HONEYBEE UPDATE

Virus could explain one symptom of colony collapse
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HEALTHY VS COLLAPSEDENLARGE | Healthy hives (top) have worker bees covering most combs, but in hives with colony collapse disorder (bottom), a lot of bees leave the hive and don’t return.Custom Life Science Images

There’s bad news for diehards still arguing that honeybees are getting abducted by aliens.

Beehives across North America continue to lose their workers for reasons not yet understood, a phenomenon called colony collapse disorder. But new tests suggest how a virus nicknamed IAPV might be to blame for one of the more puzzling aspects of the disorder—the impression that substantial numbers of bees vanish into thin air.

In tests on hives in a greenhouse, bees infected with IAPV (short for Israeli acute paralytic virus) rarely died in the hive. Sick bees expired throughout the greenhouse, including near the greenhouse wall, Diana Cox-Foster of Pennsylvania State University in University Park reported November 18 in Reno, Nev., at the annual meeting of the Entomological Society of America.

Outdoors, the bees could scatter across the landscape where the occasional dead insect wouldn’t be easily noticed before scavengers found it.

Illusory alien abduction is just one of many symptoms that need explaining, though. The prevailing hypothesis is that multiple forces combine to cause colony collapse disorder, such as pesticide exposure, parasites and possibly IAPV, Cox-Foster reported.

Viruses belonging to the group including IAPV linger in pollen. Cox-Foster said that she and her colleagues have for the first time isolated bee viruses from pollen samples from outdoor hives, though IAPV itself was not found. In another study, the same viral strains showed up in wild bees and neighboring domestic hives. “Our conclusion is the strains are circulating freely,” Cox-Foster said.

So though the viruses don’t affect mammals and bee products would not be a threat to people, infected bees might contaminate visited flowers, perhaps spreading the alien-abduction symptoms.

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BEE-SEARCHENLARGE | Jay Evans of the USDA’s Bee Research Lab in Beltsville, Md., studies the effects of pathogens on honeybees.USDA-ARS

Bee scientists first noticed weird bee losses in November 2006 when Pennsylvania beekeeper Dave Hackenberg reported substantial numbers of hives failing for unknown reasons. Honeybees have plenty of reasons to die during winter, but an experienced beekeeper could diagnose the usual ones, so researchers paid attention to Hackenberg.

By mid-December 2006 a team of bee specialists had described the new phenomenon, calling it colony collapse disorder. Colonies otherwise just humming along would lose most of their worker bees in a matter of weeks. The honey, the queen and the very young brood would be largely abandoned without enough of a workforce to tend to them. During that winter, a quarter of beekeepers across the country reported similar disappearances, and 37 percent of U.S. beekeeping operations reported collapses during the following winter.

Roughly a third of food production worldwide depends on animal pollinators such as bees. North American farmers start renting honeybees in February to ensure pollination of the almond crop, and continue renting bees for other crops throughout the growing season. Rental prices for bees are rising, in part because of the collapses. Price changes affect the economics of crops from New England blueberries to Washington state apples.

Even small, stationary operations have been struck by the disorder, said Cox-Foster. “We’ve had some organic growers report collapses.”

Analyses of beekeeping practices dashed notions that some food or treatment to keep pests out of the hives was to blame, she reported. Several studies have failed to find links between colony collapse and acute exposure to crops genetically modified to produce the Bt pesticide.

IAPV surfaced as a suspect in September 2007. Researchers at Columbia University and a consortium of other centers and the USDA reported that sequencing DNA from collapsed and healthy hives revealed a high percentage of the once-obscure virus among the sick hives. At the time, researchers cautioned that the virus might be playing a major role or might just be an opportunist, useful as a marker.

In a perfect world, Cox-Foster would have performed the classic experiments based on Koch’s postulates: giving a suspected pathogen to an organism, seeing if the disease symptoms match and then trying to recover the same pathogen from the newly ill. Infecting free-flying bees with a potential cause of the disorder wasn’t an option, though, so the team experimented in greenhouses.

