CSI In The Beehive

"CSI In The Beehive"

Dennis vanEngelsdorp, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture’s acting state apiarist, began a recent presentation with this startling statistic: 36% of U.S. honey bee colonies died last winter. “That’s an astronomical amount of bees,” said vanEngelsdorp, who is coordinating wide-ranging efforts by researchers across the country. “Seeing all those dead bees is just downright depressing.”

Speaking at the Almond Board of California’s annual Honey Bee Seminar in Modesto, CA, in October, vanEngelsdorp titled his talk: “Honey Bee Declines — CSI In The Beehive.” Almonds are the first crop in the country to bloom, in February, and about three-quarters of the nation’s transportable bees are brought to the Golden State each winter prior to bloom. But vanEngelsdorp emphasized that growers of all types should be concerned. “Modern agriculture relies on a movable honey bee force,” he said.

Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) has gotten a lot of media attention, and rightly so, but vanEngelsdorp touched on a number of issues regarding honey bees in his engaging presentation.

– Honey bee losses are not new. The Greek philosopher Aristotle was the first to report of a wide-scale failure, and there have been many others through the centuries that sound very much like CCD, including Ireland in 950, Colorado in 1891, Texas and Louisiana in 1960, and Australia in 1976. “Is CCD something new? No one really knows,” he said. “But in scale, it’s certainly something new.”

– The 36% loss figure is attributed to four main factors. The figure was based on an exhaustive survey of beekeepers, in which they were asked what killed their bees. They cited CCD, poor queens, starvation, and varroa mites. The mites feed on the bees and then spit protein into them that breaks down the bees’ immune system, said vanEngelsdorp, predisposing them to a host of other problems.

– The migratory nature of beekeeping is not to blame for CCD. While many have made this claim, researchers have found no evidence that it’s true. They’ve also found no evidence of some other supposed causes, he said, including cell phone towers and alien abduction.

– CCD is caused by something either contagious or that involves common exposure. An exhaustive study in which samples were taken from both CCD and non-CCD bee yards in Florida and California clearly showed that weak colonies were found much more often next to other weak colonies.

– A prime suspect last year, Israeli Acute Paralysis Virus, was found in only 47% of CCD colonies. In fact, CCD might not be due to something that bees have at all, said vanEngelsdorp. It could be due to something vital that they lack, such as bacteria in the gut that aids digestion.

– Growers sourcing Australian package bees should be aware of potential problems involving varroa mites. The bees come with zero varroa mites, but at the end of the season, they had much worse mite problems than did the American bees. That indicates, said vanEngelsdorp, that American bees have developed a certain amount of resistance. “If you’re using Australian package bees,” he advised, “you might want to get U.S. queens in there.”

Interest in the problem is intense and widespread, which is encouraging. The media attention has been incredible, said vanEngelsdorp, who’s given numerous interviews. He certainly doesn’t mind, as that can only help to get more funding for research. It’s also encouraging on a more basic level, showing the public in general really cares.

“Everyone gets — at a gut level — that a world without bees is bad.”

