Become a fan of Slashdot on Facebook


Forgot your password?
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."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Scientists Isolate and Treat Parasite Causing Decline in Honey Bee Population

Comments Filter:
  • Re:Hope (Score:5, Informative)

    by tarpitcod ( 822436 ) on Friday April 24, 2009 @06:45PM (#27707763)

    You know bees are useful for fertilizing plants and not just the sticky yellow stuff right?

  • by denzacar ( 181829 ) on Friday April 24, 2009 @06:58PM (#27707883) Journal

    A parasite. Not virus or bacteria.
    Breeding resistant bees is kinda like breeding humans that are resistant to tapeworm.

    You kill or surgically remove parasites - you don't develop antibodies to fight them.

  • Opposing study (Score:5, Informative)

    by DinDaddy ( 1168147 ) on Friday April 24, 2009 @06:59PM (#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. []

    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.

  • by Sensible Clod ( 771142 ) <> on Friday April 24, 2009 @07:07PM (#27707963) Homepage
    Of course the article doesn't say. Bad for business. But if you read between the lines:

    ...scientists from Spain analysed two apiaries and found evidence of honey bee colony depopulation syndrome (also known as colony collapse disorder in the USA). They found no evidence of any other cause of the disease (such as the Varroa destructor, IAPV or pesticides), other than infection with Nosema ceranae. The researchers then treated the infected surviving under-populated colonies with the antibiotic drug, flumagillin and demonstrated complete recovery of all infected colonies.

    In other words, they didn't think Nosema ceranae was the cause at first. After they ran out of "top ten" suspects, they started going after the more "ordinary" organisms inside the bees one by one.

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

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

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

    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: []

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

    by alanrw ( 1125955 ) on Friday April 24, 2009 @07:16PM (#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 ) <> on Friday April 24, 2009 @07:28PM (#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 Ichijo ( 607641 ) on Friday April 24, 2009 @07:42PM (#27708263) Journal

    You know bees are useful for fertilizing plants and not just the sticky yellow stuff right?

    But not as useful as more efficient, native pollinators, which in North America honeybees displace.

  • by frieko ( 855745 ) on Friday April 24, 2009 @07:43PM (#27708267)
    [citation needed]. My dad breeds sheep, and yes, you can select for parasite resistance. You'd be surprised at the things your body can fight off.
  • by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <> on Friday April 24, 2009 @08:30PM (#27708579) Homepage Journal

    It is believed that larger bees are more susceptible to mites, because the bees are easier for the mites to get into. Giving the bees an artificial wax starter foundation with larger cells than they normally make increases the ratio of honey to wax, but also means that the bees will produce larger brood to fill the cells, which results in larger adult bees...

  • by TheLink ( 130905 ) on Friday April 24, 2009 @09:30PM (#27708919) Journal
    While bees have been around for a very long time, I'm not so sure it's been the same type of bees for millions of years. Commercial beekeepers are using only a very few varieties of bees.

    In those millions of years it could well be that there have been many instances where a single variety of bee has been wiped out.

    Or nearly wiped out. A 10 year recovery period may not show up in fossil records. But 10 years for recovery is a big deal for the fruit industry and other industries that depend on bees.

    Also "past performance is not an indicator of future success". The fossil record has plenty of species that have been around for millions of years and then got wiped out. Some could have just been very unfortunate. Modern human society is actually very fragile and highly dependent on many things going right. We could go from billions of humans to millions in a very short time.
  • by zymano ( 581466 ) on Saturday April 25, 2009 @01:07AM (#27710055)

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

    Another media lie.

"I shall expect a chemical cure for psychopathic behavior by 10 A.M. tomorrow, or I'll have your guts for spaghetti." -- a comic panel by Cotham