British Beekeepers’ Association to stop endorsing bee-killing pesticides

honeybees

Beekepers’ group ends commercial relationship with pesticide manufacturer whose product killed bees.

The British Beekeepers’ Association has today announced plans to end its controversial practice of endorsing pesticides in return for cash from leading chemical manufacturers.

The endorsement of four products as “bee-friendly” in return for £17,500 a year caused outrage among many beekeepers because one of the companies, Bayer Crop Science, makes pesticides that are widely implicated in the deaths of honeybees worldwide.

But the BBKA denies that it has bowed to pressure from members who have been increasingly critical of the its stance. Bayer’s clothianidin was identified as causing the death of two-thirds of honeybees in southern Germany in 2008.

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In a statement sent out today to the secretaries of local beekeeping associations across the UK, the BBKA’s president, Martin Smith, said: “Following discussion with the companies involved, the BBKA trustees have decided that endorsement and related product-specific payments will cease as soon as practically possible.”

He added: “The four products subject to BBKA endorsement are of declining commercial importance and the development of new classes of pesticides and application techniques means that the relationship with the plant-protection industry should be reviewed.”

Beekeeper Graham White, who resigned from the BBKA more than two years ago in protest at what he called a “secret deal done with the pesticide manufacturers whose products are lethal to bees”, welcomed today’s decision.

“It’s great news, but it’s too little, too late,” he said. “They should have been showing solidarity with beekeepers in France, Germany, Italy and Slovenia when pesticides were banned there after being implicated in bee deaths, instead of selling their logo to the manufacturers.”

Smith defended its position then as one of “constructive engagement” to ensure pesticides were properly applied as per the instructions on the label to minimise damage to honeybees.

The BBKA’s position has polarised the 45,000-strong beekeeping community, but the majority of BBKA members upheld its policy at its annual delegate meeting earlier this year and in 2009.

At the next meeting in January, delegates will be asked to note today’s decision “with respect to the cessation of BBKA endorsement of certain pesticides”.

But the organisation has not ruled out accepting funds in the future from pesticide companies. “The trustees may wish to invite companies to exhibit at the BBKA’s spring convention or make a contribution to the BBKA research fund,” said Smith.

“It is time to broaden the range of engagement with the crop-protection industry beyond the narrow focus of endorsing certain products; rather to contribute more directly to the development of new regulatory criteria for pesticide approval and to further support the industry in the general move to improve countryside stewardship,” he added.

White says all ties to the pesticide industry should be immediately severed. “All of those who created and directed this policy of pesticide endorsement must be thrown out of the BBKA and replaced by real beekeepers. The BBKA is not fit for purpose and will never recover its moral integrity until it is reconstituted as a pure beekeeping organisation that is willing to campaign against all use of systemic pesticides on British farms.

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Note …Us beekeepers told you to pull out years ago … thats why you lost so many members … might bee a bit late to get us back.

 

Bees share false memories muddle

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Bumblebees can be muddled by false memories in the same way as humans, a study has found.

It is the first time the phenomenon has been demonstrated in a non-human species.

The fact that it can affect an insect suggests that distorted or fabricated memory is not just a problem for police investigations but widespread throughout the animal kingdom.

Lead scientist Dr Lars Chittka, from Queen Mary, University of London, said: “We discovered that the memory traces for two stimuli can merge, such that features acquired in distinct bouts of training are combined in the animal’s mind.

“Stimuli that have actually never been viewed before, but are a combination of the features presented in training, are chosen during memory recall.”

Bumblebees may be blessed with tiny brains but they have good memories. Not only do they remember the patterns, colours and scents of various kinds of flower, but they can navigate to the blooms over long distances and find their way home again.

For the study, the first to investigate false memories in non-humans, Dr Chittka’s team first trained bumblebees to expect a sweet reward when visiting artificial flowers in a particular sequence.

One group of bees learned to go to a yellow flower first, followed by one marked with black and white rings. Another group was trained to visit the flowers in the opposite order.

In subsequent tests, the same bees were given a choice between those flowers and a third type with yellow and white rings, representing a mixed up version of the two they had seen before.