Those greenhouses stress the bees, says Dennis vanEngelsdorp, Pennsylvania’s acting state apiarist. The stress weakens the bees and may contribute to their collapse, he says, agreeing that the virus certainly isn’t the whole answer. He points out that IAPV has turned up in colonies that don’t collapse, as if they’re usually healthy enough to cope with it.

Exposure to conventional pesticides might also affect bee health. Residues of 75 pesticides have turned up in pollen samples, according to ongoing work by Maryann Frazier of Penn State and her colleagues. The pesticide list includes chemicals that are no longer in wide use, such as DDT.

Cox-Foster said in Reno that she was surprised by the range of pesticides found. One sample included residues of the pesticide aldicarb exceeding levels considered toxic for humans, if humans were eating pollen. (Tests of honey show it’s safe, Cox-Foster said.) Effects of such cocktails on bees, however, still need clarification.

Despite the new evidence, the pieces of the puzzle aren’t falling into a tidy pattern. “I’m not happy about the answer I’m giving you,” says vanEngelsdorp. A mix of miseries seems to drive a colony to collapse, but it’s not always the same mix.

“It’s like heart disease in humans,” he says. “Two people can have a heart attack and not share any underlying causes.”


Tracing CollapseClick on the image

Reprinted from Science News – December 20, 2008

lemniscate

BEESGONE – ONLY 4 YEARS LEFT ? – EINSTEIN

Are Mobile Phones
Wiping Out Our Bees?
Scientists claim radiation from handsets are to
blame for mysterious ‘colony collapse’ of bees
GEOFFREY LEAN & HARRIET SHAWCROSS
The Independent (UK) 30apr2007

If the bees disappeared, “man would have only four years of life left”

— Albert Einstein*

Einstein may or may not have said this. However we are quite certain the bee populations are decreasing rapidly. The cause is the important thing here. And we feel that the cause is a combination of some or all technologies rather one or two. They include pesticides, plastics, microwaves, genetic engineering, monoculture farming in general and more. Most of them are known to be unsafe and have had no meaningful testing done on them.

But even more powerful and ominous are the combinations of two or more of these technologies. Human knowledge cannot foresee what happens with the unlimited combinations of all the toxicants that our technologies have created.

We are told not to worry by scientists who know incredibly little. The messages are related through journalists who have little comprehension for each individual subject and none for the sum total. Politicians are known liars and braggers, so few actually believe them anyway. But nobody seems to have a handle on the sum total effect of technology. All the while, we already know that each should not exist.

It seems like the plot of a particularly far-fetched horror film. But some scientists suggest that our love of the mobile phone could cause massive food shortages, as the world’s harvests fail.

They are putting forward the theory that radiation given off by mobile phones and other hi-tech gadgets is a possible answer to one of the more bizarre mysteries ever to happen in the natural world — the abrupt disappearance of the bees that pollinate crops. Late last week, some bee-keepers claimed that the phenomenon — which started in the US, then spread to continental Europe — was beginning to hit Britain as well.

The theory is that radiation from mobile phones interferes with bees’ navigation systems, preventing the famously home-loving species from finding their way back to their hives. Improbable as it may seem, there is now evidence to back this up.

Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) occurs when a hive’s inhabitants suddenly disappear, leaving only queens, eggs and a few immature workers, like so many apian Mary Celestes. The vanished bees are never found, but thought to die singly far from home. The parasites, wildlife and other bees that normally raid the honey and pollen left behind when a colony dies, refuse to go anywhere near the abandoned hives.

The alarm was first sounded last autumn, but has now hit half of all American states. The West Coast is thought to have lost 60 per cent of its commercial bee population, with 70 per cent missing on the East Coast.

CCD has since spread to Germany, Switzerland, Spain, Portugal, Italy and Greece. And last week John Chapple, one of London’s biggest bee-keepers, announced that 23 of his 40 hives have been abruptly abandoned.

