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  • #16
    Re: Mystery killer silencing honeybees

    There are a number of domestic bees that do pollinate many crops. Mason bees are available for purchase from a few reputable sources. They do not produce honey, however.
    Please do not ask me for medical advice, I am not a medical doctor.

    Avatar is a painting by Alan Pollack, titled, "Plague". I'm sure it was an accident that the plague girl happened to look almost like my twin.
    Thank you,
    Shannon Bennett


    • #17
      Re: Mystery killer silencing honeybees
      The Effect of Herbal Remedies on the Production of HumanInflammatory and Anti-inflammatory CytokinesVivian BarakPhD, Shlomo BirkenfeldMD, Tal Halperin and Inna KalickmanMScImmunology Laboratory for Tumor Diagnosis, Department of Oncology, Hadassah University Hospital, Jerusalem, IsraelIsrael Cytokine Standardization LaboratoryKey words: herbal remedy, Sambucol, Protec, Chizukit N, inflammatory/anti-inflammatory cytokinesAbstractBackground:Some herbal remedies are sold as food additivesand are believed to have immune-enhancing properties.Objectives:To study the effect of five herbal remedies ?Sambucol Black Elderberry Extract, Sambucol Active Defense Formulaand Sambucol for Kids (with known antiviral properties), Protec andChizukit N (containing propolis and Echinacea, claimed to be immuneenhancers) ? on the production of cytokines, one of the maincomponents of the immune system.Methods:The production of four inflammatory cytokines (inter-leukin-1?, tumor necrosis factor alpha, and IL-6 and IL-8) and one anti-inflammatory cytokine (IL-10) was tested using blood-derived mono-cytes from 12 healthy donors.Results:The Sambucol preparations increased the production offive cytokines (1.3?6.2 fold) compared to the control. Protec inducedonly a moderate production of IL-8 (1.6 fold) and IL-10 (2.3 fold) whileChizukit N caused only a moderate increase in IL-10 production (1.4fold). Both Protec and Chizukit N caused moderate decreases in IL-1?,TNFa and IL-6 production. Lipopolysaccharide, a known activator ofmonocytes, induced the highest levels of cytokine production (3.6?10.7fold).Conclusions:The three Sambucol formulations activate thehealthy immune system by increasing inflammatory and anti-inflam-matory cytokines production, while the effect of Protec and Chizukit Nis much less. Sambucol could therefore have immunostimulatoryproperties when administered to patients suffering from influenza (asshown before), or immunodepressed cancer or AIDS patients who arereceiving chemotherapy or other treatments.IMAJ 2002;4(Suppl):919?922For Editorial see page 944Recently, there has been worldwide interest in the role of medicinalbotanicals in complementary medicine.Sambucusspecies havebeen used for many years by Native Americans, mostly for thetreatment of rheumatism and fever [1,2]. Sambucol is a naturalremedy with antiviral properties and is especially effective againstthe human influenza virus. The main ingredient of the formulationis an extract of the black elderberry (Sambucus nigraL.) [1].Sambucol Active Defense and Sambucol for Kids also contain smallamounts ofEchinaceaand propolis. The black elderberry, which iswidely used in Europe in juices and preserves and designated a"natural antibiotic," contains high amounts of three bioflavonoidsand anthocyanins [3,4] that possess many biologic activities,including antioxidant properties [5?7]. Extracts of plants containingbioflavonoids and purified flavonoids were active against herpesvirus type 1, respiratory syncytial virus, parainfluenza and influenzaviruses [7]. Sambucol was shown to inhibit the hemagglutinationand replication of 10 different human influenza viruses, both type Aand B [8]. In a double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized study,Sambucol reduced the duration of flu symptoms to 3?4 days.Convalescent-phase serum antibodies contained higher antibodylevels to influenza virus in the group treated with Sambucol, ascompared with the control group [8]. The prevention of flu-likesymptoms by Sambucol was also demonstrated in a colony ofchimpanzees in the Jerusalem Zoo [9].Echinacea, the purple coneflower, is being used as a herbalremedy for the common cold and bronchitis [1,10]. Studies haveshown that preparations of this plant affect the phagocytic immunesystem but not the acquired immune system or the production ofcytokines [11?13]. Propolis, produced by the honey bee from plantresins, has been used as an antibacterial material for cleaningwounds and as an anti-inflammatory remedy for over 2,000 years. Itis considered to be an antioxidant, having a protective effect on theliver [14], and reduces damage caused by irradiation [15]. Protecand Chizukit N are natural remedies that contain bothEchinaceaandpropolis. To the best of our knowledge, there are no publications onstudies to assess the effect of these products on the immunesystem. The aim of the present study was to determine the immune-enhancing potency of Sambucol, Protec and Chizukit N prepara-tions by studying theirin vitroeffect on the production ofinflammatory and anti-inflammatory cytokines by human mono-cytes of healthy individuals.Subjects and MethodsMonocyte culturesTwelve donors (healthy students with no inflammatory conditionsand currently receiving no medications) participated in this study.Heparinized peripheral blood (50 ml) was obtained from eachsubject and diluted 1:1 with phosphate-buffered saline. Themononuclear cells were separated by Ficoll-Hypaque sedimentation(400g, 30 minutes) and washed three times with PBS (175g, 10minutes) to remove platelets. An aliquot of cells was counted in aIL = interleukinTNFa = tumor necrosis factor alphaPBS = phosphate-buffered saline919IMAJ. Vol 4, Supplement . November 2002Herbal Remedies Affect Cytokine ProductionOriginal Articles
      Page 2
      hemocytometer, and viability was checked using the trypan blueexclusion method. The adherent cells were >90% monocytesestimated by b-naphthyl acetate non-specific esterase staining[16]. The cells were suspended in RPMI 1640 media, supplementedto a final concentration of 1 mM sodium pyruvate, 50 U/mlpenicillin, 50 mg/ml streptomycin, 2 mM L-glutamine, 1/100 MEM-vitamins and 2% inactivated human AB serum. The cells were platedin 24-well culture dishes at a concentration of 4x106cells per welland incubated for 90 minutes at 378C in a humidified atmospherecontaining 5% C02. Non-adherent cells were removed by aspirationand the wells were washed three times with PBS. The adherent cellswere cultured for 24 hours in RPMI media without the addition ofserum. Different Sambucol formulations (1/10 dilution, 10 m/well) orlipopolysaccharide (100 ng/ml) as a control monocyte stimulatorwere added to the monocytes. At the end of the culture period (24hours) the supernatants were harvested, centrifuged (300g, 10minutes) and stored at ?708C until assayed for cytokines, aspreviously reported [17,18].Test formulationsA standardized extract of the black elderberry (E.E.) is the mainingredient of different Sambucol preparations (Razei-Bar, Israel).Sambucol Black Elderberry Syrup (B.E.) contains 38% E.E., glucose,raspberry extract, citric acid and honey. Sambucol Active Defense(A.D.), known in the USA as Immune System Formula, contains 38%E.E., glucose, raspberry extract, citric acid, honey,Echinaceaangustifolia, Echinacea purpurea, propolis, ascorbic acid and zincgluconate. Sambucol for Kids (KIDS) contains 19% E.E., glucose,raspberry extract, citric acid, E. angustifolia, E. purpureaandpropolis. The anthocyanin content of theSambucolformulationswas assessed by measuring the absorbance at 526 nm (not lessthan 0.6 for B.E., A.D. and 0.3 for Kids) [1,7].The main ingredients of Protec (Herbamed, Switzerland) areextracts ofE. angustifolia, E. purpureaand propolis. In addition, itcontains sucrose syrup, natural vitamin C and rose hip solutions.The main ingredients of Chizukit N (Hadass, Israel) are extracts ofE.purpureaand propolis. It also contains sucrose and orange oil.Cytokine assaysThe levels (pg/ml) of the inflammatory cytokines interleukin-1b, IL-6, IL-8 and tumor necrosis factor alpha and of the anti-inflammatorycytokine IL-10 were measured in supernatants of monocyte culturesby a solid-phase enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (R&D,Minneapolis, USA).This assay employs the quantitative ``sandwich''enzyme immunoassay technique. A monoclonal antibody specificfor the cytokine molecule was precoated onto the polystyrenemicrotiter plate. Standards and samples were introduced into thewells where the immobilized specific antibodies bind the cytokines.After washing away unbound proteins, the second enzyme-linkedpolyclonal or monoclonal antibody specific for the cytokine wasadded to the wells to ``sandwich'' the cytokine immobilized duringthe first incubation. Following a wash to remove any unboundantibody-enzyme reagent, a substrate solution was added to thewells, causing the development of a color that was proportional tothe amount of cytokine bound in the initial step. The colordevelopment was stopped and the intensity of the color measured.A standard curve plotting the optical density versus the concentra-tion of a given cytokine was prepared and used to determine theconcentration of the cytokine in unknown samples, as previouslyreported [17?20].Stimulation indexThe effect of the different formulations on the induction ofinflammatory/anti-inflammatory cytokine production (pg/ml) wasexpressed as:cytokine production with remedyStimulation index = ????????????????????????cytokine production without remedyFigure 1.The mean stimulation index of[A]TNFa,[b]IL-6, and[C]IL-10.920V. Barak et al.IMAJ. Vol 4, Supplement . November 2002Original Articles
      Page 3
