Tuesday, April 17, 2007


Another take at a buzzing problem.

More news on CCD, which belies just how important honeybees and apiculture are to agriculture.

So what is causing colony collapse disorder?
A. Veroa mite
B. Viruses
C. Genetically modified crops affecting bees directly (toxic to insect itself)
D. Genetically modified crops affecting bees indirectly (altering gut flora and/or honey)
E. Fungi
F. Thinning ozone layer
G. Sun cycle behavior
H. Cell phones or digital modulated RF sources
I. All of the above

My suspicions would lead to I. Since piling on stressors would have a much more intense and devestating effect than exposure to just a single one. The trick is to figure out what is the most recent factor(s) introduced into the environment that could push the threshold the most, since the extreme signs of CCD are a recent phonomena. Eliminating the primary stressor(s) should allow the bees to cope with or recover from other apiary diseases.

Viruses come and go and would seem to be cyclic with insects developing some degree of natural immunity to strains. I don't think those are a primary factor. Ditto with most bacteria and fungi, rather they're a symptom of a compromised immune system. (Much like how strep can kill an AIDS patient.) Ozone layer might be something of a disorientation factor, since bees do make some use of polarized UV light in the atmosphere. Cell phones could be it, but they've been around. However digital modulation of RF signals just might affect their behavior, and digital networks are new to the last 10 years or so. But network towers and signals aren't always prevalent in rural areas. If cellphones are the culprit, then cases should be dramatically lower further away from populated areas and the interstate roads. Like digital RF, GM crops have been introduced (and haphazardly so) into the environment in the last 10 years. Unlike phones, the affected area would spread out with pollen, even worse is that subsequent cross-pollination with wild varieties compounds the problem.

Considering the spread and scope of supposed CCD reports, I think GM crops are the biggest culprit, although the industry is doing everything they can to say otherwise. My hypothesis is that it manifests as a cumulative effect and is indirectly toxic to the bees. I'm thinking that consumption of GM crop pollen affects the bees honey. In which case it probably is effecting the ability of some gut fauna to metabolize certain proteins. (May or may not kill them, but that doesn't matter.) Nor does this bother the bee directly, instead rather vital compounds are no longer produced during digestion. Subtract these compounds from the honey making process, and all of a sudden the honey no longer has it's antibiotic properties. So it spoils... Throw in any other stressors with a bad food supply and things could get bad really fast.

So what to do? Not sure, maybe somebody should figure out how to breed hoverflies? They too are quite beneficial, not only do they pollinate, but their larvae happen to eat aphids and mites.

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