Disappearing Bees? Re-appearing Karma

Neonicotinoid pesticides and Colony Collapse Disorder


Honeycomb of Western honey bees (Apis mellifer...

Honeycomb of Western honey bees (Apis mellifera) with eggs and larvae. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Register reports on what seems to be a pretty good study from some guys at Stirling and Lancaster Universities in the UK.  The “boffin-years” worked (as The Register puts it) by them and another French team now have very good proof that it’s a group of pesticides, very lethal to insects but no-so-bad for mammals (like us) that are the cause of:

  • 85% reduction in queen (and thus new hive) production
  • 10% smaller hives
  • Disorientated bees – the bees can’t find their hive and die…
US migratory beekeepers loading tractor-traile...

US migratory beekeepers loading tractor-trailer load of bees for transport from South Carolina to Maine to pollinate blueberries.  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) means for us, as humans, can be found in this information on bee economics which details a few major crops recently hit by declining bee numbers.  Further, this is a list of essential plants which are bee pollinated.  The ones which are marked as “Essential – can’t do without bees” are these highly important cash crops:

  • Squash (plant), Pumpkin, Gourd, Marrow, Zuchini Cucurbita spp. Honey bees, Squash bees, Bumblebees, Solitary bees
  • Cantaloupe, Melon Cucumis melo L. Honey bees, Squash bees, Bumblebees, Solitary bees (Ceratina spp.)
  • American Pawpaw Asimina triloba Carrion Flies, Dung Flies
  • Brazil nut Bertholletia excelsa Bumblebees, Orchid bees (Euglossini), Carpenter bees
  • Kiwifruit Actinidia deliciosa Honey bees, Bumblebees, Solitary bees
  • Atemoya, Cherimoya, Custard apple Annona squamosa Nitidulid Beetles
  • Watermelon Citrullus lanatus Honey bees, Bumblebees, Solitary bees
  • Passion fruit. Maracuja Passiflora edulis Carpenter bees, Solitary bees, Bumblebees,
  • Macadamia Macadamia ternifolia Honey bees, Stingless bees (Trigona carbonaria), Solitary bees (Homalictus spp.), Wasps,Butterflies
  • Sapodilla Manikara zapotilla Thrips
  • Cocoa Theobroma cacao Midges
  • Rowanberry Sorbus aucuparia Honey bees, Solitary bees, Bumblebees, Hover flies
  • Vanilla Vanilla planifolia, Vanilla pompona Solitary bees

Reasons, Nazis and Jews – What are Neonicotinoid Pesticides?

IG Farben

IG Farben (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There are many candidates for CCD and pesticides are just one possible or contributory factor.  Things like bee predators, mites, electromagnetic radiation, loss of habitat…. it’s quite a long list.

However, the two studies above seem to be pretty secure controlled studies that looked at one factor (the neonicotinoid pesticides), examining the bees in isolation both with and without the expected non-lethal local dosage of the chemicals so as to eliminate the other possible causes.

Wikipedia lists the major neonicotinoid pesticides, and below I match them to their inventor and/or current manufacturer:

  • Acetamiprid – Aventis (French conglomerate inc. Rhône-Poulenc, Hoechst and others)
  • Clothianidin – Bayer, Takeda
  • Dinotefuran – Mitsui
  • Imidacloprid (the most widely used insecticide in the world) – Bayer
  • Nitenpyram – Novartis (formed from Zeneca, Ciba-Geigy, Sandoz)
  • Thiacloprid – Bayer
  • Thiamethoxam- Bayer, Syngenta (another entity formed from Zeneca, Ciba-Geigy, Sandoz)
Fritz ter Meer (1884-1967) at the Nuremberg Tr...

Fritz ter Meer (1884-1967) at the Nuremberg Trials. Ter Meer was I.G. Farben official, member of NSDAP. This photograph of ter Meer (probably as a defendant) was taken by US Army photographers on behalf of the Office of the U.S. Chief of Counsel for the Prosecution of Axis Criminality (OUSCCPAC, May 1945 – Oct. 1946) or its successor organization, the Office of Chief of Counsel for War Crimes (OCCWC, Oct. 1946 – June 1949). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


What’s interesting from this list is how often Bayer pops up in the neonicotinoid (a neuro-toxin) story.

It famously made Zyklon B, which made a poison gas and was one of the main methods of murdering Jews and others by the Nazis during WW2.  It did this under the conglomerate business name of IG Farben which was broken up post war by the allies into the original business entities, Bayer being one, and it’s still around now!

A Bayer (IG Farben) boss, Fritz ter Meer, served 7 years post WW2 for his crimes and then was immediately made supervisory board chairman of Bayer.  His crimes included designing a satellite concentration camp to Auschwitz.  Some Nazi industrialists & businessmen were executed, like Bruno Tesch.  Several other convicted Nazi War Criminals got high-powered jobs following their release, just like ter Meer.

