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Mystery of the Dying Bees Solved

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the flower-counterattack-theories-disproved dept.

The Military 347

jamie points out news of a study attempting to explain the decline of honeybee populations across the US. As it turns out, the fungus N. ceranae that was thought to be killing off bee colonies had a partner in crime — a DNA-based virus that worked in tandem with N. ceranae to compromise nutrition uptake. From the NY Times: "Dr. Bromenshenk's team at the University of Montana and Montana State University in Bozeman, working with the Army's Edgewood Chemical Biological Center northeast of Baltimore, said in their jointly written paper that the virus-fungus one-two punch was found in every killed colony the group studied. Neither agent alone seems able to devastate; together, the research suggests, they are 100 percent fatal. 'It's chicken and egg in a sense — we don't know which came first,' Dr. Bromenshenk said of the virus-fungus combo — nor is it clear, he added, whether one malady weakens the bees enough to be finished off by the second, or whether they somehow compound the other's destructive power. 'They're co-factors, that's all we can say at the moment,' he said. 'They're both present in all these collapsed colonies.'"

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347 comments

Don't sting me bro' (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33840474)

Phrase of the year!

*faaart* (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33840556)

I fart in your general direction, Slashdot. You peons can lick my dirty, unwiped anus clean.

- Richard Stallman
  Grand Emperor of the FSF

Re:Don't sting me bro' (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33840830)

Did you know that my cheeks can flap at over 65,536 gigaflops a yoctosecond? There shall soon be silent papoohies ALL OVER YOUR NUTSACK!

Re:Don't sting me bro' (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33840952)

No, it's not.

Now to bring them back (5, Interesting)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 3 years ago | (#33840498)

Any guidelines on how to help the bees return?

I like gardening a lot and put out a lot of ornamental flowers and vegetables to attract bees, but this year there have been very few.

Re:Now to bring them back (4, Interesting)

GrumblyStuff (870046) | more than 3 years ago | (#33840666)

I heard one idea about stop trying to get bees to pollinate a single crop at a time. The idea is that like us, they aren't getting the nutrition they need from one plant. They need many different plants.

My idea would be to stop shipping them all over the country. Yeah, yeah, hippie organic shit but I'm willing to bet that the fungus and the virus were in separate regions at one point. Shipping them around exposed them to new diseases and exposed native bees to new diseases. Well, that's my hypothesis anyway.

I'd also like to see more stringent pesticide regulations.

Re:Now to bring them back (3, Insightful)

JonySuede (1908576) | more than 3 years ago | (#33840728)

I'm willing to bet that the fungus and the virus were in separate regions at one point

I am pretty sure that your hypothesis is valid. However I do not see a way to test it, anyone has any ideas for an experimental setup?

Re:Now to bring them back (2, Insightful)

muyshiny (944250) | more than 3 years ago | (#33840832)

I don't have a good idea for an experiment but I think it's awesome of you to ask. This is what the Internet should be---constructive. Props!

Re:Now to bring them back (5, Funny)

MarcQuadra (129430) | more than 3 years ago | (#33840880)

You know who else liked experiments?

Hitler!

Re:Now to bring them back (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33841048)

And this Godwin moment was brought to you by a generous contribution from these sponsors:

Just do a comparison (4, Interesting)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 3 years ago | (#33840910)

You can buy wild desert honey. The bees that make it feed on the various plants found in the desert. They are allowed to feed on whatever they can find. It isn't that common in stores nationally, but you see it in the desert states, since that's where it is made. At any rate, compare their health to the health of clover honey bees. If there is a significant difference, then maybe you are on to something.

Remember that not all honey is produced the same way. Clover honey is popular because it is easy to make and has a very uniform taste, however polyfloral honey is available. Personally I always buy wild desert honey because I appreciate the flavour. It isn't always the same bottle to bottle, but it has some complexity than regular clover honey. Little more expensive too but then it isn't like you go through a honey bottle a week or something.

Re:Now to bring them back (2, Insightful)

tsa (15680) | more than 3 years ago | (#33840950)

It's a bit more complicated because bees don't only die in America but also in Europe and maybe other places. I don't think bee colonies are moved over the Atlantic, are they? If not, the virus and fungus are probably transferred via people.

