Inexperienced hobbyist beekeepers ‘major driver’ of honey bee colony losses in Europe

Over recent years Green NGOs like Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth have dramatised the decline of the honey bee. Were it not for their porkies on other environmental issues I might believe them.FoE have a campaign on it and for other reasons I hope their free wildflower seeds are widely planted as this can only be beneficial.

Here is a serious article which gives substance to my sceptism on GP and FOE on reasons for bee decline, which they put down to the use of neo-nicotinoid pesticides.Soem years ago I would have simply believed that but as their noses grow fast than Pinnochio’s I have my doubts.

This paper puts some of the blame on incompetent amateur bee-keepers and to me, makes sense.

Whatever the cause we all still need to be planting bee-friendly flowers, which I have been doing for years


Reports of honey bee population decline has spurred many national efforts to understand the extent of the problem and to identify causative or associated f

Source: Inexperienced hobbyist beekeepers ‘major driver’ of honey bee colony losses in Europe

Reports of honey bee population decline has spurred many national efforts to understand the extent of the problem and to identify causative or associated factors.

[T]he impacts of beekeeper knowledge and beekeeping management practices have often been overlooked, despite honey bees being a managed pollinator.

Here, we established a standardised active monitoring network for 5 798 apiaries over two consecutive years to quantify honey bee colony mortality across 17 European countries.

[M]odels revealed that hobbyist beekeepers with small apiaries and little experience in beekeeping had double the winter mortality rate when compared to professional beekeepers. Furthermore, honey bees kept by professional beekeepers never showed signs of disease, unlike apiaries from hobbyist beekeepers that had symptoms of bacterial infection and heavy Varroa infestation.

Our data highlight beekeeper background and apicultural practices as major drivers of honey bee colony losses.

Our results show that the main factors protecting honey bee colonies are beekeeper background and practices. More efforts are needed in beekeeper training to promote good beekeeping practices and achieve early identification of clinical signs of disease.

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion, and analysis. Read full, original post: A pan-European epidemiological study reveals honey bee colony survival depends on beekeeper education and disease control

For more background on the Genetic Literacy Project, read GLP on Wikipedia

Why does Greenpeace like the watermelon?

I am tempted to answer – because Greenpeace ARE watermelons – green on the outside and red inside (for US readers Red is socialist.

More seriously this exposes Greenpeace’s silliness in opposing GMOs.

Groups like Greenpeace and Friends of the earth are often highly regarded Green NGOs but put forward bad science to support their case- on anything

Source: Why does Greenpeace like the watermelon?

Why does Greenpeace like the watermelon?

Last year, I asked the very silly sounding question, ‘Why does Greenpeace like the grapefruit?’ As absurd as it sounds this is probably one of the most important questions to be asking the organisation right now. This is because it exposes a double standard that lies at the core of Greenpeace and shows their opposition to GMOs to be hypocritical and irrational. Today I would like to ask another silly sounding question that, once again, exposes weaknesses in Greenpeace’s arguments against GMOs. Why do they like the watermelon?

Greenpeace is one of many organisations that oppose not one specific GMO but GMOs in general. Looking past how ridiculous it is to be against a plethora of unique organisms created using a wide range of technologies that happened to fall under the umbrella term of “genetically modified techniques” why do these organisation oppose this technology? One reason they give is their concern over the use and development of “terminator seeds”.

“Terminator seeds” also known as “suicide seeds” are GM seeds which are incapable of producing viable offspring. Most people who oppose them do so on ethical and emotional grounds, believing that these seeds are purposely created to protect the patents and profits of large corporations and that there is something inherently unnatural about taking away a plants’ ability to reproduce. Others worry that these GM plants will contaminate “wild crops” and produce sterile offspring, causing irreversible environmental damage.

Despite what many GMO activists would have you believe, there are no “terminator seeds” on the market and, to give credit where credit is due, Greenpeace does acknowledge this fact. They also acknowledge that the godless scientists at Monsanto have publicly stated that they have no plans on developing this technology in the future. This is backed up by retired scientist Fred Perlak (one of the people credited with developing Bt crops) on my podcast when he said that Monsanto research into “terminator seeds” never got beyond a pen and paper excise.

