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Old 04-08-2007, 07:23 AM   #1
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Albert Einstein and the Honey Bee

Albert Einstein speculated that "If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe, then man would only have four years of life left."
Species under threat: Honey, who shrunk the bee population?
Across America, millions of honey bees are abandoning their hives and flying off to die, leaving beekeepers facing ruin and US agriculture under threat. And to date, no one knows why. Michael McCarthy reports
Published: 01 March 2007. The Independent

http://www.heyokamagazine.com/HEYOKA.7.BEES.htm

And from today:

http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20070407...s_070407020928
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Old 04-08-2007, 04:08 PM   #2
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One theory is that the bees may be suffering from stress as beekeepers increasingly transport them around the country, the hives stacked on top of each other on the backs of trucks, to carry out pollination contracts in orchard after orchard, in different states.

Tens of billions of bees are now involved in this "migratory" pollination. An operator might go from pollinating oranges in Florida, to apples in Pennsylvania, to blueberries in Maine, then back to Massachusetts to pollinate cranberries.

The business is so big that pollination is replacing honey-making as the main money earner at the top end of the beekeeping market, not least because in recent years the US has been flooded with cheap honey imports, mainly from Argentina and China.

A typical bee colony, which might be anything from 15,000 to 30,000 bees, would be rented out to a fruit grower for about $135 - a price that is up from $55 only three years ago. To keep the bees' energy up while they are pollinating, beekeepers feed them protein supplements and syrup carried around in large tanks.

It is in these migratory colonies where the biggest losses have been seen. But the stress theory is as much speculation as anything else. At the moment, the disappearance of America's bees is as big a mystery as the disappearance of London's sparrows.
My guess is that the bees' immune systems are shutting down because they are over-worked
also the artificial diet they are fed does not agree with them.

It could be one more example of science altering nature to a disastrous effect.


edit to add, the second article suggests a chemical cause

Quote:
The fact that other bees or parasites seem to shun the emptied hives raises suspicions that some kind of toxin or chemical is keeping the insects away, Cox-Foster said.

Those bees found in such devastated colonies also all seem to be infected with multiple micro-organisms, many of which are known to be behind stress-related illness in bees.

Scientists working to unravel the mysteries behind CCD believe a new pathogen may be the cause, or a new kind of chemical product which could be weakening the insects' immune systems.

The finger of suspicion is being pointed at agriculture pesticides such as the widely-used neonicotinoides, which are already known to be poisonous to bees.

France saw a huge fall in its bee population in the 1990s, blamed on the insecticide Gaucho which has now been banned in the country.
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Old 04-09-2007, 04:30 PM   #3
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This is it?
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Old 04-09-2007, 06:24 PM   #4
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Yet another impending catastrophy...I can't keep them all straight. Every night on the evening news there are at least half a dozen things that are going to kill me by the end of the week.
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Old 04-10-2007, 09:01 AM   #5
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Honey To The Bee?
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Old 04-10-2007, 10:22 AM   #6
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text of the Congressional report on the problem (.pdf)

On page 6 there's a chart of various key crops (human and livestock feed) and how dependent they are on honeybee pollination. There are other pollinators besides the type of honeybee used in commercial beekeeping, but on the other hand much of our present agricultural economy relies on them.

Apparently the same phenomenon is also being reported (thus far on a smaller scale) in France, Germany, Croatia, Greece, Switzerland, Italy, Portugal, Spain and Poland, particularly the latter two.

Sobering stuff.
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Old 04-10-2007, 10:57 AM   #7
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poor bees

I don't understand the flippancy some people have when it comes to problems with animals and insects - i know they're not human and "conscious" but its still sad, and something that needs to be fixed, not just shrugged at and pour another bit of honey on our toast.
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Old 04-10-2007, 11:08 AM   #8
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Those poor bees...they do such thankless work.
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Old 04-11-2007, 09:20 AM   #9
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Originally posted by MaxFisher
Yet another impending catastrophy...I can't keep them all straight. Every night on the evening news there are at least half a dozen things that are going to kill me by the end of the week.

Whether you think it will or won't, this is going to have an impact in your life in some way, shape or form. If it means impending doom, or higher prices at the grocery store, it's coming.

Which leads me to this:

Quote:
I don't understand the flippancy some people have when it comes to problems with animals and insects - i know they're not human and "conscious" but its still sad, and something that needs to be fixed, not just shrugged at and pour another bit of honey on our toast.
Exactly. It's pretty sad.
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Old 04-11-2007, 11:00 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally posted by dazzlingamy
I don't understand the flippancy some people have when it comes to problems with animals and insects - i know they're not human and "conscious" but its still sad, and something that needs to be fixed, not just shrugged at and pour another bit of honey on our toast.
I agree. We've already driven countless species to extinction with our carelessness, haven't we learned our lesson yet?!