Re:Now to bring them back (3, Interesting)

interval1066 (668936) | more than 3 years ago | (#33840960)

"I'm willing to bet that the fungus and the virus were in separate regions at one point."

Would have only prolonged the wait, not prevented the combination. Also- shipping the bees around would expose them to more variety of flowers, not less. Your hypothesis on that part seems incorrect to me.

"I'd also like to see more stringent pesticide regulations."

We already have some of the strongest pesticide regulations in the world. Its not clear to me how pesticides play a role in this scenario.In an unrelated pesticide story larger US cities are currently reporting much higher incidences of bedbug infestation, largely blamed on the banning of DDT in 1972.

Re:Now to bring them back (1)

gandhi_2 (1108023) | more than 3 years ago | (#33840672)

The wildlife biologists have been struggling with what to do about the white-nose syndrome fungus that is wiping out bat populations for years.

Not much good news on either front.

We are headed for a very buggy and polen-less world.

Re:Now to bring them back (1)

EdIII (1114411) | more than 3 years ago | (#33840794)

We are headed for a very buggy and polen-less world.

Yeah, yeah... but if you want it to hit home we are heading for a world without Honey Nut Cheerios. I just got goosebumps saying that...

Re:Now to bring them back (1)

ultranova (717540) | more than 3 years ago | (#33840986)

Yeah, yeah... but if you want it to hit home we are heading for a world without Honey Nut Cheerios. I just got goosebumps saying that...

And even more importantly, you won't have Cutey Honey and will be overrun by monsters.

Re:Now to bring them back (3, Interesting)

Mashiki (184564) | more than 3 years ago | (#33840676)

Kill the fungus, they can survive to repopulate hives if they have the virus. Really all that needs to be developed is a weak fungicide that targets it, and that's not as hard as it sounds. Either that or you find queens that have survived a collapse and breed them with normal bees, who haven't developed an immunity.

I'm also going to say, the whole "RF/Secretgovernment testing/out to destroy us all" conspiracy theories have once again proven to what they are. Bullshit.

Re:Now to bring them back (2, Informative)

Kilrah_il (1692978) | more than 3 years ago | (#33840802)

Really all that needs to be developed is a weak fungicide that targets it, and that's not as hard as it sounds.

Actually, it is not that easy. Antibiotics (for bacteria) are easier to make than antifungals and that is one of the reasons why we don't have so many anti-fungal drugs for humans (and hu-womans).
Granted, when you develop a drug for bees you are less worried about side-effects than you are with humans, but it's still not that easy.

Re:Now to bring them back (0)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 3 years ago | (#33840862)

Virus != bacteria.

Re:Now to bring them back (2)

Kilrah_il (1692978) | more than 3 years ago | (#33840930)

And I said so when?
I didn't talk about the bees' virus. I meant to say that unlike bacteria, for whom making antibiotics is (relatively) easy, for fungi it is hard.

Re:Now to bring them back (1)

rwa2 (4391) | more than 3 years ago | (#33841078)

Whoosh.

I think he's just implying that bacteria are easier to attack than fungus, being a bit lower on the organism complexity scale. Live plants and nematodes tend to do well against fungi, but it will probably be troublesome to find something specific that could help the bees.

But yeah, an effective antiviral might be tougher to develop than an effective fungicide, and both probably harder than an antibacterial, since you usually have to prompt an existing immune system's lymphocytes to recognize and attack a specific virus. And then find a way to inject them into all the little bees' knees.

Re:Now to bring them back (0)

BarryJacobsen (526926) | more than 3 years ago | (#33840922)

(and hu-womans)

Really? Really? Have you actually met some woman who objected to being referred to as a human or are you just being PC to an absurd extreme?

Re:Now to bring them back (1)

Kilrah_il (1692978) | more than 3 years ago | (#33841068)

Actually, I was going for satire. BTW, that sound you hear is not the flight of the bumblebee, but just a slight Whoosh. Good night (GMT+2).

