Honeybee Heists A New Reality In A Time Of Colony Collapse – NPR STAFF SEPTEMBER 06, 2015 8:33 AM ET

Honey bees are being rustled.

Katie Hayward, owner of Felin Honeybees, lifts out a honeycomb on her honeybee farm. Thieves have made off with some 45,000 honeybees from the farm in recent months.

Katie Hayward, owner of Felin Honeybees, lifts out a honeycomb on her honeybee farm. Thieves have made off with some 45,000 honeybees from the farm in recent months. Courtesy of Felin Honeybees

Thieves are hijacking hives and renting the bees and their queens out to farmers to pollinate their crops. With the global collapse of the bee population, the crime is becoming even more lucrative.

It’s an issue in the U.S., in California’s Central Valley, but most recently, another bee theft caught our attention. On the tiny island of Angelsey, off the coast of North Wales, Felin Honeybees, a farm and education center, has been hit twice in the last month.

The bee burglars used a small box, called a nucleus, which is used for starting new hives, Felin owner Katie Hayward tells NPR’s Linda Wertheimer.

“They’ve done what’s called a ‘bee shake,’ which is where you hold the frames over the box and you shake the bees in,” she explains. “So they can be stored in the boot of any car, I’m afraid.”

They were able to make off with some 45,000 bees, including four queens, she says.

The bee bandits took bees that the center had bred for calmness, to be used for teaching. Hayward says the pilferers must have had some expertise.

“They knew exactly what they were taking,” Hayward says. “There’s been a huge surge in beekeeping as a hobby, and the demand for new nucleuses has risen over 75 percent in the last five years.”

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Bill Gates: The next outbreak? We’re not ready TED2015 · 8:32 · Filmed Mar 2015

In 2014, the world avoided a global outbreak of Ebola, thanks to thousands of selfless health workers — plus, frankly, some very good luck. In hindsight, we know what we should have done better. So, now’s the time, Bill Gates suggests, to put all our good ideas into practice, from scenario planning to vaccine research to health worker training. As he says, “There’s no need to panic … but we need to get going.”


Bruce Aylward: Humanity vs. Ebola. How we could win a terrifying war – TEDxPlaceDesNations · 19:11 · Filmed Dec 2014

“Ebola threatens everything that makes us human,” says Bruce Aylward of the World Health Organization. And when the Ebola epidemic exploded in 2014, it caused a worldwide panic. But humanity can beat Ebola — and Aylward shows four strategies that show how we are succeeding. The fight against Ebola is not yet won, he says, but it can be.

Disneyland measles outbreak sheds light on anti-vaccine movement – by Marisa Taylor January 2015 ET

With 70 cases of measles and counting in California, doctors say parents can’t afford not to vaccinate their kids

Screen Shot 2015-01-26 at Jan 26, 2015 2.11

Most of the measles cases originated at two Disney theme parks in Anaheim, California, where the state’s public health department said on Wednesday that the majority of the people who caught it were unvaccinated. State epidemiologists think the outbreak began with a measles-infected visitor in mid- to late December, and urged people who haven’t been vaccinated to avoid theme parks, airports and other places where international travelers might visit.

The measles outbreak sheds light on a growing anti-vaccination movement, spread by parents and advocates, including former ABC television host Jenny McCarthy. As a result, parents may opt not to immunize their children because of religious beliefs or the fear that vaccines are linked to developmental problems such as autism. While every U.S. state requires children to provide proof of immunization before entering public school, most states offer parents religious exemptions from vaccinating their kids before enrollment, and 18 states allow them to skip out on vaccines due to “personal beliefs,” according to the Johns Hopkins Institute for Vaccine Safety.

Scientists have thoroughly debunked the notion that autism is linked to vaccines, but certain U.S. states such as California, Oregon, Washington and Vermont have seen a rise in vaccine refusals from parents. A 2009 study in the New England Journal of Medicine found that state-level vaccine exemptions based on personal beliefs increased to an average of 2.54 percent in 2004 from 0.99 percent in 1991. More recent data show that “personal beliefs” exemptions among kindergartners have risen by nearly 1 percentage point since 2008 (PDF) in California, and a study published Monday in the journal Pediatrics identified a number of unvaccinated “hot spots” in California’s Bay Area, some where more than 10 percent of parents don’t vaccinate their kids.


Ebola crisis: Mali says it has no more cases 18 January 2015 Last updated at 17:32 ET

Mali’s health minister says the country is now free of the Ebola virus, after 42 days without a new case of the disease.

Health workers in Mali

Mali recorded its first case of Ebola in October

“I declare this day… the end of the epidemic of the Ebola virus in Mali,” said Ousmane Kone.

The last Ebola-infected patient in Mali recovered and left hospital in early December.

Latest figures show the three West African countries worst affected have all seen a decline in new Ebola cases.

