Thanks Michael for this NY Times blog on Bee CCD ("Colony Collapse Disorder"):
To summarize, I believe the author is advocating that wild bees be used to
re-seed the commercial honey bee populations, because wild bees have no
problem with CCD.
This is the first mainstream item that I've noticed that touches on any
truth. Yes, the wild bees have no problem with CCD, however, missing is
better news -- bees raised by organic methods have no problem either.
Why? Because both types of bees are NOT raised exploitively, like
slaughterhouse cattle, oversized and with poisonous chemicals.
No mainstream news is mentioning organic beekeepers, whose bountiful harvest
is unabated by CCD. I joined the organic beekeepers forum to obtain the
foundational knowledge to beekeeping. I interviewed those people that the
NY Times interviewed, like Mr. Hackenberg, the beekeeper, and I interviewed
the representive of an irradiation company that irradiates wooden beehive
Wild and organic bees are both strong and their larvae are strong, because
they and their brood are normal size. "Industrial" bees are oversized (like
commercial cattle and cows) and bee mites attack their brood which are
raised in oversized cell matrixes. The mites can slip into the oversized
cells and gain a foothold in the colony. If cells are smaller, normal size,
the mites cannot invade. Mites are easily groomed away by bees, IF -- mites
do not gain an advantage through oversize cells. With mites, farmers are
sold the idea that chemicals will save their bees, but those just weaken the
bees, and the bees are then vulnerable to more mites, and the newer
agricultural chemicals, pesticides, etc.
Wild and organic bees have no problem when encountering pesticides and
genetic crops either. The are that strong. They are ancient animals, and
evolved well to the present day.
Where is orthodoxy on this subject? Avoidance, as usual, and hyping
techno-products. But what can we expect from the NY Times whose board of
directors is dominated by chemical and pharmaceutical execs?
I responded, hoping to get this published (doubt it),
One of the few posts on CCD that begins to touch on what I think is the
truth about CCD.
Before commenting, I'll summarize that article: The author suggests that
wild-bees, who have survived 'colony collapse disorder' ("CCD"), should be
used to re-seed the bee population. His point is genetic strength.
I researched CCD, and to begin with an uncomplicated foundation, I joined an
organic bee forum. Organic bee keepers have no problem with CCD They have
tremendous honey production and no CCD. It is mostly their view that I'm
Both wild bees and bees raised by organic methods (even around conventional
pesticided farms) have no problem with CCD.
This is because big commercial beekeepers raise oversize bees and treat the
hives with chemicals to kill parasites -- analogous to slaughter-house cattle.
The bees are supplied oversize wax cell matrix ("large cell"), causing the
bee larvae to grow oversize. Mites then infect the larvae because the cells
are not sealed tight, and mites take over the beehive. Normal size bees
have no problem grooming each other and removing mites, without chemicals.
Bees have been dealt successfully with mites for eons, without industrial
Organic beekeeping method also does not replace honey with sugar, which
weakens the bee population further. Orthodox bee honey is basically cane or
corn sugar exuded through bee GI tracts, and thus the lousy flavor compared
to organic methods of beekeeping, which uses the vital complex, flower nectar.
'Industrial' bees end up in a negative cycle where the chemicals weaken the
bees, and kill mites, but the mites easily infect weakened oversized bees
and vulnerable larvae -- this is the usual result of a destroyed ecology,
via chemicals and manipulation of the animals and environment.
From the beginning of this plague, the NY Times has published articles that
promote 'virus causation', and 'irradiation of bee hives'. And all follow
that lead. But that is to be expected from a newspaper whose board of
directors is dominated by pharmaceutical corporate executives. NY Times'
board is described on their site.
Without toxicology, the results of viropathology and bacteriology are moot.
And toxicology is almost always avoided when a plague is analyzed.
Yes, the new pesticides are killing the bees, however, these are just the
straw that breaks the camel's back. Fundamentally, bees, like
slaughter-house cattle, are raised in horrible industrial conditions.
On Thu, 29 Jan 2009 16:18:35 -0800, Michael H Goldhaber <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>Also many interesting comments on the site.
>Guest Column: A Low-Tech Treatment for Bee Plague
>BY AARON E. HIRSH
>On a bright day last spring, I hiked at dawn into the foothills behind
>our house in Colorado. Snow still lay in the shadows beneath boulders
>and pine trees, but the morning was warm � so warm the honeybees I
>keep up there would soon awaken, emerge from their wooden boxes and
>begin searching out their first nectar of the new year.
