Honey Bee Colony Collapse Disorder

Viral And Fungal Combination

What’s Happening to Honey Bees?

A University of Montana and Montana State University team of scientists headed by Jerry Bromenshenk and working with the US Army’s Edgewood Chemical Biological Center published a paper in October 2010 saying that a new DNA virus, invertebrate iridescent virus type 6 , and the fungus Nosema ceranae were found in every killed colony the group studied. In their study, they found neither agent alone seemed deadly, but a combination of the virus and N. ceranae was always 100% fatal. Information about the study was released to the public in a front-page article in The New York Times. A few days later, an article was published in Fortune magazine with the title, “What a scientist didn’t tell the New York Times about his study on bee deaths”. Professor of entomology at Penn State University James Frazier, who was researching the sublethal impact of pesticides on bees, said that while Bromenshenk’s study generated some useful data, Bromenshenk has a conflict of interest as CEO of a company developing scanners to diagnose bee diseases. A few months later, the methods used to interpret the mass spectrometry data in the Bromenshenk study were called into question, raising doubts as to whether IIV-6 was ever correctly identified in any of the samples examined.

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Evidence of risk to bees
Laboratory studies

Colony Collapse Disorder: What Is It And Why Does It Matter

We are happy to have on board guest blogger Greg Long. Greg is a beekeeper and Communications Coordinator at GloryBee, and has nearly completed his journey to becoming a Master Beekeeper. Hes currently enrolled in Master Beekeeping apprentice classes through the Oregon State Master Beekeepers Program. In his piece, he explains what is the Colony Collapse Disorder, why is it important and how can everyone help the bees.

Everybody knows that honey bees play an essential role in our ecosystem the human population simply would not be sustainable without the help of pollinating honey bees. According to the USDA, During October-December 2006, beekeepers became alarmed that honey bee colonies were dying suddenly across the continental United States. Beekeepers reported losses of 30-90%.

We should all be alarmed!

Whats to blame for North Americas disappearing honey bees? The ominous sounding phenomenon known as Colony Collapse Disorder is a contributing factor.

What Can Beekeepers Do

Although the causes of colony collapse disorder are not yet known, the following recommendations may provide beekeepers with some options:

  • Do not combine collapsing colonies with healthy ones.
  • If you find abandoned hive equipment, and the cause of bee death is suspicious, store the equipment so other bees cannot live in it. Do not reuse this equipment.
  • Use an integrated pest management approach for varroa control in honey bee colonies. This will minimize bee exposure to potentially toxic chemicals.
  • Keep colonies strong by practicing best management practices.

Contact your local Extension agent for more information about CCD, honey bees, or beekeeping in general.

Adapted and excerpted from:

J. Ellis, “Colony Collapse Disorder in Honey Bees” , UF/IFAS Entomology and Nematology Department .

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Colony Collapse Disorder And Bee Age Impact Honey Bee Pathophysiology

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    Affiliation Department of Entomology, Plant Science Building University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland, United States of America

  • Affiliation Department of Entomology, Plant Science Building University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland, United States of America

  • Affiliation Cooperative Extension Butte County, University of California Cooperative Extension, Oroville, California, United States of America

  • Affiliations Department of Entomology, Plant Science Building University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland, United States of America, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, The University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona, United States of America

  • Affiliation USDA-ARS, Bee Research Laboratory, Beltsville, Maryland, United States of America

  • Affiliation Research Unit in Epidemiology and Risk Analysis applied to Veterinary Sciences , Fundamental and Applied Research for Animal and Health Center, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Liège, Liège, Sart-Tilman, Belgium

  • Affiliation USDA-ARS-PWA, Pollinating Insect-Biol., Mgmt. Syst.- Research Unit, Logan, Utah, United States of America and Department of Entomology, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania, United States of America

The Plight Of The Honeybee

ccd= colony collapse disorder

Billions of dollarsand a way of liferide on saving pollinators.

Part of our weekly “In Focus” seriesstepping back, looking closer.

