Bees and Neonics v’s CCD

 

Everyone likes to talk about Neonics or neonicotinoid insecticides used mostly as a seed treatment for a variety of plants from Corn to Canola (Rapeseed Oil), Sunflowers and more. But what exactly are we being told and is it true.

Seems that at every corner I read about how Neonics are killing bees and we need to Ban the neonics or bees and humans will die… Man oh man oh man what a load of baloney… Never in all my life have I been subjected to such a load of crap… Not one study has proven a link between Neonics and beehive CCD (Colony Collapse Disorder) but I am constantly bombarded by well-intentioned greenies who behave like Anti-smokers who don’t like the smell of smoke so they make all kinds of wild inaccurate and false accusations because they don’t like Monsanto or Bayer Corp as they make insecticides that kill bugs and yes in high enough concentrations they do kill bees.

The country with the highest usage of Neonics is AUSTRALIA and CCD has not happened here in Australia. We have had bad years where lots of bees died but nothing like ccd in the US and EU and the season of 2013-2014 saw the worst honey production in 200 years and lots of bees died over winter but this was all down to seasonal factors and nothing to do with ccd or Neonics.

Facts yes Facts just don’t support any connection for Neonics as a cause of CCD. Bee deaths in large numbers have been recorded as happening for thousands of years and we have detailed records of major bee death events in almost every country such as 950, 992 and 1443 in Ireland where most bees died for unknown reasons or there is the isle of white where 90% of bees died between 1905 and 1919 with three separate epidemics so it’s not unusual and its relatively common and it’s been happening before chemicals like Neonics arrived and will continue to happen after neonics are forgotten.

So what’s different today compared to before mmm not much really but I could say its frequency appears to have increased and the media coverage has increased and Cell size has increased. What most people don’t know is that many of the Organic beekeepers that stay well away from neonics were also affected by CCD but most small cell beekeepers were relatively unaffected by CCD.

So if it’s not Neonics and it’s not the crap beekeepers put in hives and it’s not farm chemicals then WTF is it that’s causing CCD to happen more frequently than in the past.

Fact is nobody knows……… but like a number of people who follow the science I would like to hazard an educated guess and say it’s no one issue but a number of issues all tied together.

First and foremost is its caused primarily by a Virus of some sort and given we have hundreds of records going back several thousand years describing exactly CCD this is the most likely answer. Secondly the frequency has increased and that is where all the other stuff comes in such as the chemicals used in hives to control Varroa Destructor or fungal issues, the chemicals found on farms of all types, the trucking of bees all around the country, bad management practices by beekeepers plus general environment instability are all contributors to added levels of stress that are allowing these reasonably common bee viruses to get out of control and then Bingo all the bees disappear often leaving just the queen and a handful of bees and all the bees affected by the virus left the hive and only those left behind have escaped the effects of the virus so no real evidence is left to be found and other bees seem to wait 3 to 4 weeks before entering those hives to rob out the left behind honey thus avoiding infection from the virus…….

So what can be done to lessen the impact of such virus attacks? And there devastating effects on bees!

Most small cell beekeepers ie cell size of 4.9mm or below have been relatively unaffected by CCD and generally don’t move there hives around much and don’t use any chemicals in their hives so for me this has to be part of the answer but it’s unlikely to be the only answer and given that CCD has not affected the Asian Honey bee Apis Cerana which has small cells of 4.8mm and below its likely a great place to start.

Lastly I would also say that many of the commercial operators affected by ccd don’t allow there bees access to a full variety of herbal plants that could help to protect bees from virus attacks and there is much to be said for providing a rich variety of herbal plants wherever you have bees to give them better health and vigour and in particular plants like Borage, Evening primrose, Teatree Leptospermum, Chamomile, Rosemary, Echinacea, Hyssop, Lemon balm, Sage and Bee balm to name a few have all been shown to help protect bees and improve there general health.

For further reading on this issue have a look at the following websites and happy beekeeping.

Had to include this quote As H. L. Mencken said, ‘For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong.'

http://www.science20.com/jon_entine/part_ii_bee_deaths_and_ccd_flawed_chensheng_lu_harvard_studies_endanger_bees-149799

http://www.science20.com/timberati/blog/the_bees_knees_question_what_do_the_years_of_992_1443_1853_and_1903_have_in_common-138571

http://www.science20.com/jon_entine/part_i_bee_deaths_mystery_solved_neonicotinoids_neonics_may_actually_help_bee_health-149615

http://scientificbeekeeping.com/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colony_collapse_disorder

http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0006481

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2736458/

http://www.sciencemag.org/content/318/5848/283.short

http://www.bushfarms.com/beesnaturalcell.htm