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The Military Science

Mystery of the Dying Bees Solved 347

Posted by Soulskill
from the flower-counterattack-theories-disproved dept.
jamie points out news of a study attempting to explain the decline of honeybee populations across the US. As it turns out, the fungus N. ceranae that was thought to be killing off bee colonies had a partner in crime — a DNA-based virus that worked in tandem with N. ceranae to compromise nutrition uptake. From the NY Times: "Dr. Bromenshenk's team at the University of Montana and Montana State University in Bozeman, working with the Army's Edgewood Chemical Biological Center northeast of Baltimore, said in their jointly written paper that the virus-fungus one-two punch was found in every killed colony the group studied. Neither agent alone seems able to devastate; together, the research suggests, they are 100 percent fatal. 'It's chicken and egg in a sense — we don't know which came first,' Dr. Bromenshenk said of the virus-fungus combo — nor is it clear, he added, whether one malady weakens the bees enough to be finished off by the second, or whether they somehow compound the other's destructive power. 'They're co-factors, that's all we can say at the moment,' he said. 'They're both present in all these collapsed colonies.'"
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Mystery of the Dying Bees Solved

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  • by hesaigo999ca (786966) on Friday October 08, 2010 @03:46PM (#33840592) Homepage Journal

    Are bees an integral part of our society, and do they need to be present else we die off somehow....the impact of the species becoming extinct is not unimportant as let's say the platapus....I think if we can, we should help the species by giving them some sort of cure, if we can find it....else we might go without honey in our future.

  • Headline (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ffreeloader (1105115) on Friday October 08, 2010 @03:48PM (#33840604) Journal

    So, the headline is: Mystery of the Dying Bees Solved.

    The first sentence in the first paragraph says: jamie points out news of a study attempting to explain the decline of honeybee populations across the US.

    I guess "attempting to explain" now means "solved". The English language sure is changing rapidly here on /..

  • Re:Humanity (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Surt (22457) on Friday October 08, 2010 @03:57PM (#33840720) Homepage Journal

    With 6 billions humans and counting, there has never been a great surplus of humans to cover any possible genetic advantage. So don't worry about wiping out a small contingent of murderers and rapists, the odds of eliminating any desirable trait are vanishingly small.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 08, 2010 @03:58PM (#33840724)

    Are bees an integral part of our society, and do they need to be present else we die off somehow....the impact of the species becoming extinct is not unimportant as let's say the platapus....I think if we can, we should help the species by giving them some sort of cure, if we can find it....else we might go without honey in our future.

    Actually, almost all flowering crop species and many keystone plant species in most biomes depend upon bees for pollination. Keeping bees alive, is an ultimately selfish act. It could be argued that even species such as the platypus are indicators of overall biosphere health. The loss of any species is an indication of poor conditions for life in general including ours.

    Like the canary in the coal mine, you may not consider the canary helpful in removing coal for productive use, but if it dies, I don't think you will have much time to complain about its lack of productivity...

  • by JonySuede (1908576) on Friday October 08, 2010 @03:58PM (#33840728) Journal

    I'm willing to bet that the fungus and the virus were in separate regions at one point

    I am pretty sure that your hypothesis is valid. However I do not see a way to test it, anyone has any ideas for an experimental setup?

  • by muyshiny (944250) on Friday October 08, 2010 @04:08PM (#33840832)
    I don't have a good idea for an experiment but I think it's awesome of you to ask. This is what the Internet should be---constructive. Props!
  • Re:God's Vengeance (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 08, 2010 @04:08PM (#33840834)

    Now if we can just get Fred Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church to start picketing killer bee hives because God hates gay killer bees, then we might have a solution. Different problem, but the solution would work for me and the bees.

  • by tsa (15680) on Friday October 08, 2010 @04:19PM (#33840950) Homepage

    It's a bit more complicated because bees don't only die in America but also in Europe and maybe other places. I don't think bee colonies are moved over the Atlantic, are they? If not, the virus and fungus are probably transferred via people.

  • by Sloppy (14984) on Friday October 08, 2010 @04:29PM (#33841080) Homepage Journal

    Dude, we're heading for a world without mead!

  • by Kenja (541830) on Friday October 08, 2010 @04:41PM (#33841166)
    If we stop shipping them around, that means no more US produced nuts or fruit.
  • by Gilmoure (18428) on Friday October 08, 2010 @04:55PM (#33841304) Journal

    Ooh, we're gonna' have some cost overruns here.

  • by Mikkeles (698461) on Friday October 08, 2010 @05:18PM (#33841462)

    ..., largely blamed on the banning of DDT...

    By whom? I largely blame prohibition and overfishing of cod.

    (For a creature with a generational reproductive rate of about a month or two to take over 30 years to become a problem requires a bit more evidence than 'blame'.)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 08, 2010 @05:38PM (#33841612)

    My curiosity gets the better of me... how can the first post be redundant?

    I understand the meme failure, of course, but redundancy? not so much...

  • by The Grim Reefer2 (1195989) on Friday October 08, 2010 @06:13PM (#33841926)

    a rich brown flavor. Clover honey has this green taste

    I really not trying to be a smart-ass, but what does "brown" and "green" taste like?

  • by Xtifr (1323) on Friday October 08, 2010 @07:12PM (#33842312) Homepage

    Including fruits that some people think are vegetables.

    You say that as if fruit and vegetable were exclusive categories.

    Vegetable, n.
    1.
    a. A plant cultivated for an edible part.
    b. The edible part of such a plant.
    c. A member of the vegetable kingdom; a plant.

    Oranges and strawberries are vegetables by any of those definitions just as much as tomatoes and cucumbers are fruit. All four fall into both categories; all edible fruits are vegetables.

    Wikipedia has a slightly more nuanced definition of Vegetable [wikipedia.org]: "an edible plant or part of a plant other than a sweet fruit or seed." There's no direct citation for this distinction, but even if we accept it, then strawberries stop being vegetables, but tomatoes and the like are still members of both categories. I can't find any definition anywhere that would exclude tomatoes or cucumbers from the vegetable category.

    That said, while I basically agree with your point of your post, the claim "without bees no fruit" is slightly exaggerated. Not all edible fruits rely on bees. But the loss of those that do would certainly be catastrophic.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 09, 2010 @01:19AM (#33843688)

    The main reason that bacteria are easier to attack than fungi is that, since they are further down the evolutionary chain (they are prokaryotes, not eukaryotes like the fungi and humans), they are more likely to have proteins different enough from ours to serve as safe targets for drugs.

    Prokaryotes are NOT further down the evolutionary chain. They are just as evolved as you are, they've been evolving as long as you have been. They are JUST DIFFERENT. Because they are so DIFFERENT (not because they are less evolved) we can target them with drugs that will not interact with out own biology.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 09, 2010 @04:32AM (#33844142)

    Fuck the bees. I think that I only saw a handful of bees this summer but my plants where pollinated by other insects. I did see a lot of bumblebees this year which is unusual.
    Anyway, fuck the bees other insects are doing their job ... well except for honey.

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