>As I climbed the final slope, I could see that two of the hilltop
>hives were already thrumming with activity: bees lifted off from the
>entry holes, catching the light and rising like sparks on a wind; and
>bees spiraled in for a landing, returning already from their first
>outings. The third hive, however, was conspicuously quiet � its
>entrance a small dark hole offering no sign of life.
>Colony Collapse, I thought: The bee plague.
>Bees crawl on a frame used in bee hives. (Ann Johansson for The New
>As you�ve probably heard, honeybees are disappearing. Across the
>country, beekeepers are cracking open their hives to discover the
>remnants of a sudden and mysterious desertion: the stores of honey are
>good; the brood are tucked as usual into their cells; but all the
>adults are gone. Last winter, over a third of the honeybee hives kept
>in the United States suffered the strange fate now called Colony
>What�s at stake here is not just our honey, or our favorite symbol of
>cooperative society, but our food. Most of our crops require
>pollination � deposition of a bit of male pollen on the female flower
>� to set fruit and ultimately produce the parts we eat. Out of 115 of
>the world�s leading crops, 87 depend on animals � predominantly bees �
>to perform that vital act of placing pollen.
>And it is important to add that, here in the United States, the
>majority of our crops are pollinated not by wild bees, or even by
>honeybees like mine, which live in one location throughout the year,
>but by a vast mobile fleet of honeybees-for-rent.
> From the almond trees of California to the blueberry bushes of Maine,
>hundreds of thousands of domestic honeybee hives travel the interstate
>highways on tractor-trailers. The trucks pull into a field or orchard
>just in time for the bloom; the hives are unloaded; and the bees are
>released. Then, when the work of pollination is done, the bees are
>loaded up, and the trucks pull out, heading for the next crop due to
>The mobile fleets have been hit exceptionally hard by Colony Collapse
>Disorder, and if the epidemic continues, crop yields will soon
>decline. The consequences of CCD are therefore very clear. The causes,
>however, are not.
>A recent survey of all the foreign DNA that could be found in honeybee
>hives discovered that a certain virus was present in 85 percent of
>hives that had fallen to CCD, but only 5 percent of hives that had
>not. That�s a strong association. But it�s not perfect, and there is
>surely more to the story.
>Many of us have had the experience of contracting a cold shortly after
>an intense stretch of work. The lesson in this common ordeal � that
>the transition from health to disease is rarely so simple as exposure
>to the wrong bug � is probably as true for honeybees as it is for
>people. And CCD hit a honeybee population that was already feeling
>worn down: a large mite that attaches to bees and sucks their fluids,
>a tiny mite that inhabits the bee trachea, and a pair of fungal
>infections were all taking a toll when CCD first appeared. Not
>surprisingly, evidence of this grim company also showed up in the
>survey of foreign DNA.
>But those plagues, too, could be part of a broader erosion of honeybee
>health. If you hang around beekeepers, from the hobbyists on up to the
>managers of mobile fleets, you�ll hear a variety of hypotheses about
>CCD. The mobile hives, some say, are overworked: for a species that
>evolved with an off-season and a steady home, year-round migratory
>labor must be taxing.
>What�s more, each time they fly out into a new workplace, the
>itinerant honeybees encounter a variety of insecticides, herbicides
>and crops engineered to produce insecticidal proteins. And between
>jobs, they get a road-trip diet of pure corn syrup, which lacks many
>Some keepers say the problem isn�t just with the honeybees� lifestyle,
>but with their genetics, as well, since they�ve been bred for traits
>that make them easier to handle, but may also render them more
>vulnerable to disease.
>The list of plausible risk factors goes on. But if the cause of CCD
>truly is complex and multi-factorial, or if it simply remains obscure,
>what is there to do?
>I�d like to back up a bit, because here we may need a brief history of
>bees. Honeybees first came to the New World on European ships. Once
>they�d hitched a ride across the Atlantic, however, they required no
>further assistance. They went feral, expanding swiftly � on their own
>� across the American landscape.
>As the feral honeybees extended their range, they took up residence
>alongside thousands of native species of bees that were already here.
