Thursday, February 12, 2009

Colony Collapse is not New, just with a modern spin.

Colony collapse or disappearing bees has been noted since the mid to late 1800's however just isolated. From the USDA's website :

"There have also been unusual colony losses before. In 1903, in the Cache Valley in Utah, 2000 colonies were lost to an unknown "disappearing disease" after a "hard winter and a cold spring." More recently, in 1995-96, Pennsylvania beekeepers lost 53 percent of their colonies without a specific identifiable cause."
A link to the full page :

With global trade and an interstate freeway system that moves bees all across the country pollinate various crops as they bloom. Just as when one kindergartner gets the sniffles the whole class will get it and then they bring it home, the same can be true with bees. Honeybees already stressed by travel through several different climates and forced to forage on one crop, will not be as strong to fight off any disease. Keeping your honeybees immune system strong will be the key to minimizing the effect of CCD. Traveling into areas with pesticides and genetically modified crops made to be poisonous to pests (though they don't discriminate against good and bad insects) weakens even healthy bees and compromises the immune system. Any disease in the area will then spread like wildfire.

To manage this problem we need to rethink industrial agriculture and look to smaller local solutions, and focus on the overall health of an agricultural region not just in terms of an individual farm that is organic.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Colony Colapse Disorder not affecting Africanized Bees

From what I have been hearing, bees in South America that are Africanized (killer bees as the press likes to say) have not had the problem with Colony collapse disorder. Africanized bees do not have the same problems that we have with mites, they are mite resistant, build strong colonies quickly and are great honey producers. The only caveat is that they are extremely aggressive, beekeepers can work with them but only in full bee suits. What strikes me is that they are mite resistant, mites carry a number of diseases which one is probably CCD. Africanized bees would not lend themselves well to pollenation especially in populated areas, farm hands and passers by could fall victim to their aggresive ways. But if we continue to lose bees modern industrial agriculture may need to "bite the bullet" and look into this option.