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The greatest bee hazard (Was: The death of insects and large scale surveys)

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  • Dave Green
    ... From: Sam Droege ... I was extremely reluctant to kill bees when I first started. For this reason, I still prefer netting over pan trapping. But I ve
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 8, 2010
      ----- Original Message -----
      >>... if one looks at the number of collectors, the impact of their individual traps, and extrapolates to the entire landscape...the impact is diminutive...one cannot physically survey that many places to make a difference.

      I was extremely reluctant to kill bees when I first started. For this reason, I still prefer netting over pan trapping. But I've discovered as I became a bit more free, that when I rejected a "second" or "third" specimen, because I already had that one, that these were too often different species.
      As I observe bees, I note that there are many hazards to them. Sam speaks of lawn mowing; others of traffic kills. One sees a lot of them winding up as spider food; occasionally as a meal for an assassin bug. There are numerous parasitic species of bees. There are predators: bee wolves, birds, dragonflies, you-name-it.
      But my observations of honeybees over my total career has shown that all of these hazards are dwarfed in at least an order of magnitude by pesticides.
      Others may not see this, hobby beekeepers, or professionals who do not spend much time actually with the bees, may not see and recognize pesticide hits. They just wonder why the bees don't thrive.  A good beekeeper in tune with his bees will see it.
      The pesticide cops have a deliberate bias in not seeing pesticide damage. Extension people, research scientists, those who depend on grants, tend to be fearful of job security and advancement, if they look very hard at pesticide damage.
      The pesticide industry is very powerful. Pesticide money funds many university projects. It flows into politicians' campaigns. It makes a lot of people look away, or even actively oppose anything that might complicate and maybe reduce pesticide use.
      I had an opportunity to do an informal documentary on the collateral damage of one cotton spray. While this is just a tiny bit of observation, my lifelong experience confirms this as a real problem.    http://gardenbees.com/cotton%20spray/cottonspray.htm
      Agricultural spraying (at least in eastern USA) is somewhat mitigated by wild areas that serve as islands of safety for bees and other biodiversity, from which they can replenish. The larger the spray area, the longer it takes to replenish, because any islands of safety are farther away. So massive public spray projects have the potential to impact bee populations for many years - and some species may never recover in an area.
      My anecdotal evidence will not convince many people. But for years I have begged for the folks with the resources to do "official" research. Most are highly reluctant. I've talked with grad students who were gung-ho on doing research in this area, only to have their professors nix the idea.
      And fewer still will speak out when there is a massive violation of the pesticide label by a public project.
      Pesticide labels have protection for bees in the directions. Violation of the directions is pesticide misuse.  I have codified label protection into a flow chart which makes a useful tool for all involved. One state extension department used this flow chart, but it was later squelched.  http://gardenbees.com/cotton%20spray/flowchart.htm
      Now the extension people and the pesticide cops will usually claim that the directions only apply to honeybees. But to the extent honeybees are actually protected by adherance to label directions, wild bees will also obtain some protection.
      The problem is that extension people and the pesticide cops actively promote a way for pesticide users to avoid following the label directions - by notifying beekeepers and leaving the protection up to them. This scheme is, of course, a recommendation of misuse - also illegal, but no one has the guts or the resources to put the scheme away.
      The avoidance scheme of notifying beekeers negates any protection to wild bees. And dumping protection on beekeepers doesn't even protect honeybees. How many hobby beekeepers will find their bosses favorably inclined to them taking a day off work so they can protect their bees. And professionals with bees in many areas - all threatened at the same time - cab only be in one place at one time. Furthermore closing up hives on hot days is likely to also kill bees and brood. You'd have to have a tanker truck of water for each bee yard that is threatened.
      So, if you want to protect wild bees, you have a useful tool in the pesticide labels. All you have to do is get them enforced!  This is a place where the wild bee proponants and the beekeeping industry needs to be collaborating.
      Dave Green
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