Showing posts with label Bees. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Bees. Show all posts

Tuesday, November 8, 2022

Some revolutionary advice for producers of seedless watermelon - and perhaps other fruits and vegetables, too!

by Larry Powell

A wild bee on a sunflower. A PinP photo.
 
For two years, US researchers studied the impact that both bee pollinators and beetle pests had on seedless watermelon.

        What they found was striking.        

Flea beetles feast on turnip-tops in Manitoba, A PinP photo.

    In both years, pollination by the bees was “the only significant factor” in both fruit set and marketable yield - even when compared to the harm done by the pests. Not only that, the wild bees increased those yields anywhere from one-&-a-half to three times more than honeybees.

    So the researchers conclude; If you want better yields, it’s more important to protect the bees that pollinate them than to kill the pests which eat them! 

    “These data," they state, "advocate for a reprioritization of management, to conserve and protect wild bee pollinations, which could be more critical than avoiding pest damage for ensuring high yields.”

    But the lead author of the study, Ashley Leach, is hesitant to extrapolate those findings to other crops like grains and oilseeds, so dominant on the Canadian prairies, for example. 

    He tells me in an email; "Our findings are intricately linked" to crops reliant on pollination (like seedless watermelon).

    "The pest we studied can have a variable effect of yield," Leach told me. 

    "However, multiple studies have found that insecticides may negatively impact pollinators so any reduction in insecticide spray could potentially impact yield and associated pollinator health outcomes. 

    "I wouldn’t recommend growers stop applying insecticides unless they don’t see a loss in yield, or they have another pest management practice in place."

    The findings are published in the “Proceedings of the Royal Society.”


Tuesday, September 6, 2022

Spring forward: Changing climate’s early winter wakeup call is a buzz kill for bumblebees

Biology Dep't. - University of Ottawa

Bee on scarlet-runner bean. A PinP photo.

Climate change is waking bumblebees earlier from winter hibernation, putting the species at risk with impact on human agricultural crops

New research from the University of Ottawa has found the earlier arrival of spring in parts of North America negatively impacts bumblebee survival, which could potentially threaten bee-pollinated agricultural crops and other plant sources.

Published in Biological Conservation, this paper is among the first to study climate change’s influence on seasonal weather changes in relation to bumblebees. Researchers from the Faculty of Science found the bees are not correspondingly shifting their activity timing earlier in the year, threatening their ability to find food sources or causing bees to miss out on them altogether.

“This study represents crucial groundwork for understanding that climate can impact the seasonal timing of biological events,” says lead author Olga Koppel, a PhD student in the Faculty of Science’s Department of Biology.

“Bumblebee survival is strongly in our best interest, as we rely heavily on bee-pollinated agricultural crops, including vegetables, fruits, and even clothing fibres such as cotton. The over 40 bumblebee species that are native to North America provide this invaluable economic service.”

Climate change is being linked to global biodiversity decline and its impact on species is a quickly growing field of research. Climate change increases the likelihood of earlier spring onset and flowering in many areas including spring plants, wild plants and trees. These are a necessary food source for winter hibernating bumblebee queens, who search for pollen and nectar after waking up hungry in need of energy.

Being able to match the timing of floral resources gives bumblebee species an edge. Survival, however, for those emerging from hibernation before the arrival of spring flowers – their main food source –is unlikely and leads to smaller colonies with lower odds of persisting in that area the following year. Bumblebees who sync with the changing timing of spring take full advantage of the season’s floral resources and are more likely to persist over time.

Lead authors Koppel and Jeremy Kerr, a Full Professor and Chair in the Department of Biology, examined the relationship between climate and bumblebee spring emergence in a database of specimens from museum collections across North America, comprising 21 species and 17,000 individuals. The authors found climate strongly explained variation in spring emergence timing in 15 of the 21 bumblebee species.

“This research has demonstrated that bumblebee emergence timing can be biased heavily in the direction of climate changes, which has implications for similar research on other species, as well as for the urgent conservation of these valuable pollinator species,” says Koppel. “This study provides a roadmap for evaluating large-scale temporal responses to climate change for many insects and other animals.”


