Archive for » February, 2009 «

Tuesday, February 10th, 2009 | Author:

SavethehivesIt’s been almost a year since I began my CCD Mapping website, which has yet to launch… Nice to get motivated by another fantastic mapping project, the Feral Bee Project, “a site focused on creating a national database of feral honey bee populations.” Ronnie Bouchon built the site himself from the ground up using Google’s API and Google spreadsheets. Hat’s off to this committed human being! Some people in my beekeeping club actually thought it was a bad idea to map feral colonies, out of some fear that people would go mess with them now that they knew where there were. Overprotective bee lovers?

The possibilities of using the Feral Bee Project’s data to build heat maps and do other analysis excites me to get my participatory CCD mapping site off the ground. As Ronnie has done, I am ever-evaluating the mapping technologies and Google’s tools are tempting. I like the benefits of his site design: no “user log-in” or “registration” to thwart the average nature-not-computer lover, no submission approval process (not yet warranted, he reports), and a nice interface for finding your place on the map. But I’ve always been partial to hosting all of my project data on my own sites, instead of relying on Google spreadsheets hosted who knows where. It is fantastic to have all the data in an accessible spreadsheet, however, instead of buried in some SQL database, IMO.

The sensitivity about mapping colony collapse disorder events makes such an open methodology difficult to gain acceptance, I’ve assumed. Perhaps that assumption is wrong. Now that we have something of a definitive list of symptoms and patterns being published this month about how to recognize CCD, perhaps a community-generated dataset won’t be filled with speculative points that may dilute the value and accuracy of the data collected. What do you think? I’ll invite Ronnie Bouchon to comment. His site, lists another project in the works and it would be great to get an update on how that is going.
Savethehives Map

“With all the media coverage and public awareness of Colony Collapse Disorder, there is still not a single database of reported cases of CCD. The CCD Map would be provide a web-based approach for collecting and presenting reported cases of CCD in a way that could help researchers and government agencies understand this national crisis. This national database of information will be centrally maintained and available to research programs and universities.”


Ronnie, any news about the CCD mapping project? What have been your biggest hurdles and what do your collaborators in the beekeeping world say about creating a CCD map? Comment here for us. ;)

Tuesday, February 10th, 2009 | Author:

Bee Truck Crashes The magic of RSS delivers news to me that I used to only get by sitting in the local diner in smalltown USA reading the local paper. But we still never know how long the online news links will last, so I’m copying this little story for the record about another “sideline” beekeeper and his need for California almond contracts. If beekeepers were to receive government subsidies, as may happen with this recent “stimulus” bill, I wonder how many beekeepers would still haul their bees all around the country for pollination services. I wonder… if they could stay at home with the reassurance of government checks (as Farm Bill subsidies provide to other agricultural activities), if California would be forced to evolve its local hive capacity to the point of keeping the migratory pollination services for the almond crop LOCAL. What would our pollinator landscape look like if we invested in local capacity building of beekeepers and pollinator maintenance? Would we still have diesel semi trucks hauling bees imported from Australia and, uh, Wyoming, USA? With peak oil now an obvious reality, it is not sustainable to rely on a struggling trucker community to bring bees everywhere? I know, I know, there isn’t enough bloom and habitat to sustain bees in many places… Well, let’s imagine a different reality. CHANGE. PLANT. SOW. -DNR

Casper Star-Tribune Online, WY – Feb 2, 2009

RANCHESTER — Clifford Reed remembers looking over the sweet clover-covered hills near Ranchester last spring and thinking, “This should be a great year for honey.”

A strong dose of reality hit Reed once mites were discovered in his bee colonies.

“I didn’t treat for mites and it cost me,” the owner of Tongue River Honey said.

He won’t make the same mistake this year.

“I had to pull off 320 dead colonies,” Reed said. “With 25,000 to 30,000 bees per hive, that’s a lot of dead bees.

“Once mites reach a certain threshold in a colony of bees, the bees just take off for greener pastures. For those bees that remain, if they catch a virus from the mites, the bee offspring turn into runty, pitiful bees with a short lifespan.”

The timing was terrible. Last year, more…

Tuesday, February 10th, 2009 | Author:

First UK supermarket chain – and Britain’s biggest farmer – to prohibit chemicals implicated in the death of over one-third of British bees

Alison Benjamin, Wednesday 28 January 2009 11.40 GMT

The Co-op today became the first UK supermarket to ban the use of a group of pesticides implicated in billions of honeybee deaths worldwide.

It is prohibiting suppliers of its own-brand fresh produce from using eight pesticides that have been connected to honeybee colony collapse disorder and are already restricted in some parts of Europe.

The Co-op said it will eliminate the usage of the neonicotinoid family of chemicals where possible and until they are shown to be safe. The Co-op has over 70,000 acres of land under cultivation in England and Scotland, making it the largest farmer in the UK. Since 2001, it has already prohibited the use of 98 pesticides under its pesticide policy.

