Archive for » March, 2009 «

Tuesday, March 17th, 2009 | Author:

This is an inspirational project in Africa similar to the ex-miners in Brazilian National Parks becoming tour guides.

Monkey Hunters Become Beekeepers Instead in Africa

Somewhat related, monkeys in Congo have been seen using wooden tools to get honey. Watch the video!

Monday, March 16th, 2009 | Author:

21/01/2009 – 14:38
Shipments of the product totaled US$ 43.7 million last year. The United States were the main market and the state of São Paulo, the leading supplier.

Agência Sebrae*

Miamel Seeks Arab Buyer for Its Brazilian Honey

Brasília – Despite having been full of challenges for the Brazilian beekeeping industry, the year of 2008 ended with positive figures and record-high pricing. The industry doubled the value of its exports, totaling US$ 43.57 million, and the volume of foreign shipments grew 42% (18,270 tonnes) in comparison with 2007, when sales totalled 12.900 tonnes, with revenues of US$ 21.2 million.The higher increase in export values, when compared with volumes,

is due to the fact that the average price charged for Brazilian honey in 2008 (US$ 2.83 per kilogram) was the highest in the history of Brazilian exports. The figure surpassed the US$ 1.64 per kilogram paid for the product in 2007, and broke the record attained in 2003, which was US$ 2.36 per kilogram.The figures were taken from the survey consolidated by the analyst at the Sebrae Agribusiness

Unit and national coordinator at the Sustainable Integrated Beekeeping Network (Rede Apis), Reginaldo Resende. The reference is the Internet-Based Foreign Trade Information Analysis System (Alice-Web), of the Foreign Trade Secretariat (Secex), under the Brazilian Ministry of Development, Industry and Foreign Trade.

The challenges faced last year include the end of the European embargo on Brazilian honey, which took place in March. As a consequence, the industry, which is the 11th largest global honey producer and ninth largest exporter, had to implement Good Practices and the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) at depots and honey stores, in addition to meeting the register requirements with the Brazilian Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Supply.


Brazilian honey packaged by US grocery store and labeled 'organic' in Nov 2008 - photo by

Despite the economic crisis, the United States was the main destination for Brazilian exports in 2008. The country answered to 73.1% of total sales, with revenues of US$ 31.84 million, considering a price of US$ 2.32 per kilogram of honey.

To Germany, Brazil sold US$ 7.188 million, i.e., 16.5% of exports, considering a price of US$ 2.66 per kilogram, way above the overall average. The third largest buyer market for Brazilian honey was Canada, which answered to 5.3% of sales (US$ 2.308 million), considering an average price of US$ 2.57 per kilogram of honey.

São Paulo was the state that exported the most, totalling US$ 13.3 million, answering alone to nearly one third (30.5%) of exports. Rio Grande do Sul ranked second (US$ 8.69 million), with approximately one fifth of the export value (19.9%). The ranking continues with Ceará in the third place (US$ 6.74 million), Piauí (US$ 4.41 million), Paraná (US$ 3.8 million), Santa Catarina (US$ 3.52 million) and Rio Grande do Norte (US$ 2.11 million).

Other states were Minas Gerais (US$ 667,130), Maranhão (US$ 187,970), Pernambuco (US$ 71,710) and Espírito Santo (US$ 181,00). The best price was the one charged by the state of Ceará: US$ 2.62 per kilogram.Biodinamic Institute certified organic honey from Brazil

Among the companies that exported to Europe, three are from Ceará, two from Santa Catarina, one from São Paulo and one from Paraná. However, only two companies from Santa Catarina answered to 71% of export value. “It is worth noting that exports to the European Union would increase, if only there were more depots accredited with the Ministry of Agriculture for exporting honey to Europe, as that market purchased good quantities and paid better prices,” says Reginaldo.

*Translated by Gabriel Pomerancblum

Photo by thebeekeeper [at]

Monday, March 16th, 2009 | Author:

What does LD50 mean? What about TLV?

