Are bees in peril from neonicotinoids? Farmer evidence challenges doomsayers

The “Bee-pocalypse” has been cancelled. Global bee populations are rising and are now near historic highs. In Canada, the bee populations are up 13 percent since 2011, from 637,920 colonies to 721,106 in 2015. While there are serious threats to bees, we assert that the use of neonicotinoid pesticides (or neonics) in agriculture is not one of them. Continued focus on neonics by environmental groups detracts from and potentially worsens real threats to bees.  Screen-Shot-2015-07-30-at-9.34.59-AM-1024x1001

Neonic pesticides are synthetic compounds based on the natural compound nicotine. They have been widely used since the mid 1990’s. They have low toxicity to birds and mammals but insects are extremely sensitive to their effects.

Bee-pocalypse was falsely alleged to be a result of neonic use in agriculture. Supposedly causing colony collapse disorder (CCD).

This wild suggestion began in 2010 when “activist scientists” in Europe began targeting neonics with the goal of getting its class of insecticide banned. In 2013, they were successful in getting the EU to ban agricultural use of neonic for two years. That ban is still in place, despite the evidence. David Zaruk wrote a series of articles that give details of this group’s activity.

In North America, there is a very loud minority calling for the complete ban of neonics. So far the provincial government of Ontario (Canada) has been the only administration to place major restrictions on neonic use in agriculture. These restrictions are highly contested.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency just released their first of four reports on neonics use and concluded there is minimal risk to honey bees from the neonic (imidacloprid) seed treatments for tuber, bulb, brassica (including canola) vegetables and corn.

In the western provinces, bee numbers are fantastic. Most of Canada’s canola, largely pollinated by bees, has grown out west and virtually all of it has neonic seed treatment. Like Canada, Australia has healthy bee numbers with more than 2 million acres of canola, much of which is neonic seed coated. Bees swarm over Canola field treated with neonic treated seed in Morawa, Western Australia on Bill Crabtree’s farm

A key fact is Varroa destructor has not yet spread to Australia. Both the Western Canadian and Australian experiences demonstrate the safety to bees of widespread use of neonic seed treatments. Ironically, Ontario is the only province in Canada where bee colony numbers have been poor in recent years. But last winter, the honey bee population was as healthy as it’s been in more than a decade, according to the Canadian Association of Professional Agriculturalists…and it had nothing to do with the neonic ban that the county put in place. The ban took effect with the spring planting this year. It’s clear that overwinter losses had little to nothing to do with neonics, but fluctuated based on weather conditions and most importantly the presence of Varroa mites.

Related article:  As EU pesticide ban to 'save bees' backfires, focus of failure turns to activist politicians
Neonic seed treateds in canola (right), and untreated (left) . Flea beetle damage.” Photo: Gregory Sekulic, CC BY 2.0
Neonic seed treateds in canola (right), and untreated (left) . Flea beetle damage.” Photo: Gregory Sekulic, CC BY 2.0

Activist scientists and environmental NGO’s refuse to acknowledge that by removing neonics options for farmers, older and harsher chemistries will have to be used. In 2013 neonic seed treatment was banned in Europe. In 2014 extensive flea beetle infestations in the UK forced farmers to ask for, and receive, permission to repeatedly spray foliar applications of pyrethoids. Such pyrethroids are deadly to bees on contact but were used to protect their rapeseed (aka canola) crop. In the second year of the ban, UK farmers saw a 10-17 percent crop yield loss.

Next year’s flea beetle pest pressure may be significantly higher. This will force many farmers to forego growing canola altogether until the ban on neonics is lifted.

Neonics are a minor issue for bee health and the continued false allegations are pulling resources away from solving the real threat. Mississippi State University apiculture specialist said it well: “My top three reasons for bee colony death are Vorroa mites, Varroa mites and Varroa mites.” A 2015 USDA report concluded:

the Varroa mite is … the single most detrimental pest of honey bees, and is closely associated with overwintering colony declines

This parasitic mite sucks the hemolymph (bee blood) and is responsible for transmitting up to 18 different viral pathogens to bee colonies. It is very clear that Varroa destructor mites represent a very real and present danger to honey bee populations.

If government regulators are serious about protecting bees, they must focus on the real threats and stop making policies based on bad science and environmental hype.

Will farmers be allowed to use safe effective neonic seed treatments or will they be forced to change crops? Even worse, will farmers be forced to resort to using older compounds that really are deadly to bees? Will government regulators listen to the science or will the loud calls from NGO’s win out? We are hoping that common sense will prevail.

Bill Crabtree, M.Sci., is an agronomist, speaker, farmer, PhD Student, and a 2009 Australian McKell Medallist (environmental award) expert in sustainable agriculture.

Robert Wager, M.Sc., is a faculty member in department of biology of the Vancouver Island University, Nanaimo, BC, Canada.  Wager writes and speaks on genetically engineered crops and food. Follow him on Twitter @RobertWager1,

 

198 thoughts on “Are bees in peril from neonicotinoids? Farmer evidence challenges doomsayers”

  1. Nice article, but with a wrong title ! « Can Canada’s bees be saved? »… They are safe !

    I will translate this article but with « Save Canada’s bees from neonics doomsayers ! » as title.

    It will come shortly after the French legislative adopted – and the Constitutional Council accepted – a provision in the « Biodiversity Act » banning neonics altogether as from 1 September 2018 (with a sham possibility of derogations up to 1 July 2020).

    It won’t change this irresponsible decision though, but at least put some facts on the table.

    BTW, could you correct « Vorroa » into « Varroa » ?

    • In contemplating honeybee populations the hive or colony is essentially the unit of significance, it is effectively an organism in it’s own right. A colony lives or dies, stagnates or reproduces as conditions permit. Counting individual honeybees is something of an effort in futility.

      As for whether commercial beekeepers are intentionally splitting hives more aggressively, it doesn’t seem so but there is no data available. Could hive splitting account for the consistent growth in number of colonies? Well certainly it does – that’s where all those new colonies come from. When a healthy new colony quickly builds bee numbers, goes about it’s work of rearing brood and storing food it has a good chance of survival, it will still be around to be counted next season and may even be split to reproduce itself.

      The beekeeping business and honeybees are not at all like what most people imagine they are. There’s a lot to know and put into proper perspective when dealing with bees commercially. Here’s a reference that will walk you through a little bit of how colonies are formed and reproduce, if you’re genuinely interested…

      http://scientificbeekeeping.com/understanding-colony-buildup-and-decline-part-7b/

      • Thank you for your comprehensive response. I am definitely interested in learning more. I wish the media would do more rigorous analyses rather than simply run with doomsday predictions for clicks.

  2. Are bee colony numbers a relevant metric here? They are industrially produced and cloned for pollination purposes and shipped to the site of pollination needs as part of modern farming of pollinated crops, right? Isn’t it a better metric to look at colony health? Perhaps percentage of colonies surviving vs collapsing in the same context, like the nomadic pollinator colonies? Or honey production colonies within range of pesticides on crops?

    Secondly, glyphosate is a possible factor as well, as it affects many of the microbes that are in the honeybee gut microbiota, which are critical to the bee health and immune system vigor.

    • Sage, you’re not paying attention to the experts. As the article said, it’s Varroa mites that are killing the bees. Your incessant railing about glyphosate has no relevance. Bees are not exposed to glyphosate. Read the article again…then again…then again. After about the 10th time if you don’t get it that Varroa mites are the problem then we can’t help you.