Audio Player


At first glance, the development of these seeds does seem insidious, however, creating a plant that is incapable of producing offspring by genetic manipulation is nothing new. For example, this is where we get the watermelon from, or more specifically the seedless watermelon.

Watermelons, like you and I, are diploid, meaning that they have two sets of chromosomes within the nucleus of their cells. Like us they get one copy from their mother and one from their father however, unlike us, they only have 11 pairs of chromosomes compared to our 23. To reproduce, they split a diploid cell into two haploid daughter cells known as gametes that contain only one copy of each chromosome. This process is called meiosis and the haploid cells in humans are called eggs and sperm, depending on the sex. When the sperm from the father combines with the egg from the mother, their single copies of each chromosome pair up to create a diploid cell once more. To create a seedless watermelon, this process is disrupted by a particular toxic chemical called colchicine.

Colchicine is an extremely hazardous substance and is known to cause, among other things, bone marrow suppression, multiple-system organ failure, delirium, respiratory failure, to name a few. Believe me when I say I am barely scratching the surface of horrid things that will happen to you if you come into contact with a relatively high dose, all of which is made worse by the fact that there is no known antidote. However, colchicine also has medical uses, it is used to treat gout. The compound is subject to strict reporting requirements by facilities which produce, store, or use it in significant quantities, meaning that it is not available to the average farmer.

When placed on a plant like the watermelon, it prevents normal cellular division by inhibiting chromosome segregation. This results in two daughter cells where one contains no chromosomes at all and the other contains double the usual amount. The DNA within the daughter diploid cell is then replicated to give a grade total of four sets of chromosomes. This is called a tetraploid and, whilst it would be fatal in most higher animal cells, it is usually not only tolerated in plant cells, but can result in more desirable traits than its normal diploid parents. According to the patent and YES there is a patent on this method these tetraploids are identified cytological examination and seed shape of the fruiting plant. This trick of genetic manipulation is often used in commercial plant breading, but we still have one more step before we get to the seedless watermelon.

Next, if we take our tetraploid watermelon, which will produce two daughter gamete cells that will each contain two sets of chromosomes, and breed it with a normal watermelon whose gamete cells only contain one set of chromosomes, we get a plant with now three copies of chromosomes, called a triploid. These plants are usually unable to reproduce, as they don’t produce any fertile seeds or spores, and this is where we get the seedless watermelon from. Although most triploid plants can be propagated vegetatively (a form of asexual reproduction in plants), most people who grow them rely on fresh seeds from the supplier each year.

So, just to clarify, we have a patented seed that is the result of genetic manipulation by exposing a plant to a potentially lethal chemical that can only be planted once because it is incapable of producing viable offspring, and Greenpeace is ok with this, but not the prospect of “terminator seeds”. Where are the protests full of people holding banners saying, ‘down with seedless watermelons’? Where are the thousands of people signing a petition on demanding that these seedless abominations are removed from shelves? Where are the zealots telling us that it is wrong to play god and to mess with the DNA of an organism? Why are people not worried about the parents of these triploids that can contaminate normal watermelon creating sterile seeds?  They are nowhere to be seen because, like with the case with the grapefruit, technically, the seedless watermelon is not a GMO and therefore no one cares.

In all honesty, I do agree with some of the concerns raised by Greenpeace. For example, I would be dead against the development and deployment of terminator seeds in poor countries whose infrastructures are unstable, as I believe they could have the potential to cause people to die of starvation. However, I can also see the benefit in using them in the developed world as a way of controlling contamination. If the “terminator” seeds, like the triploids, are unable to develop any fertile seeds or spores then, if accidentally released into the wild, it would prevent their spread and contamination. What I am really trying to say here is that there is a lot of nuance to the subject of GMOs, and we get nowhere for demanding a blanket ban on them because some, one day, might have traits that some disagree with, despite them sharing the same traits with something that can be found at your local greengrocer.