Re:Now to bring them back (5, Funny)

t33jster (1239616) | more than 3 years ago | (#33840932)

I'm also going to say, the whole "RF/Secretgovernment testing/out to destroy us all" conspiracy theories have once again proven to what they are. Bullshit.

Are you kidding? This so-called "paper" was "co-written" by some Army chemists. If anything, it PROVES the conspiracy theories!

*adds yet another layer of tinfoil to an already heavy hat*

Re:Now to bring them back (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 3 years ago | (#33840752)

Well, this is the time of the year to have zombies, but normally, when something is dead, it is dead.

Re:Now to bring them back (1)

charlesj68 (1170655) | more than 3 years ago | (#33840786)

Any guidelines on how to help the bees return?

Since the military was already involved, they forwarded your question to the Navy SEALS. The reply mentioned high explosives ...

Re:Now to bring them back (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 3 years ago | (#33840884)

Short of necromancy I don't think you can bring dead animals back. If there's no bees around you have to wait until a hive gets built nearby, either by a wild colony or beekeepers. Alternatively set up nesting places for bumblebees, those things work just as well for pollination.

Soooooo (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33840500)

I got away with it?

Muwahaha.

This is not reptition. Nor is this.

Uh oh, used the wrong coffee grinder (0)

Tekfactory (937086) | more than 3 years ago | (#33840510)

At first they just mashed the bees, then used mortars and pestles, but they found the best bee puree for testing came from a coffee grinder.

The cure (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33840520)

So let me get this straight all the bees need is some athletes foot powder and some chicken soup?

Dodged a small bullet this year (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33840536)

I grow a lot of chile in my backyard garden, and I have a chamisa bush there as well. This year, again, I had a very large number of honeybees working the garden and the chamisa. Don't know where they hive, but their population appears to still be healthy.

Humanity (1, Funny)

improfane (855034) | more than 3 years ago | (#33840544)

This is why you have to keep people alive.

Anyone of us could hold the DNA to be resistant to anything. It doesn't matter what someone did or who they are*, you must keep everyone alive. Apparently there was a massive killing of humanity with a volcano, so we're not very versatile except for the different ethnic groups.

Clearly the bees that are alive were partly immune to at least one.

* People like Murderers, rapists. Then people who cannot take care of themselves like those with extreme learning difficulties. You have NO idea what the incapability of their genes could actually immune to. If they're too dangerous to keep around, stick em in a freezer.

Re:Humanity (1)

MrEricSir (398214) | more than 3 years ago | (#33840610)

So if everyone died except for a bunch of frozen rapists, that would better than if all humans were wiped out?

Re:Humanity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33840664)

* People like Murderers, rapists. Then people who cannot take care of themselves like those with extreme learning difficulties. You have NO idea what the incapability of their genes could actually immune to. If they're too dangerous to keep around, stick em in a freezer.

Fine.

YOU pay for it.

No one's stopping you.

Re:Humanity (2, Insightful)

Surt (22457) | more than 3 years ago | (#33840720)

With 6 billions humans and counting, there has never been a great surplus of humans to cover any possible genetic advantage. So don't worry about wiping out a small contingent of murderers and rapists, the odds of eliminating any desirable trait are vanishingly small.

Ummmm, what? (2)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 3 years ago | (#33840958)

Seriously, this argument is somewhat incoherent, I'm having trouble parsing it. If you are trying to argue we should make sure nobody dies, well that is rather silly. You do realize the death rate stands at 100% right? EVERYBODY dies, nobody has ever been saved from death in the long run. We have no technology that lets us prevent this, and nothing even highly experimental that shows signs of it. Everyone will die off at some point.

If this is supposed to be an argument against the death penalty then please leave off it because it is a very poor one. There are good arguments against capital punishment, that someone's DNA might be magic is not one of them. We do not test the DNA of most people, and we certainly don't to a complete sequence and diagnosis to see what it contains.

Ummm No (1)

way2trivial (601132) | more than 3 years ago | (#33841040)

Quote myself
"it's really only an 93-94% mortality rate so far.. who knows what tomorrow will bring
I'm currently beating the odds......"

