Colony Collapse Disorder: Bee Virus Strongly Correlated

– Posted in: Pests, Plagues, and Varmints

Update: Bee Virus Story Breaks

Image of honeybee on goldenrodEarlier this week I brought two informative articles about Colony Collapse Disorder to your attention. Both alluded to a study that scientist Ian Lifkin was involved with, which he was confident would be considered a breakthrough when released. The study that Lifkin referred to hit the news stands today. Here are three different versions, along with the person I have to thank for each:

Key points emerging:

  • They found Israeli acute paralysis virus in 96% of the hives affected with CCD, and in none of the healthy hives. This does not mean that the virus causes CCD. It just means that they are almost always found together. And what about the 4% of the CCD-affected hives where the virus wasn’t present? There’s more to this story than we presently understand.
  • The bee virus was first discovered in Israel, but affects bees differently there. It isn’t clear whether this is a variation in the virus or in environmental conditions.
  • The virus is also present in Australian bee colonies, but the bees don’t seem to be affected by it. Some speculate that the virus entered this country through infected honeybees imported from Australia.

I didn’t pay much attention to bees as a kid, except for that one time the neighbor girl and I stood by a hive and waved “shoo! shoo! shoo!” with our hands, just like they did on the cartoons. Let’s just say it was a good lesson in how television does not mimic real life.

But when, as an adult, I moved to our little piece of rural living with my husband and children, I came to understand all those familiar cliches much better. “Busy as bees” and “humming with bees” really happened, and I marveled how they worked the crocus patch and the apple trees in turn.

I miss the bees.

About the Author

Kathy Purdy is a colchicum evangelist, converting unsuspecting gardeners into colchicophiles. She would be delighted to speak to your group about colchicums or other gardening topics. Kathy’s been writing since 4th grade, gardening since high school, and blogging since 2002.

Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.

~Albert Camus in Albert Camus quotations

Comments on this entry are closed.

Chad Higgins February 13, 2008, 3:45 pm

My theory is that UV bursts are messing up the bees navigation. They have three simple UV eyes on top of their head they can always see the sun with. The virus might run wild once they are in a weakened state and be a factor in a UV blinding. CCD happened where no virus was found four percent of the time so I think my theory is a good one.

Derick Nore November 4, 2007, 9:29 pm

I have been consumed by this story of “CCD” as it has been pegged for some time now, and I find I can’t read enough on this fascinating and alarming events as they arise. The fact this is happening around the world and not affecting other parts of the globe is perplexing. Albert Einstein said that if the humble bee were to be extinct, we as a human race would have 4 years left of sustainable life due to the invaluable work of the pollinating bees, think of that for a moment! 4 years after the fact, now that is down right horrifying! The world is changing faster than we can adapt; due to our own destruction I might add; we as a human race need to watch more closely the way we treat our world, our home. I just hope that there is an answer and a solution to this phenomenon kwown as CCD, whether it is a mite or mites, pesticides, global warming, cell phone airwaves, whatever, we need to have funding for this potential disaster and we need to start today! We cannot survive if 30% of the world’s crop dies due to CCD and we cannot afford to sit on the fence here, we need action now!

Robin (Bumblebee) September 9, 2007, 7:41 pm

I have been loosely following the bee colony collapse story for a while. (Only for lack of time, not interest.)

I’m interested in some of the press that says that the majority of the bees that are affected are those that have been bred, perhaps “hyper-bred,” like some vegetables. I don’t know for sure, the the stories suggest that the “natural” bees fare better.

I need to do more reading, but if you know anything along this score, send it along.

I am glad, at least for now, that we have PLENTY of bees here at Bumblebee Garden–bumblebees, honeybees, yellowjackets. Bees, bees, bees.

–Robin (Bumblebee)