Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Reblogging: Scientists discover another cause of bee deaths, and it's really bad news

Found on: Treehugger Blog:

Below are excerpts from the full article:

The researchers behind that study in PLOS ONE -- Jeffery S. Pettis, Elinor M. Lichtenberg, Michael Andree, Jennie Stitzinger, Robyn Rose, Dennis vanEngelsdorp -- collected pollen from hives on the east coast, including cranberry and watermelon crops, and fed it to healthy bees. Those bees had a serious decline in their ability to resist a parasite that causes Colony Collapse Disorder. The pollen they were fed had an average of nine different pesticides and fungicides, though one sample of pollen contained a deadly brew of 21 different chemicals. Further, the researchers discovered that bees that ate pollen with fungicides were three times more likely to be infected by the parasite.
The discovery means that fungicides, thought harmless to bees, is actually a significant part of Colony Collapse Disorder. And that likely means farmers need a whole new set of regulations about how to use fungicides. While neonicotinoids have been linked to mass bee deaths -- the same type of chemical at the heart of the massive bumble bee die off in Oregon -- this study opens up an entirely new finding that it is more than one group of pesticides, but a combination of many chemicals, which makes the problem far more complex.
And it is not just the types of chemicals used that need to be considered, but also spraying practices. The bees sampled by the authors foraged not from crops, but almost exclusively from weeds and wildflowers, which means bees are more widely exposed to pesticides than thought.
The authors write, "[M]ore attention must be paid to how honey bees are exposed to pesticides outside of the field in which they are placed. We detected 35 different pesticides in the sampled pollen, and found high fungicide loads. The insecticides esfenvalerate and phosmet were at a concentration higher than their median lethal dose in at least one pollen sample. While fungicides are typically seen as fairly safe for honey bees, we found an increased probability of Nosema infection in bees that consumed pollen with a higher fungicide load. Our results highlight a need for research on sub-lethal effects of fungicides and other chemicals that bees placed in an agricultural setting are exposed to."
While the overarching issue is simple -- chemicals used on crops kill bees -- the details of the problem are increasingly more complex, including what can be sprayed, where, how, and when to minimize the negative effects on bees and other pollinators while still assisting in crop production. Right now, scientists are still working on discovering the degree to which bees are affected and by what. It will still likely be a long time before solutions are uncovered and put into place. When economics come into play, an outright halt in spraying anything at all anywhere is simply impossible.
Quartz notes, "Bee populations are so low in the US that it now takes 60% of the country’s surviving colonies just to pollinate one California crop, almonds. And that’s not just a west coast problem—California supplies 80% of the world’s almonds, a market worth $4 billion."

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Looking for Breakfast

On a recent summer morning, a Cooper's Hawk, I believe, landed on the fence, 
searching intently for prey. 

A small bird was moving below and caught his eye - his very intense red eye!

He moves in for a closer look.

He has narrowed his search.

Or, perhaps not, as he takes one look back.

and heads out with no success.

This hawk appears to me to be a Cooper's Hawk, but after reading through the Cornell Identification notes (, comparing a Cooper's and a Sharp-shinned, I'm not as a certain. Please feel free to weigh in!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Dove Love, Part 2

After the first nesting cycle, the female was wooed by another suitor.

Her mate takes notice, tries to reel her in, by chasing and circling her. He succeeds and she sits down in place. 

He then chases off the intruder as she watches on.

He then races back to her, 

reunites and reasserts himself, ruffles his feathers and woos her.

She accepts and acknowledges him by grooming in unison.

They face one another, with him providing a ruffled display as she sits down submissively.

He feeds her, 

then mounts her and they mate.