Karmic Retribution

What I see as a reason for the bee decline ultimately relates to our overall karma.

It is not retribution against individuals directly.  The bad karma affects us all, now, because we have continued to allow processes to continue which harm ourselves and our environment.  The disappearing bees are just one manifestation of this.

Ter Meer got his nice job back at Bayer, probably because he was the best person to do it, especially at this critical period of rebuilding Germany.  We could say that he continued his life’s work of creating death by chemicals (which I’ve cunningly yet disingenuously alluded to in order to attract your attention!), but it must be remembered that alongside Zyklon B, the same businesses created many products which are essential to our productive farms and lifestyles.  Aspirin, for instance.  Fertilisers as another.

In fact, Fritz Haber, whose academic work was enthusiastically taken up at IG Farben and others, demonstrates the dichotomy of human nature by inventing chemical warfare while simultaneously inventing a process to fix nitrogen from the air to make fertiliser (or explosive, since it’s the same thing).  One gives life benefit, one removes it completely.  As it says on Wikipedia,

“The food base of half of the current world population is based on the Haber-Bosch process”

Haber’s karmic retribution was swift and fast.  Whether he knew or felt it is beside the point. It happened.

  • His wife shot herself because of her guilt over his personal supervision at the 1st gas release on the Western Front.
  • Their son who found her, was so appalled by this and his father’s actions, that he committed suicide in 1946 (like survivor guilt, I suppose.).
  • Haber was Jewish, rewarded by the Nazis who used his gas Zyklon A, developed into Zyklon B to murder Jews and others during the holocaust.
  • Many members of Haber’s extended family were killed in the Holocaust.

Direct Karmic Attention

A honeybee on an apiary, spreading feromones t...

A honeybee on an apiary, spreading feromones to ‘call back’ her collegues, showing her nassanoff-gland. Location: Tübingen-Hagelloch. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

But now we can easily see, that by continuing the bad processes, by continuing the bad ideas, by continuing the bad attitudes of the past, the actions of the past have started to hit us all full in the face.

Bees are just part of it.

Our disjointed energy & food policies of “live today, pay tomorrow” are just larger examples of the wider issue.

To fully understand how we should proceed in our lives and how we interact with others and our environment, we need look no further than some key Buddhist principles, laid out before us a very long time ago by Siddhārtha Gautama.  He said:

  1. right view,
  2. right intention,
  3. right speech,
  4. right action,
  5. right livelihood,
  6. right effort,
  7. right mindfulness,
  8. right concentration.

This is called The Noble Eightfold Path, and if we all paid attention to it and acted sincerely with it, then we’d all be a lot better off.

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  1. Strangely( author ) :

    Jan 31, 2013 6:28 pm |

    Two days – and the EU is now kicking into gear the process to ditch neonicotinoid pesticides!  Hooray!

    So people power works and the cornerstone of our agriculture can be rebuilt – pollination by bees!


  2. Strangely( author ) :

    Jan 29, 2013 2:22 pm |

    We now have a crucial few hours to finally force the issue on this.  Everyone, get in and sign up!  There has to be a better way to control the pests on our food without destroying a key component of our food production chain – the bees!



  3. Chris Milton :

    Oct 11, 2012 8:34 am |

    Hi Martin

    The ecological “suicide” of bees is exceptionally worrying. This is Man’s environment refusing to support us … a case of karma writ large if ever there was one.

    However you miss one very important aspect: Killer Bees.  Agricultural scientists thought this genetic cross would produce docile and honey producing insects; instead they’ve produced a highly aggressive bee which will defend its nest to the death.

    A case of cause and effect writ large, if ever there was one.

    It’s all about control, and Man trying to control his environment rather than accepting he’s just part of a greater whole.  When we get it wrong, we have killer bees.  When we get it right, a Buddha appears.

    We need to stop controlling and start accepting.  Life and Buddhahood demand that we view all forms of life as equals.  I can’t do that yet, can you?

  4. Strangely( author ) :

    Oct 11, 2012 10:45 am |

    Hi Chris. It’s plain apicide, not ecological suicide! I didn’t know about this killer bee cross so I’ll need to check it out.

    The “controlling” aspect of humanity is something we have to live with, I think. Our evolution and consequent awareness of both self and our surroundings has made it so. It’s not something that we can magically stop, since we’d not be human any longer. So it’s this that we need to accept and work on.
    As a practical example, if we ceased to control most of us’d die since this would be the end of agriculture, this being one of our great controlling enterprises. Control is part and parcel of invention, and our ability to invent comes through our evolution in difficult times. We cannot stop it. We cannot stop inventing. This is the duality within us.
    For example, in this post, I mentioned Haber. Simultaneously (well nearly simultaneously), he both invented a process that now supports over half the world’s population through the increased crop yields due to nitrogen fertiliser – and chemical warfare! His “Haber Process” simultaneously provides the chemical feedstock for high explosives leading to human deaths and misery on an industrial scale.
    Haber didn’t invent human misery and warfare, mind you, nor did he invent high explosives. He invented to solve a problem that was there in front of him. We can say he had other options and more, but it is the dualistic nature of ourselves writ large upon Haber that so attracts me to him as an example. He is both ying and yang in the plain black and white symbols of the Eastern tradition.

