Category Archives: Bees

Bees

Start with watching this (8:17 mins):

At 8:05 the man (John Miller?) says “we’re almost able to fix it” and grins.  This clip was published on 20 February 2014 so I’m wondering whether we’ve started fixing the problem yet or whether we’re waiting for something to happen first.  I asked the question and posted in the comments.  Nothing back as of today.

He says we’re losing a third of our bees year on year.  That is a problem in itself for the pollination service they supply to our human food chain – but more so for me – the bees are the canary.  Rudolf Steiner reckoned that humans have 4 years from the time the bees die until we do.  Crikey!  That’s not much time, is it?  So, if we go with bees are the canary then what I see is that once the bees are gone – so are we.  Sure there’s other pollinators but by the time the bees are finished they will be already toast.

We keep bees here at our place.  We love our bees.  We’re on the local bee list.  This came through:

REF: Neonicotinoids in Australia (about 1/3 down the page- red is my emphasis)


As far as I have been able to find, there are no field test results on bee contamination/IMIDACLOPRID for public viewing in Australia. The APVMA has issued a recent change to labelling warning of high toxicity to bees. You can purchase NEONICS in Bunnings, Woolworths, Coles, the local hardware and Rural Co Operatives, Elders and Landmark, Cotton Seed Merchants, most other seed merchants and the like. Usage requires no licence. When asked about the amount of canola seed that was treated with GAUCHO at Landmark Tamworth, the Seed Merchant replied ‘Almost all of the canola seed is now being seed treated with GAUCHO {IMIDACLOPRID} and a fair bit of the pasture seed as well’. The employee was sympathetic and largely unaware of any potential danger to bees, I would like to think that farmers also would show concern, if they thought that they might be hurting your bees. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of the USA, some of these NEONIC sprays have a half-life of up to nineteen years in heavy soils and are soluble in water.


Seems like the beekeepers need to talk to their clients (farmers) and say they won’t do the pollination deals unless they can show NEONICS has not been used – or a solid plan that it will be phased out.  The farmers can’t do it without the beekeepers.  The beekeepers have the power in this situation.  Is there an alternative chemical to  NEONICS that is safe for bees?  What should the beekeepers advise to use instead?  Is there another supplier of a safe chemical pesticide the farmers can use immediately to remove NEONICS from the market?

This issue seems so cut and dried but there’s something else going on.  Like the chemical company wants to get rid of the current chemical first instead of just chucking it out (crikey – how do u dispose of a haul like that thoughtfully?)  Or they’re too lazy to come up with a new and safe pesticide for the crops that don’t affect the bees?  Lol.  Is that possible?  We were recommended pyrethrum for the green ants on our hive so I’m guessing that doesn’t affect the bees so much but does affect the green ants?  A deterrent rather than kill?  My feeling is that pyrethrum wouldn’t be strong enough to conquer with the GM bugs that are rising up in monocultures around the world in increasing numbers as each generation of pesticide fails (similar to antibiotics, I guess?).  Then we get into that whole “monoculture” idea which kinda sucks in its own right. I wonder what the largest monocultures in the world are?  Something snack food related – like cheap filler food products.  Or canola for feeding beef and cooking for fast food chains? A quick glance in Google looks like animal feed crops – so that’s a serious meat eating culture!  So, to save the bees the “first world” needs to stop eating so much meat.  Probably should be anyways – the stats say there’s increases in bowel cancer, heart disease, etc… diet related illnesses.  Even with all that going on – still seems cut and dried to me.  Not eating so much meat doesn’t mean that we will die.  Really?  What about the snack foods and fast foods – we’ve got to have a bit more respect for our bodies (and our children’s) than to do that – surely?

And / or, there’s a whole bunch of crops that are wind pollinated and so the bee health aren’t high on the priority of the farmers?  Colony Collapse Disorder doesn’t affect them?  Or the picture isn’t big enough?

Just looking closer at NEONICS on Wikipedia (worth a click to scan the article):

Imidacloprid is currently the most widely used insecticide in the world. (REF:  WIKIPEDIA – don’t forget to donate when Jimmy Wales puts the word out 🙂

Ok. So, if not Imidacloprid, what can we use?  Is there an immediate alternative?  If yes – then let’s get it out there.  I’m picking the answer is no 🙁

This is what we use it for, click here to  read the list  of ‘Authorized Uses’ – even our dogs cop it as a pest control.

