Are failing bees our warning sign?

first_imgIt’s become something of a rite of spring. Every March, newspaper stories sprout about local beekeepers opening their hives to find an ongoing environmental mystery.Instead of hungry bees ready for the first flights of spring, honeycombs that should be empty after a long winter are full, and instead the hives are empty. For some reason, during winter’s coldest months, these bees chose to leave the hive to perish outside.Colony collapse disorder, as the condition is known, remains a mystery with troubling implications for the fate of the human food supply, which depends, in part, on pollinators like the honeybee. Explanations that have been offered include pathogens, modern beekeeping practices, malnutrition, climate change, and pesticides.It is that last possible cause that stands out to Harvard School of Public Health’s (HSPH) Chengsheng (Alex) Lu, an associate professor of environmental exposure biology, who believes that the potential human health implications of colony collapse disorder extend beyond the drop in pollination — though that is worrisome enough — to the impact on humans of long exposure to low-level poisons like neonicotinoid pesticides, which have been suspected in the bee disorder. To Lu, it is an open question whether there are links between the pesticide and the recent increase in neurological conditions in children such as autism and ADHD.Lu has continued to investigate the possible links among neonicotinoids, bees, and human health, saying the honeybee is a good model organism for potential pesticide impact, as well as for potential effects across generations. Credit: WikipediaTo get to the bottom of the mystery, Lu has conducted pioneering research on the impact of neonicotinoid pesticides on honeybees. In a study published in 2012, he replicated colony collapse disorder experimentally, feeding bees sugar water with different levels of neonicotinoids over 13 weeks in the summer and watching what happened.At first, nothing did. The hives seemed unaffected and healthy as they got ready for winter. Then, the week before Christmas, roughly three months after the neonicotinoid treatment was halted, hives began to fail. Eventually 15 of 16 hives collapsed, even those treated with the lowest dose.The work was noted for providing a concrete link to neonicotinoids, which are the world’s most widely used group of insecticides.One particularly disturbing aspect of the work, which Lu described during a lunchtime “Hot Topics” talk on Aug. 12 at HSPH’s Kresge Building, is that the bees that abandoned the hive during the collapse weren’t the individuals that ate the sugar water laced with neonicotinoids. During summer’s period of high activity, bees live just 35 days, so the colony that collapsed contained the next generation of bees, indicating that the effect may have been passed on between generations.Lu has continued to investigate the possible links among neonicotinoids, bees, and human health, saying the honeybee is a good model organism for potential pesticide impact, as well as for potential effects across generations.Neonicotinoids, chemicals similar to the nicotine produced by tobacco plants, have become widespread in part because of their ease of use, Lu said. Because they’re water-soluble, the chemicals are taken up by a plant and spread throughout its tissues. Seed companies have made distribution even easier for farmers by coating seeds with the chemical, which ensures the plants sprouting from them contain the pesticide.The chemicals are present not just in food plants, but are also widely represented in nursery stock, including plants sold at major garden retailers, Lu said. They’re also found in the environment, and Lu said there are questions about their role in the loss of birds and aquatic invertebrates.Lu described it as a race against time to save the bees, which are routinely transported around the country by commercial beekeepers to pollinate agricultural fields. He spoke to one blueberry farmer who said that before colony collapse disorder struck, he would pay $250,000 to have his fields pollinated. Today that figure stands at $750,000, and the cost is passed on to consumers.Lu believes that the pesticide is fed to bees by unsuspecting beekeepers. The pesticide is widely used on corn, which is used to make high-fructose corn syrup. The corn syrup is mixed with water and routinely fed to bees by commercial beekeepers.Affected bees, which include wild honeybees, Lu said, exhibit a range of neurological conditions, including disorientation, flying back to the wrong colonies, and abandoning colonies in winter.“The [phrase] ‘bee-line’ is no longer valid,” Lu said. “The question … is do these things also apply to human health?”last_img read more