      ResultsThe range and mean stimulation index of inflam-matory and anti-inflammatory cytokine productioninduced by Sambucol, Protec and Chizukit Npreparations, as well as by LPS, in monocytes ofhealthy donors are shown in Table 1. The produc-tion of all five cytokines was increased by the threeSambucol preparations (1.3?6.2 fold) as comparedto the control. The highest stimulation index wasobserved with B.E., followed by A.D. and Kids.Protec induced only a moderate production of IL-8(1.6 fold) and of IL-10 (2.3 fold), while it caused asmall decrease in IL-1?, TNF and IL-6 production.Chizukit N showed only a moderate increase in IL-10 production (1.4 fold) and a moderate decreasein IL-1?, TNF and IL-6 production. LPS, a knownactivator of monocytes, induced the highest levelsof cytokine production (3.6?10.7 fold).Figure 1 shows the induction of TNFa and IL-6as representatives of inflammatory cytokines andof IL-10 as a representative of anti-inflammatory cytokines.DiscussionThe results of this study show that all Sambucol formulations had astrong stimulatory effect on the production of inflammatory andanti-inflammatory cytokines tested. Sambucol for Kids, whichcontains the lowest amount of elderberry extract, had indeed thelowest stimulation index. This is in accordance with results of aprevious preliminary study [21].Protec induced a moderate increase in the production of IL-8,which was lower than that of the three Sambucol preparations. Italso induced increased IL-10 production, which was at the samelevel as that of Sambucol for Kids. Chizukit N induced a decrease inthe amount of four inflammatory cytokines tested. However, itcaused a moderate increase of IL-10 production, which was at thesame level as that of Sambucol Active Defense.Echinaceaand propolis, when tested separatelyin vitro,moderately reduced the production of inflammatory cytokines(data not shown). This is in accordance with the present studywhere Protec and Chizukit N, both of which containEchinaceaandpropolis, moderately decreased the production of the fourinflammatory cytokines tested.Our results are in accordance with other studies that alsoshowed that extracts ofEchinaceaare not able to induce increasedcytokine production [10,11]. Levels of the cytokines (IL-1a, IL-1b,IL-2, IL-6, TNFa, and interferon gamma) were measured in culturesupernatants of stimulated whole blood cells derived from 23tumor patients undergoing a 4 week oral treatment with anEchinaceacomplex. No significant changes were detected in theproduction of all cytokines tested [11]. In healthy volunteers, two offive studies performed with different preparations ofEchinaceashowed an enhancement in the phagocytic activity of polymorpho-nuclear neutrophil granulocytes [22]. Propolis was shown toenhance murine macrophage spreading and mobility [23]. Itsinfluence on the production of cytokines has not yet been recorded.We assume that the induction of IL-8 by Protec is due to thepresence of the ingredient propolis.Inflammatory cytokines such as TNFa, IL-1b, IL-6 and IL-8 aremulti-potential mediators of the cellular immune system, having awide variety of biologic activities. They can have favorable orunfavorable effects on the host immune response, depending ontheir local concentration. Unfavorable effects may occur at very lowor very high concentrations of these cytokines [19,20,23]. Thebalance between the production of inflammatory and anti-inflammatory cytokines will be responsible for the outcome andthe duration of the immune response.Herbal remedies such as Sambucol products may stronglystimulate the immune system through inducing cytokine produc-tion in healthy individuals, as well as in patients with influenza, aspreviously shown [8], or in other immunodepressed patients, suchas cancer or HIV patients.Acknowledgments. This study was not funded in any way by anycompany that produces and markets the products of Sambucol,Protec and Chizukit N in Israel. In the capacity of Head, IsraeliCytokine Standardization Laboratory, we have performed manystudies dealing with various activation pathways and inducers ofhuman cytokines.References1. British Herbal Pharmacopoeia. British Herbal Medicine Association.West Yorks 1998;186?7.2. Borchers AT, Keen CL, Stern JS, Gershwin ME. Inflammation and NativeAmerican medicine: the role of botanicals. Am J Clin Nutr 2000;72:339?47.Table 1.The range (minimum and maximum) and mean stimulation index (+ SD) of inflammatory(IL-1b, TNFa , IL-6, IL-8) and anti-inflammatory cytokines (IL-10), by different formulations.SAMBUCOLIndexLPSBEKIDSADPROTECT CHIZUKITIL-1bRange1.7?9.61.2?3.80.8?2.10.9?2.40.4?1.10.3?0.9M ean4.8+2.52.0+0.71.3+0.41.5+0.50.6+0.20.6+0.2TNFaR ange5.2?142.4?101.5?7.61.4?8.70.3?1.00.4?1.3Mean9. 5+2.96.2+3.33.7+2.25.3+2.40.7+0.30.7+0.3IL-6Range2.7?25.21.9?9.01.2?4.41.5?5.80.4?2.00.3?1.2M ean10.7+7.75.3+2.02.3+1.13.2+1.50.9+0.40.7+0.3IL-8Range1.5?4.81.3?9.10.7?6.11.1?5.70.4?4.70.5?1.8Me an3.6+1.12.4+1.12.3+1.62.2+1.51.6+1.40.9+0.2IL-10Range1.0?19.01.0?141.0?8.80.7?4.70.5?9.40.6?3.5M ean7+1.43.8+2.81.8+2.11.4+1.42.3+3.51.4+1.1LPS = lipopolysaccharide, BE = Sambucol Black Elderberry Syrup, KIDS = Sambucol for Kids,AD = Sambucol Active DefenseLPS = lipopolysaccharideHIV = human immunodeficiency virus921IMAJ. Vol 4, Supplement . November 2002Herbal Remedies Affect Cytokine ProductionOriginal Articles
      Page 4
      3. Bronnum-Hansen K, Hansen SH. High-performance liquid chromato-graphic separation of anthocyanins of Sambucus nigra L. J Chromatogr1983;262:385?92.4. Youdim K, Martin A, Joseph JA. Incorporation of the elderberryanthocyanins by endothelial cells increases protection against oxidativestress. Free Radic Biol Med 2000;29:51?60.5. Abuja PM, Murkovic M, Pfannhauser W. Antioxidant and prooxidantactivities of elderberry (Sambucus nigra) extract in low densitylipoproteins oxidation. J Agric Food Chem 1998;46:4091?6.6. Shimoi K, Matsuda S, Shen B, Furugori M, Kinae N. Radioprotectiveeffects of anti-oxidative plant flavonoids in mice. Mutat Res1996;350:153?61.7. Robak J, Gryglewski RJ. Bioactivity of flavonoids. Pol J Pharmacol 1996;48:555?64.8. Zakay-Rones Z, Varsano N, Zlotnik M, et al. Inhibition of several strainsof influenza virus in vitro and reduction of symptoms by an elderberryextract (Sambucus nigra L.) during an outbreak of Influenza B Panama.J Altern Compl Med 1995;1:361?9.9. Burge B, Mumcuoglu M, Simmons T. The effect of Sambucol on flu likesymptoms in chimpanzees: Prophylactic and symptom-dependenttreatment. Internat Zoo News 1999;46:16?19.10. Percival SS. Use of Echinacea in medicine. Biochem Pharmacol2000;60:155?8.11. Burger RA, Torres AR, Warren RP, Caldwell VD, Hughes BG. Echinacea-induced cytokine production by human macrophages. Int J Immuno-pharmacol 1997;19:371?9.12. Elsaser-Beile U, Willenbacher W, Bartsch HH, Gallati H, Schulte MontingJ, von Kleist S. Cytokine production in leukocyte cultures during therapywith Echinacea extract. J Clin Lab Anal 1996;10:441?5.13. Roesler J, Emmendorffer A, Steinmuller C, Luettig B, Wagner H,Lohmann-Matthes ML. Application of purified polysaccharides fromcell cultures of the plant Echinacea purpurea to test subjects, mediatesactivation of the phagocyte system. Int J Immunopharmacol1991;13:931?41.14. Basnet P, Matsushige K, Hase K, Kadota S, Namba T. Four di-O-caffeoylquiniq acid derivatives from propolis. Potent hepatoprotective activity inexperimental liver injury models. Biol Pharm Bull 1996;19:1479?84.15. El-Ghazaly MA, Khayyal MT. The use of aqueous Propolis extract againstradiation induced damage. Drugs Exp Clin Res 1995;21:229?36.16. Barak V, Fuks Z., Gallili N, Treves AJ. Selection and continuous growth ofantigen specific human T cell lines by antigen treated monocytes.J Immunol l983;l3:952?6.17. Nagler A, Bishara A, Brautbar C, Barak V. Dysregulation of inflammatorycytokines in unrelated bone marrow transplantation. Cyt Cell Mol Ther1998;4:161?7.18. Barak V, Nisman B, Polliack A, Vannier E, Dinarello CA. Circulating levelsof IL-1 family members in hairy cell leukemia: correlation with diseaseactivity and response to treatment. Eur Cytokine Netw 1998;9:33?9.19. Barak V, Schwartz A, Kalickman I, Nisman B, Gurman G, Shoenfeld Y.Hypophosphatemia as a diagnostic tool in sepsis: the role of cytokines.Am J Med 1998;104:40?7.20. Barak V. Cytokine receptors in disease. Isr J Med Sci 1995;31:1?9.21. Barak V, Halperin T, Kalichman I. The effect of Sambucol black elderberry,a natural product based on the production of human cytokines: I.Inflammatory cytokines. Eur Cytokine Netw 2001;12:290?6.22. Melchart D, Linde K, Worku F, et al. Results of five randomized studieson the immunomodulatory activity of preparations of Echinacea. J AlternComplement Med 1995;1:145?60.23. Dinarello CA. Biologic basis for Interleukin-1 in disease. Blood1996;87:2095?9.Correspondence: Dr. V. Barak, Dept. of Oncology, Hadassah UniversityHospital, P.O. Box 12000, Jerusalem, 91120, Israel.Phone: (972-2) 677-6764Fax: (972-2) 643-5308email: barak845@yahoo.comC a p s u l eSarcoidosis: TB or not TB?Litishkym et al. report the case of a 37 year old man whopresented with symptoms overlapping both tuberculosis andsarcoidosis (Ann Rheum Dis2002;61:385). After various tests thatwere negative for TB, sarcoidosis was diagnosed and the patientwas treated with steroids, followed by resolution of hissymptoms. Following the initial treatment he returned on severaloccasions ? each time with different and new symptoms, eachtime testing negative for TB, and each time receiving a course ofsteroids. Almost 2 years after his initial symptoms, he returnedonce again, but on that occasion tested positive for TB. Theoutcome raises two crucial questions: a) was TB present from theoutset but masquerading as sarcoidosis? b) were TB andsarcoidosis present simultaneously, with TB having been inducedby steroid therapy?This case exemplifies the importance of a high degree ofalertness. TB could have been considered given the fact that thepatient was not recovering and his presenting symptoms were notconsistent with sarcoidosis. The message here is: reevaluate andreconsider diagnoses that do not respond (as expected) totreatment; look for chronic infections such as TB in patients withchronic monoarthritis, even if there is an underlying disease; andlastly, if polymerase chain reaction is positive and there is aclinical suspicion, initiate anti-TB treatment immediately.A similar picture emerges in the article ``When typical isatypical: mycobacterial infection mimicking cutaneous vasculitis''(Rheumatology2002:41:685), where Gordon et al. report on twopatients with systemic lupus erythematosus who developed skinlesions, after receiving immunotherapy. The diagnosis of vascu-litis was considered in both cases. However, unlike the previousreport, biopsy revealed the correct diagnosis.No man can put a chain about the andle of his fellow man without at last findingthe other end fastened about his own neckFrederick Douglas, Civil Rights Mass Meeting, Washington, DC, 1883922V. Barak et al.IMAJ. Vol 4, Supplement . November 2002Original Articles
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      Please do not ask me for medical advice, I am not a medical doctor.

