Bee Declines

Discussion in 'Ag Futures' started by infolode, Mar 29, 2007.

  1. As absurd as this sounds, I can only wonder how much of an impact this might have as a ripple effect through markets and time.

    The mysterious deaths of the honeybees
    Honeybee colony collapse drives price of honey higher and threatens fruit and vegetable production.
    By CNN's Amy Sahba
    March 29 2007: 5:28 PM EDT

    WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Beekeepers throughout the United States have been losing between 50 and 90 percent of their honeybees over the past six months, perplexing scientists, driving honey prices higher and threatening fruit and vegetable production.

    At a House Agricultural Subcommittee hearing in Washington, D.C., today, members of various organizations came together to share their concerns about what they have been calling the "Colony Collapse Disorder," or CCD.

    Honeybees have been mysteriously dying across the United States, sending honey prices higher and threatening the agriculture industry.
    Beginning in October 2006, beekeepers from 24 states reported that hundreds of thousands of their bees were dying and their colonies were being devastated.

    In December 2006, beekeepers' associations, scientists and officials formed the CCD working group, in hopes of identifying the cause and solving the problem of CCD.

    Most of the beekeepers who have recently reported heavy losses associated with CCD are large commercial migratory beekeepers, some of whom are losing 50 percent to 90 percent of their colonies.

    The great corn gold rush
    Moreover, surviving colonies are often so weak that they are not viable pollinating or honey-producing units. Losses have been reported in migratory operations in California, Florida, Oklahoma and Texas, but in February some larger keepers of nonmigratory bees, particularly from the mid-Atlantic region and the Pacific Northwest reported significant losses of more than 50 percent.

    Testifying in front of the committee this morning, Caird E. Rexroad, from the Agricultural Research Service, said that although his agency has a variety of theories as to what might be causing CCD, it believes stress on the bees might be the major motive.

    "We believe that some form of stress may be suppressing immune systems of bees, ultimately contributing to CCD." The main four types of stresses that Rexroad identified were migratory stresses, mites, pathogens and pesticides.

    According to the National Agricultural Statistic Service, honey production declined by 11 percent in 2006, and honey prices per pound increased 14 percent, from 91.8 cents in 2005 to 104.2 cents in 2006. Daren Jantzy, with the National Agricultural Statistics Service, told CNN that these statistics are based on numbers collected mostly before the true impact of CCD was noted. Its effect will be more noticeable when the 2007 statistics are collected.

    And the impact goes far beyond direct bee products like honey and wax. Three-quarters of the world's 250,000 flowering plants - including many fruits and vegetables - require pollination to reproduce.

    Dr. May R. Berenbaum, head of the department of entomology at the University of Illinois, believes the economic impact of the decline in bees could be disastrous.

    "Though economists differ in calculating the exact dollar value of honeybee pollination, virtually all estimates range in the billions of dollars," she told representatives at the House hearing.

    But this is not a new problem. Over the past two decades, concern has risen around the world about the decline of pollinators of all descriptions. During this period in the United States, the honeybee, the world's premier pollinator, experienced a dramatic 40 percent decline, from nearly six million to less than two and a half million.

    In 2005, for the first time in 85 years, the United States was forced to import honeybees in order to meet its pollination demands. Berenbaum says that "if honeybees numbers continued to decline at the rates documented from 1989 to 1996, managed honeybees ... will cease to exist in the United States by 2035."
  2. This is a very serious problem... far exceeds the perceived problems with crude oil supplies.

    People hear about "insects" and dismiss it out of hand. Big mistake. A collapse of bee colonies everywhere has swept the U.S. this year. I belong to a beekeepers group, and many complain about bustling hives last year now often 50% to 90% barren.

    The bees aren't dead in the hives as usual, they are just plain missing. Flew away and never came back, as if they became weakened or disoriented by some unknown chemical or disease. Their honey stores left behind go unraided, completely untouched by remaining hives as if they know it's polluted.

    Fewer bees = fewer fruits and vegetables, seeds and flowers of all descript. Flowers & buds that fall off unpollinated with no fruit = vegetable production on the plant would not be good. At all.
  3. I agree..BIG problem.

    Curious detail about unraided honey cache. Very troubling IMO.

    I was talking to various people last year at a local university about this and no one seemed seemed to understand the long term magnitude of this occurrence .

    Greene County Dept of Agriculture here in Ohio, same thing--didn't seem concerned.

    Any theories as to the underlying cause?
  4. <b>infolode</b>, this email from our group talks about the local area growers. My part of NYS is #2 production of apples and #3 production of grapes in the U.S.

    One of our local associates will be testifying. .....Rich

    Testimony slated on bee disorder

    Rochester Business Journal
    March 28, 2007
    Hamlin beekeeper James Doan is scheduled to testify before a House subcommittee Thursday on potential devastation to Rochester area crops due to pollination problems caused by a growing disorder among bees.

    Doan will testify during a session of the subcommittee on honey bees, dairy and organics. Robert King, director of the newly formed Agriculture and Life Sciences Institute at Monroe Community College, said a disease known as Colony Collapse Disorder is destroying bees across the country. Bees pollinate a third of the food most people eat, King estimates.