Simon Press, senior technical manager at the Co-op group said: “We believe that the recent losses in bee populations need definitive action, and as a result are temporarily prohibiting the eight neonicotinoid pesticides until we have evidence that refutes their involvement in the decline.”

Laboratory tests suggest that one of the banned chemicals, imidacloprid, can impede honeybees’ sophisticated communication and navigation systems. It has been banned in France for a decade as a seed dressing on sunflowers. Italy, Slovenia and Germany banned neonicotinoids last year after the loss of millions of honeybees. And the European Parliament voted earlier this month for tougher controls on bee-toxic chemicals.

Read rest:

Saturday, February 07th, 2009 | Author:

Fox News gets some points for actually interviewing a beekeeper about the current pollinator crisis and dedicating five minutes to it, with a cute studio backdrop with props and all (you go, David Burns!)… My question to Fox News host, Neil Cavuto, “if the Corn (syrup) industry can get paid NOT to grow corn in U.S. through the subsidy programs for decades, and the obscene pork riders can go unchecked, unreported, unchallenged during the Republican Congressional bills for your War, etc, isn’t it obtuse to challenge the nation’s beekeepers in their attempt to find financial relief along with Wall Street and Detroit?!” Beekeepers literally put food on your table! Oil Industry/U.S. automakers flew in private jets to D.C. to get a giant taxpayer handout for actually failing to produce a product that meets modern needs (sustainability, fuel efficiency, etc.). $150 million is a drop in the bucket to protect the food supply.

Thank you, for creating the dialog, Fox News. However, you supported giant government for the War Industry for 8 years, plus. You can’t backpedal now when a truly important industry needs 100% bailout relief and subsidy. Cavuto, taxpayers should fund and are happy to fund beekeepers because of their role in farming and food. Your free market is a myth, get over it. Let the auto industry collapse and support the industries that we really need: farmers, pollinators and other sustainable enterprises.

The Obama Team should be setting benchmark goals of doubling or tripling the nation’s beekeeper population, which has been dwindling steadily ever since the 1950s’ suburban sprawl of monocultural, agri-chemical food production began spreading here. I’ve suggested in the past that the Veterans’ Administration deploy a program to train returning Vets to become beekeepers! Pay them, train them, redeploy them – in the peaceful fields of the united States. They will heal. They will rediscover the meaning and beauty of being human through nurturing this magical relationship with these insects, and our society needs to heal them to heal us. -DNR


WATCH VIDEO:,2933,488487,00.html

Click to Watch VIDEO Fox News

Saturday, February 07th, 2009 | Author:

This snapshot of Colony Collapse Disorder news stories comes from 2007. It’s been the only Colony Collapse Disorder news .kml file on the Net for a long time. Why is that?… It’s become stale, some of the original website source links are broken, but the the summaries exist and it’s interesting none the less. David Grogan was a student at Tufts University when he manually created this map using RSS and google. I’m working on an updated version that automagically updates the map with new stories from google news, similar to how works.

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Friday, February 06th, 2009 | Author:

From Chris Heintz, Project Apis m,

To All Beekeepers -

The Governor has ordered furloughs that will result in the closing of general government operations on the first and third Friday of each month beginning February 6th, 2009, and projected to end on June 30, 2010. CDFA headquarters and field offices, including our Plant Pest Diagnostics Laboratory, will shut down operations on the days specified.

CDFA facilitates quick movement of bee colonies at border inspections by providing identification services Monday through Friday, and as deemed necessary on weekends and holidays. Due to the furloughs and inability to schedule overtime, CDFA is forced to reduce the hours of identification services to Monday through Thursday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. during the weeks with a furlough day. Please note that border stations will remain open.

This new schedule may cause delays beyond our control. The Governor and CDFA are committed to do everything possible to continue to facilitate timely movement of bee colony shipments. We will relay pertinent information as it becomes available. Please visit our site
at for updates.

The 2009 scheduled closures are as follows:
February 6 and 20
March 6 and 20
April 3 and 17
May 1 and 15
June 5 and 19
July 3 and 17
August 7 and 21
September 4 and 18
October 2 and 16
November 6 and 20
December 4 and 18


Anyone have any comments about this? Relying on government for anything honey/bee related doesn’t seem to look promising. Any bee shippers have any reaction to this news?

Friday, February 06th, 2009 | Author:

The First Full Accounting of Colony Collapse Disorder
Kim Flottum’s Daily Green – Jan. 1, 2009

“A new study comprehensively describes the early and late symptoms, the visual signs and the progression of the mysterious affliction decimating U.S. beekeepers.

In a full report prepared by this team to be released in the February issue of Bee Culture magazine, Bee Alert’s Scott Debnam and Jerry Bromenshenk from Missoula Montana, David Westervelt from Florida’s Apiary Inspections Bureau, and Randy Oliver, a commercial beekeeper with real-world honey bee research experience from Grass Valley, California detail the symptoms of CCD with respect to where it hits, and when it hits.

