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Genetic Engineering, Seed Treatment And Bees

It's time to write a short article on that topik, isn't it? Especially because one day a "honeybee-genom-project" is going to be established and I've been asked several times to write something about influences of genetically engineered plants on bees, about danger of terminator-technology, pesticides containing the active substance IMIDACLOPRID like GAUCHOÒ , CHINOOKÒ and others. About questions like: Are the states being overwhelmed by genetic engineering industry? Why do beekeeping journals mention so little words about it? Well, I discussed these topics already and they are still being updated in the courses (1, 2) and are in parts discussed in the letters (3).

However, there has been carried out a lot of scientific research on genetic engineering and IMIDACLOPRID. Here I'll only concentrate on that kind of scientific research which can be found in Germany - mainly supported by industry or governmental funds. I'll give an example how scientific research is being carried out in these matters.

Let's start with genetic engineering. New and great results can be expected from the articles of Mr. Hedtke/PhD - because he didn't save any trouble and expenditure in his examinations (4,5). In the German issue of the letters (6) I discussed these examinations in more details. Here I'll give a short summary to show how scientific research is being carried out in this matter. Let's have a look into it.

For his examinations Mr. Hedtke needed to count and weigh up an endless amount of pollen, flowers and anthers in his laboratory. Why not? He is aquainted with this kind of work; but we'll not watch him counting, measuring, comparing pollen or how to weigh them out. We are more interested in the influences of these pollen from genetically engineered rape on honeybees. But, I guess, at first, he still wants us to listen to his stories where he all managed to find pollen:

"Darüber hinaus wurden im Winterrapsfeld Pollen sammelnde Wildbienen gefangen, ihre Pollenladung abgestreift und anschließend im Labor analysiert. Ebenso wurden am Rand des Rapsschlages fliegende Rapsglanzkäfer (Meligethes asneus) gefangen und die am Körper haftenden Pollen bestimmt. Zur Analyse des Honigs wurden den Bienenvölkern Waben entnommen und der Honig volksweise gewonnen. Der Honig wurde mit Wasser verdünnt, bei 3500 Umdrehungen pro Minute je 2mal für 10 Minuten zentrifugiert, das Sediment wurde auf Objektträger überführt und bezüglich der Rapstrachtnutzung lichtmikroskopisch analysiert. Je Präparat wurden 1.000 Pollenkörner bestimmt und ausgezählt, n = 22.000" (7).

Well, in the end he found more than 20.000 pollen - thus, we don't have to be afraid that his institute may not have enough work! He is searching for pollen at wild bees, some kind of beetles, in honeybees and in honey. In doing this, he is not being altogether very soft with these animals. He doesn't have any qualms about it to put them into a frigerator and freeze them deeply, or to cut out the bee's honeysacks and stomachs.

"Um das Sammelgut der Honigbienen qualitativ zu untersuchen, wurden sowohl im Freiland als auch, um zum Vergleich eine reine 'Rapstracht' zu gewinnen, in Flugzelten Honigbienen gefangen und anschließend tiefgefroren. Im Labor wurden die Honigblasen präpariert, die Pollen in den Sozialmägen determiniert und gezählt sowie der Zuckergehalt refraktometrisch und die Zuckerzusammensetzung mittels HPLC bestimmt" (8).

However, I don't want to enter a debate on animal experiments, although this topic is worth discussing (see also Internet Course # 07); here we want to know more about the results and insights our scientist found out. Thus, he has been entrusted with this work, had been payed for it, what kind of knowledge is he able to offer us now? Well, at least two times he assures us, that his scientific research has been financially supported from tax money (9). But looking at his results, we need to pay attention that we do not fail to notice them, because what he calls results, other would term it maybe sufficiently known facts. These words for instance I almost failed to see:

"(...) and the result of this experiment shows rather clearly: it occurs very often that the bees are flying out foraging during this honeyflow, at the same time - as other insects do" (10).

Just imagine it! He really opened our eyes. Come what may. Whatever he says, who wants to grumble about beeinstitutes? "We are allowed to accuse the superfluous institutes and beescientists in Germany (in no country of this earth do we have so many beeresearch institutes and 'beescientists' like in Germany). Hypothetically we ask at this place once the surely legitimate question: 'what are they doing actually???'"(11)

Is it then nothing what Mr. Hedtke has turned out regarding results? "Finally I want to make a note: altogether it seems that the risk of cross-breeding or cross-fertilisation is higher during floweringtime of summerrape, because at that time all the cruciferae, who are compatible with rape, have their main floweringtime" (12).

Doesn't it show an extremely developed talent for observation, when he notices, that in summer more plants are flowering than in wintertime? What does Mr. Hedtke concludes acurately?

"A risk of cross-fertilisation regarding genetically modified properties needs to be estimated higher during floweringtime of summerrape, because at that time also all compatible partners for cross-fertilisation are flowering" (13).

Great! His colleagues will say. But why do we occupy ourselves such a long time with him? Well, until now we got to know him as a hard-working and industrious beescientist, sitting in his research institute in Hohen Neuendorf and landing lucrative orders so as to have a steady job for himself and his colleagues. He may, of course! We hadn't noticed him at all, if his way of drawing a conclusion weren't so striking:

" It can't be expected that nectar- and pollenproduction of these rape kinds and varieties do have any negative effects on beecolonies" (14).

