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Science News

Scientists Isolate and Treat Parasite Causing Decline in Honey Bee Population 182

In a recent report, a team of scientists from Spain claims to have isolated and treated the parasite causing honey bee depopulation syndrome. Their hope is to prevent the continued decline of honey bee populations in Europe and the US. "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."
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Scientists Isolate and Treat Parasite Causing Decline in Honey Bee Population

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  • Where would we be, in today's world, without science? There's all sorts of potential catastrophes just waiting to happen. Our high population isn't helping, but hey, what can you do. Just saying. Without hordes of well-paid scientists, we would be so hosed right now. We might still be hosed! But at least we're figuring SOME things out before it's too late, mostly.
  • by John Hasler ( 414242 ) on Friday April 24, 2009 @05:53PM (#27707837) Homepage

    So where are they now?

  • Sweeeet! (Score:4, Funny)

    by Locke2005 ( 849178 ) on Friday April 24, 2009 @05:54PM (#27707851)
    This should bee a positive step for farmers everywhere who depend on these critters for pollination of their crops. I'm buzzing with joy!
  • Opposing study (Score:5, Informative)

    by DinDaddy ( 1168147 ) on Friday April 24, 2009 @05:59PM (#27707885)

    This story is in direct disagreement with a recent article in SciAm, where they find colony collapse is MORE like caused by IAPV, and NOT the nosema parasite.

    http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?id=saving-the-honeybee [sciam.com]

    And since the scientists in the SciAm article looked at a lot more than two apiaries, I am gonna have to give them a lot more credence.

    • Quite so... (Score:5, Informative)

      by denzacar ( 181829 ) on Friday April 24, 2009 @06:07PM (#27707967) Journal

      Nosema seems to be just a part of the equation - not the solution to it.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Honey_bee_depopulation_syndrome#Nosema [wikipedia.org]

      A study reported in September 2007 found that 100% of afflicted and 80% of non-afflicted colonies contained Nosema ceranae.

      Link to the September 2007 SciAm article about the study:
      http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?id=bees-ccd-virus&page=1 [sciam.com]

    • Re:Opposing study (Score:5, Informative)

      by alanrw ( 1125955 ) on Friday April 24, 2009 @06:16PM (#27708035)
      For anyone interested in CCD, I strongly recommend the book "Fruitless Fall" by Rowan Jacobsen. In it, he suggests, just like the SciAm article does, that CCD is likely a combination of multiple factors, including IAPV, nosema, pesticides, industrial farming, and other contributors. While this study is a good start, I won't hold my breath that CCD is over until we have much more evidence.
    • by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Friday April 24, 2009 @06:28PM (#27708133) Homepage Journal

      Interestingly, the story itself contains a quotation not so favorable to the story's summary, and even its own text is less optimistic:

      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.

      A critical read of these statements (remember to parse it as English) and the rest of the article as well tells us that this particular parasite was identified as the sole cause in two professional apiaries. The principal researcher (they say "principle" in the article... reading "news" causes me physical pain these days) is saying one strain of parasite could be responsible. But what has actually happened is that they have identified a single parasite that was active in two apiaries with hives suffering from underpopulation. That does not mean a single parasite caused the dieoff (the bees suffering from some other parasite, infection, or other distress might be the ones that departed) and it does not mean that the "cure" for colony collapse disorder has been identified.

    • by jandrese ( 485 )
      The executive summary of the SciAm article is this: There is no smoking gun for Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), however there have been multiple factors that seem to increase the chances of it happening. Beekeepers that are being more gentle with their bees and being more aggressive about keeping the hives clean have been able to reduce the occurrences of CCD. The gist is that bees were already stressed by parasites, viruses, and just being moved around the country to pollenate, the addition of one more
  • by frovingslosh ( 582462 ) on Friday April 24, 2009 @06:29PM (#27708139)
    Don't treat the parasites, kill them. The parasites are the problem, and the last thing we need is to treat them. Treat the bees, kill the parasites.
  • by mc1138 ( 718275 ) on Friday April 24, 2009 @06:46PM (#27708301) Homepage
    Reading the other comments here, it's clear this isn't a case closed situation, but, this has been one of the single most frightening changes in nature in recent years and its reassuring to know that there at least seems to be progress.
  • by Coraon ( 1080675 ) on Friday April 24, 2009 @08:22PM (#27708881)
    I was worried there would be a mead shortage...and a decline in pagan moon shine is a bad thing...
  • "In a recent report, a team of scientists from Spain claims to have isolated and treated the parasite causing honey bee depopulation syndrome. "

    When I read that summary heading I expected the opening line to include the word "us".

    How much more parasitic could our relationship with honeybees possibly get?

  • Phew, at last I can turn my cell phone back on, cause it's not the RF interference that kills the bees. I feel like I've been on a 2 year long plane takeoff.

  • I was worried the dying off of honeybees was going to lead to more shitty movies like The Happening.
  • Saying the reason the bees were dying was because of human pollution.

    Another media lie.

    • Saying the reason the bees were dying was because of human pollution.

      It is. A healthy colony is far more able to fight off infections naturally than those which exist in a food chain polluted by all the various bits of crap which have been introduced. I suspect that the problem isn't any one thing but rather a broad spectrum build-up of contaminants and environmental irritants. Even the article makes no bones about the fact that this one particular type of infection is not the sole cause of CCD.


    • Saying the reason the bees were dying was because of human pollution. Another media lie.

      Which media is that? The Liberally Biased Media or the Right Wingnut Media?

  • But what about the cell phone theory? Oops.

The computer is to the information industry roughly what the central power station is to the electrical industry. -- Peter Drucker