Happy 4th….

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Weeping Wednesday end….

beeWell it was a tough day today hearing about the 37 Million bees dying in Elmwood Canada. But in honor of them and all bees….I posted all bee stuff on my other WordPress page: www.netdog06.wordpress.com Feel free to check it out, hope you can feel the Love there.

37 Million bees dead in Canada

dead bees

Shortly after 50,000 bees were found dead in an Oregon parking lot, a staggering 37 million bees have been found dead in Elmwood, Ontario, Canada. Dave Schuit, who runs a honey operation in Elmwood has lost 600 hives. He is pointing the finger at the insecticides known as neonicotinoids, which are manufactured by Bayer CropScience Inc. This also comes after a recent report released by the British Beekeepers Association (BBKA) that recorded its largest loss of honeybees ever.  The European Union has stepped forward, having banned multiple pesticides that have been linked to killing millions of bees.

The loss comes after the planting of corn. Neonicotinoid pesticides are used to coat corn seed with air seeders. This results in having the pesticide dust blown into the air when planted. The death of millions of pollinators was studied by Purdue University. They discovered that Bees exhibited neurotoxic symptoms. They analyzed dead bees and found that traces of thiamethoxam/clothiandin were present in each case. The only major source of these compounds are seed treatments of field crops.

Bee deaths are increasing exponentially. An international team of scientists led by Holland’s Utrecht University has concluded that, “large scale prophylaxic use in agriculture, their high persistence in soil and water, and their uptake by plants and translocation to flowers, neonicotinoids put pollinators at risk. This is some of the research that led to the European Unions ban of the pesticides, as mentioned and referenced earlier.

Can we really debate this much longer? The evidence linking pesticides to bee deaths is overwhelming. It’s not only bees, but an array of other insects as well. The last thing we need is more events to occur that companies can use to push the manufacturing and development or more genetically modified foods. One reason that has been used for justification of GMO’s is a food shortage, and we all know how critical bees are to our food supply. There is a huge conflict of interest here, the pesticides used to spray the crops that are killing the bees are developed by biotech corporations such as Monsanto.

Time to make the connections, time to speak up!

USDA Finds Bayer Pesticide Harmful To Honeybees

honey beeRemember the case of the leaked document showing that the EPA’s own scientists are concerned about a pesticide it approved that might harm fragile honeybee populations?

Well, it turns that the EPA isn’t the only government agency whose researchers are worried about neonicotinoid pesticides. USDA researchers also have good evidence that these nicotine-derived chemicals, marketed by German agrichemical giant Bayer, could be playing a part in Colony Collapse Disorder—the mysterious massive honeybee die-offs that United States and Europe have been experiencing in recent years. So why on earth are they still in use on million of acres of American farmland?

According to a report by Mike McCarthy, environment editor of the U.K.-based Independent, the lead researcher at the USDA’s very own Bee Research Laboratory completed research two years ago suggesting that even extremely low levels of exposure to neonicotinoids makes bees more vulnerable to harm from common pathogens.

For reasons not specified in the Independent article, the USDA’s Jeffrey Pettis has so far not published his research. “[It] was completed almost two years ago but it has been too long in getting out,” he told the newspaper. “I have submitted my manuscript to a new journal but cannot give a publication date or share more of this with you at this time.” (I was not able to speak to Pettis for this post as he is in meetings all day today; but he’s agreed to an interview Monday.)

Pettis’s study focused on imidacloprid, which like clothianidin is a neonicotinoid pesticide marketed by Bayer as a seed treatment.

The findings are pretty damning for these nicotine-derived pesticides, according to McCarthy. He summarizes the study like this:

The American study … has demonstrated that the insects’ vulnerability to infection is increased by the presence of imidacloprid, even at the most microscopic doses. Dr. Pettis and his team found that increased disease infection happened even when the levels of the insecticide were so tiny that they could not subsequently be detected in the bees, although the researchers knew that they had been dosed with it.

To my knowledge, Pettis hasn’t spoken to U.S. journalists about his unpublished neonicotinoid research. But he did appear in a 2010 documentary called The Strange Disappearance of the Honeybees by U.S. filmmaker Mike Daniels, which has been screened widely in Europe but not yet in the United States, McCarthy reports. Pettis’ remarks in the film are what alerted the European press to his findings on neonicotinoids.

Autonomous Flying Robot with a Honey Bee Brain

Scientists at the Universities of Sheffield and Sussex are embarking on an ambitious project to produce the first accurate computer models of a honey bee brain in a bid to advance our understanding of Artificial Intelligence (AI), and how animals think.

robobeeThe team will build models of the systems in the brain that govern a honey bee’s vision and sense of smell. Using this information, the researchers aim to create the first flying robot able to sense and act as autonomously as a bee, rather than just carry out a pre-programmed set of instructions.

If successful, this project will meet one of the major challenges of modern science: building a robot brain that can perform complex tasks as well as the brain of an animal. Tasks the robot will be expected to perform, for example, will include finding the source of particular odours or gases in the same way that a bee can identify particular flowers.

It is anticipated that the artificial brain could eventually be used in applications such as search and rescue missions, or even mechanical pollination of crops.

Dr James Marshall, leading the £1 million EPSRC1 funded project in Sheffield, said: “The development of an artificial brain is one of the greatest challenges in Artificial Intelligence. So far, researchers have typically studied brains such as those of rats, monkeys, and humans, but actually ‘simpler’ organisms such as social insects have surprisingly advanced cognitive abilities.”

