Honey Bee Die-Off Threatens Global Food Chain

[The essay below by Cam Fitzgerald, a frequent contributor to Ricks Picks, is a stark reminder that humanity could soon be facing problems even more serious than the collapse of the global economy.  The alarming die-off of honey bees and other cross-pollinators may presage nothing less than the devastation of food supplies around the world.  A beekeeper himself, Cam warns that, unlike global warming, which is happening slowly, the death of bee colonies has been so precipitous that a solution needs to be found and implemented as quickly as possible, lest  the food chain suffer catastrophic damage. Although a pesticide called Clothianidin is suspected, we don’t have time for endless political debate, he warns. Time is running out, and that is why I would urge readers to spread awareness of the problem by disseminating this commentary as far and wide as possible. RA]

Rick has invited me to contribute an article discussing my views of how the world will look in the coming years. I am afraid I have very, very bad news for everyone though. My story is not science-fiction nor is it conjecture and yet it has drawn me to a very sad conclusion following events over the past few years. The issue that follows has ramifications that may even suggest the eventual collapse of society itself.

Let me explain. In the latter part of the 1800’s a novel new chemical was developed called DDT. This synthetic chemical’s true calling and use was not realized, though, until sometime around the Second World War when a Swiss chemist named Paul Hermann Mueller first discovered its properties as an effective insecticide. He won the Nobel Prize for his efforts. The chemical found widespread use in agriculture and in the control of malaria-bearing mosquitoes, and for decades was one of the major means of pest control on crops. But our birds of prey were dying off in America as a result and there were strong suspicions that agricultural chemicals were to blame.

Evidence slowly mounted over a period of years to prove that the thin, crumbly shells of eggs laid by eagles and other raptors highest up on the food chain were the result of DDT contamination. A decade of environmental activism armed with a growing body of scientific studies led to significant political pressures before the chemical was finally (and permanently) banned from use in the United States.

And just in the nick of time too. The Peregrine Falcon, as a result of DDT poisoning that was accumulating in the birds bodies, had come within a feather of joining the list of extinct birds in North America. In California, the numbers of Peregrines known to exist barely exceeded ten nesting pairs in the year of the ban. The American eagle itself was on the endangered list, and a long list of predator raptors were close to joining the chorus of the condemned. The year was 1972.

Flash forward to today. The new enemy is also an insecticide. This time it has a much more ominous overtone, however, because this time the ultimate victim at the top of the food chain is you and I, and the endgame may well terminate with a global famine and bitter wars over agricultural croplands that support grains.

Clothianidin’s Role

No, we will not be poisoned directly by this chemical, but we could face serious food shortages and the loss of critical crops that will spell the end of the good times as we now know them. I only wish this were an urban myth. Most of you likely have no idea how close we already are to a cataclysmic failure of agricultural production brought on by the use of these chemicals. Judge for yourselves and read on.

The name of this chemical is a little more complicated this time around, and those suffering the worst effects are not nearly so warm and cuddly to most people as birds are, but the outcome of its use could potentially prove devastating. Commercially, this product is called Clothianidin. It is known as a neonicotinoid to farm guys and gals, and it specializes in killing bugs on crops.

Some of the victims unfortunately, mere insects to most people, are also the primary commercial means of pollination for crop production across the globe, responsible for doing the hard work that enables farms to produce 35% of all the foods we eat. I am talking about bees, of course. And they are dying off globally in such staggering numbers each and every year that the food chain itself will soon become seriously compromised if solutions are not found, and quickly.

70% Hive Failure Rate

Just two months back, we received the results in Saskatchewan for the winter mortality of the year 2009/2010, and the outcomes were not good — better than in the last few years, but still dismal. Over 21% of all bee colonies had not survived over-wintering.  We did relatively well. On Vancouver Island almost 70% of all hive colonies failed to survive until spring. Reports out the United States, Europe and China reveal that as many as one third of all hive colonies have perished in the last few years, and it is not uncommon to hear of individual beekeepers who were completely wiped out.

I know a few beekeepers in my province and after talking to them can tell you that the news they are giving me is not positive. There is a sense of foreboding for the future. One fellow in particular has just this past week informed me he was no longer keeping bees for honey production. He related that he had suffered a near complete and total loss of all his hives two years ago. I was shocked because I knew he was a serious, full-time beekeeper with hundreds of hives.

This guy loved his work. He related how the end came about as all but a dozen of his hives were dead when he opened them up for the spring season and that it was over. He was wiped out, his business finished. There was no way he had the extra resources on hand to buy packaged live bees out of Australia or New Zealand at more than 140 dollars per colony to repopulate hundreds of dead hives.

Mite Infestation ‘Endemic’

Being a stand-up kind of guy, he is not prepared to blame Bayer Crop Sciences (the patent holder of Clothianidin) for his losses, either. He knows his bees died off suspiciously and suspects neonicotinoid pesticides which are used extensively on prairie canola fields are the root cause that weakened his colonies and allowed mites and other infection to overcome his bees. He is just not prepared to go on the record that Clothianidin might be responsible. Bayer naturally enough denies the claims made by both environmental groups and beekeepers alike.

He says point blank that he does not know what the problem is except that mites played a big role. Mite infestations are now endemic in most bee keeping operations in Canada and for that matter all around the world. These tiny bugs feast on live bee larvae in one case or infest the trachea of adults in another bringing death to colonies that are not treated. The question remains about why so many colonies became so weakened in the first place, though. There is a consensus amongst the beekeepers I talked to who are also reluctant to point fingers without more hard data. It does not help that this group has no federal or provincial representation with any muscle to back them up or help fund solutions to their problems.

Others are not so shy, though, and several European Governments have already responded by banning this substance. They are blaming Bayer directly and demanding more research to back up the claims that bees are being decimated, at least indirectly, by the extreme toxicity of this new pesticide and those in the Neonicotinoid family amongst others. My friend does not think it a coincidence that the advent of the widespread use of Neonicotinoids on Canola crops and the collapse of his honeybee population were linked in time. His practices had not changed over the many, many years he was in business but something in the environment did. But what?

Other Cross-Pollinators Dying

You may ask why we should worry about bees if there are always more available to be imported from other countries? You might imagine this is an easily cured problem that can be resolved by just deploying plenty of fresh cash. You would be wrong.  You see, bees represent only a fraction of the pollinator group, and much of the important work done by these other related creatures happens beyond the oversight of commercial beekeeping operations and outside the scope of human management. They do the majority of the work in many cases and we cannot survive without them.

There is now a battle under way in the insect world and it affects a multitude more of these tiny creatures than imaginable, so the troubles go well beyond the realm of commercial bee operations. The problem is that there are no advocates for the wild pollinators that are also in steep decline. Nobody restocks them when their populations dwindle and few even notice their passing to comment on the problem. Indeed, in a recent report out of the University of Illinois released in January by the “The National Academy of Sciences” (PNAS) a group of researchers has confirmed our worst fears in reporting that 96% of four types of bumblebees in a study region that encompasses the United States have disappeared. The word devastating comes immediately to mind and extinction has become a probability in some cases.

A clear connection meanwhile has been established by researchers into the cause and effect of agricultural chemicals and the Colony Collapse Disorder that is wiping out bees in the United States but much less is known about the fate of all the other pollinators who go without representation. We do know they are also disappearing.

Insecticides ‘Too Good’

The problem seems to be that this new class of insecticides are just too good. Too affordable and effective, too. That is cold comfort to beekeepers across the country and around the globe who are now the casualties of this new chemical regime and who are folding up their operations as the extremely high losses of colonies renders their business insolvent.

Beekeepers simply cannot sustain regular bee population declines of 30, 40 and 50 percent annually and still remain viable. No bees means no honey. No honey means no beekeepers. No beekeepers means no bee business and that therefore spells disaster for crops dependant on the industry for pollination. What few people realize or even consider is that most beekeeping operations are small, family-run businesses where the trade is passed on from father to son. These are not big, deep-pocketed multinational farm corporations. Just one hard push and they are all gone. Just like that in a blink of an eye. Crisis time. And now that time is here.

In Saskatchewan there is not yet acknowledgment that we even have Colony Collapse Disorder despite the fact that losses have been in the double digits and even exceeding 35% for several years now. What we do have is hives that are under tremendous stress from “mites,” and some insist that we can overcome the issue from a management perspective alone.

Not Everyone Agrees

Not everyone agrees. Bees have always had their fair share of disease and infestations. This situation is different, though, and suggests that bee immune systems are being compromised by environmental toxicity so that they are unable to adequately fight off attackers. The historical average for over-wintering colony losses rarely exceeded 15% not so long ago and was typically only at 10%. That is a number any good beekeeper can recover from and surmount.