So why does Greenpeace like the watermelon? Because they don’t know what they are talking about regarding GMO and their position isn’t just inaccurate but full of hypocrisies and complete and deliberate miscommunication of the technology.

Zealot Ethics: How NGOs get away with murder

An attack on the nastiness of Green NGOs. Much of this chimes in with my observations of GPuk asnd FoE UK

The Risk-Monger

How is it that some  environmental NGOs can continually distort facts (lie), misrepresent themselves (deceive) and relentlessly promote idealistic policies widely known to be environmentally, economically and societally disastrous without losing public support? Not only are these horrible people still welcome at the policy table in Brussels, they are often leading the meetings and directing the debates (over a cliff).

In this third part of my State of the NGOs series I’ll try to understand how this activist Teflon veneer continues to breed a socially-accepted hypocrisy. I’ll consider how the NGOs know they do not have to follow the same rules as everyone else, and how they profit from it. Like Part 1 of this series, which looked at the need to scrutinise how NGOs waste public funds with no accountability nor transparency, and Part 2, which considered how the wily social media upstarts and internet gurus are supplanting…

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Clay tablet casts new light on origins of Genesis

At long last the mysteries of Genesis One have been solved. I wish I had found this years ago . A superb piece of scholarship

Primate's Progress are puzzled by the significance of a cuneiform tablet dating to around 1400 BCE, recently discovered during excavations in Sumeria. A tentative translation, still controversial, is as follows:

“From Moses, General Secretary of the Brickmakers Union, Land of Goshen, greetings.

Moses Michaelangelo September 2015-1.jpg Moses, contemporary scupture, holding what is thought to be this tablet

From my measurements of the sedimentology of the Nile Delta, I estimate that the river has been depositing sediment there for many tens of thousands of years. Concerning the origin of mankind, I am now convinced that we, the jabbering creatures of West Africa, and the knuckle-walking giants who live beyond Numidia are different species of the same family.

However, You-Know-Who has told me to come up with a simplified version of the story, which my members will be more capable of understanding.

Nile Delta in ancient times (Wikipedia)

I wonder if there is anything suitable among your…

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Do GMOs cause allergies? No, but being an anti-GMO parent just might contribute

Interesting article on fads of anti-GMO parents causing problems for kids.

Eating organic and avoiding GMOs has no effect on food allergies. But the mentality underlying GMO avoidance and overly-protective parenting may be contributing to an increase in allergies.

Source: Do GMOs cause allergies? No, but being an anti-GMO parent just might contribute

The Little Puddlian Philosophical Society and the Fine Tuning Argument

Another gem from Paul touching on Fine Tuning and Intelligent Design. May unsettle some Christians who have all the answers

Primate's Progress

Puddle theory, according to Wikipedia, is “a term coined by Douglas Adams to satirize arguments that the universe is made for man. As stated in Adams’s book The Salmon of Doubt:

“imagine a puddle waking up one morning and thinking, ‘This is an interesting world I find myself in, an interesting hole I find myself in, fits me rather neatly, doesn’t it? In fact, it fits me staggeringly well, must have been made to have me in it!’ This is such a powerful idea that as the sun rises in the sky and the air heats up and as, gradually, the puddle gets smaller and smaller, it’s still frantically hanging on to the notion that everything’s going to be all right, because this World was meant to have him in it, was built to have him in it; so the moment he disappears catches him rather by…

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The Top 20 Reasons not to Feed your Family Organic!

This highlights some of the dangers of the Organic food movement.

Many make sense to me but would need to check them all out, but I bet it is better science than the Organic lobby

The Risk-Monger

Recently the Mommy-bloggers paid by the organic industry lobby have been hitting the scientific and corporate communities quite hard with fear campaigns and ‘if you love your children’ guilt trips. Money is pouring in from all angles and even Hollywood stars are reading from their prepared scripts: “Pesticides and GMOs = evil”, and “Organic is what good mothers do”. As many others in the risk management world, I had tolerated their baseless scaremongering as meaningless, eco-religious feel-good pulp from the privileged classes that was better left ignored … until I started to see the mainstream media pick up on them and the marketing managers of many…

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