Part I: Bee Deaths Mystery Solved? Neonicotinoids (Neonics) May Actually Help Bee Health.
Reports that honey bees are dying in unusually high numbers has concerned many scientists, farmers and beekeepers, and gripped the public. There have been thousands of stories ricocheting across the web, citing one study or another as the definitive explanation for a mystery that most mainstream experts say is complex and not easily reducible to the kind of simplistic narrative that appeals to advocacy groups. We explore the claims by Harvard School of Public Health researcher Chensheng Lu, heralded by anti-pesticide and anti-GMO advocacy groups, for his research that purportedly proves that the class of chemicals known as neonicotinoids are killing bees and endangering humans.Part II: Bee Deaths And CCD - Flawed Chensheng Lu Harvard Studies Endanger Bees.
Here we examine the specific claim that neonics are responsible for Colony Collapse Disorder—the centerpiece of Lu’s assertions and again see how influential media manipulate quotes and selectively present information to ideologically influence trusting readers.[more inside]
The book on Wood-Frame House Construction (with diagrams) is brought to you by the USDA Forest Service. Here is the full online index of USDA Agriculture Handbooks. They're public domain. [more inside]
A leaked document shows the EPA under the Bush administration approved the pesticide clothianidin for widespread use on many crops, including corn, despite the findings from EPA scientists that it was a bee-killer. It may be responsible for the recent "Honeybee Depopulation Syndrome," which has been negatively affecting agriculture throughout North America. Previously.
Killered Bees. The NYTimes covers the mysterious collapse of commercial honeybee colonies over the last 5-months, covering dozens of states. The disease, Colony Collapse Disorder, does not have a determined cause. The Canary Database indicates that bees can serve as "canaries in a coalmine" for human diseases, as many other animals do. Some of the suspected causative agents (as reported [pdf] by Penn State) include a immunodeficiency, the hive consumption of high-fructose corn syrup, nutritional stress, parasites, infectious diseases, stress due to colony splitting and relocation, insecticides, and antibiotic use. The die-offs are likely to adversely impact both prices and crop yields.
The Vanishing. "Bees are in grave danger. So is our food supply. Why something so small matters so much."
Where have all the bees gone? Wild bee populations appear to be declining (members of a local naturalists' mailing list I subscribe to report seeing substantially fewer bumblebees in recent years), and domestic honeybees are susceptible to mites. Since one third of our crops require pollination, this is not just an environmental concern but also a very real threat to our food supply. Find out what's being done about it. Fascinating stuff, if a little frightening.
Pollination Pets for the Garden. The UK bee population has almost halved in the last 10 years due mainly to the spread of a mite called Varroa from Asia. The loss of such a large proportion of the bee population has implications for agriculture, horticulture and nature, bees pollinate the majority of plants with no intervention from man, there isn't a more reliable fertilisation method. However an Oxford company has come up with a simple kit to attract Mason bees to nest in your garden requiring no effort and no protective clothing, they're pretty docile too, so it's unlikely you'll get stung. BTW, the US is affected too.