So we are on borrowed time and this is decidedly not an issue like global warming, for example, that suggests serious trouble at some distant unknown time in the future. The problem with the widespread losses of pollinators across the globe is an event that is happening right now today with alarming speed and ferocity and it is therefore amongst the most urgent of concerns with regard to global food security.

On March 11, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) published a report entitled Global Honey Bee Colony Disorders and Other Threats to Insects wherein it discusses the losses of pollinators across the globe. They have used some of the strongest language I have seen to date while addressing the topic.

‘Cocktail Effect’

According to that report “The increasing use of chemicals in agriculture, including systemic insecticides and those used to coat seeds, is being found to be damaging or toxic to bees. Some can, in combination, be even more potent to pollinators, a phenomenon known as the “cocktail effect.” U.N. Under-Secretary-General Achim Steiner said: “The way humanity manages or mismanages its nature-based assets, including pollinators, will in part define our collective future in the 21st Century. The fact is, that of the 100 crop species that provide 90 per cent of the world’s food, over 70 are pollinated by bees.” The report then adds ominously “….that tens of thousands of plant species could be lost in coming years unless conservation efforts are stepped up….the decline of bee populations has serious consequences for food security”.

Crops like canola, berries, nuts and almost all fruits and vegetables that people depend upon for basic sustenance and food variety could virtually disappear from store shelves over the coming years. No, I am not kidding. The question we have to ask is this: Will we as a population have sufficient time to mobilize our resources and efforts to prevent a global food calamity before it is too late or will we just collectively wither as the beekeeping industry falls apart before our very eyes? Time is very short now, and this is about to turn into a problem that crosses all borders.

Nor does it help that the vast majority of beekeepers in this country of mine for example are in their mid to late Fifties or that few newcomers want to enter the business due to its problems and risks. Most of these older guys and gals are headed for retirement already. And nobody is coming up behind them with the capital to sustain the regular heavy losses and stick with the business. So now the professionals themselves are headed for extinction.

Apiary Business Dying

The business itself may be dying. The extremely high mortality rates we see in bees are now testing the fortitude of the whole industry and rendering some weaker operations non-economic. Plenty of guys just want to sell and get out altogether. It is not worth it anymore. Does that not give anyone else cause for concern?

And this I think may the greatest threat of all. Bees may well survive into the future, but if there are not people out there placing hives where they are required as the growing seasons change and keeping our pollinators well stocked, alive and healthy then we will be looking at much lower crop yields in the future. From an economic perspective it is easy to see why there will be considerable pressure put on increasing the production of alternative crops like grains for example as these do not require the services of bees. Corn too has a stellar future as it usually succeeds at wind-blown pollination and is therefore immune to sudden bee die-off. As our diets are changed due to dwindling food varieties and poor crop yields resulting from the failure of our flowering plants to produce seasonal fruits there will be a concurrent rise in demand for alternatives. Seaweed likely has a big future.

At this moment in time we are all at risk, though, and there is a clear threat to our global population as a result of the decline of our wild and domestic pollinators. We face a probable human depopulation if bees are lost and it will be because of our arrogant and widespread use of agricultural chemicals that are relied upon to ensure higher crop yields. The threat is not just imminent, it has already arrived.

Poor Areas More Adaptable

Ironically enough the populations expected to be least affected are those representing the poorest on this planet, as they often do not practice modern farming techniques nor is pesticide use widespread for the simple reason it is not affordable. These people are further indemnified as their populations are already agrarian and the percentage of those living rurally is much greater than in North America where fewer than 2% of us live on the farm. The closer connections to farm life and the land means that poor farmers are more able to adapt to changing circumstances as they are the direct custodians of their own well being.

I do not therefore think it is an understatement to suggest that global food stocks are now at grave risk nor that the loss of bees and related pollinators is the single greatest threat the world now faces. We will almost certainly see widespread starvation over the coming decades if solutions cannot be found quickly to the ongoing pollinator disaster and if governments do not act to intervene in what is shaping up to be a worldwide calamity in the insect world.

Our own security is now on the line as the day of the bee turns to the day of the Dodo and true food scarcity becomes a reality. The good times we know of when fields of swollen crops were covering the vastness of the prairies could well become just another of the memories of days gone by. Just good old days.

Like the days when we still had bees to pollinate crops and help feed the billions who populate this world of ours. Like the days when there were still beekeepers and professional custodians of the insect world. Like the days before chemical solutions to farming damned us all in the same way DDT nearly damned the Peregrine Falcon and the American Eagle to footnotes in an Audubon textbook.

See, it really is all about food after all.

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  • ralphjohnstone April 21, 2011, 3:00 pm

    Thanks for this well-written, thought provoking article. It`s great to see that someone is finally drawing attention to this very serious situation. We should all be concerned. Good on you Cam.

  • cornwall April 17, 2011, 3:29 pm

    Charles Reed: Concern over bees has nothing to do with socialism or communism. That’s just more rhetoric by the anarchist free-market religion which has been proven to fail.
    Communist and Socialist Parties create laws for all sorts of things, and those laws should be obeyed and upheld. If not, then you support picking and choosing whatever laws you want.

    There is nothing wrong with genetically modified organisms. There is something wrong with experimenting on animals confined against their will in laboratories. We need tough laws to outlaw that sort of atrocity. Science will come to the rescue. But we first have to annihilate the anti-science pro-capitalism global-warming-denying subversive element in society.

  • Cam Fitzgerald April 16, 2011, 1:25 am

    First, thanks to all who responded to this article. I do think I made a mistake when constructing this piece though by naming conclusions and outcomes I foresaw (famine and starvation threats) .

    Those are predictions of the future of course and not iron-clad guarantees. I now believe that it is better writing style to allow readers to come to their own conclusions after reviewing the evidence. Imputing my own was not necessary.

    That being said though, I don’t suffer too much guilt. I am not a professional writer or journalist. These occasional articles issued by me are a hobby, not a vocation. I appreciate the opportunity to express my views here though and Rick has certainly given me plenty of latitude to do that on his site.

    It should be obvious to everyone now though that Bees are critically important to the food chain and that the decline of pollinators will not end well. As it stands, the world is just barely managing to feed the global population now. There have been periods during the last few years when global grain stocks fell to as little as a 60 day supply. The advent of declining supplies brought on by declining crop yields due to pollinator losses suggests that we will see a major crisis sooner rather than later. One major failed export crop and we are on the edge.

    Meanwhile, the population of the world is growing rapidly. Estimates peg total populations to exceed nine billion by 2050. Agricultural improvements on the other hand are acknowledged to be currently insufficient at increasing food supply at the current rate of population growth to keep up with demand. We require 2% food production growth annually but are only seeing half that achievement. The crunch is fast approaching.

    Without even discussing bees….we are just screwed anyway.

    Perhaps this is just an issue of allocation of crops. We do know that about a third of all grain stocks are used for feed in the production of meat. Another third or more of corn in the US goes to ethanol production. Bees meanwhile are responsible for the essential services in providing more than a further third of crops we depend upon. There is barely enough food to go around for human consumption in the complete absence of bees even if we stopped turning corn into fuel and ended most meat production.

    We can easily see though that there will be insufficient food in the future based on current agricultural productivity and current usage practices. Even if all food production is utilized in a different and more efficient way in the future we will still see shortages develop.

    Perhaps we really are headed to a world of vegetarianism in the coming decades. But what will that really look like? Try living in a world without peas for example that are used essentially, as a crop, to draw nitrogen to exhausted soils. They do need bees too incidentally. Try to imagine living without dairy herds as grains are drawn off for human consumption. Try to imagine living in a world without milk and cheese.

    The problem is that it is not imaginable. Not for most people. And yet it is inevitable. Some have chosen to close their minds to the looming food disaster. What they see when they go grocery shopping is thousands of varieties of things to eat coming from all over the world. They see cheap canned Tuna as one example without stopping to consider that Tuna stocks are crashing everywhere and the day will soon arrive when only the wealthy will enjoy this meat.

    Has everyone already forgotten how Cod was all but wiped out in the North Atlantic after decades of over fishing? Has nobody noticed that anchovies are incredibly expensive now? They were once one of the cheapest of fish before stocks in the Mediterranean were reduced so low nobody could earn a living finding them anymore. Now we have Tilapia coming to prominence as it is a farmed fish and yet it too is stressed in wild stocks. Can you say trouble with a capital “T“?

    In my article I suggested we could be headed for a global depopulation as an outcome of food scarcity. I do believe that to be the case. You do not need to be a genius to see that an essential element in your families survival over the long term is the acquisition of (at the minimum) a small acreage where you are able to produce your own basic foods. To begin to disconnect now from the globalized food supply-chain that just leaves you vulnerable to a crash when peak-food finally arrives just makes good sense.

