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Jul 102013

From Green Right Now Reports

Bee on Agastache PROMO 2

A bee on an Agastache plant. (Photo: GreenRightNow.com)

By now we’ve all heard that honey bees are dying in record numbers across the planet, lost to a phenomenon known as Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD).

Experts say many stresses on bees contribute to CCD, in which honey bee hives suddenly perish: A virus that the bees contract, habitat loss and the widespread use of pesticides may all be partly to blame.

As the problem ripples through the food system, produce and crop growers worry that without the bees, production could plummet. Bees help fertilize one-third of all the plant foods that humans consume. Some foods, such as almond trees, are almost exclusively dependent on pollination by bees. Other foods that depend upon honey bees include many you wouldn’t want to drop off the menu: Apples, avocados blueberries, strawberries, watermelon, sunflowers, cucumbers, peaches, peppers and pumpkins.

In short, no bees, no food. At least no certain foods, until those robotic bees are perfected (and is that what we want?).

Everyone can do their part to save bees, by planting the native blooming flowers and shrubs that help feed bees and also by  staying away from pesticides, particularly the worst offenders, a group of pesticides known as neonicotinoids.

The problem with neonicotinoids

Neonicotinoids are taken up by plants and exuded in their  pollen, making them toxic to pests. Scientists say these pesticides are not just killing target pests, but also are weakening and killing bees and other pollinators, like butterflies, by damaging them neurologically. Honey bees affected by these chemicals become disoriented and lose their way home to the hive.

This is emerging science, and some experts say neonicotinoids are not to blame. But the evidence is strong enough that the European Union has temporarily banned this class of pesticides for use in agriculture, hoping to help restore bee populations.

The non-political Xerces Society, which is committed to “the conservation of invertebrates” also has sounded the alarm, noting in a report that neonicotinoids can be more toxic in a home garden than in controlled agricultural uses.

“Products approved for homeowners to use in gardens, lawns, and on ornamental trees have manufacturer-recommended application rates up to 120 times higher than rates approved for agricultural crops,” the Xerces Society noted in a review of the science “Are Neonicotinoids Killing Bees?”.

If you want to “ban” neonicotinoids in your home landscape to protect bees, you can consult this list put out by the Center for Food Safety.  The Center for Food Safety is a non-profit based in Washington D.C., which advocates for a healthy food system.

The products on the CFS “do not use” list contain the neonicotinoid chemicals that have been found  to harm bees. You can also check the label for these names: Imidacloprid,  Clothianidin, Dinotefuran and Acetamiprid.

Mar 222013

From Green Right Now Reports

Four beekeepers and five public-interest groups filed a federal lawsuit against the EPA this week for its role in allowing pesticides that are wiping out honeybees, causing an epidemic of hive deaths known as Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD).

CCD kills millions of beehives every year, jeopardizing agriculture around the world as these critical pollinators die en masse.

BBee on Flower PROMOut while CCD was once portrayed as a “mysterious” syndrome of uncertain origins, it has become clear in recent years that pesticides are to blame, or at least worsen the situation, weakening and disorienting bees.

Neonicotinoid pesticides that create toxics within plants have been especially harmful to bees, which feed on the poisonous pollen of these crops. This class of pesticide targets the neurological systems of insects, and appears to disorient bees, causing them to lose their way back to the hive, ultimately resulting in the sudden collapse of entire hives, a hallmark of CCD.

Naturalists also are becoming concerned that the widespread use of neonicotinoids is hurting birds, as a major report released this month by the American Bird Conservancy outlines. The report asserts that birds that feed on crops seeds treated by certain neonicotinoids can consume lethal doses, and that many birds are suffering reproductive damage caused by the accumulation of all variations of these pesticides in the food chain.

The coalition of groups suing the EPA wants the agency to suspend the registrations of these insecticides, which have been shown to be toxic to bees and a clear cause of their deaths. Specifically, they are asking the EPA to restrict the use of the neonicotinoids, clothianidin and thiamethoxam. The extensive use of these toxics, which are absorbed by plants, coincided with the onset of the CCD epidemic in the mid-2000′s.

