Colony Collapse Disorder: USDA Report Devastating Losses

“Colonies Lost with Colony Collapse Disorder Symptoms with Five or More Colonies – United States: 2019 and 2020
[Loss reported that met all of the following criteria: 1) Little to no build-up of dead bees in the hive or at the hive entrance 2) Rapid loss of adult honey bee population despite the presence of queen, capped brood, and food reserves 3) Absence or delayed robbing of the food reserves 4) Loss not attributable to varroa or nosema loads. Blank cells indicate estimation period has not yet begun]”

Here is the link to the USDA report.

As you can see, the losses for the first quarter of this year are 105,240, compared to 59,940 for the first quarter of 2019.

Varroa mites and nosema virus are excluded from the figures, so what does that leave?

The culprits often cited are Neonicotinoids. They are banned in the European Union.

Here’s a reprint of what I wrote on No More Pencils about Neonicotinoids.

Allegiance And Colony Collapse Disorder

I get a Google alert for ‘colony collapse disorder’ and today I got these two alerts:

18-Year Study Links Neonicotinoids to Bee Colony Decline
Discover Magazine (blog)
… Harvard environmental scientist, was also hit with a wave of criticism after he published a study in 2014 “definitively” linking colony collapse disorder …

and

Honey Bees Healthy, Taxpayers Stung
The New American
The problem is a syndrome first identified in 2006 and dubbed Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). It’s characterized not by a hive full of dead bees, but …

The ’18-Year Study’ Article

The article in Discover Magazine cited in the first item links to the main article in Nature Communications and it’s a study of wild bee populations in the UK over an eighteen-year period.

I believe the results of the study were on the BBC news a couple of nights ago.

The crux of the study is that neonicotinoid pesticides affect bee health. I have been writing about this for several years.

Know Your Sources

Do you know what I do first when I see an article arguing one way or another over CCD and the role that this or that agent plays in the decline?

I look at who did the study. 

The authors are Ben Woodcock, Nicholas Isaac, James Bullock, David Roy, David Garthwaite, Andrew Crowe, and Richard Pywell

Under one of the sub-pages of affiliations and competing financial interests it mentions that
Richard Pywell, James Bullock, and Ben Woodcock are

…currently funded by Syngenta and Bayer CropScience to perform a large-scale field study investigating the impacts of neonicotinoid insecticides on honeybees. This research presented in this paper was not funded by either company, nor were they consulted about this analysis and interpretation.

This may be a terrific scientific paper, but knowing that the authors are funded by the very firms that make and market the insecticides, how far do I trust this scientific paper?

Knowing that Syngenta is involved in funding, how can I trust this paper?

It was Syngenta that got the UK Government to allow continued use of neonicotinoid pesticides against the European Union Food Standards Agency’s European-wide ban on neonicotinoid pesticides.

I have to wonder whether the paper has been set up as a stalking horse to conceal the authors’ real intentions.

I have to wonder whether at some point in the future the results will be exposed as falsified or erroneous and cast doubt on all the good work done on CCD and crop sprays.

I am not saying that’s what the authors have done. I am saying that when the money and the allegiances are tugging in two directions, then I have to wonder how far I can trust the results.

OK, it’s a long shot: Who would set up an argument to prove neonicotinoid pesticides are bad with the intention of later proving the argument wrong? Probably no one.

But I still wonder, and it’s a crying shame because this paper supports the argument that pesticides damage bees.

The ‘Taxpayers Stung’ Article

OK, on to the second item in the Google alert and an article in New American. Skimming a few articles tells me where the site is coming from. And the article follows form in that in basically says that the Obama Administration has taken money out of the pockets of the general population to no effect.

It has done so to fund a useless program to combat CCD. It’s a useless program, says the article, because bees are healthy and anyway, keepers simply buy in new bees when they need them.

It’s a flat out lie about bee health, but someone will read the article and form an opinion and never read anything else.

It’s A Crying Shame

Now that we are capable of turning this planet into a dustbowl, it is a crying shame that even precious things can be politicised and twisted for profit.

As I have commented before, when a bee forages and finds plants with a good amount of nectar, it goes back to the hive and does a dance. Several foraging bees come back and dance. The dance describes the direction of the plants, the distance, and the amount of nectar. The other bees look at the dancing bees and see who is dancing the most enthusiastically. That’s the bee they follow.

