Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Central Beekeepers Alliance : Clarity on Honey Bee Collapse?

Central Beekeepers Alliance : Clarity on Honey Bee Collapse?

Clarity on Honey Bee Collapse?

Posted: 17 Feb 2010 05:00 AM PST

Beekeepers will be interested in highlights from an article published recently in Science magazine, called Clarity on Honey Bee Collapse?. It’s by Francis L. W. Ratnieks and Norman L. Carreck of the Laboratory of Apiculture and Social Insects, Department of Biological and Environmental Science, University of Sussex, UK.

Over the past few years, the media have frequently reported deaths of honey bee (Apis mellifera L.) colonies in the United States, Europe, and Japan. Most reports express opinions but little hard science.

It is not the mite itself that causes bee death, but a range of normally innocuous bee viruses that it carries.

A recent study of beekeeping history pointed out that extensive colony losses are have occurred at different points in time in many parts of the world. In other words, Colony Collapse Disorder is not the unique event that media attention would lead us to believe — and concern for honey bees has been “magnified by their vital role in agriculture” in the United States, where the $2-billion-per-year California almond industry depends on the pollination services of honey bees. Theories as to the cause of CCD have ranged from mobile phones and genetically modified crops (theories that were quickly dismissed by scientists) to more credible theories that have been the subject of more serious research: pests and diseases, environmental and economic factors, and pesticides.

Although full explanations for these losses are still debatable, the consensus seems to be that pests and pathogens are the single most important cause of colony losses.

There is also growing evidence that the ability of a particular pathogen to kill colonies may depend on other factors, such as the Varroa mire — but it’s not the mite itself that is killing bees, Ratnieks and Carreck point out, but the bee viruses that it carries and passes from one weakened, stressed honeybee to another.

Clarity on Honey Bee Collapse?
Francis L. W. Ratnieks and Norman L. Carreck
Science 8 January 2010: 152-153

Clarity on Honey Bee Collapse? was written and published by the Central Beekeepers Alliance - Honey Bees & Beekeeping in New Brunswick, Canada. For more information, please visit

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