I’ve been getting a lot of emails lately about this news story:
“Cure For Honey Bee Colony Collapse?
ScienceDaily (Apr. 14, 2009) — For the first time, scientists have isolated the parasite Nosema ceranae (Microsporidia) from professional apiaries suffering from honey bee colony depopulation syndrome. They then went on to treat the infection with complete success.”
That sounds great….but it isn’t entirely accurate.
In June of last year, MAAREC released a report that found…higher than average levels of Nosema in CCD colonies. In 2007, PLOS reported Nosema ceranae in CCD hives as well. So, Nosema has been associated with Collapse before–this is just the first time it’s been blamed as the primary cause–and this report is based on two beekeepers in Spain.
At this time, there still does not seem to be a single cause of the CCD. The consensus among US researchers is that multiple factors (poor nutrition, parasites, pesticide exposure) interact to weaken colonies and make them susceptible to collapse.
That, however, doesn’t play well with the media. We like our problems with a simple cause/effect relationship. I’m really happy that the Spanish researchers had success…but I don’t think it’s the cure all portrayed in media reports.
You can read a nice general-audience article about CCD written by two of the major researchers on the topic here.
Full citation of new paper and 2007 paper:
Higes, M., Martín-Hernández, R., Garrido-Bailón, E., González-Porto, A., García-Palencia, P., Meana, A., del Nozal, M., Mayo, R., & Bernal, J. (2009). Honeybee colony collapse due to Nosema ceranae in professional apiaries
Environmental Microbiology Reports, 1 (2), 110-113 DOI: 10.1111/j.1758-2229.2009.00014.x
Oldroyd, B. (2007). What’s Killing American Honey Bees? PLoS Biology, 5 (6) DOI: 10.1371/journal.pbio.0050168