Bees are back in the news this spring, if not back in fields pollinating this summer’s crops. The European Union has announced that it will ban, for two years, the use of neonicotinoids, the much-maligned pesticide group often fingered in honeybee declines. The U.S. hasn’t followed suit, though this year a group of beekeepers and environmental and consumer groups sued the EPA for not doing enough to protect bees from the pesticide onslaught.

For the last several years scientists have fretted over the future of bees, and although research has shed much light on the crisis, those in the bee businessfrom hive keepers to commercial farmerssay the insects remain in deep trouble as their colonies continue to struggle.

The current crisis arose during the fall of 2006 as beekeepers around the country reported massive lossesmore than a third of hives on average and up to 90 percent in some cases. Bees were flying away and simply not coming back keepers would find boxes empty of adult bees except for a live queen. No bee corpses remained to tell the tale. The losses were unprecedented and fast.

Unprecedented Pollinator Crisis

A man uses smoke to harvest honey from a honeycomb.

So what makes bees vulnerable to those diseases, what’s killing their immunity, continues to be the $15-billion question.

Problems Piling Up

The Threat From Pesticides

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Neonicotinoids In Your Food

More than 4 million pounds of neonicotinoids are applied to between 140 million and 200 million acres of cropland annually. They became popular because they are very effective on insects.

But studies show adverse effects on mammals including humans. They have a similar effect as nicotine. They affect the nervous system and may have contributed to nervous system disorders. These include increased risk of autism spectrum disorders, memory loss, and harm to developing fetuses.

Neonicotinoids cannot be washed off of food prior to consumption.

They are used in 90% of corn seeds and 50% of soybeans. They have been found in 12 of 19 fruits and vegetables. Neonic insecticides are most prevalent in potatoes, spinach, lettuce, cherries, and cauliflower. They are in up to 31% of infant and toddler foods. The pesticides are also in half of North American honey.

The only way to protect yourself is to buy organic. The only way to protect the bees is to encourage Congress to ban these pesticides.

Selecting Ccd And Healthy Colonies

Colonies used were sampled in 2007 as part of an epidemiological study that sought to determine potential causes of CCD we collected bees from 13 apiaries located in either Florida or California during January and February 2007. Colonies were classified in the field as coming from apiaries lacking CCD or apiaries having colonies with CCD . Out of the 55 colonies in CCD apiaries, 36 were in apparent decline , while 19 appeared healthy at the time of collection. For CCD colonies, we examined approximately 10 bees from each colony, with samples taken randomly from bees collected from the brood nest .

For healthy colonies, these were from one of the beekeeping operations originally sampled the colonies were transferred to Pennsylvania and kept in one of the authors backyards in 2008. The colonies were observed for several months to verify health. From these colonies, bees from various age groups were sampled, with approximately 50 bees of each group taken from each of six healthy colonies. All of the bee samples were initially frozen at -80°C and then stored in 70% ethanol at room temperature.

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Honey Bee Nutrition And Health

Honey bee pollination is responsible for about $15 billion worth of crops in the United States each year . About 1/3 of our diet directly or indirectly comes from the crops pollinated by honey bees. Some crops, such as berries and cherries, and almonds exclusively depend on honey bees for pollination .

In recent decades, the health of honey bees has been challenged by new pathogens, parasites, and pests as well as ever greater use of pesticides . Additionally, the lack of diversity and availability of pollen and nectar has significantly reduced the honey bee lifespan and immune defence . All these factors combined have resulted in a large reduction in the bee population globally. In the United States, approximately 30% of managed honey bees die each winter which is twice as much as what is acceptable by beekeepers . Since 2007, Colony Collapse Disorder has brought much attention to the public, politicians, and scientists. CCD is characterized by a colony with no dead bee bodies except the queen and a handful of adults, and immature bee larvae . The cause of CCD has not been found. However, CCD may be one result of the combination of multiple risk factors from biotic and abiotic sources. Honey bee nutrition is one of the most fundamental factors influencing honey bee health and impacting their capabilities to combat parasites, pathogens, and other environmental stressors such as agrichemicals and environmental changes .