“America’s beekeepers cannot survive for long with the toxic environment EPA has supported. Bee-toxic pesticides in dozens of widely used products, on top of many other stresses our industry faces, are killing our bees and threatening our livelihoods,” said plaintiff Steve Ellis, a Minnesota and California beekeeper.

“Our country depends on bees for crop pollination and honey production.  It’s time for EPA to recognize the value of bees to our food system and agricultural economy.”

Many beekeepers are reporting annual losses of more than 50 percent this year, a situation that’s having a severe impact on the bee-dependent almond groves in California. The almond growers have been left with insufficient bees to pollinate their trees.

“Beekeepers and environmental and consumer groups have demonstrated time and time again over the last several years that EPA needs to protect bees.  The agency has refused, so we’ve been compelled to sue,” said Center for Food Safety attorney, Peter T. Jenkins.  “EPA’s unlawful actions should convince the Court to suspend the approvals for clothianidin and thiamethoxam products until those violations are resolved.”

The case also challenges the EPA’s practice of issuing“conditional registrations” for pesticides, arguing that this effort by the agency to assist companies in getting pesticides on the market short-changes review of the pesticides. Clothianidin and thiamethoxam were both brought to market as conditional registrations.

“Pesticide manufacturers use conditional registrations to rush bee-toxic products to market, with little public oversight,” said Paul Towers, a spokesperson for Pesticide Action Network (PAN), a plaintiff in the suit.

“As new independent research comes to light, the agency has been slow to re-evaluate pesticide products and its process, leaving bees exposed to an ever-growing load of hazardous pesticides.”

Plaintiffs include four beekeepers, Steve Ellis of Old Mill Honey Co. (MN, CA), Jim Doan of Doan Family Farms (NY), Tom Theobald of Niwot Honey Farm (CO) and Bill Rhodes of Bill Rhodes Honey (FL) as well as Beyond Pesticides, Center for Food Safety, Pesticide Action Network North America, Sierra Club, and the Center for Environmental Health.

Before filing suit, the coalition asked the EPA in March 2012 to suspend the use of clothianidin, but EPA has taken no action. Further, the agency has indicated it will not finish its formal “Registration Review” for clothianidin and thiamethoxam until 2018, according to the Center for Food Safety.


Jun 112012

By Barbara Kessler
Green Right Now

Rachel Carson once warned the world that the pesticides we were using to kill weeds were devastating birds, threatening to bring on a ‘Silent Spring’.

Queen of the Sun: What are the Bees Telling Us? argues that bees need nature restored.

People woke up and banned the potent herbicide DDT, saving the American Bald Eagle and countless song birds (and fish, farm animals, trees and more). They began to control pollution and clean up rivers and lakes, answering Carson’s  clarion call.

But we never really stopped manipulating nature to our own ends, especially when it comes to pesticides. Chemical companies switched to ostensibly safer versions, and then, fast forward a few decades, to a new class of pesticides that changes plants systemically, making crops toxic to insects — both those that are considered pests and those that are beneficial.

In the case of the honeybee, the switch to neonicitinoid pesticides has been one in a series of blows that’s left the species struggling for survival.

And so again, modernization threatens a Silent Spring. In this new version, the buzzing of the honeybees, upon whom an entire food web is balanced, could be squelched. And perishing with them would be a wealth of foods we depend upon because “40-70 percent of what you eat is pollinated by bees,” says Jon Betz, producer of a film about the honeybees, Queen of the Sun: What Are the Bees Telling Us?.

“We’re looking at a drastic loss of the food we like, our fruits, our nuts,” he said. “Any fruit that is not the color of oatmeal…you’re probably not going to be able to eat it if bees continue the way they are.”

Of the 100 crops that provide 90 percent of the food worldwide, 71 are bee-polinated, according to the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO).