    My words were not just Malthusian crap as one of my articles objectors stated. I honestly found that to be an ignorant statement coming from a person who clearly had the benefit of a good education and yet is unable to draw simple conclusions from a baseline. Namely, that without bees we are heading into a time of reduced agricultural production simultaneous to a huge population increase. You do the math.

    My conclusions were arrived at based on a variety of other known factors too, only one of which was the health of pollinators. Some of the others are mentioned above. This is D-day for the human race and most of us reading this article today will witness it first-hand if not actually be victims of the consequences ourselves.

    Perhaps the correct term as far as my article is concerned is actually B-Day. Black humour aside, I do not look forward to a world of no bees because that is a world where simple grains become our primary diet and all the colour and variety is gone from our dinner plate.

    Can we really live by bread alone?

  • Cam Fitzgerald April 13, 2011, 3:23 pm

    Hi Benjamin,

    Sorry if I have not been answering you the last few days. You are a prolific writer though. Not sure I can keep up with you all the time. I would say this though, I would not welcome the return of DDT and I was puzzled when you said it should not have been banned.

    Anyway….about cell towers….

    While we cannot discount the effects of electromagnetic radiation and cell tower output having an impact on bees I do not subscribe to the notion that it is the primary cause of the problem.

    The only major reports of colony collapse in Africa that I know of have occurred in Egypt which is essentially a country built along the ribbon of the length of the Nile river. The river basin is intensively agricultural.

    Most of Africa though has not been affected even though cell service is the norm across most of the continent. Unlike North America, there is not a network of copper wire strung everywhere. Few people have land-lines except in major cities. Elsewhere the vast majority of communications are done with mobile phones and so towers are a very common sight.

    Bee mortality is not significant there though and so I have eliminated E/M-radiation from my list of culprits as a major cause of the problem.

    Over in Ethiopia which is a truly agrarian nation and is coincidentally one of Africa’s major honey producers there is also a low incidence of colony collapse or concurrent high mortality rates in hives. So this is something that we need to pay attention too.

    Coincidentally, pesticide use is very low relative to North America for example and this is in large part due to poverty and the many small landholdings versus the mega-acreage corporate-style farm practices here. So it would seem that bee health is better where people are poorer. Does it make you wonder?

    That does not offer a conclusive answer about anything of course but helps a little to eliminate time wasted by following up on dead-end theories.

    Here is another for you though if you are still reading. This is the suggestion that a fungus is involved.


  • Chris T. April 13, 2011, 6:28 am

    “neonics weaken the bees IMMUNE SYSTEM to the point where they die from infections by viruses, bacteria, funguses etc”

    A man-made situation that weakens the immune system, so the affected organisms succumb to infections they would normally fight off…

    Anyone familiar with the criticism of the Montagnier / Gallo hypothesis for AIDS, including the ridiculous out-of-Africa-by-one-sex-crazed-guy part, and the epidemiological and other evidence not supporting it, has seen that before.
    (And just like in economic main-stream vs. Austrian thought, etc, the “everyone believes it so it must be true” thing still rules here too…)

  • Graham April 12, 2011, 9:23 pm

    The latest ‘hot off the press’ findings in relation to bee deaths and neonics are that Dr Alaux in France and Dr Pettis in America, independently found that neonics weaken the bees IMMUNE SYSTEM to the point where they die from infections by viruses, bacteria, funguses etc. This fits the observed evidence – and raises some disturbing issues.
    There have been waves of mass-deaths of frogs, toads, salamanders, farmland birds and bats – in America and Europe.
    Many of the frogs, birds and bats seem to mirror the deaths of the bees, in that they are not dying of acute pesticide poisoning, but they ARE dying of weakened immune systems. Once the defences are down – the whole Pandora’s box of pathogens rides through the door. The frogs and amphibians come into contact with neonics because they dissolve in water and travel a long way from the fields where they were applied. Birds – such as chaffinches and greenfinches in Europe – have died in millions in recent years from various fungal diseases and bactgerial ‘cankers’. Sparrows are verging on extinction in many parts of the UK.
    Most of these birds are granivorous – and feed on wheat and barley at planting time – which has been coated with neonics.
    The hypothesis is that their immune systems are compromised and they succumb to various diseases.
    The bats feed mostly on insects, so the theory is they are picking up insects that are contaminated with neonics from the crops. Some American bats also drink nectar and eat pollen – so they would get a direct dose from the plant.

    Once again, does this have implications for human health – apart from the extermination of all our wildlife? Nobody knows. I suspect that ‘compromised immune systems’ would manifest first in miscarriages; spontaneous abortions and newborn children who don’t do very well. The phenomenon of M.E. in young adults seems a natural area to investigate.

    However, Americans first need to check out WHY the EPA licensed these pesticides when their own in-house experts warned them not to. Apparently – it was ‘good for business’ – so just eat your neonicotinoids and shut up! (That’s the EPA speaking by the way)

    • Cam Fitzgerald April 12, 2011, 9:36 pm

      Thanks for pointing that out Graham. I had not seen the research you mentioned yet but it does fit well with what many only acknowledge as theory at the gut level. It certainly does not help that the Neonicotinoid class of pesticides can persist in the soil and water for a very extended period of time. Some studies estimate they have a life of up to 19 years during which time they can continue to harm wildlife and insects.

      This would suggest that even if all these chemicals were taken off the market today that the after-effects would continue for almost two more decades.

      I hope we have the luxury of time on our side but I frankly worry it is already too late for some species of plants and insects.

  • Graham April 12, 2011, 7:55 pm

    Greetings from the UK – good article on an issue we have been trying to educate people about for the last 6 years. People need to understand that something truly MONSTROUS has been done to us in the last 15 years. Big Ag, Big Gov, and Bog Pesticides got together and came up with a plan. The plan was to dominate the world by controlling the entire global food supply. Once you control that, you don’t need missiles, bombs, tanks and fast jets anymore. You can just turn off the food supply if people don’t comply.

    The tools of this undeclared, secret war are:
    1. The compulsory imposition of GM crops – as America did in Iraq after the invasion. Rumsfeld cleared the way for Monsanto – and now, Iraqi farmers CANNOT use any seed except Monsanto’s GM corn, canola etc. They are trying to do the same in Europe, India, Africa and so on. GM corn is also ‘Roundup Ready’ – which means they intend to spray the entire globe with Glyphosate – as they are already doing in Argentina and Brazil. There have been widespread reports of frog and amphibian populations collapsing in those countries – along with human birth defects, miscarriages etc.

    2. The second weapon in the War against Nature, is SYSTEMIC, NEURO-TOXIC insecticides – called NEO-NICOTINOIDS: Imidacloprid, Thiacloprid, Clothianidin etc.

    These are revolutionary. They are not sprayed ONTO the crops, they are placed INSIDE the crop, in the sap, cells, nectar, pollen and the eventual grain or fruits. There is no point in you washing your apples and tomatoes anymore – scrubbing them will not get the pesticides off; they are INSIDE the food. And you are eating them with every mouthful of corn, sunflower oil, wheat, barley, almonds, tomatoes, peas, beans, strawberries. Nice idea huh? Yes, they laced our food with nerve-poisons and didn’t ask us first.
    “Woiuld you like pesticides with that burger?” -“Never mind, your kids are gonna eat them whether you like it or not.

    So the bees, butterflies and bumblebees get hit first by consuming poison-laced pollen and nectar. We are of course much larger animals – so there is no immediately observable acute toxic effect. Despite this, Henk Tennekes – a Dutch toxicologist, has written a book which says beyond any doubt that these “neonics” share two crucial characteristics with human brain carcinogens:
    A. Every brain cell they contact is damaged
    B. The damage is CUMULATIVE and IRREVERSIBLE.

    So, everywhere that neonics have been introduced – bee-colonies have died in their millions. Four million and rising in America right now. The French lost 500,000 colonies in one year – 1997-98 and immediately campaigned for Imidacloprid to be banned. The French Government banned it in 2000, the Germans followed suit a couple years later, and the Italians, Swiss and Slovenians ahve all banned Imidacloprid and Clothianidin.

    But in America – where George Bush the First appointed Monsanto’s top lobbyist to be Number Two at the EPA back in 1992 – it is business as normal. This Spring, America has planted 92 million acres of Clothianidin treated corn – effectively wiping out not merely bees – but all wildlife in that vast area.

    Nobody is willing to look at what neonics are doing to people, because any scientist who dares to ask a question is committing career suicide. The money flows from Bayer and Monsanto in a vast river of cash.