    "Without honey bees, Monroe County (New York) would suffer a $2.5 million loss in apples, pumpkins, strawberries and squash alone," King said. The MCC institute is advocating for further research and insurance for local beekeepers.

    "We need a national bee disease survey to know what pests and diseases we need to guard against," said Doan, who provides pollination services to farms in the area.

    Analysis of bees has shown foreign fungi, bacteria and weakened immune systems, the MCC institute states."</i>


    It appears the afflicted bees become weakened and disoriented by something. Whether that is bio-engineered crops with built-in pesticide, fungicide or some unknown disease remains a mystery.

    Bees in Europe and the U.S. are in serious trouble. They are responsible (and irreplacable) for polinating a great percentage of our edible crops, feed and flowers of all descript. Subtract 1/4 to 1/3 of our gross annual produce yield in North America, see what that does to CPI readings. Food products dependent on fruits & grains, which include all meat and dairy products would soar in price.

    We can always cut back on gas & oil consumption. How far back do you cut down on food?
  5. Q12


    great post...

    the trickle down effect should not be ignored. i'll have to cut back on those peanut butter and honey sandwiches.
  6. austinp,

    Thanks for the follow-up.

    I've seen this movie and it did not have a happy ending.

    As paranoid as this sounds I don't think our research scientists will be able to convey a sense of urgency to the powers that bee (couldn't resist):p until it's at the 'in your face' crisis stage.
    They have other agendas and not enough funds. In theory the sharing of information from the science and medical community should flow unencumbered but that is most often not the case.

    Sadly, this isn't isolated and there are other"problems" that have been surfacing and will continue to do so. Sometimes ignorance is bliss.

    I think the most powerful nations and people of the future will be those that have control of water, food and medicine.

    I've seen this movie as well.
  7. bunkinc


    Indeed. And now that they are using our food sources for "fuel", the trickledown effects can only become more dire.

    Yes, it is like a bad scifi movie, but this time it's real. Some think "Bee Aids" is caused from geneticly modified food. Who knows what the other, yet-to-be-discovered consequences of GM food will be? And for that matter, the GM animal products that are already (or in the process of) being put on the shelf for general consumption, without requiring labels to identify as 'genetically modified' for consumers.

    Makes me want to grow my own... too bad farmland is doubling as we speak.

    -nick mcglick
  8. When people think about honeybees, they naturally assume conversation is limited to honey. Actually, honey is just a secondary byproduct of bee production.

    Anything that flowers must be pollinated by something in order to produce seeds in the form of fruits, vegetables or grains. A small percentage of flowers are pollinated by wind. Some plants have evolved to host specific insects for the task.

    It's estimated that roughly 1/3 of all food product fruits and vegetables are pollinated by honeybees. Bee production is a big part of that. Hives are trucked into and out of farms, orchards and vineyards specifically for pollination. The honey produced is merely a byproduct of the beekeeper's income from providing bees for pollination.

    If for whatever reason the honeybee population would collapse, U.S. food production would likewise drop 25% at the very least. We can plant all the fruits and vegetables land will support: but the flowers will fall off unpollinated with no produce formed.


    For example, home gardeners are usually awash in squash by mid-summer. If you leave two zucchini squash on your dashboard with the car locked, someone is liable to break in and leave four more alongside those just to be rid of them.

    Last year was the first time I recall planting a usual amount of squash and cucumbers with a very meager yield. We watched flowers blossom as usual, but nil squash or cukes followed. I actually bought some of each vegetable from local stands in the heart of production season, and there wasn't much offered available to public at that.

    Experts are stumped as to what has caused a sudden collapse in bee colonies. The solution may be simple or impossible, any degree within that scale. Meanwhile, it does loom as the most potentially serious problem to hit our economy... crude oil shortage is a very distant second when it comes to ALL fruits, grains and meat production intricately tied together.
  9. It is a potential disaster scenario, for sure.

    Perhaps bees respond to variation in diet too, as a theory-no reason they wouldnt, and intensive agriculture would be just the ticket to produce a predominant potential nutrient defiency, lower immunities.........happened with humans.

    It is madness though, cut down most of the forests, rely entirely on increased production/technology to cover decreasing soil fertility........? So you can feed livestock with it, and make fuel!

    The buck has to stop somewhere.
    Bit of a doco the other day, didnt watch it, couldnt stand too; on the future etc.

    The promo however, had some futurist saying how SYNTHETIC TREES could be the solution for carbon fixing.

    Hmmmm. Maybe the bee's are just dying off in protest.
  10. ================
    And the african honeybees are multiplying here;
    much meaner/agressive than the even tempered honeybee we used to catch and release with our hands as kids.:cool:

    Its a puzzle for sure, but as the article said honeybees= premier pollinator;
    many other insects like bumble bees doing fine.And my apple trees have always been covered UP with huge varireties of pollinators:cool:
    #10     Apr 1, 2007