The honeybees are still vanishing

From Hannah Nordhaus on Boing Boing:

The eerie mystery of the vanishing honeybees has not been put to rest.

In the last few weeks, three separate studies explored the effect of insecticides on honeybee and pollinator health. One paper linked neonicotinoids, a new class of systemic insecticides that have come into widespread use in recent years, to impaired honeybee navigation; a second noted the effects of low levels of the pesticides on bumblebee reproduction.

The most talked about study, from a Harvard team, found that the colonies fed neonicotinoid-laced corn syrup collapsed in a manner that appeared to mimic the effects of Colony Collapse Disorder, or CCD—the mysterious phenomenon in which otherwise-healthy bees simply vanish from their hives. Neonicotinoids, declared the Harvard team, were “the likely culprit in sharp worldwide declines in honeybee colonies since 2006.”

“Dramatic headlines soon followed: “Mystery of the Disappearing Bees: Solved!” announced a Reuters headline. Ah, if only that were true. Even if neonicotinoids were banned tomorrow, honeybees would still be in big trouble.

The recent studies add to mounting evidence that low levels of neonicotinoids may have “sub-lethal” outcomes—long-term effects on pollinators that haven’t been measured in chemical-company testing submitted for EPA approval. What those papers don’t prove, unfortunately, is that “neonics,” as they are called, cause CCD—or explain the troubling colony losses we’ve seen in recent years….”

Read more on Boing Boing.


1 Comment

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One response to “The honeybees are still vanishing

  1. Gary Wilson

    The secret to the mystery of the vanishing honeybees is hidden in unopened books. Before the foreward at the start of Volume I of “The Albrecht Papers” in a list of “Tart Albrechtisms”, is the statement: “It’s not the overpowering invader we must fear but the weakened condition of the victim.” How differently we would look at our world if we adopted that point of view.
    Reading further in “The Albrecht Papers” one can find that diseases of plants and animals, insects eating crops, cattle eating the bark off trees, infertility in animals, soil erosion and extinction of plants and animals are all symptoms of declining soil fertility. Growing crops for maximum yield at the expense of nutrition is best accomplished in low soil fertility. Just don’t do it expecting not to need the tools that treat the symptoms, such as insecticides, herbicides, fences around trees, fertility clinics, and physical barriers to control erosion.
    Insects pollinating crops don’t do it because they have nothing better to do. They expect something in return and that is nutrition. When they don’t get it, they suffer. A quote from the Boing Boing article: “Bees, too, die in all sorts of ways: they suffer from parasites and fungal and bacterial and viral infections; they starve to death; and yes, they also succumb to pesticides…”
    Parasites, fungal and bacterial and viral infections are all symptoms of malnutrition, not from lack of food, but from a lack of sufficient nutrition in the food caused by insufficient, or unbalanced soil fertility.
    Maybe one day someone will research what level of soil fertility is sufficient to meet the needs of the honeybee and then, after creating soil that meets the criteria, step back and see what happens to all these problems that honeybees suffer, including pesticides. They might also find that the crop being grown is now also more beneficial for the organism that consumes it, what a surprise.

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