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Colony collapse disorder is different in Japan

John Little is a regular reader who lives in Japan and shared the following fascinating data about differences between colony collapse disorder there and in the U.S.  I'll let him tell you the story in his own words.

Japanese beekeepersOn a different subject, bees and CCD [colony collapse disorder], I recently came across some local (Japanese) information which seems, on the face of it, to confirm the neonicotenoid connection.  At an apple growers meeting a couple of weeks back, one of the members brought along a pre-release version of a documentary on DVD called "A message from the bees".

Basically, there were two critical points which differentiate the experience of
CCD here in Japan from what is generally being seen in Europe and the U.S.  The first is
that beekeepers here are seeing different symptoms.  Instead of empty hives, they're finding piles of dead and incapacitated bees on the bottom boards and in front of the hives.  In the majority of cases, the deaths have been correlated to local spraying of neonicotenoid-based insecticides 60 days before.

The second piece of interesting information is that the spray dosage levels in Japan are
much, much higher than in most of the rest of the world.  For the common insecticides used by fruit growers, the allowable levels (in ppm) are 20 to 300 (yes, three hundred!) times those mandated in Europe or the U.S., leading researchers here to the conclusion that they have identified a "smoking gun".
Japanese bee cartoon
As one old beekeeper from the coast of Nagasaki-ken (in southern Japan) put it, "The centre of Tokyo is now the safest place to raise bees.  The air there is cleaner than any part of the Japanese countryside".

Scary information (especially for those of us who are involved in agriculture).  And the "message" from the bees?  "You're not just killing us (bees), you're killing
yourselves, too".

Our chicken waterer prevents the nasty chore of cleaning out poop-filled containers every morning.


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You might want to inquire wether any of your neighbors has ever used any of these, especially imidacloprid (see the last link for trade names).

The more I read about this stuff, the less I like it. The link between imidacloprid and the death of bees seems strong as it is very toxic to them, and it is also highly toxic to aquatic invertebrates.

While imidacloprid seems to break down relatively fast (a couple of hours) when dissolved in water and subjected to sunlight, it can last for years when not subjected to sunlight.

Comment by Roland_Smith Wed May 9 07:58:02 2012
Roland --- There's not really any farmland very closeby that would be sprayed with any type of neonicotenoids. Granted, bees can fly quite a long way, but a problem that affects the whole colony would have to be pretty close to home, I'd think. We're mostly surrounded by trees, and the close farmland is all pasture. (The only things people generally spray on pastures is chemical fertilizers, if that.)
Comment by anna Wed May 9 14:17:04 2012
I live in Japan and I'm interested to know more about this topic. Do you have the name of that DVD in Japanese? Where does the numbers about the allowable levels of pesticides in Japan were taken from? Thanks!
Comment by Alberto Sun Aug 16 04:18:50 2015
I'm currently visiting Furano in Hokkaido. I was very disturbed not to see any bees on my walk through flowering meadow this morning. Instead I saw many more dragonflies. A search on the internet brought me to your article and now makes sense. Furano is in the middle of a very intensive agricultural region, so I guess they must do a lot of spraying. Very sad for the the clean food movement , and will ultimately affect their yields.
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