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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…

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…