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 (www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/1146498) 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