Diesel fumes confuse honeybees when foraging


Diesel fumes confuse honeybees when foraging

Exhaust fumes from diesel could be changing the scent of flowers and making it harder for honeybees to collect pollen and nectar, according to a new study.

© Tracey Newman, Guy Poppy and Robbie Girling A bee lands on a oilseed rape flower

Pollutants found in diesel exhaust alter levels of chemicals released by flowers which honeybees use to locate and identify varieties with the largest amounts of pollen and nectar, researchers found.
Tests in a laboratory designed to mimic the effect of exhaust fumes on the smell of oilseed rape showed that the bees’ ability to recognise the odour was reduced by about two thirds.
Although exhaust fumes are unlikely to be the main cause of the sharp decline in Britain’s bee populations, they could be exacerbating the problem, researchers said.
Fumes which prevent honeybees recognising the smell of flowers could “have serious detrimental effects on the number of honeybee colonies” as well as reducing the pollination of vital crops and lowering honey yields, they claimed.
Bees play a crucial role in food production around the world by pollinating crops, and are thought to be worth about £430 million a year to Britain alone.
The government this summer launched an “urgent and comprehensive” review into the reduction in bee populations, with a third of colonies thought to have been lost the previous year.
Scientists from the University of Southampton carried out two experiments to examine whether the foraging behaviour of honeybees was being affected by exhaust fumes.
In the first, they blended eight chemicals which are released by oilseed rape flowers and exposed them to air containing levels of diesel exhaust similar to those recorded at busy roadsides.
They found that six of the chemicals reduced in volume and two vanished completely within a minute of exposure to the fumes, meaning their chemical signature, as interpreted by a bee, would appear completely different.
Further tests showed it was NOx gases (nitric oxide and nitrogen dioxide, both found in diesel exhaust, which appeared to be causing the change in odour.
A group of honeybees had been trained to pick up the scent of oilseed rape, but when the two chemicals worst affected by NOx gases were removed, the proportion able to recognise the odour dropped from almost 100 per cent to about one third.
Because NOx gases are found in greater quantities in petrol fumes, it is likely that these could have a similar effect, researchers added.
Dr Tracey Newman, who led the study, which was published in the Scientific reports journal, said: “Diesel alters floral odours and it is a significant enough change in the chemistry to impact on honeybees’ ability to recognise that odour.
“It is not just about a bee getting confused because there’s a new smell around, it is that the odour itself is being chemically altered.”
This could force bees to spend longer foraging or having to make more foraging trips to help sustain the hive, she suggested, which would likely result in a drop in honey yields and “serious detrimental effects” on pollination activity.
Her colleague Prof Guy Poppy said air pollution could be one factor, along with other “stresses” like viral or mite infections, which are causing the decline in bee populations.
“Bees live in a relatively stressful environment and we think that the combinations of stresses is one thing that potentially might explain some of the dramatic losses in colonies,” he said.
Paul de Zylva of Friends of the Earth said: “Bees are highly sophisticated creatures facing many threats including air pollution  –  this research is yet more evidence that they are under attack from all sides.
“The Government must draft a Bee Action Plan that combats the many threats that bees face.”

In “More Than Honey” a new film exploring the global crisis facing honeybees, a hillarious document!

More Than Honey Q&A
More Than Honey Q&A (Photo credit: Erwin Verbruggen)

Queen bee’s wedding flight – video

About JW Player 6.6.3867 (Ads edition)

In More Than Honey, a new film exploring the global crisis facing honeybees, director Markus Imhoof used mini-helicopters and high-speed cameras to capture an extraordinary video of the inflight mating of a virgin queen bee. It took 10 days to get 36 seconds of footage at Heidrun Singer’s hives in Austria. ‘Our most effective trick was patience,’ Imhoof said.
More Than Honey is in UK cinemas from 6 September http://www.theguardian.com/environment/video/2013/sep/06/queen-bee-wedding-flight-video

“The bees are dying and we´re to blame.” TIME´s Bryan Walsh explains colony collapse disorder, and why bees are on the verge of extinction.

A poster of bees and wasps
A poster of bees and wasps (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The bees are dying and we’re to blame. TIME’s Bryan Walsh explains colony  collapse disorder, and why bees are on the verge of extinction.

