Why Californian honeybees die


This 6 June 2017 video from the USA says about itself:

What is Killing the Bees

Neonicotinoid insecticides are used to manage insect pests on fruits and vegetables that also rely on pollination. In addition, these crops frequently neighbor and are rotated with large acreage field crops containing neonicotinoid seed treatments such as corn, resulting in potential non-target exposure of honey bees to insecticides.

This video highlights current efforts by Purdue entomologists—Ian Kaplan, Christian Krupke, Rick Foster—through a USDA-SCRI (specialty crop research initiative) grant to evaluate the impact of neonicotinoids on managed and wild pollinators of cucurbits in the Midwestern U.S. and determine how best to balance pest management with conserving pollinator health.

From Ohio State University in the USA:

Culprit found for honeybee deaths in California almond groves

Researchers and industry leaders working to stop insecticide use during bloom

February 4, 2019

Summary: ‘Fungicides, often needed for crop protection, are routinely used during almond bloom, but in many cases growers were also adding insecticides to the mix. Our research shows that some combinations are deadly to the bees, and the simplest thing is to just take the insecticide out of the equation during almond bloom.’

It’s about time for the annual mass migration of honeybees to California, and new research is helping lower the chances the pollinators and their offspring will die while they’re visiting the West Coast.

Each winter, professional beekeepers from around the nation stack hive upon hive on trucks destined for the Golden State, where February coaxes forward the sweet-smelling, pink and white blossoms of the Central Valley’s almond trees.

Almond growers rent upwards of 1.5 million colonies of honeybees a year, at a cost of around $300 million. Without the bees, there would be no almonds, and there are nowhere near enough native bees to take up the task of pollinating the trees responsible for more than 80 percent of the world’s almonds. The trouble was, bees and larvae were dying while in California, and nobody was sure exactly why. The problem started in adults only, and beekeepers were most worried about loss of queens.

Then in 2014, about 80,000 colonies — about 5 percent of bees brought in for pollination — experienced adult bee deaths or a dead and deformed brood. Some entire colonies died.

With support from the Almond Board of California, an industry service agency, bee expert Reed Johnson of The Ohio State University took up the task of figuring out what was happening. Results from his earlier research had shown that some insecticides thought safe for bees were impacting larvae. Building on that, Johnson undertook a new study, newly published in the journal Insects, that details how combinations of insecticides and fungicides typically deemed individually “safe” for honeybees turn into lethal cocktails when mixed.

Johnson, an associate professor of entomology, and his study co-authors were able to identify the chemicals commonly used in the almond groves during bloom because of California’s robust and detailed system for tracking pesticide applications. Then, in a laboratory in Ohio, they tested combinations of these chemicals on honeybees and larvae.

In the most extreme cases, combinations decreased the survival of larvae by more than 60 percent when compared to a control group of larvae unexposed to fungicides and insecticides.

“Fungicides, often needed for crop protection, are routinely used during almond bloom, but in many cases growers were also adding insecticides to the mix. Our research shows that some combinations are deadly to the bees, and the simplest thing is to just take the insecticide out of the equation during almond bloom,” he said.

“It just doesn’t make any sense to use an insecticide when you have 80 percent of the nation’s honeybees sitting there exposed to it.”

The recommendation is already catching on and has been promoted through a wide array of presentations by almond industry leaders, beekeepers and other experts and has been included in the Almond Board’s honeybee management practices. Many almond growers are rethinking their previous practices and are backing off insecticide use during almond bloom, Johnson said.

That’s good news for bees, and doesn’t appear to be harming the crops either, he said, because there are better opportunities to control problematic insects when almonds are not in bloom.

“I was surprised — even the experts in California were surprised — that they were using insecticides during pollination,” Johnson said.

While these products were considered “bee-safe,” that was based on tests with adult bees that hadn’t looked into the impact they had on larvae.

“I think it was a situation where it wasn’t disallowed. The products were thought to be bee-safe and you’ve got to spray a fungicide during bloom anyway, so why not put an insecticide in the tank, too?”