Topics: , ,

Leave a Reply

Nuts Stories
Bayer company logo
Crop Protection
February 10, 2016
Bayer Contests EPA’s Decision On Insecticide  
Company seeks to stop agency’s proposed cancellation of flubendiamide. Read More
AFG state of the industry
Apples & Pears
February 9, 2016
State Of The Fruit Industry 2016 [VIDEO]
According to an national poll of fruit growers, fruit industry suppliers, and researchers, the market is poised for growth in Read More
Almonds
Nuts
February 3, 2016
Avoid Tree Nut Cargo Theft
American Fruit Grower® and Western Fruit Grower® recently reported on a rash of nut thefts, in which truckloads of nuts Read More
honey bee on almond tree
Nuts
February 3, 2016
Tips To Help Secure A Good Beekeeper Agreement
Pollination is one of the most important aspects of almond growing, and this time of year, making sure you have Read More
Varroa mites
Fruits
February 2, 2016
EPA Releases List Of Products Labeled For Use Against Varroa Mites
Agency gives recommendations on products to protect hives against parasites. Read More
Mark Jansen
Photo: Blue Diamond Growers
Nuts
January 27, 2016
Almond Industry 2016 Preview
American and Western Fruit Grower talked with Blue Diamond Growers President and CEO Mark Jansen about the health of the Read More
(Photo credit: Lindsay Turner)
Nuts
January 26, 2016
Thefts Plaguing California Tree Nut Industry
Thieves have been taking off with truckloads of tree nuts valued as much as a half million dollars, and catching Read More
The Latest
Disease Control
February 10, 2016
Broad-Spectrum Fungicide Approved For Sp…
Rhyme controls powdery mildew, brown rot blossom blight, and leaf rusts. Read More
Nuts
February 10, 2016
Almond Board Working Toward Next-Generat…
New sustainability initiatives will bring the almond industry into the 22nd century. Read More
Nuts
February 10, 2016
Incentives Available For Low-Emission Ha…
Almond and walnut growers who use lower-emission harvesting equipment may be eligible for financial incentives. Beginning this year, the USDA Read More
Crop Protection
February 10, 2016
Bayer Contests EPA’s Decision On Insecti…
Company seeks to stop agency’s proposed cancellation of flubendiamide. Read More
Apples & Pears
February 9, 2016
State Of The Fruit Industry 2016 [VIDEO]
According to an national poll of fruit growers, fruit industry suppliers, and researchers, the market is poised for growth in Read More
Nuts
February 3, 2016
Avoid Tree Nut Cargo Theft
American Fruit Grower® and Western Fruit Grower® recently reported on a rash of nut thefts, in which truckloads of nuts Read More
Nuts
February 3, 2016
Tips To Help Secure A Good Beekeeper Agr…
Pollination is one of the most important aspects of almond growing, and this time of year, making sure you have Read More
Fruits
February 2, 2016
EPA Releases List Of Products Labeled Fo…
Agency gives recommendations on products to protect hives against parasites. Read More
Nuts
January 27, 2016
Almond Industry 2016 Preview
American and Western Fruit Grower talked with Blue Diamond Growers President and CEO Mark Jansen about the health of the Read More
Nuts
January 26, 2016
Thefts Plaguing California Tree Nut Indu…
Thieves have been taking off with truckloads of tree nuts valued as much as a half million dollars, and catching Read More
Citrus
January 22, 2016
It’s Official: 2015 Was Earth’s Wa…
NASA, NOAA analyses reveal record-shattering statistics regarding global temperatures this past year. Read More
Citrus
January 21, 2016
Chance Of Profits Up For Growers Tuned I…
UF/IFAS study confirms how paying attention to the 10-day forecast can affect a farmer’s bottom line. Read More
Apples & Pears
January 20, 2016
Herbicide Flood Irrigation Application A…
Crops include stone fruit, pome fruit, grapes, tree nuts, and olives. Read More
Nuts
January 20, 2016
Regional Trials Pinpoint Almond Varietie…
Since the 1970s, the Almond Board of California has been trialing varieties regionally to determine the best and brightest trees Read More
Citrus
January 20, 2016
USDA Report: Pesticide Residues Not A Fo…
Following monthly samplings, survey finds more than 99% of products sampled fall below EPA tolerances for pesticide residues. Read More
Nuts
January 15, 2016
Researchers Crack Walnut Genome
Genetic sequencing paves the way for better breeding. Read More
Citrus
January 13, 2016
American Farm Bureau Elects New Presiden…
Georgia farmer Zippy Duvall to take leadership reins from retiring Bob Stallman. Read More
Farm Management
January 8, 2016
USDA Says China Slowing U.S. Agriculture…
International trade is a major factor in the American agricultural economy. A key player is China. In fact China’s impact Read More
[gravityform id="62" title="false" description="false"]