Insecticide Can Cut Bee Sperm by Nearly 40 Percent, Study Finds

A new study of male honeybees shows that two insecticides, banned in some European nations but still used in the United States, can significantly reduce the bees’ ability to reproduce.

The study, published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, the leading biological research journal of the Royal Society, found that thiamethoxam and clothianidin, two chemicals from the neonicotinoid family of insecticides, reduce living sperm in male honeybees, called drones, by almost 40 percent.

“We’ve been able to show for the first time that neonicotinoid pesticides are capable of having an effect on the male reproductive system,” said Lars Straub, a doctoral student at the University of Bern in Switzerland and the lead author of the study.

The effects of pesticides on honeybee populations are considered one culprit among several factors causing periodic declines.

Neonicotinoids have been shown by other studies to harm the health of individual bees and the reproductive ability of female insects. The new study expanded on the dangers of the pesticides for males, finding that bees subjected to the two chemicals had 39 percent fewer living sperm on average than bees that had not been exposed.

Dennis vanEngelsdorp, an assistant professor at the University of Maryland who focuses on honeybee health, said that while the new study was “well designed,” it mostly helped to corroborate work that had already been done.

“Certainly, we already know that insecticide exposure can have an effect on sperm,” he said. “What we didn’t know is that it was so immediate.”

The two neonicotinoids used in the study were banned in the European Union in 2013, but are used on an industrial scale in the United States. The Environmental Protection Agency has announced that it will release risk assessments for the two chemicals, as well as another neonicotinoid, dinotefuran, in December.

 

The decline of bees has been a concern for scientists over much of the last decade. A significant amount of the global food supply is made up of plants that require pollinators like bees to survive. Any widespread threat to bees also constitutes a greater ecological threat.

Beekeepers in the United States lost 44 percent of their honeybee colonies from April 2015 to April 2016, according to an annual survey conducted by the Bee Informed Partnership, where Dr. vanEngelsdorp is a project director. The loss was 3.5 percent greater than that found from 2014 to 2015, when beekeepers lost 40.6 percent of colonies.

Mr. Straub emphasized that various stresses were working together to adversely affect the honeybees’ health.

“There are heaps of different factors that can actually affect colony health,” he said. “Pesticides alone are probably just one of the small pieces of the bigger puzzle.”

The study began in April 2015 and ended in April 2016, Mr. Straub said, although the sperm assessment of the bees had been completed by October. After reaching sexual maturity, drones that had been subjected to insecticides were dissected, and had their testes and mucous glands removed and analyzed for sperm viability.

Although the colonies used in the experiment were subjected to realistic amounts of the insecticides, the drones were raised to sexual maturity after being removed from the colonies in which they were exposed to the chemicals. Mr. Straub said that the next step would to be to investigate the effects of the pesticides on drones that were allowed to live those 14 days in the colonies.

“We now have to go on and take this information and do further field-realistic studies, and also, a main point would be to investigate these interactions that are occurring,” he said. “There’s not just one stressor. There’s multiple different stressors acting together.”

Source: The New York Times
July 28, 2016
By JONAH ENGEL BROMWICH

 

CATCH THE BUZZ – HSI CHICAGO SEIZES NEARLY 60 TONS OF HONEY ILLEGALLY IMPORTED FROM CHINA, AGAIN!!!

“Food fraud is a growing epidemic across all types of products,” said James M. Gibbons, special agent in charge for HSI Chicago.  “From seafood to vintage wines to honey, food products with any economic value are being intentionally adulterated, smuggled, or simply misrepresented by knowing participants to maximize profits. Protecting the American consumer from smuggled and potentially unsafe imported food is one of HSI’s enforcement priorities.”

CHICAGO — Special agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) again seized nearly 60 tons of illegally imported Chinese honey Wednesday that was destined for U.S. consumers.

The smuggled honey was contained in 195 55-gallon drums that were falsely declared as originating from, where else, Vietnam, to evade anti-dumping duties applicable to Chinese-origin honey.

The honey likely originated from the same exporter in Vietnam as another 60 tons of honey that was seized by HSI Chicago in the Midwest in April. Wednesday’s seizure was allegedly imported into the United States by a shell importer of record in New York, New York. Agents located the honey by combing through transportation shipping records to piece together its whereabouts.

Prior to seizing the smuggled honey, HSI sent samples to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Laboratory for analysis, where it was determined that the honey had a greater than 99 percent probability match with honey from China. Similar to the April seizure, Wednesday’s seizure was accompanied by altered reports from a private laboratory with analyses completely unrelated to the seized honey. The private laboratory fully cooperated with HSI and is considered a victim of identity theft.

 

“Food fraud is a growing epidemic across all types of products,” said James M. Gibbons, special agent in charge for HSI Chicago.  “From seafood to vintage wines to honey, food products with any economic value are being intentionally adulterated, smuggled, or simply misrepresented by knowing participants to maximize profits. Protecting the American consumer from smuggled and potentially unsafe imported food is one of HSI’s enforcement priorities.”

With assistance from CBP Chicago, HSI seized the illicit honey June 29 from a warehouse in suburban Chicago.  The seized honey will be destroyed in its entirety following its successful forfeiture at the conclusion of the government’s ongoing investigation.

