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Bees on Radio4 this morning

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jenkinsbrynmair 

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Interesting programme on Radio 4 this morning - Apocalypse How - insectageddon.
About modern presures on insects but particularly pollinators. Blew holes in the 'honeybees are in decline' nonsense and also a few uncomfortable (for the anti neonics handwringers) truths on neonics.
 

Ian123 

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Blimey some common sense I bet the bbka don’t publish that it’ll put a dent in the Xmas slush fund. It’s always rather irks when I see the save our bees sponsor a hive bull.
 

Newbeeneil 

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I caught most of it while I was driving so may have missed a bit. There was a comment about how stupid it was to stop neonics on non flowering plants that polinators wouldn't visit. But I thought the problem with seeds treated with neonics was that 90% of the treatment washed off the seed and migrated to the soil and watercourses.
 

jenkinsbrynmair 

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I caught most of it while I was driving so may have missed a bit. There was a comment about how stupid it was to stop neonics on non flowering plants that polinators wouldn't visit. But I thought the problem with seeds treated with neonics was that 90% of the treatment washed off the seed and migrated to the soil and watercourses.
Did you also catch the bit where she said in many studies, neonics seemed to have no effect on bees?
 

ericbeaumont 

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90% of the treatment washed off the seed and migrated to the soil and watercourses
Yes, waterways and soil are contaminated and there's plenty of online info to support that conclusion.

Seed dressing was basic in the early days and two routes of run-off were identified: seed coatings and drilling machines. I understand that both were improved but the damage was done.

Residue is not only in soil and watercourses: came across this recent EA report into Bakkavor, a supermarket salad supplier that washed veg and emptied water into the River Itchen in Hampshire: washings were contaminated, and the EA are checking 52 similar companies.

I never did like supermarket veg.
 
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Antipodes 

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Yes, waterways and soil is contaminated and there's plenty of online info to support that conclusion.

Seed dressing was basic in the early days and two routes of run-off were identified: seed coatings and drilling machines. I understand that both were improved but the damage was done.

Residue is not only in soil and watercourses: came across this recent EA report into Bakkavor, a supermarket salad supplier that washed veg and emptied water into the River Itchen in Hampshire: washings were contaminated, and the EA are checking 52 similar companies.

I never did like supermarket veg.
That's the famous fly fishing river too.
 

bobba 

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Did you also catch the bit where she said in many studies, neonics seemed to have no effect on bees?
Sorry, you know I cannot keep quite when pesticides and bees come up. So do forgive me in advance for one of my rambles.

I may or may not have seen some lab based neonicotinoid studies on apis mellifera!

When conducting lab based studies the bees are placed in small round cages. They are fed or have a topical treatment applied to their backs. These studies are only concerned with mortality. And with this testing method the bees do not have a significantly higher mortality than the control treatment.

However a different type of study did find an effect. This was a field study where bees were exposed in a more natural way.

The thing with neonicotinoid is that it's not toxic to bees in a conventicle sense. Its a bit more comparable to a human getting drunk, ok, a massive dose will kill you. But for smaller doses, you just get drunk. If it was your 1st time getting drunk and I got you lashed, then tucked you up in bed in a nice little round cage, with food, in a temperature/humidity controlled cabinet, chances are you will be alright. But if you were in a random field miles from home and you have to fly home alone, its getting dark or starts to rain - chances not so good.

More advanced studies have shown that neonics interfere with the bees navigation abilities too.

So in shot, yes - many neonics studies, showed no effect on bees. It would never have been certified to begin with if that were not the case.....

