SOURCE: Magic Valley
DATE: December 4, 2019
SNIP: A carpet of dead bees covers the ground in front of his hives.
“It’s devastating,” Tony Kaneaster of Kaneaster Apiary said. “This is just totally devastating. They can’t pick up from something like this.”
Kaneaster grabs a handful of bees from the inch-deep row and sifts through them. They’re light and fuzzy in his hand. The living bees constantly clean up the deceased and push them out of the hive, and gusts of wind can blow the corpses away quickly, so these carcasses are fresh.
Dave Kaneaster bought a thousand hives when he was 20. Now he’s 76 and has been in the bee business in Gooding for 56 years. His specialized license plate reads HONEYBZ.
Tony Kaneaster has been in the bee business with his father for 40 years. The 49-year-old and his dad have seen their bees die by the thousands a few times in the past decade.
Beekeepers Dave and Tony Kaneaster review fungicide descriptions Nov. 22 at their bee yard in Bliss. The Kaneasters aren’t sure what’s killing their bees, but they suspect fungicides are the culprit.
But they’ve never seen anything quite like this.
“This is 100% loss,” Tony Kaneaster said. “Before, it was a loss once in a while and (the bees) could start working out of it. These are completely dying.”
The Kaneasters don’t know for sure what’s killing their bees, but they have an idea: fungicides, chemicals farmers spray on their fields to protect their crops from fungal diseases.
There are some eerie signs of unusual deaths for the Kaneasters’ bees. For instance, many of the dead insects are inexplicably headless.
Many of the cadavers are left with tongues sticking out, indicating that they starved to death.
Fungicides can affect a larva’s immune system and create microbial imbalances in its gut. That can pave the way for mites and other pests to grow like weeds inside the larva, starving it of nutrients.
“(The larva) starves to death right in the comb,” Dave Kaneaster said.
Fungicides can effectively act as pesticides for bees, the Kaneasters said, even if there are different rules for how they’re applied.
When farmers spray their crops with pesticides or herbicides, they’re often required to give notice to neighbors. That alert is critical for beekeepers because it gives them time to move their bees so they don’t get sprayed. Bees perish when sprayed directly.
But the Kaneasters said the Idaho State Department of Agriculture might not require farmers to give the same notice for fungicides, which are frequently sprayed on corn and potato fields. The laws on fungicide application might be different, they said.
The Idaho State Department of Ag said it has been asked to look into the issue but has not been asked to investigate any specific pesticide incident or misuse in the Magic Valley. The department declined to comment any further on bee deaths in the Magic Valley.
According to the Kaneasters, the agency is investigating their bees for disease but not for chemically caused deaths.
[NOTE: Via Wildlands Defense: “Note that honeybees are not native, and they can interfere with, carry diseases, and out-compete native pollinators BUT they are an indicator of the consequences of the biological collapse that Biocides are causing.”]