      • I’m paying attention to reality dude. You’re incessant attempt to discredit people who oppose your agenda is very relevant because it shows agenda pushing. You’re toxic slime.

        • I think it is clear who is hewing to the scientific reality of the situation and who is pushing an activist agenda against GE and glyphosate. Pretty clear, also, who is “toxic slime”.

          So sad, this is always the outcome with the Daft Tinkler — he makes some absurd unscientific assertions, he gets debunked and exposed as a fraud, he lashes out in frustration. This pattern he repeats over and over and over, so sad. But what can we expect from an ignorant fool possessing the stones to name himself “sage thinker”? Heh, you can’t make this stuff up!

        • Ha, ha, ha, ha, “probably affects”…according to the Daft Tinkler, whose assessment of what “probably” does what to who is just so much biased unscientific nonsense. But it is nonsense that the pitiful fool TRULY BELIEVES…and so must you and I delude ourselves into believing in order for the Tinkler to be satisfied. Sorry Tinkler, not today dude.

          Furthermore the Tinkler has the audacity to complain he is being insulted when it is our intelligence that is routinely insulted by the Tinkler’s incessant fraudulent claims.

          I’d say the Daft Tinkler’s obsession with glyphosate “probably affects” his ridiculous behavior as an insufferable assclown on these blogs. Just sayin’

          • Bill, you insulted him by having the unmitigated temerity to call him on his unverified activist presumptions. He insults easily.

          • I’ve read his Monsanto manifestos and seen at least 3 dozen instances of his willingness to hang all of mankind’s woes on them and their products. Poor guy. We could call him the “Unablamer” I guess.

          • Yeah. It used to be that Monsanto was blamed for cancer, autism, allergies, and God knows what else. And now there’s “gut flora” added to this list. Citations? Of course not. Personally, I think they ought to throw in busted up marriages, bad grades and ski accidents. I mean, ya never know.

          • It rained yesterday and the house roof sprung a leak where some shingles had blown of earlier this spring. The Dutchess blamed me but I’m trying hard to convince her it was all Monsanto’s fault. I wonder if I can get someone to replace the damned roof and send Monsanto the bill?

          • … But… How do you know that it wasn’t those Syngenta or Cargil seeds that you bought? Damn, demonizing gets tougher and tougher these days.

          • No. It is Monsanto. I has to be, anybody knows that.

            Anyway I have proof. See that’s the new part of the house and great-great grandad put it up right around the turn of the last century, about the same time Monsanto was founded in 1901. Then grand-dad re-roofed it with those modern asphalt shingles just after the second war, in ’46 or ’47, so those shingles were still under the 20 year guarantee when when that evil Monsanto invented agent orange in the 1960s. Right after that dad noticed that grandad’s new roof wasn’t gettin’ any better up there, but it was after Monsanto introduced RoundUp in the 1980s that those shingles really started going to hell and it’s been nothin’ but a fast downward spiral ever since. Now the glyphosate and btCorn pollen has rotted grand-dad’s shingles out so bad you can’t even walk on ’em to gob on roof tar. Besides, the roof tar only attracts more glyphosate and pollen and makes the whole stinking Monsanto mess that much worse. It’s unsustainable, it really is. I told you I have proof, and I have a black and white Polaroid around here somewhere of that part of the house about 1959 and that roof looks fine, real fine. You should see it today, just terrible how Monsanto has destroyed it putting my family at risk like that. If we all would just go back to how things were in grand-dad’s time everything would be just fine, fine indeed.

          • Well I wouldn’t doubt it about those Irishmen being Monsanto victims agsci, I don’t know, but what I do know is that rotten leaky roof has caused the Dutchess’s microbiota of get all flummoxed — not quite bad enough to be terminal, it appears, but bad enough to make her real cranky toward me most of the time lately. That’s just one of the sneaky ways Monsanto breaks up marriages and families and makes a big mess of communities and denies food sovereignty to the people and everything.

            Oh damn, as if Monsanto hasn’t done enough damage to me and mine, I noticed just now it has caused a flat tire on the inside duel of my big grain truck. I’m surprised the IARC didn’t remark how glyphosate can do that – just makes rubber tires permeable to air sometimes. I’m gonna have my tire guy send this bill to Monsanto too. In the days before Monsanto great-great-grandad never had these sorts of tire problems, it just isn’t natural.

          • Absolutely Monsanto caused the flat tire. I mean, if you hadn’t grown GE seeds, you wouldn’t need the truck in the first place, and so obviously Monsanto caused the problem. Correlation, right? Works for me.
            Why, I knew a guy who grew GE corn, whose wife had an affair, and she left him. Damn Monsanto, busting up marriages like that. Obviously she wouldn’t have had an affair, if she wasn’t exposed to all that Bt corn, right?

          • “Trolling the glyphosate chum” for speaking about glyphosate effects on gut microbiota of bees, which is important to their health. This is an avenue that needs to be explored. You don’t have to speak with scorn and derision. That is a form of psy ops, abusive dialogue designed to scare others from thinking the hypothesis is valid. You can think that and say it, but using that tone and tactic shows a bully agenda pushing. It’s for real, Bill. You can speak respectfully and disagree, and give your reasoning. You don’t need to go ad hominem. That shows a suspect agenda.

          • Have you tested the hypothesis and proved its validity TInkler? Heh, I thought so. You just earned all the scorn and derision that can be heaped upon you.

          • Psy Ops? You clearly don’t know what that is. Stop the sensationalistic melodrama anytime anyone disagrees with you.

          • Ha, got any more buzzwords that you can use to try to paint yourself as a valiant martyr for the anti-glyphosate, anti-science cause?

          • Go for the “blocking” JP. It’s great!

            It looks like he really does use Disqus to block himself from seeing my comments, ‘course everyone else can see ’em so you get to refute the fool without all the insipid recitation, whining and frustrated expletives. Leaves him hobbling around with his diaper down around his ankles and he doesn’t even know it, heh, heh.

            It could have real possibilities if I was smart enough to figure out what they might be.

          • Maybe I’ll actually make a Disqus account so he can “block” me. I’ve just been posting as a guest up till now, not sure it’s possible to block that.

          • You assert that to be true. And yet you do so on a website that is a propaganda organ for the industry, in a context where your fellow operatives click to upvote you, and this is the very definition of the thing that i am speaking about. The engineering of groupthink dynamics. It’s quite sophisticated. It’s admirable in its human technology, though not in its means or ends. It’s downright Orwellian in those aspects. A question should not be resolved by how many people click “like” or how vile and abusive the agenda pushers may be to those who say othwerwise.

            But, to bring it all back home, glyphosate affects some microbes badly at even rather low concentrations, and therefore it is probable that it affects the gut microbiota of the honeybee, which would affect their health, and there is some scientific research that supports glyphosate having an effect (a negative one) on honeybees, and this is what i continue to say despite your attacks and ridicule and attempts to be toxic.

          • No, you’re right. Questions should not be resolved by how many people click “like.” They should instead be resolved by whatever the correct answer is. You’ve proven that you’re not actually interested in finding that right answer, but rather positing hypothesis that you have not come close to proving and then throwing a fit when that point is brought up.

