Now that some time has passed from the initial honeybee loss hysteria lets look at some of the facts.
During the fall of 2006 Pennsylvania beekeeper David Hackenberg experienced what he saw was unusual honeybee behavior when most of his colonies mysteriously collapsed after being moved into Florida. He alerted Penn State researchers and the USDA also became involved. News of the loss spread quickly and soon other beekeepers were reporting similar losses of hives which were moved into southern locations for the upcoming winter.
Meanwhile non-commercial beekeepers wrapped and left their colonies for the winter all over the country. This winter wrapping of plastic or tarpaper is an annual ritual for beekeepers in the northern regions. If bees were missing in these stationary hives not many were noted as the winter preparations began. Like who would winterize a hive with no bees?
By January the media was full of doomsday articles of missing bees as commercial beekeepers began their cycle of amping up bee hives by feeding pollen supplement and corn syrup to trick the bees into believing spring was here and they needed to raise more brood. This amping up of hives is necessary for hives to contain enough bees for the early February almond pollination in California. As hives were being worked or moved into CA some beekeepers were reporting that bees were missing and hives not building up as usual.
As the seasons changed into spring the news media was now hysterical with reports of bee losses all over the country. A map was produced showing how the disorder now called Colony Collapse Disorder was now in 20 some odd states.
Now if winter was still holding fast in the northern regions how would a beekeeper know if bees were missing? How did northern states with subzero weather and snow on the ground get included in the CCD map of losses? The answer is that it only took a beekeeper or two with a story of missing bees to be included in the map using his mailing address as the location of the missing bees. Really? Most of these commercial beekeepers were in CA now for almond pollination.
Well never mind that small detail that most of the nations bees were waiting for spring 3 feet under a snow drift and their hapless cousins were getting ready for almonds in CA, we have a crisis on our hands to report. With the public mood transfixed on the evils of Global Warming the bee loss story was a perfect storm and fit neatly into that group think.
As spring moved across the nation in late March and April stationary beekeepers unwrapped their colonies and found huge winter losses in mostly the NE region most notably PA, NY and Ontario. Winter of 2006-2007 was very warm especially in the NE region of the USA. Holiday temps hovered around 65F in NYC. Honeybees were flying and going into spring mode by laying eggs and raising young. By early Feb the temps had fallen below zero and stayed there for 3 weeks. Could this have caused an unusual winter loss in honeybees? Forget that theory too since it did not really fit into the building hysteria of missing bees. Heck the journalist could just skip over that minute detail we had a huge bees loss on our hands, a missing bee versus a dead bee from winter. Whatever.
Now that May is almost half done and the public has fixated on more important things like what will Paris Hilton do if she has to wipe her own ass while in a prison cell, the bee loss story still lives on in regional publications as android news reporters are busy like a bee cutting and pasting the huge archive of missing bee misinformation.
The honeybee has now become the poster girl for every bogeyman cause in the USA.
GMO's, Cell Phones and EMFs, depleted ozone layer, biblical prophecies, sunspot activity, you name it everyone had a reason and a cause for the staggering loss of honeybees or what loss as it turns out.
Was there a loss of honeybees beyond the norm?
Normal winter losses have crept up over the years with the addition of the invasive varrora mite which jumped host from the Asian bee in the 1990's as a major cause for European or Western honeybee losses. Losses around 10-15% are not that uncommon any more over winter.
During the summer of 2006 an estimated 2.4 million hives had honeybees in them. This number ebbs and flows with the season and is at a peak in midsummer.
Several recent articles have now shed light on the real losses caused by CCD.
MAY 9, 2007
Crisis for honeybees—and our food
BY FIONA MORGAN
N.C. State University entomology professor David Tarpy has studied honeybees for 14 years. He's
seen bees die off due to mites, pesticides and a wide array of problems—but he's never seen
anything like today's crisis. Tarpy is part of a national working group of scientists and federal
officials investigating the causes of colony collapse disorder, or CCD, an affliction causing more
than a quarter of the country's bee population to become disoriented, fail to return to their hives
Reporters Querstion: What's the scope of this problem?
Dr. Tarpy's response: "The problem appears to be nationwide, in over half of the states. About 20
to 30 percent of the colonies that died this past winter seem to have been afflicted by what
appears to be a CCD symptom."
Note the reporters lead in is inaccurate and misleading and conflicts with Dr. Tarpy's response, but the writer is just following the by now standard bee loss screed complete with adjectives and huge numercial statistics that must certianly be valid proof of a calamity.
