Pesticides suspected in mass die-off of bees

Pesticides suspected in mass die-off of bees

Two studies show that a class of chemicals known as neonicotinoids created disorientation among bees and caused colonies to lose weight, which may have contributed to a mysterious die-off.

By Eryn Brown, Los Angeles Times

March 29, 2012, 5:13 p.m.

Scientists have identified a new suspect in the mysterious die-off of bees in recent years — a class of pesticides that appear to be lethal in indirect ways.

The chemicals, known as neonicotinoids, are designed to target a variety of sucking and chewing insects, including aphids and beetles. Bees are known to ingest the poison when they eat the pollen and nectar of treated plants, though in doses so tiny that it was not seen as a threat.

But two reports published online Thursday by the journal Science indicate that the pesticides are not altogether benign. One study found that bumblebee colonies exposed to amounts of the insecticide similar to what they’d encounter in the wild gained less total weight than colonies that weren’t exposed. Another study used miniature radio frequency chips to track honeybees and found that the pesticide impaired their ability to navigate back to the hive after a feeding expedition.

“If it’s blundering around and can’t return to the hive … the bee might as well be dead,” said Christian Krupke, an entomologist at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind., who was not involved in either study.

Full story here:,0,4969345.story

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Warre Hive Report by Anna at

Young bee colony

From my paucity of apiary posts lately, you would be forgiven for thinking that when my bees absconded, my beekeeping enthusiasm left with them.  However, the truth is that the package we installed in our Warre hive has been bulking up nicely — I’ve just been following the rules and leaving the hive closed.
Due to the wonders of modern technology, though, I can refrain from cracking open the hive and can still get an idea of what’s going on inside.  Once a week, I snap a shot through the screened bottom board.  The photos are generally subpar in terms of quality, but do let me keep an eye on the bees’ progress.

We installed the package on April 27, and the first photo in this post shows what the bees looked like two days later.  They were simply a tight cluster of bodies enclosing the queen, who was still trapped in her cage.
New comb
Eleven days after installation, my non-intrusive inspection showed a little bit of comb being built.  If I’d opened the hive, I would have been able to see whether the queen was laying, and on the off-chance she wasn’t, could have ordered a replacement queen.  With a Warre hive, you have to simply hope for the best (and pay attention to the hive’s mood, smell, and sound).

Rest of report here:

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Bee Pollen – A Budget Friendly Food for Health and Healing

From Natural News website:

Bee pollen is often referred to as nature’s most complete food. Pollen harvested from a diverse selection of geographic areas contains all the essential components of life in a good tasting, chewable, easily digested, and highly bio-available form that can be consumed by anyone from young children to the very old. All the nutritive and rejuvenating elements contained in expensive, whole food vitamin pills can be found in bee pollen. But since these elements are crafted into the most super of superfoods by nature, they have the added benefits of perfect synergy. Pollen also offers healing, with interesting research studies documenting its medicinal effects.

Learn more:

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Bees taken by Illinois Dept of Agriculture

APRIL 27, 2012, APPLE RIVER, IL – The little town of Apple River in northeast Jo Daviess County, Illinois is the hometown of a big man – Terrence Ingram. Though not big in a physical sense, when it comes to saving the American Bald Eagle, there is hardly anyone in the United States held in higher regard than Ingram. His years of documented research and expertise regarding eagles and the work of the Eagle Nature Foundation, founded by Ingram, is in great part responsible for the bald eagle being removed from the “Threatened Species List “ in the United States.

Unfortunately, it was not his knowledge of eagles that the Illinois Department of Agriculture sought when they paid an unannounced visit to his home in March. It was his bees.

In the March 21, 2012 issue, The Prairie Advocate published a news release from Ingram that reported the theft of $5000 of his bees and bee hives on March 14. Ingram said that before they had left for their granddaughter’s wedding in Texas, the hives had been cleaned and made ready for new spring swarms.

I received a phone call from an area County Farm Bureau manager about the article, asking how I had come across the information. He knew that the equipment was not stolen, but “destroyed” by the Illinois Department of Agriculture (IDofA). The hives were infected with foulbrood, and Ingram was doing nothing about it.