      Avatar is a painting by Alan Pollack, titled, "Plague". I'm sure it was an accident that the plague girl happened to look almost like my twin.
      Thank you,
      Shannon Bennett


      • #18
        Re: Mystery killer silencing honeybees

        Mystery illness devastates honeybee colonies

        A mysterious illness is devastating honeybee populations across the US from California to Florida, claiming up to 80% of colonies in some areas.
        The losses of honeybees could disrupt the pollination of food crops, researchers warn.

        Beekeepers are finding once-healthy colonies abandoned just a few days later, says Jerry Bromenshank, at the University of Montana at Missoula and Bee Alert Technology, a company monitoring the problem: ?In most cases the only one left is the queen, along with a few young bees.?

        The absence of dead bees makes it difficult to know what ails them and where they have gone.

        Furthermore, experts cannot track the spread of the mysterious illness. ?The problem is that it strikes out of the blue,? says Bromenshank.

        At a loss for an explanation, researchers have referred to the honeybee decline as ?colony collapse disorder?.

        Reports of the problem have intensified in recent weeks and spanned 22 states, but some beekeepers say that they began seeing their colonies decline almost two years ago.

        Enlarge image
        The US states affected by colony collapse (Image: Bee Alert Technology/Lupine Logic)

        Almonds and apples

        Researchers say colony collapse disorder might be a re-emergence of a similarly mysterious illness that struck US honeybees in the 1960s.

        Experts never pinpointed the cause behind that previous bee crisis, according to Bromenshank. He notes that in light of this some people have jokingly termed the problem the ?disappearing-disappearing illness?.

        But beekeepers and farmers see no humour in the potential economic costs of drastic honeybee decline.

        Almond crops are immediately vulnerable because they rely on honeybee pollination at this time of year.

        And the insect decline could potentially affect other crops later in the year, such as apples and blueberries.

        Bromenshank speculates that dry conditions in the autumn reduced the natural food supply of the honeybees, making them more vulnerable to some sort of virus ? such as deformed wing virus ? or fungal infection.

        He notes that the abandoned colonies are not repopulated by other honeybees or insects for at least a few weeks.

        This, he says, is consistent with the presence of toxic fungal residues from the dying bees that repel other insects from re-inhabiting the colony.

        Other scientists have tentatively blamed the problem on pesticides or chemicals specifically designed to control mites in bee colonies.?

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        • #19
          Re: Mystery killer silencing honeybees

          DADE CITY - Dave Hackenburg was the first to notice it - a mystery disease that's killed half the nation's bees.

          "It's basically in 22 states, maybe more than that," he said.

          The mystery illness hit Florida first, and Dave's farm hard. He had 1900 hives with millions of bees - now most are gone.

          "You have a hive of bees that are there, and within a matter of weeks the bees dwindle down, disappear, and fly out - don't come back. When you get done, you have a hive empty - no dead bees on the ground," said Hackenburg.

