You mean it’s NOT from global warming?

If this guy is correct it’s really good news, both in terms of saving the world’s vanishing bee population and in terms of taking some of the heat off of global warming (if you’ll pardon the pun). If he’s wrong, that would be a shame, because the culprit he’s identified can apparently be treated cheaply and easily:

A parasite common in Asian bees has spread to Europe and the Americas and is behind the mass disappearance of honeybees in many countries, says a Spanish scientist who has been studying the phenomenon for years.

The culprit is a microscopic parasite called nosema ceranae said Mariano Higes, who leads a team of researchers at a government-funded apiculture centre in Guadalajara, the province east of Madrid that is the heartland of Spain’s honey industry.

He and his colleagues have analysed thousands of samples from stricken hives in many countries.

“We started in 2000 with the hypothesis that it was pesticides, but soon ruled it out,” he told Reuters in an interview on Wednesday.

Pesticide traces were present only in a tiny proportion of samples and bee colonies were also dying in areas many miles from cultivated land, he said.

They then ruled out the varroa mite, which is easy to see and which was not present in most of the affected hives.

For a long time Higes and his colleagues thought a parasite called nosema apis, common in wet weather, was killing the bees.

“We saw the spores, but the symptoms were very different and it was happening in dry weather too.”

Then he decided to sequence the parasite’s DNA and discovered it was an Asian variant, nosema ceranae. Asian honeybees are less vulnerable to it, but it can kill European bees in a matter of days in laboratory conditions.

“Nosema ceranae is far more dangerous and lives in heat and cold. A hive can become infected in two months and the whole colony can collapse in six to 18 months,” said Higes, whose team has published a number of papers on the subject.

***

Treatment for nosema ceranae is effective and cheap — 1 euro (US$1.4) a hive twice a year — but beekeepers first have to be convinced the parasite is the problem.

Another theory points a finger at mobile phone aerials, but Higes notes bees use the angle of the sun to navigate and not electromagnetic frequencies.

Other elements, such as drought or misapplied treatments, may play a part in lowering bees’ resistance, but Higes is convinced the Asian parasite is the chief assassin.

Hat tip: Drudge

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Comments

  1. says

    Bookworm,

    We need government health care for our bee population!

    Call Congress to get a bill started! Besides, how much are those bees being paid for their labor? Are they Unionized? If so, how much of their paycheck goes to the Democratic Party?

    This is serious! ….and are those bees registered to vote??
    I want answers and action!

  2. says

    I REALLY hope this turns out to be the problem — my brother-in-law runs over 1500 hives. So far, he doesn’t have a big problem, but I’m sending it along to him immediately.

  3. Mike Devx says

    This CANNOT be the problem! It doesn’t fit the correct moral framework. The problem MUST be one of: modern technology, industrial scale technology, or global warming.

    This fellow used careful, scientific reasoning, forming hypotheses, testing them, rejecting them where the tests failed. He has determined the likely solution and final tests in the ‘real world’ will absolutely prove or refute his claim. This is all so… plodding. It’s very boring. His conclusion doesn’t advance the Great Crusade Against Global Warming! This simply does not fit the correct moral framework, and therefore is useless and, frankly, I am suspicious as to his motives. I am CERTAIN, ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN, that he is just a cell-phone company corporate liar.

    As the communists used to say, don’t bother me with your imperialist capitalist running-dog bourgeousie facts. I already know every fact and every truth.

  4. says

    It was beeing (sorry, couldn`t resist) speculated that this was caused by cell phones confusing the “homing“ senses of the bees. Anyone who knows anything about liberals understands what a crock that is.

    This honey of a scam had everything the Greens could want; evil technology killing innocent creatures. They could wax poetic over the stinging demise of our native bees (which came here from Europe via evil white guys)all the while blaming Dick Cheney.

    Once again, the swarming of reality overtakes the Gang Green.

    Thanks for posting that, Bookworm!

  5. Danny Lemieux says

    The parasites are killing the honey bees because they hate George Bush and they are mad about Iraq. The adjective “Asian” is undoubtedly racist code for Pakistani or Indian parasites. I am so ashamed of our country and that it has come to this. Why can’t we all just get along?

  6. zhombre says

    To dismiss them as “parasites” is the height of arrogance. Nosema ceranae has the same right as any other species to exist and fulfill its biological destiny. Until we realize that all organisms residing here on Gaia have a valid part to play in the web of life, we will never overcome our alienation and innate destructiveness.

  7. JJ says

    In science, “parasite” is descriptive of a life cycle, not a moral judgment. There’s nothing arrogant about recognizing that Species A cannot survive on its own, and requires assistance from Species B. This isn’t always a negative relationship, either: you wouldn’t get far without the parasites living in your gut, a byproduct of whose activity is that you get nourishment from food. (They, however, neither know nor care that they are benefitting you: they are purely about their own survival.) Which is an example of parasitism carried to a useful conclusion: the relationship has, in the course of evolution, ceased being purely parasitic and has become symbiotic. Both parties to the relationship gain therefrom.

    However. There are plenty of parasites around from whom no one but them gains anything. I’m not sure what the divine role of ticks might be, for example, but it is no stretch – or arrogance – to note that they are pure parasites engaged in a one-way relationship, and mostly what they contribute to their hosts is debilitation and disease. Nothing in nature even likes to eat ticks – they will mostly be ignored in spiderwebs.

    Mosquitoes at least provide food to a host of other creatures in their ecological niche, and maybe that outweighs them being the leading disease vector on the planet. A tough call, but I imagine I’d let them live for the sake of the baby fish, dragonflies, etc. But they are, with no trace of arrogance, pure parasites.

    Giardia, Candidiasis, flukes, tapeworms – hard to see them as anything but negative. Pure parasites, no symbiotic aspect to them whatsoever. And I have to say, I haven’t yet seen much evidence of an upside to Nosema, either.

  8. says

    There’s a specific difference between parasites and symbiotes. Parasites are like the wasps laying eggs inside caterpillars. The caterpillars doesn’t get anything positive. Symbiosis is a different relationship than parasitism.

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