More here (including video interview):

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Hive Designs at Melissa Garden

New (old) hive designs (from Melissa Garden website)

Once we approach bee keeping in the context of the “Bien”, which represents the undividable entity of the hive, our methods and hives will change accordingly. There are currently three alternative hive designs (and more to come) used at “The Melissa Garden”:

One-Room-Hive (Golden Hive)
One of the “bee-natural” hives we work with at the Melissa Garden is the “one-room-hive” (in German: “Einraumbeute”), which is also called the “golden hive”. It is designed to provide the best environment for the development of the “Bien” and to minimize necessary manipulation (more frequent opening of hives may result in a weakening of the “Bien”).

Four different elements are part of the new design:

  • The entire colony lives in one room (without multiple hives and frame levels)
  • The hive comes with tall frames. That size comb sustains the “Bien” and allows the development of a large brood nest.
  • The side window enables the bee keeper to receive information about the cycle/status of the “Bien” without having to open the hive. A small size “indicator comb” can be build along side the viewing window.
  • The dimensions of the one-room-hive are set according to the “golden mean”. It is a universal principle within all forming forces in nature and is found in art, architecture and ancient philosophy. It’s also called the “divine proportion”.

It was designed by Mellifera e.V., the German holistic bee keeper association. The “Golden Hive” provides an environment for bees that is closer to their natural gestalt. It gives the bees the space to build natural comb with greater depth than regular bee hives. The brood nest is a protected space, and honey can be received from the sides. This hive contains 20 frames and is not supered. The comb surface area equals the frames of two regular deep and one medium Langstroth hive bodies. It has the typical screened bottom board for varroa monitoring, and uses follower boards to support changing bee populations throughout the season. A wax cloth lays on top of the frames and provides further options for protection the inner climate of the “Bien”.

“Weissenseifener Haengekorb” (Round Skep Hive)
The “Weissenseifener Haengekorb” was designed by the German sculptor Guenther Mancke. The form and shape of the hive are created according to natural/wild bee hives. The “Bien” as “an organic interpretation of an individual” (Tautz) was the blueprint for the design. Already through his outer shape it reveals the nature of the bees colonie– as if the egg shaped skep would be the outer shell or skin of this living being. The inner shape allows bees to unfold their own natural gestalt, in harmony with their instinctual life forces. The “Haengekorb” is made out of rye straw and has nine, half moon shaped arched, movable frames. Comb is built naturally and can be almost 2 feet deep. Supering is possible while fully protecting the integrity of the brood nest. The entrance is located at the bottom of the hive.

Top Bar Hive
It provides all the features of a natural comb bee hive. Top bars fully cover the upper opening of the hive, with initial comb guidance on the lower bar side. Top bar hives are used in many different cultures. We are introducing new versions of the top bar hive this coming year, which will use “bee-natural” hive proportions and will provide more space for larger comb creation. Top bar hives can be built easily with some basic materials.

Langstroth hives with natural comb
All of the Langstroth hives at “The Melissa Garden” allow bees to live on natural comb. Deep hive bodies are added from below (no supering). Bees over-winter on their own food and only true surplus honey is harvested.

Find more stuff here:

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The Study of Life of Bees from the Standpoint of the Soul

By Michael Thiele, The Melissa Garden

From The Melissa Garden’s “April Greetings” (Apr. 10, 2012)

Anise Swallowtail on Echium (©The Melissa Garden)

Historically, living with bees was ritualized, ensuring harmony between bees and apiculturists. In our de-ritualized world, we face the challenge of finding the means to reconnect with core aspects of life and of finding guidance for being with the bees. In his bee lectures, the Austrian philosopher and spiritual scientist Rudolf Steiner describes the bien (a term defining the bee colony as one being) as being permeated with life based on love. To meet the bien on that level and be touched by it will bring forth a new way of living with bees. The bien can become a metaphor for our interconnectedness with the world and it can make the oneness of our life palpable. Infused by a radical different sense of self, it resonates within the depths of our own hearts. The bees can change our sense of who we think we are and instill in us a wish to serve.

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Our Museum Bees | Forensic DNA Fingerprinting

Boston Museum of Science has a new podcast about honeybees.  Listen to the museum’s very own bee keeper Bill Coleman talk about our bee hive exhibit and the missing bees from the summer. Also, find out about forensic DNA fingerprinting and the controversy behind familial DNA testing.

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