Other apiarists have recorded losses in Scotland, Wales and north-west England, but the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs insisted: “There is absolutely no evidence of CCD in the UK.”

The implications of the spread are alarming. Most of the world’s crops depend on pollination by bees. Albert Einstein once said that if the bees disappeared, “man would have only four years of life left”.

No one knows why it is happening. Theories involving mites, pesticides, global warming and GM crops have been proposed, but all have drawbacks.

German research has long shown that bees’ behaviour changes near power lines.

Now a limited study at Landau University has found that bees refuse to return to their hives when mobile phones are placed nearby. Dr Jochen Kuhn, who carried it out, said this could provide a “hint” to a possible cause.

Dr George Carlo, who headed a massive study by the US government and mobile phone industry of hazards from mobiles in the Nineties, said: “I am convinced the possibility is real.”

The case against handsets

Evidence of dangers to people from mobile phones is increasing. But proof is still lacking, largely because many of the biggest perils, such as cancer, take decades to show up.

Most research on cancer has so far proved inconclusive. But an official Finnish study found that people who used the phones for more than 10 years were 40 per cent more likely to get a brain tumour on the same side as they held the handset.

Equally alarming, blue-chip Swedish research revealed that radiation from mobile phones killed off brain cells, suggesting that today’s teenagers could go senile in the prime of their lives.

Studies in India and the US have raised the possibility that men who use mobile phones heavily have reduced sperm counts. And, more prosaically, doctors have identified the condition of “text thumb”, a form of RSI from constant texting.

Professor Sir William Stewart, who has headed two official inquiries, warned that children under eight should not use mobiles and made a series of safety recommendations, largely ignored by ministers.

source: 30apr2007

Collapsing Colonies:
Are GM Crops Killing Bees?
GUNTHER LATSCH / Der Spiegel (Germany) 22mar2007

A mysterious decimation of bee populations has German beekeepers worried, while a similar phenomenon in the United States is gradually assuming catastrophic proportions. The consequences for agriculture and the economy could be enormous.

Walter Haefeker is a man who is used to painting grim scenarios. He sits on the board of directors of the German Beekeepers Association (DBIB) and is vice president of the European Professional Beekeepers Association. And because griping is part of a lobbyist’s trade, it is practically his professional duty to warn that “the very existence of beekeeping is at stake.”

The problem, says Haefeker, has a number of causes, one being the varroa mite, introduced from Asia, and another is the widespread practice in agriculture of spraying wildflowers with herbicides and practicing monoculture. Another possible cause, according to Haefeker, is the controversial and growing use of genetic engineering in agriculture.

As far back as 2005, Haefeker ended an article he contributed to the journal Der Kritischer Agrarbericht (Critical Agricultural Report) with an Albert Einstein quote: “If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe then man would only have four years of life left. No more bees, no more pollination, no more plants, no more animals, no more man.”

Mysterious events in recent months have suddenly made Einstein’s apocalyptic vision seem all the more topical. For unknown reasons, bee populations throughout Germany are disappearing — something that is so far only harming beekeepers. But the situation is different in the United States, where bees are dying in such dramatic numbers that the economic consequences could soon be dire. No one knows what is causing the bees to perish, but some experts believe that the large-scale use of genetically modified plants in the US could be a factor.

Felix Kriechbaum, an official with a regional beekeepers’ association in Bavaria, recently reported a decline of almost 12 percent in local bee populations. When “bee populations disappear without a trace,” says Kriechbaum, it is difficult to investigate the causes, because “most bees don’t die in the beehive.” There are many diseases that can cause bees to lose their sense of orientation so they can no longer find their way back to their hives.

Manfred Hederer, the president of the German Beekeepers Association, almost simultaneously reported a 25 percent drop in bee populations throughout Germany. In isolated cases, says Hederer, declines of up to 80 percent have been reported. He speculates that “a particular toxin, some agent with which we are not familiar,” is killing the bees.