Insecticides are fairly inexpensive, but the process of spraying is labor-intensive, so growers choosing to double up may have been looking to maximize their investment, he said.

“The thing is, growers were using these insecticides to control a damaging insect — the peach twig borer — during this period, but they have other opportunities to do that before the bees enter the almond orchards or after they are gone,” Johnson said.

This research could open the door to more study of fungicide and pesticide use on other bee-dependent crops, including pumpkins and cucumbers, Johnson said.

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Honey bees of Vlieland island


This 2018 video is about honeybees of Vlieland island in the Netherlands. Here, they breed the non-aggressive Carniolan subspecies of bees; originally from Slovenia.

Apple orchards surrounded by agricultural lands are visited by a less diverse collection of bee species than orchards surrounded by natural habitats, according to a new Cornell University-led study, published in the journal Science: here.

Photographing honey bees, video


This video says about itself:

1 February 2018

National Geographic asked photographer Anand Varma to work on a story about honey bees. What he came up with is a work of art.

Asian elephants scared of honey bees


This video says about itself:

African honey bees change lives and save elephants

14 November 2015

The Elephants and Bees Project is an innovative study using an in-depth understanding of elephant behaviour to reduce damage from crop-raiding elephants using their instinctive avoidance of African honey bees. The project explores the use of novel Beehive Fences as a natural elephant deterrent creating a social and economic boost to poverty-stricken rural communities through pollination services and the sustainable harvesting of “Elephant-Friendly Honey”.

Elephants & Bees is thrilled to share this short video on the project’s amazing milestones. Get to learn how bees are bringing harmony to communities that live with wildlife.

From the University of Oxford in England:

Wild Sri Lankan elephants retreat from sound of disturbed Asian honey bees

January 22, 2018

Summary: A new study using playbacks has for the first time shown that Asian elephants in Sri Lanka are scared of honey bees, much like their African counterparts. The study showed that Asian elephants responded with alarm to the bee simulations. They also retreated significantly further away and vocalized more in response to the bee sounds compared to controls.

For the first time, researchers have shown that Asian elephants in Sri Lanka are scared of honey bees, much like their African counterparts.

Playbacks have been used for many years to explore the behavioural responses of African elephants to a suspected natural threat, but the research, published in Current Biology, is the first time this technique has been used to record how Asian elephants react to the sound of bees.

The study, led by Dr Lucy King, a Research Associate with the Oxford University Department of Zoology and head of the Human-Elephant Co-Existence Program for Save the Elephants, showed that Asian elephants responded with alarm to the bee simulations. They also retreated significantly further away and vocalised more in response to the bee sounds compared to controls.

In collaboration with elephant scientists from Cornell University, Save the Elephants, Trunks and Leaves, Disney’s Animal Kingdom and University of Peradeniya the team now hope that beehive deterrents, used so successfully to ward off African elephants from rural farm lands, can be applied to prevent Asian elephant populations from raiding crops.

Dr Lucy King said: “Asia has even higher levels of human-elephant conflict than Africa does and Asian elephants are approximately 10 times more endangered than African elephants. If we could help apply the results from this research to develop effective community-based beehive fence deterrent systems for rural Asian farmers living with elephants, we could have a significant impact on the survival of the Asian elephant species.”

The study was performed in Udawalawe National Park, which has an exceptionally large elephant population. “Udawalawe is a microcosm for the issues Asian elephants face, because it is practically encircled by agriculture and settlements. This study takes the first step in offering a new way of addressing the conflicts that arise as a result,” said Dr. Shermin de Silva, Director of the Udawalawe Elephant Research Project.

In partnership with the Sri Lankan Wildlife Conservation Society and Australia’s Newcastle University, a network of 10 trial beehive fence projects are presently being tested to see if they can reduce human-elephant conflict for rural farms in central Sri Lanka.

“We have a wonderful community of willing farmers there who are helping us understand if beehive fences could work to reduce conflict in this intensely high human-elephant conflict zone”, said Dr King. “Although beehive fences may not completely stop elephant crop-raids the honey bees provide other benefits to the farms in the form of pollination services and a sustainable income from honey and wax products.”

