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Honeybees in peril

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Post  Nina Thu Apr 16, 2009 11:36 pm

Honeybees were mentioned in another thread because of concern over Bee Colony Collapse Disorder. I thought I would share this article from Science News. The pathogen is a fungus. This article doesn't mention this, but it's strongly suspected that colony collapse is more prevalent in stressed bees, and the stress could be any number of things, including exposure to pesticides.

ScienceDaily (Apr. 14, 2009) — For the first time, scientists have isolated the parasite Nosema ceranae (Microsporidia) from professional apiaries suffering from honey bee colony depopulation syndrome. They then went on to treat the infection with complete success.

In a study published in the new journal from the Society for Applied Microbiology: Environmental Microbiology Reports, scientists from Spain analysed two apiaries and found evidence of honey bee colony depopulation syndrome (also known as colony collapse disorder in the USA). They found no evidence of any other cause of the disease (such as the Varroa destructor, IAPV or pesticides), other than infection with Nosema ceranae. The researchers then treated the infected surviving under-populated colonies with the antibiotic drug, flumagillin and demonstrated complete recovery of all infected colonies.

The loss of honey bees could have an enormous horticultural and economic impact worldwide. Honeybees are important pollinators of crops, fruit and wild flowers and are indispensable for a sustainable and profitable agriculture as well as for the maintenance of the non-agricultural ecosystem. Honeybees are attacked by numerous pathogens including viruses, bacteria, fungi and parasites.

For most of these diseases, the molecular pathogenesis is poorly understood, hampering the development of new ways to prevent and combat honeybee diseases. So, any progress made in identifying causes and subsequent treatments of honey bee colony collapse is invaluable. There have been other hypothesis for colony collapse in Europe and the USA, but never has this bug been identified as the primary cause in professional apiaries.

“Now that we know one strain of parasite that could be responsible, we can look for signs of infection and treat any infected colonies before the infection spreads” said Dr Higes, principle researcher.

This finding could help prevent the continual decline in honey bee population which has recently been seen in Europe and the USA.


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Post  Alan Walker Fri Apr 17, 2009 2:24 am

I'm guessing it's quite difficult to treat bee diseases. Can you just imagine to get the bee to hold still while you try to draw blood for a culture? "Now this is going to sting a little." lol!
Alan Walker
Alan Walker

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