Politicians, until now, have shown little concern for such warnings or the woes of beekeepers. Although apiarists have been given a chance to make their case — for example in the run-up to the German cabinet’s approval of a genetic engineering policy document by Minister of Agriculture Horst Seehofer in February — their complaints are still largely ignored.

Even when beekeepers actually go to court, as they recently did in a joint effort with the German chapter of the organic farming organization Demeter International and other groups to oppose the use of genetically modified corn plants, they can only dream of the sort of media attention environmental organizations like Greenpeace attract with their protests at test sites.

But that could soon change. Since last November, the US has seen a decline in bee populations so dramatic that it eclipses all previous incidences of mass mortality. Beekeepers on the east coast of the United States complain that they have lost more than 70 percent of their stock since late last year, while the west coast has seen a decline of up to 60 percent.

In an article in its business section in late February, the New York Times calculated the damage US agriculture would suffer if bees died out. Experts at Cornell University in upstate New York have estimated the value bees generate — by pollinating fruit and vegetable plants, almond trees and animal feed like clover — at more than $14 billion.

Scientists call the mysterious phenomenon “Colony Collapse Disorder” (CCD), and it is fast turning into a national catastrophe of sorts. A number of universities and government agencies have formed a “CCD Working Group” to search for the causes of the calamity, but have so far come up empty-handed. But, like Dennis vanEngelsdorp, an apiarist with the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, they are already referring to the problem as a potential “AIDS for the bee industry.”

One thing is certain: Millions of bees have simply vanished. In most cases, all that’s left in the hives are the doomed offspring. But dead bees are nowhere to be found — neither in nor anywhere close to the hives. Diana Cox-Foster, a member of the CCD Working Group, told The Independent that researchers were “extremely alarmed,” adding that the crisis “has the potential to devastate the US beekeeping industry.”

It is particularly worrisome, she said, that the bees’ death is accompanied by a set of symptoms “which does not seem to match anything in the literature.”

In many cases, scientists have found evidence of almost all known bee viruses in the few surviving bees found in the hives after most have disappeared. Some had five or six infections at the same time and were infested with fungi — a sign, experts say, that the insects’ immune system may have collapsed.

The scientists are also surprised that bees and other insects usually leave the abandoned hives untouched. Nearby bee populations or parasites would normally raid the honey and pollen stores of colonies that have died for other reasons, such as excessive winter cold. “This suggests that there is something toxic in the colony itself which is repelling them,” says Cox-Foster.

Walter Haefeker, the German beekeeping official, speculates that “besides a number of other factors,” the fact that genetically modified, insect-resistant plants are now used in 40 percent of cornfields in the United States could be playing a role. The figure is much lower in Germany — only 0.06 percent — and most of that occurs in the eastern states of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and Brandenburg. Haefeker recently sent a researcher at the CCD Working Group some data from a bee study that he has long felt shows a possible connection between genetic engineering and diseases in bees.

The study in question is a small research project conducted at the University of Jena from 2001 to 2004. The researchers examined the effects of pollen from a genetically modified maize variant called “Bt corn” on bees. A gene from a soil bacterium had been inserted into the corn that enabled the plant to produce an agent that is toxic to insect pests. The study concluded that there was no evidence of a “toxic effect of Bt corn on healthy honeybee populations.” But when, by sheer chance, the bees used in the experiments were infested with a parasite, something eerie happened. According to the Jena study, a “significantly stronger decline in the number of bees” occurred among the insects that had been fed a highly concentrated Bt poison feed.

According to Hans-Hinrich Kaatz, a professor at the University of Halle in eastern Germany and the director of the study, the bacterial toxin in the genetically modified corn may have “altered the surface of the bee’s intestines, sufficiently weakening the bees to allow the parasites to gain entry — or perhaps it was the other way around. We don’t know.”

Of course, the concentration of the toxin was ten times higher in the experiments than in normal Bt corn pollen. In addition, the bee feed was administered over a relatively lengthy six-week period.

Kaatz would have preferred to continue studying the phenomenon but lacked the necessary funding. “Those who have the money are not interested in this sort of research,” says the professor, “and those who are interested don’t have the money.”

