Has a new round of Colony Collapse Disorder begun?
The Department of Agriculture's top scientist said new bee deaths are being reported in Florida -- the same state that witnessed bees mysteriously leaving their hives and failing to return a year ago at this time, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution.
That set off a year-long wave of concern and science, as beekeepers, government agents and independent scientists tried to identify what was causing the bees such trouble. In dozens of states, beekeepers watched as many as 90% of their bees up and disappeared -- a serious concern, considering bees are worth $15 billion to the economy by some estimates, and are responsible for pollinating enough food to account for about one in every three mouthfuls.
There was good news last night out of a key House committee, which approved -- as part of the mammoth farm bill -- spending up to $100 million over five years for "high priority research dedicated to maintaining and protecting our honey bee and native pollinator populations."
One promising study has already found that an Australian virus new to the United States seems to be present in affected hives, but it's too early to say exactly what factor -- or combination of factors -- is affecting the bees. It's also too early to move from diagnosis to cure.
And, it's too early to know if the bees dying in Florida amounts to the opening bell of Round 2.
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