The first break in the CCD mystery is about to be released.
Researchers at Penn State, the USDA and Columbia University have had a research paper accepted by Science magazine that outlines the first published information on a possible cause of Colony Collapse Disorder ... commonly known as CCD. But Science and for the most part the researchers are being tight-lipped about what's in that paper. The secrecy surrounding this research has been extraordinary and some of the activities of the researchers has left us scratching our heads.
One of the scientists let on a few weeks ago in a small farming magazine that what they had found was a virus, or viruses ... supposedly previously unknown in honey bees, or at least in U.S. honey bees. Moreover, it was hinted that there were at least two points of entry into the U.S. for these bee-killing agents. Or maybe they aren't bee-killers, but simply a way that other bee-killers can gain a foothold and make life miserable for bees, and their keepers. Early reports did indicate that bees from alleged CCD infested hives were full of fungus, bacteria and all manner of other pathogens.
Narrowing a Crowded Field Of Suspects
Cellphones, aliens, the Rapture, Nosema cerenae, African honey bee genes, most ag pesticides, corporate downsizing, varroa and tracheal mites and almost all other common honey bee diseases have been ruled out, we're told, so what's left has to be something new, something exotic, or something mutated. Unfortunately, some of the CCD Working Group researchers have not been able to examine all of the samples that were taken early on so some of the CCD Working Group haven't been in on the findings. Plus, there was an early indication of new virus(es) back at the first Conference months ago, but apparently that information was dismissed. It will be interesting to see if some of the old stuff is the same as the new stuff that's going to get all the attention when the story is released.
Meanwhile, some, but not all beekeepers whose bees suffered last year are again reporting similar problems this fall. Colonies were slow to build this summer, there were bees but no honey, and now, there are no bees. Some believe still that agricultural pesticides are to blame and are pursuing that angle in trying to solve this riddle. Add to that that the big experiment of putting bees in hives that had experienced CCD last year with comb that had been sterilized just don't seem to be taking off as was expected. It's not too early to tell by now, and the results aren't nearly as dramatic as hoped for. So something's still up with that.
More Questions Than Answers - As Usual
Well, Science magazine says that all will be known on Thursday afternoon, Sept 6 after their news conference. But the researchers are already saying that this isn't the final answer, but just the first step in a long process. So why the hype? Why the mystery?
And where's all that USDA and Congressional money? No money, no research. No research, no solution. No solution, no bees. But then, if this was the solution, there'd be no money, would there? Curious minds want to know what the heck's going on. Find out (some of this) here, next week.