          It's a staggering and unprecedented loss - one that scientists can't explain.

          The dead bees have traces of almost every disease that's affected bees for the past hundred years.

          There is something knocking down their immune systems - their ability to fight off disease," explained Entomology professor Diana Cox-Foster.

          Every year, bees pollinate crops across the nation.

          "One out of every three bites of food we eat is dependent on the honey bee," offered Hackeburg.

          Federal bio-defense scientists have already been out to Dave's farm to find answers.

          "They're taking this and running DNA to see if it's something related on the human side," he said.

          Hackenburg and others from across the country plan to meet in Stuart with top state and federal agricultural officials in the next few days about how to proceed into the spring pollination season.
          We've got you covered

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          • #20
            Re: Mystery killer silencing honeybees

            What's the buzz?

            For Marshall apiarist -- that's a beekeeper -- it's a hobby, but a nationwide decline in hives threatens some crops

            Sunday, February 25, 2007
            By Len Barcousky, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

            Beekeeper Bob Jenereski placed his ear against the white hive sitting on the edge of a snowy cornfield in Pine.
            "Can you hear that hum?" he asked. Faintly audible through the beehive's wooden wall was a steady whir.
            <!--BEGIN PHOTO-->
            <table align="right" border="0" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" width="240"><tbody><tr><td></td> <td></td></tr> <tr><td></td> <td>Steve Mellon, Post-Gazette
            Bob Jenereski checks on one of his bee hives in Marshall. Mr. Jenereski has been managing hives for more than 50 years.
            Click photo for larger image.
            </td></tr></tbody></table><!--END PHOTO--> The outside temperatures was 6 degrees. Inside their hive, thousands of bees, fueled by stored honey, were flexing their wing muscles. Acting like a single organism, they were using their collective body heat to keep the core temperature at the center of the hive -- the bee cluster -- at a steady 95 degrees. Now Mr. Jenereski and the state's 2,000 beekeepers are worried that familiar sound may end abruptly. The culprit is still unidentified, but the result is being called Colony Collapse Disorder.
            Those colony losses come at a time when both the number of beekeepers and number of hives are dropping in Pennsylvania. Penn State scientists estimate that the number of colonies has dropped to about 35,000, down from 80,000 in the late 1980s.
            Those declines could have serious consequences for farmers across the state who rely on honeybees to pollinate many of their crops.
            Pollination refers to transfer of pollen from the male portion of a plant blossom to the female part. That fertilization, which is done by wind, hummingbirds and a variety of insects, is necessary for plants to produce seeds and the fruits or vegetables that surround them.
            Many plants, including crops as diverse as watermelons and almonds, require cross-pollination: pollen from one flower fertilizing the stigma of another flower. Honeybees are a critical element in cross-pollination. For some crops, like almonds, they are the only pollinator.

            Early start

            Mr. Jenereski, 65, has been an apiarist, or beekeeper, for more than 50 years. He began when he was a teenager growing up in Richland.
            An accounting graduate of what is now Robert Morris University, he spent 36 years working in financial positions at Westinghouse Electric and other companies. During all those years of indoor work, he continued to keep bees. Since he retired 10 years ago, however, he has been able to devote much more time to his hobby. Over the past decade he has almost tripled the number of his hives from 125 to 350.
            He said his wife, Jackie, doesn't share his passion for the insects, but has no fear of them and gladly helps with routine care when more than two hands are required.
            All but a few of his hives have been placed next to farmers' fields, mostly in Allegheny, Butler and Lawrence counties. "Farmers get the benefits of pollination," he said during an interview at his home in Marshall. "I get the honey."
            In a good year, the bees will produce 30,000 pounds of excess honey, or as much as 200 pounds per hive, which can be removed without harming the health of the colony. Last year, however, the honey yield was much lower, about 10,000 pounds. He estimated that he lost about $15,000 on his hobby in 2006.
            Honey bees are generally docile creatures, he said, stinging only when they sense their hive is threatened. One reason for their reluctance to attack is linked to their anatomy. Each honeybee stinger is barbed and remains imbedded, along with a part of the insect's abdomen, in the victim's skin. The result is painful for the recipient, but it is invariably fatal to the bee, Mr. Jenereski said.
            While he has been stung more times than he can remember, he had only one really bad experience.
            Sometimes when a colony outgrows its hive, the queen and about half the inhabitants will abruptly leave. The black cloud of insects will swarm onto a tree branch, a fence rail or a bush, while scout bees search for a new home.
            Having ingested and stored their fill of honey before departing from their old hive, the bees are nearly incapable of stinging when they first leave, he said.
            Called in to help a neighbor who reported a swarm, Mr. Jenereski said he followed his standard approach, gently shaking the insects from the tree branch into a cardboard collection box. The box of bees, including the queen, could then be placed near a clean, empty hive.
            Perhaps because the swarm had begun to perceive the branch as its new colony, this time some bees attacked.
            He doesn't know how many times he was stung, only that he feared he would pass out from the pain. "I had to lie down for a while," he recalled.
            But such incidents are aberrations, he said. Mr. Jenereski has battled in the past with Marshall officials who have sought to stop him from keeping hives at his home.
            "Anytime anyone gets stung, they see a hive and figure it was a honeybee," he said.
            The much more likely culprits are hornets, yellow jackets or other wasps. Those are the stinging insects that most often buzz around cups of soda or beer at picnics. They also build their nests in lawns, on tree limbs or under building eaves. They can and will sting, sometimes several times, when disturbed and without deadly consequences for themselves, he said. Their stingers have no barbs.

            Help from a veteran

            Mr. Jenereski took up beekeeping in 1955 when his late parents, Stanley and Helen Jenereski, were having trouble getting an adequate harvest of cucumbers and zucchini at their half-acre garden in Richland. Honeybees, he said, are the perfect creature for pollinating many vegetable, fruit and grain flowers.
            An older beekeeper who lived in Pittsburgh's Sheridan neighborhood, and whose name Mr. Jenereski remembers only as Mr. Miles, offered him his first hive. "He gave it to me at no charge, but made me promise to do the same every year for another new beekeeper."
            The vegetable garden prospered, and Mr. Jenereski had found his avocation -- and has kept his promise to support beginners.
            He is active in multiple apiary organizations around the state and the country. Even during the coldest days of February, he is attending meetings or giving seminars for novice beekeepers. Later this month he will travel to the Florida Keys to help a friend manage his hives before the start of lime blossom pollination.
            "We'll make sure each hive has a queen, enough food and no signs of disease," he said.
            Many professional beekeepers move their hives hundreds or even thousands of miles during each growing season, he said. They work their way north in the late winter and spring as trees and plants produce blossoms. For many beekeepers, the season starts with pollinating strawberry plants or citrus trees in Florida and ends five or six months later in Maine blueberry fields.
            Other crops that depend largely on bees for pollination include alfalfa, cherries, pears and plums.
            Pennsylvania produces about $45 million worth of apples each year. About 90 percent of the pollination for that crop is done by honeybees, according to Maryann Frazier, a honeybee extension specialist at Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences.
            A 2000 Cornell University study calculated that honeybee pollination increases U.S. agricultural production by almost $15 billion, according to the National Honey Board.
            Most wild honeybee colonies have been wiped out by several varieties of parasitic mites, making farmers more reliant on managed colonies. But as beekeepers have retired, the number of managed colonies has declined.

