A new press release from the Penn State CCD Working Group came out today, in advance of the ACS meetings:

“The researchers present their analysis of pollen, brood, adult bees and wax samples today (Aug 18 ) at the 236th national American Chemical Society meeting in Philadelphia. Those results show unprecedented levels of fluvalinate and coumaphos — pesticides used in the hives to combat varroa mites — in all comb and foundation wax samples….

“Everyone figured that the acaricides (anti-varroa mite chemicals) would be present in the wax because the wax is reprocessed to form the structure of the hives,” says Maryann Frazier, senior extension associate. “It was a bit of a shock to see the levels and the widespread presence of these pesticides.”

These are NOT the pesticides that have been blamed for CCD in the past.  (And, BTW, there does not appear to be a link between imidacloprid and CCD.)

These are compounds used to combat mites that parasitize bees in their hives.  Mostly the surprise is over the level of the compounds–they were expected to be present, but not at such high levels.

And before anyone jumps on the “I told you so!” wagon:

We do not know that these chemicals have anything to do with Colony Collapse Disorder, but they are definitely stressors in the home and in the food sources,” says Dr. Frazier. “Pesticides alone have not shown they are the cause of CCD. We believe that it is a combination of a variety of factors, possibly including mites, viruses and pesticides.” [emphasis mine]

PLoS has a nice summary article of some of the research up to 2007 here.  It’s going to be a very difficult puzzle to figure out, with complex causes.

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Posted by Gwen Pearson

Writer. Nerd. Insect Evangelist. Have you heard the good news? BUGS!

One Comment

  1. I am lucky to have a beehive kept by community gardeners across the street from me. But even so, I can tell there are less bees than when I was a kid. I am always on the lookout because I am allergic!

    The more science I read about CCD, the more fascinating it is.

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