In These New Times

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Posts Tagged ‘ccd’

A Beekeeper’s thoughts on her bee losses

Posted by seumasach on August 31, 2009

By Marion Lang

May 2009
On mid-summer’s day in 1995 I was gifted a cast of bees by a local beekeeper.     They prospered from the start and in no time at all I found myself the proud owner of several hives.
A year or so later when varroa was found in the vicinity my bees were inspected by Sandy Lister.     I was given the all-clear but warned that my bees would probably have it within two years.
I fitted varroa floors to the hives for easy monitoring and in September 1998 I found my first mite.
Over the years I have used various treatments but only if I felt it was necessary.     Mite levels remained low and presented no significant problem.  The occasional bee showed signs of virus and for a spell I had a number of black hairless bees.   Some hives did not do as well as others but on the whole they still prospered.
In the late 1990s I began to notice environmental changes.    The lapwings once so abundant all but disappeared and the winter geese numbers dropped dramatically.
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CCD Progress Report 2009: Proof by Omission

Posted by seumasach on August 6, 2009

Proof by Omission
The might of US scientific analysis and know how has combined to produce a report on CCD, the syndrome of the disappearing bee, the key ecological issue of our time and one which constitutes nothing less than an existential crisis for humanity, such is the importance of pollination within the ecosystem.
An impressive array of experts are involved including some familiar names to those who have been following the CCD affair. Even the Department of Defence is involved. Is this a national security issue? Why not get Homeland Security in on it; or the CIA? They’ve been known to set up a sting or two.
This report is the result of a “ a collaborative effort to define an approach to CCD”. This approach is presumably a scientific method, but what would a layman such as myself know about that? I proceed on the basis that it isn’t entirely divorced from common sense.
The report at no point actually defines CCD. This is an important omission as it is important to make clear from the start that CCD is a syndrome rather than a disease, an infection, a pathogen, a thing. It is a phenomena, an observed pattern of behaviour, a condition of  hives being deserted. This is important since this can give rise to confusion, a confusion which the authors themselves fall into when they speak of the need to better define CCD symptoms, whereas elsewhere they refer, correctly to CCD as being itself “ a set of symptoms”.
They would have done well to specify what these symptoms are in order to set the investigation on a sound footing: namely, the bees are behaving in a certain manner; what is causing them to behave in this way? Instead, as we will see, the authors, seem to maintain the underlying conviction that CCD is, if anything  at all, a disease, the cause of which is an agent which can be detected inside bees.
Had we stuck to the much more expressive Marie Celeste Syndrome, this confusion would have been avoided and we would know that the phenomena to which we we’re referring is the sudden and mysterious disappearance of bees.
But, on the down side, opportunities for a little sophistry, here and there, would have been lost.
The first part of the report involves survey and sample collection
“resulting in better defined CCD symptoms, documented evidence of increasing honey bee losses, and evidence of increased pathogen and pesticide levels in colonies with poor health.”
This reinforces my points above: we are getting the unmistakable impression that CCD is a disease resulting from infection or toxicity. Of course, we know pathogens and pesticides can cause “poor health” in bees but do they cause the disappearance of bees without trace? That is the question.
Part two of the study involves sample analysis and contrasts results in CCD and non-CCD samples. This is probably a bit of a layman’s stupid question, but how do you analyse bees which have disappeared? Where do you get your CCD samples from since dead bees are not usually found near the hives. How do you know that your non-CCD samples aren’t about to become CCD samples? I should imagine the answer to be that you have collapsed colonies and collapsing colonies, where the bees are visibly declining but not all have disappeared. And, of course, you can analyse the hives themselves, the pollen, the honey and any remaining bees including queen bees and brood. But I do think it is important to make clear what you are talking about. That the distinction is not clear cut is confirmed by the fact that pathogens, parasites and chemicals are here admitted to be found in both groups, the difference being only one of degree. We have seen elsewhere that declining immunity and increased infection or infestation are widespread. The question would then be, “What is the relationship between that fact and the disappearance the bees?”
But there is a more general point arising from the authors emphasis on samples. This looks like a classic case of something happening because of a change in the environment. Wouldn’t it be a good idea to look at what environmental changes  have occurred in recent years (since CCD is a fairly recent phenomena)? Of course, looking at bees themselves for clues is a good idea, but bees have been OK for millions of years- something new around them must be affecting them? What could it be?