From Bayer’s point of view they are making the most widely used insecticide in the world.  Life is good – ahem – from a corporation’s point of view.  I’m not sure what percentage of farmer’s don’t need bee pollination – I might try to work on a list.  I’m guessing all the “grass” type crops – wheat, canola, maize, barley, etc are wind pollinated.  That would follow that those farmer’s don’t really have concern about the bee situation.  Presumably that is the bees on adjoining farms that are being affected?  Drift or do the bees forage on the wind pollinated crops also?

Some excellent reading here:

Imidacloprid Wikipedia entry

Bayer – CN website

Monocultures article (http://www.carbontradewatch.org/issues/monoculture.html)

US Staple Crop System Failing from GM and Monoculture – scroll down to the bottom of the page for the conclusion – read the whole article if you can stick it out (http://permaculturenews.org/2013/07/11/us-staple-crop-system-failing-from-gm-and-monoculture/)

Honeybees and Monoculture: Nothing to Dance About (http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/guest-blog/2013/06/07/honey-bees-and-monoculture-nothing-to-dance-about/)

Monoculture diets and honey bee health (http://www.honeybeesuite.com/monoculture-diets-and-honey-bee-health/)

Monsanto Wikipedia entry

Syngenta Wikipedia entry

Entry into force of EU restrictions on the use of neonicotinoid
insecticides imidacloprid, thiamethoxam and clothianidin – Greenpeace media release  Nov 2013

List of most valuable crops – Wikipedia

Pollination management > Number of hives needed per unit area of crop pollination – Wikipedia

Later… I found that we are actually phasing into NEONICS now!  Eeeecccct.  Read this link and check out the first paragraph.  “The neonicotinoids are the newest class and are gradually replacing the organophosphates and methylcarbamates.”  So this is our best technology being used so widely in all aspects of our lives – from treating our pets for fleas, to pesticides used on most (?) of our crops, termite control in our homes and sprays we buy from Bunnings to put on the food we are growing in our gardens.  We better get a wriggle on and figure out what the next thing is because this isn’t going to cut it.  I don’t know what was paid for the patent but maybe they should get their money back?  We shouldn’t have to live with it until it’s earn’t it’s keep.   Should we?  Humans are smarter than this… in fact that professor looks like he can push on and get the next class that will not affect the bees.  If you follow the logic along though… if humans are ingesting and living in and around this toxin and it affects the bees brains then what the heck is it doing to ours?

Here is a paper from 2001 – click here to scan through it (pesticide.org).  Definitely read all the bold bits at the top.  Interesting reading from the studies that have been done and the  conclusions that were made 13 years ago!  A cautionary tale.

Ok – so if we accept that the probability of developing a “safe pesticide for bees” and other beneficial pollinating insects is highly unlikely let’s look to what the solutions might be.  Well, it looks like “non-crop margins” are the solution.  We have to pull out some of the monoculture bits to create corridors for the bees to forage a variety of plants to complete their diet and ensure their health.  Probably also set the maximum monoculture size plots to something a lot less to create more bio-diversity.  

Click here to read the full article At the bottom of the page is this:

“A potential solution that is relatively simple is the idea of having ‘non-crop margins’ interspersed in large agricultural regions. The margins would managed to have native wildflower species to supplement the monoculture diet.”

Later again… I guess the tricky part is acknowledging our past and those brilliant humans who have got us this far.  The actual people who invented these chemicals – not just the neonicotinoids but all the pesticides that preceded it – were just trying to help.  They were using the best technology at hand to create a solution to a pest problem we had as we were trying to feed the world.  It was logical to use it on the crops to control particular “non-beneficial” insects.  The picture was on the smallish side it’s true (only in hindsight).  Maybe something about our discovery and subsequent study of micro-organisms blindsided  us for three hundred years and we waged war on a small scale with chemical warfare instead of recognising that only imbalance can be corrected by understanding the true nature of it.  This really just means there are no weeds – only plants in the wrong place at the wrong time.  Same with bug blooms – they are an imbalance in our natural environment because we’ve not set it up to ensure diversity and in doing that all the bugs work together and live happily ever after.  And we do too.