Science/Environment Reporter and Editor
and Investigative Reporter
Premiere Radio Networks
P. O. Box 21843
Albuquerque, New Mexico 87154
> Honey Bee Disappearances Not "Solved" by Virus and Fungi
> © 2010 by Linda Moulton Howe
> "Beekeepers there in North Dakota saw so many dead bees ...
> and we sent some samples into a lab in Florida and they found
> in the honey and the bees and the wax. I mean, that pretty much nails it
> - Daniel F. Mayer, Ph.D., Entomologist
> In Colony Collapse Disorder, honey bees
> either don't return to the hive or are found dead
> around the honey bee colony (above image).
> Bayer v. Beekeepers
> by Katherine Eban, October 8, 2010
> from Fortune.com: "What a scientist didn't tell The New York Times
> about his study on bee deaths"
> As for the Bayer-Bromenshenk connection, in 2003 a group of 13 North
> Dakota beekeepers brought a class-action lawsuit against Bayer, alleging
> that the company's neonicotinoid, Imidacloprid, which had been used in
> nearby fields, was responsible for the loss of more than 60% of their
> hives. "My bees were getting drunk," Chris Charles, a beekeeper in
> Carrington, N.D., and a plaintiff in the lawsuit, told me in 2008. "They
> couldn't walk a white line anymore -- they just hung around outside the
> hive. They couldn't work."
> Charles and the other North Dakota beekeepers hired Bromenshenk as an
> expert witness. Bayer did not dispute that Imidacloprid was found among
> the bees and their hives. The company simply argued that the amount had
> not been enough to kill them.
> As the North Dakota lawsuit moved forward, an expert witness for the
> beekeepers, Dr. Daniel Mayer, a now retired bee expert from Washington
> State University, traveled to 17 different bee yards in North Dakota and
> observed dead bees and bees in the throes of what looked like
> Imidacloprid poisoning, he told me in 2008. He theorized that after
> foraging in planted fields where the seeds had been treated with
> Imidacloprid, the bees then brought the pesticide back to the hive,
> where it built up in the wax combs.
> October 28, 2010 Hamilton, Montana and Gainesville, Florida - Nearly
> four years ago on February 23, 2007, I produced my first Earthfiles
> report about the alarming disappearance of honey bees [Archived 022307
> Between the Fall of 2006 and spring of 2007, twenty-two American states
> reported honey bee disappearances of 60% to 100% of their bee colonies.
> Pennsylvania beekeeper Dave Hackenberg lost 60% of his colonies and told
> me in an interview that he and other beekeepers thought the culprits
> were systemic nicotine-based insecticides getting into crops that
> flower, contaminating the pollen on which honey bees forage. That was
> the first time I heard about new nicotine-based pesticides such as
> Gaucho (another Bayer-registered product name for Imidacloprid) that are
> applied to seeds to work systemically, persisting in plants as the
> stems, leaves, flowers, pollens and nectars grow.
> In other words, right from the Fall 2006 beginning of Colony Collapse
> Disorder (CCD), beekeepers suspected nicotine-based insecticides.
> Who makes Imidacloprid/Gaucho?
> Bayer CropScience of Germany.
> So, what was behind the October 6, 2010, New York Times headline
> "Scientists and Soldiers Solve A Bee Mystery" ?
> The news was a research article that postulated a DNA-based Iridovirus
> combined with a Nosema ceranae fungi were killing honey bees collected
> from Colony Collapse Disorder research. The main scientist is Jerry
> Bromenshenk, Ph.D., owner of Bee Alert Technology, Inc., in Missoula,
> Montana. He collaborated with the U. S. Army Edgewood Chemical
> Biological Center, Aberdeen Proving Ground and others.
> But the word "solved" in the New York Times headline puzzled
> other bee scientists who knew that viruses and fungi had already been
> found in large quantities in the guts of dead honey bees back in 2007
> lab investigations. That's when bee researchers concluded the
> viruses and fungi were opportunists taking advantage of damaged honey
> bee immune systems. The unanswered questions were and still are: What
> is suppressing honey bee immune systems so much? And why do so many
> honey bees apparently die in the fields and not return to their hives?
