Posted on Categories Agriculture/Food SystemTags , , Leave a comment on Beekeepers search for answers as colonies show up damaged after almond farm pollination

Beekeepers search for answers as colonies show up damaged after almond farm pollination

Edward Ortiz, THE SACRAMENTO BEE

As many as 80,000 bee colonies have died or been damaged this year after pollinating almond trees in the San Joaquin Valley, and some beekeepers are pointing to pesticides used on almond orchards as a possible cause.

The damaged colonies are the latest worry in the beekeeping community, which is already struggling to deal with colony collapse disorder, a phenomenon in which beekeepers open hives after pollination and find them empty, with the bees nowhere to be found.

The damaged hives are a significant agricultural issue. Ninety percent of honeybees that pollinate crops in the United States are used during the California almond bloom. And there is a cascading effect. Bees used to pollinate almond trees typically are moved to pollinate other crops, such as apples, cranberries, cherries and watermelons.

via Beekeepers search for answers as colonies show up damaged after almond farm pollination – Environment – The Sacramento Bee.

Posted on Categories Agriculture/Food System, Sustainable LivingTags Leave a comment on The hive minders

The hive minders

Tom Gogola, NORTH BAY BOHEMIAN

April Lance is behind the wheel of her father’s old Ford pickup, talking honeybees as the truck bounces through the Alexander Valley en route to White Oak vineyard and winery for a "hive dive."

It’s a cool and sunny day in the valley as Lance tells the recent and troublesome history of the honeybee (Apis mellifera). She’s headed to the vineyard to check on two wooden-box hives vineyard proprietor Bill Myers has set up, using local Italian honeybees that Lance breeds and sells. Her bees, she says with pride, are known for their gentle, calm demeanor, and are raised in a chemical-free environment at her place along the Dry Creek in Healdsburg.

Lance offers many intriguing—and troubling—factoids about the honeybee, industrious apian pollinators in the great ecological cycle of life responsible for about one-third of the food humans consume. Without the honeybee, she says, we’d be eating a diet, basically, of oat gruel.

The bees have been up against the ropes since the winter of 2006–’07. That year, commercial beekeepers around the country and abroad faced an outbreak of a rare phenomenon known as "colony collapse disorder" (CCD). Beekeepers would go out to attend to their honeybees, only to find "empty hives and dead bees all around," Lance says. "There had been dips before, but the bees had overcome it," she says. "This was a massive collapse." The bee situation in Thailand is so dire that farmers there are reduced to hand-pollinating their produce.

via The Hive Minders | Features | North Bay Bohemian.

Posted on Categories Agriculture/Food System, WildlifeTags Leave a comment on Bee colony collapse viruses spreading to bumblebees

Bee colony collapse viruses spreading to bumblebees

Geoffrey Mohan, LOS ANGELES TIMES

Infectious diseases linked to the colony collapse of honeybees appear to be spreading among wild bumblebees that pollinate crops worldwide, dealing a potential double blow to agriculture, according to a new study.

Studies at 26 sites in England found that 1 in 5 bees suffered from deformed wing virus, which can ground and eventually kill the insects, according to a report published online Wednesday in the journal Nature.

More than a third of the honeybees were infected, and about 11% of the bumblebees carried the virus – figures that researchers called highly conservative. Evidence of another deadly parasite, the Nocema ceranae microspore, was less prevalent.

Although the path of the infection could not be determined with certainty, researchers said it very likely spreads from the honeybees, 88% of which carried actively replicating virus. Foraging from the same flowers probably accounts for the bulk of infection, while raiding of competitors’ hives could contribute as well, the researchers said.

via Bee colony collapse viruses spreading to bumblebees – latimes.com.

Posted on Categories WildlifeTags Leave a comment on Editorial: Demise of U.S. bees demands urgent action

Editorial: Demise of U.S. bees demands urgent action

THE MERCED SUN-STAR

It’s hard to fathom that such a tiny creature can have so large an impact on our food supply. But honeybees are essential components in the production of fully one-third of the food U.S. residents eat — from almonds and cherries to broccoli and cabbage, from peaches and apples to coffee and grapes, from brussels sprouts and cashews to onions and lemons.

Bees pollinate crops worth $20 billion to $30 billion annually in the United States alone. According to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, bees pollinate 71 of the 100 crops that provide 90 percent of human food.

Without these essential pollinators, the crops would bear no fruit.

via Our View: Demise of U.S. bees demands urgent action – Our View – MercedSun-Star.com.

Posted on Categories WildlifeTags Leave a comment on Many causes for dramatic bee disappearance

Many causes for dramatic bee disappearance

Seth Borenstein – AP Science Writer, THE MERCED SUN-STAR

WASHINGTON — A new federal report blames a combination of problems for a mysterious and dramatic disappearance of U.S. honeybees since 2006.

The intertwined factors cited include a parasitic mite, multiple viruses, bacteria, poor nutrition, genetics, habitat loss and pesticides.

The multiple causes make it harder to do something about what’s called colony collapse disorder, experts say. The disorder has caused as much as one-third of the nation’s bees to just disappear each winter since 2006.

http://www.usda.gov/documents/ReportHoneyBeeHealth.pdf

via Feds: Many causes for dramatic bee disappearance – State & Region – MercedSun-Star.com.

Posted on Categories WildlifeTags Leave a comment on Join the Great Bee Count August 11

Join the Great Bee Count August 11

by Staff, SAN RAFAEL PATCH.COM

honey bee on flowerAre we losing bees? Or are they holding their own, busily pollinating crops and flowers as they should? A biologist at S.F. State is asking for your help in a nationwide bee census Saturday.
via Join the Great Bee Count Aug. 11 – San Rafael, CA Patch.