Eagle soars to Wales’s success

first_img Despite having been off the track since finishing third in the Champion Stakes in October, Free Eagle was the 5-2 favourite for Dermot Weld and Pat Smullen kept things simple, positioning the market leader close to the pace and out of trouble. As the pacesetting French raider Gailo Chop began to fade from the home turn, Free Eagle was sent to the lead and quickened smartly to take a couple of lengths out of the field. Free Eagle was all out to repel the late thrust of The Grey Gatsby in a pulsating finish of the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot. Press Association Kevin Ryan’s The Grey Gatsby, a 9-2 shot under Jamie Spencer, spent much of the race in behind horses and was crying out for a gap in the last quarter-mile. When he did finally get into the clear, he found top gear and was making ground all the way to the line, but went down by a short head. Western Hymn was back in third, with The Corsican coming home well in fourth. Smullen said: “I’ve never enjoyed a winner like it. “I’ve been saying for so long how good I think this horse is and we’ve had a stop-start campaign with him, but he’s shown today how good a horse he is. “They didn’t go over-fast but I committed soon enough and all credit to him, he kept going all the way to the line even though The Grey Gatsby came at me. “I can’t tell you how good a training performance this is, it hasn’t been easy at all, he’s done wonders with this horse to get him here today. “I didn’t think he’d be able to show his best today, but he did. “I think this horse will improve for a mile and a half, but you could see his speed the way he quickened up today.” Weld said: “He got a brilliant ride, he’s a very good horse. “When you’ve got a good horse it makes the training easy, but it hasn’t been easy with him. “He got a heavy head cold a few weeks ago and I thought today was very much in doubt, but we got him right on the day that mattered. “Fitness on the day was my main concern, as I said – I had him as fit as I could get him with the limited preparation he had. “He sticks his neck out and he battles. “The Irish Champion Stakes will be on the agenda and I’ve always thought the Arc would be the race for him.” Ryan said of The Grey Gatsby: “In the first two furlongs I thought they were going to go a good pace but then they half pulled it up and he got locked up. “In fairness, Jamie gave him a fantastic ride, it was a great horse race and he’s back to his best. “I knew we had him in great shape, he’s got a long run with a lot of races coming up now, I was quietly confident he’d put up a big show. “Fair dos to the winner, it was a great training performance but I’m not disappointed, I know the horse is back to his best and we can look forward.” “He’s proved today what we’ve said about him all along. “He’s in the Eclipse and he’s in the King George over a mile and a half. We’ll let the dust settle and see how the horse comes home. “I’ll speak to Jamie and Ryan (Moore) as well, I’m sure he’ll have an opinion.” John Gosden said of Western Hymn: “It was a great run, a fabulous race and take nothing away from the first two. “We probably wish we had a bit more pace in the race and that is where California Chrome might have helped us, but I’m over the moon.” David Simcock said of The Corsican: “I’m really pleased, it was just unfortunate he couldn’t have been a bit closer.” last_img read more

Sky Betting & Gaming optimises payment capabilities with Worldpay

first_img StumbleUpon Related Articles PokerStars moves to refresh global appeal with ‘I’M IN’ August 18, 2020 Submit Share Share BGC: Charities win big as bookies take beating in Britannia Stakes June 19, 2020 EFL urges government to rethink gambling sponsorship ban July 3, 2020 Peter Wickes – WorldPaySky Betting & Gaming (SB&G) has selected FTSE-listed payment provider Worldpay to be its lead payment system, as the firm seeks to optimise its player experience and engagement throughout its digital verticals.Following a review of industry payment providers and their capabilities, SB&G development has chosen Worldpay to lead payment processing as the bookmaker seeks to create an optimal ‘seamless’ experience for its customers.Commenting on the partnership, Andrew Sacre, Product Owner for Payments for SB&G stated that Worldpay’s eCommerce offering could sustain the capacity of SB&G’s busiest periods during peak times.“Providing customers with a sophisticated digital experience is an absolute priority for us, which means supporting a growing number of emerging payment options, including Apple Pay. We wanted a payments partner with not only the industry expertise but the pedigree in new and exciting technologies and products to join us in some of the exciting plans we have for the years ahead. The digital gambling and payments space continues to evolve, driven by changing consumer habits and innovative new technologies, and Worldpay’s unique insight into customer patterns will be key to delivering a market-leading service.”Moving the partnership forward, Worldpay further helps SB&G with its new market expansion strategy as the operator builds on its home success. Peter Wickes, VP of Business Development, Global eCom at Worldpay welcomed the SB&G agreement stating;“By working with more than 150 of the biggest names in the industry, we pride ourselves on the market-leading expertise we offer to the gambling sector. With mobile betting expected to account for 40% of the online gambling market within the next 12 months, it is imperative that operators deliver the very best mobile gambling experience to punters. Introducing Apple Pay is an exciting move from Sky Betting & Gaming, and we look forward to supporting their continued innovation and growth into 2017.”last_img read more