If this kind of logic were only striking! Your hairs stand on end! What is Mr. Hedtke concluding from his experiments? According to a rather strange logic, it seems to me, just the opposite of what he should have concluded. Who tells him, that there are no negative effects on beecolonies to be expected? Only because he hasn't found anything? Or because other, better known beescientists haven't found anything regarding their experiments?

"In respect of the examined winterrape-hybrids there is no danger in that way, that there isn't any harm to the developement of beecolonies" (15).

This sentence was still fresh in Mr. Hedtke 's mind and according his kind of logic, he concludes with an argument by analogy: also my examinations show "that no negative effects on beekeeping can be expected" (16). Truthfully, I haven't met a greater eye-closer! And he just quotes articles written by Picard-Nizou, Pham-Delègue and other (17), who should have made him sit up and take notice, that especially in respect of negative effects of transgenic rape pollen on bees and beekeeping - at other places I discussed it in more details (18). Although he quoted this literature in his own article, nothing dawned to him. Instead he spend time dealing with trivialities and outward appearances: "The small differences regarding the weigh of anthers and extend of pollen corns shouldn't be of any relevance to beekeeping, especially regarding the amount of pollen for the colonies" (19). Did you expect something else from Mr. Hedtke? Maybe; is he a special case or do we find these kind of scientists today more frequently? What is the matter with some of our scientists? But seriously, do you think we can trust scientists like Mr. Hedtke, if they offer us their proof, that genetic engineered crops do not cause any harm to bees? Any fairy tale comes from more reliable sources than these conclusions.

Almost the same apply to scientific research on chemical compounds for seed treatment like IMIDACLOPRID in Germany. I discussed it in more details at other places (20). Is it any wonder that there have been carried out similar results? The conclusions of that scientists sound similar to the above mentioned conclusions: "there isn't any harm to the developement of beecolonies" , "no negative influences on bees". And isn't it surprising how well the results go with the intentions of those people who are selling insecticides? And do you think a scientist is independent enough if he gets the funds from those people? Of course he is - you just need to turn a blind eye!

I for my part prefer to open my eyes and keep on searching for the truth, instead of closing all available eyes.


*) More information and  address source for Bee-produce from beekeeping considering the character of bees - for instance: comb honey with natural cristalization (not heated) and honey from natural combs  (neither extracted nor stirred nor heated before filling) as well as pure beewax without residuals under :
List of beeproduce
Centre for social Medicine and natural Apitherapy
Centre for Ecological Apiculture.
Beekeeping courses (practical and distance) in the Centre for Ecological Apiculture: start now with ecological top-bar-beekeeping for beginners!!
**) see also "Apicultural Review Letters I"

1) THIELE UND THIELE CONSULT, 1999-2002: Internet Course # 05 - Hazards to bees (Pesticides and GE-crops); GE-crops in the world; recommendations for beekeepers. Bad Sooden/Germany.
2) THIELE UND THIELE CONSULT, 1999-2002: Organic beekeeping Internet Course # 03 - Part III. Bad Sooden/Germany.
3) Thiele, M., 2002: Letters on organic beekeeping and more ... part II and III. Bad Sooden/Germany.
4) Hedtke, C. 2000a: Nektar- und Pollenproduktion transgener und konventioneller Rapsblüten. Dt. Bienen Journal 8 (3) : 21-22, Berlin/Deutschland.
5) Hedtke, C. 2000b: Gentechnisch veränderter Raps als Trachtquelle von Honig- und Wildbienen bei Freisetzungsversuchen. Dt. Bienen Journal 8 (4) : 19-21, Berlin/Deutschland.
6) Thiele, M., 2001: Briefe zur wesensgerechten Bienenhaltung Teil I, N° 1-24. Bad Sooden/Deutschland.
7) Hedtke, C. 2000a.
8) Hedtke, C. 2000b.
9) Ibid.
10) Ibid.
11) Koch, K.-R. 1997: Api-flash - kurz belichtet. News & Infos rund um die Imkerei. Imkerei-Technik Magazin 2 (4): 4-5. Oppenau/Schwarzwald/Deutschland.
12) Hedtke, C. 2000b.
13) Ibid.
14) Hedtke, C. 2000a.
15) Ohe, W. von der; Dustmann, J.H. und Ohe, K. von der 1999: Untersuchung von Rapsblüten restaurierter Winterrapshybriden und Liniensorten auf Unterschiede im Pollengehalt. Dt. Bienen Journal 7 (4) : 13-14, Berlin/Deutschland.
16) Hedtke, C. 2000a.
17) Picard-Nizou A. L., Pham-Delègue M. H., Kerguelen V., Douault P., Marilleau R., Olsen L., Grison R., Toppan A., Masson C., 1995: Foraging behaviour of honey bees (Apis mellifera L.) on transgenic oilseed rape (Brassica napus L. var. Oleifera). Transgenic Res., 4, 270-276.
18) See note 2.
19) Hedtke, C. 2000a.
20) Thiele, M., 2002: Letters on organic beekeeping part III. Bad Sooden/Germany. See also Organic beekeeping Internet Courses #1-3 (new edition 3/2002).

More on side effects of Genetic engineering and pesticides, especially on bees and landscape
see further articles , Press releases and expertises:  Side effects of  Pesticides / GMOs - On the results of the socalled "third industrial revolution"
Beekeeping courses (practical and distance) in the Centre for ecological Apiculture:
start now with ecological top-bar-beekeeping for beginners