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
Walnuts
Nuts
August 13, 2016
Spike In Production Causes Drop In Walnut Prices
An analysis of California walnut production from Rabobank Group details how a surge in production has led to steep declines Read More
Managing Dust video image - Almond Board of California
Nuts
July 31, 2016
Videos Focus On Minimizing Almond Harvest Dust
Almond Board of California series outlines strategies for before, during and after harvest. Read More
Dust Demo - Feature
Nuts
July 29, 2016
Don’t Bite The Dust In Your Almond Orchard
Being smart about little things, such as occasionally slowing down during almond harvest, can go a long way toward improving public perception – not to mention keeping regulators off your back. Read More
image1 - feature
Nuts
July 28, 2016
Tips For Late-Planting Potted Almond Trees
Historically, the establishment of deciduous orchards was typified by planting bare-rooted trees during dormancy. With the advent of technology and Read More
A flooded almond orchard being used to test underground aquifer recharge. (Photo credit: University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources)
Nuts
July 15, 2016
Almond Board Funding Groundwater Recharge Research
The Almond Board of California (ABC) and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, a U.S. Department of Energy lab managed by Read More
This young almond orchard uses drip irrigation. (Photo Credit: University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources)
Irrigation
July 14, 2016
New Tool Calculates Almond Orchard Water Needs
A new irrigation calculator tool may help almond growers who want to maximize irrigation efficiency to conserve water, a vital Read More
(Photo credit: David Eddy)
Nuts
July 6, 2016
Almond Crop Expected To Rise By 8%
Growers report better chill hours and a stronger bloom than in 2015. Read More
The Latest
Citrus
August 19, 2016
Rough Winter In Store For Much Of The U.…
The Old Farmer’s Almanac and its competitor The Farmers’ Almanac predict the 2016-2017 winter will be cold for much of the country. Read More
Citrus
August 18, 2016
Trump Campaign Announces Agricultural Ad…
Just three of the 64 are directly involved with fruits and vegetables, all three are Californians. Read More
Harvesting
August 16, 2016
Proper Stockpiling Can Maintain Almond Q…
As almond yields increase, growers may find themselves with more harvested crop than processors can handle. Proper stockpiling techniques can Read More
Nuts
August 13, 2016
Spike In Production Causes Drop In Walnu…
An analysis of California walnut production from Rabobank Group details how a surge in production has led to steep declines Read More
Nuts
July 31, 2016
Videos Focus On Minimizing Almond Harves…
Almond Board of California series outlines strategies for before, during and after harvest. Read More
Nuts
July 29, 2016
Don’t Bite The Dust In Your Almond Orcha…
Being smart about little things, such as occasionally slowing down during almond harvest, can go a long way toward improving public perception – not to mention keeping regulators off your back. Read More
Nuts
July 28, 2016
Tips For Late-Planting Potted Almond Tre…
Historically, the establishment of deciduous orchards was typified by planting bare-rooted trees during dormancy. With the advent of technology and Read More
Nuts
July 15, 2016
Almond Board Funding Groundwater Recharg…
The Almond Board of California (ABC) and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, a U.S. Department of Energy lab managed by Read More
Irrigation
July 14, 2016
New Tool Calculates Almond Orchard Water…
A new irrigation calculator tool may help almond growers who want to maximize irrigation efficiency to conserve water, a vital Read More
Nuts
July 6, 2016
Almond Crop Expected To Rise By 8%
Growers report better chill hours and a stronger bloom than in 2015. Read More
Citrus
July 5, 2016
Citrus, Pistachio Researchers Named Firs…
Extension advisors named University of California Cooperative Extension Presidential Chairs to study pistachio production systems. Read More
Farm Management
July 4, 2016
Beekeeping Gives Veterans New Opportunit…
Workshop helps introduce veterans to the biology behind keeping bees. Read More
Fruits
June 28, 2016
Bees May Accidentally Bring Varroa Mites…
A USDA research team is learning that mite populations often spike in the fall, due to migration into the hives. Read More
Farm Management
June 28, 2016
USDA Announces Conservation Programs, Pa…
USDA, industry organizations join up to ensure conservation efforts include pollinators. Read More
Fruits
June 22, 2016
Florida Growers Warned To Beware Of Brow…
Learn how to identify, the survival and spread, as well as management methods for this insect pest. Read More
Nuts
June 22, 2016
Walnut Acreage Grows At Double-Digit Pac…
Walnut acreage in California is continuing its rapid growth with 2015 estimates at 365,000 acres, according to the USDA. It Read More
Nuts
June 21, 2016
Almond Board Develops Classroom Curricul…
California school students could add a lesson on almonds to their traditional reading, writing and arithmetic. The Almond Board of Read More
Citrus
June 14, 2016
Monsanto Rejects Second Bid From Bayer
Wall Street Journal reports Monsanto seeks bid increase from Bayer. Read More
[gravityform id="62" title="false" description="false"]