Scientists and Soldiers Solve a Bee Mystery  

Posted by Big Gav in ,

The New York Times report that the cause for bee colony collapse disorder may have been identified - Scientists and Soldiers Solve a Bee Mystery.

It has been one of the great murder mysteries of the garden: what is killing off the honeybees?

Since 2006, 20 to 40 percent of the bee colonies in the United States alone have suffered “colony collapse.” Suspected culprits ranged from pesticides to genetically modified food.

Now, a unique partnership — of military scientists and entomologists — appears to have achieved a major breakthrough: identifying a new suspect, or two.

A fungus tag-teaming with a virus have apparently interacted to cause the problem, according to a paper by Army scientists in Maryland and bee experts in Montana in the online science journal PLoS One.

Exactly how that combination kills bees remains uncertain, the scientists said — a subject for the next round of research. But there are solid clues: both the virus and the fungus proliferate in cool, damp weather, and both do their dirty work in the bee gut, suggesting that insect nutrition is somehow compromised. ...

Dr. Bromenshenk’s team at the University of Montana and Montana State University in Bozeman, working with the Army’s Edgewood Chemical Biological Center northeast of Baltimore, said in their jointly written paper that the virus-fungus one-two punch was found in every killed colony the group studied. Neither agent alone seems able to devastate; together, the research suggests, they are 100 percent fatal.

“It’s chicken and egg in a sense — we don’t know which came first,” Dr. Bromenshenk said of the virus-fungus combo — nor is it clear, he added, whether one malady weakens the bees enough to be finished off by the second, or whether they somehow compound the other’s destructive power. “They’re co-factors, that’s all we can say at the moment,” he said. “They’re both present in all these collapsed colonies.”

1 comments

Anonymous   says 9:54 AM

It is great that this is finally being acknowledged in the media. Since the North American Beekeeping Conference of Jan 2009 we (beekeepers who attended) have known all of this, and IT WORKS!

They are leaving out a major factor to the 3 tier bee collapse and that is the parasite known as the varroa mite. The varroa mite which came from China 42 yrs ago via Mexico is stage 1 of CCD the parasite lives off of the honeybee (literally) and through the wound that the varroa mite causes that vectors in the Nosema Ceranae (the fungus) and this fungus (stage 2) eats a hole in the gut of the bees and vectors in the viruses (stage 3). Take 1 & 2 and you don't have to worry about 3.

What is unfortunate is that they did not acknowledge the lady scientist that discovered the Nosema Ceranae from the east coast Univ of Penn if I remember right.

Also bees don't get lost they get worn out because of the 3 tier issues.

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