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Letter to Editor: Time Magazine

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  • Peter Bernhardt
    Dear Colleagues: I have incorporated most of your comments over the last two days. If we wait too long to submit the letter of the editor we risk redundancy.
    Message 1 of 2 , Aug 14, 2013
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      Dear Colleagues:

      I have incorporated most of your comments over the last two days.  If we wait too long to submit the letter of the editor we risk redundancy.  I suggest that Jennifer or Laurie represent us and send it in.

      Sincerely, Peter


      Dear Editor:

      Members of the North American Pollinator Protection Campaign <http://pollinator.org/nappc/> would like to thank you for your cover article "A World Without Bees."  It draws attention to a serious and ongoing agricultural problem,  We include an itemized list of potential errors or misleading statements that appeared in the article.  We request you check some of your original sources.   

      Text

       1) The article states that 10 million hives have been lost in recent years but records show that hive keeping in America was highest in 1950 with only 5.5 million hives.  If there were only two and a half million hives in operation from 2007-2013 how could we have lost 10 million hives to Colony Collapse Disorder in less than six years?  Please check the following site.  http://www.yalescientific.org/2013/02/the-secret-life-of-bee-bacteria-gut-microbiota-may-yield-clues-to-honey-bee-health/
      2) Chemists are looking for systemic pesticides (which are moved within the plant), not systematic pesticides. 

      Society in A Box  PP. 28-29

      1)  It is not possible that the oldest honeybee specimen is 200 million years old.  That predates the first flower fossils by at least 80 million years  Th oldest fossils of an Apis bee are 20-30 million years old and the oldest fossil of a modern A. mellifera (direct ancestor of the modern honeybee) is only 1 and a half million years old. 
      2) The Breeds.  The breeds you list are all varieties of the honeybee (A.mellifera) but there are other species grown and used commercially all over the world.   Bumblebees (Bombus) are bred commercially and internationally to pollinate greenhouse tomatoes.  The Chinese domesticated their own honeybee (Apis cerana) thousands of years ago and these bees pollinate fruit and vegetable crops throughout much of eastern Asia.  Blue orchard bees (Osmia) are also kept commercially and some authorities think they do a great job pollinating almonds.  It's estimated that 15 - 20 million leaf cutter bees (Megachile rotundata) are produced annually to pollinate alfalfa (primary feed for our cattle and poultry).
      3) Anatomy. The actual proboscis (described but not pictured in the photo) is not an airtight sucking device.  Your staff confused it with the cibarium (inside the bee's head) which does aid in sucking but the actual proboscis of a honeybee is tipped with a hairy spoon so it works more like a cat's tongue (lapping not sucking).  
      4) Anatomy. Yes, honeybees do have an electrostatic charge and this picks up pollen when the worker honeybee visits a flower only for nectar.   However, most of the pollen they pick up occurs when they actively scrape male flower organs known as anthers. Your photos of the honeybee did not point out the corbiculae (pollen baskets) on the hind legs used specially to haul pellets of pollen foraged actively by a worker.

      The Impact On The Farm PP.30-31.

      1) This is misleading.  Asparagus, broccoli, onion and celery do not require pollination prior to harvest.  We would find them distasteful (stringy, bitter or dry) if they were picked after they flowered.  These vegetables need bee-pollination to produce next season's supply of commercial seeds that companies then sell to farmers and gardeners.  No one eats a bee-pollinated asparagus that has "gone to seed." 

      Yours Sincerely,




    • Peter Bernhardt
      I misread a caption in the Society in a Box page and ask Jennifer or Laurie to change it before sending out the letter. The rewriter is below. 1) It is not
      Message 2 of 2 , Aug 14, 2013
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        I misread a caption in the "Society in a Box" page and ask Jennifer or Laurie to change it before sending out the letter.  The rewriter is below.

        1) It is not possible that the oldest honeybee specimens is 100 million years old.  The oldest fossil that resembles a bee is 100 million years old but the  oldest fossil of an Apis bee is only 20-30 million years old.  The oldest fossil of a modern A. mellifera (direct ancestor of the modern honeybee) is only 1 and a half million years old. 


        Sorry about that.  I'm breaking in new glasses.

        Peter


        On Wed, Aug 14, 2013 at 10:59 AM, Peter Bernhardt <bernhap2@...> wrote:
        Dear Colleagues:

        I have incorporated most of your comments over the last two days.  If we wait too long to submit the letter of the editor we risk redundancy.  I suggest that Jennifer or Laurie represent us and send it in.

        Sincerely, Peter


        Dear Editor:

        Members of the North American Pollinator Protection Campaign <http://pollinator.org/nappc/> would like to thank you for your cover article "A World Without Bees."  It draws attention to a serious and ongoing agricultural problem,  We include an itemized list of potential errors or misleading statements that appeared in the article.  We request you check some of your original sources.   

        Text

         1) The article states that 10 million hives have been lost in recent years but records show that hive keeping in America was highest in 1950 with only 5.5 million hives.  If there were only two and a half million hives in operation from 2007-2013 how could we have lost 10 million hives to Colony Collapse Disorder in less than six years?  Please check the following site.  http://www.yalescientific.org/2013/02/the-secret-life-of-bee-bacteria-gut-microbiota-may-yield-clues-to-honey-bee-health/
        2) Chemists are looking for systemic pesticides (which are moved within the plant), not systematic pesticides. 

        Society in A Box  PP. 28-29

        1)  It is not possible that the oldest honeybee specimen is 200 million years old.  That predates the first flower fossils by at least 80 million years  Th oldest fossils of an Apis bee are 20-30 million years old and the oldest fossil of a modern A. mellifera (direct ancestor of the modern honeybee) is only 1 and a half million years old. 
        2) The Breeds.  The breeds you list are all varieties of the honeybee (A.mellifera) but there are other species grown and used commercially all over the world.   Bumblebees (Bombus) are bred commercially and internationally to pollinate greenhouse tomatoes.  The Chinese domesticated their own honeybee (Apis cerana) thousands of years ago and these bees pollinate fruit and vegetable crops throughout much of eastern Asia.  Blue orchard bees (Osmia) are also kept commercially and some authorities think they do a great job pollinating almonds.  It's estimated that 15 - 20 million leaf cutter bees (Megachile rotundata) are produced annually to pollinate alfalfa (primary feed for our cattle and poultry).
        3) Anatomy. The actual proboscis (described but not pictured in the photo) is not an airtight sucking device.  Your staff confused it with the cibarium (inside the bee's head) which does aid in sucking but the actual proboscis of a honeybee is tipped with a hairy spoon so it works more like a cat's tongue (lapping not sucking).  
        4) Anatomy. Yes, honeybees do have an electrostatic charge and this picks up pollen when the worker honeybee visits a flower only for nectar.   However, most of the pollen they pick up occurs when they actively scrape male flower organs known as anthers. Your photos of the honeybee did not point out the corbiculae (pollen baskets) on the hind legs used specially to haul pellets of pollen foraged actively by a worker.

        The Impact On The Farm PP.30-31.

        1) This is misleading.  Asparagus, broccoli, onion and celery do not require pollination prior to harvest.  We would find them distasteful (stringy, bitter or dry) if they were picked after they flowered.  These vegetables need bee-pollination to produce next season's supply of commercial seeds that companies then sell to farmers and gardeners.  No one eats a bee-pollinated asparagus that has "gone to seed." 

        Yours Sincerely,





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