Re-posting a re-post here, but if you haven't heard, it may be of interest.
Joyce in Peggs
I received this article from another list but felt it was an important
issue since we depend on the honey bee to pollinate many of the wild edibles
we enjoy so much. I have a huge hornets nest my hubby wanted me to remove
this winter but I hate to do this because of the impact it could have on the
ecology here on our own place.
When I am going out to forage I just put on long pants and long sleeves to
protect myself from stings and insect bites for the most part, but it is
very important not to kill these natural garden helpers. I can't remember
which wasp it is but there is one that lays eggs on the tomato worm that
kills them. Whenever I see one of these worms in my tomato patch covered
with the eggs I leave it alone and just destroy the others, but even then I
wonder what benefit they might be.
Source: American Chemical Society (http://www.acs.org/)
Date: Posted 9/30/99
New Hope For Declining U.S. Honeybee Population
Chances are, you haven't seen honeybees in your flower garden for quite some
time. Bumblebees and carpenter bees, perhaps, but not honeybees. Parasitic
mites have dramatically reduced the honeybee population in this country,
wreaking havoc on commercial bee farms and threatening farmers who rely on
bees to pollinate their crops.
Researchers with the U. S. Department of Agriculture in Beltsville, Md.,
report they may be able to stem the decline in the honeybee population with
a gel containing formic acid. Writing in the Sept. 20 issue of the Journal
of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, the researchers report that the gel
kills 70 - 85 percent of varroa mites, which literally suck the life from
bees by feeding on their body fluids, and 100 percent of tracheal mites,
which live in bees' tracheae and interfere with breathing. The peer-reviewed
journal is published by the American Chemical Society, the world's largest
scientific society. The article was initially published on the journal's web
site on Aug. 21.
Produced naturally by some ants as a defense against predators, formic acid
can be dangerous in large quantities if handled improperly. And it must be
reapplied frequently to be effective against bee mites, according to the
article's lead author, Jan Kochansky, Ph.D., of the USDA's Bee Research
Laboratory in Beltsville.
"Formic acid has been used in other countries for years to control parasitic
mites of honeybees," says Kochansky. But until now, he says, large-scale use
has been impractical.
"Formic acid's mobility and corrosive properties make it dangerous to the
user and have made bee supply companies unwilling to risk the liability
associated with its use," according to Kochansky. "We have developed a gel
formulation that is easier and safer to handle [than the liquid form] and
emits formic acid vapors over two to three weeks, reducing the labor
associated with its use."
The varroa and tracheal mites entered the U.S. in the mid-1980s. Since then,
they have decimated both wild and commercial bee populations.
"Both mites now inhabit honeybee colonies in most of the country," states
the research article. "Infestation of a honeybee colony with either mite can
lead to loss of the colony, but colony mortality caused by the varroa mite
can reach essentially 100 percent in temperate regions."
Two compounds are widely used in the United States to control bee mites: the
pesticide fluvalinate used for varroa mites and menthol used for tracheal
mites. While menthol remains effective against tracheal mites, varroa mites
in some regions of the United States have developed resistance to
fluvalinate, as has already occurred in parts of Europe. "The migratory
nature of commercial beekeeping means that this resistance will spread
rapidly to most areas of the country," claims Kochansky. Another compound,
coumaphos, is used in some states to help control fluvalinate-resistant
varroa mites, he notes.
A patent for the formic acid gel is pending; a manufacturing license has
been issued to BetterBee, Inc. of Greenwich, N.Y. EPA registered the gel in
Note: This story has been adapted from a news release issued by American
Chemical Society for journalists and other members of the public. If you
wish to quote from any part of this story, please credit American Chemical
Society as the original source. You may also wish to include the following
link in any citation: