Bee-pocaclypse called off, bees doing OK, global warming was never a cause

Back in 2007, Wired Magazine mused:

It’s only slightly less ridiculous than the other bee killing theory that year – cell phones.

I published a story about the loony idea that was proposed by some researcher in Europe about “cell phone radiation may be killing bees”. I pointed out that it was garbage then, as it is now.

In 2012, I published a post saying global warming is off the hook for the issue, due to the discovery of a phorid fly parasite that had been spreading through colonies due in part to the commercial trucking of bees on demand.

Now in a new set of data from USDA, publicized in a story from the Washington Post today, it turns out bee colonies are now at a 20 year high, and that beekeepers have basically solved the problem on their own.


Call off the bee-pocalypse: U.S. honeybee colonies hit a 20-year high

The trouble all began in 2006 or so, when beekeepers first began noticing mysterious die-offs. It was soon christened “colony collapse disorder,” and has been responsible for the loss of 20 to 40 percent of managed honeybee colonies each winter over the past decade.

The math says that if you lose 30 percent of your bee colonies every year for a few years, you rapidly end up with close to 0 colonies left. But get a load of this data on the number of active bee colonies in the U.S. since 1987. Pay particular attention to the period after 2006, when CCD was first documented.


As you can see, the number of honeybee colonies has actually risen since 2006, from 2.4 million to 2.7 million in 2014, according to data tracked by the USDA. The 2014 numbers, which came out earlier this year, show that the number of managed colonies — that is, commercial honey-producing bee colonies managed by human beekeepers — is now the highest it’s been in 20 years.

So if CCD is wiping out close to a third of all honeybee colonies a year, how are their numbers rising? One word: Beekeepers.

A 2012 working paper by Randal R. Tucker and Walter N. Thurman, a pair of agricultural economists, explains that seasonal die-offs have always been a part of beekeeping: they report that before CCD, American beekeepers would typically lose 14 percent of their colonies a year, on average.

So beekeepers have devised two main ways to replenish their stock. The first method involves splitting one healthy colony into two separate colonies: put half the bees into a new beehive, order them a new queen online (retail price: $25 or so), and voila: two healthy hives.

The other method involves simply buying a bunch of bees to replace the ones you lost. You can buy 3 pounds of “packaged” bees, plus a queen, for about $100 or so.

Beekeepers have been doing this sort of thing since the advent of commercial beekeeping.


Full story here:

End of a crisis that never was. Case closed, and climate was never to blame.

121 thoughts on “Bee-pocaclypse called off, bees doing OK, global warming was never a cause

  1. Comments on the article are about what I would expect. “Is to, is to, is to, a problem. I don’t care what your facts are.”

    That said, there are some comments from bee keepers who say the problem is still a problem and I tend to give credence to people who actually get their hands dirty over office experts.

    So I don’t know what the truth is on this.

    • The answer is easy. There IS a parasite. They DO lose 30% every year. They CAN and DO compensate as a normal part of their business. What I DON’T see is any connection to global warming. Seems the alarmists have gone dark on this subject.

      • Yes. The parasite is varroa mite, which apparently jumped species from Apis cerana (asian honey bee, endemic pest to which those bees had devoloped resistance) to Apis mellifera (european hiney bees) in the Phillipines in the 1970’s. Since spread globally. Any beekeeper knows this, and what to do to contain it. Read more, blog less is a good rule for warmunists.

      • I believe Australia is still largely or totally Varroa free. Apparently there is quite a demand for our bees.

      • Neonicotinoid insecticides, such as the widely used and very potent imidacloprid, have also been implicated in some die-offs.
        Every insecticide I have ever used contains the warning not to use while bees are foraging, and also that “This product is highly toxic to bees”.
        In other words…what…only spray at night?
        This stuff is a systemic anyway, and so enters the vasculature of plants and can supposedly thus make it’s way into flowers and pollen.