Look at the bees – they act for the benefit of the community. They do not lie. They do not send everyone off in the wrong direction for some ulterior motive. What a lovely example. And how do they get repaid – we zap them with spray.

Sometimes I think the real motive of some people is not profit but jealousy. Maybe they couldn’t get over how they weren’t the favourite in the playground at school. Maybe they are just rubbish people. And now they want to spoil the party for everyone.

27 thoughts on “Colony Collapse Disorder: USDA Report Devastating Losses

    1. Yes, you’d think they would, and it’s a mystery to me why the US doesn’t ban it. Britain banned it in line with the EU but the UK Department For Environment, Food & Rural Affairs allowed exemptions in some circumstances. Now that the UK had left the EU and it is in the transition period, we wait to see what happens.

      What’s the situation in Israel? Are neonicotinoids banned or allowed?

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  1. So incredibly tired of being forced to look at everything as if it’s total BS until proven otherwise… Oh wait, there’s ‘no proof’ because, as GranMa used to say, “He who pays the piper calls the tune.”
    Why is it we managed to banish DDT when it threatened bird populations decades ago; but now, when Europe can ban NeoNics but North America seems paralysed and we’re being faced with the exact same tactics as those used by Cigarette Manufacturers decades ago?
    Neonicotinoids are a far, FAR worse problem than DDT and are affecting millions of different species; so not only Honey Bees, but Pollinators of all sorts, as well as the insect-eating animals who depend on them as a food source. NeoNics are systemic neurotoxic insecticides and develop in every part of the plant as it grows – from root to stem to leaf to flower, nectar, pollen and seed. This is much bigger problem than ‘losing a few bees’. Sadly, no one’s looking. Oh wait, and also on your Nursery plants, your Flea & Tick protected pets and on, and on…
    We need to become educated on the complexities of this subject and quickly.

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    1. Yes, how clever we humans are at making toxic brews that can last and last. The dangers that existed in the 1960s when Rachel Carson wrote about the unseen dangers of pesticides are a pale shadow of the damage that is being done today – and no one now can hide behind the claim that they ‘don’t know’.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. Eight years after this article was written and things have only gotten worse. To become informed about why weather is changing is to become a target of vilification – even as predictions come to pass. This news piece written yesterday, Friday 7th August 2020 about the Milne Ice Shelf on Ellesmere Island in Tuvaijuittuq – a marine protected area – which means “the place where the ice never melts” in Inuktitut: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/north/melted-ice-caps-collapsed-milne-shelf-nunavut-canada-arctic-1.5678802

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  2. NeoNicotinoids are neurotoxic insecticides and thus attack the nervous system of insects in order to kill them and, while Honey Bees (or Pollinators of any sort) are not the intended ‘target insects’ of these insecticides, they are particularly susceptible to their effects.
    Everything about Colony Collapse Syndrome screams of neurological failure: from Forager Bees who simply ‘disappear’ and fail to return to the hive – with their internal navigation short-circuited, they cannot find their way home; Queens left unattended – unfed and starving in a hive full of honey – one of the most important jobs in the hive; Queens whose normally regimental egg-laying patterns become spotty and erratic; Nurse Bees who wander about aimlessly, no longer performing their duties of caring for the uncapped brood – and, in a hive under normal circumstances, NOTHING will cause Nurse Bees to abandon their charges!
    NeoNicotinoids are Systemic Insecticides, which means – when used as a seed coating for instance – that, as each seed grows, every part of that plant contains the insecticide: from sprouted root, to stem, to leaf; to flower, pollen & nectar and eventually the actual fruit (the seed) which that plant produces…
    NeoNicotinoids are lipophilic, so – along with the contaminated nectar and pollen – are stored (and accumulated!) in the body fat of the bees and wax of the hive.
    I shall let you draw your own conclusions.

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    1. Deb, I have been monitoring CCD since 2012, and am saddened to read spurious articles still appearing that supposedly countering the claim that neonicotinoids are a prime cause and that try to lay the blame on varroa mites and nosema disease. Studies have shown a cocktail of upwards of 25 chemicals in bees, each adding their own toxicity to the picture.

      As Tamara says of the people who run companies that produce these chemicals, what planet do these people live on that they think they can hide from the consequences?