LD50 stands for Lethal Dose 50. It is the amount of a material that, when administered to a population of animals or insects at the stated level, will be lethal for 50% of the population tested. For example and LD50 of 0.015 ?g / bee means that 15 trillionths of a kilogram will kill 50% of the bees that are exposed. The LD50 is established during safety testing conducted during product development. (return to What Has Been Found)

TLV, or Threshold Limit Value, on the other hand, is an occupational exposure level frequently printed on the MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet) or label of a product. It is the maximum level to which a person can be safely exposed to that product when in use in accordance with the personnel protective equipment described on the label. The level is the amount believed a worker can be exposed day after day for a working lifetime without adverse health effects. The TLV does not relate to the amount that can be safely ingested as TLV values are typical inhalation or skin exposure related.

MORE GREAT DETAILS about CCD and pesticides:

Sunday, March 15th, 2009 | Author:
So interesting to see how the conversation about CCD has evolved in the press. This article is a keeper, full of instructive detail, copied here for posterity.- DNR

Mysterious Bee Deaths Strike Central Valley

By Steve Pastis

February 21, 2007 – San Joaquin Valley – A mysterious ailment is killing off bees in Tulare County and across the country. Given the name “Colony Collapse Disorder,” the new disease has wiped out bee colonies in 21 states so far.

The loss of bees in the Central Valley is expected to have a negative impact on crops such as avocados, cherries, plums, alfalfa seeds, pomegranates and kiwi. The bee shortage may hit almonds the hardest during the time of year when half of the country’s commercial bees are brought into the state to help launch what should become a $1.4 billion dollar harvest. Even more bees will be needed over the next few years as California almond production is expected to expand to more than 750,000 acres by the year 2010.

“I’ve lost over 2,000 bees over the last two months,” said David Bradshaw, owner of Bradshaw Honey Farms in Visalia. He had about 4,200 bees but is now down to less than 2,000.

Recently, he was visited by research teams from Pennsylvania State University and the University of Montana. The teams took samples to study and dissect more…

Sunday, March 15th, 2009 | Author:

From the National Resources Defense Council – Tell the EPA to protect honey bees from a toxic pesticide

Bee pollination is responsible for about one-third of the food we eat, helping to produce about $15 billion worth of crops in the United States every year. But honey bee populations are in serious decline, with devastating losses caused by factors such as colony collapse disorder, parasites and pesticide exposure.

Even though the EPA classifies the pesticide imidacloprid as highly toxic to honey bees, it nevertheless approved its use in 1994. France banned several uses of imidacloprid in 1999 over concerns about its effects on bees, but here in the United States imidacloprid is still used heavily on many crops pollinated by honey bees, including broccoli, blueberries, carrots, grapefruit, cucumbers and avocados.

Although the EPA is currently reviewing its approval of imidacloprid as required by the Pesticide Registration Improvement Act, the agency’s work plan lacks many important details on how it will assess risks to bees. In addition, the EPA has put the review on an unreasonably slow timetable, with a final decision not expected until 2014. In the meantime, high-risk uses of imidacloprid will continue, threatening honey bees as well as other important pollinators.

The EPA is accepting public comments on this phase of the project through March 17, 2009.

What to do

Send a message, before the March 17th comment deadline, telling the EPA to protect honey bees and other pollinators from high-risk uses of imidacloprid by strengthening its plans for risk, toxicity and exposure assessments.