At first, the bees were not fooled by the addition of the yellow striped flowers and continued to prefer the flower that most recently rewarded them during training – either yellow or black and white.

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Between one and three days later, however, confusion set in. Half the time the bees selected the flower with yellow and white stripes, even though it had not formed part of their training.

Their long term memories of being rewarded by different kinds of flower had “merged together”, said the researchers, whose findings are reported in the journal Current Biology.

The bees’ behaviour mirrored that of humans experiencing memory errors, they pointed out. Rather than exposing a “bug” in the memory system, it was a side effect of a quite sophisticated adaptive recall mechanism.

The same team has recently found that people who are particularly good at learning rules to classify objects are also prone to false memories.

Dr Chittka said: “There is no question that the ability to extract patterns and commonalities between different events in our environment is adaptive.

“Indeed, the ability to memorise the overarching principles of a number of different events might help us respond in new situations. But these abilities might come at the expense of remembering every detail correctly.”

With their limited brain capacity, bees might find the pressure to “economise” by storing general features of a class of objects rather than details of each individual object to be even more intense, he added.

The researchers are now using radar tracking to follow bees and their flower choices over the whole of their lives.

Beekeepers in Australia invent ‘revolutionary’ hive

Father and son from Australia spent a decade inventing a plastic hive with a tap for collecting honey – then sold over £1 million worth in 24 hours

Honeyflow

Two beekeepers in Australia have invented what is believed to be the world’s first hive that allows fresh honey to be collected without having to disturb the bees and with no threat of stings.

Credited with “revolutionising” beekeeping, Cedar Anderson and his father Stuart borrowed money from friends and family and spent a decade creating a contraption which they say is “easier on the beekeeper and on the bees”.

Cedar-and-Stuart

The pair began selling their invention on a crowdsourcing site and raised $1.7 million (£1.1 million) in the first 24 hours.

“It is incredible – I am shocked,” Stuart Anderson, 60, a former social worker, told The Telegraph. “I didn’t anticipate how many people must have been hovering, waiting for something like this.”

The father and son team – both amateur inventors – come from a long line of backyard beekeepers near the popular surfing and tourist destination of Byron Bay in northern New South Wales.

Their contraption, called the Flow Hive, consists of plastic artificial honeycomb cells in which the bees leave honey before sealing the cells with wax. A lever then splits the wax and turns the cells to create zigzagging channels for the honey to flow out via a tap into a trough below.

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Mr Anderson said his grandfather would “rob” honey from hives in trees on neighbouring properties and his father began keeping bees legally in the garden.

He and his son have long kept hives in their backyard – handing out honey to friends – and began searching for a better way to extract the honey.

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Growers advised to improve pollination

Studies carried out to identify which pollinators visit which fruit crop flowers and how frequently.

MichelleFountain

 

With more efficient fruit pollination potentially raising productivity by 16 per cent, growers should be aware of creatures that pollinate their crops and how to encourage them, East Malling Research entomologist Dr Michelle Fountain told the recent Agrovista fruit technical seminar in Herefordshire.

“We are trying to grow more intensively, with more flowers per hectare, while expecting pollinators to do the same job,” she said.

Fountain and colleagues carried out studies of apple, pear and blackcurrant to see how many visits are made to each flower and by which insects. In all, 23 species visited apples, with bumblebees, honeybees and solitary bees in equal proportion.

“Solitary bees can’t travel as far so may not get into the middle of large orchards,” she said. As a pollinator, Andrena is the most significant genus of solitary bees and all UK species nest in bare soil – ideally sandy, south-facing banks, she added.

Blossoming earlier in cooler temperatures, pears attracted lower pollinator diversity but similar Andrena species, said Fountain. “You might want to supplement pollination with honeybees as they really like pear.”

Blackcurrants attracted a similar species diversity to pear but with honeybees playing a relatively unimportant part. Bumblebees, however, “did a really good job”.

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“Building up a diverse range of pollinators gives you a more resilient crop”, Fountain advised. This includes providing forage by sowing appropriate perennial seed mixes because “you don’t want to have to start over each year”, she added.

