What is in this article?:
- Opinions number almost as many as there are bees in a hive as to why the bee population in North America has declined almost 50 percent over the past two decades while at the same time the bee population is increasing elsewhere in the world.
- CCD puzzle made up of multiple pieces.
Weather and bee health
The new centers will serve as a scientific and communication platform to consolidate existing and future bee health projects from Bayer companies in cooperation with external partners. They will also foster information sharing and will provide a platform for discussion and new ideas. Bayer believes that this collaboration is essential in order to find sustainable solutions that will improve honey bee health. "The Bee Care Program and the establishment of the Bee Care Centers will bring Bayer's extensive experience and knowledge in bee health under one roof and will ensure that dedicated resources for bee health are available," says Wolfgang Plischke, member of the Bayer AG Board of Management responsible for Innovation, Technology and Environment.
Schuermann told a group of growers and journalists visiting the center in Germany as part of Bayer's recent Vegetable Forum that the company believes there are many factors contributing to CCD. One is the increasing use of bees in agriculture and long distance movement of bees. This, she says, increases the chance of disease and mite spread.
Weather also plays a role in bee health.
Bayer is developing a product to stop mites from entering the hive, thus precluding deadly pathogens from entering. The company is also working with new pesticide application technology to spray pesticides from the bottom of the plant up, rather than over the top. This, hopefully, will reduce pesticide exposure to the bees.
Grass Valley, Calif., beekeeper and popular blogger Randy Oliver, said while beekeepers are thrilled that the switch from organophosphates and carbamates to neoincotinoids have greatly reduced bee kills, there remain several unresolved issues and unanswered questions about these insecticides.
No crop is more dependent on bees than California's 800,000 acres of almonds. Nearly 1 million hives are trucked into California each winter for pollination services for the state's almonds. California beekeepers supply the remaining 500,000 hives needed.
Eric Mussen, University of California apiculturist says hive strength has improved over the last few years, and attributes stronger hives to beekeepers who have found ways to overcome losses.
He says beekeepers have found ways to improve hive health and strength. Above average rainfall in 2011 California also provided a higher level of nutrition for foraging honey bees. Mussen said that added nutrition could make a significant difference in honey bee health.