To do this go to:

Friday, March 13th, 2009 | Author:

UPDATE 3/14/09 – The Greenwich Post newspaper reported in 2008 that McNitt’s honey testing “found no trace of another insecticide called Imidacloprid“… Jim McNitt commented on my first post, however, that Eliza just won again this year two top Life Science prizes at the 2009 Connecticut Science Fair for her continued research on pesticides in honey (read his blog). Most notably, he writes that she in fact did find imidacloprid in her testing. “This year, Eliza used HPLC to examine pollen, beeswax,Eliza McNitt 2009 Photo by Frank LaBanca beebread and dead bees gathered from the Arboretum hive for traces of imidacloprid… Her work confirmed the presence of high levels of imidacloprid both in the hive and on the extremities of the Arboretum honey bees.” So, what’s the story behind the story, here? Why did the newspaper report the contrary? Did last year’s research methods differ from this year’s? Was there a sudden spike in imidacloprid usage near the Arboretum study location in the past year? Stamford, CT is a place of wealth and immaculate lawns. It would be nice to see a survey of the gardeners and home owners about what products they put on the lawns. Do they use any of those recently banned in Canada? Would the local garden supply shops provide stats on sales of certain products for local research purposes? Mr. McNitt says’s he’ll send me the link to her research PDF for us to post here. I can’t wait. Thanks for keeping us posted. [his response and link is here : McNitt 2008 Research.pdf] (Photo by Frank LaBanca)

  • What are the possibilities of other high school students around the country sending samples to Greenwich High School Paperfor testing?
  • Could there be a continuing research program set up there?
  • What are the costs to the school for conducting the tests?
  • Is it complicated to test using High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) technology?

Looks to me like future students at Greenwich High could expand on McNitt’s research and follow in her award-winning footsteps. They have a great research location, ability to survey properties within a 4 mile radius of the hives and perhaps even discover and map the places where the bees are picking up imidacloprid, down to the product name. The next test in the Greenwich High School CCD Research Program should be of the water supply, an often overlooked source of contamination – bees drink water and use it to cool the hive! Science teacher Andy Bramante may need some TA’s, too. ;) – DNR

Jim McNitt Website Screenshot…..html


3/13/09 – Just yesterday I posted some 2008 news about this young woman, and today I see she’s more scientist researcher than film maker! If there’s any high school that would have its own advanced Spectroscopy and Chromatography technology, it would be Greenwich High School. Lucky girl. I’m waiting for Eliza to send me the link to her research (use comment)… Congratulations! You deserve a full ride to college. (Stick with the hard sciences ;) ) -DNR

Mar 12, 2008
Greenwich High student wins science competition

Eliza McNitt, a Greenwich High School junior, captured top honors at the 45th Connecticut Junior Science and Humanities Symposium for an original research project that traced the migration of pesticides through the production of southwestern Connecticut honey.

In addition to a $1,000 scholarship and letter of recognition from Gov. M. Jodi Rell, McNitt will represent Connecticut at the National Junior Science and Humanities Symposium at Orlando, FL, in May. The symposium program is sponsored by the U.S. Army, Navy and Air Force in an effort to encourage original scientific research at the high school level. Courtney Fogwell, a GHS senior, was selected as a National Symposium alternate for her project analyzing the environmental impact of artificial-turf playing fields.

Eliza and Courtney were among 13 state finalists who made oral presentations before an audience of more than 300 fellow science students, parents, teachers, and jurors at the University of Connecticut in Storrs on March 10. Both students were mentored by GHS science teacher Andrew Bramante.

“While extensive work has been done on the presence of residual insecticides on fruits and vegetables, there has been little significant scientific research on residual pesticides in honey,” Mr. Bramante said in a release. “Eliza came to me with her project on the first day of class. I almost fell off my stool when I heard it.”

Eliza says that the topic was indirectly inspired by her grandfather, a chemical engineer, who is fastidious about washing and peeling fresh produce.

“If there are insecticides on an apple,” Eliza said. “It made me wonder if they could also be present in honey.”

She found an ideal controlled research environment at the Bartlett Arboretum in Stamford, Bartlett Arboretum Mapwhich maintains an apiary in the middle of its 30 acre property. James Kaechele, arboretum education director and beekeeping specialist Andrew Cote´ made honey samples available along with detailed records of pesticide applications.

Eliza tested the arboretum honey using advanced Spectroscopy and Chromatography technology that had been donated to the GHS science program.

“I was incredibly fortunate to able to perform my own analysis,” she says. “GHS has equipment that you can’t even find in most colleges.”