Colony Collapse Disorder, No Mystery

You’ve probably heard that the honeybees have been disappearing by the billions over  the last five years, around the globe, lost to a syndrome called Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). Studies show that in the past few winters, 31 to 36 percent of honeybee hives have been lost in the United States, compared with the usual winter losses of 10-20 percent, the apparent beginnings of a death spiral.

CCD has been portrayed as a mystery disease triggered by a tiny parasite call the varoa mite that feeds on bees or possibly by a reaction to pesticides. But Betz and Taggart Siegel, the director of Queen of the Sun say that the honeybees’ affliction is no mystery, but the very predictable result of a storm of stresses that humans have placed upon the bees.

Those stresses include modern pesticides, the annual trucking of bees across country to pollinate crops in areas that lack bees, monoculture crop systems that have stripped the land of seasonal food for the honeybees and the artificial insemination of bees that’s aims to strengthen the hives but actually weakens them.

Queen of the Sun, telling the story of honeybees through the many voices of those trying to save them.

First the pesticides. In the 1990s, agricultural operations began using neonicotinoid pesticides, which essentially making crops like corn, soybeans and canola toxic to insects. The honeybees, lacking the diverse diet they once enjoyed (which included wildflowers that evolve alongside the bees)  feed on the pollen of these plants, and suffer neurological damage.

Studies have shown that the effect of these neuro-chemicals devastates the bees’ ability to orient themselves, a skill that’s vital so they can swarm, act as a unit and return home to the hive.

Compounding the problem is that the crops the bees are feeding upon have virtually consumed the landscape. Corn blankets the Midwestern states, propped up by controversial subsidies and its interdependence with the livestock industry which buys up around 80 percent of the corn to feed to farm animals.

Snack foods also rely on corn, the base material for the additive High Fructose Corn Syrup.

Farm policies and a skewing of the American diet toward meat and away from fruits and vegetables has created pollen deserts, “a kind of wasteland” in the Heartland, Betz said, stripping the bees of food and leaving them vulnerable to disease, even before they’re exposed to any pesticides. Compounding the problem, of course, is the fact that the food left to them has been made toxic.

Ironically, the bees are now being employed to counter the problem of monocultures, delivering a double whammy to the domesticated honeybees.

Each year honeybee hives on big commercial honey farms are packed onto 16-wheelers and carted from the Midwest and the South to the almond orchards of California. There they are released to pollinate the almond trees.

In Queen of the Sun, one critic of the practice, a biodynamic bee farmer, points out the obvious: That the almond growers should cultivate their own pollinators. Instead of planting every available acre in almond trees, which only bloom for three weeks out of the year, the almond growers should have land set aside for other blooming plants so they could sustain their own honeybee populations.

But trucking honeybees around — in winter no less —  may not even the most elaborate work-around that man has devised for the bees.

Queen of the Sun takes a critical look at the artificial insemination of queens in the honey business, asking whether it has strengthened the bees or weakened them. Queen bees no longer live as long as they once did, a hint that they’ve been over-managed, and are frequently replaced in commercial hives to pump up honey production.

“They replace them like spark plugs,” says Siegel, who also directed The Real Dirt on Farmer John. This common practice, supported by conventional beekeepers (who are excused in the film for needing to make ends meet financially), goes against the natural flow of a beehive, “which loves its queen,” and assures the genetic hardiness of future generations with an orchestrated fertility ritual.

“It’s all about productivity and what can we get from the bees instead of how can we serve the bees,” he said.

“It’s very similar to what we’re doing to cows, and pigs and chickens,” added Betz. “We’ve sliced nature into these little components and what we want from her. We want a fatter cow, a bigger chicken…
it’s looking at these factors and ignoring the whole animal.”

“We’re thinking about either (using bees for) pollination, productivity or honey production, and we’re ignoring the needs of these impossibly amazing creatures,” he said.

“They’re under-appreciated,” said Siegel.

Hope for Bees

Gunther Hauk, biodynamic beekeeper operates a bee sanctuary in Virginia.

But not everywhere are bees being treated as if they can survive any assault, from the varoa mite, which starts to look like the least of the bees’ problems, to pesticides, forced migration and genetic tampering.