      • Just like the frog die off, human had something to do with it, ecotourist and and human pet frogs help spread the fungus that killed the frogs by introducing it to populations that had not seen it before but again global warming or the use of herbicides and insecticide had nothing to do with it. The blame human first crowd pick on the the “political correct causes” while ignoring the true cause since the true cause would not advance their agenda.

    • If the choice is between people in the fields and people in offices, I would tend to go with people in the field, but in this case beekeepers benefit if they say there is a shortage of bees, so I am not so sure they are unbiased.

      • beekeepers do NOT benefit if they lose bees..Aus used to produce enough to cover retail and industrial use
        we are pushing it to manage both demands.
        and we dont have Varroa (yet) but we are having big issues with hive beetle infestations
        they wipe colonys out.
        we also have to cope with drought and fires wiping out the native trees most of us rely takes 5 or more years for most trees to recover enough to produce nectar flows worth a long drive and the time fuel etc to get there
        meanwhile you pay rent on sites with no income at all for years
        you cant afford to give up a lease.
        and then our dimwits in offices are cutting available sites
        some moron thinks people doing orienteering, rarely, are more important than beekeeping in nat parks is.
        you dont believe mob ph and powerlines affect bees?
        put a hive under a power line
        be prepared to move smartly,bees will refuse to return thos that do are cranky as hell
        put a phone on top of a hive
        bees avoid it.
        try extracting when a solar flares incoming..again very aggro bees.
        Bt used as a green bees a guts ache too slower than for the plant eaters but it still knocks colony around.
        Bayers own data showed it killed
        bees moths and small mammals
        after first complaints in Italy they then advocated in soil application or after dark
        its systemic and moves in soils a long way
        anything thats soaked it up has poisoned nectar and pollen
        they now sell pills in Aus by Yates for pest control in? home gardens
        neonic so any roses or your veg if youre dumb enough to use it have the poison IN plant cells for good.
        its a hard hot and brutal job imagine high 30s to 40s
        you have to extract the honey cos the frames are full
        throw a full suit on and gloves and then stand in a mobile extractor van with steam heating via gas flames and work hard fast and heavy for hours
        then drive a couple of hundred ks and do it again and again for a week.
        and people bitch about 10+a kg?

    • “european hiney bees”

      I was stung by one of those many years ago. I imprudently sat down in a spot that was–unknown to me–already occupied.

      • Native Americans (Injuns to the PC-enabled) referred to bees as “White Men’s Flies”. This is the received wisdumb, but what they were actually referring to were introduced yellowjackets. Those pests would up and sting folks without warning, and by the hundreds if you couldn’t outrun them.

        But Italian honey bees are very different. They’re docile. They won’t sting unless provoked, and their upside benefits are huge. Maybe they sting occasionally, but it’s not hornet or yellowjacket nukes. Their sting is mild by comparison to those, or to fire ants in the South (another introduced species, IIRC).

        And lest anyone think I’m disparaging Indians, I’m certainly not. They possess much wisdom, such as this, which I once saw on a placard for sale in a tourist trap:

        When the White Man discovered this country

        Indians were running it

        No taxes or debt

        Women did all the work

        White man thought he could improve on a system like that.

        Yeah, I bought it…

      • “or to fire ants in the South (another introduced species, IIRC).”

        No, fire ants were not introduced. at least not in the south west US. Fire ants are native to South America and were well documented migrating north without much assistance over several decades before they reached the US.

      • Matt, they were transported inadvertently to the USA with dirt, often used as ship ballast. From the ports of the Southern USA, they’ve spread northward

      • “The eastern yellowjacket (Vespula maculifrons), western yellow jacket (Vespula pensylvanica), and prairie yellowjacket (Vespula atropilosa) are native to North America.”

  2. Hopefully they’ll do proper health checks before they go sending new bees around the country.

    • Probably both. The varroa mite helps spread the virus. The mite is spread through trade in bees, especially the queens.