          • No ad hominem in sight, none. Did JP call it? Sure did…

            “…rather positing hypothesis that you have not come close to proving and then throwing a fit when that point is brought up”

            Precisely.

            I guess that makes the Tinkler a known quantity, predictable in every regard…”reproducible results” we call ’em in the science biz.

          • Challenging an idea and asking for credible evidence is not an ad hominem attack. Unless the person IS the idea, in which case, there are meds for that.

          • Uh, no dude. Why can’t i block you? You’re the toxic sort of person i block after 3 examples of toxicity. I am most interested in finding the right answers. I do not have predetermined conclusions. I see lacunae in the research. That is fair and correct. You’re lying and slandering. And gaming a system of dialog. I do not wish to speak with you any longer. You’re not worthy.

          • Nope, go away. If i could block you i would. What’s your secret of being unblockable and unclickable?

          • Heh, you cannot block the truth, Tinkler, and clicking on it too much only pisses it off, makes it keen to slap some sense into you, so keep it up Tinkler.

          • Can’t get rid of abusive people. That’s the deal. You don’t care that you’re abusive, which speak volumes about your credibility. You’re emblematic and holographic with the problems of the world today. And you’re proud of it. That is pretty much the definition of evil. I have met evil.

          • “Holographic evil” — a great new insult!
            Really, you can’t block us? You could just … quietly go elsewhere, which has the same effect. Puh-leeeeze consider it. Seriously. For the sake of your own exposure to holographic evil.

          • Oh, you poor thing. People who disagree with you and call you on your nonsense are so abusive. Feel better now after that Valiant Temper Tantrum?

          • Why don’t you abide by the rules of the discussion forum? Your toxicity and abusiveness is quite disgusting. It’s got nothing to do with the actual topic of the discussion, and everything to do with civility, a quality that you lack and seem to be proud to do so, sort of like Trump…. so that’s the sort of person you appear to be. A flagrant scofflaw in the face of the basic rules of being human, and this is a bad reference for the ideas you espouse as you kiss the behind of the agrochemical and GMO industries. It’s a strong strong correlation between this behavior and siding with the agrochemical industry in pushing propaganda. The correlation would be very very strong and p < 0.00001.

          • You have quite the nerve to pontificate about “civility” when you spend the majority of time on this forum calling anyone that has the nerve to disagree with you “toxic,” “evil,” “abusive,”lying and slandering,” “not worthy” or “vile,” and that’s just on this thread. Perhaps the reason you’re treated the way you are on this forum has something to do with the way you choose to treat others.

          • That’s fine by me. Ignoring them doesn’t make them disappear or make them any less a demonstration of your hypocrisy and paranoid, melodramatic style.

          • Obviously you DO read his comments.
            How else would you know they are “full of attacks”?
            Grow a pair.

          • It doesn’t make you right just because so many others act like you. It doesn’t make racism a good quality even though so many people are racist. It doesn’t make being a total bully right even though so many people worship Trump for just those qualities. It speaks to the sad poverty of human society today, especially the U.S. where the populace is dumbed down and brainwashed into the kinds of bad values that help the system to continue its criminal activity. It’s nothing to be proud of, any more than it’s worth being proud of being a Trump supporter. It’s a similar flavor.

          • You see “lacunae”? Not dead people?
            You are certainly not “most interested in finding the right answers.” You have shown time and again that you’re only interested in cherry picking and misinterpreting information to justify your pre-existing cognitive biases. That is not science. That is sloppy thinking.
            (Please. Block me. Please.)

          • I guess I won’t need to worry about a response here. Pretty nice of the Genetic Literacy Project to provide you with a forum. Too bad all these other people want to groupthink you. Ingrates all.

          • Funny damned thing how several people all familiar with scientifically factual information keep sounding so much the same all the time, just remarkable. ‘Course that’s the thing with facts, they are specific and they don’t change much and that does tend to leave everyone sounding pretty much alike. Everyone who respects facts and science that is. But groupthink, that’s when you get a flock of Chicken Littles all clucking in unison over something utterly ridiculous they have somehow come together to agree upon…like how all health and disease is an exclusive function of the microbiome which, in turn, is regulated exclusively by the possible or impossible presence of glyphosate anywhere in the non-contiguous environment. Oh, and creationism,, that too is groupthink.

          • I was having fun, reading this back-and-forth… but when I read your “you do so on a website that is a propaganda organ for the industry…” you lost the argument. Period.

          • That’s nonsensical. You don’t win this by saying that. It’s pure rhetoric and nothing to do with the actual discussion.

          • You have infinite patience, and a desperate need for being the whipping boy for pseuscience. Very clear. You have promised so many times that you wouldn’t waste time on “abusive people,” have called us all abusive, and yet here you still are.
            Are your promises worth nothing, then? Please don’t disappoint us yet again. Don’t waste your time. Science advocates obviously cause you considerable anguish and abuse, and you should shun the lot of us. Please. No more empty promises about not wasting your precious time on people who abuse you with science.

          • Sorry Sage, you have established yourself as rigid and inflexible with dogmatic biases. You aren’t interested in dialogues or discussions for any reasons other than to continue with your incorrect and unsupported premises and postulations. Of course I’m scornful and derisive of someone like that. Sorry you’re feelings got hurt.

          • Thanks. That’s a relief. Just in case, I’ll take a screenshot. That way I can remind you about it the next time you revert to your pontification.

          • Oh stop being a cry baby and bring the scientific evidence. When you fail to do that simple thing you succeed in earning derision. You have earned no respect, indeed you have laboriously earned everyone’s most intense disrespect. Pull up your big boy panties and stop with all the pathetic whimpering and whining.

          • We said the same thing! We need to take a trip to Target and buy him some big girl panties, since we both agree he needs to put some on.

          • Heh, yeah but the Daft Tinkler has me blocked with the new Disqus blocking tool. He can’t see my comments so I can refute his outrageous escapades and childish behavior without him going all infantile on me. It’s the equivalent of him clapping his hands over his ears and chanting la, la, la, la, la…

            I haven’t yet figured out the best way to exploit that, any good suggestions?

          • Wow, I’m jealous! How do I get him to block me? That way, y’all, and anyone else with even a smidgen of intellectual curiosity, can read my scintillating, insightful, and relevant posts, and he doesn’t see them and thus doesn’t respond. A win-win! Count me in!

          • It’s no sweat really. The combination seems to be…

            A) Object to him editing his comments after the fact and changing content. Point out how that abolishes any credibility he might ever have earned. Make him understand there is no statute of limitations on that.

            B) Acknowledge the disingenuous purpose of his many fraudulent personas; scientist, farmer, carpenter, beekeeper…

            Point out to him how that abolishes any credibility he might ever have earned. It seems you get extra ‘blocking points’ if you ask him often what he is pretending to be today.

            C) Do not pass up any opportunity to school him on the nature of science and the scientific method.

            Point out to him how his superficial hunches don’t even rise to the level of a legitimate working hypothesis, much less a tested hypothesis or any sort of defensible theory. Also keep reminding him of the differences between coincidence, correlation and causation. He ignores that only with the greatest difficulty.

            D) When he capitulates and pleads for mercy in his own smarmy groveling fashion don’t let up (if you do he pops right back up days later full of piss and vinegar with the same old schtick).