Section 3 looks at causes for CCD although it has to be said that they muddy the waters considerably by confusing, or conflating, CCD and bee health in general. It’s fair enough going from the particular to the general, looking at CCD in the context of bee health overall, as long as you return to the specific syndrome you’re examining. The tendency here is not to do that. So we get statements such as
“scientists have demonstrated a synergistic effect of two pesticides in at least two studies, where the combination of the two compounds was shown to be more toxic than either compound alone”
which could deceive the reader into thinking  a CCD link has been established where, in fact, there is none or, at least, none has been demonstrated.
The authors then make this rather astounding statement:
“no one factor alone is responsible for CCD”
Have they considered all possible factors? As we shall see they haven’t. I simply take this statement to mean that none of the factors examined by the authors has been shown to cause CCD. This is very important: CCD is not caused by varroa, or nosema, or pesticides according to this top level report.
Instead, the report claims “CCD may be a syndrome caused by many different factors, working in combination or synergistically.”
This sounds good but I must say I find I have philosophical or logical problems with the idea of a combination of non-causal factors being a cause. Many factors contribute to catching flu or a couple succeeding in conceiving a child but no one denies there is a precise mechanism in each case. This report is telling us that there is no mechanism which causes CCD. It merely happens as a result of a conjuncture, a coming together of circumstances: a freak event almost. We are entering into the realms of chaos theory, and yet CCD is not a chaotic event in the sense that we are seeing a pattern repeating itself with fatal consistency across the globe.
Worse, the absence of a mechanism, a direct cause, leaves little room for mitigation. If you believed, for example, that CCD was caused by exposure to electromagnetic radiation you could try, at least, to protect the hives using screening. Without identifying a direct cause, you can, of course, try various things to see if they worked but, from a layman’s point of view, it would be seen as a bit of a long shot.
Nonetheless, the authors proceed to consider mitigation in the last section, section 4, and to boast that “accomplishments to date include the development of new, varroa-mite-resistant bee stocks, a new strategy (comb irradiation) to reduce pathogen levels, and several alternative pollinators to honey bees.” What use would varroa-resistant bees be if you awoke one day to find they had all disappeared? Haven’t they ruled out every single pathogen they’ve looked at as a cause for CCD?
Various appendices go on to look at micro aspects of the case. This epitomises the approach. You get the impression that as long as they are dissecting something or looking at it under a microscope or analysing DNA, these scientists are within their comfort zone. Even when they stray across an environmental factor such as stress caused by transportation they fail to see a possible clue and follow it up with the question “why does transportation cause stress.” They insist on looking inside bees whereas the answer may lie more with  humans interventions in the environment.  A more global approach seems to be required.
A more global vision would also take in similar things happening to other species, especially other insects and birds,many of which are disappearing. The evidence that pigeons and migratory birds are showing an inability to navigate is highly suggestive as to what may be happening to the bees.
Scientists love to hear talk about the need for more research but wouldn’t it be a good idea to start with a review of existing research and to make sure that all likely hypotheses are followed up and whole areas of investigation aren’t neglected.
The authors don’t really seem to believe in what they are doing and the fact that they are looking for alternative pollinators reinforces this impression. Have their efforts then been in vain, a chronicle of wasted time?
A detective is called in to investigate a murder. A certain suspect X appears to be linked to the crime and his history shows him to have a predisposition to precisely this type of murder. Ignoring this, the detective goes on to look at a series of other suspects, all of whom have cast-iron alibis and are progressively ruled out. The detective claims that several people may have had a hand in the crime, but that no one is actually responsible individually for putting the knife into the victim found lying in a pool of blood. He begins to despair of solving the case, all the while refusing to question suspect X. Would people not begin to suspect that he was protecting X and that suspect X was the real culprit? Could it not be claimed that he had provided us with a proof by omission?
The US CCD investigation have done us a similar service. By resolutely refusing to investigate the EM connection to CCD and by showing that all other lines of investigation lead nowhere they have helped to lead us to the solution.