Sierra Leone and Guinea both recorded the lowest weekly total of confirmed Ebola cases since August, according to UN figures on Thursday.

Liberia, which reported no new cases on two days last week, had its lowest weekly total since June.

The overall death toll has reached 8,429 with 21,296 cases so far.

Mali recorded its first case of Ebola in October, when a two-year-old from Guinea fell ill and died.

At its worst, there were 300 contact cases under investigation in the country.

But the country has now “come out” of the epidemic, said Ibrahima Soce Fall, the head of the Malian office of the United Nations Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UMEER).

The incubation period for Ebola is 21 days, and countries must be free of new cases for two consecutive incubation periods, 42 days, to be declared free of the virus.

A health worker attends to a patient at the maternity ward in the government hospital in Koidu, Kono district in eastern Sierra Leone, December 20, 2014

Ebola virus disease (EVD)

  • Symptoms include high fever, bleeding and central nervous system damage
  • Spread by body fluids, such as blood and saliva
  • Fatality rate can reach 90% – but current outbreak has mortality rate of about 70%
  • Incubation period is two to 21 days
  • There is no proven vaccine or cure
  • Supportive care such as rehydrating patients who have diarrhoea and vomiting can help recovery
  • Fruit bats, a delicacy for some West Africans, are considered to be virus’s natural host

Ebola basics: What you need to know


4 Good Reasons To Get A Flu Shot This Week by Tara Culp-Ressler Posted on January 7, 2015 at 2:55 pm Updated: January 7, 2015 at 3:10 pm

Every new year typically brings new warnings from federal health officials about what Americans should do to protect themselves from the flu. Despite the fact that influenza is a serious public health concern — it’s actually on the list of the top 10 killers in the United States — most people don’t think about it as a major issue. Flu season doesn’t provoke nearly the same level of panic as news about potential Ebola cases, for instance, and the majority of American adults don’t get vaccinated against it.

Medical student Sarah Quillin gets a flu vaccination in Chicago CREDIT: JEAN-MARC GIBOUX/AP IMAGES

If you’re among the estimated 60 percent of adults who don’t usually get a flu shot, there are some compelling reasons to change that this year, despite the recent headlines about the fact that the current vaccine is less effective than usual:

1. This year’s vaccine is better than nothing.

There’s been a lot of coverage about how this year’s flu shot is a bad match for the strains of influenza that are currently circulating. Health experts estimate that the vaccine will work about one third of the time. But that doesn’t mean it makes sense to skip it. Doctors say it’s still worth getting your shot. Even if the vaccine doesn’t prevent you from getting the flu, it can make the symptoms less severe and help you recover more quickly than you would have otherwise. That could make a big difference for vulnerable populations like pregnant women, kids, and elderly Americans, who can catch the flu from healthier people.

“In the average year we see effectiveness of the vaccine at 50 to 70 percent, and so it might be a little lower this year,” Dr. Joseph Bresee, who works for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), told CBS News this week. “But even if it’s lower it still may provide some protection, which is especially important in people at high risk for severe disease.”

2. More than 20 kids have already died from the flu this season.

At the end of December, the CDC declared that the flu was at epidemic levelsthroughout the country, something that happens virtually every year. But this season appears to be particularly nasty. Six children died of the flu in the last week alone, bringing the total number of deaths among kids up to 21.

Schools across the country are scrambling to keep students healthy as they return from winter break, taking extra precautions like disinfecting their buildings, urging flu shots, and even starting social media campaigns to encourage kids to wash their hands. In Georgia, the ongoing flu outbreak forced an entire school district to close early for the winter holiday. Even if you don’t have kids of your own, you can attempt to make it less likely that you’ll transmit the flu to other children you may come into contact with throughout the winter.

3. Flu season will probably keep getting worse.

Even though the current flu season is well underway, it’s not too late to get a flu shot. Health experts agree that, as long as the virus is still being spread, it’s always a good idea to get the vaccine. According to the CDC, flu season often peaks in January or February, and sometimes lasts all the way into May.

This year specifically, flu season took a turn for the worse just last week, and definitely hasn’t peaked yet. Compared to this time last season, more people are being hospitalized for influenza. And some states like New York and California haven’t yet seen high levels of illness, so CDC experts anticipate a potential spike in flu diagnoses there over the next few weeks. So if you haven’t gotten the vaccine yet, the shot could still make a difference, especially in terms of increasing herd immunity for the entire U.S. population.

4. It won’t cost you anything.

Flu shots are considered to be a standard part of preventative health care — so, thanks to Obamacare, they fall under the category of services that insurers are required to cover without additional cost sharing. The vast majority of people with insurance should be able to get a free flu shot at a provider that falls within their network. You can make an appointment at your doctor’s office, visit your local pharmacy, or make a trip to a retail store like Target, Walmart, or Giant.