Be that as it may, since that time we have repopulated 4 hives with new colonies and their queens and they are buzzy ! Robert Sturm, one of Ecoversity's beekeepers did a wonderful demonstration on how to transfer the bees to a new hive:
Bees have also been in the news, as people gradually awaken to the serious threat of a lack of pollinators to the foodsupply. It is really still not clear if there is a singular cause to CCD, but here are some of the newly suggested culprits to CCD:
-Spanish researchers found a parasitic fungus, Nosema ceranae, in two infected hives after eliminating other possible causes. More significantly, they were able to treat other hives with an antifungal, fumagillin, and cure the colonies. The fact that fumagillin is a very specialized anti-biotic, usually associated with a suppression of in this case being used to treat a fungus, raises all kinds of questions about the nature of the desease Nosema ceranae is causing and the long term prognosis for the cure. For more study on this, please read: http://arstechnica.com/science/news/2009/04/a-cure-for-colony-collapse.ars
-Pesticides in particular Bayer's Clothianidin: Dan Eden from Viewzone tells the story: One of the most important crops is corn. It's used as a feed for chickens and pigs and cattle. It's used in flour and in the production of high fructose corn syrup or to make ethanol to run our cars. But corn has an enemy called the root worm. This pesky bug, called diabrotica vergifera vergifera, burrows in the newly forming roots of the corn plant and causes the plant to wither and
eventually die. Farmers have long sought some type of pesticide to kill the bug and, in 2003, Bayer Pharmaceutical introduced a new product called Clothianidin. Their own studies showed that this pesticide was highly toxic to bees but justified the widespread use because it could be applied to corn seed and would be buried in the soil where it would presumably be harmless to other creatures.
Bayer, who makes the pesticide, and Monsanto, who makes the adhesive, have patented the method of coating their proprietary seeds with clothianidin, which are now growing all over the globe. Farmers have long sought some type of pesticide to kill the diabrotica bug and, in 2003, Bayer Pharmaceutical introduced a new product called Clothianidin. Their own studies showed that this pesticide was highly toxic to bees but justified the widespread use because it could be applied to corn seed and would be buried in the soil where it would presumably be harmless to other creatures.
Bayer, who make the pesticide, and Monsanto, who make the adhesive, have patented the method of coating their proprietary seeds with clothianidin, which are now growing all over the globe. In July of 2007, the German crop was infested with the rootworm. The German government ordered that every possible method should be used to eradicate this pest, including the use of clothianidin. Shortly after the seeds were planted, in May of 2008, some 330-million bees abruptly died!
For more info on this read the complete article by Dan Eden: http://www.viewzone.com/lostbees.bayer.html
-Finally there is more evidence that petrochemicals indeed interfere with the pheremone language of bees (something I suggested in Pheromones 1: the Chemical Language of Bees, an older post on this blog) and also in interspecies communication, in this case between flowers and bees. In order to pollinate flowers secrete a smell to attract bees. This too is a very subtle interspecies communication, done with volatile chemical packages which are called allomones and which give flowers their smell.
In an article for National Geographic, Brian Handwerk writes:
" ....With more pollution in the air, the aromatic molecules don't remain potent as long and travel shorter distances on the wind.
The new study's model suggests that in the mid-19th century, when pollution levels were first recorded, scent molecules would have been able to travel some 3,300 to 3,900 feet (1,000 to 1,200 meters). Today, in the polluted air found downwind of large metropolises, scents may only make it some 650 to 980 feet (200 to 300 meters)......"
Obviously this affects the ability for bees to collect and for flowers to pollinate: a symbioses breakdown. I believe that longer term CCD in the beepopulation has to do with this breakdown in scent and interspecies communication systems, similar to the relationship between food-scarecity, hunger, stress and desease in the human population. That too is a breakdown in communication and symbiosis.
This approach of looking at pheromones may also shed light on the ability of large solitary animals, or butterflies to survive in our time and how they have been affected by our human habits of 'burning it up' to motor our economy at any costs. It may even give some insights into changes in human sexuality, and an increasing tendency towards violence.
Maybe for one moment we all should try to smell this picture and realize the peace it brings:
We too need pheromones and allomones to find happiness....