      Of course, most warmists subscribe to the “dumb farmer” hypothesis. Bee keepers will not adapt or change. Of course, climate change is unlikely to have contributed to CCD, though there is certainly an anthropogenic component. But the component is trade in bees. Much like the fungus causing amphibian deaths is spread through trade in amphibians.

      • Les,
        This work is the most plausible discussion I’ve seen. (Thanks for the link). Those of the ‘more climate concerned’ with whom I’ve discussed this downgrade the possibility even when I suggest that man always affects his (her) environment just by being in it.

        One surprise is this post of information from 2012 vs. the up to date discussion on the virus. And I thought I was behind.

      • Danny Thomas says:

        …man always affects his (her) environment just by being in it.

        Agree completely. But that isn’t the question. The question that answers the debate is this one: is dangerous AGW happening?

        The answer is clearly No. We have been enjoying a true ‘Goldilocks’ climate for more than a century. Rational folks say, “Give me more!”

        It’s the irrational crowd I’m worried about.

      • Hi DB,

        “The question is: does dangerous AGW exist?” I’d say the answer is not yet, but we don’t know in the long run and things can change. Anthro means a lot of things. In the case of the bees and based on this work I’d say that at least some of those bees might disagree with you regarding anthropogenic effects. But this is a post about bees and I wasn’t referring (at this time) to AGW. So that really wasn’t the question.

    • DT, yes there is. Deformed wing disease. Originally in wild A. Mellifera in Europe. Now global, spread by Varroa mites. And has jumped species to A. Cerano… A perfect anthropogenic storm of invasive species. Nothing to do with CAGW.

      • persian disease aka def wing..
        rather think it spread without varroa prior to this anyway?
        I came across ref to it in a book over 50yrs old
        it may well be a virus Varroa can spread..but its NOT new by any means

  3. Maybe mental illness and too many climate conferences are killing all species.
    How about Warmers getting a productive job that contributes to the economy instead of condemning progress and the constant seeking rentseeking grants and handouts!!!

  4. If you have a problem, you:

    1) Fix it, or
    2) Develop a work-around, or
    3) Wait for the government to solve your problem.

    1) Hard to do in the short-term
    2) Easier in the short term while working on a more lasting solution.
    3) All your bees will die, but the government busy bees will keep on collecting their pay checks (surely you didn’t expect them to be dependent on any workable results … heck, they’d never get paid).

    • An unsupported hypothesis for the most part, since neonicitinoids mostly treat seeds. Where used otherwise, there have been problems as with all other insecticides.

      • Neonicotinoids are used widely.
        They are in many commercially available products on store shelves everywhere.
        Bayer Complete Insect Killer is great stuff, enters plants through foliage or roots, granules applied to soil work for up to six months, applied in electric panels and equipment prevents ants from taking up residence and causing very expensive problems.
        But like all insecticides it is, for some reason, highly toxic to bees.
        But being systemic and long lasting as well as particularly effective…it may be problematic.

        I am drawn to the part about 14 % of colonies dying every year anyway. So if that is an average, one might expect some years where the totals are higher than average.
        When this story was presented in the media, it was spun as all but the end of every crop which is pollinated by bees the world over.

      • The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation has a close to neutral story. link I am mistrustful of both sides in the neonic-mite debate.

        We’ve had neonic bans in many jurisdictions. Maybe that explains why the numbers have improved since 2006 … just like the freon ban solved ozone depletion … /sarc

        I really have no clue.

  5. When dealing with multiple disrespectful insects, I find chemistry is the best language they’ll understand.

  6. I love bees. Always wanted to raise them. Never happened.
    I am happy the panic is over and happier it wasn’t fake global warming.

    • ..When I was eight years, living in Blind River, Ontario, Canada on my grandfathers 600 acre wilderness wonderland, I adventurously sat upon a 30 year old tractor that was, unfortunately, already occupied ! Sad to say, I did not win the ensuing battle ! So please excuse my hostility towards anything that stings !

      • Similarly, when I was (probably 4), I decided to pump gas at my grandmother’s farm. It was one of those old style pumps. The kids would always get to pump the gas up into the glass canister at the top before my dad would fill up the car before our return trip to the city. Turns out, some hornets had taken up lodging inside the pump, and when I started working the handle, I crushed their nest. The results weren’t fun.

    • I hate bees. They always find a way to sting me. I am grateful for bee keepers. Bless you. You couldn’t pay me enough to do that job.

      • Never been stung by a bee, not once ever, and I spend almost every day outdoors.
        I have had them land on me, fly around my head, harass me, land on the rim of the cup i was drinking from…never a sting. Just do not swat them…and they will not commit suicide by stinging. Has worked for me all these years anyway.
        Wasps are a different story.
        Those things hurr-rr-rr-ttt!
        And they can sting you multiple times and are none the worse for it. Like getting hit by a red hot ice pick swung by a Hulk Hogan roundhouse punch.
        Incredible how fast and how much it gets every bit of your attention.

        Worst bee sting story I ever heard: A guy at a baseball game takes a sip of his beer, unbeknownst to him a bee has landed and walked into the cup. Bee stings him inside his mouth or throat, guy dies horribly while no one can help. Yikes. Ya just never know when your ticket is gonna get punched.

      • My story? Picture sitting next to a picturesque pond on a wildlife refuge next to a good looking guy as dusk falls upon us. The only thing that crawled up my shirt was a bee. And yes, it stung me.

      • Menicholas been sting by both, bees don’t liked being bugged or stepped on, some how bare feet don’t off much protection, hornet or wasp can sting multiple time as one did that got in my sweet shirt sleeve when I was picking June berries, he stung me three time before I got the shirt off, I believe he even survived because all I was concern was getting rid of him. Was either a preteen or a teen when that happen. My arm did swell a bit, fortunately I did not get the reaction from that encounter, as and adult I did get an aliphatic reaction from the Southwestern Fire and that got me a trip to the emergency room with a swelled tongue and hives from head to toe. Southwest fire ant like all ants are though to have descent from wasp and the Fire Ant keep it stinger, many will craw on you and if you make the mistake of crushing one the rest will sting you. the little buggers on on about a millimeter or less long, there sting is not in prppertion to their size, rather be stung by a wasp. During the hot Arizona summer the fire ants are everywhere.

  7. Bees, polar bears, penguins, frogs, moose, walrus, cod, lobster, rodents, birds, salmon, the list is endless. If you want to get published under the guise of science just speculate about AGW and a different wildlife in your paper.

  8. 3,450,000 out of 3,450,000 bees when asked to give a preference said that they thought the new queen looked sexy

    • 3,450,000 out of 3,450,000 bees when asked to give a preference said that they thought the new queen looked sexy

      You just gave all the socialist warmunists reading these comments an orgasm as they dream of a population whose members all think the same and all worship el jefe to the max.

      • You are right. Here is one of their previous literary orgasms:

        “She has a sexy mouth, I think. That slight palatal overbite — it gets to me. She seems expert at marshaling her mouth’s resources, at inspiring its ingenuity. She can fold her lips into an origami of fleeting smiles. Her basic smile is sort of chipmunky and schoolmarmish, but sometimes, when she is pouncing on the possibility of an idea, her lips extend their reach into her cheeks and carve out a wolfish, carnal line, as though nothing could please her more than her own hunger. Her mouth is enigmatic in its capacity for adjustment — it seems both the origin and repository of her secrets. Sure, when she is under duress, it can appear small, pinched, grudging, harsh, unforgiving, and grimly determined — nippy — but when she is at ease, free to discuss, you know, the issues…well, then her mouth becomes the very instrument of her freedom, and her laugh rings the bell of her throat. Her laugh is the sexiest thing about her, in fact; it packs a lewd wallop because it seems to take her by surprise.”

        By Tom Junod, A Story About Hillary Clinton, 2008

    • Every worker bee is female. The males, also called drones, do nothing for the hive except mate with the queen. After that they just hang around until fall when the workers kill them.

    • I’ve got a few Siberian Pea Shrubs. These have yellow flowers and attract a small Bumble Bee. I’ve found the pollen gathering entertaining. Supposedly someone once determined that Bumble Bees ought not to be able to fly. Funny that.
      I’ve seen them “tumble” from blossom to blossom. As they back away from one flower they seem to lose their balance but will right themselves and get to another.
      Here is a YouTube posted by RichardB1983.

      They do not mind my closeness while watching and I’ve done so every year for the past 15 or so.

  9. I had 3 hives belonged to that italian monk beekeeper but I imagine my ex gave them away along with everything else.

  10. A fair number of the non-native European honeybees escaped and lived wild in our woods here in New Hampshire. Some poor folk were good at :”bee-lining”, and finding the hollow tree bees had made into a hive, and cutting the tree down when the weather got cold. (They had to filter the grubs(immature bees) from the pure honey, but it was “free food”.) Then around fifteen years ago the wild population of bees died off. (I have no idea if the population crash was caused by a parasite or a virus, but the local folk blamed “thrips” (whatever that might be) and said it was also effecting the local commercial hives).

    What I noticed in my own life was that bees once were common, among clover and wildflowers in the pasture, but suddenly they all but vanished and were replaced by all sorts of native species. There seemed to be more sorts of bumble bee than I ever knew existed, plus smaller bees, right down to the small type I called “sweat bees” when I was young. I’m fairly certain plants got pollinated, though perhaps some species had an advantage.

    Last summer I noticed a few of the European bees again, so perhaps they are making a come-back.

  11. From December 2013 …

    Wally Thurman of North Carolina State University and PERC talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the world of bees, beekeepers, and the market for pollination. Thurman describes how farmers hire beekeepers to pollinate their crops and how that market keeps improving crop yields and producing honey. Thurman then discusses how beekeepers have responded to Colony Collapse Disorder–a not fully understood phenomenon where colonies disband, dramatically reducing the number of bees. The discussion closes with the history of bee pollination as an example of a reciprocal externality and how Coase’s insight helps understand how the pollination market works.

  12. Help me out here folks.., I thought global warming (GW) was eradicating not only polar bears, penguins, crops, bees; and did I once read about frogs as well, but Greenland was going to melt, the seas would rise, the Great Barrier reef was bleaching, we would never so snow again and yet none of that in any form or manner has occurred because on GW?

    Well what the heck does global warming do then!?

    • “Well what the heck does global warming do then!?”
      It’s principle effect seems to be the ability to infect the mind of certain people of low intellect and knowledge and perfuse them with the belief that the world is about to end and it is all our fault…unless we give them money, in which case the world will still end, but it is all the fault of people who refuse to believe them.

  13. Strange that it shows around a million bees colonies lost between 1989 and 1996. And yet I don’t recall hearing any mass hysteria about bees dying off during that time. I guess there just weren’t so many alarmists in those days. It seems to me that, back then, natural occurrences were rightfully attributed to nature, which is less news worthy than blaming every little thing on CO2 and humans I guess.

    How times have changed….

    • Just Some Guy commented: “…..How times have changed….”

      Yes, it used to be that nature was the enemy and now it is man.

  14. Bees are bred for making money, not honey. I would think queen bee and worker bee breeders are doing very well at present. CCD has been varroa good for beezness.

  15. It is endlessly interesting that of all the bad things alarmists and models predict as consequences of global warming, none have actually been found in the field. With a 100% debunk success rate how much longer can the game continue (code word for “remain funded”)?