Her tests revealed the presence of a component of the pesticide Neem Oil — which is widely used in organic farming. Neem Oil is made from the fruits and seeds of Neem, an evergreen tree common in India, and is not thought to be harmful to mammals, birds or bees.

The fact that Eliza found no trace of another insecticide called Imidacloprid may have implications in the search for a cause of the mysterious syndrome known as Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) in which worker bees abruptly disappear. CCD is considered a serious threat to the pollination of food crops in the United States and Europe.

“Imidacloprid is under investigation as a contributing factor in CCD,” she said. “The fact that it is not present in the Arboretum honey could suggest that it is killing or disorienting worker bees so they cannot return to the hive.”

The topic will be something she’ll tackle in her next GHS science project. [see McNitt's followup here]

Thursday, March 12th, 2009 | Author:

Although there isn’t any real “news” in this video, it’s important to celebrate the efforts of these two young adults and give props to C-SPAN and them for pumpin’ up the volume! We shouldn’t forget, also, that the Haiti news footage they selected to show “food shortages” comes from the time after the (officially censored) U.S.-sponsored coup of the Haitian government, which has left that already poor country in chaos. Context, context. That country didn’t have much food even before the coup! Better B-roll would have been from the spiking prices in the “First World” supermarkets. Great work, nonetheless. -DNR

Greenwich students win C-SPAN film contest
By Meredith Blake
Staff Writer
Posted: 03/10/2009 11:11:30 PM EDT

After weeks of collecting film clips of honey bee colonies and newsreels on rising food prices and then interviewing leading scientists in the field on colony collapse disorder, Greenwich High School seniors Eliza McNitt and Charles Greene felt ready to complete their documentary for C-SPAN.

Each year the news organization hosts a student documentary contest and this year the topic student films had to address was on the most pressing issue the new president must face.

McNitt and Greene, both 17, chose the problem of the disappearing colonies of honey bees throughout the country and its impact on the cost of food. C-SPAN announced Tuesday that “Requiem for the Honeybee” won first prize out of more than 1000 entries from middle and high school students throughout the country. READ REST…

CAPTION: Greenwich High School seniors Eliza McNitt and Charles Greene received first… (contributed photo)

Requiem for the Honeybee

Tuesday, March 10th, 2009 | Author:

My recent visions include creating a Live Hive ™. A Live Hive ™ is a high-tech monitored beehive complete with internal, infra-red micro video cameras, chip-tagged bees, microphones to monitor hive audio, external camera to monitor comings and goings, temperature sensors, solar panel – all data fed live to schools around the world via the Internet – LIVE 24hrs. It’s a Real World Beehive Show. We need our young to observe bees, for the sake of their own survival. We can now computer-record thousands of hours of high quality audio without a problem, enabling us to observe the change in frequencies within the hive, which I believe is key to understanding honeybee health and intention. (UPDATE: oops… This cool hive webcam seems to have had my idea already!) Here’s a cool example technology below (not German).

Beehive Temperature Data Logger

Furthermore, undergraduate UNC student, Andrew Pierce, et al found that the queen doesn’t decide hive actions herself, but rather “older workers gave signals to the queen and to the rest of the colony that it was time to swarm and leave the hive. Later, they were able to observe inside the swarm itself and see workers give the queen a signal, known as ‘piping’ that tells her to fly.” (read: University of North Carolina at Charlotte) How did they do this?

Today I discovered a gem of an article published four years ago in Der Spiegel magazine from Germany (below) that lifts my hopes that my Live Hive ™ concept will become reality sooner.

In an experiment that’s the first of its kind worldwide, they are creating precise movement profiles for their winged subjects. To this end, tiny transponders have been attached to the backs of thousands of bees. Each radio chip costs one euro and is attached to the bee with a dab of shellac. The chip weighs only 2.4 milligrams, about one-thirtieth of the maximum load a bee can carry, and therefore doesn’t present much of a impediment to the insect.”

