The Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) story is getting interesting, but funding is still up in the air. Here's what I've learned in the last couple weeks talking to the researchers, the beekeepers who have had CCD, those who don't want CCD, and some who are seeing it come back to their operations.
First off, the immediate funding for CCD research hasn't been at all immediate. But then, funding for IED-proof vehicles doesn't seem to have been on the fast track either, so it's no surprise. Some money has been allocated to USDA for research at the Honey Bee Research Labs in Beltsville and Tucson, and the USDA's Animal And Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) for the survey that's been mandated (click here for more on that). The problems with this funding is that it is in the USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) budget for fiscal 2007-08, which begins in October ... Critical time has been lost while Rome burns, it seems.
The nutritional supplement developed at the Tucson Lab is nearly ready however, and that will be a welcome addition to stress relief for beekeepers needing that input.
Much has been eliminated as even in the ball-park for causing CCD symptoms, and a couple of things are coming to the front of the class as being important.
Diana Cox-Foster, at a Kentucky meeting in mid-July alluded that a virus has been found in CCD colonies, and another researcher hinted that this virus had something to do with all those Australian bees that have been coming into the U.S. for the past several years, with the blessing, of, yes, APHIS. Publication in scientific journals is pending on this find we're told, and until that happens, nobody knows the trouble we've seen, until it's seen in print. More time lost.
So why hasn't faster funding been forthcoming? Good question. Congress wants to help, but money is tight, and if you fund something new, the money has to come from something already allocated. In the Farm Bill, this time, specialty crops (crops that until this year have never seen the subsidy funding given to corn, soybeans, cotton, rice and some others) finally got some money sent their way ... $1.6 Billion (that's with a B). The CCD research people and beekeepers lobbied for only $5 million of that to help out. Help out, it turns out, those very folks who grow specialty crops). The specialty folks declined to help. No quick money for CCD there it seems. There may be a compromise, but it won't come, at the earliest we're told, until after congress convenes again in September ... again ... Rome still burns.
Meanwhile, some beekeepers are beginning to see the same symptoms in their bees this July that they saw last July ... not long before their bees went totally south. Died, that is. Dead. Gone. No pollinators in the bunch.
Not many beekeepers are reporting this ... but then, not many reported it last time either. It's just that they seem to lose a lot of bees when they do.
Time and money wait for no man, or honey bee it seems.
Enter your city or zip code to get your local temperature and air quality and find local green food and recycling resources near you.