Neonics and success

Bees visit corn for pollen, period. Bees visit canola for pollen. Bees visit potatoes for pollen (Danish tests). Bees visit a lot of flowers for pollen. Bees get what the pollen is enriched with. Neonics are not good for bees.

But honeybees have a very sofisticated way of living and can handle a lot of difficulties – if they’re not too many. One reason for that is the many individuals, in both adult and brood stages. They can sacrifice some brood for example when fighting varroa. If field bees die during duty due to plant protection spray, if it’s not too much, there are usually enough many new field bees replacing them. Solitary bees though may have a more difficult situation…

Why did this feral colony survive on neonic corn? http://www.elgon.es/diary/?p=181

  • No or very little reinvasion of varroa mites – it was the only colony in the apiary and far to other bees.
  • No one robbed its honey and gave low value kind of sugar.
  • There was a variety of food sources which the bees could reach easily, at the end of fields giving pollen without neonics.
  • The bees built there own cellsizes and a good portion for brood was enough small in their situation, some of it smaller than 5.1 mm.
  • No one moved the bees around to different places.
  • No one put miticides or antibiotics in the bee colony weakening the bees’ own defense system.
  • The bees probably swarmed every or every second year, once or more, giving a break in rearing brood in the brood season, when they cleaned their nest from pests and parasites.

In this situation bees adapted epigentically and genitically and learned how to fight the varroa mite. They survived during this process because there was no reinvasion of mites. The mite population established on a durable level where viruses levels were not high. Thus there was no big help for nosema to thrive. And as the virus levels were low neonics didn’t increase the effects of the viruses that very much.

This colony then under these circumstances were Varroa resistant and could pollinate plants around it that needed pollination. The solitary bees in the area that didn’t live entirely on neonic treated plants survivied too and could pollinate plants, for the benefit of farmers and biological diversity.

So, the message to everyone involved, also chemical companies:

Focus on:

  1. Develope Varroa resistant bees and a plan to spread them among beekeepers.
  2. Make sure there will be enough neonic free pollen sources and nest places for solitary bees close to farm fields, ”wild plant areas”. This will ensure and increase success, crop and money for everyone.

 

Bees On Corn

BeesOnCorn1

This morning the bees flew heavily on flowering corn. I’m sure they were happy for the EU ban on treating seeds with neonics. It would have been no good for the colony with beebread made of pollen from corn grown from treated seed. How much bad that makes is discussed. It can’t do good though, especially together with a lot of other stress factor for the bees.

Feral bees on corn and GMO

Feral cornhouseSmal

A lot of discussion is going on which role neonicotinoides and gmo play for die offs and ccd of bee colonies. A poison is never beneficial, neither for bees nor for man (well, many are used as plant protection). And residual substances are more difficult to discover and many times not much less dangerous.

To be able to find the true truth we want the whole picture. Sometimes new facts don’t seem to fit into the picture you have endorsed.

I got this mail from Larry Garret in Indiana in the Corn, Soybeans and Wheat belt, where neonicotinoids and gmo are used overflowing. There he took care of a feral colony that local people told him had been there in the abandoned house for 7-8 years. Now the farmer didn’t want to drive around the house with the tractor anymore, so he asked Larry to rescue the bees.

The wax filled 146 liter of the 255 liter big cavity in the wall. He harvested 20 kg of honey and many buckets of wax. The longest comb was 244 cm. Cell size was between smaller than 5.1 mm to 5.3 mm. Drone cell size was between 6.5 and 6.6 mm. The entrance was close to the bottom.

This colony was thriving in spite of a lot of plant protection poisons. Remember the conclusion that die offs are due to a complex of causes. Evidently when some are missing the bees can stand the others better.

These bees didn’t get a massive reinvasion of pests and parasites from neihgboring colonies. They didn’t have to stand miticides or an unnormal big cell size. They lived on their own food and weren’t fed HFCS.

Were they Varroa resistant? We don’t know. But we learn somewhat about favorable circumstances from which such bees can benefit.