German Bee Populations Collapse

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Topic by Bob posted 09-11-2009 07:17 AM 2082 views 0 times favorited 4 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1429 posts in 3620 days
hardiness zone 3b

09-11-2009 07:17 AM

Topic tags/keywords: resource bees population decline variola parasites pesticides

Bees are key pollinators Bee colonies have begun dying off in alarming numbers all around the world. The collapse of bee populations has multiple causes, none of which have easy remedies, a German biology professor has warned.
Some German apiarists lost their entire stock of bees over the past winter.

“It’s almost a natural disaster,” Juergen Tautz of the University of Wuerzburg, said Wednesday.

Tautz warned that bee populations are dwindling dramatically, with the losses averaging more than 30 percent despite the mild winter. Normally, a winter kills about 10 percent of swarms in Germany, Tautz said.

The direct cause of most bee deaths in Germany has been the parasitic varroa mite. The indirect causes for the bees’ lack of immunity to parasites and other illnesses is varied, Tautz said.
He sited breeding programs that create docile bees and modern farming methods of hurting populations.

“Nowadays it only takes one tenth as many mites to wipe out a swarm as it took a decade ago,” he said.

France abuzz with worry

It’s not only Germany that is worried.

In the United States, a full 36 percent of commercially managed hives were lost since last year, according to a recent survey by the Apiary Inspectors of America. The varroa mite, pesticide drift and new diseases are thought to have led to the collapse there, which endangered the country’s agricultural industries that rely on bees as pollinators.
In France, beekeepers are watching their worker drones disappear by the tens of millions. In 2005, two pesticides suspected of killing off bees were banned in France. Beekeepers were optimistic that the decade-long decline in honey harvests would end.

Bees have become more docile and susceptible to disease

While the ban seemed to stabilize populations, end-of-winter mortality rates shot up again in 2008, with up to 60 percent of hives missing in action, according to the news agency AFP.

“We don’t know what is going on, and we are calling everything into question,” beekeeper and honey producer Franck Aletru, whose 2200 hives are in the Vendee region in western France told AFP earlier this year.

Worries have extended across Europe, where 30 percent of bee species are threatened by a combination of factors.

No easy solutions

One of the problems is that breeding programs have created docile, weak bees, Tautz said. Furthermore, modern farming methods have included practices harmful to bees.

The bees cannot cope with the greater use of insecticides and monoculture has eliminated variety in their diets, Tautz said.

“The bees’ imbalanced diet makes them weak and susceptible to illness,” he said.,,3335896,00.html

-- I want to believe in a lot of things but, in the meantime I have to deal with the truth

View sharad's profile


1671 posts in 3089 days
hardiness zone 11

09-11-2009 07:45 AM

This is a matter of great concern. We must reduce the use of pesticides to the minimum and go organic. More funds should be allocated to research on alternative methods to pesticides and deforestation must be strictly controled.

-- Bagwan-- “If someone feels that they had never made a mistake in their life, then it means they have never tried a new thing in their life”.-Albert Einstein

View Bob's profile


1429 posts in 3620 days
hardiness zone 3b

09-11-2009 07:51 AM

Population control will be the most effective method of reducing the impact on the ecosystem right now.
The demands for larger and larger yields is pushing the limits of current scientific technology.

-- I want to believe in a lot of things but, in the meantime I have to deal with the truth

View Radicalfarmergal's profile


4312 posts in 3135 days
hardiness zone 5b

09-11-2009 09:35 AM

Thanks Bob. This article serves to remind us that we are all inter-connected and that what occurs in one part of the world can impact us all.

-- "...I have nothing against authorities as such; I am only in favor of putting a question mark after just about everything they say." Ruth Stout

View Bob's profile


1429 posts in 3620 days
hardiness zone 3b

09-11-2009 10:40 AM

Hi Robin:

That’s a great observation.

I think too often we want to jump to conclusions without reviewing all the factors.
There are as many pitfalls in trying to over simplify science as there are in over complicating it.

I’ll say it again, It’s a “System” <g>

For those perhaps not up to speed with what we are discussiing , this is an easy to read primer on the problem.

-- I want to believe in a lot of things but, in the meantime I have to deal with the truth

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