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      1. Honey Bee diseases & pests like Nosema and Varroa are not ‘new’ and yet have never been as deleterious as they are now when ‘under the influence’ of NeoNics… Also, testing was done in warmer climates and not where Winter has bees sheltering inside for months at a time; also more of a ‘how much is a single, lethal dose’ approach, rather than measuring the results of long-term exposures to lower levels, the results of which are much worse over time.
        Greed is such a poor excuse for ignorance and stupidity.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. The greatest harm has come from Industry being allowed to police themselves and Government blindly accepting their test results – as they no longer have (having efficiently ‘saved money on’) the Scientific Staff & Laboratories to independently test those claims for themselves. I would also love the ability to know the source of all donations to Political Parties.
          Re the difference between Canada and the US, not nearly far enough apart in all of this.

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        2. We have an obesity problem in this country – both adults and children. It takes money to be able to eat healthfully, so Government has a role in levelling the choice by subsidising healthy food and taxing those cheap foods containing hidden fats and sugars. Failing to do so places the burden on the National Health Service. Better a fence around the roof than an ambulance on the street. But successive governments have failed to incentivise properly to save lives. What can I put this down to other than lobbying, lobbying that is against the public interest?

          Liked by 1 person

        3. Re the ‘fence on the roof’ to me it would be better to find out why someone needs to end it – “an ounce of Prevention being worth a Pound of Cure”. Also fairly certain that the ‘Obesity Problem’ is global and I’d bet that it’s linked to the liver’s way of dealing with novel compositions like PCBs, NeoNics and Glyphosate…

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        4. I think a fundamental process in life is to expand one’s interior universe – to be less closed, less tied to the carrot dangling in front like a beast following its nose. It is a hard lesson for some people when they are apparently successful and king/queen of the hill, yes?

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        5. The Golden Rule – do unto others as you would have done unto you’ / ‘love thy neighbour as thy self’ – is written over and over in different languages around the globe; it is The Rule of Humanity and the basis for our specie’s success. When we fail to follow that advice, it is Life that pays the price.

          Liked by 1 person

        6. Oh, and we haven’t even mentioned the effects on the Monarch Butterfly and other Migrating Species which must ALL travel through the United States to reach their overwintering grounds in Mexico and beyond…

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        7. I sat once on a hill overlooking a river, eating and watching butterflies coming up the hill and over my head. This is an extract of what I wrote

          “When I landed a little further up the river, I was the only person there. I must have intended that as my destination, I didn’t just land without knowing that I had somewhere to sleep. But I don’t recall why I aimed for that particular place. So there I was. I made a fire and cooked porridge. Then I went out and sat on the hillside eating and looking down at the sweep of the river.

          Butterflies started to come up the hill in a broad swathe, over my head. They weren’t just milling around. They were heading somewhere and they kept on coming.

          At some point I went back to the pan on the fire to put more porridge on my plate. Then I wandered back and sat on the hill. And the butterflies kept on coming.

          There are a lot of butterflies in South America. So perhaps I was a little bit immune to seeing them. For example, the wire grill over a bus window would be covered in butterflies that had impacted it. At every puddle in a muddy road, the surface of the water would be covered in butterflies. Often they would be big yellow ones nearly as wide as the palm of your hand.

          But the sheer number of butterflies coming up the hill finally finally impinged into my consciousness. So I made a rough calculation as I sat there. I did a rough count of how many butterflies I could see at one time. And I estimated how long I had been there, including when I went to get more porridge.

          Bottom line, I estimate that more than ten thousand butterflies flew over my head.”

          Liked by 1 person

      2. And yes, what else happens when combined with all of these other (25+) chemicals? The combinations and permutations are infinitesimal, their results impossible to predict (other than none of it being good for Life overall… )

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        1. Unpredictable yes. A team of biologists carried out autopsies on various large animals. We watch the series on UK television. The autopsy of a polar bear was carried out ‘on location’ in Svalbard in the north of Norway. The polar bear’s organs were contaminated with PCBs. The source of the PCBs was India, where people burn off plastics to recover the rare earth metals in computers. The PCBs travel in the air around the world and end up in wildlife in ‘pristine’ northern Norway. It is enough to make a person spit. Or cry.

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