    The big question is: how do these nerve poisons affect human embryos in the womb? If a pregnant woman is eating nerve poison every day – and believe me she is – how would that affect a foetus the size of a bee – at 4 – 6 weeks?

    Why have we seen an explosion of new ‘nervous system’ abnormalities in the last 20 years? Autism? Aspergers?
    ADHD? ME? Nobody knows, and nobody is looking.

    The humble bee is the ‘canary in the coalmine’ but we had better start listening fast, or the consequences may be truly global

    • Rich April 12, 2011, 9:03 pm

      Bravo Graham
      We used to spot Heartgard from our vet on our show dog until we learned it was mutagenic and neurotoxic.
      He developed testicular cancer and slept a lot.
      Listening to a Life Scientist countryman of yours named Christopher Busby describe how deliberate increase in radionuclides around the world with Atomic testing, DU military use and episodes like Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and Fukushima are described as harmless, while actually increasing cancer rates and infertility.
      Busby estimated Fukushima fallout would cause another 400,000 cases of cancer in Japan alone. Some of this radiation will bioaccumulate up the food chain in the Northern hemisphere with a half-life of 4.46 B years. (It doesn’t disappear then; it’s just half as radioactive.)
      GE Toshiba and other so-called corporate government media shills sold us a bill of goods re harmless levels of radiation to profit at the expense of our health. http://www.llrc.org/

  • Chris T. April 12, 2011, 7:23 pm

    >>1. Cell phones don’t kill people even after prolonged >>head contact.

    Based upon the EPA’s own assessments, as cited by Cam above, it is clear the pesticide-group is implicated.
    However, this does not have to mono-factorial.

    There is also a correlation with the type of radiation emitted from cell-phones / towers.
    Hard to know if it plays no role at all, or is to some extend contributory as well.

    BUT: Your statement above is false.
    While cell-phones directly don’t kill, if they contribute to diseases, then they indirectly do kill.

    Cigarettes virtually never kill anyone.
    But they can cause diseases, such as cancer, emphysema, etc that do the killing.
    Would you say cigarettes don’t kill anyone?

    There is a growing body of evidence linking the rise of cell phone usage a rise in certain tumors.

    For example, people tend to use their cell-phones on one side of their head more often than the other.
    On the cell-side of users, a statistically significant correlation to an increase in brain tumors has been found, as in that disease in general over the last 10-15 years.
    True, correlation at this point, not proven causation, but that is the RJR/PM/Lorillard line all over.

    As to the pathway for all this:
    You focus only on the energetic level of radiation, its heating ability, via the wattages used.

    There is a completely independent problem with these devices, and that is how they transmit:

    The wattage you cite is only the carrier wave strength of the signal, but the signal itself consists of modulated signals, the digital nature of the information being carried by the wave.

    More and more evidence is emerging, that it is not the signal strength, but its content, that is interfering with various organisms.

    That is not hokus pokus, as cells of living organisms in one way are electrically communicating bodies. This takes place on both an intra and intercellular level.
    That is whe electrtoencephalograms and electrocardiograms are used in medical diagnostics, they measure the body’s self generated electrical output.

    But, these signals are definitely on the weak side, so signals like / similar to them, but stronger, can certainly conceptually / theoretically interfere with that.
    That is the proposed problem which should be investigated as a general problem, and perhaps also the pathway, as a contributor in a multifactorial way, to bee die-off

    BUT: If this turns out to be a problem, this whole technology would fundamentally found to be flawed, and that is the point about denial made initially:
    People will not admit that this is a problem, because they have become so dependent on wire-less of all kinds (cell phones, routers, cordless phones, GPS, air-cards, etc, etc).
    That’s why the cigarette analogy.

    • Rich April 12, 2011, 8:45 pm

      Correct Chris.
      Found funding for a medical device startup based on this principle…

  • Rich April 12, 2011, 5:31 pm

    BTW, the corporate elephant in the farmhouse parlor is the so-called Food Safety Modernization Act O signed, a corporate government takeover of farming and food sponsored by Monsanto and other AgriBusinesses to get rid of the competition by increasing compliance costs and government bureaucracy:


    • Benjamin April 12, 2011, 6:33 pm

      It’s a bunch of bull. Even with that kind of legislation, bioterrorist attacks can always happen, from within and from the outside. But mostly from within, I suspect…

      Would a bigger, better, and more secure Kraft (say), whose only reason for supporting this kind of crap is to have a better spot on the sinking titanic, have the ability to protect us from attack WITHOUT raising food prices more to pay for the added “security and compliance measures” they seek to impose on themselves?

      Or would they have the good conscious to not use abuse their monopoly by not cutting corners that they know wouldn’t be reported if they do?

      Somehow, me thinks not. Especially when compared to the small-scale “bioterrorist” (aka, a small farm). The smaller farms haven’t the money and clout to F around with safety issues which they might well be sued over (or worse). The corporates do, and their word that they won’t is, of course, worth squat.

  • Benjamin April 12, 2011, 1:52 pm

    Apparently this topic is going to run for another day, so, aside from a question, I’m going to add some closing remarks.

    First, to Rick: You mentioned back in the deflation topic that there was an asset that outperform even gold. Would this be it, or are we still in suspense?

    Secondly, as to the majority of posts here with that can’t-do attitude… I’ve no longer any doubt as to why the world is the way it is today. It’s not that we humans can’t, it’s just that so many won’t. But that isn’t the most upsetting thing…

    Placing blame on almost 7 billion people is most despicable. Want to know whose fault the unmanaged problems are here? See again my post on DDT and Africa. The enviromentalists will never admit to serving the central banking system, nor that their philosophy-in-practice causes many, many problems even without the masters lording over them.

    But gosh, just imagine if such a large, rich land could be better managed, in production, to releive other parts of the world having the problems such as Cam has brought to our attention. “Maybe” the answer is not more bans and bemonaing our human natures, but letting those free to do?

    But that’s not what people in general want. They just want the end of the world so that they don’t have to think and act to do anything about it. Because if they thought about it, then they would have to stand up for themselves, and oh the boogeymen known as the powers that be. What can be done about those who will always “win” at our expense. Oh well. Can’t say we didn’t try!

    But that isn’t all. Apparently over the decades, farmers have forgotten that big government is not a solution to local disputes. But underlying that is the fact that farmers have steadily been disempowered by this financial system. Who else are they to turn to when they can’t do the things they must in order to ensure their livelihood and co-existence among other farmers?

    This is one of the primary reasons why I beat the drum on coining money so often. Producing so much as we all need is not impossible, provided we spare no expense in getting done what needs doing. Yet, we cannot kill the goose that lays the golden egg. Food would be too expensive if no expense was spared to ensure a vital thing. So farmers, in doing what they do, necessarily must take the hit. However…

    If market-weighted currencies (gold and silver, coined by us, ie) were in circulation, the farmers would make up their intitial losses by weighting the dollar less… by simply sparing more of their gold/silver returns from the weighting process, at the Mint.

    In turn, aside from making a decent living without any government “solutions”, rigged markets, corrupt finances that rob them, etc… they could afford to do the things that they need to do in order to keep from stepping on each others toes. Things like mitigating the flow of pesticides into the wild; cross-pollinations of GMO with organic (and vice versa); more sound use of potent chemicals; spreading out over much more land (as a whole) rather than jam everything together in tighter spaces…

    All that stuff is capital intensive, and as it turns out, we can spare no expense because we have to do it. And as it turns out, those expenses can be met head on without bankrupting anybody.

    Everyone, please… consider that, then do something with that information. Demand our right to weight currency. Even if one does not have much or any gold and silver, that matters not at all. Without the practice of coining in such a way, we’re all dead meat.

    My thanks again to Rick, for the space to say, and to Cam, for bringing up a serious subject for me to “hijack” (for lack of a better word).

    • Rich April 12, 2011, 5:22 pm

      B, won’t speak for Rick, but over the past 30 years, Zero Coupon Long T Bonds outperformed gold…

    • Benjamin April 12, 2011, 6:35 pm

      Alright, Rich, noted. I hope we find out soon, as I’m “mildly” curious 🙂

    • SD1 April 12, 2011, 11:41 pm

      Carol, it is not the space we take up as people, it’s the space we take up destroying other creature’s habitats in order to feed ourselves.

      Your argument has no merit.

  • Roger April 12, 2011, 12:39 pm

    ps: forgot to add that these are only stopgap measures;

    Face it. We can’t go from 1/2 Billion to 6 Billion humans in <500 years without major loss of competing species.


    The only question is how intelligently we'll manage further context change. Picture everyone trying to sterilize another acre in order to build a house for your kids. There are some needle-in-the-haystack solutions, but we'll have to search diligently for them. In 4 billion years of known history, absolutely nothing has stopped expansion of net biological diversity. It's always been a question of what appears next, not whether.