What, a computer virus? (0)

AndyAndyAndyAndy (967043) | more than 3 years ago | (#33840560)

What the hell kind of virus isn't DNA-based?

Re:What, a computer virus? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33840588)

The kind I caught from sticking my dong in my dad's starfish.

Re:What, a computer virus? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33840608)

Maybe the most famous [wikipedia.org] of them all.

Re:What, a computer virus? (1)

treeves (963993) | more than 3 years ago | (#33840620)

Ones that are RNA based. Like the common cold virus, Ebola, influenza, West Nile, Dengue fever, and Rabies, for instance.

Re:What, a computer virus? (1)

daitengu (172781) | more than 3 years ago | (#33840644)

A lot. Viruses are called that because, well, they're viral. They can be passed from pigs to humans, from dogs to cats, from monkeys to humans, from birds to humans and vice-versa.

many common viruses are RNA based, not DNA... (5, Informative)

slew (2918) | more than 3 years ago | (#33840656)

What the hell kind of virus isn't DNA-based?

For example, the flu is an RNA based virus [wikipedia.org]...
Perhaps you might want to stick to writing computer programs ;^)

Answer (0)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 3 years ago | (#33840590)

'It's chicken and egg in a sense we don't know which came first,'

Oh, that's easy: the CIA. I have pro...
Wait, there's somebody at the door. Be right back.

Re:Answer (3, Funny)

cpscotti (1032676) | more than 3 years ago | (#33840808)

I always wonder how many people tried to play the same hoax you're trying there but they took it so serious that they didn't click the "Preview" and theeen the "submit" buttons.

I fact, I like them better.

Re:Answer (1)

Kilrah_il (1692978) | more than 3 years ago | (#33840876)

Chickens and eggs are things that are created one from the other and thus it's not known which was created first (since each is dependent on the other).
In this case it is not a chicken-and-egg situation. The fungi and the virus are created independently. They are not dependent on one another for creation. On the contrary, their being together in the same bee causes them to die* (together with the bee). It is more logical to assume each was created on its own and by chance have such an effect on the bee.
It mught be that somehow their infecting the bee increase the pathogens' spread, but it's still not chicken-and-egg.

Next metaphor!

* As much as a virus can be said to die.

Too bad, do we help them...? (2, Insightful)

hesaigo999ca (786966) | more than 3 years ago | (#33840592)

Are bees an integral part of our society, and do they need to be present else we die off somehow....the impact of the species becoming extinct is not unimportant as let's say the platapus....I think if we can, we should help the species by giving them some sort of cure, if we can find it....else we might go without honey in our future.

Re:Too bad, do we help them...? (5, Informative)

RingDev (879105) | more than 3 years ago | (#33840648)

Are bees an integral part of our society, and do they need to be present else we die off somehow.

If you'll excuse a slight over simplification: Yes.

-Rick

Re:Too bad, do we help them...? (5, Informative)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#33840682)

Somehow?

Do you eat any fruits or eat anything that ever ate a fruit? Including fruits that some people think are vegetables, tomatoes, peppers, cumcumbers, etc?

If so thank a bee. We do not have the man power to pollinate our crops by hand, without bees no fruit.

Re:Too bad, do we help them...? (2, Informative)

MaWeiTao (908546) | more than 3 years ago | (#33840870)

Bees aren't the only pollinating insects. Certain kinds of flies also do a decent job. Many plants are also self-pollinating, to one extent or another. And there's always the option of doing it manually.

That said, bees are extremely vital and their disappearance is cause for serious concern.

Re:Too bad, do we help them...? (3, Informative)

bhcompy (1877290) | more than 3 years ago | (#33840706)

Bees are the primary pollinators in our world. Without them we'll have serious issues with plant growth and our food supply

Re:Too bad, do we help them...? (1)

a20tornado (1757144) | more than 3 years ago | (#33840714)

It's not just a matter of going without honey. When honey bees are collecting the pollen for their own uses, they inadvertently pollinate plants. This goes beyond just pretty flowers and extends to food crops as well, that put on blooms that have to be pollinated before they'll actually produce fruit. There are lots of people essentially maintaining backyard bee hives for this very reason, to keep the populations around and try to help make sure they don't go extinct.

