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Apatura
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23 Apr 2007, 1:30 pm

Does anyone have a theory? The first thing that comes to mind is genetically modified crops.

http://www.cnn.com/2007/WORLD/americas/ ... index.html

Quote:
Vanishing honeybees mystify scientists
POSTED: 9:40 p.m. EDT, April 22, 2007

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- Go to work, come home.

Go to work, come home.

Go to work -- and vanish without a trace.

Billions of bees have done just that, leaving the crop fields they are supposed to pollinate, and scientists are mystified about why.

The phenomenon was first noticed late last year in the United States, where honeybees are used to pollinate $15 billion worth of fruits, nuts and other crops annually. Disappearing bees have also been reported in Europe and Brazil.

Commercial beekeepers would set their bees near a crop field as usual and come back in two or three weeks to find the hives bereft of foraging worker bees, with only the queen and the immature insects remaining. Whatever worker bees survived were often too weak to perform their tasks.

If the bees were dying of pesticide poisoning or freezing, their bodies would be expected to lie around the hive. And if they were absconding because of some threat -- which they have been known to do -- they wouldn't leave without the queen.

Since about one-third of the U.S. diet depends on pollination and most of that is performed by honeybees, this constitutes a serious problem, according to Jeff Pettis of the U.S. Agricultural Research Service.

"They're the heavy lifters of agriculture," Pettis said of honeybees. "And the reason they are is they're so mobile and we can rear them in large numbers and move them to a crop when it's blooming."

Honeybees are used to pollinate some of the tastiest parts of the American diet, Pettis said, including cherries, blueberries, apples, almonds, asparagus and macadamia nuts.

"It's not the staples," he said. "If you can imagine eating a bowl of oatmeal every day with no fruit on it, that's what it would be like" without honeybee pollination.

Pettis and other experts are gathering outside Washington for a two-day workshop starting on Monday to pool their knowledge and come up with a plan of action to combat what they call colony collapse disorder.

"What we're describing as colony collapse disorder is the rapid loss of adult worker bees from the colony over a very short period of time, at a time in the season when we wouldn't expect a rapid die-off of workers: late fall and early spring," Pettis said.
Small workers in a supersize society

The problem has prompted a congressional hearing, a report by the National Research Council and a National Pollinator Week set for June 24-30 in Washington, but so far no clear idea of what is causing it.

"The main hypotheses are based on the interpretation that the disappearances represent disruptions in orientation behavior and navigation," said May Berenbaum, an insect ecologist at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

There have been other fluctuations in the number of honeybees, going back to the 1880s, where there were "mysterious disappearances without bodies just as we're seeing now, but never at this magnitude," Berenbaum said in a telephone interview.

In some cases, beekeepers are losing 50 percent of their bees to the disorder, with some suffering even higher losses. One beekeeper alone lost 40,000 bees, Pettis said. Nationally, some 27 states have reported the disorder, with billions of bees simply gone.

Some beekeepers supplement their stocks with bees imported from Australia, said beekeeper Jeff Anderson, whose business keeps him and his bees traveling between Minnesota and California. Honeybee hives are rented out to growers to pollinate their crops, and beekeepers move around as the growing seasons change.

Honeybees are not the only pollinators whose numbers are dropping. Other animals that do this essential job -- non-honeybees, wasps, flies, beetles, birds and bats -- have decreasing populations as well. But honeybees are the big actors in commercial pollination efforts.

"One reason we're in this situation is this is a supersize society -- we tend to equate small with insignificant," Berenbaum said. "I'm sorry but that's not true in biology. You have to be small to get into the flower and deliver the pollen.

"Without that critical act, there's no fruit. And no technology has been invented that equals, much less surpasses, insect pollinators."



TheMachine1
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23 Apr 2007, 1:50 pm

Theory I heard is its the bees not returning to the hives. So it maybe related to some change in the enviroment that they use to find their way home.



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23 Apr 2007, 2:03 pm

I'm surprised that I'm in a horticulture degree and I haven't heard a word about this in any of my classes....