    So much for that. Now what to do?

    We cannot change our investigative, inquisitive, creative parts. It’s due to these qualities that you and I can converse through this internet thing. We have learned how to melt rocks, escape gravity and control electricity which all make the web work. These also make it easier to defend ourselves and attack others, but there again, the “others” can do the same, such is the spiralling effect of knowledge transfer.

    For myself, all I can see is that we must all accept the duality within ourselves. That’s the only acceptance that works. We cannot roll back the clock.
    For this to work, the West has a long way to go. Tit for tat does not work, which is the usual Western response to any problem. It’s how the criminal justice system works!
    People in the West very rarely realise that someone like me, say, or you, can be a father, nurse, murderer, rapist, farmer, artist and more, all at once. The concept of 3000 realms in a single moment is beyond most Westerner’s grasp.
    But it should be plainly obvious to the millions that endured the two great wars of the 20th century and who’d had the benefits of the universal education systems in place at the major combatants, that a killer soldier returned from the front lines could change into a doting father with child on knee or pottering in the garden. There, right there, in front of millions of womenfolk, parents and children, the duality of humanity was laid bare – from killer to carer and back to killer. Did they see this? Did they realise this? Maybe.

    Yet normally, this is all forgotten. If someone is murdered down the street the call, almost always, is for retribution. Recent events in mid-Wales make this plain, and it’s understandable.

    But carry this thought process and pattern of behaviour through to ourselves controlling the environment…
    The environment hurts us. So we fight back.
    We get hungry. So we fight back by making more food.
    The bugs eat our food. So we fight back to kill the bugs.
    Now the bees are dying and our crops are failing. How do we fight back now?

    It’s a really worrying thing, as you say. But I think that we cannot just accept things; it’s not in our nature. What we must do is to have selective acceptance, perhaps? Let nature go its own way a bit more and then things will slot into place better. It’s a bit like Aikido – where, quoting from Wikipedia:

    the goal was to create an art that practitioners could use to defend themselves while also protecting their attacker from injury.
    Aikido is performed by blending with the motion of the attacker and redirecting the force of the attack rather than opposing it head-on. This requires very little physical strength, as the aikidōka (aikido practitioner) “leads” the attacker’s momentum using entering and turning movements

    Or consider another bending analogy, the humble palm tree. Evolution has lead its path to live on sandy beaches, thus reinforcing shorelines. Its seeds, the coconut, drop into the nearby sea, then float around waiting for another shore. (The coconut, unknowingly, is changing its environment!) Meanwhile, the nature of their hot marine environment generates many tropical storms which would kill most trees from higher latitudes. Yet when a typhoon or hurricane arrives the trees bend. As the wind increases the branches fold back like a shuttlecock and the trunk bends even more. When the wind eases they spring back with only the odd branch or frond to regrow. By these means, this is why coconut palms are all over the tropics. They bend but do not submit. (Sorry for the anthropomorphism!)

    So Bees, Humans, Aikido, Coconut Palms. The truth is there. We should bend to nature a bit more and it’s highly arrogant to think that we can control it. Use it, blend into it, bend with it. The video shows the palms plainly taking it all, yet the works and creations of man suffer greatly.

    As an aside, an example of the arrogance we have is around motor cars and industry in general.

    • Folks have suggested that biofuels and electricity will solve our problems – wrong. There’s not enough food in the world to satisfy just the USA’s demand for fuel as it is.
    • Folks are suggesting various means to modify the climate; huge marine gadgets to jiggle clouds, send CO2 down into the sea, send CO2 into oil wells or mines – wrong. Nothing is tested and our past history shows that fiddling will only make things worse.

    Shakyamuni said “all component things of the universe are subject to change”. The answer is to bend with change. Borg-like, resistance is futile.

    Here’s another tale.
    Outside SGI HQ in Japan is a statue of Napoleon. This troubled me for a long time. Napoleon was directly responsible for millions of deaths in Europe, even before the industrial scale of warfare arrived. True, he was only part of it, since all those in charge of the nation states had similar agendas of power and control over others. But he, in my mind, despite promoting science and welfare at home, improving transport and standardising weights and measures, was the worst of a pretty bad bunch.
    Then, it was pointed out to me that I was viewing Napoleon through Western eyes. I’d forgotten the duality. He really did improve things for many people and made science easier. He was brave and resourceful and a great leader. He was ruthless and soppy. All of these things he was and the good and bad of him is there inside all of us as those 3000 realms. Thus he’s on a plinth in Japan outside a Buddhist centre promoting peace and dialogue across the globe.