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Open Source Beehives Designed To Help Save Honeybee Colonies 172

Lemeowski writes "Honeybees are disappearing at an alarming rate, with a third of U.S. honeybees vanishing last year. Since bees pollinate many fruits and vegetables, the disappearance of honeybees could cause the United States to lose $15 billion worth of crops, and even change the American diet. The honey bee disappearance is called Colony Collapse Disorder, a serious problem of bees abruptly leaving their hives. A new open source effort called the Open Source Beehives project hopes to help by creating "a mesh network of data-generating honey bee colonies for local, national, and international study of the causes and effects of Colony Collapse Disorder." Collaborators have created two beehive designs that can be downloaded for free and milled using a CNC machine, then filled with sensors to track bee colony health."
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Open Source Beehives Designed To Help Save Honeybee Colonies

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  • CNC ?? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 11, 2013 @08:17PM (#45666031)

    Collaborators have created two beehive designs that can be downloaded for free and milled using a CNC machine, then filled with sensors to track bee colony health. []

    No CNC machine. Just some wood and glue. Want sensors? Add them. I'm actually surprised this didn't ask for 3D printers!

    Perhaps, if you want to stop bees from dying, perhaps, just perhaps, ban systemic pesticides. Ban nicotinoids. Don't want to? Well, then don't bitch all all bees are killed off.

  • by plover ( 150551 ) on Wednesday December 11, 2013 @08:23PM (#45666115) Homepage Journal The current instance of Colony Collapse Disorder is a marked difference in bee colony behavior that began in about 2007-2008. The dieoffs are far larger than anything seen before.

    Current theories are that neonicitinoids were introduced at about the same time that CCD began devastating bee colonies. Neonicitinoids, such as imidicloprin, are some of the latest and safest insecticides on the market, with very little harmful effects on mammals. But they have one huge drawback: it has been recently learned that they are extremely lethal to bees - up to 150X more lethal to bees than to other insects. They are neurotoxins. Even sub-lethal doses cause visible confusion in the bees, resulting in "incorrect" dances that the bees use to tell other bees about nearby sources of food.

  • by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Wednesday December 11, 2013 @08:26PM (#45666141)

    Basically, the problem is that beekeeping has a monoculture problem - watch the video at the end of this link [] which explains that basically the bees are not treated well and there's not really a diversity of managed bees.

  • by MarkRose ( 820682 ) on Wednesday December 11, 2013 @08:35PM (#45666219) Homepage

    I was just about to post that video. A summary from the YouTube video description:

    12 things to prevent colony collapse disorder:

    #1 general approach: use organic practices
    #2 general approach: strengthen bee immune system instead of "attack and kill" what nature uses to remove weak bees
    #3 don't use insecticide (for mite control or any other insect problem) inside of hives - bees are insects!
    #4 allow bees to create their own cell size (typically smaller) - no more pre-made foundation or cells
    #5 genetics based on "survival of the fittest" is superior to genetics resulting from mass production where the weak are medicated
    #6 swarming is the natural way to good genetics
    #7 local bees have adapted to challenges in your area
    #8 stop moving hives
    #9 feed bees honey, not sugar water
    #10 feed bees polyculture blossoms, not monoculture
    #11 stop using insecticides on crops - bees are insects!
    #12 raise hives off the ground

  • by Paul Fernhout ( 109597 ) on Wednesday December 11, 2013 @10:19PM (#45667001) Homepage [] []
    Scientists had struggled to find the trigger for so-called Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) that has wiped out an estimated 10 million beehives, worth $2 billion, over the past six years. Suspects have included pesticides, disease-bearing parasites and poor nutrition. But in a first-of-its-kind study published today in the journal PLOS ONE, scientists at the University of Maryland and the US Department of Agriculture have identified a witch's brew of pesticides and fungicides contaminating pollen that bees collect to feed their hives. The findings break new ground on why large numbers of bees are dying though they do not identify the specific cause of CCD, where an entire beehive dies at once.
    When researchers collected pollen from hives on the east coast pollinating cranberry, watermelon and other crops and fed it to healthy bees, those bees showed a significant decline in their ability to resist infection by a parasite called Nosema ceranae. The parasite has been implicated in Colony Collapse Disorder though scientists took pains to point out that their findings do not directly link the pesticides to CCD. The pollen was contaminated on average with nine different pesticides and fungicides though scientists discovered 21 agricultural chemicals in one sample. Scientists identified eight ag chemicals associated with increased risk of infection by the parasite.
    Most disturbing, bees that ate pollen contaminated with fungicides were three times as likely to be infected by the parasite. Widely used, fungicides had been thought to be harmless for bees as they're designed to kill fungus, not insects, on crops like apples.
    "There's growing evidence that fungicides may be affecting the bees on their own and I think what it highlights is a need to reassess how we label these agricultural chemicals," Dennis vanEngelsdorp, the study's lead author, told Quartz.
    Labels on pesticides warn farmers not to spray when pollinating bees are in the vicinity but such precautions have not applied to fungicides. ...
    Bee populations are so low in the US that it now takes 60% of the countryâ(TM)s surviving colonies just to pollinate one California crop, almonds. And thatâ(TM)s not just a west coast problemâ"California supplies 80% of the worldâ(TM)s almonds, a market worth $4 billion.

    This has been so obvious for many many years to the organic faring community... It is just another negative externality of conventional farming practice, and another example of market failure to account for systemic risk. []

    In general, safety studies are almost never done (including for human health) on *combinations* of chemicals (including human medicines). And studies of health effects of individual chemical's health affects often ignore secondary, tertiary, and further breakdown products.

    The future of agriculture is probably indoors powered by cheap electricity (from fusion and solar) and managed by robots (including probably pollination). [] []

  • by ApplePy ( 2703131 ) on Wednesday December 11, 2013 @10:43PM (#45667145)

    A lot of the problem is people who don't study or keep bees offering completely baseless opinions.

    I do keep bees, asshat. I also make my own equipment, and do cutouts. I am not a professional, but I also don't lose anywhere near 25% of my bees! Let's just say I'm always learning, but I know a thing or two.

    I'll make this real simple:

    1) Spray insecticide on bees; they die.
    2) Place bees near commercial agriculture where:
    3) Farmers spray insecticides.
    4) Bees die.

    I'm sorry to you and the other nitwit AC, but this is fall-off-log-backwards dead simple fucking obvious even to morons.

  • by caferace ( 442 ) on Thursday December 12, 2013 @12:19AM (#45667689) Homepage
    We had mites through the fall, and killed most of them by dosing the entire colony with .... powdered sugar. Yes, we lost a bunch of bees, but the mites are gone.
  • CNC milling ? (Score:4, Informative)

    by vikingpower ( 768921 ) on Thursday December 12, 2013 @03:14AM (#45668359) Homepage Journal

    That is not how beehives are made. I should know, I grew up as the son of a beekeeper. It is the "CNC milling" part in this initiative that may make it fail. Beekeepers have other things to do, and are often too money-stretched, than to invest in such equipment.

    Thing is, already 35 years ago the first waves of Varroa mite swept over Europe and killed a bazillion beehives all over the continent. And we still don't have any insight into what CCD exactly is, what combination of factors it is caused by, what factors favorize it. We just and only gained some insight into how Varroa spreads. Apis carnica has hard times ahead...

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