            Colony collapse

            The latest blow bees and their keepers face is Colony Collapse Disorder.
            While no single cause has been identified, the state Department of Agriculture had identified several likely factors. They include mites, viruses carried by the mites and pesticide contamination, according to Dennis vanEngelsdorp, the acting state apiarist.
            While winter die-off is common among his hives, Mr. Jenereski said he has seen no early signs of collapse among his colonies. For example, among the 16 hives he visited earlier this month in Pine, just one showed no signs of life.
            Other beekeepers, however, began reporting hive losses as high as 80 percent this fall. Ms. Frazier said state officials were worried that local beekeepers would discover much higher-than-normal death rates when they start to make their early spring inspections later this month.
            Lack of honeybee colonies this spring could hurt farm harvests this summer and fall. "Apples, other tree fruits like cherries, raspberries, blackberries, pumpkins, squash and melons are all bee-pollinated crops," she said.
            Mr. Jenereski sees himself as an advocate for bees. He also is a student of the long history of beekeeping. The ancient Egyptians managed hives 4,000 years ago. "It still is as much an art as a science," he said. "The honey is such a small part of the story."
            After more than 50 years spent observing and caring for them, he remains awed by the variety of their life cycles and by their ability to work together for the good of the hive.
            He doesn't overlook the ruthless nature of their short lives. An aging or ill queen most often will be stung to death by her daughter- successor, he said. Exhausted or injured field bees will be carried out of the hive by house bees and left to perish. The insects make those sacrifices in an effort to keep the colony strong and healthy, he said.
            "Their life cycle is fascinating," he said. "And the pollinating they do is critical for agriculture."
            "They are almost perfect creatures," he said.

            "In the beginning of change, the patriot is a scarce man (or woman, and brave, and hated and scorned. When his cause succeeds, the timid join him, for it then costs nothing to be a patriot."- Mark TwainReason obeys itself; and ignorance submits to whatever is dictated to it. -Thomas Paine


            • #21
              Re: Mystery killer silencing honeybees

              California - Visalia

              David Bradshaw has endured countless stings during his life as a beekeeper, but he got the shock of his career when he opened his boxes last month and found half of his 100 million bees missing. In 24 states across America, beekeepers have gone through similar shocks as their bees have been disappearing inexplicably at an alarming rate, threatening not only their livelihoods but also the production of numerous crops, including California almonds, one of the nation's most profitable. "I have never seen anything like it," Bradshaw, 50, said from an almond orchard here beginning to bloom. "Box after box after box are just empty. There's nobody home." The sudden mysterious losses are highlighting the critical link that honeybees play in the long chain that gets fruit and vegetables to supermarkets and dinner tables across the country. Beekeepers have fought regional bee crises before, but this is the first U.S. national affliction. In a mystery worthy of Agatha Christie, bees are flying off in search of pollen and nectar and simply never returning to their colonies. And nobody knows why. Researchers say the bees are presumably dying in the fields, perhaps becoming exhausted or simply disoriented and eventually falling victim to the cold.

              As researchers scramble to find answers to the syndrome they have decided to call "colony collapse disorder," growers are becoming openly nervous about the capability of the commercial bee industry to meet the growing demand for bees to pollinate dozens of crops, from almonds to avocados to kiwis. Along with recent stresses on the bees themselves, as well as on an industry increasingly under consolidation, some fear this disorder may force a breaking point for even large beekeepers. A Cornell University study has estimated that honeybees annually pollinate more than $14 billion worth of seeds and crops in the United States, mostly fruits, vegetables and nuts. "Every third bite we consume in our diet is dependent on a honeybee to pollinate that food," said Zac Browning, vice president of the American Beekeeping Federation. The bee losses are ranging from 30 to 60 percent on the West Coast, with some beekeepers on the East Coast and in Texas reporting losses of more than 70 percent. Beekeepers consider a loss of up to 20 percent in the off-season to be normal. Beekeepers are the nomads of the agriculture world, working in obscurity in their white protective suits and frequently trekking around the country with their insects packed into 18-wheel trucks, looking for pollination work. Once the domain of hobbyists with a handful of backyard hives, beekeeping has become increasingly commercial and consolidated. Over the last two decades, the number of beehives, now estimated by the U.S. Agriculture Department to be 2.4 million, has dropped by a quarter and the number of beekeepers by half.

              Pressure has been building on the bee industry. The cost of maintaining hives, also known as colonies, is rising, along with the strain on bees of being bred to pollinate rather than just make honey. And beekeepers are losing out to suburban sprawl in their quest for spots where bees can forage for nectar to stay healthy and strong during the pollination season. "There less beekeepers, less bees, yet more crops to pollinate," Browning said. "While this sounds sweet for the bee business, with so much added loss and expense due to disease, pests and higher equipment costs, profitability is actually falling." About 15 worried beekeepers convened in Florida this month to brainstorm with researchers on how to cope with the extensive bee losses. Investigators are collecting samples and exploring a range of theories for the colony collapses, including viruses, a fungus and poor bee nutrition. They are also studying a group of pesticides that were banned in some European countries, including France, to see if they are somehow affecting bees' innate ability to find their way back home.

              It could just be that the bees are stressed out. Bees are being raised to survive a shorter off-season, to be ready to pollinate once the almond bloom begins in February. That has most likely lowered their immunity to viruses. Mites have also damaged bee colonies, and the insecticides used to try to kill mites are harming the ability of queen bees to spawn as many worker bees. The queens are living half as long as they did just a few years ago. Researchers are also concerned that the willingness of beekeepers to truck their colonies from coast to coast could be adding to bees' stress, helping to spread viruses and mites and otherwise accelerating whatever is afflicting them. Dennis van Engelsdorp, a bee specialist with the state of Pennsylvania who is part of the team studying the bee colony collapses, said the "strong immune suppression" investigators have observed "could be the AIDS of the bee industry," making bees more susceptible to other diseases that eventually kill them off. Growers have tried before to do without bees. In past decades, they have used everything from giant blowers to helicopters to mortar shells to try to spread pollen across the plants.

              More recently, researchers have been trying to develop "self-compatible" almond trees that will require fewer bees. One company is even trying to commercialize a "blue orchard bee" that is stingless and works at colder temperatures than the honeybee. Beekeepers have endured two major mite infestations since the 1980s, which felled many hobbyist beekeepers, and three cases of unexplained disappearing disorders as far back as 1894. But those episodes were confined to small areas, van Engelsdorp said. Today, the industry is in a weaker position to deal with new stresses. A flood of imported honey from China and Argentina has depressed honey prices and put more pressure on beekeepers to take to the road in search of pollination contracts. Beekeepers are trucking tens of billions of bees around the country every year. California's almond crop, by far the biggest in the world, now draws more than half of the country's bee colonies in February. The crop has been both a boon to commercia l beekeeping and a burden, as pressure mounts for the industry to fill growing demand. Spread over 580,000 acres, or about 235,000 hectares, stretched across 300 miles, or 480 kilometers, of California's Central Valley, the crop is expected to grow to 680,000 acres by 2010.

              Beekeepers now earn many times more by renting their bees out to pollinate crops than they do producing honey. Two years ago a shortage of bees for the California almond crop caused bee rental prices to jump, drawing beekeepers from the East Coast. This year, the price for a bee colony is about $135, up from $55 in 2004, said Joe Traynor, a bee broker in Bakersfield, California. A typical bee colony ranges from 15,000 to 30,000 bees. But beekeepers' costs are also on the rise. In the past decade, fuel, equipment and even bee boxes have doubled and tripled in price. The cost to control mites has also risen, along with the price of queen bees, which cost about $15 each, up from $10 three years ago. To give bees energy while they are pollinating, beekeepers now feed them protein supplements and a liquid mix of sucrose and corn syrup carried in tanker-sized trucks costing $12,000 per load. Over all, Bradshaw figures, in recent years he has spent $145 a hive annually to keep his bees alive, for a profit of about $11 a hive, not including labor expenses. "A couple of farmers have asked me, 'Why are you doing this?'" Bradshaw said. "I ask myself the same thing. But it is a job I like. It is a lifestyle. I work with my dad every day. And now my son is starting to work with us."

              "There's a chance peace will come in your life - please buy one" - Melanie Safka
              "The greatest way to live with honor in this world is to be what we pretend to be" - Socrates


              • #22
                Re: Mystery killer silencing honeybees

                Species under threat: Honey, who shrunk the bee population?

                Across America, millions of honey bees are abandoning their hives and flying off to die, leaving beekeepers facing ruin and US agriculture under threat. And to date, no one knows why. Michael McCarthy reports

                Published: 01 March 2007

                It has echoes of a murder mystery in polite society. There could hardly be a more sedate and unruffled world than beekeeping, but the beekeepers of the United States have suddenly encountered affliction, calamity and death on a massive scale. And they have not got a clue why it is happening.