Read more: http://www.time.com/time/video/player/0,32068,2591408791001_0,00.html?iid=tabvidrecirc#ixzz2cs5CP4oN


HONEY BEE COLONY COLLAPSE DISORDER- Common Agricultural Chemicals Linked to BEE DECLINE by New Research

Low temperature scanning electron micrograph (...
Low temperature scanning electron micrograph (LTSEM) of Varroa destructor on a honey bee host (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
English: Female Honey Bee Morphology for the a...
English: Female Honey Bee Morphology for the article on Bees. It can be identified as a female by both the number of divisions on its antenna and by its sting. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
A honeybee on an apiary, spreading feromones t...
A honeybee on an apiary, spreading feromones to ‘call back’ her collegues, showing her nassanoff-gland. Location: Tübingen-Hagelloch. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Two drone pupae of the Western honey bee with ...
Two drone pupae of the Western honey bee with varroa mites. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Honey Bee Colony Collapse Disorder — Common Agricultural Chemicals Linked To Bee Decline By New Research

Posted: 25 Jul 2013 08:20 PM PDT

Commonly used agricultural chemicals — including many commonly used fungicides — damage and impair the abilities of commercial honey bees to fight off dangerous potentially lethal parasites, according to new research from the University of Maryland and the US Department of Agriculture.

Researchers collect pollen samples from honey bee hives used to pollinate blueberries in Maine.” Image Credit: Michael Andree
“Researchers collect pollen samples from honey bee hives used to pollinate blueberries in Maine.”
Image Credit: Michael Andree

Commercial honey bees are regularly exposed to these chemicals during the corse of their pollination activities — many of the most productive agricultural crops in the world are entirely dependent upon honey bees for pollination, but their numbers have been rapidly falling in recent years for “unknown” reasons.

This new research is “the first analysis of real-world conditions encountered by honey bees as their hives pollinate a wide range of crops, from apples to watermelons.”

The University of Maryland has details:

The researchers collected pollen from honey bee hives in fields from Delaware to Maine. They analyzed the samples to find out which flowering plants were the bees’ main pollen sources and what agricultural chemicals were commingled with the pollen. The researchers fed the pesticide-laden pollen samples to healthy bees, which were then tested for their ability to resist infection with Nosema ceranae — a parasite of adult honey bees that has been linked to a lethal phenomenon known as colony collapse disorder.

On average, the pollen samples contained 9 different agricultural chemicals, including fungicides, insecticides, herbicides and miticides. Sublethal levels of multiple agricultural chemicals were present in every sample, with one sample containing 21 different pesticides. Pesticides found most frequently in the bees’ pollen were the fungicide chlorothalonil, used on apples and other crops, and the insecticide fluvalinate, used by beekeepers to control Varroa mites, common honey bee pests.

In the study’s most surprising result, bees that were fed the collected pollen samples containing chlorothonatil were nearly three times more likely to be infected by Nosema than bees that were not exposed to these chemicals, said Jeff Pettis, research leader of the USDA’s Bee Research Laboratory and the study’s lead author. The miticides used to control Varroa mites also harmed the bees’ ability to withstand parasitic infection.

Beekeepers know they are making a trade-off when they use miticides, said University of Maryland researcher Dennis vanEngelsdorp, the study’s senior author. The chemicals compromise bees’ immune systems, but the damage is less than it would be if mites were left unchecked. But the study’s finding that common fungicides can be harmful at real world dosages is new, and points to a gap in existing regulations, he said.

“We don’t think of fungicides as having a negative effect on bees, because they’re not designed to kill insects,” vanEngelsdorp stated. Current federal regulations limit the use of insecticides during the time periods when pollinating insects are foraging, “but there are no such restrictions on fungicides, so you’ll often see fungicide applications going on while bees are foraging on the crop. This finding suggests that we have to reconsider that policy.”

One of the more interesting findings of the new research is that the majority of “the crops that the bees were pollinating appeared to provide their hives with little nourishment. Honey bees gather pollen to take to their hives and feed their young. But when the researchers collected pollen from bees foraging on native North American crops such as blueberries and watermelon, they found the pollen came from other flowering plants in the area, not from the crops. This is probably because honey bees, which evolved in the Old World, are not efficient at collecting pollen from New World crops, even though they can pollinate these crops.”

The researchers make the distinction that these new findings aren’t “directly related to colony collapse disorder, the still-unexplained phenomenon in which entire honey bee colonies suddenly die. However, the researchers said the results shed light on the many factors that are interacting to stress honey bee populations.”

The new research was just published July 24th in the online journal PLOS ONE.

Honey Bee Colony Collapse Disorder — Common Agricultural Chemicals Linked To Bee Decline By New Research was originally posted on: PlanetSave

Worldwide Honey Bee Collapse: A Lesson in Ecology (or Love?)