> Two days after the New York Times article, Fortune.com followed up on
> October 8, 2010, with another headline: "What a scientist didn't
> tell the New York Times about his study on bee deaths."
> The allegation by reporter-writer Katherine Eban was that Dr. Jerry
> Bromenshenk of Bee Alert was funded by Bayer in Germany to look at
> disease. Eban quoted others who implied Bayer's intent is to keep
> scientists from studying its largest-selling insecticide on Earth:
> What is Imidacloprid?
> Imidacloprid is a "Nicotine Acetylcholine receptor
> agonist/antagonist" that lab tests have confirmed will interfere
> with nerve impulse transmissions in insects, including honey bees. That
> means the affected insects die when their body functions won't work.
> Source: Bayer CropScience.
> Imidacloprid is a systemic insecticide that moves from treated seeds
> into the stems, leaves, flowers, pollen, nectar and fruits of growing
> plants. That means the entire treated crop becomes toxic to many
> insects. Since the first use of Imidacloprid in France in 1994 on
> sunflowers, French beekeepers reported what they called "mad bee
> disease" where bees were trembling, disoriented and died.
> By 1999, France banned Imidacloprid/Gaucho from use on sunflowers and
> corn – two Bayer CropScience-produced, nicotine-based insecticides.
> Italy followed with bans as well. But in the last year or two, some bans
> have been rescinded under commercial pressures.
> But farmer concerns were not confined to France and Italy. Very
> disturbing in 2003 were reports from North Dakota beekeeper that 60% of
> their honey bee colonies died after Gaucho/Imidacloprid had been applied
> to their canola crops - similar to the French and Italian beekeeper
> complaints. One scientist who followed up to help the North Dakota
> canola farmers was Daniel F. Mayer, Ph.D. Dr. Mayer spent thirty-five
> years working as a research and extension entomologist for Washington
> State University in Pullman, Washington, and is co-author of a 2000 book
> entitled Crop Pollination by Bees. After traveling several times to 17
> different bee yards in North Dakota and seeing dead bees and bees that
> trembled and moved erratically in what looked like Imidacloprid
> poisoning, Dr. Mayer took samples from the canola plants and the damaged
> honey bee colonies, Dr. Mayer found Gaucho/Imidacloprid in flowers,
> pollens, wax, bees, and the "honey supers" used to collect honey
> in commercial beehives - all at surprising levels in the second year
> after the first application of the nicotine-based insecticide.
> That's when Dr. Mayer joined thirteen North Dakota beekeepers, led by
> Carrington, North Dakota, beekeeper Chris Charles, in a class action
> lawsuit against Bayer CropScience in Germany. But strangely, the federal
> court judge in Washington, D. C., who watched over three years of
> depositions, testimonies and all, suddenly decided that Dr. Mayer was
> not an "expert" and the case was dismissed. Many wondered who
> Bayer paid off that time.
> Daniel F. Mayer, Ph.D., Retired Research and Extension Entomologist,
> Washington State University (Pullman, WA), and co-author Crop
> Pollination by Bees, © 2000, Hamilton, Montana: "Beekeepers
> there in North Dakota saw so many dead bees. So I went out there in 2003
> and examined the colonies. I went out there three times to seventeen
> different bee yards and we sent some samples into a lab in Florida. That
> lab found Imidacloprid in the honey and the bees and the wax and the
> honey super. I mean, that pretty much nails it down.
> IMIDACLOPRID IS ONE OF THE NICOTINE-BASED PESTICIDES THAT BAYER MAKES.
> Right. And Gaucho (another name for an Imidacloprid product) was being
> sold as a seed treatment for canola. And in that part of North Dakota,
> lots of acreage of canola were being treated, so the bees were pretty
> much confined to foraging on Imidacloprid-treated canola.