Overlooked allies – Earwigs predate pests

Earwigs were thought to be a pest of apples because they are often found in holes created by other pests, Dr Michelle Fountain told the seminar.

“In fact, they are voracious nocturnal predators of pests,” and are even capable of breaching ants’ “aphid farms”.

Farm-scale trials showed that Chorpyrifos “killed everything”, as did Thiacloprid (Calypso) but more slowly, while others were found to be non-lethal to earwigs but slowed the insects’ growth. “You could replace Thiacloprid with Gazelle,” she suggested.

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Urban habitats ‘provide haven’ for bees

Britain’s urban areas are home to more types of wild bee than farmland, a study has found.

 

Flowers planted in gardens and allotments provide a valuable food source for bees across the year, according to research. Scientists counted honey bees, bumble bees and other pollinating insects, in and around some of the UK’s largest towns and cities. Urban habitats can provide a valuable role in bee conservation, they say.

Honey bees, bumble bees and other insects that pollinate plants are under threat from habitat loss, pesticides and diseases.

But new research suggests that bees and other pollinating insects thrive as well in towns and cities as they do in farms and nature reserves.

A team led by Dr Katherine Baldock of the University of Bristol said urban landscapes – making up 7% of the UK – deserve more attention in the drive to protect bees from decline.

“Urban areas could be managed in a way to be good to pollinators,” she told BBC News. “What we need to know next is which habitats within urban areas are good for pollinators.”

While farms are often planted with swathes of one crop, gardens and allotments provide a mixed source of flowers across the year, which is a valuable habitat for insects, she added.

Suburban sprawls

Commenting on the study, published in the journal, Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B, Dr Dave Goulson of the University of Sussex said the research showed that there were more species of wild bee living in suburbia than in farmland.

“This is an indictment of modern farming methods, but is also greatly encouraging for those gardeners who put in wildlife-friendly flowers and leave a little space for nature,” he said.

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“There is huge potential to turn our suburban sprawls into giant nature reserves if we can get more and more gardeners on board.”

The study looked at the abundance and richness of pollinating insect species in and around Bristol, Cardiff, Swindon, Reading, Greater London, Southampton, Leeds, Sheffield, Kingston-upon-Hull, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Dundee.

A total of 7,412 insects were recorded visiting flowers. Bee abundance did not differ between landscapes, but the richness of species was higher in urban areas than on farmland.

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Swindon helps prove that bees thrive in towns and cities

THE plight of the humble bee has been well documented. Honey bees, bumble bees and other pollinating insects are under threat from some pesticides, disease and loss of habitat – our wildflower-rich grasslands, a prime habitat for pollinators, have declined by 97 per cent since the 1930s.

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Cities may not exactly seem like the best places for bees, and yet it’s not a terribly unusual site to see professionals removing massive hives from trees, roofs, and even lampposts. Now, new research has revealed that maybe these urban bees are on to something, as they could be just as productive and healthy as their rural counterparts.

That’s at least according to a study recently published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, which details how researchers compared, for the first time ever, the suitability of different landscapes for pollinating insects across the United Kingdom.

It’s not exactly a secret that bees and other pollinators have been on the decline across the globe. This decline has been traced back to invasive parasites, climate change, and infamously harmful pesticides, depending on the region. Nature World News even previously reported how their decline is hurting humans too, leaving a good number of developing countries at risk for poor harvests and rampant malnutrition.

Thankfully, according to researcher Katherine Baldock at the University of Bristol, bees have a lot more places to try their luck at recovery than experts thought.

“Bees are driven by the availability of food and suitable nesting sites. We found that there were equivalent numbers of bees in the three landscapes studied,” she explained in a statement.

“In urban areas pollinators foraged on a wide variety of plant species, including many non-native garden plants, but visited a smaller proportion of the available plant species than those in other landscapes,” Baldock added. “This could be explained by the high diversity of plant species in urban areas.”

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This was determined after the team compared visiting pollinator communities in 36 sites in and around UK urban areas. They saw a total of 7,412 pollinators visiting monitored flowers – about just as many as would be seen in a rural setting.

However, it’s important to note that other studies have found that car exhaust, which is common in urban areas, can hide the scent of some favorite flowers to some specialized pollinators.