    What's not yet being discussed is an obvious outcome. There has been an explosion in the diversity of microbes that live in, on or near homo sapiens, and more daily are learning to feed on us. The bee mites may attack us next! 🙂
    [Come to think of it, Russian brides have been popular recently! For more than one species.]

    • Rich April 12, 2011, 5:21 pm

      “In the event that I am reincarnated, I would like to return as a deadly virus, to contribute something to solving overpopulation (1988)”

      Prince Philip, the Queen of England’s Consort…

    • Carol April 12, 2011, 5:31 pm

      If you took the 7 billion people on this planet and had them all stand in one area and gave each 10 sq feet of space to stand (5 x 2 feet) the space the total poplulation of the planet would not fill up one medium sized county of any state in this union!

      Over population is just malthesian clap trap.

  • Roger April 12, 2011, 12:21 pm

    Thanks for your effort, Cam.

    Happened to be at USDA R&D HQ library yesterday, in Beltsville, Maryland, so looked up their bee magazines.

    General impression was that excessive in-breeding of commercial bee stocks have contributed to what are multiple factors that weaken general resiliency of honeybee colonies.

    Honey Production, Colony numbers & avg Colony size have all recovered slightly in the last year. Could this be a Hidden Honey Pivot?

    Here are some references.



    Bottom line is that sustained efforts have actually helped, but only to some degree. Helpful efforts? To re-diversify commercial colony genetics AND specifically add Russian bee stocks that are resistant to various mites.

    • roger erickson April 16, 2011, 5:05 pm

      With all due respect, we’re failing to coordinate. Few things in any context are dismissible as claptrap. They’re all observations & opportunities to select options that always have consequences.
      If the effect of population was claptrap, we wouldn’t have a US Constitution, nor a DoD, DOJ, SEC & EPA – nor history. Frictions & consequences of the existing population, even in the USA are not dismissible. The only rational thing to do, ever, is make a suggestion, not to suggest that we needn’t carefully & quickly use our heads & select wisely.
      Suggestions to stop thinking are never helpful. They are, in fact, the only real claptrap we impose on ourselves.

  • SD1 April 12, 2011, 4:54 am

    Thank you Cam, for a great commentary.

    We humans!

    Always looking for an answer to a problem that would never even have been in existence were we not here in the first place.

    The good news is that there really isn’t a situation the planet cannot resolve on its own, given enough time (I say, “The planet,” as opposed to “Our planet,” simply because the planet is NOT ours, despite what many of us may have been taught in bible school).

    The bad news is that the planet will likely grow tired of humans at some point and will eventually realize it’s a whole lot better off without us on it.

    For the time being, however, here we are …. humans, who continually forget the basic kindergarten doctrine of, “Share everything.”

    We humans don’t share and we don’t care, and therein lies the crux of the problem:

    We don’t share with one another and we certainly don’t care about all the other living creatures here on earth, even though it is no more “our planet” than it is, “their planet.”

    We are takers, no matter how hard we try to be good “green” citizens.

    We humans are nothing more than parasites, if we are to use the definition of parasites:


    n. organism that obtains its livelihood at the expense of another creature.

    Like it or not, that definition suits humans to a, “T,” and we can go one step further:

    Humans are an asteroid, a mega-volcano and a super-tsunami all rolled into one. While we may not have the same immediate impact, the parasitic effects are there, nonetheless. We are – and have been – a disaster in the making for some time, ever since we abandoned the one basic principal that governs every other living creature here on earth: the law of supply and demand.

    We, as humans, were taught that we are above all that.

    That’s the,”Yes Jesus loves me, the bible tells me so,” rules that many of us have had rammed down our throats from an early age.

    We humans own and will inherit the earth.

    The bible tells us so.

    Perhaps that is why we kill forests to build our homes then pollute the air to keep ourselves warm in the very same homes we built while we’ve been busy taking away the homes of other creatures?

    Is that why we kill forests to create pastures for cattle in order to feed our ever-expanding population?

    Is that why we don’t care about the monkeys, wombats, toucans, panthers, alligators and snakes?

    Who cares?




    Not us, as we eat our steak while we invest in gold, silver and copper mines that do nothing more than pollute the planet’s underground water systems and kill off yet one more link in the planet’s ecological chain.

    We don’t even care about each other, sadly enough, so why would we care about those species that were here long before us?

    We don’t care.

    No matter how much we say we care, we really don’t. Collectively, humans couldn’t give a rat’s ass about anything other than themselves.

    The planet and all its creatures suffer while we “ordinary” humans do battle with a bunch of stuffed-shirt, Wall Street banksters who mean about as much to this planet as a pimple does to a teenager on prom night.

    Like it or not, that’s the big picture.

    The earth has about one billion years left – give or take – before the sun finally expands and begins a death knell journey into its super nova phase, over-heating the earth to a point where no creature can possibly survive.

    Yes, one billion years is a long time, given that most of us consider the Mozart era as ancient history.

    So guess what?

    Bees will be here long after humans – and our ridiculous, completely inconsequential war against the parasites of Wall Street – are gone.

  • Dave April 12, 2011, 4:04 am

    Speaking of almonds, the US FDA has required since 2007 that “raw” almonds must be pastuerized since there was one case of toxic almonds. These almonds are still be labeled “raw”. Unfortunately, the main method used is a 4 hour chemical bath in proplyene oxide, a suspected carcinogen. Steam pasteurization must be used for organic almonds. From the Almond Board Hazard Analysis manual, pg 7, PPO Treatment
    4-hour minimum exposure time
    Post-ventilation 100-110° F for 2 days or 59° F for
    5 days

    Both methods degrade and/or eliminate the health benefits of raw almonds – enzymes, oils and for those who are health conscious, the FDA says there is no chemical residue. Really??? Raw unpastuerized almonds may be ordered directly from CA almond growers.


  • Anthony F April 12, 2011, 12:59 am

    Last night I watched a great TV nature program praising the beauty and ecological strength of Cuba’s pristine parks and lagoons.
    It seemed that since the USA embargo, Cubans were not using the commercially available American pesticides and synthetic fertilizers.
    It turned out a real blessing for nature, since all kind of birds from Canada to Florida have now chosen
    this island as their winter preferred destination (also turtles).

    Europeans can travel to Cuba, but have not impacted negatively the island eco-system.
    This situation may change some day as USA-Cuba relations may improve, and concerns are raised regarding the environmental potential impact.
    Birds smarter than humans ???

    I live in CA, and there is in one hand a tendency to use bee colonies on vast almond and other crops farms.
    According to the Top Park Botanist in the Anza Borrego Desert park (whom I spoke with Today) , bees need a rest, and this intensive exploitation may weaken them.
    On the other hand CA is blessed in having a great climate, huge protected natural areas, and in this environment bees seem to be just fine.
    See the photo link of a swarm of bees looking for a new home, I took this past weekend.
    There is also another problem, and that is the hybridization with alien African Bees, that results in the local bee population to become more aggressive.


  • Phil C April 11, 2011, 11:37 pm

    Regarding DDT, mises.org has another opinion:

    • Benjamin April 12, 2011, 12:13 am

      I hadn’t wanted to started on that topic, but yes… DDT should never have been banned.

      Even considering the effects on wild birds, there are feasible ways to mitigate those impacts. The root of the endangered the bald eagle, for example, was on the local level, for the most part. Naturally, that would be the case; wherever there are farms spraying DDT, the birds would be impacted.

      Which should’ve meant making the farms and surrounding areas discouraging to eagles, not banning the pesticide. That can be done in several ways, from controlling their food supply to discouraging nesting in/around the sprayed areas.

      While this wouldn’t have totally eliminated the problem, it would’ve sufficiently mitigated it to the status of acceptiblity.

      The problem was and still is today, that the so-called “environmentally friendly” philosophy had it’s way. We cannot do anything “against” nature, so just ban whatever it is that would otherwise be a manageable problem.

      Anyway, one thing I rarely if ever see mention of is how the DDT ban in Africa also lead to the endangerment of other wildlife. When people can’t farm enough, they hunt. And even if the animals killed are not for food, things like pelts and ivory can fetch a nice price so the hunter can buy food.

      So in banning DDT, the environmentalists then found themselves having to declare hunting illegal, which required sufficient bribing of local governments to enforce this rule against what was now “poaching”, which in turn compromised private property rights, which in turn gave rise to all the misery and dictatorships Africans have had to endure all these decades. This they managed with the money they collected from the various “save the [animal]” funds to which an unsuspecting population of richer Westerners contributed to. Again, prevailing philosophies and sentiments.