B. Grodzinski, … R. Yada, in, 2011

Colony Loss And Economic Impact

Honeybees Endure Sting of Colony Collapse Disorder

The unexplained loss of honeybee colonies that came to be known as CCD was first reported in the fall of 2006 by a commercial beekeeper from Pennsylvania, U.S., who was overwintering his colonies in Florida. By February 2007 several large commercial migratory beekeeping operations in the United States had reported cases of CCD, with some operators suffering the loss of 5090 percent of their colonies. Many of these larger operations were overwintering their colonies in California, Florida, Oklahoma, and Texas. By late February 2007 some nonmigratory operations located in the mid-Atlantic region and the Pacific Northwest of the United States also had reported the loss of more than 50 percent of their colonies. The absence of dead bees in the affected hives made initial investigations difficult and inconclusive. That same year, other countries, including Canada, Portugal, Italy, Spain, Greece, Germany, Poland, France, and Switzerland, also reported substantial losses of honeybees. From 2006 to 2011 total annual colony losses in the United States averaged around 33 percent beekeepers cited CCD as the cause of roughly one-third of those losses.

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Study Strengthens Link Between Neonicotinoids And Collapse Of Honey Bee Colonies

For immediate release: May 9, 2014

Boston, MA Two widely used neonicotinoidsa class of insecticideappear to significantly harm honey bee colonies over the winter, particularly during colder winters, according to a new study from Harvard School of Public Health . The study replicated a 2012 finding from the same research group that found a link between low doses of imidacloprid and Colony Collapse Disorder , in which bees abandon their hives over the winter and eventually die. The new study also found that low doses of a second neonicotinoid, clothianidin, had the same negative effect.

Further, although other studies have suggested that CCD-related mortality in honey bee colonies may come from bees reduced resistance to mites or parasites as a result of exposure to pesticides, the new study found that bees in the hives exhibiting CCD had almost identical levels of pathogen infestation as a group of control hives, most of which survived the winter. This finding suggests that the neonicotinoids are causing some other kind of biological mechanism in bees that in turn leads to CCD.

The study appears online May 9, 2014 in the Bulletin of Insectology.

We demonstrated again in this study that neonicotinoids are highly likely to be responsible for triggering CCD in honey bee hives that were healthy prior to the arrival of winter, said lead author Chensheng Lu, associate professor of environmental exposure biology at HSPH.

For more information:

Study Of Ccd Caused By Radiation In Hives:

The first criteria are well explored and the studies confirmed theradiation effects arepossible for CCD due to mobile handsets. Thewaggling dance, foraging, and navigation behavior of honey beesare destructed due to radiation emission of mobile phones. Iselectromagnetism one of the causes of the CCD? A work plan fortesting this hypothesis, Marie-Claire Cammaerts 9. Theexperimental study made in Belgium. The honey boxes with andwithout mobile phones have experimented in radiation exposure.The health condition and behavioral changes in honey bees arepredicted during experimentation. The study has shown that thehoney bees hesitated to enter into the hive where mobile handset isplaced inside. The bee felt discomfort and given alert sound aboutthe indication of danger. The count of bee entered in anotherentrance is comparatively high and nobehavioral change was recorded. Electromagnetic Radiation Clashes with Honey Bees, Sainudeen Sahib.S done anexperimental study with six honey hives 10. The selected hiveswith mobile handsets and results shown the strong destruction ofnavigational skills in worker bees and colony collapsed due to highradiation emission. The study did notcover any distance measuresbetween cell towers, mobile handsets, and hives.

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Effect On The Economy

The Western honeybee is the world’s premier managed pollinator species. Demand for its services has soared from fruit, nut, and vegetable growers. Among nut producers, almond growers have the highest need for bee pollination. The demand represents almost 100 crop species, making up one-third of the average diet. Bee pollination is worth $15 billion to the U.S. farming industry.