Sunday, August 15, 2021

Loophole keeps bee-killing pesticides in widespread use, two years after EU ban

Unearthed


Investigation finds EU countries have issued at least 67 different 'emergency authorisations' for outdoor use of three neonicotinoids since ban came into force in 2018.
Story here.



Monday, May 31, 2021

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Wild ground-nesting bees might be exposed to lethal levels of neonics in soil.


ScienceDaily
In a first-ever study investigating the risk of neonicotinoid insecticides to ground-nesting bees, University of Guelph researchers have discovered hoary squash bees are being exposed to lethal levels of the chemicals in the soil. Story here.
Hoary bees forage on a squash flower.
Ilona Loser

RELATED:





Friday, August 9, 2019

Rachel was right


PAN
Yet another scientific study, released today, shows just how deadly our chemical-intensive farming system has become to pollinators and other insects. Story here,
Bumblebees forage on chives in an organic garden in Manitoba.
A PinP photo.
RELATED:

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Recent research contradicts a claim by the chemical giant, Bayer, that its newest bug-killer is safe for bees.

by Larry Powell

A honeybee colony in Manitoba. A PinP photo.

It's brand name is "Sivanto," (generic name - flupyradifurone). It's an insecticide designed to kill a wide range of bugs which eat food crops such as soybeans. Bayer is registering it in many jurisdictions around the world. 

After conducting various field studies, 
Bayer concludes, "Sivanto displayed a very promising safety profile." The company concedes, it works in ways similar to the neonicotinoids (a group of insecticides which has become notorious for its likely role in pollinator decline). Still, it finds, the product "can be considered safe to most beneficial insects, specifically pollinators." 
Image by Brian Robert Marshall.

But a team of scientists at the University of California, San Diego, reaches a different conclusion. In findings published earlier this year, the team gave a range of Sivanto doses to the bees, including ones they encounter in the field. By itself, the chemical did not appear to be harmful. But, when combined with the fungicide propiconazole (brand name "Banner Maxx"), widely-used by farmers, the harm was "greatly amplified." The bees either sickened or died, apparently because the fungicide weakened their ability to shake off the toxicity. It's not uncommon for pollinators to be subjected to a dizzying array of pesticides all at once, while foraging in the fields. It’s a process called "synergism," in which they can suffer harm they would not,  if  exposed to just a single one.

The spokesperson for the team, Dr. Simone Tosi, tells PinP, she does not believe that regulations in the US require manufacturers to test for synergistic effects when they apply to have their products approved. But neither does she think that such regulations prohibit such testing.


In a news release, her team says, "We believe this work is a step toward a better understanding of the risks that pesticides could pose to bees and the environment. Our results highlight the importance of assessing the effects pesticides have on the behaviour of animals, and demonstrate that synergism, seasonality and bee age are key factors that subtly change pesticide toxicity." They call for further studies to better assess the risks to pollinators.

But at least one of those other studies has already been done. It, too, comes up with similarly negative conclusions. A team from
 three German universities has found that flupyradifurone binds to the brain receptors of honeybees, damaging their motor skills.

Meanwhile, Bayer's marketing plans for its new product are ambitious. It promises to "develop, register and sell" Sivanto in many places across the world, including the US, Europe, Asia, Ghana and Brazil. While Canada isn't mentioned, specifically, there seems little doubt it will end up here, too. The company wants to see its product "in all major climatic zones allowing agriculture."

Last April, over three months ago, I e-mailed the federal Minister of Agriculture, Marie-Claude Bibeau, Canada's Pest Management Regulatory Agency, Manitoba's Minister of Health, Kelvin Goertzen and Manitoba’s Deputy Minister of Agriculture to ask them about this new research and whether Sivanto will be registered in Canada. 
Apart from a couple of automated responses, I have gotten no substantive answers.
 

RELATED: 

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Thursday, May 9, 2019

Bee Alert: Is a Controversial Herbicide Harming Honeybees?