Cailean Bochanan

23rd July, 2009

Click here for full report of CCD Steering Committee

The might of US scientific analysis and know- how has combined to produce a report on CCD, the syndrome of the disappearing bee, the key ecological issue of our time and one which constitutes nothing less than an existential crisis for humanity, such is the importance of pollination within the ecosystem.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Ecological and Public Health Crisis | Tagged: , , | 5 Comments »

Efectos de las Radiaciones Electromagenticas de la Telefonia Movil Sobre los Insectos

Posted by seumasach on July 24, 2009


Revista Ecosistemas

January 2006

Se presenta una revisión de estudios de laboratorio realizados exponiendo insectos a radiaciones electromagnéticas en el rango de las

microondas, similares a las utilizadas por los sistemas de telefonía que se utilizan actualmente, y a campos electromagnéticos de baja

frecuencia. Las microondas pulsadas y moduladas de la telefonía son un reciente contaminante ubicuo, cuyas consecuencias todavía no

han podido ser evaluadas convenientemente. Los estudios realizados indican efectos sobre este grupo de fauna, con previsibles

consecuencias sobre los ecosistemas. Se recomienda la realización de seguimientos y estudios en las proximidades de las estaciones base

de telefonía, donde existen los niveles más elevados de contaminación electromagnética y se exponen algunas características técnicas que

pueden ayudar a identificar las áreas más afectadas por la radiación.

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Bees and the Future of Food

Posted by seumasach on May 25, 2009

Milt Bowling

Imagine going to the grocery store to find that a third of the products have temporarily disappeared-staples that you depend on. You could get by for a while, but what if this change was permanent? 

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Posted in Colony Collapse Disorder, Ecological and Public Health Crisis | Tagged: | 2 Comments »

The Birds , the Bees and Mankind

Posted by smeddum on April 29, 2009

This is a link to a PDF document by Dr Ulrich Warnke.

This study is the fruit of Warnke’s lifelong work on the effects of EM radiation on life and especially on bees.

It is a must-read for all who wish to inform themselves about what may be the most crucial issue facing humanity.

Posted in Colony Collapse Disorder, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , | 5 Comments »

ARS-developed honey bees headed to the new White House garden

Posted by seumasach on April 10, 2009

The USDA is going to great lengths to create new(genetically modified?) bees capable of resisting parasites. But the Penn State University study, in which the USDA participated, has already ruled out varroa mite and other parasites as the  source of the problem known as CCD. We see then that the investigation into the greatest ecological threat we’ve ever faced seems destined to go nowhere.


10th April, 2009

WASHINGTON, April 9, 2009 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack joined First Lady Michelle Obama and a group of 5th graders on the South Lawn of the White House today to talk about healthy eating, the availability of locally grown fruits and vegetables, and bees.

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Is CCD caused by pesticides?

Posted by seumasach on March 29, 2009


Judging from this extract from a Spanish study on CCD, the answer is no. Note that this Spanish team has been studying CCD since 1999, years before it officially came into existence.

From CCD: Considerations on its origin

Depopulation and treatment of sunflower seeds with pesticides


The toxicity of certain pesticides  is the cause most often cited for bee losses. For the last six years we have studied the possible effects of certain pesticides such as imidaclopride(Gaucho) or fipronil(Regent), used in the treatment of sunflower seeds and the link to hive populations, following concerns in the sector about their use. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Colony Collapse Disorder | Tagged: , | 4 Comments »

The bees are back in town(?)

Posted by seumasach on March 7, 2009

ITNT has argued since its inception that there is a serious pollinator crisis which is, furthermore, a threat to the survival of humanity.Here, The Economist has turned its sceptical pen to this question. To aid comprehension I have added some commentaries at the foot of each paragraph.