Translated from the German by Christopher Sultan

source: 30apr2007

Honey Bees in US Facing Extinction
MICHAEL LEIDIG / Telegraph (UK) 14mar2007

Vienna — Albert Einstein once predicted that if bees were to disappear, man would follow only a few years later.

That hypothesis could soon be put to the test, as a mysterious condition that has wiped half of the honey bee population the United States over the last 35 years appears to be repeating itself in Europe.

Experts are at a loss to explain the fall in honey bee populations in America, with fears of that a new disease, the effects of pollution or the increased use of pesticides could be to blame for “colony collapse disorder”. From 1971 to 2006 approximately one half of the US honey bee colonies have vanished.

Now in Spain, hundreds of thousands of colonies have been lost and beekeepers in northern Croatia estimated that five million bees had died in just 48 hours this week. In Poland, the Swietokrzyskie beekeeper association has estimated that up to 40 per cent of bees were wiped out last year. Greece, Switzerland, Italy and Portugal have also reported heavy losses.

The depopulation of bees could have a huge impact on the environment, which is reliant on the insects for pollination. If taken to the extreme, crops, fodder – and therefore livestock – could die off if there are no pollinating insects left.

In France in 2004, the government banned the pesticide Fipronil after beekeepers in the south-west blamed it for huge losses of hives. The manufacturers denied their products were harmful to bees. Polish beekeeper associations claimed that the losses in their country could be connected to cheap sugar substitutes used in mass honey production.

However, experts at the largest honey bee health company in the world, Vita, based in Basingstoke, said the cause was still unknown, and therefore neither was the cure.

The company’s technical director, Dr Max Watkins, said: “If it turns out to be a disease we will probably find a cure. But if it turns out to be something different, like environmental pollution, then I do not know what can be done.

“At the moment, all we know is colonies are dying and we simply don’t know why. It could be a new disease or a combination of factors. And of course it could turn out what we are seeing here in Europe is different to what has been reported in America, although at the moment they look very, very similar.”

Dennis van Engelsdorp, of the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, said: “Preliminary work has identified several likely factors that could be causing or contributing to CCD. Among them are mites and associated diseases, some unknown pathogenic disease and pesticide contamination or poisoning.”

Initial studies of dying colonies in America revealed a large number of disease organisms present, with no one disease being identified as the culprit, van Engelsdorp added.

German bee expert Professor Joergen Tautz from Wurzburg University said: “Bees are vital to bio diversity. There are 130,000 plants for example for which bees are essential to pollination, from melons to pumpkins, raspberries and all kind of fruit trees – as well as animal fodder – like clover.

“Bees are more important than poultry in terms of human nutrition. Bees from one hive can visit a million flowers within a 400 square kilometre area in just one day.

“It is not a sudden problem, I has been happening for a few years now. Five years ago in Germany there were a million hives, now there are less than 800,000. If that continues there will eventually be no bees.”

“Bees are not only working for our welfare, they are also perfect indicators of the state of the environment. We should take note.”

source: 30apr2007

*Regarding the Einstein quote:
From Snopes.com 30apr2007

Claim: Albert Einstein predicted that if something eliminated bees from our planet, mankind would soon perish.

Status: Undetermined.

Examples:

[Higgins, 2002]

Berry stuck up a quotation attributed to Albert Einstein: “If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe then man would only have four years of life left.”

Origins: One tried-and-true method for getting people to pay attention to words is to put them into the mouth of a well-known, respected figure whom the public perceives as being an expert in the subject at hand. To make a point about whether our current political leaders are taking us down the right path, dig up an analogous quote attributed to Thomas Jefferson or Abraham Lincoln. Or, to comment on the nature of war (e.g., when it should be fought, how it should be fought, or the consequences of fighting it), find a relevant example credited to Robert E. Lee or George S. Patton.