Of course, humans treat each other with carelessness, why should they care about insects?
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Old 04-29-2007, 01:03 PM   #11
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http://arstechnica.com/journals/scie...nked-to-fungus

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Even if all four of the Nobel Intent writers were writing full time, science would continue to produce far more interesting and important results than we'd be capable of reporting. As a result, we probably put as much effort into rejecting stories as we do into picking the ones we ultimately report on. One story that didn't make the cut was the claim that cell phones have been killing honeybees, causing Sudden Colony Collapse (SCC) and putting agriculture at risk of losing its primary source of pollinators.

A number of things didn't smell right about that story, among them the facts that cell phone signals are extremely low power, not likely to be concentrated in major agricultural areas, and not likely to operate on any sort of frequency that bees use for navigation. We weren't the only ones that felt that way: Spiegel Online looked into the study that the claims were based on, and found a number of reasons that its findings wouldn't actually make sense out of SCC.

Fortunately, the availability of a bad explanation rarely stops scientists from looking for a good one—it may even encourage them. UCSF has announced that some of its scientists may be on the trail of a far more likely explanation for SCC: parasitic fungal infections. The researchers obtained samples of dead bees from the US Army researchers (oddly, the bees were collected in California and sent to an Army research center in Maryland before being sent back out to UCSF), and started hunting for parasite DNA.

One method they used involved a DNA chip containing small fragments of sequence from a large number of viruses. They found that the bee samples contained many DNA fragments that matched a sequence from Iflavirus, which is known to have infected bees in the past. But they didn't stop searching there; reasoning that the SCC must involve a new infectious agent, they checked for sequences from a fungus that was known to have jumped from Asian bee species to the Western honeybee in recent years. Not only was it present but, in some samples, fungal sequences were more common than bee sequences.

This provides a couple of reasonable suspects for SCC, and the researchers involved note that the real proof will involve going out and checking many more dead bees to make sure that these parasites are well associated with the problem. In the mean time, those of us with cell phones can dial without guilt.
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Old 05-01-2007, 03:09 AM   #12
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Ah, so we can just put anti-fungal cream on 'em. That's not too tough.






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Old 05-02-2007, 04:58 PM   #13
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http://www.startribune.com/789/story/1158855.html

Myths replace facts in honeybee decline

BELTSVILLE, Md. — The answer to what happened to America's vanishing honeybees is simple, a caller told entomologist May Berenbaum: Bee rapture. They were called away to heaven.

No, wait, it's Earth's magnetic field, another caller told the University of Illinois professor.

And when Berenbaum went on the Internet, she found a parody news site that quoted her as blaming rapper Kevin Federline and his concerts for the disappearance of the bees. Berenbaum loved it.

The sudden disappearance of one-quarter of America's honeybees has brought out some strange ideas and downright myths.

"I just can't get any work done," Berenbaum said. "I'm overwhelmed by e-mails. I can't keep up."

A couple of bee myths are big on the Internet.

A small German scientific study looking at a specific type of cordless phones and homing systems of bees exploded over the Internet and late night television shows. It morphed into erroneous reports blaming cell phones for the honeybee die-off, which scientists are calling Colony Collapse Disorder.

The scientist who wrote the paper, Stefan Kimmel, e-mailed The Associated Press to say that there is "no link between our tiny little study and the CCD-phenomenon ... anything else said or written is a lie." And U.S. Department of Agriculture top bee researcher Jeff Pettis laughs at the idea, because whenever he goes out to investigate dead bees, he cannot get a signal on his cell phone because the hives are in such remote areas.

Also on the Internet is a quote attributed to Albert Einstein on how humans would die off in four years if not for honeybees. It's wrong on two counts.

First, Einstein probably never said it, according to Alice Calaprice, author of "The Quotable Einstein" and five other books on the physicist.

"I've never come across it in anything Einstein has written," Calaprice said. "it could be that someone had made it up and put Einstein's name on it."

Second, it's incorrect scientifically, Pettis said. There would be food left for humans because some food is wind-pollinated.

For his part, Pettis jokes that the bees are out creating crop circles "and it's working them to death."
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Old 05-02-2007, 05:42 PM   #14
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phew!

nothing to worry about. continue to consume, children.
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Old 05-02-2007, 08:40 PM   #15
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In general the media sucks at reporting science (apparantly evolution is the product of "random selection").

Since only drones and the queen mate how does that effect resistance of a colony
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