Disappearing Honeybees Overloaded With Multiple Viruses Says Study

August 25, 2009

(ChattahBox)—Since 2006, honeybees have been mysteriously disappearing from hives across the country, putting millions of dollars of crops at risk that depend on the bees for pollination. Confounding entomologists, the collapse of the America’s honeybee colonies have led to theories of pesticides or other environmental factors killing off the bees.

But a new study discounts theories of pesticide poisoning and instead believes; the bees have been weakened by multiple viruses causing the collapse of the colonies.

In the past few years alone, nearly one-third of all honeybee colonies have disappeared, a phenomenon which scientists refer to as, colony collapse disorder or CCD. The new study entitled, “Changes in transcript abundance relating to colony collapse disorder in honey bees (Apis mellifera),” sheds new light on the mystery of the disappearing honeybees in America.

A team of entomologists analyzed the guts of bees using whole-genome microarrays “to compare gene expression between guts of bees from CCD colonies originating on both the east and west coasts of the United States and guts of bees from healthy colonies sampled before the emergence of CCD.”

The study found no evidence of environmental toxins causing CCD. What the entomologists did find, were unusual fragments of ribosomal RNA inside the guts of CCD affected bees, leading the researchers to conclude that the bees suffered from multiple viruses.

Lead researcher May Berenbaum at the University of Illinois believes the sickened bees may be besieged with multiple viruses, including deformed wing virus and Israeli acute paralysis virus. The viruses may have overloaded the system of the honeybees, weakening their ability to fight off environmental toxins, triggering the collapse of the colonies.

Although the researchers weren’t able to offer a ready solution to the problem of CCD, they note that the collapse of the honeybee colonies seems to be waning. “The phenomenon seems to be in decline,” says Berenbaum. ”

According to the Apiary Inspectors of America, deaths from CCD are below 30 percent for the first time since the problem began in 2006.



One Response to “Disappearing Honeybees Overloaded With Multiple Viruses Says Study”

  1. Manuka Honey on September 7th, 2009 3:26 pm

    American honeybees pollinate some 90 different crops that bring in more than $15 billion annually. We need to find out what is making the hives collapse and do something about it now.

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