Viewpoint: The 4 Ps threaten bee health—parasites, poor nutrition, pathogens and pesticides

Experts believe that multiple factors must be at play in the bees’ plight. The main suspects are referred to as the four Ps: parasites, poor nutrition, pathogens and pesticides. The parasites include tiny Varroa mites that feed on bees’ body fluids. The Asia natives have spread through international trade in bees and beekeeping equipment, and now afflict hives in every beekeeping country outside Australia, which has held them off through strict controls. Poor nutrition reflects a widespread loss of flowers in rural landscapes because of the rise of industrial farming practices over the past 60 years; varied farms have given way to vast monocultures that are efficient for growing crops but only provide bee-sustaining flowers for a few weeks a year.

The list of pathogens carried by bees includes fungal infections and wing-deforming viruses, many of which get moved around with international trade. Pesticides have gotten the most attention of the four Ps, and the European Union cited bee concerns in their recent ban of a popular class known as neonicotinoids—but with hundreds of chemicals on the market, it’s nearly impossible to tease out individual effects. Products that pass “bee safe” tests in a laboratory can become unsafe when mixed with the fungicides or herbicides often sprayed on the same fields.

Related article:  Self-limiting ‘Friendly’ technology offers hope for controlling fall armyworm without pesticides

This essay is adapted from Thor Hanson’s book ‘Buzz: The Nature and Necessity of Bees,” released on July 10th.

Read full, original article: The Plight of the Humble Bee (behind paywall)

Outbreak
Outbreak Daily Digest
Biotech Facts & Fallacies
Talking Biotech
Genetics Unzipped
Nigeriacotton

Video: We can ‘finally’ grow GMOs—Nigerian farmer explains why developing countries need biotech crops

Nigerian farmer Patience Koku discusses the GMO crop trials she is conducting on her farm, and why growers can "rise ...
mag insects image superjumbo v

Disaster interrupted: Which farming system better preserves insect populations: Organic or conventional?

A three-year run of fragmentary Armageddon-like studies had primed the journalism pumps and settled the media framing about the future ...
dead bee desolate city

Are we facing an ‘Insect Apocalypse’ caused by ‘intensive, industrial’ farming and agricultural chemicals? The media say yes; Science says ‘no’

The media call it the “Insect Apocalypse”. In the past three years, the phrase has become an accepted truth of ...
globalmethanebudget globalcarbonproject cropped x

Infographic: Cows cause climate change? Agriculture scientist says ‘belching bovines’ get too much blame

A recent interview by Caroline Stocks, a UK journalist who writes about food, agriculture and the environment, of air quality ...
organic hillside sweet corn x

Organic v conventional using GMOs: Which is the more sustainable farming?

Many consumers spend more for organic food to avoid genetically modified products in part because they believe that “industrial agriculture” ...
benjamin franklin x

Are most GMO safety studies funded by industry?

The assertion that biotech companies do the research and the government just signs off on it is false ...
gmo corn field x

Do GMO Bt (insect-resistant) crops pose a threat to human health or the environment?

Bt is a bacterium found organically in the soil. It is extremely effective in repelling or killing target insects but ...
favicon

Environmental Working Group: EWG challenges safety of GMOs, food pesticide residues

Known by some as the "Environmental Worrying Group," EWG lobbies for tighter GMO legislation and famously puts out annual "dirty dozen" list of fruits and ...
m hansen

Michael Hansen: Architect of Consumers Union ongoing anti-GMO campaign

Michael K. Hansen (born 1956) is thought by critics to be the prime mover behind the ongoing campaign against agricultural biotechnology at Consumer Reports. He is an ...
News on human & agricultural genetics and biotechnology delivered to your inbox.
Optional. Mail on special occasions.
Send this to a friend