YaleEnvironment360
Recent court cases have focused on the possible effects of glyphosate, found in Monsanto’s Roundup, on humans. But researchers are now investigating whether this commonly used herbicide could also be having adverse effects on the health and behaviour of honeybees.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Pesticide exposure causes bumblebee flight to fall short


PHYS ORG
Bumblebees forage on chives.
A PinP photo.
Flight behaviour is crucial for determining how bees forage, so reduced flight performance from pesticide exposure could lead to colonies going hungry and pollination services being impacted. More here.

RELATED:







Monday, September 24, 2018

For years, the main culprit in bee decline has been the "neonics," a family of insecticides. Now, another suspect has been added to the list - an herbicide - Roundup!


More here.
Science X

A honeybee colony in Manitoba. A PinP photo.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

The more pesticides bees eat, the more they like them


PHYS  ORG
Bumblebees forage on organic chives.
Another PinP photo.
Bumblebees acquire a taste for pesticide-laced food as they become more exposed to it, a behaviour showing possible symptoms of addiction. More here.



Monday, July 9, 2018

Manitoba beekeepers fight to come back after extreme honeybee die-offs



CBCnews
Long, cold winter could be to blame for some 
beekeepers losing more than half of their bees. More here.

A Manitoba beekeeper tends to his hives.
A PinP photo.



Costco takes stand on insecticides


THE WESTERN PRODUCER
Costco is saying no to neonics. More here.
A corn-harvester in Manitoba. 
Nat'l. Institutes of Health.


Monday, May 21, 2018

Canada should ban bee-killing neonics in 2018!


DAVID SUZUKI FOUNDATION
A PinP photo.
Europe will ban neonics by the end of the year. We need parallel action to protect bees in Canada! More here.



Monday, April 30, 2018

In Huge Win for Pollinators, People & the Planet , EU Bans Bee-killing Pesticides. WHAT ABOUT CANADA? ASK YOUR LOCAL POLITICIAN!!!


Common
Dreams
Bumble bees forage on chives in an organic garden in Manitoba, CA. PinP photo.
"Authorizing neonicotinoids during a quarter of a century was a mistake and led to an environmental disaster. Today's vote is historic." More here.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Pesticides put bees at risk, European watchdog confirms


BBC News

Most uses of insecticides known as neonicotinoids represent a risk to wild bees and honeybees, the European Food Safety Authority has confirmed. More here.


PinP photo.

Friday, February 16, 2018

The value of pollinator species diversity


Science 
An unidentified pollinator in Manitoba. PinP photo.

Large numbers of species are needed to support ecosystem functioning. Story here.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Friends of the Earth Fights for Bees. PLEASE DONATE!.

Friends of the Earth 

Donald Trump’s EPA could soon allow bee-killing neonicotinoid pesticides to be sprayed on 165 million acres of farmland.

A honeybee hive in Manitoba, Canada. PinP photo.  

Chemical giant Syngenta requested permission to douse our crops with these toxic chemicals. If the EPA grants Syngenta’s wish, the impact on bees and other pollinators could be devastating.
From your backyard to garden retailers to supermarkets, we’re cutting off the demand for bee-killing pesticides. And we’re pushing states and the federal government to ban them. But we need your help to keep this important work going in 2018.

Bees are dying at alarming rates. Monarch butterflies are declining. And a new study found that 75 percent of insects in German nature preserves have disappeared over the past three decades.
Scientists say this indicates that we are in the midst of an “Insect Apocalypse.” One of the key culprits is the massive increase in the use of pesticides.

And science continues to mount that these same pesticides are harming children’s brains, disrupting our hormones, contributing to cancers and more. That’s why we need a rapid shift to organic agriculture -- which is better for people and pollinators.

These pesticides are harming our health and our food system. But they’re generating millions in profits for Syngenta, Bayer, Monsanto, Dow and other pesticide companies. They spend millions every year on lobbying -- in part to block the EPA, state agencies and lawmakers from taking action on their bee-killing products!