5th March, 2009

The economic crisis has contributed to a glut of bees in California. That raises questions about whether a supposed global pollination crisis is real

AT THE end of February, the orchards of California’s Central Valley are dusted with pink and white blossom, as millions of almond trees make their annual bid for reproduction. The delicate flowers attract pollinators, mostly honeybees, to visit and collect nectar and pollen. By offering fly-through hospitality, the trees win the prize of a brush with a pollen-covered bee and the chance of cross-pollination with another tree. In recent years, however, there has been alarm over possible shortages of honeybees and scary stories of beekeepers finding that 30-50% of their charges have vanished over the winter. It is called colony collapse disorder (CCD), and its cause remains a mystery.

[There are stories about bees disappearimg without known reason]

Add to this worries about long-term falls in the populations of other pollinators, such as butterflies and bats, and the result is a growing impression of a threat to nature’s ability to supply enough nectar-loving animals to service mankind’s crops. This year, however, the story has developed a twist. In California the shortage of bees has been replaced by a glut.

[Other pollinators are also disappearing]

Bee good to me

The annual orgy of sexual reproduction in the Californian almond orchards owes little to the unintended bounty of nature. Francis Ratnieks, a professor of apiculture at Sussex University who has worked on the state’s almond farms, says the crop is so large and intensively grown these days that it has greatly surpassed the region’s inherent ability to supply pollinators. Decades ago, when there were fewer almonds, farmers could rely on pollination just from the beekeepers who live in the Central Valley. Now, they have to import migrant apian labour.

[More almond tress require more bees]

Scientific AG, a firm based in Bakersfield, California, helps broker pollination deals between local almond growers and apiarists from across America. Joe Traynor, the pollination broker who founded Scientific AG, says that in the 1960s there were 100,000 acres (40,000 hectares) of groves. Today it is 700,000 acres and the industry claims it supplies 80% of the world’s almonds. In order to meet this pollination demand, more than a third of America’s beehives must be moved to California for the season. Such changes to the industry have been reflected in the prices for bee hives. In 1995 growers could rent a hive for $35. Today, says Mr Traynor, a strong colony would cost $150-200.

[Bees have to be brought in from outside. The price reflects supply and demand]

It is hard to pin down what has been causing honeybees to vanish. “People want it to be genetically modified crops, pollution, mobile-phone masts and pesticides,” says Dr Ratnieks, and it is “almost certainly none of those”. But he adds that such large losses to a population are not unusual in epidemics.

[No one knows why bees are vanishing but it’s not mobile phone masts. Its nothing new]

One explanation offered by both Dr Ratnieks and Mr Traynor is of a once-rare disease, possibly caused by the Israeli acute paralysis virus (IAPV), sweeping through colonies that have already been weakened by parasites such as Nosema ceranae, a parasitic fungus from Asia. Some have suggested that N. ceranae alone might be sufficient to cause CCD, as the fungus is believed to have been widespread since 2006, when CCD first became a problem. There is also Varroa, a parasitic mite, which has been another problem in bees for some time, and which might also transmit the IAPV. But there is almost certainly a further factor causing stress on the bees—a poor diet.

[Viruses, mites and poor diet may cause bees to vanish]


It is increasingly being recognised that managed bees need food supplements. In some places, a decline in the area of pasture land on which they can forage, the loss of weedy borders and the growth of crop monocultures mean it is hard for bees to find a wide enough range of pollen sources to obtain all their essential amino acids. In extreme cases they may not even find enough basic protein. Writing in Bee Culturethis February, Mr Traynor observes that places where crops with low-protein pollens, such as blueberries and sunflowers, are grown are also places where CCD has appeared.

[Lack of certain nutrients may cause bees to vanish]

The suggestion is that poor nutrition has weakened the bees’ immune systems, making them more vulnerable to viruses and other parasites. Feeding bees supplements, rather than relying on their ability to forage in the wild, costs time and money. Many beekeepers therefore try to avoid it. Anecdote suggests, however, that those who do fork out find their colonies are far more resistant to CCD.

[Food supplements seem to prevent bees vanishing]

This year’s Californian bee glut, then, has been caused by a mixture of rising supply meeting falling demand. The price of almonds dropped by 30% between August and December last year, as people had less money in their pockets. That has caused growers to cut costs, and therefore hire fewer hives. There is also a drought in the region, and many farmers are unlikely to receive enough water to go ahead with the harvest. Meanwhile, the recent high prices for pollination contracts made it look worthwhile fattening bees up with supplements over the winter. That may help explain why there have been fewer colony collapses.

