Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Colony Collapse Disorder

Albert Einstein has been credited with stating :
"If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe then man would only have four years of life left." Honey Beekeepers are desperately needed and are rewarded ten fold for the care they provide.

Hi All
With all the misunderstandings of the current Honey Bee situation here in the USA... Let me make it clear that a “for sure” cause has not come to the fore-front as to the current CCD in the honey bee populations on the East Coast... But that said; I think the information I have posted below this government research is painting the picture fairly clear. Although I was disappointed that there was no mention of the genetically altered cash crops that are now being used in the current vegetable market (which I am sure my buzzing bees are sent to pollinate...) As in “corn” particularly. Seed production scientists did genetic alteration to corn seed by adding pig genes??? Not to smart if you ask me...

The second was with no mention either... The tracking down of the water sources... In ranching and in the raising of live stock it is well known that if any abnormalities in the health of your herds is seen the “Water Source” is the first place you go inspect... Hopefully these apiaries are not city water fed or worse yet bottle watered... Most large cities east coast especially their water sources are refined sewer... The bottle water industry as well as only about two out of all the brands is not bottled from refined water...--> I am so glad I have a natural well!!
As many of you know my first area of University Study was Biology Science... I had a back ground in my life of cattle ranching and race horse breeding as well as agriculture... Not for a desk job or anything like that but that was my everyday life... So university study was a given for me... When I first heard of this CCD some months back it was a rumor... Which I tend to disregard rumors about the honey industry. As it is a multi million dollar industry... So there is always someone that trying to influence the price. Rumors are one way of doing that... Then a friend of mine TFF... Emailed me an informative article... (I had had a similar episode about 3 years prior.) Then with further research I found the government had stepped in with research team with the aide of Penn State U and other experts...

Here are they real facts;

Symptoms of CCD
1) In collapsed colonies
a. The complete absence of adult bees in colonies, with no or little build up
Of dead bees in the colonies or in front of those colonies.
b. The presence of capped brood in colonies.
c. The presence of food stores, both honey and bee bread
I. which is not immediately robbed by other bees
ii. When attacked by hive pests such as wax moth and small hive
Beetle, the attack is noticeably delayed.
2) In cases where the colony appear to be actively collapsing
a. An insufficient workforce to maintain the brood that is present
b. The workforce seems to be made up of young adult bees
c. The queen is present
d. The cluster is reluctant to consume provided feed, such as sugar syrup and
Protein supplement

1. All were migratory beekeepers. All had moved their colonies at least 2 times in
The 2006 season, with some colonies being moved as many as five times over the
2006 season.

• Implications:

I. Moving colonies is stressful on bees;

1. Possible reasons: confinement, temperature fluctuations,
And possible reduction (or cessation) of egg laying

ii. Moving colonies is thought to amplify adult bee disease agent

1. Possible reasons: increase rate of defecation in the colony,
Forced mingling of young and older (possibly infected and
Would otherwise be foraging) adult bees increase chance of
Disease transmission

iii. A remote possibility is the bee colonies are more apt to be exposed
To new diseases or pathogens.

2. All experienced a cumulative dead-out rate of at least 30% over the course of the season. It is common that 10% of colonies die after transportation; some
Beekeepers claim losses of 30% are not uncommon after pollination of crops such
As blueberries.

• Implications

I. Beekeepers are constantly “splitting” colonies to make up for
losses (see below)

ii. The equipment from the dead-out colonies is continually being
recycled back into the operation in creation of new splits. Existing
Food reserves in the dead-outs and comb is provided to the new
Colonies; potentially any disease agent or chemical contaminant
Would be carried over to the new colony.
3. Upon finding a dead-out colony, all interviewed beekeepers placed the dead-out
equipment on strong neighboring colonies to facilitate comb care and splitting.
When the queen from the strong colony began to lay in the dead out equipment,
the dead-out equipment and brood were removed (split) from the surviving
colony. Some beekeepers then introduced a mated queen or queen cell into the
queen less unit while others allowed the unit to rear a new queen naturally.

• Implications

I. Continual reuse of dead out brood comb

1. Reuse is a known way to transfer disease agents and
possibly other chemical contaminants (e.g. Miticide
buildup in colonies)
2. Reuse can potentially amplify the presence of disease
agents on comb
ii. Large-scale spitting of colonies is stressful on bees and can
amplify disease agent populations
1. The age profile of the worker population is altered by
a. Older bees are forced to act as nurse bees; these
bees are not as efficient in brood provisioning and
may be more likely to be infested with diseases
affecting adult bees
4. All producers experienced some form of extraordinary “Stress” at least 2 months
prior to the first incidence of “die off” associated with “Fall dwindle disease”.
The nature of this stress was variable but included nutritional stress (apiary overcrowding,
pollination of crops with little nutritional value), dramatic pollen and
nectar dearth, or varroa mite pressure. Due to drought in some areas, the bees
may have had limited water resources or contaminated water supplies.

• Implications

I. Stress compromises the immune system of bees, making them
more susceptible to infection by opportunistic microbes.
Practices and conditions not common to interviewed beekeepers.

1. Feeding: The practice of feeding was common to most of the interviewed
Beekeepers. The reason for feeding varied. Some fed to help encourage build up,
while others fed to hold off starvation in the summer during particularly severe
a. Carbohydrates: some did not feed, some feed HFC, others sucrose. They
used frame feeders, top hive feeders, and barrel feeders. Some added
mineral salts to the feed, some added antibiotics, none used Fumaigillan.
b. Protein: most did not feed, some used pre-made protein supplement.
2. Chemical use:
a. Antibiotic use: While all used antibiotics, the type, frequency of
application, and method of application varied.
b. Miticide use: all but one beekeeper had applied a miticide treatment over
the course of 2006. The products used method of application, varied.
3. Major income:
a. Some reported that their major purpose was the production of honey,
while others received most of their income from pollination contracts.
Some used both.
4. Source of Queens:
a. All purchased at least some queens throughout the year. One beekeeper
reared a majority of his own cells, but most bought either mated queens or
queen cells. Queens were bought from at least 5 different states (Florida,
California, Texas, Georgia, Hawaii) and 2 foreign countries (Canada and

The Buzzing Bee's footnote to the current research:

My first reaction to this was .. Its cause was mis- handling of hives and colonies.. The record so far reveals.The good most of the beekeepers that have reported so far are in it for the money. "Honey production" So their heart is not in it. The health of the hive particularly which means no thinking involved. They medicate when they should not-- not thinking they could be over medicating, they cut corners to save a buck.. reusing old hive equipment. The bee is something they USE not respect. Not ever thinking of damage their practices could cause to honey bee populations in the long term.
If I have to guess the origins of CCD I will go on record today and say the reason will not be found within nature.. It will be found in the carelessness of mankind..