A growing number of biodynamic bee farmers are preserving the old-fashioned ways of letting bees graze on natural wildflowers, while congregating in non-mobile hives. (See more about biodynamic farming, which emphasizes harmony with nature at this website.)

The film introduces us to a handful of these mavericks(among a dazzling global array of beekeepers, full-bore characters, SlowFood advocates and of course, foodie author Michael Pollan, the Michael Caine of documentaries), including one veteran naturalist beekeeper, Gunther Hauk, whose bee sanctuary Spikenard Farm and Honeybee Sanctuary is thriving in the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia.

“Colony Collapse Disorder is the bill we’ve gotten for all we’ve done to the bees,” Hauk says in Queen of the Sun.

Hauk and others are trying to ameliorate the situation by building honey businesses that treat the bees humanely and restore the natural and diverse habitat they need.

European nations that have banned neonicotinoids and genetically modified crops in general also hold out hope for the bees.

Of course,  a few bee sanctuaries and a handful of countries banning chemicals will not be enough; if the situation is as dire as the film, and several scientific studies suggest, we’ll need a revolution in agriculture and a renaissance of beekeeping in backyards everywhere.

Or, we could face the consequences, because after the bees will come the birds and on up the food chain.

This second Silent Spring would ultimately silence us.

“You could call it Colony Collapse Disorder of the Human Being, too,” muses Hauk.

  • There are many ways you can help the honey bees, by buying only organic honey or planting wildflowers. You can also see Queen of the Sun: What Are the Bees Telling Us? The film, which had a limited theater run in 2011, was released on DVD this year. It is available on Netflix, at Blockbuster and will be screened at Whole Foods Markets this month. To find a screening near you see Do Something Reel.com or  Whole Foods on Facebook.

Copyright © 2012 Green Right Now | Distributed by GRN Network

Mar 252012

From Yale 360

A coalition of commercial beekeepers and environmental groups is urging U.S. regulators to suspend the use of a pesticide they say may be contributing to a sharp decline in honeybee populations.

In a petition to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the group called for a ban on clothianidin, which belongs to a class of chemicals that disrupts the central nervous system of insects. Some researchers say the chemicals — known as neonicotinoids — make the insects more vulnerable to pathogens by weakening their immune systems and could be a factor in so-called “colony collapse disorder,” a mysterious phenomenon that has taken a heavy toll on U.S. honeybee populations since 2006.

The EPA granted a conditional registration for clothianidin in 2003, contingent upon further field studies to confirm that the chemicals did not cause “unreasonable adverse effects” on pollinators. While clothianidin is toxic to honeybees, EPA officials say there is no proven link between the chemical and colony collapse disorder.

Jan 052011

By Barbara Kessler
Green Right Now

Wait! Don’t squash that baby bumblebee. You could be hurting a struggling species. Several varieties of bumblebees, which help pollinate major fruit and veggie crops, are in serious decline in the U.S., according to just published research.

A survey of bumblebees undertaken by University of Illinois-Urbana/Champaign entomologist Sydney Cameron, shows that the nation has simply “lost a lot of bees” in recent decades.

“There are whole regions where we can’t find them any more,” Cameron told Science magazine online.

Bumblebees are losing range, and some populations are declining (Photo: Johanna James-Heinz)

Cameron’s research, published this week in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences,   compared current populations of bumblebees — 16,788 bees collected recently from across 40 states — with species preserved in museums to determine which varieties were diminishing.

He and a team of colleague researchers found that some species that used to be common have become rare, such as the Bombus occidentalis, which accounted for about 20 percent of the museum bees, but only1 percent of the bees recently collected.

The team found three other subspecies that had dramatically declined, and had lost large swaths of habitat. Four other subspecies, however, had shown population fluctuations but were not consistently declining.

The reason for the losses is still in question. The declining populations of bees had a higher infection rate from a pathogen called Nosema bombi. But whether that infection was the underlying cause of the bees’ decline or a symptom could not be determined.