  16. @Menicholas
    February 17, 2016 at 7:17 pm; Sorry, Menicholas, but that is just green (and in particular, EU) propaganda. My Plant Pathology colleagues have not found this to be so. Neonicotinoids are not the problem so far as we know. Several very cold winters plus parasites certainly are part of it however.

    • Brett,
      I was just reporting what I had heard and some of what I know from using these insecticides.
      But as others have noted, lots of things seem to have been implicated.
      And as I noted, just about every insecticide is toxic to bees.
      Seems likely that the whole thing was just more alarmism.

  17. Some time ago a friend of mine explained to me how he and other bee keepers/owners solved the bee parasite problem. They introduced slits through which the worker bees had to go through to enter and leave the hive The slits were sized so the bee had to squeeze to pass through and parasite was wiped off the bees’ back when these squeezed thought them.

  18. I’ve never kept Bees but I have kept fish for a decade or more.

    The same problem exists, farming and trading.

    Not only do they help spread disease but also accumulate defects in the creatures by breeding the same stock over and over. Any genetic defects will be retained in the population and they accumulate over time. Eventually you end up with sickly inbred stock that you ship all over the world.

  19. There is much warmist alarm over temperate change for wildlife, but they seldom if EVER admit that almost all have a temperature range they are comfortable with.

    The idiots believe everything is fixed.

    They believe dogs get depressed by GISS’ Global Average Temp.. :D Well, we all do, but not because of temp :D

    • Seems more likely that dogs are depressed by the programming they are exposed to on television. It depresses me. No reason it shouldn’t depress them.

  20. Wouldn’t bother with it unless you want honey. Wild bees take care of most of the pollinating work..leaf cutter, mason and bumble bees. There are about 240 different species of wild bee and they don’t get f*cked up by keepers! Don’t want your beer either.

      • Wild bees are mostly solitary bees so there is no queen as with hive/swarm bees. There are some small companies who rear the bees and sell them as cocoons in the USA and to a minor extent in UK. Some info here:

    • Well, then. It would seem that bees shouldn’t carry cell phones.

      Seriously, cell phone wavelengths are on the order of 30cm or longer. It’s pretty hard to transfer substantial energy to anything much shorter than a quarter wavelength. It’s perhaps possible that cellphones actually do some damage to humans because our cranial cavities are big and the phones are really close to them. Although personally, I think that cell phone addicts were probably always that way and that it’s unlikely they have any brains to damage even if damage were theoretically possible. But bees? Seems pretty unlikely.

  21. Its normal life shht … Bees become subject to a parasite – population drops. Surviving Bees develop defences against the invasion and eventually become immune, parasite jumps ship and goes and bothers something else.

  22. I had an organic mixed farm in the 1970s and 80s – vegetables, oats, corn, hay, dairy cow, about 50 sheep, 300 chickens, dozen pigs, ducks, geese, rabbits and a horse. Although I didn’t have bees, a local beekeeper put some hives near our fence line because he liked the type of farm and I toyed with the idea of bees.

    My neighbor told me few beekeepers winter over their colonies those days (early 80s) because of an epidemic of what he called “foul brood” that wiped out whole colonies (he may have been referring to Canadian beekeepers because it is a comparatively tougher proposition in Canada to winter over bees and losses were high anyway). They simply killed the bees in the fall and bought whole colonies by mail each spring. Presumably, this is still the practice in Canada.

    • AFB (American foul brood) is aptly named. You have to purge it with fire, literally, destroying the colony, hive, and all equipment.

      Buying new nucs every spring is not an economic option. They run at about $250-$300 each and it takes about a year to fully establish the colony to full productiveness. Even in Canada we just overwinter the bees. If they’re well-fed and healthy in the fall, they’ll overwinter fine with the biggest threat being hungry bears coming out of hibernation in the spring.

