weak?

They find two major factors: poor nutrition and high counts of pesticide contamination.

Some hives were found to have upwards of 35 different pesticides in them. Add that to the fact that giant monoculture farms do not revive the nutrients in soil, and therefore in their crops, and of course that bees are harvesting in one type of field and getting only that food very often, and you get malnourished bees. Just like we learned from In Defense of Food about the soils and wildlife being affected by diminished nutrients in the soil and plants.

Interesting. I highly recommend the article to anyone interested in the subject.

6 comments:

jaded said...

I've been curious about the bees as well.

After last summer, I formulated my own very unscientific theory in a vacuum. I noticed bees were congregating in large numbers (relatively speaking, 50-70) at my goldfish pond (400 gallons, surface area approximately 4x6 feet) they were walking on the water hyacinths and drinking water from the pond. They were a standard fixture from july until september.

I wondered if drought conditions in the south east were influential in reduced population. There have been rainfall deficits here in recent years.

We live in a residential area, not rural, not urban, so it isn't exactly enough information to draw conclusions, but perhaps a reason for further exploration.

meno said...

I bee-lieve this is good news.

Sorry, couldn't resist.

de said...

I'm only reading with one eye and half a brain because my kids are screaming, but does this mean that honey is not such a good food? Do the pesticides carry over?

Will come back to read the article later.

de said...

Oh, and there were no bees on our swimming pool, but that has a LOT of chemicals, as opposed to the goldfish pond.

Gordo said...

I'll have to check it out. At a guess, was the study funded by the commercial honey industry? Stress is also a major factor in the health of a bee colony. Trucking them around the country to pollinate various crops as they need it instead of letting the bees stay put and rest is a major factor that gets ignored because to do otherwise would threaten the pollination industry.

Couple that stress with a countryside drenched in chemical pesticides and you have a recipe for disaster. Quite literally.

Either way, it looks like all four of our hives made it through the winter. Chemical treatment free.

Maggie said...

Jaded, I'll bet drought weakens the bees like malnutrition does too. Good point.

Meno, you cut up.

De, that I do not know. I buy my honey from a local seller who claims it is honey from organic fields. It sure tastes way better than the grocery store stuff.

Gordo, the article was written by two researchers, specifically Diana Cox-Foster and Dennis vanEngelsdorp. They formed a task force early on, they say, and investigated across the country. They mention that from their findings, large commercial beekeepers were affected on the same level as smaller operations and even hobbyists. That's their claim. They also collaborated work with Jeff Pettis of the U.S. Dept of Agriculture, David Tarpy of North Carolina State University, Maryann Frazier and Jim Fraizier and Chris Mullen of Pennsylvania State University, Roger Simonds from a USDA lab in Gastonia, N.C., and lastly Ian Lipkin and his group at Columbia University. So it doesn't really say who funded it, but there seems to be a variety of people and institutions involved.