Researchers studying the recent honeybee decline have confronted a similar dilemma. Many honeybees are found to be infected with a virus; but it is not known if this is a symptom, trigger or cause of the mass die offs.

Recent hypotheses about the death of honeybees in the U.S. increasingly mention pesticides as a potential underlying cause.

One explanation for honeybee decline; could the same thing bee fumbling up bumblebees?

In December, new information surfaced that buttresses theories pesticides are causing major U.S. honeybee losses. The evidence came from a leaked document showing that the EPA knew the pesticide clothianidin could harm honeybees when it approved it for use on crops years ago.

The document, leaked to a Colorado beekeeper, showed that the EPA had ignored warnings that “nontarget insects” like honeybees could be harmed by the pesticide clothianidin, which received conditional approval from the U.S. EPA in 2003.

Researchers have suspected that this class of pesticide, which is taken up systemically by crop plants (clothianidin, made by Bayer CropScience, was developed to protect corn, canola and other crops from pests), can be lethal to bees.

Some researchers have been calling for a ban of the compound since Germany and France banned clothianidin in 2008. These scientists (read about one of them here) are convinced that such neurotoxin pesticides, which came into use in the last decade, are behind Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), which began killing honey bees in large numbers in the last decade.

CCD is characterized by the bees’ disorientation, followed by their sudden abandonment of the hive — as if affected by a neuro-impairment — and their mass death.

The leaked document details current EPA concerns about the potential harm to honeybees as it responds the Bayer’s request to expand the use of the pesticide to mustard and cotton crops:

Clothianidin’s major risk concern is to nontarget insects (that is, honey bees). Clothianidin is a neonicotinoid insecticide that is both persistent and systemic. Acute toxicity studies to honey bees show that clothianidin is highly toxic on both a contact and an oral basis. Although EFED does not conduct RQ based risk assessments on non-target insects, information from standard tests and field studies, as well as incident reports involving other neonicotinoids insecticides (e.g., imidacloprid) suggest the potential for long-term toxic risk to honey bees and other beneficial insects.

The document goes on to say that an earlier study of the effects on bees was “deficient” and that another study is warranted “to evaluate the effects of clothianidin on bees through contaminated pollen and nectar. Exposure through contaminated pollen and nectar and potential toxic effects therefore remain an uncertainty for pollinators.”

The lengthy EPA response memo also considers the potential harm to birds that might eat clothianidin-coated seeds and the aquatic life that could be affected by runoff.

Some crops, like almonds, rely almost exclusively on pollination by honeybees. Bumblebees help pollinate tomatoes, pumpkins and other produce.

Copyright © 2010 Green Right Now | Distributed by GRN Network


Nov 162009

By Chris Reinolds
Green Right Now

Beekeeper Laura Johnson enjoys tending to her buzzing friends, but the real motive behind her hobby is stopping the decline of honey bees.

Honey Bees (Photo: USDA)

Honey Bees (Photo: USDA)

Bee Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) has been threatening bees, and the dozens of crops they serve, around the world for the past several years.

So Johnson, an organic gardener in suburban Atlanta, decided it was time to jump into honey.

It wasn’t a great year to start. An unusually rainy season cut honey production for many Georgia beekeepers. And since Johnson’s hive was so new, she decided to let the bees keep their honey this year instead of harvesting it.

“That’s part of the reason I got a hive. I figure if we help the bees along maybe that will help. Without bees we won’t have food,” she said.

Johnson reasons that more bee keepers can help slow the decline of honey bees. And with scientists breeding stronger strains of bees, she hopes they have a fighting chance.

Right now she has one hive, but has plans for another in the spring.

“I’m trying to do it as natural as possible, with no chemicals,” she said. “I was green before it was cool.”

For example, she puts powdered sugar in the hive to get rid of mites and cinnamon to discourage ants.

Bee keepers across the US had a slightly better year in 2009, with honey bee losses slowing slightly in the U.S. over the 2008-2009 winter, when the most bees succumb to disease. About 29 percent of the domestic honey bees died from CCD and other causes, compared with 36 percent and 32 percent in the previous two winters.