      Nice going!

  • Cam Fitzgerald April 11, 2011, 10:59 pm

    There was a terrific movie aired this past summer at the Toronto International Film Festival and the name of that documentary is “Colony”.

    I am sure it is available as a download although I can not get at it right now for some reason. Anyway, the documentary follows a family of beekeepers as they contend with the collapse of their business and attempt to rebuild. It is well worth watching if you have even a small interest in what is taking place.

    I do have the You-Tube “trailer” at hand and a review that will help you locate the movie if you are interested in knowing more about what is happening to the industry itself. I saw it recently and highly recommend it as it offers good insights into how the industry itself is at risk of collapse. Here it is……….

    The Trailer.

    The Review.

  • nonplused April 11, 2011, 10:40 pm

    A question for Cam, if he has time:

    What about wasps? I know they are not necessarily considered pollinators, but they do kind of travel the same circuits as bees and have a very similar anatomy. Are they dying off in larger numbers than one would expect in nature too? How about ants? I know ant poison usually has a warning on it not to use it anywhere friendly bees might frequent so I assume they are all susceptible to similar chemicals.

    OK, 2 questions:

    Has anybody looked at how bumble bee populations are doing in the cities, where for obviously reasons there isn’t much Clothianidin but there are plenty of wi-fi stations?

    I don’t live right in town, but the rural area where I live is mostly acreages with horses and hey, not much in the way of crops that see a lot of spraying. Also there is a reservation nearby and they don’t spray jack, and then past that forestry that also obviously doesn’t see spraying. In the near by city (Calgary) they aren’t even spraying for mosquitoes much anymore and you can’t buy weed killers at the stores anymore. Last summer, the bumble bees and hornets were everywhere, such that I needed to wear coveralls and a mosquito hat just to mow the lawn. They were in the trees, on the lawn, under the deck, in the garage, in the house, heck a nest even got built bumper of my camping trailer, they were everywhere!!!! And that’s just the bees, don’t get me going on the wasps and hornets! Who knew hornets built nests in old mole holes? Thankfully they follow the tractor exhaust when they are all riled up and not my exhaust.

    And I’m not sure what the bees in my camping trailer thought of the periodic relocations, but they actually seemed to take to relocating quite well. But then I couldn’t get the bikes on and off anymore so it was either the bees or the bikes. Anyway, long story…

    The question is just how urban bee colonies are doing compared to agricultural areas. That could shed some light on the potential causes/non-causes.

    • Cam Fitzgerald April 12, 2011, 4:18 am


      You have some interesting thoughts there nonplused. I do not have any special knowledge of wasps though and have spent little time getting to know them.

      There are a lot of very educated and knowledgeable people reading this blog everyday and perhaps they can step in and answer your questions. This is an area for the guys and gals who are trained in the world of bugs lives as a career.

      Perhaps the Entomologists will step-up with an answer to your questions.

    • Benjamin April 12, 2011, 4:46 am

      Here’s what wikipedia has to say about wasps (I was curious, too!)…


      “The term wasp is typically defined as any insect of the order Hymenoptera and suborder Apocrita that is neither a bee nor an ant. Almost every pest insect species has at least one wasp species that preys upon it or parasitizes it, making wasps critically important in natural control of their numbers, or natural biocontrol. Parasitic wasps are increasingly used in agricultural pest control as they prey mostly on pest insects and have little impact on crops.”

      It doesn’t say much about pollination, but elsewhere I’ve read that most wasps are not hairy enough to do so like bees can. Still, their predatory nature may well more than make up for that…

  • charles reed April 11, 2011, 10:37 pm

    i have been a bee keeper for many years & i know bee keepers in this area. Yes we have had problems, but all the people i know, now have their problems in hand. i think if you listen to everthing the U.N. has to say, you would only be eating bermuda & fescue grass & living in a tent with a sled dog for transportation

    • Cam Fitzgerald April 12, 2011, 3:05 am

      What area are you in Charles? And if I may also ask,….. Are you a hobby beekeeper or a professional?

    • Rich April 12, 2011, 5:17 pm

      Were we directed from Washington when to sow and when to reap, we should soon want bread.

      Was the government to prescribe to us our medicine and diet, our bodies would be in such keeping as our souls are now.

  • Benjamin April 11, 2011, 10:30 pm


    Another point I have concerns the total amount of currenctly arable land in the world. iirc, It’s around 11% of total land mass.

    Of the remaining land mass, I’m not sure how much is suitable to support wild bees. But what I am sure of is that wild bees must have plenty of land to be wild in. They can’t _all_ be dying off (unless you’re suggesting that farmers dust all land, even acres they don’t use?).

    So woudln’t it be a matter of just getting some more wild bees from the wild and, for future considerations, just not allowing certain areas that require pesticides to farm in those areas (a bee sanctuary,ie)?

    Which brings me to another point. Why is China so polluted? Because the global economy insists on cramming as much industry in one area as possible. It needs to be spread out, not banned (as some desire). That would solve their pollution problems. I bet if the same were done for agriculture, these pesticide problems would likewise diminish to manageable levels.


    • Rich April 12, 2011, 4:50 pm

      B, just wanted to share that in the SFBA, we had a Greek guest from San Mateo County who fell asleep as a child in his family’s orchard and woke up covered with bees.
      He parlayed that as an octogenarian into collecting wild bees and swarms into over 100 bee colony boxes…

  • nonplused April 11, 2011, 10:15 pm

    I don’t think electromagnetic radiation is to blame. The nature of radio waves is very similar to light only with such low energies it’s hard to imagine them playing havoc with anything not designed to concentrate (antenna) and amplify them.

    Also populous areas of the first world have been saturated in electromagnetic waves for many years and in generally rising amounts, but the bee disorder is rather abrupt.

    Wi-fi routers are found mostly in the city and perhaps more numerously in farm houses these days, but by the time you are 100 feet away from the house the radio signal is too weak to function anymore. It certainly isn’t going to cause a bee to veer off course and die! Wi-fi routers are low power devices.

    Cell phone towers perhaps offer a more intense signal, but they are also mostly in town and along the major highways. Signal strength in the middle of Saskatchewan is generally pretty weak.

    A cell phone itself transmits at perhaps 2 watts. Again, if you can hold it up to your head and use it, the bees probably don’t notice it either. On the other hand, I don’t think I’m to keen to hold some Clothianidin or DDT for that matter up to my head! I am guessing the effects would be much worse than a little cell phone chatting.

    In my opinion, the whole “cell phone tower” thing was a scam that was probably thought up by Bayer’s marketing team to throw the hounds off their trail. You’ve been duped!

    Also the “magnetic field” thing doesn’t work either. The magnetic field generated by a transmission line is thousands of times stronger than the prevailing higher frequency electromagnetic waves near it but bees have been navigating underneath them with no troubles for years.

    So far as I know, bees navigate using the sun. They even do their little bee dances in reference to the orientation of the sun.

    Think about these 4 facts and it should be clear what’s going on:

    1. Cell phones don’t kill people even after prolonged head contact.
    2. Clothianidin does kill people if exposure is above a certain level.
    3. Bees are “dying-off” where there are no cell towers.
    4. Bees are not “dying-off” in places in the world where there is no Clothianidin.

    Case closed. Protests at the Bayer Crop Killers headquarters could begin anytime.

    • Rich April 12, 2011, 4:46 pm

      Good logic np.
      Would only observe light from 93 million miles away does get us out of bed and grow the crops, many species are electromagnetic sensitive for navigation, from whales to pigeons to lobsters and perhaps bees, while gravitational forces even further away seem to somehow keep planets in solar system orbit, Brown Dwarf/Nibiru/Planet X fantasies notwithstanding.
      California almond growers pay $158 a hive to pollinate crops every Spring…

  • Rich April 11, 2011, 9:41 pm

    richcash8 Rich Cash
    Sudden amber alert double in geomagnetic strength may accompany earthquakes, weather and market buying op: http://www.n3kl.org/sun/noaa.html

    • Rich April 12, 2011, 4:36 pm

      richcash8 Rich Cash
      Now progressed to Red Alert Geostorm.
      Trailing Buy/Sell Stops in place after Monday and first hour to buy/sell any reversals…

  • Jim N April 11, 2011, 7:23 pm

    Thanks Cam. My son has now entered the field as we are developing our ranch and want to make sure we have sufficient bees for pollination. My first personal adventure with bees ended with both my colonies dying and i gave up as it is spendy. So now here we go again. My son has said the same thing as this article and he is concerned and thus taking some active steps to resolve. This is a serious issue and not surprisingly we hear so little about it as it could affect corporate profits.

