See how 50,000 bees made it through Michigan’s winter | MLive.com: “It was feared that two record cold months this winter could injure Michigan’s honey bees.
November was abnormally cold, and February was one of the coldest months on record in most of Michigan. So we didn’t really know how honey bees would fare this winter.
I have my own honey bee hive, and last winter 2013-2014 my bee hive died. It’s thought that the rough winter killed my bee hive. In fact, a large portion of Michigan’s bee hives were killed last winter.
So all of us with bee hives were on pins and needles, and anxious to see if our bees made it through this winter.”
It was a hard winter for me as well with my hives also succumbing to the severe cold. I will start over, once again in a few few weeks.
Pesticides and Bees: It’s Complex | WIRED: “Do pesticides kill bees? Of course. But that’s not the same question, though, as ‘How do pesticides interact with all the other things that harm bees?’ Teasing out the cause of bee decline is difficult.
It’s not that there are no smoking guns; there are hundreds of smoking guns, all of which contribute to the decline of bees. The consensus among bee scientists is that honey bee declines are the result of multiple factors, working independently or synergistically. Here’s a short list of things we know to cause bee colony declines and death:
Parasites (Varroa mite and Tracheal mite); Exposure to pesticides we put in beehives to control parasitic mites; Diseases (Israeli Acute Paralysis virus, Nosema, etc.); Poor nutrition due to loss of floral food sources; Pesticides in the bees’ environment; At least 14 other diseases, fungi, and parasites. The biggest threats to honey bees are a combination of many factors – focusing on one exclusively won’t help. I wish that the issue really was just the neonicotinoid class of pesticides, because that would give us an easy ‘off’ switch for the problem. Ban the pesticides, bees come back. Solved.
But even if we did ban some pesticides – and deal with the giant economic upheaval in agriculture that would accompany that — honey bees aren’t going to recover, because they still are besieged by mites, viruses, and fungal diseases. That doesn’t begin to cover the issues with bee nutrition and forage diversity. Like I said, complicated.
New research out this week looked at the relationship of pesticides in pollen to honey bee colony health. A critique of past research was that it used extremely high amounts of pesticides–more than a bee would normally encounter in her life. The new research looked at smaller quantities of pesticides:
Dively, et al. 2015. Assessment of Chronic Sublethal Effects of Imidacloprid on Honey Bee Colony Health. PLOS ONE: DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0118748″