            Point out to him his lame excuses don’t make up for rejecting good scientific principles. Hold his feet to the fire…you’ve got him where you want him

            E) This will frustrate him and make him curse like a sailor, stick to your guns and insist upon scientifically valid responses from him. At that point he is cornered, finished. He either has to stop posting his drivel or block you, and no way he’s gonna stop with his bullshit…it’s an obsession with him.

            So, that’s what seemed to work for me. Give it a try. His block works on all websites that use Disqus. He may not be smart enough to figure out how to unblock you — the unblocking process is sort of cryptic.

            PS: I think I’ve attained the same achievement with one or two of Ted Miner’s sock puppets but they’ve dropped out of sight recently, so I can’t be certain.

            Happy hunting!

          • Well, dang. I thought I had been doing all of those things assiduously. Guess I haven’t been as consistent and methodical as you have been, as evidenced by your success. Congratulations! I will try harder.

          • Oh, come on. You’ve been given citation after citation, which you misinterpret or ignore, you yourself post pseudoscience, and you get all pissed when people don’t buy it. Grow a pair. If you can’t stand science, get off the science boat. Put on your big girl panties. Quit whining.

          • If it’s an avenue that needs to be explored, then get on it and do one of those “double-blind objective merge-scale asurements” you made up! Time’s a-wastin’! Just don’t bother the rest of us until you’ve published about the work you did in a GLP-certified lab, and provided all of the raw data for real peer review!

            Easy!

          • No it’s not easy. Research requires being at the place in life where you can make that choice. I speak about it because that is the level of investment i can afford. There is no need to ridicule or bully me for doing so. It’s not welcome and it’s not what good people do.

          • Uh-oh, there goes Valiant Witch Hunter taking offense at all these mean people who have the nerve to disagree with him again.

          • People who have the audacity to disagree with you get called “abusive.” Wow, there is a whole world of abusive people out there, then. Whaaa, whaaa, whaaa. Grow a pair.

          • “Good people” back up their highly speculative brain farts with actual research, not just wordiness and petty complaints about “ad hominem attacks,” whaaa whaaaa whaaa, when asked to provide evidence.
            Grow up. Put on your big girl panties.

          • The problem is that people who think like you impose your practically untested theories on the rest of us, and in the process you affect the cost of everything while entirely undermining Science as an institution. Time and again people like you open your yaps and demand action based on the most blatant activist non-science. You’ve absolutely destroyed the peer-review process, turning it instead into review by people who completely agree with the conclusions because they are relying on the same government grants, so the narrative needs to stay consistent.

            It is appalling what people like you do. You should be ashamed, but you will not because that, too, would cause problems for the narrative.

          • So, you’re also ignorant about how blatantly obvious your ideological biases print through on your every post? I suppose consistency is a good thing.

          • Um, why do you respond to someone you say is not “worth the time,” and that you say you are “ignoring” when you clearly are not? What are you trolling for, and what outcome do you expect?

          • Because obviously if you broadcast that you are ignoring someone by replying to all of their posts to tell them that, it’s sure proof that your stance is right. Duh.

          • And to come back around a week later to inform someone he’s ignoring them, well, that makes it all the more impressive. He ain’t got both oars in the water, that boy.

          • I bet it sucks to have your position completely demolished, doesn’t it? Never mind…rhetorical question.

          • One thing about science — it moves rather slowly. New hypotheses get talked about a heck of a lot. People explore the ideas with others. Get feedback. Refine ideas. Most get tossed to the dustbin, never to be tested. Some are in fact researched experimentally or observationally. So your sarcastic ridicule is from a place of ignorance. I begin by looking at what is known about adjacent topics. Bee gut microbiota is a topic of some research. Glyphosate’s effects on microbiota in plants is a topic of research. Connect the two and you get a possible area of fruitful inquiry.

            Functional diversity within the simple gut microbiota of the honey bee
            http://www.pnas.org/content/109/27/11002.short

            A Metagenomic Survey of Microbes in Honey Bee Colony Collapse Disorder
            http://science.sciencemag.org/content/318/5848/283

          • You know, for somebody who demonstrates profound ignorance at every turn, you’ve got a mouth on ya to say anything about anybody else’s ignorance. Linking to a study that says a thing doesn’t affect your ignorance rating when it comes to the topic of this article or your attempt to move the goalposts.

            Enviro-nazis demand bans based on lousy activist studies that wouldn’t have passed muster for peer-reviewed publication a few decades back, before there was big money to be made keeping people in a panic over nothing. But once the enviro-nazis get the government’s ear (or a favorable court decision from a lawyer in robes whose fidelity is to ideology rather than the law), bazzillions get spent studying the issue with regulatory-grade science that actually does stand up to peer review. And time and time again the enviro-nazis have been proven wrong. At huge cost to consumers. All for nothing. And when that happens, they don’t apologize and crawl back under the rock they came out of…nope. They grab the goalpost and run with it as far as they can, creating new panic among ignoramuses and renewed calls for a ban.

            Neonic seed treatments are killing the bees!!!

            Oh…wait…hmmm….they’re not?

            OK. Glyphosate’s killing the bees!!!

            And the pattern repeats ad nauseam.

            I’d like to see judges stipulating that if the enviros’ toxicity fantasies turn out to be wrong, they’re responsible for reimbursing the companies and the taxpayers for having wasted everybody’s time and money. My guess is, if they had to put up they’d shut up. You should maybe try that theory out.

          • “You know, for somebody who demonstrates profound ignorance at every turn” hey, nice beginning of a comment. I wonder what the rest of it said. I didn’t bother to proceed.

          • He is easily insulted. Like, with facts, scientific inquiry, and logic. And perfectly fitting shoes.
            Do not fear the thin-skinned troll, for his arrogant opinions are legion, his bark is loud, but his bite is toothless.

        • “probably”

          You should publish that in one of those “respected journals” you mentioned earlier. Lotsa peers there will give your work a big thumbs up, I’m sure!

        • Re-read that article. All weasel words. “….could affect….” etc. Don’t you read this crap before you post it?
          Why don’t you call a professional beekeeping association?
          Oh, I forgot; you added to your long list of experience and “credentials” that you are a beekeeper. Somehow I doubt that you belong to a professional beekeeping association.

          • Randomly picked up from jeb…

            “The constant inflow of GLY into the hive means that the agrochemical would accumulate in the hive’s stores, which would then be fed to larvae and young bees and used as sustenance for the whole colony during the winter. A recent study found no effects of GLY on brood survival, development or mean pupal mass in a realistic exposure scenario (Thompson et al., 2014). In that study, honeybee colonies were exposed to the herbicide when the glasshouse where the colonies were settled was sprayed with GLY (i.e. higher glyphosate doses would go into the hive than in the present study). Despite these results, bees chronically exposed to GLY or any other agrochemical found in the food sources of the hive may perform tasks with diminished cognitive capacities, as we showed in this study. Therefore, it is likely that activities that require a decision-making process based on information previously acquired through learning and memory, such as which nectar to process (Goyret and Farina, 2005), which dances to follow (Balbuena et al., 2012a) or which source to visit (Balbuena et al., 2012b), will be affected. This in turn might have negative consequences on the search and collection of resources as well as on the coordination of collective activities. In the long term, this could affect the survival of these colonies.”

            Brilliant!

          • Appealing to authority is a fairly pathetic logical fallacy. Appealing to one’s own authority…truly sad.

