Answers to the bee mystery?

Science Magazine just published research suggesting that a foreign virus, which apparently arrived via Australia, could be causing the mysterious colony collapse disorder (CCD). About 96% of CCD colonies were positive for this virus, which is confusingly named Israel acute paralysis virus (IAPV). Still unanswered: why Australia’s bees, if they’ve all got this, are doing just fine. Also, although there is a strong correlation between CCD and IAPV in the US, there is no clear chain of causation – CCD bees may be more susceptible to IAPV than unaffected bees.

Researchers have found an imported virus that may be associated with the sudden disappearance of honey bees in the United States, known as colony collapse disorder (CCD). This baffling syndrome, which earlier this year made headlines around the world, may have afflicted as many as 23% of beekeepers in the United States and caused losses of up to 90% of hives in some apiaries. The identification of a suspect is an important step, says Nicholas Calderone of Cornell University. “Before, we didn’t even have circumstantial evidence.”

The suspect is a pathogen called Israel acute paralysis virus (IAPV). A team of researchers reports online in Science this week ( that they found the virus in most of the affected colonies they tested, but in almost no healthy ones. If the virus proves to be the cause of CCD, it could have international economic implications, for the researchers point to Australia as a possible source. Since 2005, U.S. beekeepers, especially those struggling to keep up with the insatiable demand for almond pollination in California, have imported several million dollars’ worth of bees from Australia. The researchers report that they have found IAPV in imported Australian bees.

Full text, if you have a Science subscription: Puzzling Decline of U.S. Bees Linked to Virus From Australia

If you don’t, a pretty good news article about it

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7 Responses to Answers to the bee mystery?

  1. erzulie says:

    this is pretty disgusting. every two days, there is a new ccd article stating, “forget everything! we now know what’s affecting the bees and it’s this new-fangled virus/disease/parasite”. and now the usda is set on banning food imports from china and australia(not something i’m against, i guess) and raising virus-resistant bees? as if bees haven’t been overbred already.

    what about the fact that “natural-sized” bees(as opposed to the 50% larger ones that have been bred today) haven’t been affected by ccd? what about the fact that organic beekeepers aren’t reporting any similar losses; there were dead bees over the winter, sure, but I haven’t heard any reports of ccd hive-abandonment on an organic beekeeping forum i lurk at). what about the fact that this hit france years ago and they blamed it on a pesticide? what about the fact that studies have shown that certain pesticides and bt can affect the lining of bee-guts and make them more susceptible to pathogens or that the ld50 for imidacloprid is much, much lower (0.5 ppb) over a period of time, much lower than the previous study that bayer had conducted themselves?(not to mention that that is a *lethal* dose; how much is needed exactly to produce the neurological complex we call ccd?)

    food politics are strongly clouding the issue and it’s depressing that no one is suggesting that maybe our draconian means of producing food is responsible, rather than every single disease, virus, and fungus conspirating together simultaneously.

  2. erzulie says:

    why did you delete my comment?

  3. cicada says:

    Uh, I didn’t delete it. (I don’t sit by my laptop all day waiting to approve new comments.)

    As to your concerns, I think that my post speaks for itself. As in: there is a 96% correlation between the virus and CCD. However, there are serious questions about how this virus could cause CCD. So read it for yourself and draw your own conclusions. Enough said.

  4. peacay says:

    You sent us George Bush. We sent you a virus. Sounds about right.

  5. genesgalore says:

    hmm. wonder if it infects and affects ants and crickets similarly.. they seem to have had a hard time around here recently.

  6. cicada says:

    Peacay, I SO cannot comment on that. So I’m glad you did. ;)

  7. mckinley says:

    according to the Sydney Morning Herald (my daily paper) the virus hasn’t hit our shores yet. We have ‘sentinel’ hives set up around the coastline so we’ll get an early warning when it does (something the Herald seems to view as inevitable, since New Zealand’s bees are starting to die)

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