Exploring Hydrocarbon Depletion
Two widely used neonicotinoids -- a class of insecticide -- appear to significantly harm honey bee colonies over the winter, particularly during colder winters, according to researchers. The study replicated a 2012 finding from the same research group that found a link between imidacloprid and Colony Collapse Disorder, in which bees abandon their hives over the winter and eventually die. The new study found low doses of a second neonicotinoid, clothianidin, had the same negative effect.
That's fine for wild plants ("weeds") but most crop plants can't evolve naturally.Plants which used to have two types of male reproductive organs – to increase their chances for fertilisation – are reverting back to one type. And in some cases, they are becoming self-fertilising.
This "reverse evolution" could provide new hope for people worried about declining numbers of pollinators, such as bees.
Researchers from the University of Stirling and the University of Illinois turned their attention on the buffalo bur, a prickly species from Mexico and North America. It's part of the same family of "nightshade" plants as the tomato and the humble potato.
The bur has evolved unusual flowers with two types of male reproductive organs – or anthers.
"One type of feeding anther has evolved to lure pollen-eating bees, whilst another pollinating anther sneaks behind the bees' backs and deposits pollen for fertilising other flowers", says Dr Mario Vallejo-Marín from Stirling's School of Natural Sciences.
this "reversion" to smaller flowers – with one functional type of anthers – may be caused by the loss of pollinators (such as bees) of the right size required to fertilise the flowers.
The buffalo bur is regarded as a weed – and an invasive species in some countries. But falls in bee numbers are a bigger worry for other crops.
"Whether the reversion towards self-fertilisation can provide an escape route from ecological bee shortages depends on how rapidly plants can evolve. In the current pollinator crisis, understanding how plants adapt to changes in bee numbers and type is essential."
Newfoundland's healthy honeybees are an increasing draw for researchers in the race to understand why colonies across much of the globe are struggling or dying off.
"There is definitely interest in what's happening here," said Dave Jennings, a director with the provincial Natural Resources department.
Oakley wrote:wisconsin_cur wrote:There were a lot of wild swarms this year. I guess I cannot make a solid argument for it but I would contend that it is not the honeybee that is in "terminal decline" but rather industiral, migratory beekeeping which is in decline. Of course their are crop systems which exist in a symbiotic relationship with contemporary beekeeping. Some of them will need to change or seek out other pollinators.
What else needs to be said!
More Than 100 Businesses Call On White House To Protect Bees From Pesticides
More than 100 businesses, many of them food companies that depend heavily on pollinators for their products, sent a letter to the White House and multiple agencies Tuesday, urging the Environmental Protection Agency to protect pollinators by halting the use of certain pesticides.
Representatives from 118 businesses — including the owners of Clif Bar and Nature’s Path and the CEOs of Stonyfield and organic food company Amy’s — signed the letter, which calls on the EPA to immediately suspend its registration of neonicotinoids, a class of pesticides which have been linked to bee declines by at least 30 studies. Neonics are used on a variety of U.S. crops, including corn, soybeans, oranges, and leafy greens. They been found to affect the nervous system of honeybees, with studies finding that exposure to neonics can cause honeybees to forget what food smells like and can create short- and long-term memory loss in bees.
“Our businesses are deeply concerned about the continued and unsustainable loss of bees and other essential pollinator populations and urge that significant action be taken now to address the threats they face from pesticides and other stressors threatening their survival,” the companies write in the letter. “Bee losses have a ripple effect across the entire economy, and in many cases, affect our bottom-line.”
Last year, a federal report found that fewer managed honeybees died during winter 2013 than during winter 2012, but scientists say bees are still in trouble: as one entomologist told the New York Times last May, the winter 2013 bee numbers show bee losses have gone “from horrible to bad.” Much of this decline has been blamed on Colony Collapse Disorder, a phenomenon in which adult bees in a colony disappear from their hives, and which beekeepers have been experiencing since 2006
As the companies in the letter state, bee losses are bad news for U.S. crops and for companies who depend on them. One-third of all agricultural output in the U.S. is dependent on some sort of pollination, and some key crops such as almonds and squash depend heavily on bees in particular. But the companies write that they’re also concerned about the importance of bees to the overall health of the environment.
“We are gravely concerned that it neonicotinoids continue to be allowed into our environment at current rates, this practice will have devastating impacts on our food supply, ecosystems and economic wellbeing,” the letter states.
The Obama administration has taken steps in recent years to protect the health of honeybees and other pollinators. June, the Obama administration issued an executive order that created a Pollinator Health Task Force. About a month later, the Fish and Wildlife Service announced that it would phase out neonics in wildlife refuges in certain parts of the country. And in February of last year, the USDA announced it was investing $3 million into a program that pays farmers in the Midwest to make their farms more bee-friendly by doing things like planting alfalfa as a cover crop.
The food companies praised these actions as good first steps, but said more needs to be done to protect pollinators in the U.S.
The businesses aren’t the first to call for a ban or suspension of neonics. Last October, 60 members of Congress sent a letter to EPA Head Gina McCarthy, urging her agency to restrict or suspend the use of neonics on “bee-attractive crops.” The letter also calls on the EPA to stop and consider neonicotinoids’ impacts on pollinator species before registering new neonic pesticides, and states that the agency should restrict the use of neonics in commercial pesticides.
The U.S. may not have taken steps to ban neonics, but other countries and cities have. The European Union placed a ban on neonics in 2013, and in September, Seattle banned the use of neonics within city limits. Eugene, Oregon also voted to ban neonics last year.
http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2015/0 ... t-of-bees/
A prolonged and mysterious die-off of the nation’s honeybees, a trend worrisome both to beekeepers and to farmers who depend on the insects to pollinate their crops, apparently worsened last year.
In an annual survey released on Wednesday by the Bee Informed Partnership, a consortium of universities and research laboratories, about 5,000 beekeepers reported losing 42.1 percent of their colonies in the 12-month period that ended in April. That is well above the 34.2 percent loss reported for the same period in 2013 and 2014, and it is the second-highest loss recorded since year-round surveys began in 2010.
Most striking, however, was that honeybee deaths spiked last summer, exceeding winter deaths for the first time. Commercial beekeepers, some of whom rent their hives to farmers during pollination seasons, were hit especially hard, the survey’s authors stated.