Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Grow For It!: Where are all the bees?

From page B3 | February 13, 2013 | Leave Comment

One of nature’s most precious resources, bees, are disappearing fast. Have you wondered why and whether you may be able to help?

The term “colony collapse disorder” (CCD) refers to the sudden loss of the adult worker bees from a hive of honeybees, leaving the queen and unhatched larvae to die in the hive despite plenty of food stores in the comb.

According to Eric Mussen, University of California, Davis Department of Entomology, CCD is probably due to multiple factors that weaken the colony — pesticides, parasites such as the Varroa mite, diseases such as the virus carried by mites, malnutrition due to loss of habitat, and stress due to transportation of hives plus all of the above.

Bee journals reported major colony losses every 10 to 15 years in the late 1800s. The current CCD problem started in 2004 and got press coverage in 2006.

Recent research on possible causes has focused on the neonicotinoid insecticides (imidacloprid, clothianidin, dinotefuran and thiamethoxam). They are the newest class of insecticide and the most widely used in the world. Compared to earlier insecticides such as organophosphates and carbamates, the neonicotinoids were developed because they show less toxicity to humans and other mammals. All of the three types are descendents of nerve gases developed in World War I.

In plants the neonicotinoids are systemic; after application to soil or leaves they spread throughout the plant, including flowers (nectar and pollen). Insects take in the insecticides when they chew or suck on treated plants.

In animals they activate nerve cells that are normally triggered by the neurotransmitter “acetylcholine.” Mammals have these neurons in both the peripheral nervous system (muscle contraction) and central nervous system (sensation, planning, and memory). In insects they occur only in the central nervous system.

Neonicotinoids make the nerves stay “turned on,” causing paralysis and death. Since they bind more strongly to neurons of insects than mammals, they are considered to be more toxic to insects than mammals.

A French study published in 2011 found that after exposure to neonicotiods the bees’ homing (navigation back to the hive) was impaired.

In 2012 researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health reported that they could “cause” CCD by exposing bees to low doses of imidacloprid.

“The dead hives looked just like CCD cases; they were empty except for food stores, some pollen and young bees, with few dead bees nearby. When other conditions cause hive collapse — such as disease or pests — many dead bees are typically found inside and outside the affected hives.”

Neonicotinoids have been restricted in France since the 1990s and in Germany since 2008.

In 2009 the California Department of Pesticide Regulation decided to reevaluate the previous approval. However, in 2012 when commercial beekeepers and environmental groups petitioned the U.S. EPA to ban one of the neonicotinoids (clothianidin) because it harms honeybees, the petition was denied.

The home gardener can help the bees. Instead of using insecticides, use garden “best practices.” Read the label if you do buy pesticides. Include bee-friendly plants in the garden. Try artemesia asteraceae, cenizo or leucophyllum frutescens, creeping thyme or thyme polytrichus britannius, goldenrod or solidago asteraceae, lavender or lavandula, and zinnia or asteraceae.

Learn more about bees and their critical role in gardening in El Dorado County on Saturday, Feb. 16 at the Beekeeping class. Master Gardener Sharlet Elms will discuss how to raise bees and handle them safely. There is no charge for this three-hour event. It starts at 9 a.m. and is held in the Government Center Hearing Room, Building C, 2850 Fairlane Court in Placerville.

Master Gardeners are available to answer home gardening questions Tuesday through Friday, 9 a.m. to noon by calling 530-621-5512. Walk-ins are welcome. The office is located at 311 Fair Lane in Placerville.

For more information about the public education classes and activities go to the Master Gardener Website at Sign up to receive the online notices and e-newsletter at You can also find Master Gardener on Facebook.


Discussion | No comments



Downtown group coordinates painting, awnings

By Wendy Schultz | From Page: A1

More mountain lion sightings reported

By Dawn Hodson | From Page: A1, 8 Comments

Supervisor Nutting trial begins

By Cole Mayer | From Page: A1, 76 Comments | Gallery

Sanford murder case to jury

By Cole Mayer | From Page: A1 | Gallery

Herard over the back fence: Try fishing at Wakamatsu

By Bob Billingsley | From Page: B1

Gearing tax questions to correct office saves time

By Treasurer-Tax Collector | From Page: A3



My turn: More than a buzzword

By Special to the Democrat | From Page: A4, 27 Comments

Building restored

By Mountain Democrat | From Page: A4

Outstanding dog

By Mountain Democrat | From Page: A4



‘Parents, be afraid’ letter

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5, 26 Comments

Ukranian situation

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5, 5 Comments


By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5, 10 Comments

Altshuler framing

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5, 9 Comments

National Day of Prayer

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5, 3 Comments



Pedal power at the forefront next month

By Jerry Heinzer | From Page: A6 | Gallery

Outside with Charlie: Transitioning

By Charlie Ferris | From Page: A6

Pitching the ‘Root’ cause of Trojans’ victory

By Mike Bush | From Page: A6 | Gallery

Sports Scene: April 22, 2014

By Democrat Staff | From Page: A7

Roundup: April 22, 2014

By Democrat Staff | From Page: A7



4-H’ers star at showcase

By Dawn Hodson | From Page: B1 | Gallery

At a glance: Look for fireballs

By Mimi Escabar | From Page: B2, 1 Comment

Authors to share their stories

By Pat Lakey | From Page: B2, 2 Comments

Church to host human trafficking conference

By Pollock Pines | From Page: B3

Grow For It! Flower of Easter

By Barbara Schuchart | From Page: B5



Crime Log: April 1-3

By Cole Mayer | From Page: A2

Weather stats 4-22-14

By Michael Raffety | From Page: A2

Building permits 4/7-11/2014

By Michael Raffety | From Page: A2



Bobby Lloyd Bridges

By Contributor | From Page: A2

Harry Frank Harper

By Contributor | From Page: A2, 6 Comments

Marion “Wayne” Griswold

By Contributor | From Page: A2


Real Estate



New York Times Crossword

By Contributor | From Page: A8

Flying McCoys

By Contributor | From Page: A8

Speed Bump

By Contributor | From Page: A8


By Contributor | From Page: A8

Horoscope, Thursday, April 24, 2014

By Contributor | From Page: A8

Horoscope, Wednesday, April 23, 2014

By Contributor | From Page: A8

Working It Out

By Contributor | From Page: A8

TV Listings

By Contributor | From Page: A8


By Contributor | From Page: A8


By Contributor | From Page: A8


By Contributor | From Page: A8