Re:Too bad, do we help them...? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33840724)

Are bees an integral part of our society, and do they need to be present else we die off somehow....the impact of the species becoming extinct is not unimportant as let's say the platapus....I think if we can, we should help the species by giving them some sort of cure, if we can find it....else we might go without honey in our future.

Actually, almost all flowering crop species and many keystone plant species in most biomes depend upon bees for pollination. Keeping bees alive, is an ultimately selfish act. It could be argued that even species such as the platypus are indicators of overall biosphere health. The loss of any species is an indication of poor conditions for life in general including ours.

Like the canary in the coal mine, you may not consider the canary helpful in removing coal for productive use, but if it dies, I don't think you will have much time to complain about its lack of productivity...

Re:Too bad, do we help them...? (2, Informative)

Surt (22457) | more than 3 years ago | (#33840734)

I assume you're joking, but just in case:
Honey is not the main thing we get from bees. The main thing we get from bees is pollination, and our food supply would suffer significantly if they were wiped out.

Re:Too bad, do we help them...? (4, Informative)

b0bby (201198) | more than 3 years ago | (#33840746)

Are bees an integral part of our society, and do they need to be present else we die off somehow....the impact of the species becoming extinct is not unimportant as let's say the platapus....I think if we can, we should help the species by giving them some sort of cure, if we can find it....else we might go without honey in our future.

Honey is just a nice side benefit - many many crops rely on bees to pollinate them. So much so that in the US, farmers pay people to drive hives around on trucks to pollinate their fields at the right time. Before this study, the stress of transport was thought to be connected to collapse disorder; it may still be a contributing cause.

Headline (5, Insightful)

ffreeloader (1105115) | more than 3 years ago | (#33840604)

So, the headline is: Mystery of the Dying Bees Solved.

The first sentence in the first paragraph says: jamie points out news of a study attempting to explain the decline of honeybee populations across the US.

I guess "attempting to explain" now means "solved". The English language sure is changing rapidly here on /..

Other Factors? (0)

ukemike (956477) | more than 3 years ago | (#33840914)

From the beginning of this I have thought that genetically engineered crops must have something to do with this. In many cases the crops are "roundup resistant" which in practice means that lots and lots of roundup is sprayed on them. In other cases crops have been designed to excrete pesticides. Lots of toxic chemical and plants that are by nature insecticidal can't be healthy for pollinators. Hey but who's gonna believe little tin-foil hat wearing me when ADM, supermarket to the world, and Monsanto say otherwise.

Re:Other Factors? (1)

TheTurtlesMoves (1442727) | more than 3 years ago | (#33840998)

care to back that up with a citation. IIRC much of colony collapse has happened on old fashion *non* genetically engineered crops.

Re:Headline (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33841002)

Stop crying headlinegate. Sounds like you're censoring us. Don't try to steal Slashdot's purpose. You might brick the website in the process. (for the humor impaired, I'm illustrating several words often misused here)

Re:Headline (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33841030)

yeah, since when did correlation mean causation anyways?

God's Vengeance (5, Funny)

jfz (917930) | more than 3 years ago | (#33840630)

Wait, so it isn't God's vengeance for Bee homosexuality?

Re:God's Vengeance (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33840684)

And does this mean we can start using our cell phones again?

Re:God's Vengeance (1)

Surt (22457) | more than 3 years ago | (#33840742)

Yes it is. In this case, God smited them with a pair of plagues. A lot like what he did to the Egyptians for picking on the Jews.

Re:God's Vengeance (2, Funny)

charlesj68 (1170655) | more than 3 years ago | (#33840826)

Yes it is. In this case, God smited them with a pair of plagues. A lot like what he did to the Egyptians for picking on the Jews.

It took ten plagues for the Egyptians to catch on, and only two for the bees? Are you mocking the Egyptians?

Re:God's Vengeance (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33840834)

Now if we can just get Fred Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church to start picketing killer bee hives because God hates gay killer bees, then we might have a solution. Different problem, but the solution would work for me and the bees.

