Saturday, February 5, 2011

A Very Sad State of Affairs, CCD

I have mentioned that I am interested in "keeping bees. I have one vagrant hive that seems to know what it's doing and I have, for the most part, been a passive observer...taking a few forays into the inner sanctum. I have seen the queen once. They seem well fed, industrious, and pretty much full of themselves. I have a plethora of books on the subject. One of the most disturbing is the book on CCD, Colony Collapse Disorder. The complete disappearance of a hive of bees into thin air, never to return to the hive.

Colony collapse disorder (CCD) is a phenomenon in which worker bees from a beehive or European honey bee colony abruptly disappear. While such disappearances have occurred throughout the history of apiculture, the term colony collapse disorder was first applied to a drastic rise in the number of disappearances of Western honey bee colonies in North America in late 2006.[1] Colony collapse is economically significant because many agricultural crops worldwide are pollinated by bees.
European beekeepers observed similar phenomena in Belgium, France, the Netherlands, Greece, Italy, Portugal, and Spain,[2] and initial reports have also come in from Switzerland and Germany, albeit to a lesser degree[3] while the Northern Ireland Assembly received reports of a decline greater than 50%.[4] Possible cases of CCD have also been reported in Taiwan since April 2007.[5]
The cause or causes of the syndrome are not yet fully understood. In 2007 some authorities attributed the problem to biotic factors such as Varroa mites and insect diseases (i.e., pathogens[6] including Nosema apis and Israel acute paralysis virus).[7][8] Other proposed causes include environmental change-related stresses,[9] malnutrition, pesticides (e.g.. neonicotinoids such as clothianidin and imidacloprid), and migratory beekeeping. More speculative possibilities have included both cell phone radiation (e.g.[10]) and genetically modified (GM) crops with pest control characteristics,[11][12] though no evidence exists for either assertion. It has also been suggested that it may be due to a combination of many factors and that no single factor is the cause.[13][14][15] The most recent report (USDA - 2010) states that "based on an initial analysis of collected bee samples (CCD- and non-CCD affected), reports have noted the high number of viruses and other pathogens, pesticides, and parasites present in CCD colonies, and lower levels in non-CCD colonies. This work suggests that a combination of environmental stresses may set off a cascade of events and contribute to a colony where weakened worker bees are more susceptible to pests and pathogens."[16]
Applying proteomics-based pathogen screening tools in 2010, researchers announced they had identified a co-infection of invertebrate iridescent virus type 6 (IIV-6) and Nosema ceranae in all CCD colonies sampled.[17] The study is the first to conclude that co-factors, the virus and fungus, were present in all of the collapsed colonies studied.[18] However, scientists in the project emphasize additional research is still needed to consider how environmental factors like temperatures, drought and pesticides might play a role, if any, in CCD.[1

I have always been one to reach out a "conservative" hand to things I have little knowledge of, but a deep seated interest in. Sustenance farming and a self sufficient lifestyle to insure my survival have always been my preferred lifestyle. I'd rather work 15 hrs a day at something I want to do, than to work for the man. PERIOD.

At about 55, I realized the great back, strong arms and legs were becoming compromised by the the teenage years of old age. I began to take stock of my present lifestyle, and make plans to continue it with the help of mechanical contrivances to insure my abilities to continue my lifestyle. Lord be willing and the creeks don't rise.

" Red Fergie", the 1963 Massey Ferguson 135 Perkins diesel had to go. I miss her still, but she went the way of royalty. I sold her off to a comfortable home and finagled my way into a tractor with a front end loader, forks, bucket, and a bunch of old, but still useful, farm equipment. It performs it's tasks without the aid of fancy hydraulics and computer chips. A technology I know and understand.

I bought a log splitter, and retired my 8 lb splitting maul I had wielded like Thor and his mighty hammer for 40 years to keep warm every winter. I developed a plow to make make hills for the garlic and tater crops. You get the picture...

Back to the bees. As a more passive activity that produces something worthwhile on the farm, I have taken up beekeeping once again. I have  one hive " begged"  from and acquaintance who has a number of hives. He mentioned he  had a couple of nucleus hive gained from swarms that were not doing well, and brought one over to me. I had very little but basic knowledge about the keep of this tribe, but they needed no keeping. They superseded their Queen, and probably swarmed more that once last spring...I would have never know that had not Katherine come over and gone into them about Easter. She pronounced them fit and feisty.

de bees".

I am leery of journalists. Pogo, the cartoon character, once said "We have met the enemy, and he is us."  Journalist seem to hype everything, cause it SELLS. Headlines in 2006 read We are Doomed, Queen Bees Disappear! Are Aliens Taking Our Bee?. The Mysterious Disappearance of the Bees. A couple of years ago there was genuine concern that bees were disappearing...and they were. I took Sherlock Holmes' approach. We are killing off all the bees. Us, Moi, You, Them and Everyone in between.

The bees are actually in the throes of trying to save their universe, a civilization thousands of years older than our own. We are the aliens that are taking over their world, W seem determined to do away with the very little beings that insure the majority of OUR food supply, not just honey, people...all of it. Fruits Nuts, Vegetables and Meat.

Scientists are working on every angle, and some hocus pocus. They do agree on one thing. WE are the culprits, not the bees, or aliens. We are again guilty of what we do so many times...refuse to let nature do Her thing.  We have to make not only the dollar but the mega buck. Exploit, Exploit, Exploit! Make dat hell with the bees. When they all die we'll exploit something else! And we'll die in the process, unless we change how we do things.

The answer is not antibiotics, super foods or  super bees. I think it's simply letting them live as they have for thousands of years with a little bee friendly human intervention. Keep 'em, care for them, work them, feed them, manipulate colonies for desirable traits to help them insure a bright future...and our food supply. Give em some room!

 There are groups of amateur beekeepers in the country that are trying to help undo the bee hive at a time. The are promoting back yard bee keeping. they are not scientists. They want to pay for their habit, but their main purpose is to promote the keeping of bees in a sane and sustainable manner. Online sites and you tube videos can educate, and help you become involved.

Buy a starter kit, or have a bee keeper "loan" you a hive. Beekeepers are always looking for places to "park" bees during honey flow, especially in areas where there is little or no pesticide use.  See how wonderful and wondrous these little social creatures are.  Just find a hive and sit down about 5 feet away, or wherever distance you're comfortable with and watch.. .Amazing!

Check local ordinances. Many communities do not allow bees in their city limits. Neighborhoods have covenants. If you plan to acquire a hive, as for input from the neighbors. There are people who are allergic to bee stings, but very few.

You can "farm"  out a hive to a friend in the country for a share in the honey or other bee products. The simple act of acquiring a hive and letting them grow and prosper with a little guidance is the way to help bees get back to themselves, I think. One hive at a time... world wide.

I'll keep you posted on the bees, mine, and those enslaved by the industry that is threatened with collapse due to  (fill in the blank) Only the bees really know, and they can't talk.

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