  23. As a high school student, I captured a couple of honey bee swarms and tended two hives in the back yard. A year later it was time to harvest the honey, so I asked my girl friend if she would like to help. She said she would and she worked alongside my mother, cutting the comb from the frames and collecting the honey. They had to battle several bees that got into the house with the comb, but my girl friend was a great help and a good sport. SOLD We have been married 50 years now.

  24. Honeybees, and any other domestic livestock, have never been threatened. The beekeeping industry has been thriving for thousands of years and shows no sign of weakness. It’s always been a strawman.

    The serious problems are with the native bee populations, and mostly due to diseases introduced through domestic livestock and honey imported from other continents (although there is some evidence the misuse of pesticides may be partially to blame, to which the usual caveats about propaganda from big agra and extreme green apply). Climate change has not really been proposed as a serious contributor to the declining native bee populations because if anything, it would cause populations to rise.

    Full disclosure, I keep honeybees.

  25. “End of a crisis that never was.”

    Colony counts is just one indicator, and in fact says nothing about the health of individual colonies. Also, if the colony mortality rate was 50% per year, and all beekeepers split their remaining hives, then the colony count would stay constant – but nobody would call that a healthy situation.

    Based on a survey of 6,000 beekeepers, representing 15% of all colonies, total annual colony losses were 42% for the year 2014-2015. With the exception of Hawaii at 14%, state mortality figures ranged from 25% to more than 60%. That is far above historical rates of 14%, and above the acceptable rate of 18%. In addition to the cost of replacing colonies, the die offs are reducing genetic diversity.

  26. This isn’t a good article. I’m not writing this as an expert, nor someone who has done any research on the matter. My problem about the article is the guy puts 100% reliance on buying new bees, as if they are some kind of inexhaustible resource that comes out of thin air. Yes, there are lots of bees out there, and yes maybe their populations are improving, but it isn’t because the beekeepers bought more. I’ve got a couple ideas of whats really going on off the top of my head:

    1.) Today there is generally more awareness to the need for limiting use of pesticides and herbicides. Homeowners are likely starting to heed this advice and are limiting the use of products like Seven. More importantly, those products seem to be getting harder to get in the first place, meaning someone with influence over the market has exerted some force to rectify the issue of excessive damaging chemicals. Such a change probably wouldn’t take long to realize benefits.

    2.) You have found a large colony in your house. . . what do you do? You call a company to take care of the problem. 30 years ago they may have just killed the colony: problem solved. Today? They charge you, the homeowner, a fee to remove the bees, then sell them to a beekeeper. Each time that happens it is a colony which didn’t die and was able to pollinate elsewhere. In my 7 years of homeownership I have saved 3 colonies by either calling an expert to remove or simply making them want to move themselves (stick the hose into an in-ground bumblebee hive enough days in a row and they’ll go somewhere else). Think about how many millions of homeowners there are out there who likely did the same thing as myself. In the end it is a massive difference by moving colonies instead of killing them.

    Those two differences likely add up to a lot, but aren’t mentioned in the article. That needs to change.

  27. “(stick the hose into an in-ground bumblebee hive enough days in a row and they’ll go somewhere else)”

    Do not try that with paper wasps. They will surely take it as a declaration of war.

    • @Don: Duly noted. I probably would have called a professional if it were anything other than bumble bees. I’ve had them come out before and it was only $60, which is a small price to pay to not be attacked.

  28. I was a beekeeper for many years. I think the untold story about CCD is that even in areas that have or had Varroa mites, beekeepers had been actively being asked to NOT treat their bees with pesticides by the greens for years. Menthol was an often mentioned homeopathy cure that usually failed.

    Under this pressure, some beekeepers would only treat a hive every other year, or only treat a hive that shows mites. I treated every hive with Apistan strips every year (you hang them in the hive for one week), but was told–wrongly, I think–that my honey products had to be labeled as containing pesticides even if testing indicated no detectable traces.