Tuesday, October 17, 2017

It’s Time to Ban Bee-Killing Pesticides

EcoWatch - by David Suzuki
The Canadian government is banning plastic microbeads in toiletries. Although designed to clean us, they're polluting the environment, putting the health of fish, wildlife and people at risk. Manufacturers and consumers ushered plastic microbeads into the marketplace, but when we learned of their dangers, we moved to phase them out. Story here.

RELATED: Tainted honey spells more trouble for bees. Are we losing the battle to save them?




Friday, October 6, 2017

Tainted honey spells more trouble for bees. Are we losing the battle to save them?

 by Larry Powell

Three out of every four samples of honey tested in a global survey released this week, were tainted with neonicotinoids, the world's most widely-used insecticide.

A five-member Swiss research team tested almost two hundred honey samples from every continent except Antarctica (including several remote islands), for the five main compounds in the "neonic family" of pesticides (acetamiprid, clothianidin, imidacloprid, thiacloprid, and thiamethoxam).

At least one of those compounds was found in 75% of all samples tested. (Fourty-five percent contained two or more, while ten percent showed traces of four or five.)

The levels detected were considered too low to pose a risk to people who actually eat honey. But, for adult bees, honey is their only food in winter and when flowers aren't blooming. While "neonics" may not always kill the pollinators outright, they've been shown to have "sub-lethal effects," which probably damage the way they grow,learn, fend off disease, navigate and reproduce.

The test results show that "neonics" are now used everywhere, and that bees, probably including thousands of wild varieties, as well, are exposed to the toxins in their food, worldwide. 

"Neonics are suspected of being a key factor for a global decline not just in honeybees," states the report, "but in pollinators, generally. And, despite some recent efforts to decrease their use - the contamination (documented in this latest research), confirms the inundation of bees and their environments with these pesticides." 

And while "neonic" levels in the honey are considered low for human consumption, the research paper also hints - that may not be the end of the story. 

"There are increasing concerns about the impact of these systemic pesticides, not only on...honey bees ....but also on...humans."

Other research has already documented harm "neonics" are also doing to insect-eating birds such as swallows, either by poisoning them directly or depriving them of the bugs they normally eat.

Another study demonstrates negative effects on the rare Japanese crested ibis. It was found to have better breeding success when "neonics" were removed from its environment.

In Canada,three kinds of "neonics" have been detected in our waterways at levels considered harmful to important food sources for fish, birds and other animals, such as midges and mayflies.

Researchers hope a total ban such as the one France will soon introduce, may reverse "neonic" readings there, over time. But, despite a partial moratorium imposed by the EU a few years ago, readings in Europe were still among the highest.  
The report warns that "pesticide cocktails," where more than one "neonic" compound may be used at once,  "may increase harm" even more.

The researchers, headed by Edward Mitchell of the University of Neuchâtel, Switzerland, call on authorities to tell the public more about how many pesticides are being used in their areas, and to make that information easier for scientists to interpret and understand.

Reaction to the research study from other experts in the field, has been swift and, in some cases, angry.


Dave Goulson, Professor of Biology at the University of Sussex (r.) laments, "Despite repeated warnings from scientists that they are impacting the bees, butterflies, aquatic insects and more...few governments have listened.                                                                     "We would expect to find them in honey. Entire landscapes all over the world are now permeated with highly potent neurotoxins, undoubtedly contributing to the global collapse of biodiversity.

"Some of us have been pointing this out for years. It is hard not to feel a sense of deja vu: Rachel Carson was saying the same things more than 50 years ago, but we seem not to have learned any lessons. It is high time that we developed a global regulatory system for pesticides, to prevent such catastrophes being repeated over and over again."


Meanwhile, Chris Connolly of the University of Dundee,  Scotland (l.), calls these latest findings “Alarming and sobering." He says "neonics" are being overused, unnecessarily and ought to be "heavily restricted." 


Dr. Connolly fears, while the chemical may not kill bees outright, it might "hinder their ability to forage on, and pollinate, our crops”

It's been said that one out of every three spoons full of food we put in our mouths are made possible by pollinators.


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