While the year was better, losses of that magnitude are not “sustainable,” according to the report by the Apiary Inspectors of America and the USDA.

Georgia saw a rough harvest this year, according to avid beekeeper and county cooperative extension agent Tom Bonnell.  Honey production was down due to a weird confluence of heavy rain and heat. Bonnell’s hives only produced eight gallons this year, compared with 15 gallons last year.

Like his fellow bee keepers, Bonnell monitors reports about CCD, a phenomenon in which the bees leave the hive, become disoriented and fail to return, leaving the hive to die.

Some experts believe Colony Collapse Disorder can be attributed to a virus caused by the varroa mite; others say the bees are being poisoned by pesticides that act on the nervous system. The bees are exposed to the pesticides while eating pollen in crop fields, and the neurotoxins cause them to lose their bearings.

Some believe another contributing factor to CCD is the way bees are used in commercial agriculture, with beekeepers taking hives large distances across the US to pollinate fields. This theory maintains that the traveling bees become vulnerable to disease and stressed as they move in and out of their home turf.


Tom Bonnell demonstrates his working honey hives

“About every 10 years something comes up and aggravates the honey bee,” Bonnell said. “I think CCD is hitting the commercial bee keepers and not the hobbyists … (is) because they (hobbyists) don’t drag bees all over the United States.”

“Once you drag them from state to state you don’t know what they’re getting into.”

Heightened awareness of CCD has led to an increase in the number of new beekeepers and bee clubs, Bonnell said. And that’s a sweet situation.

“It can be a family adventure. You can look at that as an heirloom to pass down to generations,” Bonnell noted.

Commercial beekeeper Billy Engle also relishes the practice of bee keeping, but has decided to downsize this year because it’s too much work for his failing health.

Engle has operated Rose Creek Honey Farm in The Rock, Georgia for more than 20 years.

“It was not a good year for bees. Mine really have not died off like the previous two years, but I only had half a honey crop this time,” he said.

Nov 052009

Green Right Now Reports

How many more causes can we shop or tweet for? At least one more, hopes Haagen-Dazs, makers of those indulgences so inadequately called ice cream.

Haagen-Dazs has been running a campaign to raise awareness about the decline of honey bees due to Colony Collapse Disorder. It’s close to the ice cream maker’s heart, and also should we say vat? , because the bees help pollinate almonds and, obviously, supply honey, both vital ingredients for HD flavors.

Haagen Dazs announced it is extending the campaign through December and has invited the public to participate in a week of  tweeting for the cause via TwitCause, the largest social cause portal on Twitter. During the designated week, Nov. 5-11, Haagen-Dazs will donate $1, up to $500 a day, for everyone who tweets their support. The money will be sent to the University of California-Davis for a new Bee Sanctuary/Education Center and for research on how to help save the bees.

Honey bees in North America have been declining due to CCD for several years. The mysterious phenomenon claims entire colonies after the bees become disoriented and the adults fail to return to the hive.

Jul 302009

By Barbara Kessler
Green Right Now

Help the Honey Bees, a web-based campaign by Haagen Daz is trying to build buzz for the beneficial insects, which are beset by a mysterious ailment that causes whole colonies to collapse.

The effort includes backing some cute You Tube videos (dancing humans dressed as bees definitely help personify this issue), and a series of “challenges” on the Experience Project in which people can plant a flower or pledge to eat natural foods to help honey bees. There’s also a bee trivia quiz.

Why bees? And why Haagen Daz? There are pragmatic and altruistic reasons. The ice cream maker depends on honey bees for many of the foods used to flavor its delectable recipes. Almond and strawberry-flavored ice cream, for starters, both begin with bees pollinating plants in the field. Vanilla Haagen Daz, a signature flavor sweetened with honey, also depends directly on the bees – obviously. And now the company has created a new Vanilla Honey Bee to highlight the honeybee’s woes.

But bees pollinate much more than the plants Haagen Daz needs. They make many of the crops grown in the US click, come springtime. (If you missed high school biology and need a brush-up on this, there’s one on the site.) So keeping these little matchmakers healthy is an issue with many  stakeholders, basically humans who eat.