Re:God's Vengeance (1)

ukemike (956477) | more than 3 years ago | (#33840944)

Wait, so it isn't God's vengeance for Bee homosexuality?

No. No. No. This is about Bee polygamy. You should always get your "offensive in the sight of GOD" sin right before you go on a smear campaign. Having all your distorted facts in a row is critical in preventing the liberal mainstream media from painting you as a nutcase.

Kill the fungus, fix the problem (1)

SheeEttin (899897) | more than 3 years ago | (#33840632)

Great! Now that we know what's wrong, all we have to do is develop a method of killing the fungus, and the problem is solved. (Not much you can do about the virus, but if it takes two...)

Meanwhile, I wonder if something similar is going on with those bats' white-nose syndrome (also caused by a fungus).

Re:Kill the fungus, fix the problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33840722)

The original article says they already know how to kill the shroom. So problem solved, the future is bright, the sun is shining and there are rainbows in the sky =D

Re:Kill the fungus, fix the problem (1)

WarwickRyan (780794) | more than 3 years ago | (#33841010)

> Not much you can do about the virus ..except vaccination...

Not sure how you'd deliver a vaccine to the bee colony, though.

I'm fairly certain that God killed the Bees (2, Funny)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 3 years ago | (#33840660)

After all, since He created the Earth in seven days, he figured why mess with biology and science and not do a little Divine Intervention to keep Bees from ruining his Picnic.

Every time He holds a picnic, after all, Jesus always complains about his dinosaurs getting stung by them.

Re:I'm fairly certain that God killed the Bees (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33840688)

Damn, where is my +1 Sarcasm mod?

The Mystery is NOT Solved ! ( +1, Helpful ) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33840674)

"They're co-factors, that's all we can say at the moment,' he said. 'They're both present in all these collapsed colonies.'"

I hope this helps the UNSCIENTIFIC editors with the news summary.

Yours In Edmonton,
Kilgore Trout

The Wi-Flys? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33840704)

So it wasn't the Wi-Flys? Not the cell phones with their GBees?

CCD mystery: manufactured misinterpretation. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33840736)

It seems like there's a whole branch of CCD-related journalism evolving: Half claiming proclaiming the matter to be a mystery, and the other side which will highlight one of many factors as a "cause", thus declaring a solution. Both feed upon each other.

There is no mystery, other than the mystery of why people keep failing to acknowledge unsustainable and abusive beekeeping practices as a root cause.

- Metropropolis.

Good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33840754)

One mystery down, now let's tackle this one, this is while trying to get to the comments page of an account on /.:

HTTP/1.1 200 OK Date: Fri, 08 Oct 2010 21:00:38 GMT Server: Apache/1.3.41 (Unix) mod_perl/1.31-rc4 Connection: close Transfer-Encoding: chunked Content-Type: text/html; charset=iso-8859-1
OK
The server encountered an internal error or misconfiguration and was unable to complete your request.

Please contact the server administrator, admin@slashdot.org and inform them of the time the error occurred, and anything you might have done that may have caused the error.

More information about this error may be available in the server error log.

Apache/1.3.41 Server at slashdot.org Port 80

Fungicide? (0)

istartedi (132515) | more than 3 years ago | (#33840782)

So, will fungicide be the answer? IANAbiologist, but fungi are easier to kill, right?

Fungi are actually *difficult* to kill (0)

MichaelCrawford (610140) | more than 3 years ago | (#33840852)

The reason bacteria was once fatal, and even common bacteria will sicken you is that bacteria have a totally different chemistry from humans.

Antibiotics are what fungus uses to kill bacteria. Fatal to bacteria, safe for humans.

The problem is that anything that will kill a fungus will kill a human. Bees too, presumably, as being animals I would expect their chemistry to be roughly similar to humans.

