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Update about honeybees and colony collapse disorder - Input Junkie
March 18th, 2015
12:58 pm

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Update about honeybees and colony collapse disorder
http://www.quora.com/Matan-Shelomi/Posts/Whats-the-deal-with-the-Bees

The very short version is that there are a bunch of factors, and wild bees aren't in danger.

I don't know if anyone knows where the bees are going, exactly, but it looks to me like they're leaving because the living conditions in commercial hives aren't tolerable.

Bees normally live on honey and bee bread (fermented pollen). They aren't happy being fed sugar, fructose, and/or honey. Feeding them honey might not be such a bad idea, except that a lot of the honey available for sale is fake honey, and in the interest of making honey untraceable, the pollen (which bees need) gets filtered out.

The fungicides which are needed to control fungus in the hives also interfere with the fermentation for the bee bread.

There's no pesticide that can kill the mites which are deadly to bees are also at least someone damaging to bees-- they're both arthropods.

Things to do: plant flowers. Oppose habitat destruction. Buy honey at farmer's markets. Be careful about imposing laws-- in Europe, neonicotinoids are forbidden, and farmer's are using the more dangerous pyrethroids.

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From:robby
Date:March 18th, 2015 05:19 pm (UTC)
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I watch the insect pollinators in my garden, and notice that the European honey bees only show up for the high value blossoms, and a huge amount of pollination is done by other insects, including flies.

I guess, in commercial farming, honey bees have become part of an efficient agricultural system, but in a less sophisticated garden setting they're not so important.
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From:nancylebov
Date:March 18th, 2015 05:53 pm (UTC)
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What do you mean by high value blossoms?
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From:robby
Date:March 18th, 2015 08:13 pm (UTC)
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European honey bees seem to like lemon, almond and surprisingly, marigold flowers. Things like hover flies and native bees are less discriminating. I wonder if a clever entomologist could come up with another pollinating insect that would work for commercial agriculture.
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From:nojay
Date:March 18th, 2015 07:04 pm (UTC)
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One reason nicotine-based antifungals are banned in European apiculture is because they're toxic nerve agents responsible for deaths and mental damage when not handled properly. The pyrethroids are a lot less toxic to people (although they also need safe handling practices).
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From:selenite
Date:March 18th, 2015 07:29 pm (UTC)
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Migrant farm workers transported in the back of 18-wheelers desert when they get the chance. I'm unsurprised.
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From:icecreamempress
Date:March 18th, 2015 09:24 pm (UTC)
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Interesting. I see a lot of solitary bees in my garden these days, maybe because the urban honeybees don't like their hive conditions?
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From:bondo_ba
Date:March 19th, 2015 01:53 pm (UTC)
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Europe has a history of passing laws for economic reasons that seemed like a good idea at the time. Their history of resisting transgenic crops was triggered by the fact that the US and other regions got a head start on them, so Europe essentially adopted the view (and has been funding eco-activists to try to support it) that transgenics are evil. In the meantime, yields everywhere are going up, and they're the main reason the world can support 8 billion people.

I assume something similar happened with the pesticide issue.
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