[Now that almond production is being cut back, there are too many bees. Demand for bees has therefore fallen but the price keeps on going up for some reason, making it economical to use supplements to stop them vanishing]

The rise and fall of the managed honeybee, then, owes as much to the economics of supply and demand as it does to the forces of nature. And if the nutrition and disease theory is correct, next year’s lower contract prices may see beekeepers cutting back on supplemental feeding, and a resurgence of CCD.

[Next year the price will fall which means it’s not worth feeding them supplements, to stop them vanishing, and they will start vanishing again]

Bee off with you!

Despite the importance of the honeybee, none of this is evidence of a wide-scale pollination crisis or a threat that is specific to pollinators. No one has shown that colonies of wild bees are collapsing any more frequently than they used to. And while it is true that many species of butterflies, moths, birds, bats and other pollinators are in retreat, their problems are far more likely to mirror broader declines in biodiversity that are the result of well-known phenomena such as habitat loss and the intensification of agriculture.

[Although some species of pollinators are declining this is only because there is less diversity of species.]

Troubling though this loss of diversity is, it does not necessarily translate into a decline in the amount of pollination going on. Jaboury Ghazoul of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, writing inTrends in Ecology and Evolution in 2005, points out that the decline of bumblebees in Europe that has been observed recently mostly affects rare and specialised species—an altogether different problem.

[Less pollinators doesn’t mean less pollinating]

Though the idea that there is a broader and costly pollination crisis under way is entrenched (the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation is spending $28m on a report investigating it), the true picture is cloudier. In 2006 America’s National Academy of Sciences released a report on the status of pollinators in North America that concluded “for most North American pollinator species, long-term population data are lacking and knowledge of their basic ecology is incomplete.” Simply put, nobody knows. As for the managed bees of America, Dr Ratnieks says that “the imminent death of the honeybee has been reported so many times, but it has not happened and is not likely to do so”.

[ Bees are not vanishing, anyway]

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Enormous die-off of bees happening in U.S.

Posted by seumasach on March 5, 2009

Entomologists are studying the reasons for an enormous bee die off happening across the U.S. If they cannot find a solution the 80 per cent of fruits and vegetables that require pollination may not make it to market.




© Copyright 2000 – 2008 The Hindu

5th March, 2009

For further background on causes of approaching catastrophe see:

Is Colony Collapse the Price of E.M.F. Progress?

The Disappearing Bees

Birds, Bees and Mankind

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The War on Humanity

Posted by seumasach on March 1, 2009

-O douleur!o douleur! Le temps mange la vie,

Et l’obscur Ennemi qui ronge nos coeur

Du sang que nous perdons croit et se fortifie

(Oh horror, oh horror! Time consumes our lives

And the obscure Enemy gnaws at our hearts

As ,on our blood that flows, he thrives)

Charles Baudelaire

The War on Humanity

Cailean Bochanan

1st March, 2009

In the ideological struggle between socialists and pro-capitalists,both held the  view that capitalism was a great motor force for the development of the productive forces,but the former, especially the Marxists, seeing it as, at a certain point, becoming a barrier to these forces. Both were at great pains to stress that their systems were preemninent in this aspect, since, in their minds, human advancement was dependent on  sufficiency and a democratic society would also be prosperous society. They were, I believe, both correct to stress this relationship and to realize that the credibility of their systems depended on their ability to create a plentiful supply of those things necessary for a civilized existence  These progressive views of history saw freedom from want and scarcity as the key to the development of the free individual, of the citizen as opposed to the slave.

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The Big Bee Death

Posted by seumasach on February 12, 2009

The Big Bee Death

Click on above link to see graphics, charts, etc. 


Issue 4 April 2007 


The mysterious disappearance of 

entire bee colonies, which has been ob- 

served for several years in many countries, 

could soon have grave consequences for 

agricultural production.  

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