        • Here’s a link to Randy Oliver’s “Scientific Beekeeping” web site. You probably won’t spend much time there if you look at all. At least I’m making one good faith effort to help you gain perspective. However, based on observations over time, we’ll be able to ice skate in hell before you consider anything other than your conclusions as having merit.

          http://scientificbeekeeping.com/

        • Actually, it is the name of a chemical that is very suspect and is in most of the world’s food, so it’s rather relevant, sort of like lots of people use the term “climate change” because it’s kind of a big deal.

          • “very suspect”

            SUPERSTITIOUS PANIC!

            “in most of the world’s food”

            With verifiable detection levels capable of being measured down to ppb, detecting residues means absolutely nothing, especially to those who profit from irrational panic. Dose makes poison.

            “climate change”

            There’s climate change, which includes demonstrable things like natural variability, Medieval Warming Period, Little Ice Age, etc., and then there’s the leftist version of “climate change” (thanks for appropriately including the scare quotes!), in which natural variability vanishes along with the MWP and LIA, with the ultimate untestable hypothesis that through the demonstrable genius of Top Men in regulatory agencies, humanity can control the temperature of the planet and nail it at just the right level. Both of those versions are big deals, but only one logically defensible. The other is just a cheap, statistically and historically ignorant excuse to let totalitarians control the economy.

          • You sure spend a lot of time calling people demeaning names, when you say they are not “worth your time.” Why don’t you just quietly go away, then, and not look at all of these comments if they affect you so much? Science offends you, biotech offends you, rational thinking offends you, and any disagreement with your activist misinformation offends you into a fit of petulance worthy of a 4-year old.

          • Reading is hard…understanding harder still.

            It’s good that you recognize your limitations though.

    • “…in the honeybee gut microbiota, which are critical to the bee health and immune system vigor”

      So there you have it folks, there are no varroa mites, no viruses, no nutrient requirements, no winter kill…the unknowable and ever changing “gut microbiota” is the “critical” factor not only to health but to “immune system vigor”, irreparably damaged by exposure to even the mention of…wait for it …glyphosate! Now there’s a vial of snake oil if ever we’ve been sold one.

      Immune system vigor, my ass. Go dose yourself with another fecal transplant, Daft Tinkler, then shove your head back up. Go peddle your fraudulent snake oil somewhere else you unscrupulous old mountebank.

      • Bees are very strange in this respect. Their guts are colonised with a small number of microbial species (I believe something like 15-20 speices) and with great consistency within first few days of their life. Impact of glyphosate could be studied very easily. If there was an impact I would expect tthat it would have been well documented in the literature.

        • Yep. I’ve always been a little fascinated with the microflora idea myself, as a student it seemed like it should hold great potential (that was long before the term “probiotics” was coined). Took a while studying it for me to come to terms with the reality that microflora is simply another hierarchical level of ecosystem — it fills a niche, it serves a function, it is not immutable, it is remarkably resilient, it can help, it can harm, rarely is it diagnostic or therapeutic in any definitive way, it’s probably a symptom as often as it is a cause. What I do know about it is after all these years we don’t know a hell of a lot more about it and how to manipulate it to advantage than we ever did — still just dawbing around the fringes, really.

          So into that knowledge vacuum enter the quacks and genius charlatans who always have all the easy certain answers…for something in return…personalities with no sense of scientific reality, no conscience and an ego bigger than a barn, so big as to brand themselves as a “sage thinker” when the rest of the world recognizes only a puffed up mountebank.

          Anyway, I agree that if the micoflora was the keystone to health and happiness and if glyphosate or any other factor was controlling it we would, by now, have a vast body of literature on the subject and a very, very different health care system than we now have. If any of the tiny handful of outlying data points the Tinkler has cherrypicked had legs those would have been replicated and sussed out long before now, probably be a Nobel prize or two awarded for it — of course it hasn’t because it is just the usual statistical noise in the system. That’s where we lose the scientifically illiterate — they are distracted by the flash and are off on a merry wild goose chase with dogs baying and bugles tooting…tally ho, tally ho!

  3. There are enormous differences in the results of scientific investigations. A recent paper from The Netherlands indicates that neonics are, indeed, responsible for not only impacting pollinators, but also wild birds: http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nature13531.html.

    I suspect the problem is that the experiments have not been designed well, so the results are really inconclusive. The things being measured are insufficiently isolated from external factors, e.g. are queens impacted by pesticides directly, or by residual pesticides in royal jelly? Also I question whether some of the things being measured really matter. For example, the number of bee colonies, as highlighted in this article, is an irrelevant metric since any beekeeper can multiply their colony numbers, e.g. I doubled the number of colonies I have this year without buying in any external bees. In reality, a much more important number is the number of colonies that fail to survive the winter: this is a direct measure of mortality which is, after all, the key metric when measuring how bees are thriving.

    So, as an alternative to this article which is based on a meaningless measurement, the COLOSS results show a much more interesting picture and it is much less rosy than Messrs. Crabtree & Wager paint: http://coloss.org/announcements/losses-of-honey-bee-colonies-over-the-2015-16-winter

    • Hmmm…a new registered commenter…could this be a sockpuppet of our intrepid commenter “sage thinker”? Same verbiage, same point of view, cites a reference with scanty data (only one season, not nearly enough to be indicative of any trend whatsoever) as if he/she believes this has some sort of scientific significance. Oh meh, no thanks, “Phish”, not gonna take the bait today.

      • Nope – just came across this. I keep bees, so I know the number of colonies can be misleading. The COLOSS research has been running for years, that link showing last winter’s losses, but look through the site for previous results. As for your comments, I attempted to rationally and accurately address the points raised: ad hominem attacks tend to be the weapon of the incompetent.
        Edit: I haven’t just registered and I hadn’t read SageThinker’s comments but he’s right about the numbers games. To turn one hive into 6 is a trivial task – if all beekeepers did that, you would see a huge increase. For real measurements, count the number of feral colonies.

          • My point wasn’t to address neonics, but rather to critique the meaningless idea that the absolute number of hives is a relevant metric. The more correct number to address is the number of dead hives.

            As for neonics, US Government (EPA, USADA) studies appear to claim no impact on pollinators while the articles in reputable journals appear to disagree. So my point about improper experiments might explain this disparity. Alternatively, there is a suspicion that studies from the land of the free and the home of the lobby group may be less honest.

          • Well I think the real metric for bee health would be honey production, not overwintering deaths. Sick bees produce less honey than healthy bees. i agree the number of hives is not a great metric for measuring bee health.

          • So, you think the EPA does pesticide studies?

            Lordy…talk about reach exceeding grasp.

            If the studies in your “reputable journals” don’t comport with federal pesticide law (and they generally don’t), they’re irrelevant. Pesticide regulatory science isn’t the Wild West, like those global warming morons who think that with regulatory genius alone they can control the temp of the planet like you adjust the air conditioning in your car.

            GLP-compliance is a requirement. Raw data availability is a requirement. Random lab inspections… requirement. The list goes on. None of this is happening in the activist labs that are cranking out the data that fits your narrative.

            Garbage in, garbage out.

          • Clearly you don’t understand how science works nowadays. The reality is that peer-reviewed articles in reputable journals are the gold standard, irrespective of what any government says.

          • Indeed. And it has one interesting quote: “While we found that bees did not have chronic exposure to adverse concentrations of neonicotinoids, we are not saying that they are not harmful to bees – they are,” he said.