HSI has stepped up its efforts regarding commercial fraud investigations that focus on U.S. economic, and health and safety interests. These anti-dumping criminal schemes create a divergent market that negatively affects legitimate businesses. In the case of honey, the United States relies on legitimately imported foreign-origin honey to meet the demand in the foodservice and commercial baking sectors; but that honey must be lawfully sourced from reputable buyers and sellers.

With the recent enactment of the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015 (TFTEA), Congress recognized that industries and companies that circumvent U.S. law and regulation remain a risk to this nation’s economic security.  Among its provisions, TFTEA requires ICE and CBP to collaborate to enhance trade enforcement, with specific emphasis on honey illegally imported into the United States in violation of U.S. customs and trade laws.

In December 2001, the U.S. Commerce Department imposed anti-dumping duties after determining that Chinese-origin honey was being sold in the United States at less than fair-market value. The duties first imposed were as high as 221 percent of the declared value. Later these duties were assessed against the entered net weight, currently at $2.63 per net kilogram, in addition to a “honey assessment fee” of 1.5¢ per pound on all honey.

In 2008, federal authorities in Chicago began investigating allegations of organizations circumventing anti-dumping duties through illegal imports, including transshipment and mislabeling, on the “supply side” of the honey industry. The second phase of the investigation involved the illegal buying, processing and trading of honey that illegally entered the U.S. on the “demand side” of the industry.  In these multi-year investigations, HSI Chicago and the Department of Justice together convicted nine individuals (not including 10 remaining foreign fugitives) in a series of global schemes which evaded nearly $260 million in anti-dumping duties on honey from China, and which also involved honey containing antibiotics prohibited in food.

Source: Bee Culture, The Magazine of American Beekeeping

Going Against The Flow: Is The Flow Hive a Good Idea?

It’s fab, it’s new, and the honey flows straight into the jar. It’s so easy. But then, powdered instant potato is easy, too. Does that make it a good idea?

Despite my mission to focus on positivistic messages of change, at Milkwood we’ve got a charter of calling it like we see it.

And to call yet another plastic beehive addition which does not benefit the bees but only the beekeeper… what it is.

We’ve seen a lot (like, a LOT) of media about the Flow Hive ™ in this last week and after a few hundred questions about what we think of it, we thought we’d spell it out.

The basic innards of the Flow Hive™ system seem to be sets of plastic half-built comb, which face each other, and which the bees then finish off and connect up, fill with honey, and cap.

Then, when the beekeeper is ready, they turn a key, the two plastic hive foundations crack apart, the honey flows out down a channel and out a spout, into the jars provided below.

Is it good for the backyard beekeeper looking for a trophy moment? Heck yeah. The effect of the honey drizzling out looks great, and has caught imaginations world-wide.

SAVE THE BEES. Because anything (like, anything) that has to do with bees, or that uses bees, is good for the bees. Right?

Actually, no. Not so much.

Bees want to build their own wax comb. It’s part of the bee superoganism. The wax is literally built from their bodies.

The comb is the bee’s home, their communication system (which doesn’t work nearly as well if it’s made from plastic rather than bee-drawn wax, as discussed in Tautz), and functions as a central organ.

The comb is the bee’s womb – it’s where they raise their brood.

And given a choice, bees do not want a pre-built plastic womb, home or larder, any more than we would.

It’s the birthright of bees to build comb.

 

 

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Wild bees are least abundant where they're most needed, study says

Bees are an integral part of California's nearly $3–billion–a–year almond industry.

 (Michael Robinson Chavez / Los Angeles Times)

By Geoffrey MohanContact Reporter

"We are a state with a huge dependence on pollination. We have very intensive agriculture, which has challenged our wild bee pollination a lot," said UC Davis entomologist Neal Williams, one of the authors of the study.

Increased gaps elsewhere in the nation came from a greater rise in acreage dedicated to crops that are only moderately dependent on pollination, such as soybeans, cotton, canola and sunflower, the researchers said.

Some almond growers have begun to take notice, adding wild bees to their pollination plan and restoring native vegetation. Wonderful Pistachios & Almonds, formerly known as Paramount Farms, will use blue orchard bees this year during pollination season, for example. 

The effort is part of a national campaign to diversify the way crops are pollinated, Williams said.

"Where there are wild bees present, even modest numbers of wild bees can make the honey bee a better pollinator of almonds," Williams said. "It changes the behavior of the honey bees. For some reason … the wild bees cause the honey bees to move more between varieties. So they’re essentially transporting better pollen.”

Bye Honey

Why is Honey Expensive?

From 2001 to 2011, total annual honey production by bees in the United States fell one-third, from 221 million to 148 million pounds. In the same period, use of the three most common neonicotinoid pesticides grew from 280,000 to more than 4.5 million pounds domestically.

BUZZ KILL

As corn yields rise, bees are dying worldwide
BY PATRICK J. KIGER

Not that long ago, third-generation commercial beekeeper Jim Doan was a prosperous man. He maintained as many as 5,300 hives on his farm in western New York. In addition to selling honey, he earned a good living renting out the services of his honeybees to pollinate crops such as butternut squash, zucchini, pumpkins, cucumbers, and apples. 

But around 2006, Doan noticed that something was wrong with his bees. Whole colonies were simply disappearing, leaving behind empty hives. And in those colonies that remained in Doan's hives, the numbers were down, and they weren't making as much honey. He began losing half of his bees every year--something that he'd never seen in more than 40 years of beekeeping.