> What our tests showed was that the bees would forage on this (canola)
> crop and then Imidacloprid would build up in the super (honey super)
> – there's honey and pollen still in there.
> [ Editor's Note: Wikipedia - Honey supers.
> Comb honey supers ready to go for a colony.
> Image © 2010 by Honeyflow Farm.
> A honey super is a part of a commercial beehive that is used to collect
> honey. The most common variety of honey supers may contain 8-10 frames.
> Western honeybees collect nectar and store the processed nectar in the
> honeycomb of the frames. When the honeycomb is full, the bees will cap
> the comb with beeswax. Beekeepers will take the full honey supers and
> extract the honey. Honey supers are removed in the fall when the honey
> is extracted and before the hive is winterized.]
> Then the second year, when you put that (honey) super back in the honey
> bee colony, there was still enough Imidacloprid in there to affect the
> colony and cause colony decline and the colony would not make any honey
> and it would die. They were losing up to 60% of the colony – the
> beekeepers there in North Dakota.
> AND THAT WAS 2003.
> [ Editor's Note: 2003 was nearly four years before the first
> Pennsylvania beekeeper, Dave Hackenberg, reported to the Univ. of
> Pennsylvania that in the fall-winter of 2006-2007, he lost up to 60% of
> his bees in the mysterious syndrome now called Colony Collapse Disorder,
> CCD. ]
> IF I UNDERSTAND CORRECTLY, WHAT YOU WERE FINDING IS THAT THERE WAS A
> YEAR-TO-YEAR BUILD UP OF THE NICOTINE-BASED PESTICIDE SO THAT IT MIGHT
> NOT HAVE HURT THE BEES IN ONE APPLICATION THE FIRST YEAR, BUT THAT IT
> DOES TEND TO BUILD UP AND THIS (Imidacloprid) MIGHT BE WHAT WAS UNDOING
> THE BEES AND CAUSING ALL THE DISAPPEARANCES?
> Yes, it was causing it in my mind, my opinion.
> WHAT IS THAT RISK TO THE BEES AND PPOLLINATORS? WHAT HAPPENS IN THE
> PRESENCE OF NICOTINE-BASED PESTICIDES?
> Well, if the bees get enough, at a certain level it's going to cause
> harm to the individual bee and to the colony, and if enough Imidacloprid
> gets into the colony, it's going to kill the colony.
> IMIDACLOPRID CAUSES DISORIENTATION IN THE BEE BRAIN?
> CAN YOU DESCRIBE WHAT YOU HAVE SEEN WITH YOUR OWN EYES?
> A bee that is being affected by such a pesticide – it kind of
> trembles, it flips around, it's acting very abnormally. And it's
> kind of like a drunk twitching and moving around erratically. Sometimes
> it is unable to fly or crawl - like typical symptoms of bee poisoning.
> SO IF BEES ARE OUT FORAGING ON CANOLA OR ANOTHER FLOWERING CROP TREATED
> WITH A NICOTINE-BASED PESTICIDE, THE BEES ARE GOING TO INTAKE THAT
> NICOTINE-BASED PESTICIDE THAT WILL CAUSE THE BEES DISORIENTATION TO THE
> POINT THAT THEY PROBABLY CAN'T RETURN TO THE HIVE?
> Yeah, there will be some of that and they just die out in the field.
> Federal Judge "Threw Out"
> North Dakota Class Action Lawsuit
> SO WHAT HAPPENED NEXT (IN NORTH DAKOTA CLASS ACTION LAWSUIT)?
> Eventually there were depositions and all that and the case went to
> court in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and went in front of a judge
> (where) Bayer said I was not a qualified expert. So the judge threw the
> whole thing out saying I was not a qualified expert when it comes to
> pesticides on bees.