          • Which fairly describes the very nature of insecticides, does it not Tinkler? Are you fighting the impulse to invoke the precautionary principle here? C’mon, admit it, it’s killing ya.

          • All scientific studies end with that caveat. Yawn.
            And PPP’s* glom onto that as an activist slogan.

            *PPP = precautionary principle pundits

          • Keep posting…please. Wikipedia has created a cohort of people who think that a smart phone makes them smart or informed on whatever topic. But there’s that information vs understanding gap that pops up all the time with clowns like you. It’s funny to watch the contortions.

            Apparently, you’re unfamiliar with recent work (ie going back at least 2~3 decades) published in all sorts of fields that have pointed out how broken “peer review” has become. Clearly, you’ve not read the authors who note that not only is peer replication no longer happening (there’s no money in it), but that a surprising number of honest researchers can’t even replicate their own work years after publication. What you, an arrogant ignoramus, are calling a gold standard is known to practitioners as being rotten to the core. And it’s people like you who introduced and propagate the ideological rot, where the narrative and government grants are what’s most important.

            When you’re talking about pesticides, which are regulated by governments in all countries around the world, the laws in those countries determine what the “gold standard” is. Clowns like you don’t get to decide. There are some international standards that can be adopted either by law or by regulation, but until they’re adopted it’s just more background noise. What matters most is the law.

            Good example: the Precautionary Principle in EU pesticide regulation, which permits the government there to ban substances based on unsubstantiated suspicion, does not exist in Canadian, Australian, or US pesticide law. Any regulatory action taken based on the PP in those countries would be most likely challenged in court and thrown out for violating the real “gold standard,” which in civilized countries is known as “the law.” So stamp your feet all you like, but you don’t get to proclaim what the gold standard is, particularly when it comes to regulatory science.

        • Interested in your beekeeping. How many hives? How long have you been keeping bees? What kind of bees? Are you a member of a professional beekeepers association? Why do you think professional beekeepers haven’t undertaken the “trivial task” of time thing one hive into 6 — is it really all that easy?
          Curious where you get that opinion, and about your own beekeeping experience.

    • Data that fits my narrative is interesting! Data that doesn’t is meaningless!

      Such a compelling narrative…that would explain why EPA is ignoring you. No superstitious Precautionary Principle to politicize the science.

  4. Sorry to come back…

    Could you correct “Canadian Association of Professional Agriculturalists” into “…Apiculturists” and “county” into “province”?

    The first is a major correction: it was a statementby the beekeepers!

  5. Having read through the comments which uncritically support this article, I decided to re-read it in detail. There are so many things wrong with it that it’s an insult to good science. This is published under the auspices of The Genetic Literacy Project, whose slogan is “Science trumps ideology”: I see a lot of ideology in this article, but precious little good science!

    Let’s be absolutely clear: the plural of anecdote is NOT evidence. Farmers know their craft, true, but how much actual reliable research do they do that results in good evidence? So “Farmer evidence” is not really evidence, is it? You require double-blind objective merge-scale asurements to get at the truth, and this certainly doesn’t prove that.

    As I pointed out in an earlier comment, the number of managed colonies is utterly irrelevant and is in no way a measurement of how well things are going for the bees. Any beekeeper worth his/her salt can turn one hive into six. In addition, the global phenomenon of the FlowHive has created many more backyard beekeepers, and that’s in addition to all those who started keeping bees in response to the “Bee-pocalypse”. To really understand how colony numbers reflect how well bees are thriving, perhaps counting feral colonies that have survived at least one winter would make more sense.

    Rather than addressing the work published in respected peer-reviewed journals like Nature, the authors decide an ad-hominem attack is appropriate, calling the researchers “activist scientists”. This would indicate that they can not refute the findings of other researchers that disagree with them.

    On the other hand, the characterization of Varroa destructor as being really bad news for bees is absolutely correct, as are the issues around pyrethroids in the UK.

    The big problem is that neonics really do a good job of what they’re supposed to do – protection of plants against insects. Unfortunately bees are insects too, so there’s a conflict. The weevils that attack rapeseed (canola) are a great example of this. However, it looks like (no evidence, only anecdotes) spraying plants grown from untreated seeds is less harmful to the bees. If this is true, then one has to consider why this might be the case: is it because the coated seeds push the neonic into the flowers, or that it leaches into the ground water? This requires good research, not emotive articles.

    One last point about this article: the references are very poor quality. The EPA may well have done good research – are these four reports published in any peer-reviewed journal? If not, they don’t count. Similarly, referencing a half-screen web page of the Windsor Star is, frankly, lazy. I’m sure the Windsor Star is a fine newspaper, just that a reference to it has no place in an article claiming to project scientific ideas.

    So I suggest to both authors to go back to the drawing board and produce what should really have been a meta-analysis of the literature, something that supports the stated slogan of the Genetic Literacy Project.

    • So, are you going to do anything more than bitch about it, Tinkler…er, I mean Phishy? You know, like compile documented stats for number of colonies, number of lost colonies, volume of honey produced and meld it together to make sense of it? Or will you just continue to cherrypick and complain and nitpick and obfuscate? Oh, BTW, when you’re compiling those colony loss data be sure to stratify it by documented cause of death…oh dang, that’s right…that sort of information, if available at all, is almost all self-reported…incompletely and incorrectly diagnosed virtually all of the time.

      What all this fracas over bees is showing us is the truly abysmal primitive state of apiculture science. Let’s get the damned science in order, then we wouldn’t have to rely on hunches and be so vulnerable to every agenda-driven quack that comes along, eh Tinkler?

      Edit/addendum: Also BTW Tinkler, let’s see you “easily turn one”..[sick, dying]…”hive into six”…[healthy productive hives]…and do it routinely enough to skew the big picture numbers. Are you pretending to be a magician now in addition to all your other phony personas, Tinkler?

      • If you want to disagree with me, please do so, but try not to make it an ad-hominem attack. Tinkler may well have similar views to me, but that could be because we’re both rational. However, I have no clue who (s)he is, and it’s certainly not me! And I have one and only one persona.

        Did you actually read my posting? Your comments indicate that you haven’t: I criticised the article from a scientific point of view, and was rather neutral about any position on the subject. Like the authors, I too have an MSc, but I know that nothing I ever wrote would have been accepted had I produced something with that kind of content. Imagine an article on a scientific site referencing a local newspaper – that’s just plain bad!

        I don’t have full detailed stats, only the COLOSS numbers for the past few years, covering over 1000000 colonies. They don’t record causes, just losses, although my personal guess (from local anecdotes) is that losses are most often due to starvation. However, equally, the authors of this article have shown zero detailed information: why is there an increase in colony numbers – beekeeper splits, backyard beekeepers, flow hives, what?

        On your point re the quality of apiculture science, I think the scientists would be quite insulted at that claim. In the public domain, there are conflicting stories about things like neonics, so which is correct – those who say it harms bees, or those that claim it’s harmless? My bet is on the stuff published in peer-reviewed journals since that has passed reasonably rigorous examination.

        A good quote (from John McMullen’s book on honeybee health) about CCD describes the realities of the science well: “There is an emerging view that CCD involves an interaction between honeybee parasites and other stress factors, including modern chemical insecticide and herbicide treatments”. There’s even a new suggestion that the fly Apocephalus Borealis is involved. Basically “it’s complicated”.