                Across the country, from the Atlantic coast to the Pacific, honey bee colonies have started to die off, abruptly and decisively. Millions of bees are abandoning their hives and flying off to die (they cannot survive as a colony without the queen, who is always left behind).

                Some beekeepers, especially those with big portable apiaries, or bee farms, which are used for large-scale pollination of fruit and vegetable crops, are facing commercial ruin - and there is a growing threat that America's agriculture may be struck a mortal blow by the loss of the pollinators. Yet scientists investigating the problem have no idea what is causing it.

                The phenomenon is recent, dating back to autumn, when beekeepers along the east coast of the US started to notice the die-offs. It was given the name of fall dwindle disease, but now it has been renamed to reflect better its dramatic nature, and is known as colony collapse disorder.

                It is swift in its effect. Over the course of a week the majority of the bees in an affected colony will flee the hive and disappear, going off to die elsewhere. The few remaining insects are then found to be enormously diseased - they have a "tremendous pathogen load", the scientists say. But why? No one yet knows.

                The condition has been recorded in at least 24 states. It is having a major effect on the mobile apiaries which are transported across the US to pollinate large-scale crops, such as oranges in Florida or almonds in California. Some have lost up to 90 per cent of their bees.

                A reliable estimate of the true extent of the problem will not be possible for another month or so, until winter comes to an end and the hibernating bee colonies in the northern American states wake up. But scientists are very worried, not least because, as there is no obvious cause for the disease as yet, there is no way of tackling it.

                "We are extremely alarmed," said Diana Cox-Foster, the professor of Entomology at Penn States University and one of the leading members of a specially convened colony-collapse disorder working group.

                "It is one of the most alarming insect diseases ever to hit the US and it has the potential to devastate the US beekeeping industry. In some ways it may be to the insect world what foot-and-mouth disease was to livestock in England."

                Most of the pollination for more than 90 commercial crops grown throughout the United States is provided byApis mellifera, the honey bee, and the value from the pollination to agricultural output in the country is estimated at $14.6bn (?8bn) annually. Growers rent about 1.5 million colonies each year to pollinate crops - a colony usually being the group of bees in a hive.

                California's almond crop, which is the biggest in the world, stretching over more than half a million acres over the state's central valley, now draws more than half of the mobile bee colonies in America at pollinating time - which is now. Some big commercial beekeeping operations which have been hit hard by the current disease have had to import millions of bees from Australia to enable the almond trees to be pollinated.

                Some of these mobile apiaries have been losing 60 or 70 per cent of their insects, or even more. "A honey producer in Pennsylvania doing local pollination, Larry Curtis, has gone from 1,000 bee colonies to fewer than eight," said Professor Cox-Foster. The disease showed a completely new set of symptoms, "which does not seem to match anything in the literature", said the entomologist.

                One was that the bees left the hive and flew away to die elsewhere, over about a week. Another was that the few bees left inside the hive were carrying "a tremendous number of pathogens" - virtually every known bee virus could be detected in the insects, she said, and some bees were carrying five or six viruses at a time, as well as fungal infections. Because of this it was assumed that the bees' immune systems were being suppressed in some way.

                Professor Cox-Foster went on: "And another unusual symptom that we're are seeing, which makes this very different, is that normally when a bee colony gets weak and its numbers are decreasing, other neighbouring bees will come and steal the resources - they will take away the honey and the pollen.

                "Other insects like to take advantage too, such as the wax moth or the hive beetle. But none of this is happening. These insects are not coming in.

                "This suggests that there is something toxic in the colony itself which is repelling them."

                The scientists involved in the working group were surveying the dead colonies but did not think the cause of the deaths was anything brought in by beekeepers, such as pesticides, she said.

                Another of the researchers studying the collapses, Dennis van Engelsdorp, a bee specialist with the State of Pennsylvania, said it was still difficult to gauge their full extent. It was possible that the bees were fleeing the colonies because they sensed they themselves were diseased or affected in some way, he said. This behaviour has been recorded in other social insects, such as ants.

                The introduction of the parasitic bee mite Varroa in 1987 and the invasion of the Africanised honey bee in 1990 have threatened honey bee colonies in the US and in other parts of the world, but although serious, they were easily comprehensible; colony collapse disorder is a deep mystery.

                One theory is that the bees may be suffering from stress as beekeepers increasingly transport them around the country, the hives stacked on top of each other on the backs of trucks, to carry out pollination contracts in orchard after orchard, in different states.

                Tens of billions of bees are now involved in this "migratory" pollination. An operator might go from pollinating oranges in Florida, to apples in Pennsylvania, to blueberries in Maine, then back to Massachusetts to pollinate cranberries.

                The business is so big that pollination is replacing honey-making as the main money earner at the top end of the beekeeping market, not least because in recent years the US has been flooded with cheap honey imports, mainly from Argentina and China.

                A typical bee colony, which might be anything from 15,000 to 30,000 bees, would be rented out to a fruit grower for about $135 - a price that is up from $55 only three years ago. To keep the bees' energy up while they are pollinating, beekeepers feed them protein supplements and syrup carried around in large tanks.

                It is in these migratory colonies where the biggest losses have been seen. But the stress theory is as much speculation as anything else.

                At the moment, the disappearance of America's bees is as big a mystery as the disappearance of London's sparrows.


                • #23
                  Re: Mystery killer silencing honeybees

                  Scientists ask: Where are all the bees?
                  A Dade City beekeeper sounds a nationwide alarm as colonies mysteriously disappear.

                  By DAN DEWITT
                  Published March 3, 2007
                  <hr noshade="noshade" size="1"> <!--BSHSTARTBODY--> <!--top--> DADE CITY - To a veteran beekeeper like David Hackenberg, it was as astonishing as seeing water flow uphill.
                  Last October, he left 400 hives in a field in Ruskin to feed in Brazilian pepper tree blossoms. When he returned a month later, all but 36 of the colonies had been abandoned, right down to the part of the honeycomb filled with larvae and pupae - the future of the hives.
                  "I could tell the whole order of things had just gone haywire," said Hackenberg, 58, who has been keeping bees since he was 12.
                  Hackenberg, who spread the word to scientists and other beekeepers, is credited with sounding the alarm about what may be the most devastating honeybee die-off in U.S. history.
                  The crisis, marked by bees mysteriously vanishing from their hives, has been identified in 24 states in every part of the country, said Jerry Hayes, Florida's chief apiary inspector; about 35 percent of Florida's colonies have disappeared, he said, with the losses concentrated in the southern half of the state, where many beekeepers from the eastern United States spend the winter.
                  Unless scientists can find the cause of the die-off, and a solution, its long-term consequences may be as ominous as its name: Colony Collapse Disorder.
                  Not only are the livelihoods of beekeepers endangered, Hayes said, but so is the estimated one-third of the nation's food supply that depends upon honeybee pollination - apples, almonds, melons, blueberries and some varieties of citrus, including grapefruit.

