[ExI] Bee disappearance explained?

Dave Sill sparge at gmail.com
Fri Oct 8 17:02:04 UTC 2010

Since insects are always on topic here...


Honeybee disapperance mystery may be solved

Has the curious case of the disappearing honeybees finally been solved? A
twin attack of virus and fungus may have dealt the insects a deadly

Colony collapse disorder - the mysterious phenomenon that has led to
thousands of beehives being abandoned by their occupants - has puzzled
beekeepers and researchers for years. The disappearance of the bees has made
it difficult to figure out the cause of CCD, though there has been no
shortage of contenders including a paralysing virus, a parasite, and even
radiation from mobile phones.

Now Jerry Bromenshenk at the University of Montana and his colleagues have a
new theory: virus + fungus = lethal beehive conditions.

The group managed to find some remains of dead bees from 31 bee colonies
affected by CCD between 2006 and 2007 from across the United States. They
compared microbes in the samples to those from bees in a failing hive in
2008, a hive that collapsed in 2009, bees delivered from to the US from
Australia and healthy bees unaffected by CCD.

Protein analysis of the samples threw up two suspects that only turned up in
hives struck by CCD - invertebrate iridescent virus (IIV) and Nosema fungal
infection (PLoS ONE, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0013181).

The two-pronged attack needed to trigger full-blown CCD may have thrown
previous research attempts off the track, the group say. The presence or
absence of IIV in a given honey bee colony may explain why in the US, Nosema
sometimes seems to contribute to severe colony losses - when the virus is
present - but not when the virus is absent, the authors say in the paper.

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