    It is fine to be protective of natural products, but if the cure is worse than the disease, you have to be willing to re-evaluate your no-pesticide stance. Since beekeepers took a more forceful stance in favor of treating the varroa mites, there have been fewer cases of CCD each year.

  29. For the last ~10 years there has been constantly declining number of wild bees in my backyard flowering plants/shrubs in northeast Massachusetts. Before then, on a calm day, you could easily hear ~dozens of mostly bumble bees busy on every blooming rhododendron I have. Last summer was alarming, I never saw more than a few per plant. While it is a good thing that commercial bee keepers are finding ways to fight back, the problem is definitely not over in these parts.

    During the summer I watched a bumble bee hive that had been formed close to my deck. 20 years ago I would have killed it being so close to the back door, but given their low numbers now I even make it a point to avoid them when mowing the lawn. Eventually the hive died off by itself in August anyway. Before then I noticed many bees were returning to it way later than normal, well into dusk. Even in daylight some would arrive several feet from the entrance, land then crawl around taking a long time to find the entrance. It’s as though they were confused or not seeing very well. I think either condition would also account for the ones not arriving back until it’s nearly dark.

    Have neonicotinoids been ruled out?

  30. I watched a documentary a couple years ago about bee colony collapse. The scientist working for the pesticide company that makes neonics for the agriculture industry came across as honest and full of integrity. His job was to make sure the pesticides were safe for bees. To that end, he and other scientists studied and studied and studied and studied neonics and their effects on bees, and found they were safe. They found that bees carried back a small amount of neonic to the hive, but it was determined, after years and years of study, the amount (in ppm or ppb, i forget), was too small to cause any harm. The “hero activist scientist”, found the minute amount of neonics in the hives as well. That was proof enough for him that neonics were the problem. Thats not science. The pesticide company scientists were right, neonics were not the problem; what pesticide company in their right mind would want to harm bees?

  31. Which federal agency imported the parasite laden bees? And which federal agency imported African bees to South America? And which federal agency ships live anthrax faster than Amazon? see a pattern here

  32. We have had a beehive in northern Vermont for ten years. The first year 70mph straight line winds blew the hive apart in early March killing all of the bees with cold. In following years the bees thrive and then are killed in the years when the bitter cold wipes them out. This happened last year where successive cold snaps prevented them from reaching the food supplies on the outer frames resulting in cluster breakup. In another year an invasion of bees from another hive overran our hive. This year being as warm as it has been they are doing just fine, even with a four-day cold snap of -10 to -20F temperatures last week. We treat for parasites and have not lost any.

  33. There is actual science and there are facts about the problems of commercial bee keeping over the last decade. The problems are not fiction, the problems were and are still serious. The causes of the problem are still in question — there may be multiple, concurrent, or contributory problems.

    AGW was never involved and neither bee keepers nor entomologists thought it was (only activists and the media ever claimed so).

    The fact that commercial beekeepers have managed to keep their industry alive and our crops pollenized despite the problems is a tribute to their technical and business skills.

    There is still a mystery involved with CCD, it is still an ongoing problem.

    It would have been a lot more informative to read a thorough discussion of the subject.

  34. Thanks Antony for keeping an eye on the bees. One day I will have the time to correct some of the missconception I read in your post and on many comments, in the mean time I will love to let know the beekeepers that follows you that Varroa is no longer a problem, Glycerin Monoxalate is the solution. (use the google translation tool, I write in spanish) (english)

  35. In Hawaii we have a small hive beetle epidemic that adds to the Varroa mite problem. Losses wiped me out as a beekeeper. 7 hives 3 years ago, 5 hives 2 years ago, down to 2 hives this year then went on a 6 week vacation to discover both hives had swarmed off due to pests.

  36. Commercial beekeepers rob the hive of winter stores of honey and feed their bees sugar water and other substitutes which leave the bees malnourished. Combined with the commercial insecticides and etc. a loss of 30% or more is to be expected . I haven’t lost a hive in four years (four years of drought).

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