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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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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 24, 2009 @06:47PM (#27707799)

    They can't keep handing out antibiotics to bees. If they have identified the cause, they should find resistant bee strains and breed those.

  • by RsG ( 809189 ) on Friday April 24, 2009 @07:32PM (#27708169)

    Don't be an idiot.

    Honeybees are a domesticated species. Like crops, cows and cats. There is no more "natural progression of life" to interfere with here, because the life in question is that of living things we've bred, sheltered and tamed (as much as we can say an insect is "tame").

    Plus, if it weren't for "filling wallets", the dying colonies wouldn't exist in the first place. Do you honestly think we go out and take honey from wild beehives? Are you that ignorant?

    The colonies that are dying mostly weren't those wax and paper numbers you see hanging from tree branches, they're wood and wire mesh numbers built for the express purpose of farming the bees for honey. Wild bees were also dying, but it's the domesticated ones we noticed first.

    Hell, the disease itself might not have anything to do with this moronic concept of "natural progression" you ignorantly put forth, and everything to do with us creating a situation in which the fungus can more easily infect domesticated bees than wild ones.

    Your argument might make some sense if we were referring to a wild species that was dying off from a cause unrelated to human activity. As it stands, what you're saying makes about as much sense as saying we shouldn't treat bird flu in the chicken population.

    Plus the concept of "natural progression" is a fools notion, put forward by idiots who'd have flunked out of bio 101 if they'd ever tried taking it. Evolution isn't about progress, nature isn't some sacred ineffable god, and mankind is only morally obligated to minimize the environmental impact of our own actions. We are not bound to do what is evolutionarily best, because the concept of one outcome being "best" for evolution is meaningless, and in any event we should not be using the principles of biology as moral grounds.

  • by Dripdry ( 1062282 ) on Friday April 24, 2009 @08:06PM (#27708411) Journal
    Although science is great, that would feel to me like it is just pushing the problem off in to the future when something else will evolve to kill the bees. Why not just have sustainable environmental practices, (which seem to help according to that Scientific American article on the subject)?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 24, 2009 @08:27PM (#27708563)

    Some parasites are defeated by immune systems. Look at heartworms. They kill dogs, but humans and cats can both get them, but human and feline immune systems fight off the infestation in its early stages.

  • by Miseph ( 979059 ) on Friday April 24, 2009 @08:33PM (#27708601) Journal

    Wow... Just wow.

    That was actually pretty awesome.

  • by duffel ( 779835 ) on Friday April 24, 2009 @10:16PM (#27709199)

    This sort of thing infuriates me. Flamebait be damned, this needs saying.

    Science is not a cause, nor a goal, or agent. Science is a framework for gaining knowledge while discarding falsehood. That is all. Saying science is the cause of some evil is saying that learning is the cause of some evil.

    There are consequences to the knowledge that science unlocks, it is true. Some of these consequences are detrimental, it is true. However, to condemn the best process of learning because some of the things we have learnt have been used in a less than ideal fashion is to condemn all the good things we have learnt through it as well, and on balance, I'd say we're ahead.

    And finally, to bitch about science, from the shelter of your science-made walls that house your your electricity-powered home, via quantum mechanical communication equipment, and with you alive in no small part due to a plethora of antibiotics and immunisations - is the worst disrespectful hypocrisy. Next time a doctor saves your life think hard on that.

  • by osu-neko ( 2604 ) on Friday April 24, 2009 @10:29PM (#27709259)
    Err, no. What you refered to as "a crude sort of science" was really a crude sort of technology. The bees were not bought to North America as part of a scientific experiment from which they escaped. They were brought for specific commercial purpose, and that purpose wasn't to expand our knowledge of how the world works (in other words, not for science). So, no, science did not create the problem you cite, either. People did, but they were not scientists nor were they in any way doing science, nor was science in any way involved.
  • by turbidostato ( 878842 ) on Friday April 24, 2009 @11:10PM (#27709491)

    "Why not just have sustainable environmental practices"

    So in order to avoid production being reduced tenfold we will use practices that will reduce production tenfold.

  • by Colin Smith ( 2679 ) on Saturday April 25, 2009 @06:37AM (#27711177)

    If you have a resource which can be exploited at a certain rate sustainably, then find by for example pouring nitrates and phosphates on to it you can triple production for a few years, then it fails. Is it really sane to exploit it unsustainably?

    Our economic system forces perverse results. Sustainable equates with failure. In the above example those who operate sustainably will be forced out of business because they have to compete with others who can simply borrow some money, increase production for a short time flooding the market and crashing the prices, then buy up their competitors at a steep discount before raising prices again.

    Actually this is a national security issue, particularly for farming and food production.

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