The gear exists on the consumer market, we just need to buy the parts off the shelf and deploy the Live Hive ™ in concert with thousands of observing students of all ages to give researchers feedback and notes to accelerate our open knowledge. Google’s computer array should be suitable drive space. Wikipedia that! Pollinatethis!

Finally, Richard C. Hoagland unearthed an interesting nugget about hive sounds in a beekeeper’s recording of a hive noise he heard twice, last back in 2006 – Hoagland played the sound on Art Bell’s radio show (part 9) during a show about Colony Collapse Disorder (along with a bunch more about torsion field energy, and theories that bees build “small cell” comb for the sake of frequency resonance improvement at smaller, natural sizes than with larger, human-prompted foundation size cells… He mentions nothing about mite survival rates in large vs small cell… I appreciated Bell’s critical interviewing.) Sort of funny to hear this guy Hoagland reading from BWrangler’s website on Art Bell’s radio show. Need to learn more about torsion field physics and hexagons. Dr. Adrian Wenner’s work on bee communication is noteworthy for this project, too… Has someone already created the Live Hive? Who wants to fund it for me?


Big Brother in the Beehive,1518,343559,00.html

By Hilmar Schmundt

Bees become increasingly intelligent as they age. They suffer from occupational diseases and travel astronomical distances to produce a jar of honey. Using state-of-the-art monitoring technology, researchers from the German city of Würzburg are revolutionizing our image of mankind’s third most-important working animal.

A snowstorm is raging outside the beehive. Inside, number 6085 is making herself comfortable at a cozy 25° Celsius (77° Fahrenheit) and with an extra serving of sweet nectar.

6085 is a sprightly senior who spends her summers working outside. But for now she is a homebody, spending her time in a world almost entirely of her own making. Her fellow bees expend almost half of their energy making sure their hive is cozy and warm in the winter and pleasantly cool in the summer. The community strictly monitors family planning and carefully controls the intelligence of its offspring. 6085 lives largely sheltered from natural calamities that plague other creatures. Hunger and infirmity are a problem that haven’t plagued bees for over a million years.

“These living conditions sound like something out of a science fiction novel,” says neurobiologist Jürgen Tautz. The white-haired, 55-year-old sits in his office on the second floor of a converted house on the edge of an orchard within sight of the University of Würzburg campus. To convince his skeptical audience that number 6085 truly exists, he proposes an expedition into the exotic world of the bees. Tautz walks down a flight of stairs into his laboratory, where three experimental Plexiglas beehives have been constructed. The beehives even have names, written on paper labels — “Maja,” “Willi” and “Flip.” About a thousand honey bees are crowded into each beehive, including the worker bee identified as number 6085. The Plexiglas window to the hive is warm to the touch, especially near its center, where the royal household crowds around the queen with her long abdomen, making sure she is kept warm, well-fed and clean.

“Bees have achieved many of the things that remain the stuff of dreams for humans,” says Tautz, bright-eyed and speaking with a hint of a local dialect. “We can learn a great deal from them.”

Old bees are the smart ones

A tiny microchip enables scientists to track the habits of bees.

CREDIT: DDP / Fiola Bock / Beegroup Wuerzburg

CAPTION: A tiny microchip enables scientists to track the habits of bees.

The members of his 20-member research team routinely astonish the professional world with their articles in such highly-regarded professional journals as Science, Nature and Zoology. Peter Fluri, the director of the Swiss Center for Bee Research in Bern, is impressed by Tautz’s work. “The results coming out of Würzburg are remarkable,” he says, “and their significance extends well beyond the world of bee biology.”The “Beegroup” laboratory routinely dismantles theories previously regarded as scientific certainty. Until recently, for example, zoologists believed that during the famous tail dance, only those bees directly surrounding the ceremony are quickly informed about a source of nectar. However, the Würzburg researchers discovered that the dance is in fact a refined form of more…

Tuesday, March 10th, 2009 | Author:

British Govt Attempts National Beekeeper DatabaseNational Bee Database to be set up to monitor colony collapse

By Rosa Prince, Political Correspondent
Last Updated: 10:16PM GMT 09 Mar 2009

Britain’s 20,000 amateur beekeepers have been asked to register their insects on a national database in a bid to halt the dramatic decline of the honey bee…

The register, funded by the Department for the Environment, will be used to monitor health trends and help establish for certain whether the £30 million honey industry is under threat from the mysterious Colony Collapse Disorder.