Called “Green Brain”, and partially supported with hardware donated by NVIDIA Corporation, the project invites comparison with the IBM-sponsored Blue Brain initiative, which is developing brain modeling technologies using supercomputers with the ultimate goal of producing an accurate model of a human brain.

The hardware provided by NVIDIA is based on high-performance processors called “GPU accelerators” that generate the 3D graphics on home PCs and games consoles and power some of the world’s highest-performance supercomputers. These accelerators provide a very efficient way of performing the massive calculations needed to simulate a brain using a standard desktop PC – rather than on a large, expensive supercomputing cluster.

“Using NVIDIA’s massively parallel GPU accelerators for brain models is an important goal of the project as they allow us to build faster models than ever before,” explained Dr Thomas Nowotny, the leader of the Sussex team. “We expect that in many areas of science this technology will eventually replace the classic supercomputers we use today.”

Green Brain’s researchers anticipate that developing a model of a honey bee brain will offer a more accessible method of driving forward our knowledge of how a brain’s cognitive systems work, leading to advances in understanding animal and human cognition. “Because the honey bee brain is smaller and more accessible than any vertebrate brain, we hope to eventually be able to produce an accurate and complete model that we can test within a flying robot,” said Dr Marshall.

“Not only will this pave the way for many future advances in autonomous flying robots, but we also believe the computer modelling techniques we will be using will be widely useful to other brain modelling and computational neuroscience projects,” added Dr Nowotny.

Alongside this, the research is expected to provide a greater understanding of the honey bee itself. Because of their role as pollinators, honey bees are vital to many ecosystems, yet their declining population in recent years has given scientists cause for concern. Green Brain’s modelling could help scientists to understand why honey bee numbers are dwindling and also contribute to the development of artificial pollinators, such as those being researched by the National Science Foundation-funded Robobees project, led by Harvard University.

Oregon dead bee update….

dead bee updateIn response to a massive bumblebee die-off blamed on pesticides, the Oregon Department of Agriculture issued a temporary restriction Thursday on 18 insecticides with the active ingredient dinotefuran.
An estimated 50,000 bees and other insects died in a Wilsonville shopping center parking lot last week. A landscaper sprayed 55 flowering European linden trees with Safari pesticide on June 15. State officials confirmed the dinotefuran insecticide was responsible for the deaths. Hundreds of dead bees in Hillsboro are also being investigated.
“We’re not trying to get it off the shelves, or trying to tell people to dispose of it, we’re just telling people not to use it,” said Bruce Pokarney, a spokesperson for the department of agriculture.
While Pokarney acknowledged it would be difficult to cite individual homeowners, he said licensed pesticide applicators would be violating Oregon regulations if they use dinotefuran-based insecticides on plants in the next 180 days.
The temporary ban only affects pesticide use that might harm pollinators, like bumblebees. Safari is one of the insecticides restricted by the Agriculture Department. Most of the restricted insecticides are used primarily for ornamental, not agricultural, pest control.
Dinotefuran use in flea collars, and ant and roach control will still be allowed.
The Department of Agriculture will reassess the temporary restriction after officials finish their investigation into the pesticide applications in Wilsonville and Hillsboro. These inquiries could take up to four months.
The Valent U.S.A. Corporation, which distributes Safari, could not be reached for comment, but the company released a statement earlier this week about the bee deaths.
“We are actively conducting outreach with our customers and industry partners to reinforce the importance of responsible use according to label guidelines,” the statement said.
Dinotefuran is a member of a type of insecticides called neonicotinoids. Neonicotinoids can be broken down into two groups: the nitro-group and the cyano-group. Dinotefuran is a member of the nitro-group, which has been shown to be more poisonous to pollinators. The European Union issued a temporarily ban earlier this year on three other nitro-group neonicotinoids, which goes into effect this December.
The Washington state Department of Agriculture decided against banning the ornamental use of neonicotinoids earlier this month. Instead, the Washington department will “urge the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to consider whether additional use restrictions are needed when the products are applied to ornamental plants.”
The EPA is currently reviewing the effects of neonicotinoids on pollinators, since research and beekills incidents highlight “the potential direct and/or indirect effects of neonicotinic pesticides,” its website said.
The Portland-based Xerces Society, who originally reported the Wilsonville bee deaths to the Department of Agriculture, is working with a congressional office on legislation about pollinators and pesticide use, said Scott Black, Xerces’ executive director.
“We hope that this is just the start, that now we can take a look at this entire class of pesticides called neonicotiniods and really scrutinize them for their potential impact on these beneficial insects,” Black said.
–Elizabeth Case

Inside the Hive #2

inside the hiveRegulation of temperature and humidity in the hive, and ventilation of the hive are very important to the health of the hive. Humidity of the hive, which gives honey its protective quality, must be kept within a certain limit. If humidity is over or under a normal limit, then the honey will spoil and lose its protective and nutritious qualities. In addition to humidity control, during the brood raising season, temperature in the hive has to be kept at 94° regardless of the outside temperature. Bees raise the temperature within the hive by vibrating their flight muscles to generate heat. They lower it by fanning their wings. On hot days bees can be seen clinging in a ball outside the hive. This is known as bearding. Using a screened bottom board, along with other openings, help with ventilation in the summer, reducing bearding.

The effort of the bees to preserve the quality of the honey is not limited to humidity and heat regulation. A health system within the hive also keeps under control all events that may result in the origination of bacteria and disease. Guards at the door keep out foreign bees and other insects. Diseased larvae and pupae are removed. Bees that have died in the hive are also removed. Objects too large for the bees to remove, such as mice, are covered in propolis.

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