Saturday, April 21, 2007

More on the disappearing bees.

This is getting pretty frightening. This could result in some very dire, very near term effects on the human population. I find it amazing but all too predictable that most Americans haven’t even heard of this threat to our way of life.

This is from the Celsias blog.

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.”

Just a few miles down the sunlit road, it is easy to find farmers prepared to agree with his gloomy assessment.

… Dennis van Engelsdorp, a Pennsylvania-based beekeeper and leading researcher… is adamant that it is too early to pin the blame on insecticides.”We have no evidence to think that that theory is more right than any other…” - BBC
Urban sprawl and farming also have taken away fields of clover and wildflowers, as well as nesting trees.

Pesticides and herbicides used in farming and on suburban lawns can weaken or kill bees.

Caron said a new class of pesticides used on plants, called neonicotinoids, don’t kill bees but hamper their sense of direction. That leaves them unable to find their way back to their hives.

… Because these bees aren’t returning to their hives, researchers don’t have a lot of evidence to study.

Those dead bees that have been found nearby have only deepened the mystery.
“They are just dirty with parts and pieces of various diseases,” said Jim Tew, a beekeeping expert with the OSU Extension campus in Wooster. “It looks like a general stress collapse.”

Similar disappearances have occurred over time. Tew said he remembers a similar phenomenon in the 1960s. Then, it was called “disappearing disease.”

“It was exactly the same thing,” he said.

But this one, Caron said, apparently causes hives to collapse at a much quicker rate and is more widespread.

Cobey said it could be from too much of everything: bad weather, chemicals, parasites, viruses.

“If you give them one of these things at a time, they seem to deal with it,” she said. “But all of these things, it’s too hard.

“I think the bees are just compromised. They’re stressed out.” -

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