Monday, 12 August 2013

The bee cause

I am a monthly sponsor of Friends of the Earth (FotE). One of the causes defended by FotE is the bee cause. Bees are endangered all over Britain and need the participation of everyone to bring their numbers back, for the sake of agriculture, a balanced ecosystem and to a greater extent, life on Earth as we know it. There are several issues that have been threatening the existence of bees in this country, probably in many other countries also. You will find that the erroneous/unexpected weather conditions cannot be blamed for everything; loss of natural habitat, natural competitors/parasites, pollution and a terrible choice of biotechnology products have done their part. 

Bees have in Varroa destructor (figure below) a terrific external parasite phoretic (symbiotic transport) mite that wipes with tremendous homicidal capacity species such as Apis cerana and Apis mellifera. if you wish to know more about this parasite please visit these incredibly good blogs, one by Emily Heath and also this one by her friend Emma Tenant. As I mentioned in different posts, whenever I find an excellent source of information that does not need me to compile, study, research and gather extra information due to its undoubted quality, I see no point in overloading the Internet with unnecessary info. These blogs are of extremely good quality, you go and read them!!!

In addition, there is the issue with the neonicotinoids hitting the first pages of the different science magazines. Neonicotinoids are neuroactive insecticides, the newest major class of.  Even though they show very low toxicity to mammals [1] (for sure the reason  why we ignore their toxic nature to other species - again our selfish nature) they are tremendously effective against many species of insects. BUT THEY DO NOT DISCRIMINATE, they snipe whatever they come into contact with as long as they have three sets of legs. There is an amazing article by Tomizawa and Casida (2005) covering these insecticides (find it here).

But the whole picture could only be fully accounted for if one also reads the 1991 Falk's book "A review of the scarce and threatened bees, wasps and ants of Great Britain" (access here). This matter is actually going global, and kind of mimicking a global economical crisis it is pounding colonies of bees from this island to the new world USA. Just take a look at the 25 minutes video embeded and learn how nefarious it is becoming, not only for the ecosystem and the beautiful world we are jeopardising very day, but also for the beekeepers who are now losing 30 to 50% of their beehives each year!!!!

Very recently I watched a show about a German researcher developing a study on bees and neonicotinoids that was quite impressive. Unfortunately I wasn't able to find it on youtube. Basically this fella created along with his team, a series of studies supported by a funny helmet attached to the bee and a satellite signal reader. He studied their normal behaviour and the erratic behaviour of specimens intoxicated with neonicotinoids (incapable of finding back their hives no matter how long they'd search for, eventually dying of exhaustion and malnutrition).

If these clear facts are not strong enough then read these words very attentively: "The economic value of pollination worldwide is estimated to be at least £153bn, which represents almost one-tenth of the value of the world's agricultural production for human food." [2]

1st image - Adventuresinbeeland's Blog, [], last visited on the 12th of August 2013, last updated on the 21st of October 2012.

[1] Tomizawa, M. and Casida, J. E. (2005). "Neocotinoid insecticide toxicology: mechanisms of selective action". Annual Review of Pharmacology and Toxicology, 45, pp. 247268.

[2] Novel research looks to transform the decline of the beekeeping sector, Nottingham Trent University, [], last visited on the 12th of August 2013, last updated on the 28th of February 2013

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