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Prof_Pretorius
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23 Apr 2007, 2:38 pm

Global Warming.
Cell Phone Tower Radiation.
Genetic Mutated Crops.
Unknown Parasite Invasion.

You can surf the conspiracy websites and find all of the above theories, and more, of course. At this point there seems to be very little research being done. (That's suspicious, don't you think??) The problem is there aren't dead bees to autopsy. For whatever reason the little gals go out to gather pollen and simply 'run out of gas' on the way back to the hive. At least I haven't seen anyone suggesting UFO 'bee abductions' yet.

I jest, but this could suddenly be very serious indeed.


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sinsboldly
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23 Apr 2007, 9:31 pm

this is like the third thread about the disapearing bees on WP in as many weeks. The beekeepers in my valley have lost over 90% of their hives because of it. I live in Harry and David land and growing pears is the main crop here, that and peaches, and they are very worried that the pollenation is not happening correctly because they can't get any bees .


around here, where in my lifetime it has gone from rain forest to scrub savannah (50+years) they seem to think the sun shine is polluted so badly it messes with the polarized light and the bees can't see to get back to the hive. that and the mites, and the pesticides. . there are more 'backyard' gardeners than there used to be and they use stuff like roundup, etc.

anyway, the bees colonies are definately gone, you can travel up the valley and see the hives stacked up in big heaps. . .bees all gone.

reminds me of Rachel Carson's "Silent Spring"

Merle



Last edited by sinsboldly on 24 Apr 2007, 1:37 am, edited 1 time in total.

TheMachine1
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24 Apr 2007, 12:35 am

Oh I have been effected by this my apple tree has a mere 2 apples on it :(

My theory is perhaps there is an unknown substance effecting octopamine in the bees.
brains. Such as a powerfull octopamine antagonist.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Octopamine

Quote:
In the honey bee and fruit fly, octopamine has a major role in learning and memory.



DingoDv
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24 Apr 2007, 6:43 am

I really need to read Carson, sadly, its events like this which make people realise how they have screwed s**t up in an attempt to increase producitivity.

But don't worry guys - it could all be totally innocuous. The bees have found themsleves a union rep :). They want equal rights!



bizarre
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24 Apr 2007, 12:03 pm

I never use pesticides in my backyard i'm totally organic gardener. I hate it when i read about stuff like that happening. I wish i could grow all my own food myself so i know it was organic and good for the environment.


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ADoyle
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24 Apr 2007, 2:40 pm

I guess it's time to stock up on honey, as it's going to be expensive. I brew mead as a hobby, so for me, honey is very important. I also love the berry plants in the yard, and if the flowers aren't being pollenated by bees, there's going to be less fruit to enjoy.


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Prof_Pretorius
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24 Apr 2007, 3:01 pm

ADoyle wrote:
I guess it's time to stock up on honey, as it's going to be expensive. I brew mead as a hobby, so for me, honey is very important.


MEAD ! ! I dreamed about drinking mead the other night ! ! I've been meaning to look for some ! !

Ahem, as to our little buzzing friends, how has the sunshine become polarized?? I missed that detail. Seems they either weaken while they're gathering pollen, or lose their way. I suppose if there is a change in the polarization of light, they could become confused, and keep flying around 'till they die of exhaustion.


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TheMachine1
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13 May 2007, 4:48 am

TheMachine1 wrote:
Oh I have been effected by this my apple tree has a mere 2 apples on it :(

My theory is perhaps there is an unknown substance effecting octopamine in the bees.
brains. Such as a powerfull octopamine antagonist.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Octopamine

Quote:
In the honey bee and fruit fly, octopamine has a major role in learning and memory.


http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/20 ... 210207.htm

Quote:
Another possible culprit is a class of insecticides known as neonicotinoids, which has been widely detected on pollen at low concentrations in other countries experiencing die-offs. At certain levels these insecticides may impair the bees' abilities to learn, leading some scientists to believe exposed bees may leave the hive and get lost. "The studies don't seem to indicate that the doses they [the bees] are encountering are having any detectable effect on foraging behavior," though more research is needed, said Calderone


Neonicotinoids are insecticides designed to work like nicotine and became common about the same time the bees began dieing off.