The initiative is already harvesting honey from the beehives and four beekeeping workshops have been held to boost beekeeping knowledge and honey processing skills. Further Asian beehive fence collaborations are being formed with scientists in Thailand, India and Nepal.

May urged to ban British companies ‘profiting from the brutal abuse’ of endangered Asian elephants. Save The Asian Elephants campaigners deliver 3 million signatures calling on the government to act: here.

African honey bees help elephants and farmers


This video says about itself:

African honey bees change lives and save elephants

14 November 2015

The Elephants and Bees Project is an innovative study using an in-depth understanding of elephant behaviour to reduce damage from crop-raiding elephants using their instinctive avoidance of African honey bees. The project explores the use of novel Beehive Fences as a natural elephant deterrent creating a social and economic boost to poverty-stricken rural communities through pollination services and the sustainable harvesting of “Elephant-Friendly Honey”.

Elephants & Bees is thrilled to share this short video on the project’s amazing milestones. Get to learn how bees are bringing harmony to communities that live with wildlife.

By Lucy King from Kenya:

New Elephants and Bees Video by FFN winner Lucy King

An update from Lucy King, our Future for Nature Award winner 2013. She just released the first ever Elephant and Bees Project Video [see above] …

“The establishment of the Elephants and Bees Research Center in late 2013 on an acre of donated land from, and in the heart of, the wonderful Sagalla community just outside Tsavo East National Park has boosted our hands-on involvement in this community lead research project and enabled us to establish a more in-depth research program in the heart of this human-elephant conflict hotspot. The farmers we are collaborating with to test our novel beehive fence design are fully engaged in the research and their livelihoods are flourishing thanks to reduced elephant crop-raids, pollination services and the sustainable harvesting and sales of delicious ‘Elephant-Friendly Honey’.

Beyond our Tsavo-based Elephants and Bees Research Center, we have been supporting the establishment of beehive fence projects being initiated by new partners in both Africa and Asia. Data is slowly coming in from trial beehive fence sites in Tanzania, Botswana, Uganda and Mozambique, and this year new projects have started in Chad, South Africa, Sri Lanka, India and Thailand. The growing interest from all over Africa and Asia has encouraged us that our holistic concept of deploying beehive fences as a sustainable human-elephant conflict reduction approach is viable for those subsistence farmers living side by side with these vulnerable and endangered pachyderms.”

Visit her website for more information.

Honey as medicine


This video is called Honey bees – Natural History 1.

This video is the sequel.

From Student Science in the USA:

Sweet: Is honey the key to the next-generation of antimicrobials?

11:41AM, November 18, 2016

As resistance to existing antibiotics — including so-called treatments of last resort — continues to rise, scientists are looking to other sources to develop next-generation antimicrobials. One of the most promising potential candidates is also one of the sweetest: honey.

But can it really work to ward off infection and speed healing? The results of a small study by 2015 Broadcom MASTERS second place winner Hannah Cevasco say yes, at least for Manuka honey, a honey found in Australia and New Zealand that is purported to have healing properties.

She used diluted solutions of Manuka honey on human dermal fibroblasts she cultured in a lab at Stanford University. (Dermal fibrobasts are cells in skin tissue. They migrate to the site of an injury because they generate the connective tissue that helps skin heal).

Hannah flooded her cell cultures with diluted solutions of Manuka honey at 0.5, 1, and 2 percent concentrations. She also used a culture dish with a 1 percent honey solution that she replaced multiple times, in order to mimic the way someone would change a wound dressing.

Results showed that Manuka honey at 1 percent concentration had a significant effect on cell migration, while the 0.5 percent and 2 percent concentrations had a minimal effect.

Hannah, who hopes one day to be a pediatric oncologist, is interested in exploring other claims about the healing properties of Manuka honey — especially with regards to its abilities to fight cancer. She’ll be continuing her work with HeLa cervical cancer cells in a lab at Stanford University.