Posted: 15 Feb 2010 05:00 AM PST
Bees across Canada have declined by 30 to 40 percent every spring since 2006, and the numbers are similar across the northern hemisphere. It may come as a surprise to struggling beekeepers, then, that University of Guelph entomological researcher Dr. Ernesto Guzman says Colony Collapse Disorder may not even exist.
In the past two years alone, hundreds of books have been published on the plight of domestic honeybees.
“CCD is an arbitrary name,” Dr. Guzman told the Toronto Star, “designed by U.S. scientists to define a high mortality of colonies that have no explainable reason… Radio waves, even terrorist plots” are among some of the theories.
Certainly, what’s going on in Canada is not the same as what’s been happening in the United States — our bees are not actually disappearing. And that’s the main symptom of CCD cases, that beekeepers don’t find dead bees in the hive. “It’s like they have died in the field and they never came back,” Dr. Guzman says.
“We don’t see that in Canada, I believe, because in the winter they cannot fly out.”
Instead, Canadian beekeepers tend to find piles of dead bees in the bottom of hives when they open them up in the spring.
What's been killing off our Canadian honeybees?
Varroa mites are strongly suspected.
Heartbreaking for beekeepers, but those sad little corpses actually turn out to be a good thing for us, however — it means that Canadian bee researchers have something to study! And Guzman’s been doing just that. He followed 413 Ontario bee colonies for a year and took a close-up look at the 27 percent of those hives that didn’t make it through the winter.
In a forthcoming report in the journal Apidologie, Guzman blames the varroa mite — that tiny crab-like parasite that sucks the blood out of bees, hopelessly weakening them so even if they aren’t killed outright they become more susceptible to disease –in combination with poor bee populations and low food reserves going into the winter.
Suspect Named in Canadian Bee Losses was written and published by the Central Beekeepers Alliance - Honey Bees & Beekeeping in New Brunswick, Canada. For more information, please visit http://cba.stonehavenlife.com.
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