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Bees mysteriously dying worldwide
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 16, 2016 10:53 pm    Post subject:  Reply with quote

An 18-year study of bees finally sheds light on something that may be wiping them out

August 16, 2016

For years, there's been suspicion that a class of pesticides known as neonicotinoids are bad for bees. The chemicals, which farmers apply to their crops to keep away insects that munch through their harvests, are among the most used bug-killers out there.

But ecologists have worried the chemicals also affect the insects that help support harvests.

Bees have been mysteriously disappearing in what's called colony collapse disorder, which some scientists believe neonicotinoids are contributing to.

That's a problem because the pollination work bees do is hugely valuable. Commercially managed honeybees produce about $15 billion in value for the US alone and wild American bees another $9 billion.

There's finally a study that tries to actually parse out the effects neonicotinoids have on bees in the wild. It looks at 62 different wild bee species in the UK.

That's important because while only three species of bees and bumblebees are kept by beekeepers and used commercially, experts believe there are closer to 250 wild species in the UK and 4,000 in the US. And while we don't manage them, we do benefit from their pollination.

The new study, which was published August 16 in the journal Nature Communications, also looks at an 18-year timespan that begins before neonicotinoids were introduced in 2002. That means the researchers could actually establish a baseline for how bees were doing before farmers began widely using the chemicals.

Neonicotinoids are used particularly on rapeseed, one variety of which is turned into canola oil. During the month or two they bloom, the flowers turn swaths of the British countryside a shocking yellow.

Some bees like the flowers; some don't. So the scientists were able to divvy bees up by their taste for rapeseed, then look at how their populations changed over almost two decades of surveys.

For a few bees, the scientists estimate about a fifth of their population declines was due to neonicotinoids.

That's not enough to kill off bees taken by itself. But pesticides aren't the only challenge bees are facing. Climate change, differences in how we use the land and what plants they can feed on, and parasites and diseases that infect bees are also putting a dent in populations.

And it doesn't necessarily mean we should stop using neonicotinoids cold turkey. "It needs to be taken in a very holistic perspective, you can't just say as long as we can save the bees everything else can go to hell, that's not where you want to be at," lead scientist Ben Woodcock told the BBC.

Both the Environmental Protection Agency, which regulates pesticides in the US, and the European equivalent are already in the process of re-evaluating their rules for neonicotinoids.

The study isn't quite the gold standard of science, since the researchers were just watching what happened from changes already in place rather than carefully controlling circumstances so that pesticide exposure was the only difference between groups.

But that kind of study is really hard to do in ecology — and getting a long-term, large-scale look at a range of species is better information than we've had before.
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 27, 2016 8:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Aug 27, 2016
-  Honeybee populations and colony numbers in the United States, Canada, Europe, Australia are growing.  The actual cause of bee die-offs and colony collapse disorders is a toxic mix of predatory mites, stomach fungi, other microscopic pests, and assorted chemicals employed by beekeepers trying to control the beehive infestations.
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 01, 2016 5:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bees placed on endangered species list -- a first in the US

(CNN) — The United States is on a mission to save some of its busiest workers: bees.

In a first for bees in the nation, seven bee species native to Hawaii are now protected under the Endangered Species Act.

The US Fish and Wildlife Service said it added the yellow-faced bee species to the federal list of endangered species Friday night after years of research concluded they are under threat.

The rule is effective October 31.

Bees pollinate plants producing fruit, nuts and vegetables, and are crucial for the nation's food industry.

This is one of the seven bee species protected under the Endangered Species Act.

This is one of the seven bee species protected under the Endangered Species Act.

They have declined sharply in recent years due to various factors, including habitat loss, wildfires and loss of genetic diversity.

"Native pollinators in the US provide essential pollination services to agriculture which are valued at more than $9 billion annually," said Eric Lee-Mäder, pollinator program co-director at the Xerces Society, which was involved in petitions calling for the protection of the bee species.

During pollination, insects, birds and bats transfer pollen between plants, which allows them to make seeds and reproduce.

Listing the bees allows authorities to provide recovery programs and get funding for protection.
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 11, 2017 9:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bumblebee listed as endangered species for first time

A bumblebee is now on the endangered species list for the first time in a "race against extinction," the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced Tuesday.

The agency placed the rusty patched bumblebee on the list because of a dramatic population decline over the past 20 years. Since the late 1990s, the population of the species has plummeted 87%.

Named because of the rust-colored marks on its back, the bee was once common and abundant across 28 states from Connecticut to South Dakota. Today, the bee is only found in small, scattered populations in 13 states.

“Our top priority is to act quickly to prevent extinction of the rusty patched bumblebee," wildlife service Midwest regional director Tom Melius said in a statement. "Listing the bee as endangered will help us mobilize partners and focus resources on finding ways right now to stop the decline."

Bees are responsible for pollinating most of the plants that require insect pollination to produce fruits, seeds and nuts. Like other bees, rusty patched bumblebees pollinate important crops such as tomatoes, cranberries and peppers.

It's not just the rusty patched bumblebee that is struggling in the U.S. Other species have experienced dramatic declines in recent decades. The reduction is believed to be caused by a combination of habitat loss, disease, pesticide use, climate change and an extremely small population size.

The endangered designation is made by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service under the Endangered Species Act for species at risk of becoming extinct throughout all or a portion of their range.

Environmental groups praised the designation, including the group that originally petitioned for the listing in 2013, the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation: "We are very pleased to see one of North America’s most imperiled species receive the protection it needs,” said Sarina Jepsen, director of endangered species for the group.

Environment America’s Christy Leavitt said that “protecting the rusty patched bumblebee and all bees is essential for our ecosystem and our food supply. If bees go extinct, it’s simple: no bees, no food," she added.

“Today’s Endangered Species listing is the best — and probably last — hope for the recovery of the rusty patched bumblebee," said Rebecca Riley, and attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council. "Bumblebees are dying off, vanishing from our farms, gardens, and parks, where they were once found in great numbers."

People can help boost the rusty patched bumblebee population by growing a garden or adding a native flowering tree or shrub to yards and minimizing pesticide use, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said. Leaving some areas of the yard unmowed in summer and unraked in fall can also help since bumblebees need a safe place to build their nests and overwinter. Additionally, try leaving some standing plant stems in gardens and flower beds in winter.

This is the first bee of any type in the continental U.S. to be placed on the list. In September, the Obama administration designated seven species of bees in Hawaii as endangered.
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 08, 2017 6:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thousands of Dead Bees Wash Ashore on Naples Beach

A bee expert told WBBH that seeing bees wash up at the beach is very unusual

Thousands of dead and dying bees are washing up on a popular beach in Southern Florida.

Naples beach goers had to watch where they stepped Tuesday after some people say they have been stung just along the shoreline, according to NBC affiliate WBBH-TV.

Martha Duff lives in Naples and recently had a painful encounter with the bees.

"I've been stung a couple of times and at first, I didn't know what it was and then I realized and then I had an allergic reaction," Duff said.

Naples residents say the problem started only a few days ago. They are both concerned and confused.

"Why are there bees? Where are they coming from? And why are they in a very specific area of the beach?" Duff said.

A bee expert told WBBH that seeing bees wash up at the beach is very unusual. The cause could be anything from a nearby pesticide spraying forcing them to the water or a swarm flying overhead that became exhausted and flew into the water.


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