Sunday, June 01, 2008

Q&A on Colony Collapse Disorder

Researchers are Working on Cause(S) of the Mysterious Honeybee Die-Off
By Alma Gaul, The Quad-City Times (USA), 5/31/2008

Several years ago, beekeeper Marvin Cotton of Bettendorf tended 14 hives, or colonies, of honeybees in his back yard and at various sites in Scott County. Today, he has only four hives due to various die-offs of the bees.

These are challenging times for bees. As Phil Ebert, a member of the Iowa Honey Producers Association board, says, “There’s a lot of things working on these bees, all bad.”

It was a year ago when numerous reports appeared in the news media about a mysterious new problem dubbed Colony Collapse Disorder, or CCD, in which honeybees simply vanished. Beekeepers opened their hives and the bees were missing, having flown away and never returned…

For answers, we talked to bee experts in Iowa, Illinois and elsewhere and found that — yes — CCD is still a problem, it is still being studied and food producers are keeping up because beekeepers are working hard to build back their hives after suffering losses.

Here in question-and-answer format, is a closer look at the issue.

Q: There were many reports of Colony Collapse Disorder in 2007. What about this year?

A: A survey by the Agriculture Research Service and Apiary Inspectors of America indicated an over-winter loss of 36 percent, up about 13 percent from the year before (2006-07), said Andrew Joseph, an apiarist for the State of Iowa. That degree of loss is historically unusual.

The survey covered about 19 percent of the country’s 2.44 million managed bee colonies.

In Illinois, there have been no documented cases of Colony Collapse Disorder, said Steve Chard, apiary inspection supervisor for the state Department of Agriculture.

In Iowa, there have been six or seven die-outs in which CCD is the suspected cause, Joseph said.

Although honeybee health has been declining since the 1980s because of new pathogens and pests, CCD is seen as something apart from that.

Q: What is current thinking about the cause?

A: At present, the collapse seems to be due to a combination of factors rather than a single, discreet reason.

Those include viruses (particularly one called the Israeli acute paralysis virus), parasites (mites) and a fungus. Pesticide use, stress and poor nutrition also may be factors, Joseph said…

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

None of the factors listed explain why this has been so sudden, except maybe the virus that was mentioned, but why not explain that out a little more...