  • Chris T. April 11, 2011, 7:22 pm

    Someone recently said:

    “the cell-phone, and wi-fi in general” will turn out to be to the 21st century what the cigarette was to the 20th.

    The point therein being:
    Even when people have come to realize that these things are not 100% harmless, they will be unwilling to reduce / give up the use because they are addicted.

    So, even if plenty of convincing evidence emerges, that the EM issue mentioned above is to blame, it will be denied, ignored, prob. until it is too late.
    There is already plenty of evidence, that these things are not good for people either (esp. a fetus), but hardly anyone curtails their 24h on, talk all the time use…

  • Rich April 11, 2011, 7:04 pm

    As a former beekeeper, science jock and father of a daughter who did original Bee Colony Collapse Disorder research at UCSD, so far the etiology of CCD appears to be multifactorial.
    In other words, scientists don’t yet have THE smoking CCD gun, although, as discussed here, there are various candidates, including Climate change, EM, GMO, Pesticides, Radiation and imported Varroa mites.
    We may be in a similar situation to Silent Spring in 1962, when chemical companies like Dow denied DDT was the culprit. Some scientists still today claim banning DDT cost millions of human lives from malaria.
    There were similar objections when scientists confirmed antimony arsenic lead buckshot killed off waterfowl and raptors like Ducks and Condors.
    Even the horticulturalist who developed the sugar beet industry in Utah, died of sepsis from a lead pellet in his heel. Hunters did not want to pay for more expensive metal buckshots like steel or tungsten.
    An educated and informed public can be a healthy rational public, so at least one missing ingredient in the discussion of CCD is knowledge of what GMO by MON and others actually involves.
    Rapeseed contained toxic levels of erucic acid that can cause heart damage. While a good lubricant, it was unfit for human or livestock consumption until selectively crossed to develop CANadian Oil Low Acid Canola that some nutritionists still eschew.
    GMO is a whole different matter. GMO pollen goes everywhere. GMO Corn was implicated in the dieoff of Monarch Butterflies that ate milkweed that uptook lethal genes from GMO corn pollen.
    MON somehow successfully sued farmers for theft after their heritage DNA soybean fields were contaminated by MON GMO Soybean terminator pollen.
    Patented terminator genes were designed to kill seeds so farmers and growers have to come back to the agro-company to stay in business.
    The dirty secret of GMO is that because only one cell in a thousand may accept the deliberately altered DNA, part of the technology involves seeding contagious DNA carriers from toxic bacterial and viral diseases, as well as other genes the human gut or mother nature, evolved over millions of years, cannot tolerate.
    One example might be GMO salmon, engineered with insect DNA to grow faster to twice the size of natural salmon. Escaped Frankenstein salmon could kill off wild salmon competitors.
    No wonder Bill Gates and others stored heirloom DNA north of the Arctic Circle, in case of manmade Armageddon with biologicals, chemicals, cyberwar stuxnet terminators, depleted uranium, manmade foods, nuclear winter, reactor meltdowns or terminal vaccines.
    What is of concern was Congress gave various corporate monopolies with their hired scientists and research covers, indemnity from their lethal chemicals, Constitutional communication violations, toxic products and dangerous vaccines, sometimes in the name of National Security.
    As “harmless’ radiation from GE Toshiba TEPCO Fukushima spreads around the world with half-lives from 9 days to 4.46 B years, more and more people may be considering whether these are accidents of careless corporations or a deliberate strategy of population control making Margaret Sanger and Hitler eugenics look tame…

    • Rich April 11, 2011, 7:18 pm

      Add industrial waste, monoagriculture and high fructose corn syrup to potential factors in CCD…

    • Larry D April 11, 2011, 8:39 pm

      While you’re at it, don’t forget tobacco.

      And never, ever get an X-ray.

      Or live anywhere around granite.

    • Rich April 12, 2011, 4:34 pm

      Dengue Fever popping up in various US states may also be a DDT ban byproduct. A friend’s wife caught it on their honeymoon to a tropical state. They call it the bonebreaker fever because of the joint pain.
      Let’s see if I grok what you’re saying LD:
      Tobacco for radiation and nicotinic acid, X Rays for DNA mutations, Granite for Radon?

  • Pat April 11, 2011, 6:36 pm

    No beekeepers anywhere around here I am aware of. I live in a rural area with only a few homes within a mile of me and they do not keep bees. My fruit trees are literally covered with bees when in bloom. While I don’t dispute that bees are declining in certain areas, I do not belive it is a worldwide or catastrophic concern, at least not yet?

  • Pat April 11, 2011, 5:34 pm

    My apple and cherry trees are also loaded with honey and bumblebees when the blossoms are out, along with dozens of other smaller insects busy pollinating. I guess I don’t understand how we can be having record crop harvests around the world but supposedly don’t have hardly any “pollinators” left?

    • Cam Fitzgerald April 11, 2011, 5:56 pm

      Bees have not totally dissapeared Pat.

      In many parts of the country they are thriving of course. What beekeepers themselves are reporting across America and around the world though are simply incredible annual losses of hives. I personally know of Apiarists who have suffered an almost 100% loss of their bees in a single season. This has never happened before and it is alarming to say the least.

      While I appreciate your local observation it cannot stand up to the data that is coming out of all quarters that is telling us in no uncertain terms that a catastrophe is unfolding in the insect world. There have in fact been reports out of China by the Guardian Newspaper that workers are being employed to pollinate trees by hand due to the collapse of honeybee populations.


      You may be enjoying the benefits of bees right now but don’t bank on it in the future should the industry start losing many of it’s stressed operators here at home.

    • Steve April 11, 2011, 6:16 pm

      What kind of crops ? Grains ? In regard to the cherry trees, is that because a bee keeper is nearby ?
      Funny, because I have not seen bumblebees working high in the limbs of a cherry tree, though I have seen bumble bees working close to the ground. Last year I don’t recall seeing any bumble bees, only the honey bees, from the white box over at the neighbor’s place, in the garden.

  • James April 11, 2011, 5:34 pm

    Interesting, Ellan Page was just on Bill Maher talking about this crises. She promoted a site with a documentary traveling the country at http://www.vanishingbees.com/

  • charles reed April 11, 2011, 5:25 pm

    First bee keepers dont keep bumble bees, they keep honey bees, big difference.second the major problem is mites & science has made giant inroads against them. Some bees have been bred up to the point where mites dont effect them. Guy should get some russian stock, they fair very well against the mites.I think what this fellow really wants is to try to scare everone & more United Nations & socialism

    • Cam Fitzgerald April 11, 2011, 5:42 pm

      We should be scared Charles. The article discusses the demise of both wild and domestic pollinators and the two issues are inextricably linked. The dissappearance of 96% of four types of bumbebees that were studied from across the continental US represents a disaster.

      What is happening to Bumblebees is a big red flag for our environment and the future of food security. You will no doubt be aware that some plants are annuals and others are perennials.

      Flowering annuals may be first at risk as they require pollinization each season and without the benefit of both wild and domestic bees face extinction in some cases. The UNEP report states that tens of thousands of plants are now at risk. This is no small issue because it goes to the heart of biodiversity.

      Here is that report from UNEP.


    • Andy April 11, 2011, 6:10 pm

      Spot on.

      We’re all doomed, doomed I tell you.
      Well, perhaps not. I’ve heard all these Malthusian and other crap my whole adult life.

  • Pat April 11, 2011, 2:12 pm

    No shortage of bumblebees and honey bees up here in northern Michigan. My wifes flower pots are covered with them in summer.

  • Avocado April 11, 2011, 1:54 pm

    I can’t find the article as I’m not sure it made it onto the web, but our local paper wrote about a local bee farmer who split the hives to force new colonies to form because of the die-off. New queens, new colonies, more bumblebees.


  • Dave April 11, 2011, 10:28 am

    New documentary, Queen of the Sun, explores this topic. Quote attributed to Albert Einstein (now in dispute) who said that, ‘If bees disappear from the earth, then man will only have four years of life left.’

    Rudolf Steiner, founder of anthroposophy (Waldorf School, biodynamic farming) predicted bee collapse in 1923 to occur in 80 years. Today, Achim Steiner, UNEP Director, speaks out about this.


  • Benjamin April 11, 2011, 6:09 am
    • Carol April 11, 2011, 5:38 pm

      Cam -> “He knows his bees died off suspiciously and suspects neonicotinoid pesticides which are used extensively on prairie canola fields are the root cause that weakened his colonies and allowed mites and other infection to overcome his bees.”

      Well first canola fields are almost exclusively GMO so it is all together possible that it is as linked to GMO canola as it is to the pesticides.