                  "Honey is a byproduct of pollination," he said. "It's wonderful and it's great, but more importantly, without honeybees taking pollen from one flower to another, that plant has no reason to build a fruit or a nut."
                  Scientists alerted
                  Even so, beekeeping remains a small and underappreciated industry, Hackenberg said, "the ugly stepchild of agriculture."
                  That is why Hackenberg has been so important, Hayes said. He is well-connected, opinionated, funny and, for an interview on Thursday afternoon, dressed to stand out, wearing a multicolored hat advertising his business, Hackenberg Apiary, and a large, square belt-buckle engraved with images of bees and honeycomb.
                  A former president of the American Beekeeping Federation, he has been on the telephone constantly in recent weeks, talking to reporters across the country from his winter headquarters in a remote corner of northwestern Pasco County.
                  When he began telling fellow beekeepers of his vanishing hives last fall, some were skeptical, but others told him they had been losing large numbers of bees for more than a year.
                  By reporting this to agriculture officials, Hayes said, Hackenberg "was the one who got this whole thing started."
                  In response, farming experts from several states and universities have formed an emergency working group to study the disease.
                  So far, the scientists know only two things for sure, said Dennis vanEnglesdorp, Pennsylvania's state apiarist: The main symptom has been the mass abandonment of hives. And the variety of fungi, viruses and mites found in collapsing hives suggests a widespread failure of the bees' immune systems.
                  "It's a lot like AIDS," Hackenberg said.
                  The rest, at this point, is conjecture, according to the study group's preliminary report.
                  Bees are increasingly trucked long distances to take advantage of crops, such as almonds, that pay high pollination fees. This may strain their ability to recover from infections, the report says, and expose them to a wider range of diseases and toxic chemicals.
                  "They forage over a large area so they pick up a lot of junk," Hayes said. "I'm surprised there's a honey bee alive."
                  The "prime suspect" for the collapse, according to Hackenberg, is an increasingly popular class of pesticides called neonicotinoids that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has identified as highly toxic to honeybees.
                  Another possible culprit, vanEnglesdorp said, is a new strain of fungus that has appeared in many of the failing hives. But both he and Hayes warned it is far too early to settle on a single cause of the outbreak.
                  "The awkward and frustrating thing at this point is that we're all grasping at straws," Hayes said.
                  Colonies disappear
                  Beekeepers have reported several smaller but equally mysterious collapses in the past, vanEnglesdorp said. In the 1980s, invasive mites from South American all but wiped out the feral bee population and contributed to a steep decline in U.S. beekeeping. The number of hives in Florida has since dropped from a peak of 12,000 to about 1,000 currently, Hayes said, and the number of colonies from nearly 400,000 to 279,000.
                  That, at least, was the count before the current collapse, which cost Hackenberg about 2,000 of his 3,000 hives - and an estimated $350,000 in lost revenue and the expense of rebuilding his stock of colonies.
                  By "splitting" hives, taking bees from a healthy colony to a new box with a young queen, Hackenberg has already created 400 hives. He has deposited some of these into nearby orange groves, where they will improve the harvest, produce a premium grade of honey and use the nectar to build "good, strong, boiling-over beehives that we can take up North to pollinate apples."
                  So, he is confident his business will survive this year, he said. "But what's going to happen next year, if whatever is causing this is still out there? What's to say the problem is not going to get bigger?"
                  Dan DeWitt can be reached at or 352 754-6116.

                  "In the beginning of change, the patriot is a scarce man (or woman, and brave, and hated and scorned. When his cause succeeds, the timid join him, for it then costs nothing to be a patriot."- Mark TwainReason obeys itself; and ignorance submits to whatever is dictated to it. -Thomas Paine


                  • #24
                    Re: Mystery killer silencing honeybees

                    This may also threaten the Washington State $$$$$$$ apple crop. I cannot find anything in the WA news, but will be traveling there in a few weeks, so I will talk to local orcharists.

                    "The next major advancement in the health of American people will be determined by what the individual is willing to do for himself"-- John Knowles, Former President of the Rockefeller Foundation


                    • #25
                      Re: Mystery killer silencing honeybees

                      We have many fruit trees in our yard. Over the past week or so, some have been in full bloom as our weather has been in the 60s and 70s.

                      Most years, the trees would be nearly shivering with honeybees when they are in bloom, but this year I've only seen a handful of bees in the trees.

                      I've never seen so few bees in a blooming fruit tree before.
                      "There's a chance peace will come in your life - please buy one" - Melanie Safka
                      "The greatest way to live with honor in this world is to be what we pretend to be" - Socrates


                      • #26
                        Re: Mystery killer silencing honeybees

                        I talked with an owner of a local apiary and was told that bees right now are hard to find for purchase. Two bee keepers he knew who moved their hives to help pollinate crops lost a significant number of hives due to the hive collapse.
                        We were put on this earth to help and take care of one another.


                        • #27
                          Re: Mystery killer silencing honeybees

                          This really saddens me. Today my peach tree is in full bloom. I just took a walk outside and there were only two honeybees working the tree. I couldn't find any on either of the pear trees.

                          I imagine most crops will be affected by a shortage of honeybees.
                          "There's a chance peace will come in your life - please buy one" - Melanie Safka
                          "The greatest way to live with honor in this world is to be what we pretend to be" - Socrates


                          • #28
                            Re: Mystery killer silencing honeybees

                            Honeybee colony collapse also impact the meat and milk industries....


                            ..... Likewise, seed production of forage crops such as alfalfa, various clovers, trefoil, and vetch, requires many visits by foraging bees. Including the "indirect" value of honey bee pollination (meat, dairy products, vegetables, hay, etc.), honey bees are responsible for nearly half of California's agricultural production (cash receipts for farm marketing), which is currently valued above $30.0 billion. .........

                            (I recommend reading the whole page, as many comments are written by experts in the field & include the impacts of GM crops on bees - yes!)

                            Dear DK and Colleagues

                            Re: Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) -- Mysterious, Massive Death of Bees in the US -- Are bees the Canary in the mineshaft?

                            Albert Einstein made the statement "If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe, then man would only have four years left to live." He was speaking in regard to the symbiotic relationship of all life on the planet. All part of a huge interconnected ecosystem, each element playing a role dependant on many other elements all working in concert creating the symphony of life. Should any part of the global body suffer, so does the whole body.

                            Many people would be surprised to know that 90&#37; of the feral (wild) bee population in the United States has died out. Recent studies in the United Kingdom and the Netherlands have shown that bee diversity is down 80 percent in the sites researched, and that "bee species are declining or have become extinct in Britain." The studies also revealed that the numbers of wildflowers that depend on pollination have dropped by 70 percent. Which came first, the decline in wildflowers or the decline in pollinators, has yet to be determined. If bees continue to die off so would the crops they support and with that would ensue major economic disruption and possibly famine.

                            In the US, bee keepers are experiencing unprecedented die offs of bees some losing as much as 80% of their colonies. Commercial beekeepers in 22 states have reported deaths of tens of thousands of honeybee colonies. So far the cause remains unexplained and somewhat mysterious. It is being called Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) and is causing agricultural honeybees nationwide to abandon their hives and disappear and raising worries about crops that need bees for pollination. It's a kind of mass suicide in the bee world. "There have been cases where there have been these die-offs of bees before, but we have never seen it to this level," said Maryann Frazier, a Pennsylvania State University entomologist. "One operation after another is collapsing."

                            Bees have done quite well for millions of years, in the last 60 years that began to change. In recent years, beekeepers have been losing 25 percent of their hives each winter. Thirty years ago, the rate was 5 percent to 10 percent, said Keith Tignor, the state apiarist for Virginia.

                            The unusual phenomenon was first noticed by eastern beekeepers starting last fall. Researchers, including some connected with the Penn State University College of Agricultural Sciences, have identified some of the possible contributors, but have not yet found a single cause. Initial studies on bee colonies experiencing the die-offs have revealed a large number of disease organisms, with most being "stress-related" diseases but without any one agent as the culprit. Climate chaos and extreme weather seem to be a major factor.

                            It is hard to tell if wild honey bee populations have been affected by the CCD disorder because Varroa mites have "pretty much decimated the wild honey bee population over the past years," said Maryann Frazier of The Pennsylvania State University Department of Entomology. "This has become a highly significant, yet poorly understood problem that threatens the pollination industry and the production of commercial honey in the United States... Because the number of managed honeybee colonies is less than half of what it was 25 years ago, states such as Pennsylvania can ill afford these heavy losses."

                            Dennis van Engelsdorp, acting state apiarist with the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture said "Every day, you hear of another operator, It's just causing so much death so quickly that it's startling."

                            Lee Miller, director of the Beaver County extension office, said the deaths appear to be stress-related, but that stress could come from several sources. Dennis van Engelsdorp of the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture said that initial studies found a large number of disease organisms present, with no one disease being identified as the culprit. And while studies and surveys have found a few common management factors among beekeepers with affected hives, no common environmental agents or chemicals have been identified.