Theories about the cause of the decline in the bee population, which has seen nearly one in three hives collapse, include climate change and an infestation by the Varroa mite. READ REST at the Telegraph…

My Questions:

  1. Would beekeepers in the u.S.A ever voluntarily join a national database managed by the U.S. Federal Government?
  2. What does £4.3 million really buy??
  3. Does registering with a government database include creating a GIS from this database? Who owns the data? Since it should be public data, will the database be available in real-time on the Internet for other researchers to use?
  4. Making the data publicly available opens the research potential, but at what costs to the beekeeper’s privacy? How much data are they “invited” to submit to the database?
  5. Don’t privacy concerns about “a beek’s girls” and business interests get trumped by the dire consequences of failing to understand what’s happening worldwide?
  6. Will joining such a database subject the beekeeper to new regulation, oversight and intrusion by (presumably inept) government controllers?

The UK will provide lessons to the North Americans who still can’t get a dime from their government to do real research on the bees. I’m talking federal money for thousands of GPS tagged hives like the rest of the modern world uses to track anything. Basic logic says we need to know where (commercial) hives are going to analyze the data about what they were exposed to, for how long, with which other bees, from where (Australia?), etc. We need data for a GIS, and it can’t be chicken scratched on plastic bags with sharpies, only (dead bees). In the U.S., it seems that the privatized mind thinks that research money should only come from private interests, like Haagan Daaz or the Almond Industry, or the military. Does this opinion come from a jaded viewpoint that federal funding means loss of control and more potential suffocating regulation, a lack of trust in government?

Monday, March 09th, 2009 | Author:

This blog gets a fair amount of traffic, and this commentary on “colony collapse disorder” from a well-known pollination broker in California deserves attention. Also interesting is to read what he had to say about the idea of “beekeepers receiving government subsidies” almost 10 years ago in 1999. This topic is current again in the news.



Joe Traynor

The following is distilled from the reams of disparate dispatches from the CCD front. I have tried to condense this mass of information into a coherent whole. None of what follows is original — all has been expressed in one form or another by others.

When CCD first came on the stage in 2006-2007, a number of possible causes entered the stage at, or close to, the same time:

Drought in many areas
Difficulty in controlling varroa mites
Nosema ceranae (believed to be widespread since at least 2006)
Decreased bee pasture + increased corn acreage
Chemical buildup in comb
Neonicotinoid pesticides

A good argument can be made for any one of these as the main, or sole cause of CCD; a better argument for a combination of two or more. If only one of the above had occurred, it would have been much simpler to either designate or eliminate it as the cause of CCD.

Based on field reports, CCD can devastate a given apiary in a short period of time, sweeping from one end to the other, leaving previously populous colonies with only a handful of bees and a queen. Since rapid decline of an organism (consider, as many have, a honey bee colony to be an individual organism) is typical of a pathogen, current thinking is that a pathogen, either N. ceranae or a virus (or a combination of both) is the basic cause of CCD.

If a virus causes CCD, is it a new “super” virus, or one of the known bee viruses – Kashmir, DWV, APV et al. — or perhaps a mutation of a known virus to a more virulent form? We don’t know, but assuming that a virus causes CCD allows us to speculate on remedial measures.

Consider other CCD-like problems in humans and plants:

Main Vector
W.Nile virus

In each of the above instances, the Target can withstand the Vector in the absence of the Pathogen – mosquitoes are a minor concern to us if they don’t harbor a pathogen; without a READ THE REST…