Organic farming helps honeybees


This 26 March 2019 video dsays about itself:

How Do Honeybees Get Their Jobs? | National Geographic

Every honeybee has a job to do. Some are nurses who take care of the brood; some are janitors who clean the hive; others are foragers who gather pollen to make honey. Collectively, honeybees are able to achieve an incredible level of sophistication, especially considering their brains are only the size of sesame seeds. But how are these jobs divvied up, and where do bees learn the skills to execute them?

From the CNRS in France:

Organic farming enhances honeybee colony performance

June 26, 2019

Summary: A team of researchers is now the first to have demonstrated that organic farming benefits honeybee colonies, especially when food is scarce in late spring. The scientists analyzed six years of data collected through a unique system for monitoring domesticated bees that is unparalleled in Europe.

Bees are valuable to humans not only because they produce honey, but also because they pollinate wildflowers and food crops. They exclusively eat nectar and pollen. So in areas where intensive agriculture is practised, they suffer from the thin supply of flowers in May and June, when cultivated oilseed rape (colza) and sunflower are not in bloom. During that period, pollen collection, honey production, and colony growth slow. An article published in the Journal of Applied Ecology shows that organic farming can limit this decline. Land on which organic crops are grown offers domesticated bees more resources, especially spontaneous vegetation (unjustly dubbed ‘weeds’). After examining data spanning six years for 180 hives in west central France, the researchers found that — compared with bee colonies in areas farmed conventionally — colonies living amid organic farm fields boast 37% more brood, 20% more adult bees, and 53% greater honey production.

The implication is that organically cultivated fields exert unique effects on the bee population. The swell in brood, destined to yield new workers, may be the result of a wider diversity of pollen resources or of lower mortality from local application of pesticides. The surge in honey reserves may reflect availability of melliferous flowers in greater numbers — and over a greater area, corresponding to the range covered by bees in their quest for resources (one to three kilometres in zones where large farm fields are found).

This study was made possible through Ecobee (INRA/CNRS), a unique bee colony monitoring system. Ecobee uses annual data from 50 experimental hives in southwest France to measure the effects of farming practices under real conditions. Previous research conducted by the same team showed that shrinking of brood during the period of flower scarcity resulted in lower colony survival in winter. The present study shows that organic farming can blunt the negative effects of intensive agriculture and increase the survival of bees, which play essential roles as pollinators.

Environmentalists in Germany collected 1.75 million signatures for a ‘save the bees law.’ Citizens believe they can stop insect declines by halting habitat loss and fragmentation, producing food without pesticides and limiting climate change: here.

A new article reveals that adjuvants, chemicals commonly added to pesticides, amplify toxicity affecting mortality rates, flight intensity, colony intensity, and pupae development in honey bees: here.

Changes in a vibration-sensitive neuron may equip forager honeybees for waggle dance communication, according to research recently published in eNeuro: here.

6 thoughts on “Organic farming helps honeybees

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