Disruption of the honeybee supply raises prices for domestically grown nuts, fruits, and vegetables.

In California, it tripled pollination fees. Beekeepers charged almond growers $51.99 per hive in 2003. By 2009 that rose to $157.03 a hive. By 2016, that fee increased to prices between $180 and $200 a hive.

Over the last six years, the bee industry spent $2 billion to replace 10 million hives. That’s for an industry that makes $500 million a year.

These high costs force beekeepers to charge more to replace hives when they collapse. Higher fees cost almond growers an extra $83 million a year. They pass those costs on as higher prices.

Colony collapse disorder also affects the beef and dairy industries. Bees pollinate clover, hay, and other forage crops. As they die off, it raises the cost of feedstock. That increases beef and milk prices at the grocery store.

The disorder will lead to increased imports of produce from foreign countries where it doesn’t exist. That will raise the U.S. trade deficit.

What Does It Look Like

Bees and Colony Collapse Disorder, Explained

Colony Collapse Disorder was first reported in 2006. Beekeepers began reporting high colony losses where the adult honeybees simply disappeared from the hives, almost all at the same time. There were few, if any, dead bees found in or around the hives. The queen and immature bees were often found in the hives with plenty of food stores, inadequately attended by a few adult bees.

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Mystery Of The Missing Bees Looks Back At Colony Collapse Disorder

The New York Times RETROREPORT, a video series that looks back at the major stories that shaped the world, recently covered colony collapse disorder a mysterious epidemic that appeared in 2006 and has been blamed for a third of honey bee colony losses in successive winters . CCD-affected hives are characterized by very low or no adult honey bees present in the hive but with a live queen and no dead honey bee bodies present. In short, worker bees abandon their hives.

Scientists have yet to identify a single cause of CCD, although many different agents have been proposed. These include pesticide residues, habitat loss, pathogens, parasitic mites, diseases, pollution, viruses, cell phones and even sunspots. Complicating the situation, winter losses have fluctuated in recent yearsthe winters of 2011/12 and 2013/14 saw around 22 and 23 percent colony loss respectively, down from 36 percent at the height of the epidemic. However, during the winter of 2012/13 the number crept up above 30 percent. According to the USDA, it is still unclear whether decreases in colony loss correspond to decreases in CCD or are the result of other factors, such as warm weather or changes in bee keeping practices.


Costs And Benefits Of Neonicotinoid Use

Environmentally, neonicotinoids have strengths and weaknesses. One factor that is both positive and negative is that neonicotinoids remain in plant tissues for months to even more than a year . This means that the chemical is sequestered from nontarget animals and application can be widely spaced, which is valuable. However, their half-lives in the environment range from days to years . While it might be good for the grower and ultimately require fewer applications, this persistence may increase risk to nontarget organisms.

These pesticides have received a lot of attention concerning their possible involvement with honeybee die-offs or what is called Colony Collapse Disorder in the United States and Europe . Beginning in 2006, beekeepers in the United States began to notice unusual declines and extinctions of their honey bee colonies. A third of honey bee colonies in the United States were lost during each winter between 2006 and 2009 . Approximately 29% of 577 beekeepers across the United States reported CCD and losses of up to 75% of their colonies according to Stokstad . The economic loss in terms of decreased pollination of crops amounts to millions of dollars. The causes of CCD remain unclear, but a variety of suggestions have been postulated including pesticides, parasites, fungus, other pathogens, beekeeping practices , malnutrition, and immunodeficiency.

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Selective Commercial Breeding And Lost Genetic Diversity In Industrial Apiculture

Most of the focus on CCD has been toward environmental factors. CCD is a condition recognised for greatest impact in regions of ‘industrial’ or agricultural use of commercially bred bee colonies. Natural breeding and colony reproduction of wild bees is a complex and highly selective process, leading to a diverse genetic makeup in large within-colony populations of bees, which might not be reproduced in commercially bred colonies.

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