Low temperature scanning electron micrograph (...
Low temperature scanning electron micrograph (LTSEM) of Varroa destructor on a honey bee host (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Worldwide Honey Bee Collapse: A Lesson in Ecology

Posted on June 12, 2013

Honey bees at work (photo: EcoWatch) Honey bees at work (photo: EcoWatch)

Source: Reader Supported News By Rex Weyler, Greenpeace 12 June 13

e know what is killing the bees. Worldwide Bee Colony Collapse is not as big a mystery as the chemical companies claim. The systemic nature of the problem makes it complex, but not impenetrable. Scientists know that bees are dying from a variety of factors – pesticides, drought, habitat destruction, nutrition deficit, air pollutionglobal warming and so forth. The causes of collapse merge and synergize, but we know that humanity is the perpetrator, and that the two most prominent causes appear to be pesticides and habitat loss.

Biologists have found over 150 different chemical residues in bee pollen, a deadly “pesticide cocktail” according to University of California apiculturist Eric Mussen. The chemical companies Bayer,SyngentaBASFDowDuPont and Monsanto shrug their shoulders at the systemic complexity, as if the mystery were too complicated. They advocate no change in pesticide policy. After all, selling poisons to the world’s farmers is profitable.

Furthermore, wild bee habitat shrinks every year as industrial agribusiness converts grasslands and forest into monoculture farms, which are then contaminated with pesticides. To reverse the world bees decline, we need to fix our dysfunctional and destructive agricultural system.

Bee Collapse

Apis mellifera – the honey bee, native to Europe, Africa and Western Asia – is disappearing around the world. Signs of decline also appear now in the eastern honey beeApis cerana.

This is no marginal species loss. Honey bees – wild and domestic – perform about 80 percent of all pollination worldwide. A single bee colony can pollinate 300 million flowers each day. Grains are primarily pollinated by the wind, but the best and healthiest food – fruits, nuts and vegetables – are pollinated by bees. Seventy out of the top 100 human food crops, which supply about 90 percent of the world’s nutrition, are pollinated by bees.

Tonio Borg, European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Policy, calculates that bees “contribute more than €22 billion ($30 billion U.S. dollars) annually to European agriculture.” Worldwide, bees pollinate human food valued at more than €265 billion ($350 billion). The bee collapse is a challenge to human enterprise on the scale of global warming, ocean acidification and nuclear war. Humans could not likely survive a total bee collapse.

Worker bees (females) live several months. Colonies produce new worker bees continuously during the spring and summer, and then reproduction slows during the winter. Typically, a bee hive or colony will decline by five to 10 percent over the winter and replace those lost bees in the spring. In a bad year, a bee colony might lose 15-20 percent of its bees.

In the U.S., where bee collapse first appeared, winter losses commonly reached 30-50 percent and in some cases more. In 2006, David Hackenberg, a bee keeper for 42 years, reported a 90 percent die-off among his 3,000 hives. U.S. National Agriculture Statistics show a honey bee decline from about 6 million hives in 1947 to 2.4 million hives in 2008, a 60 percent reduction.

The number of working bee colonies per hectare provides a critical metric of crop health. In the U.S., among crops that require bee pollination, the number of bee colonies per hectare has declined by 90 percent since 1962. The bees cannot keep pace with the winter die-off rates and habitat loss.

Europe Responds, U.S. Dithers

In Europe, Asia and South America, the annual die-off lags behind the U.S. decline, but the trend is clear, and the response is more appropriate. In Europe, Rabobank reported that the annual European die-offs have reached 30-35 percent and that the colonies-per-hectare count is down 25 percent. In the 1980s, in Sichuan, China, pear orchard pesticides obliterated local bees, and farmers must now pollinate crops by hand with feather dusters.

European Food Safety Authority scientific report determined that three widely used pesticides – nicotine-based clothianidin, imidacloprid and thiametoxam – pose “high acute risks” for bees. These neonicotinoid pesticides – used in soils, on foliage and embedded in seeds – persist at the core of the toxic pesticide cocktail found in bee hives.

Greenpeace scientific report identifies seven priority bee-killer pesticides – including the three nicotine culprits – plus clorpyriphos, cypermethrin, deltamethrin and fipronil. The three neonicotinoids act on insect nervous systems. They accumulate in individual bees and within entire colonies, including the honey that bees feed to infant larvae. Bees that do not die outright, experience sub-lethal systemic effects, development defects, weakness and loss of orientation. The die-off leaves fewer bees and weaker bees, who must work harder to produce honey in depleted wild habitats. These conditions create the nightmare formula for bee colony collapse.