> BUT YOU ARE AN ENTOMOLOGIST BY PH.D. FOR YEARS AND YOU HAD BEEN WORKING
> IN EXTENSION AND GOING OUT AND STUDYING WHAT WAS HAPPENING TO THE HONEY
> BEES IN NORTH DAKOTA.
> And for thirty-five years, I worked on the issue of pesticide toxicity
> to bees. But the federal judge threw it out. And now in 2009, when they
> came up for Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) review, Bayer still
> had not done any tests to see if there was Imidacloprid in the flowers
> after the nicotine-based pesticide seed treatment.
> Original Bayer Gaucho Label Warned
> Some Insects Could Be Harmed "During Bloom"
> You know, what is really puzzling to me is on the original label for
> Gaucho, it clearly stated when it first came out that this material is
> good for suppression of Lygus bugs and Cabbage Seedpod Weevil during
> bloom. Now, that proves to me that Bayer knew the insecticide was
> getting into the bloom and honey bees forage on the blooming flowers!
> Honey bee foraging on yellow, blooming canola flower.
> Image © Nature Amateur Photography.
> Later on there was communication from Bayer – `Oh, we don't
> know where this statement came from – it's not true.'
> Well, then why did Bayer put it on their label?
> I AM GETTING THE DISTINCT IMPRESSION THAT BAYER IS TRYING TO BUY ITS
> INNOCENCE IN COLONY COLLAPSE DISORDER BY FUNDING RESEARCH THAT WILL LOOK
> AT EVERY OTHER POSSIBLE CULPRIT EXCEPT NICOTINE-BASED PESTICIDES.
> That's probably a pretty good guess. Bayer is huge! I mean, it's
> all over the world – pesticides, pharmaceuticals, everything! Bayer
> has a lot of money and Imidacloprid has made a lot of money for them and
> so it is in their best interest to do just about anything to keep it on
> the market.
> As long as they are using the nicotines, there are going to be problems
> with pollinators when it is applied to a crop where bees are going to
> forage. But if you take Imidacloprid and spray it on pine trees,
> there's going to be no effect on pollinators because there is no
> But as long as it is used around blooms, especially as a soil treatment
> or as a seed treatment like Gaucho/Imidacloprid, there's going to be
> problems with killing bees."
> Another Bee Expert Comments About
> NYT Headline Announcing CCD "Solved"
> Back to The New York Times's surprising headline about Dr. Jerry
> Bromenshenk of Bee Alert Technology and the U. S. Army "solving"
> Colony Collapse Disorder as a one-two punch by Iridovirus and Nosema
> fungi. I also asked long-time apiary researcher Jerry Hayes for comment.
> Mr. Hayes is Assistant Chief, Bureau of Plant and Apiary Inspection in
> the Apiary Inspection Section of the Florida Department of Agriculture
> in Gainesville, Florida.
> Jerry Hayes, Asst. Chief, Bureau of Plant and Apiary Inspection, Apiary
> Inspection Section, Division of Plant Industry, Florida Dept. of
> Agriculture, Gainesville, Florida: "Certainly Jerry
> (Bromenshenk)'s research is interesting. Is it the Holy Grail of
> anything? No, it certainly isn't. If you read his paper, he's
> not saying it is the cause of CCD, but it could be a possible marker
> for colony health issues.
> DON'T YOU THINK IT IS PECULIAR THAT THE NEW YORK TIMES WOULD HAVE A
> HEADLINE, `SCIENTIST AND SOLDIERS SOLVE A BEE MYSTERY'?
> That's the media for you, Linda.
> BUT IT IS AS IF DR. BROMENSHENK AND THE NEW YORK TIMES REPORTER JOHNSON
> HAD AGREED TO DO A STORY ABOUT BROMENSHENK AND THE ARMY SOLVING COLONY
> COLLAPSE DISORDER, WHEN IN FACT THAT IS HIGHLY MISLEADING AND THE
> HEADLINE IS WRONG.
> I would agree with you.
> NOTHING HAS BEEN SOLVED IN COLONY COLLAPSE DISORDER?
