When researchers collected pollen from hives on the east coast pollinating cranberry, watermelon and other crops and fed it to healthy bees, those bees showed a significant decline in their ability to resist infection by a parasite called Nosema ceranae. The parasite has been implicated in Colony Collapse Disorder though scientists took pains to point out that their findings do not directly link the pesticides to CCD. The pollen was contaminated on average with nine different pesticides and fungicides though scientists discovered 21 agricultural chemicals in one sample. Scientists identified eight ag chemicals associated with increased risk of infection by the parasite.
Most disturbing, bees that ate pollen contaminated with fungicides were three times as likely to be infected by the parasite. Widely used, fungicides had been thought to be harmless for bees as they’re designed to kill fungus, not insects, on crops like apples.
Here I am, removing aerial yellow jackets in Renton
My usual approach is to collect the airborne foragers first, and then remove the nest at the end. This gives the returning wasps the visual feedback to fly to their usual entrance, where the vacuum captures them.
There is a stand of old trees behind the hotel where this swarm was collected. Many of the trees look like they could host feral bees. The queen had already laid eggs in the small piece of comb drawn where the cluster formed.
I was given this article last weekend (August 11 & 12, 2012) at a honeybee workshop hosted by Jacqueline Freeman and Michael Thiele. It fundamentally challenges the perspective of raising and breeding resistant or hygienic bees.