But the positive to come out of this is the recent increase in bee testing. More field tests are being demanded by the regulators. I heard a rumor that some crop protection products still in development were shelved, because the manufactures secretly knew they would not withstand the enhanced testing on bees.
 

derekm 

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But insect populations are collapsing and the totality lethality of pesticides put on the land has increased by a factor of 1000. Instead of using less tonnage of the more lethal they are using the same and more tonnage.
My motorbike helmet collects orders of magnitude less insects. Having to wash your car windscreen and head lamps in spring and summer used to be frequent chore.
 

jenkinsbrynmair 

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However a different type of study did find an effect. This was a field study where bees were exposed in a more natural way.
She was talking of field studies.
In all fairness she did point out strange contradictions. such as in some areas the tests showed no great adverse effects, then in other areas the opposite.
 

bobba 

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But insect populations are collapsing and the totality lethality of pesticides put on the land has increased by a factor of 1000. Instead of using less tonnage of the more lethal they are using the same and more tonnage.
My motorbike helmet collects orders of magnitude less insects. Having to wash your car windscreen and head lamps in spring and summer used to be frequent chore.
Advances in technology are supposedly leading to a reduction in tonnage. Agronomists are motivated to reduce costs so propose regimes to farmers that have less treatments in them. In the past certain treatments would always be applied to certain crops as a preventative. This approach is being replaced where possible with the treat only if needed.

GPS and drone severance technology are being used to target products to specific parts of fields, mostly fertilizer for now but hopefully expanding to other crop protection products in the future.

Due to the increased effectiveness of pesticides less tonnage is used per unit of land cultivated compared to 20 years ago. The problems we treat more units of land now, so over all tonnage has still increased.

When you read the labels on pesticides and many say "poses danger to unborn child", "is persistent and damaging to water cause". "if consumed call a doctor", "may cause tumors". Then you think we spray 1000s of tons of that c£&p on out little island, much of it directed at our food.

Even more worrying is the trend towards systemic pesticides. These are ones taken up by and distributed through the plant - good luck washing that off ya spud m8. Even worse is the development of GM organisms that procure their own systemic pesticides.

And all this why we have a mysterious increase in cancer and other modern aliments.

Organic is not much better, if anyone thinks they are "safe" eating organic than do your research.

Basically - grow your own.

My apologies for being so depressing.
 

bobba 

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She was talking of field studies.
In all fairness she did point out strange contradictions. such as in some areas the tests showed no great adverse effects, then in other areas the opposite.
Unfortunately I did not hear the artical.

There are several types of field trial too. There are the more tradition ones conducted in 4x4m cages with treated plots, or a brood study where hives are treated. There are also some new ones I am less familiar with.

The study showing the navigation effects was conducted a Professor at Southampton University and involved putting trackers on the bees.
 

PhilN 

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Advances in technology are supposedly leading to a reduction in tonnage. Agronomists are motivated to reduce costs so propose regimes to farmers that have less treatments in them. In the past certain treatments would always be applied to certain crops as a preventative. This approach is being replaced where possible with the treat only if needed.

GPS and drone severance technology are being used to target products to specific parts of fields, mostly fertilizer for now but hopefully expanding to other crop protection products in the future.

Due to the increased effectiveness of pesticides less tonnage is used per unit of land cultivated compared to 20 years ago. The problems we treat more units of land now, so over all tonnage has still increased.

When you read the labels on pesticides and many say "poses danger to unborn child", "is persistent and damaging to water cause". "if consumed call a doctor", "may cause tumors". Then you think we spray 1000s of tons of that c£&p on out little island, much of it directed at our food.

Even more worrying is the trend towards systemic pesticides. These are ones taken up by and distributed through the plant - good luck washing that off ya spud m8. Even worse is the development of GM organisms that procure their own systemic pesticides.

And all this why we have a mysterious increase in cancer and other modern aliments.

Organic is not much better, if anyone thinks they are "safe" eating organic than do your research.

Basically - grow your own.

My apologies for being so depressing.
You
Advances in technology are supposedly leading to a reduction in tonnage. Agronomists are motivated to reduce costs so propose regimes to farmers that have less treatments in them. In the past certain treatments would always be applied to certain crops as a preventative. This approach is being replaced where possible with the treat only if needed.

GPS and drone severance technology are being used to target products to specific parts of fields, mostly fertilizer for now but hopefully expanding to other crop protection products in the future.

Due to the increased effectiveness of pesticides less tonnage is used per unit of land cultivated compared to 20 years ago. The problems we treat more units of land now, so over all tonnage has still increased.