                            University of California Davis entomologist Eric Mussen specializes in bees. He thinks the answer lies in last summer's lack of wild flowers, nationwide. Janet Katz, a beekeeper in Chester, NJ, says the weather is having a major impact, "The weather last season was not cooperative," she said. "Over the course of the season it was too wet, too dry, too hot and too cold, all at the wrong times." Bees store honey every autumn -- a hive needs 60 pounds to survive the winter -- but with this year's warm weather, they ate a lot, and beekeepers had to supplement with sugar syrup.

                            Florida apiarists say citrus growers are compounding the problem by spraying pesticides to kill off a dangerous pest that menaces fruit trees, wiping out bees at the same time. While a combination of problems is putting the bee population in peril, it's the phenomenon of the animals suddenly deserting their hives, never to return, that has observers most baffled.

                            "There have been cases where there have been these die-offs of bees before, but we have never seen it to this level," said Maryann Frazier, a Pennsylvania State University entomologist. "One operation after another is collapsing."

                            At stake is the work the honeybees do, pollinating more than USD 15 billion worth of US crops, including Pennsylvania's apple harvest, the fourth-largest in the nation, worth USD 45 million, and New Jersey's cranberries and blueberries.

                            While a few crops, such as corn and wheat, are pollinated by the wind, bees help pollinate more than 90 commercially grown field crops, citrus and other fruit crops, vegetables and nut crops. Without these insects, crop yields would fall dramatically and some tangerines and pecans would cease to exist. Agronomists estimate Americans owe one in three bites of food to bees."

                            All of the following are dependant on bees, apples, pears, tangerines, peaches, soybeans, pumpkins, squash, cucumbers, cherries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, carrots, broccoli and avocados. And do we realise bees pollinate almonds? California has the biggest almond groves in the world, supplying 80 percent of the nuts on the market; they currently have to import millions of bees to pollinate the groves.

                            There are several unusual things about the phenomena and one common factor that cannot be attributed to be the direct cause but may be an "aggravating other conditions" factor and that is temperature fluctuations.

                            - No single cause drought chemicals/pesticides, mites, bacteria, a fungus or virus seems to be common to all the events or even indicated as a cause in any single event. Extreme weather and temperature fluctuations seem to play a major role stressing the bees and weakening their immune systems.

                            - There are no bee bodies; they simply all disappear, all adult bees are simply gone, sometimes leaving a queen and a few young hatched workers. This is unheard of, since normally a bee colony will do almost anything to protect its queen.

                            - The hive is left intact, with capped cells of honey and bee bread.

                            - Another unusual factor is that bees sensing a dying colony nearby aren't going in right away and killing the other bees and robbing the hive of honey, like they usually do for example when the bees have died of parasites or disease.

                            - Researchers have also noted few signs of damage from wax moths and small hive beetles taking advantage of dead colonies.

                            According to David Tarpy, a bee specialist at NC State, "Bees die all the time, although this year seems to be worse than normal." The difference now is that none of the "usual suspects" are to blame, Tarpy said. "That's what makes it problematic." Also, unlike when bees are killed by some other causes (disease, mites), there are no dead bees littering the bottom of a hive. The bees are simply gone, he said, or perhaps a queen and a few younger bees remain, but the adults have disappeared.

                            Reports of the situation began to come in over the fall and winter, but scientists don't yet have an answer. It might be a disease, a pest or an environmental factor or even a combination of effects making bees vulnerable to an existing problem. Now, the bees have sealed themselves inside the hives to stay warm, and the keepers can't open the structures until spring. Neither entomologists nor growers can say what will happen when the 2007 growing season for most of the country's crops starts. As a result, some people are really worried.

                            Diana Cox-Foster, a professor of entomology at Penn State University, has been working on the problem for months now. She says the die-off is unprecedented, and she's made some dramatic discoveries. For example, the normally resilient bees she dissected showed traces of not one or two diseases, but nearly every disease known to affect them over the past century. They had all the diseases at once, a sign their immune systems have been compromised. "The bees are immuno-compromised, being stressed somehow," she said. Some could be related to the severe weather swings we've seen over the past few years. But many questions remain unanswered.

                            She and the other scientists working on the CSI-style case don't think this is just a cyclical thing. It's uncommon, unusual, and frightening to everyone associated with the often-overlooked industry. No one is sure just how bad it will be when the hives are opened in late march.

                            Where does milk come from? "The bees pollinate the alfalfa, which feeds the cows, which give the milk. Honeybees are one of the main links in our world. They really need to be nurtured." Jerry Hayes of the Florida Department of Agriculture worries the bee is the canary in the mine shaft, "telling us something is happening that will have ramifications for us down the road. "I think the bees are so stressed, they are saying, 'I give up,'" said Hayes, Since the mid-1980s, parasitic mites have been devastating the honey bee population across the country, including the South-eastern US. In North Carolina, the number of kept beehives in the state has dropped by 44 percent, and about 95 percent of wild bees have been wiped out, according to North Carolina State entomologist David Tarpy.

                            A series of hurricanes in 2004, including Katrina in 2005, destroyed thousands of honey bee colonies, decimating the vital Gulf Coast bee industry. Many of the pollinators for other parts of the country traditionally came from these beekeepers. The economic impact of these storms, especially Katrina is yet to be determined.

                            "Replacing the Gulf Coast bee colonies, although highly important, is not enough. It is obvious that the huge losses suffered during the past 16 years must be dealt with to provide security for our future honey bee-dependent food supplies. It will take a well-defined series of coordinated efforts by all components of the beekeeping industry and the involvement of local, state and federal governmental entities to solve this potentially disastrous situation," says John Roberts, a beekeeper and President of Nature Technics Corporation.

                            There has been a sixty-year decline in pollinators. The honeybees and native bees may live in far more harmony than cats and dogs, but the modern world has not been in harmony with them. The last 60 years have been rough on all pollinators. In the 1940s there were over five million managed colonies of honeybees in the United States. Today there are just over two million, and their numbers are declining, both in North America and worldwide.

                            The entire world now faces a decline of native pollinators. Over 100 species of birds and more than 80 mammals that pollinate are considered threatened or extinct by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), a network that includes scientists, experts, government agencies and non-governmental organizations from around the world. Each country has its own tale to tell. In southern India, nearly all of the native bees died in the 1990s when they became infected with an imported virus. In Iraq, smoke from the burning oil wells during the Gulf War decimated most of the country's bee colonies.

                            In summary plants and animals remote in the scale of nature are bound together by a web of complex relations resulting from dependencies we have yet to fully understand. Every creature seems to play a role even, parasites serve a purpose. We are just beginning to understand the beneficial symbiotic relationship between the human body and certain bacteria. We are dependant on many other species and any failure of one part of the ecosystem can create a domino effect causing disruption throughout the entire chain of life. All plants and animals are vulnerable to climate chaos which seem to be having a major impact. Whether or not we are responsible for climate chaos is not as important an issue as to how humanity will adapt. It could also be that our methods centred on mass production and factory farming are in conflict with nature, as we can see in the case of avian flu, we may be creating a world of pestilence having forgotten that we are part of nature and there is a natural order, balance and harmony that needs to be maintained in the dance of life. Like any species in nature that gets out of hand, nature has a way to keep it in check, and humankind may be the next species in line for severe adjustment or even step-by-step eradication.

                            All the best

                            Richard Thomas Gerbe

                            "The next major advancement in the health of American people will be determined by what the individual is willing to do for himself"-- John Knowles, Former President of the Rockefeller Foundation


                            • #29
                              Re: Mystery killer silencing honeybees

                              Thank you AlaskaDenise for posting this article. This could have devastating effect on all of us.


                              • #30
                                Re: Mystery killer silencing honeybees

                                If there is any truth to the theory that lack of wildflowers contributes to fewer bees, perhaps we can all plant wildflowers to increase the bee population.

                                "The next major advancement in the health of American people will be determined by what the individual is willing to do for himself"-- John Knowles, Former President of the Rockefeller Foundation