Still, Baldock and her colleagues argue that because so many bees and other pollinators can now be found in cities, urban gardens and parks should be part of conversation when considering how and where to help bee populations recover.

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Valentine’s Day Gifts Adopt A Hive

Valentine’s Day Gifts Adopt A Hive

Our busy little black and yellow friends are vital to our well-being, as they pollinate the plants that we grow for food, but, our Honey bees are in crisis. Their population is dwindling at an alarming rate, under attack from viruses, pesticides and mites. You can help start a new bee colony, by buying a year long, 1/12 share in a hive for only £29.99.

In return you’ll receive a special shareholder certificate, some wild flower seeds to attract more bees to your garden, and a jar of yummy honey made especially for you, by your bees as a thank you. You will also receive up dates on your hive.Adopt A Hive

Adopt-a-hive makes the perfect gift for nature lovers, keen gardeners and honey lovers everywhere. As well as being a unique present you’ll be helping to pollinate the planet and ensuring the future, not only of our little busy buddies, but also all the essential fruits and vegetables we currently enjoy.

Our apiaries are situated in various locations, within a mile of the picturesque River Ribble, in the South Ribble area of Preston. This gives our bees the opportunity to feed from the wealth of wild flowers growing along side the river, and everything that grows in the local farmers fields. By situating some of our hives in local authority allotments, our bees help local growers, by pollinating all their produce for the year. Our hives based in our local woodland, benefit from woodland flowers, and also help the local farmers, by pollinating their crops.

Each of our hives have up to 50,000 native British bees in the height of summer, going down to 10,000 during the winter months.

During the swarm season, any swarms that we collect that are not British, are re queened with a British black bee, to help save our native British colonies.They are placed into a hive, and managed to prevent re swarming.

1, Help start a new bee colony. £29.99 buys a year’s 1/12 share of a brand new hive, set up by our Head beekeeper Andy. A treat for yourself or a great gift with a difference

2, A new shareholder will immediately receive: A certificate of ownership A special pack of wild flower seeds to sow to help your local bees do their stuff Fun, rewarding, positive action – it feels good!

3, You’ll get regular updates about your colony News Letter updates from Andy the bee man. Visit your bees with a guided apiary tour (saving you £10!) Learn all about bees whatever your age

4, After harvest we’ll post you 1lb of honey Your share of September’s harvest from your colony. Our colonies are kept in our apiaries on the pastures of Lancashire and the Cuerden valley Mmmm, now that’s a tasty reward

Visit website http://www.adoptahive.co

Contact Andy  email: adoptahive@aol.com

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Stressed bees ‘behind decline’

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STRESSED young bees that are forced to grow up too fast could largely account for disastrous declines in populations of the insects around the world, research suggests.

Bees usually begin foraging at two to three weeks old but when older workers are killed off by disease, lack of food or other factors they have to start younger.

Scientists who attached radio tracking devices to thousands of bees found that early-starters completed fewer foraging flights and were more likely to die on their first sortie.

The phenomenon may be a key factor behind colony collapse disorder (CCD), a major threat to bee colonies – and crop pollination – around the world whose origins are still not fully understood.

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Lead researcher Dr Clint Perry, from the School of Biological and Chemical Sciences at Queen Mary, University of London, said: “Young bees leaving the hive early is likely to be an adaptive behaviour to a reduction in the number of older foraging bees.

“But if the increased death rate continues for too long, or the hive isn’t big enough to withstand it in the short term, this natural response could upset the societal balance of the colony and have catastrophic consequences.

“Our results suggest that tracking when bees begin to forage may be a good indicator of the overall health of a hive. Our work sheds light on the reasons behind colony collapse and could help in the search for ways of preventing colony collapse.”

The scientists used data from the bee-tracking to model the impact on honey bee colonies in a computer simulation.

They found that any stress leading to chronic forager death among older bees led to an increasingly young foraging force.

Having a younger foraging population lead to poorer performance, and more rapid deaths of foragers.

It dramatically accelerated colony decline in line with observations of CCD seen around the world.

The findings appear in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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