Thus is it that recent concerns over a significant and mysterious decline in the population of pollinating honeybees (a phenomenon attributed to everything from global warming to insecticides to radiation from cell phone towers, and now thought to be the result of a fungus) have seen a resurgence in repetitions of a quote attributed to Albert Einstein, citations claiming the noted scientist once said “If the bee disappears from the surface of the earth, man would have no more than four years to live.”

This truly sounds alarming: Bees are disappearing for reasons we can’t yet explain, and a certified genius such as Einstein noted long ago that if all the bees disappeared, we’d soon be following them into extinction. If the intent of propagating this quote is to get our attention, it’s certainly been working. Did Einstein sagely foresee an environmental crisis we’re only just now beginning to notice?

To answer that last question (without denying the importance of the honeybees), we have to consider the related question of “Did Einstein really say this?” First off, searches of Einstein’s writings and speeches and public statements, as well as of (scholarly) compilations of Einstein quotations reveal nary a reference to the “four years” phrase or any other statement mentioning bees (save for a brief comparison between humans and colony insects such as ants and bees). The compiler of The New Quotable Einstein also found no Einsteinian source for this quote and lists it as “Probably Not by Einstein.”

Secondly, even though Einstein died in 1955, assiduous searching of a variety of databases of historical printed material (e.g., books, newspapers, magazines) has so far failed to turn up any mention of this quote (attributed to Einstein or anyone else) antedating 1994, when it suddenly started popping up in newspaper articles reporting on a protest in Brussels staged by beekeepers:
A pamphlet distributed [in Brussels] by the National Union of French Apiculture quoted Albert Einstein. “If the bee disappears from the surface of the earth, man would have no more than four years to live. No more bees, no more pollination … no more men!”

The beekeepers’ warnings had some heavyweight expert support. A pamphlet distributed by the National Union of French Apiculture quoted Albert Einstein. “If the bee disappears from the surface of the earth, man would have no more than four years to live,” Einstein was quoted as saying. “No more bees, no more pollination … no more men!”
Finally, Einstein was, of course, a physicist and not an entomologist or botanist (or any other form of biologist). It’s puzzling to imagine a context in which he would have made the statement about bees now attributed to him, or why he would have been perceived as saying something noteworthy that was unknown to his fellow scientists.

The best answer probably lies in examining the context in which the earliest citations of this putative quote (that we’ve found so far) appeared: a January 1994 political protest staged by European beekeepers over the issues of competition from lower-priced honey imports, artificially high prices for sugar (used as winter feed for bees), and a proposed reduction of tariffs that would make imported honey products even cheaper. A key part of that protest was beekeepers’ issuing dire predictions that as beekeepers go, so go the bees — and as bees go, so go the food crops and other plants on which we depend:
The beekeepers claimed that if they were forced out of business, the honey bee could be eradicated in Europe since wild hives were already being decimated by a parasitic mite called varroa.

So far Scotland has escaped the devastating pest, but the threat elsewhere remains.

“Within a few years all the wild colonies will die out,” warned John Potter from Norwich.

“The honey bee is threatened with a rapid decline.”

If the bees became extinct, the protesters said the impact would go well beyond the livelihoods of the EU’s 16,000 full-time beekeepers and the some 430,000 part-timers.

Crops such as apples, pears, beans and oilseeds need bees for pollination.

British beekeepers estimate that 85 per cent of Europe’s wildflowers are pollinated by bees and the death of the flowers could have a major impact on wildlife.

“It’s going to be a chain reaction,” said Mr Potter.
All in all, this looks like a classic case of a useful quote’s being invented and put into the mouth of a famous person for political purposes.

Sightings: Political comedian Bill Maher used the Einstein “bee” quote to begin his closing essay on the 20 April 2007 episode of HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher.

