Monday, February 25, 2008
Bee Colony Collapse Disorder- Where is it Heading?
"Things are getting dire on the U.S. agricultural front, and there are similar reports beginning to filter through from countries in Europe.
The sad mystery surrounding the humble honeybee - which is a vital component in $14bn-worth of US agriculture - is beginning to worry even the highest strata of the political class in Washington.
“Hillary Clinton’s got interested in this in the last week or so,” said David Hackenberg, the beekeeper leading the drive to publicise their plight.
“And she’s not alone,” he said. “There’s a lot of Congressmen have called…wanting to know what’s going on. It’s serious. - BBC
There’s still no concrete evidence about what is killing the millions and billions of bees around the country, but there are a lot of guesses.
The phenomenon is recent, dating back to autumn, when beekeepers along the east coast of the US started to notice the die-offs. It was given the name of fall dwindle disease, but now it has been renamed to reflect better its dramatic nature, and is known as colony collapse disorder.
It is swift in its effect. Over the course of a week the majority of the bees in an affected colony will flee the hive and disappear, going off to die elsewhere. The few remaining insects are then found to be enormously diseased - they have a “tremendous pathogen load”, the scientists say. But why? No one yet knows.
… The disease showed a completely new set of symptoms, “which does not seem to match anything in the literature”, said the entomologist.
… the few bees left inside the hive were carrying “a tremendous number of pathogens” - virtually every known bee virus could be detected in the insects, she said, and some bees were carrying five or six viruses at a time, as well as fungal infections. Because of this it was assumed that the bees’ immune systems were being suppressed in some way. - The Independent
There are as many theories as there are members of the panel, but Mr Hackenberg strongly suspects that new breeds of nicotine-based pesticides are to blame.
“It may be that the honeybee has become the victim of these insecticides that are meant for other pests,” he said. “If we don’t figure this out real quick, it’s going to wipe out our food supply.”