When you read the labels on pesticides and many say "poses danger to unborn child", "is persistent and damaging to water cause". "if consumed call a doctor", "may cause tumors". Then you think we spray 1000s of tons of that c£&p on out little island, much of it directed at our food.

Even more worrying is the trend towards systemic pesticides. These are ones taken up by and distributed through the plant - good luck washing that off ya spud m8. Even worse is the development of GM organisms that procure their own systemic pesticides.

And all this why we have a mysterious increase in cancer and other modern aliments.

Organic is not much better, if anyone thinks they are "safe" eating organic than do your research.

Basically - grow your own.

My apologies for being so depressing.
I’m not convinced that agronomists and are aiming to reduce costs... they’re aiming to increase yields/productivity/return on capital. If that means they have to spend more, treat more so long as it increases returns on investment they’ll do it. At least that’s my understanding of how land-factories work.
 

bobba 

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You

I’m not convinced that agronomists and are aiming to reduce costs... they’re aiming to increase yields/productivity/return on capital. If that means they have to spend more, treat more so long as it increases returns on investment they’ll do it. At least that’s my understanding of how land-factories work.
Completely agree that return on capital is a primary motivation. But agronomists do aim to reduce costs. Its not about increasing yield at any cost. As you rightly say, its about productivity and return on capital. And reducing costs boosts both those metrics.

Treatments are very expensive, tractors and sprayers are costly to run. So if they can reduce treatments and maintain yield, that is a better return on capital.

But if spraying more would make them more £s, then that's what they would do.

My point is they are advancing at spraying less, whilst maintaining yields, thus reducing costs and increasing profit.

We had reached the point where by farmers were maxing out the effective treatments, sparing for everything, whether it was needed or not. They are now finding in some cases, crop surveillance and response is more cost effective than blindly spraying preventative/cautionary treatments.

Crop surveillance and response is not a new thing, but the switch away from preventatives where possible is gaining traction.

They don't give 2 hoots about how much chemical gets used, its purely a cash calculation for them.
 

Beegarden 

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I'm not as knowledgeable about agriculture facts and figures as many of you are but I found the Radio 4 presenter rather cavalier in attitude. I'm with the Australian woman at the end who stated the obvious about what we can see happening all around us, the ever decreasing biodiversity. A part of me is touched every time I see diggers in Norfolk bulldozing mature trees and old/ancient hedgerows to make way for more and more expensive housing. They smooth palms by promising to plant new saplings and new recreation areas, but what happens to all the flora and fauna in the meantime during the decades it takes to grow back?

Also, who said beekeepers were only worried about honey bees? I plant my garden for honey, bumble and solitary bees, butterflies and birds. It was said that honey bees are not decreasing but at what cost to the beekeepers? Until more and more councils plant pollinator-friendly trees and shrubs along bypasses, roundabouts, in city centres, and schools and individual families stop planting sterile, 'pretty' plants, all insects are going to carry on suffering. Rant over, sorry.
 

Antipodes 

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I'm not as knowledgeable about agriculture facts and figures as many of you are but I found the Radio 4 presenter rather cavalier in attitude. I'm with the Australian woman at the end who stated the obvious about what we can see happening all around us, the ever decreasing biodiversity. A part of me is touched every time I see diggers in Norfolk bulldozing mature trees and old/ancient hedgerows to make way for more and more expensive housing. They smooth palms by promising to plant new saplings and new recreation areas, but what happens to all the flora and fauna in the meantime during the decades it takes to grow back?

Also, who said beekeepers were only worried about honey bees? I plant my garden for honey, bumble and solitary bees, butterflies and birds. It was said that honey bees are not decreasing but at what cost to the beekeepers? Until more and more councils plant pollinator-friendly trees and shrubs along bypasses, roundabouts, in city centres, and schools and individual families stop planting sterile, 'pretty' plants, all insects are going to carry on suffering. Rant over, sorry.
This latest pandemic is epic, but unexpected and unpredictable? No. As I understand it we've had 5 since 1980 and one serious problem is human expansion into areas too close to animal habitats. This article was written before the latest pandemic. There will be more. We need to raise the white flag and retreat.
 

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