Read Dr. Tarpy's response carefully; 20-30% of the colonies that died over winter "seem" to have been afflicted by "what appears" to be a CCD sypmtom. Not 25% of all the summer number of 2.4 million as the journalist implied in the lead in. Jesus can't even get that right. Or was his head somewhere else intent on writing the now standard bee loss story.
Another source corroborating the same thing
Source: Cornell University Released: Sat 12-May-2007, 14:00 ET
Newswise — Scientists are working hard to understand the sources of a staggering decline in
honeybees in as many as 27 U.S. states and countries in Europe and Asia this winter, said Cornell
associate professor of entomology Nicholas Calderone, during a media teleconference May 10.
In the United States, half a million to a million colonies out of a total 2.4 million colonies have died
this winter. Both tracheal mites (Acarapis woodi) and varroa mites (Varroa destructor) have
threatened the bee industry since the 1980s, causing similar catastrophic die-offs to bee
populations in the winters of 1995-96 and 2000-01. The mites feed on U.S. honeybees and act as
a vector for a number of bee viruses, though varroa mites are especially deadly. While many bees
this year exhibit symptoms of mite damage, about 25 percent of the deaths this year cannot be
attributed to mites or any other known honeybee pest, Calderone said. (end of article quote)
Ok we now have two researchers using the aproximate of 25% of this past winter losses are
attributed to CCD. Dr. Calderone uses a wide range of .5million -1.0 million for total winter losses or 25%-40% of the total number of bee hives in the US. This total winter loss includes CCD so the CCD estimate using his information is 125,000-250,000 hives affected. We can conclude then that around 375,00- 750,000 colonies were lost to due to an unusual winter pattern. Wow more bees died from Old Man Winter then the mysterious and deadly Colony Collapse Disorder.
I think we can now safely say that an estimated 10% or 125,00-250,000 hives in the USA were lost to Colony Collapse Disorder since the fall of 2006.
A ten percent loss of honeybee colonies in the USA due to a possible new disorder. Does this sound like basis for the doomsday articles we see in the media? How did this story get so overblown?
The media has not reported that when the first tracheal mites hit the North American continent in 1984 that 1 million colonies succumbed, or that in fall/winter of 04/05 close to the same number perished because the commercial miticides no longer worked and bees died from varrora mite infestation.
Wow 250,000 colonies in 06/07 and its the end the world.........this story has more to do with the twisted media and web 2.0 then a natural disaster in the honeybee world.
Should we all be concerned about honeybees and their demise? yes. Is CCD another additional possible cause of honeybee losses on top of other parasites and disease? the jury is still out on that. Should we not believe most of the web 2.0 and MSM reports on Honeybee losses. yes. Does the average person or journalist now very little to nothing about honeybees and be better off using restraint when writing an article or posting some apocalyptic screed? Yes that would be nice too.
I must also include some ridicule on the so called spread of CCD beyond the US. To date we have not a single recognized bee expert claiming CCD in Brazil, Austrlia, Europe or anywhere else. A few speculative reports made the digitial archive and the cut and paste folks have had a fun time insinuating in their so called articles that CCD is spreading like wildfire across the globe.
Let me finish with an interesting link to an article citing a well known Ohio bee expert Dr. James Tew.
"I very nearly don't know what to say about this issue," Tew said in the newsletter. "The publicity on
this subject has exceeded any science supporting a causative agent. Giving it a new name and saying
that it is worse than previous outbreaks have given the condition an emergency status that has
elicited what I have called 'electronic hysteria.'"
"I'm not saying it isn't serious," Tew said Tuesday. "It's like the flu. If you have it, it's serious, and if
you don't have it, you don't want it."
But Tew said Ohio's bee problems do not appear to be CCD.
"It's kind of insulting, actually," said Tew. "I think I'd notice that if it were happening in Ohio."
In conclusion we have an awful lot of folks weighing in on a subject that they know nothing about.
Is news today in the MSM in tandem with a gullible Web 2.0 ripe for the perpetuation of a massive hoax complete with non-quotes from Einstein and an unethical misrepresentation of a scientific study? (so called cell phone study was not even on cell phones and the author disavows any of the conclusions the media made relative to cell phones and bees)
In the case of the Great Honeybee Loss of 06/07 we may be seeing the greatest media boondoggle since Orson Welles and his famous broadcast the "War of the Worlds".