To review what’s commonly known:
Colony Collapse Disorder Symptoms: Final Stage

In collapsed colonies

  • Complete absence of older adult bees in colonies, with few or no dead bees in the colony, on the bottom board, in front of the colony, or in the beeyard.
  • Presence of capped brood in colonies during time of year when queen should be laying.
  • Presence of food stores, both honey and pollen, unless a drought or time of year restricts availability of food resources.
  • Absence of pest insects such as wax moth and hive beetle.
  • Lack of robbing by other bees
  • Robbing and return of hive pests is delayed by days or weeks.

In collapsing colonies

  • Too few worker bees to maintain brood that is present.
  • Remaining bee population predominately young bees.
  • Queen is present.
  • Queen may lay more eggs than can be maintained by workers, or is appropriate for the time of year.
  • Cluster is reluctant to consume supplemental food such as sugar syrup and pollen supplement.

However, these are the terminal symptoms. By the time colonies reach this point it is far too late to do anything but bury the dead. What’s needed is being able to spot colonies that are in the early stages of CCD. This could be a real plus because perhaps beekeepers could turn them around if they were discovered early enough. Even though they still don’t know the cause, proper and appropriate management techniques go a long way in helping.

Here’s what the team has found:

Colony Collapse Disorder Symptoms: Early Stages

One year out:
Colonies are “just not doing well” with few other visible symptoms. They seem healthy, but have lackluster honey production.

Six months out:
Symptoms are vague and easily missed. Monthly inspections and careful comparisons are needed. Brood nests are slow to expand, with most in a single hive body. Mid-day inspections show bees dispersed in the colony, but this varies. Population growth slows to stops during growing season when compared to other colonies in the same yard. Honey stores remain untouched, bees are feeding on nectar recently collected. These symptoms are difficult to spot due to the careful comparisons needed.

Three months out:
CCD colonies appear slow to grow and are outpaced by non-CCD colonies in the apiary. There is a noticeable population decrease going from 3 to 2 boxes, or 2 to 1, and often the bees are on only a few frames in the bottom box…and they appear restless. Brood patterns are shot gun pattern because of dead brood removal, and honey stores begin to diminish if it’s late in the season, but if early, the honey remains untouched. Routine maintenance goes undone and no propolis seals are noticeable.

One month out:
Usually 8 frames of bees or fewer remain and they decline rapidly. Brood is produced, but can’t be supported, queen replacement is often tried, and abandoned brood is common. Stored honey depends on the season … in summer it may all be depleted, in winter untouched.

Remaining bees fail to eat supplied food or medications, and it’s mostly young bees that remain now, as the older bees are gone. Queens continue to lay excessively, and the colony usually lacks any aggressiveness at all.

14 Visual Symptoms of a Colony with Colony Collapse Disorder

  1. Just days before its collapse the colony seemed to be strong and fully functional
  2. Mostly young bees remaining in the hive
  3. Bees are not aggressive
  4. Queen is present
  5. Eggs are present
  6. Full frames of brood may be present
  7. Brood may show signs of “shotgun” pattern
  8. Capped honey and fresh nectar are often present, although not in summer collapses, which are uncommon
  9. Fresh pollen has been stored in the hive recently, if external resources are available
  10. Supplemental feed (syrup and extender patties) if supplied, are ignored
  11. No robbing occurs
  12. No secondary pests (small hive beetles, wax moths or ants) are found
  13. No dead bees are noted around entrance of the hive
  14. Bees do not show any signs of winglessness, paralysis or other adult bee diseases.

Colony Collapse Disorder: Management Notes

CCD tends to travel like a wave through a beeyard, and combining affected and unaffected colonies usually gives 2 dead colonies. Adding a package may help, and may not. There is a time lag until secondary pests will move in … using equipment before that time for more bees is risky and the colony may die again. Once these secondary pests move in the equipment seems fine for bees, too.

The Cause of Colony Collapse Disorder remains unknown, but the diagnosis is getting better all the time.

For the full article with additional information see the February issue of Bee Culture on our web site

Thanks to Scott, David, Jerry and Randy”

Friday, February 06th, 2009 | Author:


Researchers in Connecticut, during the 2007 growing season monitored pesticides found in pollen collected in pollen traps. Colonies studied were under normal conditions and were not collapsing or in any other way ill. No colonies died during the experiment.

The researchers collected the pollen twice a week from four locations in Connecticut during the season. 102 Samples were collected and analyzed using HPLC/MS. (High Performance Liquid Chromatography/ Mass Spectrometry)

Results: 37 pesticides were detected. 15 insecticide/ acaracides, 11 fungicides, 10 herbicides and 1 plant growth regulator. All samples had at least one pesticide detected.

The most commonly detected pesticide was coumaphos. Carbaryl and phosmet, both highly toxic to bees were the most commonly detected field pesticides. Imidacloprid was detected 30 times, mostly at low levels. The pesticides found at the highest levels were both fungicides: myclobutanil and boscalid.