> No. The only thing that Bromenshenk was pointing out was that he found
> more of this Iridovirus than perhaps other people. It has been found, I
> think, in 2009, but he was putting a correlation together between that
> and Nosema. Viruses and Nosema are markers for colony health problems.
> BUT HOW DO WE TRUST ANY CONTRADICTORY REPORTS ANYMORE WHEN BAYER IS
> PAYING SCIENCE TO COME UP WITH OTHER ALTERNATIVES TO EXPLAIN COLONY
> COLLAPSE DISORDER? EVEN DR. BROMENSHENK HIMSELF SAYS THE BIG PROBLEM IS
> THAT NO ONE CAN TRUST WHAT BAYER IS SAYING ANYMORE.
> Yeah, I certainly have my concerns about not only Big Government, but
> Big Private Industry and Chemical Companies. We should all be more
> knowledgeable about what we do, how we do it and who is doing it to us?
> Future of Honey Bee Industry?
> WHAT IS YOUR BOTTOM LINE RIGHT NOW ABOUT THE FUTURE OF THE HONEY BEE
> I think it's teetering - possibly frightening, but the bigger
> question is: What we can do to mitigate this?
> WHAT YOU MEAN IS THAT HONEY BEES AND POLLINATOR HEALTH CONTINUE TO
> WORSEN AND THESE HIGH DECLINES OF 30% TO 35% A YEAR ARE NOT GOING AWAY.
> HONEY BEE AND POLLINATOR HEALTH IS WEAK, SO WHAT THAT BODES FOR THE
> FUTURE IS STILL UNKNOWN?
> Yes, is still unknown! And because this is being impacted by lots of
> negative things, we are a big animal and should we be paying attention
> to these things that are happening to a small animal? And what meaning
> does it have for our survivability, sustainability and our culture?
> I don't mean that pesticides are not negative influences on honey bees
> or anything else. Dr. Jamie Ellis at the University of Florida has done
> some pesticide work and shows that pesticides do negatively affect the
> gut lining of honey bees. You know, we've talked about this in the
> past, Linda – are honey bees the canary in the coal mine?"
> Humble Bees Faster Problem
> Solvers Than Supercomputers
> On October 25, 2010, bee researchers at Queen Mary University of London
> reported that bee brains solve complex problems faster than
> supercomputers. Professors Lars Chittka and Mathieu Lihoreau point out:
> "There is a common perception that smaller brains constrain animals
> to be simple reflex machines. But in nature, bees have to link hundreds
> of flowers in a way that minimizes travel distance, and then reliably
> find their way home. ... such problems keep supercomputers busy for
> days. Studying how bee brains solve such challenging tasks might allow
> us to identify the minimal neural circuitry required for complex problem
> More Information:
> ISIS Report September 6, 2008. Click here to ISIS.
> Emergency Pesticide Ban for Saving the Honeybee
> Prof. Joe Cummins' warning against neonicotinoid pesticides in the
> killing of honeybees was dramatically confirmed, resulting in swift
> action on the part of the German Government.
> The German Federal Office of Consumer Protection and Food Safety (BVL)
> suspended the registration of eight neonicotinoid pesticide seed
> treatment products used in oilseed rape and sweetcorn. a few weeks after
> honeybee keepers in the southern state of Baden Württemberg reported
> a wave of honeybee deaths linked to one of the pesticides, clothianidin.