Last updated: 21 April 2007

Urban Legends Reference Pages © 1995-2007
by Barbara and David P. Mikkelson
This material may not be reproduced without permission. Sources:

* Ames, Paul. “Life’s Not So Sweet for Europe’s Embattled Beekeepers.” Associated Press. 24 January 1994.
* Fitzgerald, Jay. “‘Colony Collapse’ Worries Bee-Devil Farmers.” Associated Press. 24 January 1994.
* Higgins, Adrian. “Honeybees in a Mite More Than Trouble.” The Washington Post. 14 May 2002 (p. A1).
* Calaprice, Alice. The New Quotable Einstein. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2005. ISBN 0-691-12074-9 (pp. 294-295).
* McLaughlin, Chris. “Fearful Beekeepers Plead for Curbs on Honey Imports.” The Scotsman. 25 January 1994.

source: http://www.snopes.com/quotes/einstein/bees.asp 30apr2007

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lemniscate.gifReprint from www.snopes.com-The Independent, Telegraph(UK),Der Spiegel (Germany)     12/21/2012?

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BEES: COLONY COLLAPSE DISORDER

Honey Bees are Surrendering to Stresses Caused by Infection and Virus
Latest CCD Findings From Beekeeper’s Conference Points to Stressed Out Bees

By Kim Flottum

In a room designed to hold about 450 people, a record breaking 800 strained to hear and see a host of speakers present the latest information on Colony Collapse Disorder. More were out in the hall trying to get in. It was standing room only for all four hours.

In fact, the meeting itself, the first National Beekeeper’s Conference in Sacramento broke every record in the book for attendance, for quality of speakers, for abundance of information, for the extent of merchandise available to attendees, and for the goodwill of beekeepers everywhere. It was by anybody’s standards the biggest and best meeting of the beekeeping industry in the past 50 years.

But it was Colony Collapse Disorder that ruled the day, and the week. The last post here discussed the problems pesticides continue to cause bees and beekeepers, and the fact that, essentially little is being done to combat the problem. One speaker summed it up by saying he thought Big Ag had USDA in its pocket — such is the feeling in the beekeeping community.

But there was more than pesticides discussed in this jam-packed session. One of the presenters gave a particularly good picture of her thoughts, “CCD”, she said, “is the honey bee’s surrender to stress”.

Then the stresses were laid out.

The new Nosema (Nosema is a fungal infection of the honey bee digestive system) seems to be more of a problem than first thought since it causes problems more in the summer than in the winter and early spring like the old Nosema does. Treatment can be difficult since summer is honey production time. The old Nosema is still enough of a problem for beekeepers though, and that is getting more attention than it has in a long time.

One thing researchers have found is that honey bees in general, when compared to other insects, are weak in being able to detoxify pest and pathogen invasions. This discovery comes from information gleaned from the honey bee genome project a couple of years ago. More and more discoveries are being made as a result of that far-sighted project.

One good piece of news is that the Weslaco Honey Bee Research Lab in south Texas has been funded for a position of an Insect Toxicologist, a position long vacant in the Bee Lab system, and CCD has finally brought it to bear.

Other information….a new pathogenic fungus infesting CCD bees has been discovered, found only in Australian bees. Bacteria not previously identified were discovered, but perhaps they are symbiotic in honey bee digestion…that’s still to be determined.

As mentioned, both of the Nosema diseases were found in CCD bees, and high levels of trypanosomes were found in CCD bees, but low levels were found in all bees…their function isn’t known.

And virus…Israeli Acute Paralysis Virus and seven other viruses were identified, but IAPV seems to be the leading occupant of CCD bees. This creature keeps showing up at the most inopportune times for bees, and scientists keep finding it when they look at CCD bees.

It seems to be more and more likely that the kerfuffle over where and when IAPV became a problem is going away as scientists find out more and more about it. IAPV seems to be able to change rapidly, too, like most viruses, plus there seem to be more groups of infection (there’s an Australian group, a Montana group, and a small hive beetle group) and none of these are closely related to the originally identified Israeli group.

Anti-viral treatments are being developed, and fast, affordable identification systems, at least two of them, are being put in place as soon as they can….stay tuned.

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lemniscate.gif Reprinted from http://www.thedailygreen.com

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