      Second, I agree that pesticides are horrible and they should ALL be outlawed! If farmers treasured their soil like bee keepers tresured their bees, then there would be no need for pesticides. Just like the bees subcumming to the mites it is only because the bees imunne systems are already weakened. In an unweaked state the bees can and do fight off the mites just fine.

      Now getting that out of the way I agree with benjamin that it is in all likelyhood it is more probable that it is cell phone towers and wi-fi and a host of other electromagetic pollution that is doing in the bees.

      Prof. K. Hecht, Dr. M. Kern, Prof. K. Richter, Dr. H. Scheiner, “Effects of Wireless Communication Technologies” 2009“ Today, unprecedented exposure levels and intensities of magnetic, electric, and electromagnetic fields from numerous wireless technologies interfere with the natural information system and functioning of humans, animals, and plants. The consequences of this development, which have already been predicted by critics for many decades, cannot be ignored anymore. Bees and other insects vanish; birds avoid certain places and become disorientated at others. Humans suffer from functional impairments and diseases. And insofar as the latter are hereditary, they will be passed on to next generations as pre-existing defects”.

      Further A report for Congress in 2008 entitled “Recent Honey Bee Colony Declines ” found that:

      “Among the key symptoms of CCD in collapsed colonies is that the adult population is suddenly gone without any accumulation of dead bees. The bees are not returning to the hive but are leaving behind their brood (young bees), their queen, and maybe a small cluster of adults. What is uncharacteristic about this situation is that the honey bee is a very social insect and colony-oriented, with a complex and organized nesting colony. Failing to return to the hive is
      considered highly unusual. An absence of a large number of dead bees makes an analysis of the causes of CCD difficult.”

      In 1985, two scientists, Walker and Bitterman, proved that bees are affected by magnetic fields, and their experiments were subsequently replicated to confirm the results in 1991. So there is clear scientific evidence that bees possess a sensitivity to magnetic fields, and that changes in the direction of the magnetic field affects their behaviour.

      Ulrich Warnke, chairman of the Institute Physiology Forum at the University of Saarland said “Insects such as bees receive these oscillations (from electrical storms) and recognise them as storm warnings. We were able to show that bees return in great numbers when these oscillations are simulated and ransmitted, using a highly amplified signal generator. If the amplitudes of the artificial oscillations overlap
      with the natural signals, however, the return rate rapidly decreases. The bees fail to find their way home.

      Here are two important facts:
      1) The bee colonies started dying out only very recently – it was only in 2000 that bee-keepers started to notice there was a problem.

      2) The growth of mobile and wi-fi technology has grown exponentially over the past 10 years.

      Can a pesticide make the bees unable to find their hive? I think not.

      Will we as a society ever be willing to give up our cell phones? I think not.

    • Larry D April 11, 2011, 6:07 pm

      If cell phones are to blame, why do bee colonies collapse in the middle of phone-sparse Saskatchewan?

      What of radar, satellite communication, HDTV, and GPS?

      Sick bees leave a hive to prevent spreading disease, whatever the cause may bee. (pun…sorry)

    • Carol April 11, 2011, 6:21 pm

      “What of radar, satellite communication, HDTV, and GPS?”

      yes all of the above are electromagnetic “pollution” I just used cell phones as the biggest example of those.

      as far as the bees leaving so they don’t infect the colony that is a interesting theory but I would suggest that the bees are getting so sick in the first place because their immune systems have become so comprimised.

      Who knows!

    • Cam Fitzgerald April 11, 2011, 6:30 pm

      “Can a pesticide make the bees unable to find their hive? I think not”. ~~ Carol

      Carol, I respectfully have to disagree with your assertion that pesticides are not implicated in bee memory thus rendering them unable to return to their hives.

      There is now evidence to prove that this is the case. The chemicals in question impair the central nervous system of insects that come into contact with it and they simply stop functioning normally. This is in fact what theses chemicals are designed to do.

      The EPA itself makes the following remarks about Clothianidin ” Clothianidin is highly toxic to honey bees on an acute contact basis. It has the potential for toxic chronic exposure to honey bees, as well as other nontarget pollinators, through the translocation of clothianidin residues in nectar and pollen. In honey bees, the effects of this toxic chronic exposure may include lethal and/or sub-lethal effects in the larvae and reproductive effects in the queen”. There is no mystery here Carol.

      The EPA further states from its own research and fact pages on Clothianidin that… “Documented sublethal affects of neonicotinoids include physiological affects that impact enzyme activity leading to impairment of olfactory memory. Behavioral effects are reported on motor activity that impact navigation, orientation and feeding behavior”

      Wiki References to research and effects of Neonicotinoids on bees.

      Report from the Community Environmental Legal Defence Fund (CELDF.org) titled “Protecting Honey Bees from Pesticides”

      Reference to EPA research on pesticides impacts on bees.

    • Benjamin April 11, 2011, 10:09 pm

      “Now getting that out of the way I agree with benjamin that it is in all likelyhood it is more probable that it is cell phone towers and wi-fi and a host of other electromagetic pollution that is doing in the bees.”

      For the record, the linked article did not implicate cellphone towers at all. What I was trying to draw attention to was, as you said, the problems of excessive inbreeding and other problems associated with domestication, and how that makes them susceptible to the mites that Cam made mention of.

      “Second, I agree that pesticides are horrible and they should ALL be outlawed!”

      Speaking of genetics, every bit of flora has it’s own natural pesticides; our domestication of certain ones over the millenia has weakened that defense, which is why we need pesticides in order to have farming at all. Aside from every-growing demand, without that compromise either we and/or the animals we raise would not be able to eat what raw nature provides.

      It’s complex as hell, and was built one painfuly gained bit of knowledge and practice at a time. Therefore, I don’t think being European about this is at all wise, as that would most certainly destroy the food supply.
      Then what would we do, besides die off?

    • Cam Fitzgerald April 12, 2011, 11:02 pm

      Thanks for that link Benjamin.

      I cannot deny that RF and Cell phones may be contributing to the decline of our pollinators.

      One of my biggest concerns however with the great number of theories that are being proposed for the die-off of bees is that they detract from what many of us see as the number one cause of colony death.

      The smoking gun is looking more chemical in nature than electrical and all the many alternate theories just confuse the debate and mix signals for regulators and the general public. Clearly, more research into this issue is urgently needed. We need to dispense with the Red Herrings and get down to business. Fast.

      There is already strong evidence to support the notion that excessive pesticide use is implicated in the reduced and even systematic harm to immune systems of bees and it is therefore leaving otherwise healthy colonies vulnerable to population crashes brought on by secondary factors.

      I hope that more beekeepers will pick up on this article and comment directly with their own concerns.

      I know it is a very busy time for many as hives are just being opened again for the first time since over-wintering but I think it is really important for our voices to be heard.

      So, calling all beekeepers…….make yourselves heard!

    • Benjamin April 13, 2011, 2:23 am


      I don’t know if your mentioning the cellphone radiation was a nod of agreement or not, so again I say for the record that I don’t hold them culpable (and it’s not out of love for cellphones, as I _hate!_ them 🙂 .

      Anyway, what would be researched and why?

      If we’re talking about the pesticide itself, I don’t think there is much question that it affects bees. Pesticides will be pesticides.

      If it’s a matter of genetics and breeding, the simple way to research would be for the beekeepers to experiment (or not; control groups are always needed). This, thanks to the web, they could coordinate among themselves. But if not, and we’re talking Big Government research…

      And then what of any findings? I mean, look at this from the prespective from my line of questioning…

      If massive reasearch (and coordinating massive research funds) is not needed, and this turns out to be a local/regional problem and/or unresolved keeper/farmer disputes (and it will), then what purpose could the massive research serve, other than to create top-down restrictions or even bans?

      I also point to the legislation that Rich brought to our attention.

      This being every-man-for-himself on a sinking ship, even if the legislation is gunned down they will persist until victory is granted. Research leading to top-down restrictions and/or bans will not help the beekeepers and other other small farmers. Rather, it will put them down for the count. Ban or restrict the pesticide, then GMO organic providers benefit (and they support the aforementioned legislation).

      Now, for the record and as a simple observer in the agri-wars, I don’t have anything against GMO, pesticides, or organic. They all provide something we need so there’s no sense bickering about “impossible” co-existence, as all sides have done. In fact, that is one reason why the very real dangers exist at all, the other being the financial/monetary systems and what they necessarily result in.

      But I’m not sure what you, a “lowly” beekeeper, can do about it. All I can do is show you what is and why, and show again what the root of all these problems are (see my long post, below).

      I wager that the pain will have to increase for everyone before any serious changes even begin to be discussed, let alone brought about. Still, one can always constantly stress the important and hope!