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Bees are in big trouble

by Community Manager ‎03-29-2013 09:50 AM - edited ‎03-29-2013 03:15 PM



Honey bees are continuing to send troubling signals about the health of their species, and it’s time that everyone in agriculture come to the table and figure out a solution. That was the message yesterday at the Bayer Bee Care Tour in Ames, Iowa.  Bayer’s event, and related efforts, appear to be in part an attempt to address what the company feels is unwarranted criticism of its seed treatment products, a type of insecticide called neonicotinoids (NNCs), which some are saying have caused honey bee declines, or what is called colony collapse disorder.


On March 21, a group of beekeepers and activist organizations sued the EPA for approving the registration of the NNC class of pesticide, claiming the chemistry is highly toxic to honey bees.


The decline in honey bee numbers over this last winter has been alarming—50% of hives have been lost, a Bayer representative said yesterday.  The issue is critical to agriculture, as honey bees and other pollinators are credited with pollinating about one third of the food produced in the U.S.


“Clearly, such a magnitude of losses is unsustainable,” Robyn Kneen, North American Bee Health Project Leader for Bayer, told the Ames gathering.


Researchers, beekeepers, regulators, and other stake holders are being brought together by Bayer in a six-stop tour of the Midwest to look at the latest ideas on how to stem bee losses. Bayer representatives insist that research shows the problem is highly unlikely to be related to NNCs, or at least solely so.  A combination of factors is being looked at—lack of foraging habitat, drought effects, viruses, and other issues.


A few folks in the full house at the meeting in Ames, mostly beekeepers, expressed skepticism about Bayer’s claims.  One beekeeper asked whether the pesticide is building up in the soil in a way that has gone undetected. “All I know is that bees don’t live as long as they used to," he said. 


A Bayer representative and beekeeper from Utah, Veldon Sorensen (video, below), told me that if we don’t figure out this issue pretty soon, “we are going to be in big trouble.”


Everyone seems to agree on that point.


The message from the Bee Tour is that pesticides and healthy bee colonies can co-exist, if we attend to good management practices and continue to seek answers to the pollinator decline. 


And corn farmers have an important role to play in helping protect pollinators, given that 94% of seed corn is treated with NNCs. Among the stewardship recommendations Bayer presented:


  • At preplanting time, try to keep fields clean of flowering weeds that might collect the seed treatment dust.
  • Make sure your planter is well calibrated so it doesn’t stir up dust.
  • Minimize dust when filling or emptying your planter.
  • Don’t use more talc or graphite than is recommended.
  • Clean planters and seed boxes away from sensitive areas with pollinator habitat.

For more information about the Bayer Bee Care Tour, visit:



by on ‎03-29-2013 10:52 AM

John this attempt buy Bayer is nothing but damage controll !!!!!!!  I had to LMAO at the part in the artical that said -- Bayer is wanting to get to the root of the problem -- Or something to that fact .

They could give a fat rats azz about the bee's --They stand to lose billions in sells -- so lets go out and kiss some butt here !  This is how BIG business works .

I really wonder where they come up with what we need to do to help out here -- like don't use to much Talc ? don't cleean out around flowering plants ???  And so on and so on ??  I am 99.9 percent that ole ECI know's !!! I was at the first meeting on this a few years ago !  How about Christin Krupke and his merry band of researchers from Purdue .. They came across this problem ?? I think 2 years ago .


Well you have posted up Baryers reply on how there ( trying ) to help - but it boils down to Who has the most money to fight it .


This -- in my book --just  don't start with Bayer either -- Look back a few years ago-- when headline come out -- I'm not blameing Headline -- But since I'm in the business -- to a point -- How many times - that a farmer was going to aply headline -- that the Chemical guys say --- Well If I was you , you might as well put on insecticide with it , it's only  another 2,70 an acre and if you have problems we will have to charge you for another app. charge !  I'm sure that , that app of Insecticide sure helped out the bees to , seeing that most was put on with an airplane .


I got an Idea John --Why don't you do an artical with Christian Krupke and get his side from what they have found out . That would be interesting .


Have aagood one .





by on ‎04-04-2013 02:48 PM
John, some months ago, PBS did a show on this. Research finished not long ago pointed to a virus carried by a tiny mite. I was thinking that was the beginning of new efforts. Perhaps this was premature ?
by on ‎04-08-2013 10:52 AM

Kudos to ECIN.


I'm not looking to point the finger at Bayer but I'm also not interested in being a "stand up for ag knee jerk zombie in their defense.


This is troubling and it is a vary big deal. I'd even go so far as to suggest that it is sufficiently serious to bring the precautionary principle into play- it there is even a reasonable chance that neonics are to bleme then action needs to be taken until it is ruled out.


As to the fungicide thig- you are 100% right.  IPM went completely out the window with the quantum change in the ratio of crp returns to chemiocal costs ( $6 beans made a 2 bu boost from a fungicide/insecticide shotgun treatment pretty iffy, $12 is very different). Other things, too, like farmers all bought big sprayers to get ready for Rust right before the boom etc.


But anyway, while farmers are mostly militant about any criticism from environmental sources on this topic, some is due.

by on ‎04-09-2013 11:19 AM

...was just looking around the 'net yesterday about the Imidacloprid problem with bees, and came upon a site where they discussed it. Seems France banned Imidacloprid in 1999, and they still suffer from Colony Collapse Disorder. Australia, which uses a fair amount of Imidacloprid...has never seen a case of Colony Collapse Disorder. It appears to me there's something going on "besides" any toxicity from Imidicloprid. Might be the insecticide is a contributing factor to a susceptability to viruses that these bees are dying from.



by on ‎04-18-2013 10:09 AM

This is a joke!  I have honey bees!  The pollen from seed corn is killing honeybees, Monsanto is as guilty as Bayer is.  Both companies are engaged in feeding poisons into agriculture which kills Monarch Butterfles and honey bees.   This attempt by Bayer is a joke.  All the government has to do is outlaw the production of GMO corn in the United States, and revert back to open pollinated varieties. That would solve two problems, over supply, and killer genetics which kill all living things.  Adios Amigos.  John

by on ‎04-29-2013 08:01 PM

The European Commission will roll out the ban across all 27 member states at the end of the year, after scientific studies showed that three kinds of pesticides -- clothianidin, imidacloprid and thiametoxam -- damaged the bee population.

by on ‎04-30-2013 08:43 AM

I'll go on record as to predicitng that agricultural production will not collapse in the EU as a result and farms will not go out of business in vast numbers.