Colony Collapse Disorder

Colony Collapse Disorder

Since 2004, literally billions of honeybees have been dying across America. The death toll has concerned many scientists and entomologists, as these small creatures have the responsibility of pollinating over $15 billion worth of crops in America each year. The reason for the sudden death of the honeybee has been linked to the Colony Collapse Disorder. A phenomenon which sees hives left with a queen, a few newly hatched adults and plenty of food, but not one worker bee (who are responsible for pollination) left, they have simply vanish!. Alarming statistics have revealed that Colony Collapse Disorder has struck between 50 percent and 90 percent of commercial honeybee hives in the U.S.

Causes Of The Bee Deaths

Colony Collapse Disorder could be caused by many factors; some believe that there has been genetic weaknesses bred into bees over time which makes them vulnerable to parasites , the effects of pesticides and pollutants, the varroa mite which affects all hives on the U.S. mainland, poor nutrition, or an unidentified virus. Unfortunately, if it is a virus, scientists have no general way of treating or vaccinating bees against it.

Interestingly, some have linked the bee deaths to cell phone interference.

Israelis Paralysis Virus

September 2007 : A virus has been found in healthy Australian honey bees which may be playing a major role in the collapse of honey bee colonies across the United States. The mass death of worker bees started to occur in 2004, the same year American beekeepers started importing bees from Australia. The virus is called the Israeli Acute Paralysis Virus (IAPV), named after the Hebrew University researchers who discovered it. IAPV differs from the Colony Collapse Disorder in that the worker bees die very close to the hive (after developing shivering wings and paralysis), where as the bees with Colony Collapse Disorder just vanish. Researchers have noticed that Australian bees seem to be resistant to IAPV and do not come down with any symptoms. They have also discovered that IAPV was present in bees that had come from Colony Collapse Disorder hives approximately 96 percent of the time.

A technique, called pyrosequencing, was used to discover the virus. The process which isolates the genes in bees, allowed the scientists to compare the leftover genetic sequences with others detailed in public databases, and then pick out every fungus, bacterium, parasite and virus harbored by the bees.