>There were the carpenter bees, which bored holes to nest in; the
>bumblebees, which formed small seasonal colonies; the orchard bees,
>which moved into the holes abandoned by others; the alkali bees, which
>burrowed in hardpan soil; and many, many others � all here before the
>For bees, the next important historical development was the
>transformation of landscapes. The immigrant humans set about remaking
>the continent � clearing land, building, sowing crops � and we have
>done so, at an accelerating rate, ever since. Obviously, a parking lot
>is a hard place for bees to live. Less obviously, a huge field of a
>single crop is equally unsuitable, for it lacks nesting sites, and
>yields its nectar as a sudden flood that soon recedes. Consequently,
>if a bee isn�t traveling the interstates by truck from one blooming
>field to the next, the American landscape is a tough place to make a
>And yet, the wild bees � both the feral honeybees and many of the
>native species � have persisted. To this day, they are stowed away in
>our attics, hidden in holes in our wood siding and our dirt roads, and
>mostly, subsisting in the thin, semi-natural interstices of our
>What does this mean for our current pollination crisis?
>Those remnant wild bees, feral and native alike, might just be the
>seeds of a solution. And to sow those seeds and foster their growth,
>we must not till the earth, but do just the opposite: we must take
>patches of agricultural land out of production, and restore them to
>At present, wild bee populations are too small, too few and too far
>between to take on the task of pollinating our crops. That, of course,
>is why fleets of domestic honeybee hives must be trucked in to do the
>job. But if the wild bees were provided with habitat of the right kind
>and in the right geographic arrangement, they could achieve
>pollination both reliably and effectively.
>As the swift expansion of feral honeybees across the Americas shows,
>they are not especially picky about their habitat; most anything
>outside of parking lot or vast monoculture will do. And for native
>bees, habitat could be restored to suit the needs of whichever species
>are exceptionally good pollinators of local crops. Bumblebees, for
>instance, are the best pollinators of Maine blueberries, whereas blue
>orchard bees work well for California almonds.
>The right geographic arrangement of habitat would also depend on which
>native species are desired for a certain crop. Many native species are
>willing to fly relatively far from their home habitat � a kilometer or
>so � to visit flowers; accordingly, patches of habitat for these bees
>could be placed relatively far apart.
>Other species are homebodies, reluctant to fly more than a few hundred
>meters; to provide their services to an entire agricultural field,
>habitat patches would need to be closer together. Feral honeybees, for
>their part, are relatively fleet-winged, so whatever arrangement works
>for the natives will work for them, too.
>Admittedly, there are costs of this rather low-tech solution to our
>pollination crisis: the opportunity cost of not cultivating those
>patches of land; the investment in restoration of habitat; the extra
>care required in applying insecticides close to established habitat.
>But restoring bee habitat provides many offsetting benefits.
>First, it allows us to foster the most effective pollinators for each
>crop, potentially increasing yields over levels achieved with
>pollination by domestic honeybees alone.
>Second, habitat restoration is a singularly robust solution: It builds
>a diversified portfolio of potential pollinators, thus reducing our
>exposure to any one population�s collapse.
>And third, a feral honeybee population distributed across a broad
>network of patches would harbor genetic diversity and inhabit a wide
>variety of environments � a wise insurance policy against problems
>with domestically bred hives.
>As I arrived beside my own silent hive, I knelt and put my ear to the
>wooden box: Nothing. In a vague gesture of apology or consolation, I
>placed my hand on the box. Strangely, I received an answer: a gentle
>hum. And just then, from the dark entry hole, a bee emerged into the
>early light. Not dead, I realized. Just sleeping in.
>Thanks to D.G. Burnett, O. Judson, J. Maximon, T.H. Ricketts and V.H.
>Volny for helpful discussions.
>The DNA survey of honeybee hives is reported in D.L. Cox-Foster et al.
>(2007) �A metagenomic survey of microbes in honey bee colony collapse
>disorder.� Science 318: 283-7. A good summary of current thinking on
>the causation of CCD is M.E. Watanabe (2008) �Colony collapse
>disorder: many suspects, no smoking gun.� BioScience 58: 384-8. For a
>review of the role of animal pollinators in our food supply, see A. M.
>Klein et al. (2007) �Importance of pollinators in changing landscapes
>for world crops.� Proc. R. Soc. B 274: 303-313. Two excellent papers
>on the services of native pollinators are T.H. Ricketts et al. (2008)
>�Landscape effects on crop pollination services: are there general
>patterns?� Ecology Letters 11: 499-515 and R. Winfree et al. (2007)
>�Native bees provide insurance against ongoing honey bee losses.�
>Ecology Letters 10: 1105-13.
>For a guide to fostering native bees in your neighborhood, see
>�Alternative Pollinators: Native Bees.