It's been a week since Science magazine published research about a new Australian virus and its apparently important role in causing Colony Collapse Disorder, and all hell is breaking loose in the scientific world and fingers are pointing. But they don't know where to point.
There's an international beekeepers meeting in Melborne this week, and U.S. scientists and Australian scientists are meeting on somewhat tense gound to try and figure this out. Meanwhile, bees are not doing well in the U.S., again. Cheap Chinese imports by the ton are keeping U.S. honey prices in the toilet, beeswax prices too, and Congress is considering closing the border to Aussie bees, right before the big almond pollination bonanza ...
The confusion continues in the CCD research story. There's more than meets the eye in the virus business and more than ever being found, or suspected of being found in Australian bees.
It was bound to happen. Blame Australian bees for introducing the culprits that lead to CCD in U.S. bees, and the Aussie's will get their back up. Banning those bees from entering the U.S. is being considered in Congress right now. Maybe just suspending imports until this is sorted out is what should be done, or ... well, what should be done? Curious minds, and beekeepers want to know.
A Host of Pathogens
Rumors abound in what else has been found in those Aussie bees, now that folks are really looking. More viruses, more fungi, more bacteria than anyone thought to look for are being, or may be, found in those foreign bees. Maybe that's what the researchers were finding when they first started looking, but then they got hung up on that virus. But can we look at Aussie bees while they are still in Australia? Maybe not, say some of the honey bee exporters. It would be a restraint of trade. And we can't look at them once they land here either, since the WTO won't let us ... restraint of trade again.
The big difference between those bees and our bees is that our bees have varroa mites. Are varroa mites the mystery factor in this mess. Once Australian bees run into varroa mites, do they break down and get sick, and pass the virus/fungus/bacteria/whatever along to any bees they happen to find? It's one of the findings that CCD has been discovered in, mostly, only those bees that have been in close proximity to ... yes, Australian bees. But is it the virus. Is there a fungus? Are bacteria to blame? Is varroa a factor? Are aliens still causing this? Are cell phones really to blame after all?
I wish I knew. This is getting scary.
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