Finally A Lead In The Case Of The Disappearing Bees

Bees_Collecting_PollenThe rapidly dwindling population of honey bees in the United States and other western countries (a/k/a colony collapse) has been a serious concern for pretty much anyone who is aware of our dependence on bees in maintaining the food chain. All sorts of solutions have been tried unsuccessfully, including importing healthy bees from Australia, and farmers’ demand for traveling apiarists and their beehives has been off the scale. Now it seems that we may finally have a lead in the race to find a cure for our ailing bees, reported in the New York Times:

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.

Liaisons between the military and academia are nothing new, of course. World War II, perhaps the most profound example, ended in an atomic strike on Japan in 1945 largely on the shoulders of scientist-soldiers in the Manhattan Project. And a group of scientists led by Jerry Bromenshenk of the University of Montana in Missoula has researched bee-related applications for the military in the past — developing, for example, a way to use honeybees in detecting land mines.

But researchers on both sides say that colony collapse may be the first time that the defense machinery of the post-Sept. 11 Homeland Security Department and academia have teamed up to address a problem that both sides say they might never have solved on their own…

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  • http://voxmagi-necessarywords.blogspot.com/ VoxMagi

    Finally! At least a clue is better than random accusations! I had a feeling that like most hard to track causes it was a combination of factors…I still suspect newer pesticides/herbicides in altering the diet of bees…perhaps weakening critical immune systems so that susceptibility is a greater issue than before…but if we can at least pin down how to fight the fungus or augment bees collective ability to resist it then we’ll have made a critical leap forward in preventing irreparable harm to the little fllas that make so many of our crops possible.

  • http://voxmagi-necessarywords.blogspot.com/ VoxMagi

    Finally! At least a clue is better than random accusations! I had a feeling that like most hard to track causes it was a combination of factors…I still suspect newer pesticides/herbicides in altering the diet of bees…perhaps weakening critical immune systems so that susceptibility is a greater issue than before…but if we can at least pin down how to fight the fungus or augment bees collective ability to resist it then we’ll have made a critical leap forward in preventing irreparable harm to the little fllas that make so many of our crops possible.

  • Heretic58

    And this is different from the conclusive study on microwave emitters leading to colony collapse in India?
    Wouldn’t the vast increase in mobile phone transmitters & transmision boosting towers be the more logical culprit, or have Kindle & iPhone both editted that out of public view?

    • http://voxmagi-necessarywords.blogspot.com/ VoxMagi

      Actually, I’d read of the supposed cellphone connection multiple times…never seemed even remotely supported by anything other than a “guilt by association” claim. By the same rationale…the last twenty years has seen a rise in underground cables for internet…so the beez clearly must have killed by lulz. Or the last ten years has seen a rise in airport scanners and federal snooping without warrants…during the exact same time period as colony collapse rising…so clearly they must have been slaughtered by the Patriot Act.

      Sorry man…for my money, a study that displays a kill rate that high only when two specific issues that were already suspected are involved at the same time…is probably on the right track.

  • Heretic58

    And this is different from the conclusive study on microwave emitters leading to colony collapse in India?
    Wouldn’t the vast increase in mobile phone transmitters & transmision boosting towers be the more logical culprit, or have Kindle & iPhone both editted that out of public view?

  • http://voxmagi-necessarywords.blogspot.com/ VoxMagi

    Actually, I’d read of the supposed cellphone connection multiple times…never seemed even remotely supported by anything other than a “guilt by association” claim. By the same rationale…the last twenty years has seen a rise in underground cables for internet…so the beez clearly must have killed by lulz. Or the last ten years has seen a rise in airport scanners and federal snooping without warrants…during the exact same time period as colony collapse rising…so clearly they must have been slaughtered by the Patriot Act.

    Sorry man…for my money, a study that displays a kill rate that high only when two specific issues that were already suspected are involved at the same time…is probably on the right track.

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  • XenitH

    I find it interesting that at the end of this document there is justification for the odd paring of the “research team”. What could possibly prove that this theory (with absolutely no sources or data for anyone to cross-check) is the truth over the numerous other predictions/studies/theories?

    Disinfo.com; I think you have been bought-out. Henceforth I will listen to you with only a slight interest and high level of skepticism.

  • XenitH

    I find it interesting that at the end of this document there is justification for the odd paring of the “research team”. What could possibly prove that this theory (with absolutely no sources or data for anyone to cross-check) is the truth over the numerous other predictions/studies/theories?

    Disinfo.com; I think you have been bought-out. Henceforth I will listen to you with only a slight interest and high level of skepticism.