        Note that CCD is a peculiarly North American problem – while we in Europe have had serious losses, it hasn’t been the inexplicable bee vanishing of CCD.

        And finally, to turn a hive into 6 (you can actually easy enough turn one into 8, but that involves a bit more work), you feed like crazy to fill a double brood, but you restrict any further expansion to trigger the swarm impulse. Then you divide the hive contents across 6 nucs (remember you now have 20-24 frames, depending on your hive type). Keep feeding and they’ll all expand rapidly and you can move them into full hives in a month. Doing this wouldn’t cause a beginner beekeeper to even break a sweat – no magic here. I wouldn’t expect to be able to do it with an unhealthy hive, but then again, I never claimed that I could.

        • Well now Phishy/Tinkler, ad-hominem is as ad-hominem does. You seem to have no hesitation railing against the persons of the authors, though they labor under the same paucity of valid data you and I and everyone else does. So let’s get over being so thin skinned that we cannot discuss the indelicate details of this Chicken Little ‘the pollinators are all dying and the sky is falling’ charade for what it really is, eh?

          You correctly point out that you (and apparently everyone else) do not have full detailed stats. It probably is pointless to debate why that is, and simply acknowledge it is so. As for apiculture scientists who may be offended by my calling them to account for their shoddy population science and disease surveilance, well it isn’t the first time I’ve rightly excoriated entomologists (or plant scientists, for that matter) for steadfastly failing to venture outside their echo chambers and silos to incorporate some basic population biology, demographics and epidemiology into their work. It is precisely at a time like this that adequate historical vital statistics databases are crucial to diagnosing and managing population disease problems. It’s been about a decade since beekeepers started complaining publicly about colony die-offs and still an adequate database apparently has not been established. The blind leading the deluded, unfortunately. They must prefer it that way, what other credible explanation could there be?

          On the surface there seems to be little doubt CCD has a multifactorial causation, further confounded by its rather ambiguous diagnosis by elimination. The fact that nearly all reports of colony dysfunction and failure are self reported or reported by investigators with no credible experience in diagnostics has always been a serious shortcoming in our apiculture over past decades. That doesn’t seem to be improving either. The prospect for getting to a satisfactory epidemiological outcome is bleak under these circumstances. Credible epidemiologists from other discilpines have taken interest and reviewed the state of affairs with the bee data only to throw up their hands in desperation, loath to be drawn into petty subjective arguments, since those are all that can result; it seems no objective investigation can possibly be supported by available data..That also appears to be the preference of those in the beekeeping community, so be it. And it is a shame, it truly is.

          As for splitting hives aggressively, yes of course it is possible to do it, and there may be isolated instances where it is justified. In most cases the cost is prohibitive to feed even the healthiest and most robust colonies in order to achieve such aggressive increase as you describe, and it certainly isn’t the norm. Weak or diseased colonies would fail during the attempt, of course, further skewing your ‘failed hive’ results…if you had those data. At any rate, number of colonies under management serves to define the scale of the industry which, in itself may be pertinent to the uptick in hive losses. As you point out, a beginner can potentially exhibit stunning skill by succeeding in making aggressive increase but a beginner and even an overzealous intermediate beekeeper can more easily do themselves a world of hurt in their ill-advised flailing around…then they have been mysteriously wiped out by “CCD”, eh?

          The honeybee business is fascinating and important. Too bad it is not taken seriously enough to be managed as an important segment of our agriculture industry should be. Frustrating to watch apiarists wallow helplessly in a cesspit of conjecture and wild speculation, but you know what they say about wrestling with pigs…you both get dirty but the pig likes it. To each his own, eh Tinkler?.

          • Ad hominem is attacking the person rather than the subject: I didn’t attack them, but criticised the article as shoddy work, and it is. However, I’m glad you decided to actually address the points I made, rather than continue your attacks. BTW, your childish insistence on calling me “Tinkler” is really getting tiresome.

            One thing before I continue: you seem to think I’m against the use of neonics, but I’m actually not. However, there does seem to be a major problem with the seed-coated usage of these that definitely requires further investigation. I’ll follow the science with this one, rather than take an unequivocal stance for one side or the other. BTW, you claimed I “cherry-picked” data – I’ve read through my posts and can see no cherry-picking. Was that another example of you trying to somehow make me appear like the bad guy? Anyway …

            I agree that the api-data are in many cases pretty poor quality, and have criticised the scientists for using small samples and poorly-designed experiments. However, much of their work definitely stands up to scrutiny. Of course, there could be better stats and COLOSS could be a good place to start, if there was some mechanism to accurately record the information when it’s largely self-reported. This state of affairs is definitely not the preference of any beekeeper – it’s in our interests to have reliable factual information rather than subjective extrapolations of single data points.

            My point about aggressively splitting hives is that it’s one way to make a quick increase. It’s very unlikely that any large beekeeping outfit would invest in this, although it might be tempting to do something like it if there were millions of dollars at stake in pollinating crops. Of course enthusiastic amateurs will lose hives splitting, but CCD has such specific attributes that it’s unlikely to be confused with anything else. In reality we don’t know why or how there has been an overall increase in managed colonies, whether it’s a natural increase, or something man-made. Assuming that all honeybee problems have been resolved because of this increase is, of course, ridiculous. And that has been central to what I’ve been trying to highlight about this article.

            Of course, all the problems with bees are exacerbated by the few backyard beekeepers who don’t see that their actions have far-reaching effects on all beekeepers. For example, last week in Italy, they discovered an unregistered beekeeper who had managed to spread small hive beetle across 6 apiaries, extending the reach of this pest outside the quarantine area. One wonders what on earth he was thinking. (FYI, SHB has only recently gotten a foothold in Europe in southern Italy). And we have the “natural beekeeping” idiots who are breeding varroa while everyone else is trying to eliminate it.

    • I’m curious: How did you come up with this opinion?

      “As I pointed out in an earlier comment, the number of managed colonies is utterly irrelevant and is in no way a measurement of how well things are going for the bees. Any beekeeper worth his/her salt can turn one hive into six.”

      Why do you believe that the number of managed colonies is utterly irrelevant? Somehow I suspect that professional beekeepers who went through CCD several years ago might not agree with you.

      • The article makes a big deal of the increased number of hives. However, they are referring to managed hives. A beekeeper can do lots of clever stuff with colonies, splitting multiple times, etc. That’s why the current number of hives doesn’t necessarily mean anything. A couple of much more interesting numbers are a) the number of colonies in the wild that survive over winter and b) the number of managed hives that don’t survive: the former is a measure of environmental impacts and the latter is a measure of how the bees couldn’t make it despite the best efforts of the beekeeper. Basically it’s measuring CCD and other failures.

        • Well, c’mon now Tinkler, the number of managed hives is not “utterly irrelevant”, it still retains significance if only as a baseline against which to evaluate the significance of failed hives. At minimum a statistician of even grade school training will not be content with raw number of failed hives in any one year without at least expressing those as a percent of hives/colonies overall…they would be inclined to want at least to say ‘we find x% of colonies failed during 2015′, eh? Then a series of annual data are necessary to examine trends and changes over time, no?

