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Respekt in English27. 4. 20074 minuty

Apocalypse of the Bees

Dr. James Tew, entolomogist from Ohio State University, talks about the present „bee crisis“ in the US – a mysterious syndrom that experts call Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD).

  • Autor: Respekt
• Autor: Respekt
Fotografie: Dr. James Tew, entolomogist from Ohio State University • Autor: Respekt
Fotografie: Dr. James Tew, entolomogist from Ohio State University • Autor: Respekt

Dr. James Tew,entolomogist from Ohio State University, talks about the present „bee crisis“ in the US – a mysterious syndrom that experts callColony Collapse Disorder (CCD):

There are lots of possible causes of CCD being discussed in the press, including cell phones and GM crops. Do you see anything emerging as the most probable factor/factors that are affecting negatively bee colonies?

A common guess is that anything causing significant stress to the colony seems to allow opportunistic pathogens or pests to overrun the colony. Particularly, moving colonies for migratory pollination tasks seems to significantly stress bee colonies. Until more routine possibilities are explored, I do not sense that topics such as cell

phone waves will be aggressively researched.

You said for the Columbus Dispatch that you remember a similar crisis in the 1960s. Was it less severe than this one?

The episode in the 1960’s could have been comparable to the present one. We do not have a good way to compare them. Episodes having many of the characteristics of the most recent CCD outbreak have been occurring at irregular intervals for many, many years. These outbreaks have never affected all bee colonies in all US states simultaneously. Probably in some areas, past outbreaks were as serious as the present one while others were milder. A notable difference in the present outbreak is the availability of electronic media that makes news dissemination much faster. In turn, faster distribution of information makes the present outbreak appear to be the worst ever. It may simply be that the present outbreak is the best reported ever. Since the situation is on-going, we do not know.

Do you think that bees are dying because they cannot find their way back to hive or is it the other way around, bees not returning because they die of some disease?

I am forced to say that I do not know the proper answer to your logical question. The reports are diverse. Some colonies are reduced to a mere handful of young bees a queen, abundant brood and food stores. Other colonies seem to be reduced in adult bee population with a disproportionately large amount of developing bees (brood) that cannot be maintained, but some of these colonies seemingly recover if good foraging conditions return. Importantly, dead bees are not piled in front of the colony as though killed by insecticides. The primary feature of CCD is that the adult bees are simply gone. It would appear that they left the colony, flew some unknown distance from the hive, and did not return.

It seems to me that there is no statistical connection between the spatial distribution of the CCD cases and any of the discussed risk factors. Is it true, or is there any such connection?

I agree. So far, there is not enough data to show trends or connections. CCD affected colonies may be very near other bee yards that are completely unaffected. Indeed, all the colonies within a single yard are not necessarily affected. Please recall that many of these affected colonies are highly migratory. Simply studying the location at which the colony collapses may not be correct location. The syndrome could have been caused at another yard hundreds (even thousands) of kilometers away.

Are more bees dying if certain pesticides are used, if placed near fields with GM crops…?

Presently, I do not know of any evidence connecting GM nectar or pollen with the CCD issue. As with so many other possibilities, this issue needs review. Pesticides, both in (for mite control) or outside the hive (non-target exposure) are obvious suspects for causing part or all of the CCD problem. Again, presently, there is no data supporting the causative being an insecticide. Nicotinoids, such as imidacloprid, are common insecticides that need review.

I wish I could be more helpful. This situation has become frustrating in that so little is known and the emotions are so high. No doubt the causative agent, if there is one, will be something related to Varroa, intensive colony management, and stress- induced diseases, but the precise answer is presently unknown.

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