> 'It's a real bee emergency,' said Manfred Hderer, President of the
> German Professional Beekeepers' Association to The Guardian. '50% to 60%
> of the bees have died on average and some beekeepers have lost all their
> hives.' The incriminating evidence was so convincing that a press
> release from the Julius Kuehn Institute (JKI), the German federal
> agricultural research agency, stated: 'It can unequivocally be concluded
> that a poisoning of the bees is due to the rub-off of the pesticide
> ingredient clothianidin from the corn seeds.' Tests on dead bees showed
> that 99% had a build-up of clothianidin sold in Europe under the trade
> name Poncho and produced by Bayer CropScience, approved for use in
> Germany in 2004, and with some restrictions in the United States in
> Press Release, September 19, 2008
> Coalition Against Bayer Dangers (Germany)
> Italy bans Pesticides linked to Bee Devastation
> Neonicotinoids now suspended in four European countries
> The Italian government banned the use of several neonicotinoid
> pesticides that are blamed for the deaths of millions of honeybees. The
> Ministero del Lavoro della Salute e delle Politiche Sociali issued an
> immediate suspension of the seed treatment products clothianidin
> (Poncho), imidacloprid (Gaucho), fipronil and thiamethoxam used in
> rapeseed oil, sunflowers and sweetcorn.
> Italy followed Germany and Slovenia which banned sales of clothianidin
> and imidacloprid in May. In France imidacloprid has been banned on
> sunflowers already since 1999. In 2003 the substance was also banned as
> a sweetcorn treatment. Bayer´s application for clothianidin was
> rejected by French authorities.
> The two substances, imidacloprid and clothianidin, are produced by the
> German company Bayer CropScience and generated more than $1 billion in
> 2007. Imidacloprid is Bayer´s best-selling pesticide.
> For further reports about honey bee Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD),
> please see other Earthfiles reports below in the Earthfiles Archive
> • 07/28/2010 — Bee Expert Says Cell Phones Are Not Cause of
> Honey Bee Collapse
> • 05/05/2010 — Updated: U. S. Honey Bee Industry Struggles with
> 34% Colonies Loss
> • 02/18/2010 — U. S. Honey Bee Deaths Increase Again
> • 11/20/2009 — Red List of Earth Life Facing Extinction Keeps
> • 03/30/2009 — European Honey Bee Decline Continues While
> Aggressive Africanized Honey Bees Attack in Southern U. S.
> • 09/26/2008 — NRDC Sues EPA for Honey Bee Lab Data and EPA
> Approves Another Bee-Killing Pesticide
> • 08/31/2008 — Honey Bees Not Healthy in U. S. or U. K.
> • 04/10/2008 — Honey Bee Collapse Now Worse on West Coast
> • 10/13/2007 — Now Bumblebees Are Disappearing, Too.
> • 09/26/2007 — North American Honey Bees Still Weak
> • 09/07/2007 — Honey Bee DNA Study Finds Australian Virus in
> Colony Collapse Disorder
> • 06/28/2007 — Hackenberg Apiary, Pennsylvania - 75-80% Honey
> Bee Loss in 2007. What Happens If Colony Collapse Disorder Returns?
> • 05/04/2007 — Environmental Emergency Updates: Part 1 -
> Spreading Honey Bee Disappearances - Nosema ceranae Not the Answer?
> • 04/06/2007 — Collapse of Honey Bees in U. S., Canada and 9
> European Countries
> • 03/17/2007 — Honey Bee Disappearances Continue: Could
> Pesticides Play A Role?
> • 02/23/2007 — Part 1: Earth Life Threats - Alarming
> Disappearance of Honey Bees
> Fortune.com, October 8, 2010: "What a scientist didn't tell The New
> York Times about his study on bee deaths," by Katherine Eban:
> CBD Press release: Imidacloprid: Long-term risks undervalued, August
> 2, 2010:
> Coalition Against Bayer Dangers (CBD) Press Releases, 1990 - 2010:
> Understanding the Science: the Impact of Imidacloprid On Bees:
> Metro Atlanta Beekeepers Association about Imidacloprid:
> "Mysterious Honey Bee Disorder Buzzes into Court," August 19, 2008:
> "How to Reduce Bee Poisoning from Pesticides" © 1999 by D. F. Mayer,
> Ph.D.: http://cru.cahe.wsu.edu/CEPublications/pnw0518/pnw0518.pdf
> Copyright © 1999 - 2010 by Linda Moulton Howe.
> All Rights Reserved.