Bayer makes and markets imidacloprid and clothianidin; Syngenta produces thiamethoxam. In 2009, the world market for these three toxins reached over $2 billion. Syngenta, Bayer, Dow, Monsanto and DuPont control nearly 100 percent of the world market for genetically engineered (GE) pesticides, plants and seeds.

In 2012, a German court criminally charged Syngenta with perjury for concealing its own report showing that its genetically modified corn had killed livestock. In the U.S., the company paid out $105 million to settle a class-action lawsuit for contaminating the drinking water for more than 50 million citizens with its “gender-bending” herbicide Atrazine. Now, these corporate polluters are waging multi-million-euro campaigns to deny responsibility for bee colony collapse.

In May, the European Commission responded, adopting a two-year ban on the three neonicotinoid pesticides. Scientists will use the two years to assess the recovery rate of the bees and a longer-term ban on these and other pesticides.

Meanwhile, the U.S. dithers and supports the corporations that produce and market the deadly pesticides. In May, as European nations took action, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved the neonicotinoid pesticides, in spite of a U.S. Department of Agriculture report warning about the dangers of the bee colony collapse.

Also in May, President Obama, signed the now infamous “Monsanto Protection Act” – written by Monsanto lobbyists – that gives biotech companies immunity in federal U.S. courts from damages to people and the environment caused by their commercial compounds.

Solutions Exist

Common sense actions could restore and protect the world’s bees. Experienced bee keepers, apiculturists, farmers, the European Commission and the Greenpeace report, Bees in Decline have outlined these solutions:

  • Ban the seven most dangerous pesticides
  • Protect pollinator health by preserving wild habitat
  • Restore ecological agriculture

Ecological farming is the over-arching new policy trend that will stabilize human food production, preserve wild habitats and protect the bees. The nation of Bhutan has led the world in adopting a 100 percent organic farming policy. Mexico has banned GE corn to protect its native corn varieties. In January, eight European countries banned GE crops, and Hungary has burned over a 1,000 acres of corn contaminated with GE varieties. In India, scientist Vandana Shiva and a network of small farmers have built an organic farming resistance to industrial agriculture over two decades.

Ecological or organic farming, of course, is nothing new. It is the way most farming has been done throughout human history. Ecological farming resists insect damage by avoiding large monocultures and preserving ecosystem diversity. Ecological farming restores soil nutrients with natural composting systems, avoids soil loss from wind and water erosion, and avoids pesticides and chemical fertilizers.

By restoring bee populations and healthier bees, ecological agriculture improves pollination, which in turn improves crop yields. Ecological farming takes advantage of the natural ecosystem services, water filtration, pollination, oxygen production and disease and pest control.

Organic farmers have advocated better research and funding by industry, government, farmers and the public to develop organic farming techniques, improve food production and maintain ecological health. The revolution in farming would promote equitable diets around the world and support crops primarily for human consumption, avoiding crops for animal food and biofuels.


The plight of the bees serves as a warning that we still may not quite understand ecology. Ecological farming is part of a larger paradigm shift in human awareness. The corporate denialists appear just like the Pope’s shrouded inquisitors in 1615, who refused to look through Galileo’s telescope to see the moons of Jupiter. Today’s denialists refuse to recognize that Earth’s systems operate within real limits. However, the state religion in this case is money, and the state religion won’t allow it. The denialists cling to the presumed right to consume, hoard, and obliterate Earth’s great bounty for private profits. But hoards of money won’t reverse extinction, restore lost soils or heal the world’s bee colonies.

A great reckoning awaits humanity if we fail to awaken from our delusions. Earth’s delicately balanced systems can reach tipping points and collapse. Bees, for example, work within a limited range of marginal returns on the energy they exert to collect nutrition for their colonies. When winter bee deaths grow from 10 percent to 50 percent, the remaining bees are weakened by toxins, and the wild habitats shrink that thin, ecological margin of energy return can be squeezed to zero. Surviving bees expend more energy than they return in honey. More bees die, fewer reach maturity and entire colonies collapse. This crisis is a lesson in fundamental ecology.

Rachel Carson warned of these systemic constraints 50 years ago. Ecologists and environmentalists have warned of limits ever since. Bee colony collapse now joins global warming, forest destruction and species extinctions among our most urgent ecological emergencies. Saving the world’s bees appears as one more necessary link in restoring Earth to ecological balance.

A European honey bee (Apis mellifera) extracts...
Image via Wikipedia

Pollinators like bees are critical to our world’s food supply, and their numbers are dwindling. What can we do to help save the bees?

We rely on bees to pollinate over 30 percent of our food crops, but Colony Collapse Disorder threatens the world bee population and the future of our food supply. Plants like apples, avocados, squash, cucumbers, and many other food plants that we commonly eat need pollinators in order to grow.