          Your simple point, Tinkler, which you have inelegantly beaten like a dead horse, is well taken that if (and that’s a big IF) reliable data on feral hives and failed managed hives existed we would be vitally interested to incorporate that into any meaningful analysis. Why is the CoLoss data incomplete and not sufficient to examine failed colonies relative to successful colonies by geographic region, has it simply not been used because it fails to support activists’ purposes? As it stands, if number of hives under management OR number of failed are the only reliable year-to-year data we have then we must go with that for the time being and acknowledge the possible shortcomings…without theorizing a sinister conspiracy is afoot.

          My conclusion is the practiced science of apiculture is apparently too primitive to permit more than a most rudimentary epidemiological analysis, hence the gaps in the data, hence the potential confusion, hence the ripe opportunity for distortion, hence the influx of quacks and charlatans to exploit the situation to benefit their anti-pesticide agendas…and a good time is had by all, eh Tinkler?

          • +1
            But in addition to the practices science of apiculture, there’s also the traditional suspicious nature of beeks: they don’t want anybody to know where their hives are, where they’ve been, or [often] even when they’ve lost hives. It all adds up to data gaps.

          • Yep, all the makings of a spellbinding whodunit historical fiction. The perfect setting to peddle snake oil and push political agendas. No help to apiculture overall, of course, but that was never the purpose in the first place, apparently.

        • So, what? There’s a big beekeeper conspiracy intended to make enviro-clowns look stupid by splitting hives? My…how clever.

          On your nonsense about “measuring CCD”, could you shut up when you know nothing about a topic:
          “we have not seen much sign of Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) for several years…” said Jeff Pettis, a survey co-author and a senior entomologist at USDA’s Agricultural Research Service Bee Research Laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland. ”
          http://www.ars.usda.gov/is/pr/2015/150513.htm

    • Actually, a cluster of farmers losing their crop to critters that are easily controlled by particular chemistry but not by anything else (without posing higher risks to people or the broader environment) IS evidence that idiotic bans inspired by enviro-hacks create far more problems than they solve. EU honey bee populations should have at least bumped a bit post-ban, and yet,,, When you have a theory and you test it and the test shows the theory was wrong, quit banging that drum.

      Or at least be consistent: if the enviros want to raise [false] alarms about a thing, shall we simply ignore them until they provide “double-blind objective merge-scale asurements” (which doesn’t actually appear to be a “thing)”

      Per the latest reports, newbie beekeepers are also causing problems by spreading Varroa, apparently believing Gaia will protect their hives. Eventually nature will find a balance, but in the meantime enviro-nazis will take advantage of general ignorance to keep those donations rolling in.

      • Again, you’re showing a lack of understanding how science works. The scientific method involves: formulating a hypothesis, testing it, and then either accepting it if the test show it’s true, or revisiting it if they don’t. There’s no banging of drums.

        As I understand it, the impact on canola harvest of insect attacks is of the order of 16% not comlete losses. And there are a number of different chemicals and deployment plans available. For neonics, the seed can be coated with the treatment, or the insecticide can be sprayed on the growing crop. It looks like the coated seed is causing major problems for bees, while the spraying appears to be much less problematic – I can only assume that this is because of persistence, but it’s an area that could do with more investigation.

        My typo should have read “double-blind objective large-scale measurements” and there most certainly is such a thing. The people you refer to as “enviros” are actually reputable scientists and they don’t raise alarms, false or otherwise, but simply publish their research.

        You’re absolutely right about the idiots carrying out so-called “natural beekeeping” – they’re damaging their bees and providing platforms for all kinds of infections. I’m breeding to select hygienic traits too, but I’m treating my hives at the same time.

        • Not exactly. From the hypothesis, one formulates a null hypothesis, and then verifies whether there is statistically significant evidence to accept or reject that null hypothesis.

          • Agsci, we really ought to give the Tinkler credit for at least climbing atop the first rung of the scientific method and having a tentative look around. It’s a quantum leap for him, coming from a place where even the idea of validating a working hypothesis was sheer madness. Sure, he’s light years away from understanding valid testing of the working hypothesis, ethical research and replication of research findings making a tested hypothesis, to say nothing of the essential virtues of a credible body of literature leading eventually to a defensible theory. Baby steps, agsci, baby steps for the uninitiated and the chronically obstinate.

        • Again, you’re showing a complete ignorance of how enviro-nazis foist the cost of investigating their hypotheticals on the rest of us while destroying the credibility of the institution of Science in the process. Ignorance isn’t a bad thing unless you insist on demonstrating the trait without doing something to mitigate it.

          The word “pest” does not mean just insects, and it’s not just insects that can wipe out canola. Cherrypicking data doesn’t make up for the gap between your reach and your grasp.

          But I’m glad to see you stepped into the massive pile of crap that is the enviro-nazi proclamation that seed treatments are “causing major problems for bees, while the spraying appears to be much less problematic.” You got it completely, 100% backwards. This is what happens when enviro-nazis get their info from wikipedia, sourced from all the best activist studies that are, like, totally free of bias, but they don’t do the much harder work of keeping up with the actual state of the science. There’s nothing quite like a dedicated arrogant ignoramus!

          The latest, greatest, seriously cutting edge, courtroom-grade, regulatory science on imidacloprid showed zero concerns for ANY seed treatment, while spray applications on citrus and cotton were the ONLY foliar treatments that posed real-world risks for bees.
          https://www.regulations.gov/document?D=EPA-HQ-OPP-2008-0844-0140

          According to the trade journals since the enviro-nazis started screaming about how the seed treatments were killing the bees, the cost to the registrants for this most advanced testing of the enviro-clowns theory ran to hundreds of millions of dollars… all of which gets passed on to consumers, both rich and poor. And what we have to show for all of that expense is that the seed treatments enviro-nazis were screaming about and demanding a ban never were a problem.

          Enviro-nazi superstitions and myths are not Science.

      • That’s the Tinkler being an obnoxious asswipe. A blatant disregard for ethical behavior. I guess the fool thinks this appalling stunt should terrorize us into believing his ridiculous horseshit or suffer more of his sophomoric misbehavior. The Tinkler is such a pathetic loser! It’s about time to have him banned, looks like.

          • Yep, at some point the line is crossed. Sockpuppets like his “Phish” we can tolerate, even find amusing. If Jon checked the IP address for “sage thinker” and “Phish” they are probably the same and so, too, probably the IP address for the several fraudulent “JP” postings. Who knows where else the Tinkler and his coven have been creeping around in the muck. Check out the provenance of the little flurry of upvotes on his cute poseur comment above. And just yesterday the Tinkler was calling all of us “holographic evil” or some such nonsense. Guess he was projecting, eh?

    • How is data collected by managed honeybee colonies a better or worse metric than enthusiast collected data on wild honey bees?

      Both can be true BTW. The CCD could be a different problem from affects of Neonics on wild bee populations.

  6. You lot are a bunch of wankers. Whoops I fell into the general format of the comments on this page. Why do we need these poisons in the first place? Is this so crop yields will be better? So we are really talking about money. So I grow my canola and have a bumper crop just like everyone else and the price of Canola goes down because of oversupply. If the crops were well rotated to control mono culture farming would the pest levels be controlled without needing these poisons?

    I am sure the name calling will now focus towards me, as there seems to be very little respect for honest respectful dialogue, but will some one please tell me why we need these pesticides? Getting blueberries in December at the grocery store tell me that we no longer rely on what is grown in our own country.

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