The latest buzz

 

It’s been more than two years since HCN reported on the West’s disappearing honeybees (see "Silence of the Bees"). Since then, parasitic mites and a mysterious syndrome called colony collapse disorder have killed off thousands more hives. Honeybees pollinate 80 percent of the fruits and vegetables we eat, and many wild species essential to ecosystems. In China, hive collapse has forced farmers to start pollinating fruit trees by hand with brushes.

Now, researchers at Washington State University think they’ve figured out the major causes of colony collapse disorder. One problem is a pathogen called Nosema cerana, which causes an immune-deficiency disorder in bees, making them more vulnerable to infections, parasites and pesticides. Another is that beekeepers use the same honeycombs for many years, allowing high levels of pesticide residue to build up in the wax. 

Beekeepers are  taking action, reports Canada’s bclocalnews.com:

 

With that in mind, Babe’s Honey is in the middle of a $250,000 makeover to get rid of any trace of chemicals. Every single wooden hive box the company owns -- 35,000 -- are being sand-blasted, fire-scorched and repainted with canola-based paints.

The honeycomb inside, built up with years of wax residue that could contain unknown chemicals, is being removed, melted down and composted. Even the plastic frames that held the comb in place are being replaced with wood to prevent mould and mildew.

Other potential solutions include letting honeybees forage only in areas where pesticides and herbicides are not used, and breeding stronger queen bees.  In urban areas, city dwellers are setting up their own hives too.
 And native bees can help pick up the pollination slack: dozens of species of indigenous bees pollinate some crops even more effectively than the introduced European honey bee, although habitat loss has cut into their populations (see our story "Native Hum"). Now, a $500,000 federal grant will help restore native bee habitat in California and Oregon.

Meanwhile, scientists have developed a new kind of bait to trap a honeybee parasite. Once thought to be the major cause of colony collapse disorder, varroa mites can weaken or kill bees. The U.S. Department of Agriculture just released its first annual report on colony collapse disorder, summarizing the progress that’s been made in identifying and treating the causes of the problem.

Perhaps we’re finally turning the corner on the honeybee crisis. If we quit drenching the crops that bees visit with toxic chemicals, give the bees cleaner hives to live in, and stop trucking them thousands of miles and feeding them corn syrup, they'll be stronger and healthier and longer-lived.

Despite all the mystery that surrounded its emergence, Pitcher suggests the answers needed in the fight against CCD turned out to be obvious.

“Everytime your kids got a cold, would you give them an antibiotic? Would you allow your youth to be raised in a totally ridiculous slum environment? No. So why did we, as beekeepers, become slum landlords?”

Hmm. Perhaps there's a lesson in here for all of us.


High Country News Classifieds
  • WYOMING OUTDOOR COUNCIL OFFICE MANAGER - BOOKKEEPER
    The Wyoming Outdoor Council is seeking an office manager-bookkeeper to join our team. The office manager-bookkeeper supports the program and administrative functions of the Wyoming...
  • HEALTHY RIVERS SENIOR STAFF ATTORNEY
    WRA seeks a passionate attorney to join our Healthy Rivers team. The Senior Staff Attorney will research and advocate for wiser water management and updated...
  • CONSERVATIONIST? IRRIGABLE LAND?
    Stellar seed-saving NGO is available to serious partner. Package must include financial support. Details: http://seeds.ojaidigital.net.
  • CONSERVATIONIST? IRRIGABLE LAND?
    Stellar seed-saving NGO is available to serious partner. Package must include financial support. Details: http://seeds.ojaidigital.net.
  • PROGRAM MANAGER
    Applications will be reviewed on an ongoing basis and will be accepted until: February 03, 2020. Overview Conservation Voters for Idaho (CVI) protects Idaho's environment...
  • WRITING SKILLS TUTOR FOR HIRE!
    Fort Collins, CO college students welcome. Meet on your college campus!
  • CANYONLANDS FIELD INSTITUTE
    Colorado Plateau Natural & Human History Field Seminars. Lodge, river, hiking options. Small groups, guest experts.
  • NATURE EDUCATION DIRECTOR
    Our mission is to inspire a life-long connection to nature and community through creative exploration of the outdoors. We are seeking an educational leader who...
  • REALTOR NEEDS A REMOTE ASSISTANT
    This is a business assistant position, The working hours are flexible and you can chose to work from anywhere of your choice, the pay is...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    Central Oregon LandWatch is seeking an Executive Director to advance our mission and oversee the development of the organization. Job Description: The Executive Director oversees...
  • WESTERN NATIVE SEED
    Specializing in native seeds and seed mixes for western states.
  • MEDIA DIRECTOR
    Love working with the media? Shine a spotlight on passionate, bold activists fighting for wild lands, endangered species, wild rivers and protecting the climate.
  • STAFF ATTORNEY - NEVADA
    The Center for Biological Diversity is seeking an attorney to expand our litigation portfolio in Nevada. Come join our hard-hitting team as we fight for...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    The Montana Wildlife Federation seeks an energetic leader to advance our mission, sustain our operations, and grow our grassroots power. For a full position description,...
  • HISTORIC COMMERCIAL OPPORTUNITY IN DOWNTOWN NOGALES
    Nogales. 3 active lower spaces and upper floor with lots of potential. 520-245-9000 [email protected]
  • CHUCK BURR'S CULTUREQUAKE.COM BLOG
    Change will happen when we see a new way of living. Thinking to save the world.
  • COMING TO TUCSON?
    Popular vacation house, furnished, 2 bed/1 bath, yard, dog-friendly. Lee at [email protected] or 520-791-9246.
  • DIRECTOR, TEXAS WATER PROGRAMS
    The National Wildlife Federation seeks a Director to lead our water-related policy and program work in Texas, with a primary focus on NWF's signature Texas...
  • SPLIT CREEK RANCH
    Spectacular country home on 48 acres with Wallowa River running through it! 541-398-1148 www.RubyPeakRealty.com
  • OJO CALIENTE COMMERCIAL VENTURE
    Outstanding location near the world famous Ojo Caliente Mineral Spring Resort. Classic adobe Mercantile complete w/living quarters, separate 6 unit B&B, metal building and spacious...