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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 _KiTA_ ( 241027 ) on Friday April 24, 2009 @07:15PM (#27708033) Homepage

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

    So what? Are we looking at another grape blight? [] Are we going to have to kill off 99% of the commercial bee population and start over?

    We're probably in some deep trouble if so. But maybe we should infect killer bees before we wipe this parasite out?

  • by mc1138 ( 718275 ) on Friday April 24, 2009 @07:46PM (#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 Opyros ( 1153335 ) on Friday April 24, 2009 @08:25PM (#27708549) Journal
    Bumblebees [].
  • by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <> on Friday April 24, 2009 @11:11PM (#27709509) Homepage Journal

    The fix is to let the bees make their own combs without interference, which reduces honey output but produces healthier bees... or so it has been asserted. This is the approach we will soon be applying. Wish us (and the bees) luck! I get along great with the bees in the garden.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 25, 2009 @12:53AM (#27709983)

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

    Most of the time, I'm of the mind that sustanability is eco-hippie bullshit. This isn't one of those times.

    Option A: Grow 100% "food" and paying $10K/season for some beekeeper to come in, drop off his bees, and then (a) his bees die off, and (b) your crop doesn't get completely pollinated because your local beekeeper is always mysteriously running out of bees, and (c) the beekeeper eventually gets shitty yield on his colonies, half of which (d) die and the other half of which (e) spend more time on the road between farms than actually producing honey.

    Option B: Grow 95% "food", and 5% "random crap, wildflowers, weeds, whatever shows up". Then (a) your beekeeper isn't low on bees, so it doesn't cost him as much to show up, and (b) your crop is fully pollinated because there are plenty of bees, and (c) the beekeeper makes better margins on his colonies, which (d) aren't dying in the field because they're (e) not weakened by having to be packed up every few weeks.

    Long story short, option B wins. As a farmer, would you rather have 80% of a 100%-orange grove (yield=800 units of food per 1000 units of land)? Or 95% of a 95%-oranges-and-5%-wildflowers grove (yield=900 units of food per 1000 units of land)? As a beekeeper, would you rather do business with the farmer whose 100%-orange-groves leave your bees stressed and unable to yield as much honey, or the farmer whose 95/5% orange/wildflower groves leave your bees less stressed?

    That the bees are better at it than we give them credit for. Think of them as crowdsourcing crop fertilization. Just as a human is smart, but a mob is stupid, an individual bee is stupid, but a whole hive of them is smart. Insert your own pun about the correlation between many compound eyes and the depth of bugs ;)

"Never face facts; if you do, you'll never get up in the morning." -- Marlo Thomas