Well, we finally have a published report of the current findings in the study of the causes of Colony Collapse Disorder. The report is available online at http://www.plosone.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pone.0013181. I gave it a quick reading; I’ll give it a much more thorough view. The CCD study is definitely not over. We don’t necessarily know the cause, but a strong association between the collapsed honey bee colonies and two pathogens has been established. In the near future we will be hearing much about strains of DNA Invertebrate Iridescent Viruses. We will speak freely about IIV. Nosema disease will be brought further to the front of discussion. Nosema apis was around throughout beekeeping, but it was usually considered an easily controlled over-winter ailment. Nosema ceranae was only discovered to exist in the US after the CCD investigation opened up a search into all possible pathogens affecting honey bees. It was revealed that the new strain of Nosema was not only in the US before the 2006 CCD outbreak, it had replaced the original strain in many cases.
Many questions remain unanswered. What is the involvement of the numerous viruses that infect honey bees? Do environmental chemicals and pesticides play a role in CCD? How do problems associated with poor nutrition and other stressors affect CCD? How are honey bees’ immune systems affected by the recently identified IIV Virus and Nosema combination? Can we rule out any of the items that have been suspected as being involved in CCD? Further studies involving greater numbers of samples will increase our knowledge of this complex honey bee health disorder. Meanwhile, we need to thank all who worked to get us to this level of understanding. The professional researchers adhered to disciplines to ensure the validity of their studies. Beekeepers gathered samples of honey bees and comb to provide a measure of parasitic Varroa mites, pathogens, and honeycomb chemicals. The media effectively kept the story in the public’s forefront. Today’s photo: honey bee pollination’s gift, Washington peppers.