Yet, in the wake of Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), which has killed millions of bees (one in three hives in the last three years), the bees are struggling and crops are threatened.

There are other pollinators, butterflies, bats, birds, but most are geared to certain plants. Bees are the workhorses of pollination.

Congress held hearings and the USDA is funding research, but bee farmers (apiarists) say the money is not nearly enough. Haagen Daz is donating an undisclosed amount of money to research too.

Officials have not come out with an official cause of CCD. Some researchers are studying a virus that might weaken the bees and trigger CCD. Others say pesticides, particularly certain types that are taken up by plants, may be damaging the bees neurologically. (See our story from last summer.)

Those studying CCD have noticed that afflicted bees seem to lose their homing instincts or orientation, a sign of a neurological factor. Experts are studying the problem worldwide, because without bees, ecosystems can collapse, crops and gardens can wither as fruits and vegetable plants fail to produce.

Haagen Daz hopes to raise the profile of this problem, which affects us all but has been (pardon the pun) flying under the radar.

Whatever the cause of CCD, advocates say you can do your part by:

  • Getting rid of pesticides in your lawn and garden
  • Planting native plants with flowers that sustain bees (The Pollinator Partnership has garden guides to make sure you’re planting what bees want to eat.)
  • Sending a note to lawmakers to pay attention to this issue

Here’s one of those bee spots on You Tube:

Copyright © 2009 Green Right Now | Distributed by Noofangle Media

Jul 292009

From Green Right Now Reports

A compound from honeybees known as propolis, the substance bees use to seal their hives, may protect against heat stress in athletes, according to an article released in the Journal of Food Science, published by the Institute of Food Technologists.

Honeybee propolis, or bee glue, has been widely used as a folk medicine. An active ingredient in propolis known as caffeic acid phenethyl ester (or CAPE) has a broad spectrum of biological activities including antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antiviral. Hyperthermia, or heat stress, is considered to be the main factor underlying the early fatigue and dehydration seen during prolonged exercise in the heat.

The discovery is another reminder of the potential ramifications of the loss in recent years of millions of bees around the world to Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). Scientists believe that CCD is a result of multiple stresses on the bees, such as loss of habitat, drought and possibly chronic exposure to pesticides, that weaken the bees immune systems, subjecting them to untimely deaths from viruses and other infections.

In the new study, researchers examined blood from 30 competitive cyclists who engaged in endurance training for two to four years prior to the investigation. None participated in any competitions or intensive training or had any clinical illness or medical or surgical treatments four months prior to the study.

“Since hyperthermia and free radical generation are related to exercise-induced physical damage, it is reasonable to test whether an antioxidant can prevent or reduce hyperthermia-induced free radical generation and damage,” lead researcher Yu-Jen Chen of Chinese Culture University in Taiwan said in a statement. “CAPE rescued mononuclear cells from hyperthermia-induced cell death. This implies that CAPE might not only promote athletic performance but also prevent injury secondary to endurance-exercise-induced hyperthermia.”

The researchers indicated that further human studies need to be conducted to solidify their findings.

Jun 302008

By Barbara Kessler

If you’ve been wondering about all the buzz over honeybees, here is some food for thought – or rather some thought about food: Bees play a role in one out of every three bites of food Americans eat.

Pollinators, mainly bees, but also butterflies, songbirds and even bats, perform such a critical function in the food chain that their absence threatens everything from the viability of vast fields of commercial corn and other crops to the tomatoes in your garden. Without the bees and other pollinators, plants can fail to produce the fruits and seeds we eat.

Which is why a San Francisco-based group called the Pollinator Partnership has dedicated itself to the survival of pollinators — from hummingbirds to small mammals to the fragile and busiest pollinators of them all, the bees. Partnership members, along with beekeepers and researchers testified before Congress last week to lobby lawmakers for more funding to research the decline of many pollinators, particularly the loss of millions of bees around the world to Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). Continue reading »