Luckily, it’s not all gloom and doom! Here are some ways that you can take action right now to help the dwindling bee population.

1. Don’t spray pesticides. Pesticides are a major culprit in Colony Collapse Disorder, and the best way to help bees is to stop spraying the stuff!
2. Buy organic. Support organic farmers who use natural farming methods that are bee-friendly.
3. Don’t support industrial honey. Large-scale honey operations are more focused on output and profit than with the health of the bees. If you’re going to eat honey, make sure it comes from a small operation. You can often find small beekeepers at your local farmers market, and they’ll tell you all about their beekeeping adventures!
4. Plant a bee-friendly habitat. Pollinators need a place to pollinate, and by providing bee-friendly plants in your yard, porch, or window box, you give them a place to just be. Plants like fruit, herbs, melons, and even some trees can attract bees to your yard or garden.
5. Get heard! If we’re going to help save the bees on a large scale, we need to let decision-makers know how we feel. Check out this petition aimed at the EPA calling for a ban on pesticides that harm bee populations.

Read more: http://www.care2.com/greenliving/help-save-bees.html#ixzz1dZlryoOj
Read more: http://www.care2.com/greenliving/help-save-bees.html#ixzz1dZkHcrVeposted by Becky Striepe

Sep 20, 2011 5:05 pm
Read more: http://www.care2.com/greenliving/help-save-bees.html#ixzz1dZlaiJfH

Becky Striepe Care 2 AOL Members Healthy Life Sep.20  2011

Collapse of Honey Bees

Half of all the honey bees on the planet have died in recent years. A startling fact when you consider not only the impact that this has on the food chain and our food supply, but the even deeper metaphor that this represents for our culture. The disappearance of the bees has been named “Colony Collapse Disorder” and one well known bio-dynamic bee keeper featured in the new film by Taggart Siegel, Queen of the Sun, commented that actually the bees are showing us that this disorder is our own.

After watching the film at the recent Bioneers annual conference which offers the most progressive analysis and solution orientation to the global environmental crises we face, I decided to become a bee keeper. Honey bees are one of the few super-organisms on the planet, which is to say that a hive of tens of thousands of bees sacrifice their individual identities to create a bigger whole. The biology of creating beeswax and honey is nothing short of miraculous… Pollination is the tireless and miraculous process in which the natural world reproduces and evolves. The honey bees tireless efforts are literally the erotic glue that produces over 40% of our food supply. There is not a more sacred act of love that exists on this planet, nor one that we more take for granted.

Losing half of all these creatures should be of concern to everyone on the planet. Everyone should want to become a bee keeper, because the world that is left with out them is not sustainable. Not surprisingly, it is our unsustainable agricultural practices driven by corporate profits that has taken us to this precipice. Monoculture farming of tens of thousands of acres and increasingly poisonous insecticides that now act like a nerve gas on bees is responsible for this world wide collapse of the bee population. The chemicals destroy the natural homing instinct of the bees. They go out to forage and cannot find their way back to their hives. Millions of bees are perishing, and hives that are full of food and a queen are deserted.

Corporations are willingly and knowingly destroying the eco-system we live in. Mono culture farms of genetically modified seeds cannot support the eco-systems it needs to flourish, so companies truck in bees from all over the world to do their pollination work for a couple of weeks at a time.  Entire hives die, shrink wrapped in plastic in holding yards. They are given high fructose corn syrup to wake them up, filled with antibiotics that they ingest and pass into their honey. This is how we are becoming immune to many antibiotics. The same process which is creating super pests that adapt to our poisons.

Honey is a singular substance on this planet. It is the nectar of love, the product of capturing light and life that is transformed within the body of a hive. Honey that was discovered over two thousand years old in an Egyptian King’s tomb was still edible. So precious was this substance that for the majority of recorded human life it was never sold, only gifted with love. Honey is so replete with nutrients that it is a rare restorative to most every aspect of health.

The plight of the honeybees is our plight. There could not be a more direct natural metaphor for what we are doing with our love. In much the same way as the bees are lost on their way home, we have also lost our way. Our unwillingness to do the work, to show up and keep our promises to our family and our community is our form of colony collapse. Dedicate yourself to learning how to love more, yourself, your intimates, your enemies is the way home.   Also consider becoming a back yard bee keeper.

Read more: http://www.care2.com/greenliving/the-collapse-of-honey-bees.html#ixzz1dZhzjAj9posted by Wendy Strgar
Read more: http://www.care2.com/greenliving/the-collapse-of-honey-bees.html#ixzz1dZigApVL