City Bees versus Country Bees

Richard Stanley

Administrator
Bee scientist, Noah Wilson-Rich, discusses that city bees are thriving better than country (and suburban) bees, despite higher levels of pesticides. Seems that they ironically have better and bio-diverse exposure to such (bee food) plants as flowers, as farmers have gone more and more to fertilizers instead of nitrogen fixing-cover crops. Suburbs are full of lawns, empty of food content for bees.

14:30 minutes
 

Jerry Russell

Administrator
Staff member
There's substantial evidence that pesticides are a major contributor to the bee population decline. See, for example:

https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/press-releases/study-strengthens-link-between-neonicotinoids-and-collapse-of-honey-bee-colonies/

Study strengthens link between neonicotinoids and collapse of honey bee colonies
The study appears online May 9, 2014 in the Bulletin of Insectology.
“We demonstrated again in this study that neonicotinoids are highly likely to be responsible for triggering CCD in honey bee hives that were healthy prior to the arrival of winter,” said lead author Chensheng (Alex) Lu, associate professor of environmental exposure biology at HSPH.
Since 2006, there have been significant losses of honey bees from CCD. Pinpointing the cause is crucial to mitigating this problem since bees are prime pollinators of roughly one-third of all crops worldwide. Experts have considered a number of possible causes, including pathogen infestation, beekeeping practices, and pesticide exposure. Recent findings, including a 2012 study by Lu and colleagues, suggest that CCD is related specifically to neonicotinoids, which may impair bees’ neurological functions. Imidacloprid and clothianidin both belong to this group.
It's also widely agreed that disease and forage loss are major factors. And there's room for debate about the chain of causality. But, in addition to direct damage to the bees by pesticides, it seems likely to me that widespread use of herbicides in rural areas also contributes to loss of bee habitat. This could become a vicious cycle, as a lack of bees as pollinators could lead to a further decline in population of flowering plants.

So I'm a little concerned here that Wilson-Rich is deflecting attention from pesticide concerns. His data looks noisy and spotty, and I don't think it supports the weight of the conclusions drawn.

But at least Wilson-Rich is drawing attention to the general issue of bee population declines, and encouraging people to become bee-keepers.

Janet is always trying to maintain a diverse range of flowering plants on the farm for our bees' benefit. One of our hives made it through the winter this year! First time ever.
 
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