(Evolution took hold with the discovery of antibiotics: with antibiotic-resistant bacteria, the bacteria are changing their chemistry and learning to fight back.)

this is great news (1)

Nicky G (859089) | more than 3 years ago | (#33840790)

Not an answer to the problem (which is huge) but at least now people can target their efforts to make an impact on the core issues that are leading to this. Interesting that the Army seems to have been a big contributor -- GO ARMY! :)

Re:this is great news (1)

gandhi_2 (1108023) | more than 3 years ago | (#33840936)

The army has always been a large contributor in these fields. Every major installation employs wildlife biologists (and others) and their findings are regularly submitted to journals that only people with a masters degree in treehuggerology would appreciate.

One reason is the usefulness of chem and bio weapons research. The other is that the Army can't do anything without the environmentalists freaking out. Also it takes good management to use training land for years without it becoming unsuitable for training.

are they both never present in thriving colonies? (1)

proclivity76 (755220) | more than 3 years ago | (#33840800)

I don't have time to check it out -- but just because two items are in ever failed colony doesn't mean that's the cause. I'm touchy on the use of corollary evidence used to claim causation which is the irresponsible route of the fame whores of science. If they were to introduce the two into a healthy colony together where it previously did not exist and they destroyed the colony near 100% of the time, it's causation. But the quoted statement doesn't say anything about these two not existing in thriving colonies. It might be there, and I might be a grouchy old man for this, but -- well I am a grouchy old man, so it would fit.

Does this mean... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33840872)

Does this mean I can start using my cell phone again?

So I can use my cellphone then, right? (1)

Kostya (1146) | more than 3 years ago | (#33840882)

You mean, I'm not killing baby bees every time I take a call or text? My, what a relief!

Nice study, now what? (5, Informative)

dunsel (559042) | more than 3 years ago | (#33840906)

As a practical beekeeper I feel it is my duty to take this one step further and speculate on how to apply this finding to saving my bees. Virus transmission should be kept to a minimum, I can't think of much else to do to keep a virus like this in check. The primary vector for honeybee viruses is the varroa mite and this pest continues to be the primary killer of honeybees despite all of the hubub about this "Colony Collapse Disorder". Finding that this mite has a hand in CCD is no surprise to me. Nosema is not new to the beekeeping world although N. ceranae is a bigger problem than the tamer N. apis that we're used to dealing with. The treatment is the same though, feed Fumidil B. The bad news is that there isn't much new here so there won't be a silver bullet cure. Keep the bees healthy as best we can, that's about all I can see here.

Were they healthy to start with? (1)

epte (949662) | more than 3 years ago | (#33840962)

I mean, the common cold can kill someone whose immune system is compromised. Is there any indication that bees' immune systems are healthy to start with? Do we have any numbers on white blood cell counts in relation to these studies, or anything like that?

solved? great! (1)

moqi (153268) | more than 3 years ago | (#33840966)

how wonderful, a fungus/virus combo. i was starting to think it had something to do with the elevated aluminum levels in the soil/plants and the way plants have been genetically modified to produce their own insecticides. glad we cleared this up before some sort of disaster happens.

I've been seeing bees all over the place. (0, Troll)

egibster (1913920) | more than 3 years ago | (#33840992)

I've been going for walks and seeing bees everywhere on flowers on stuff. This is dumb.

Ought we not be more concerned about this? (1)

NewtonsLaw (409638) | more than 3 years ago | (#33841016)

I first noticed a real decline in bee populations a couple of years ago.

It was late spring, there were wildflowers everywhere at the airfield where I work -- but not a single, solitary honey-bee.

Their absence was kind of scary (silent spring anyone?) and things have not improved in the years since.

It's now mid-spring here in the Southern Hemisphere and there are still no honey-bees to be seen in our gardens. The only bees buzzing around the flowers are bumble-bees and there are far too few of them to do a decent job of pollinating.

When you consider that honey-bees play an absolutely vital role in the food chain on which we depend, I really wonder if we're not taking this decline in bee populations seriously enough.

Combine the effects of low plant pollination with increases in extreme weather and sooner or later we're going to get a coincidence of events that produces some pretty drastic collapse of global food supplies.

By that time -- it might be a little too late to do anything -- or perhaps it already is.

Climate Change Ripples (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 3 years ago | (#33841022)

As the climate changes, fungus and possibly virus infections will reach new populations that previously hadn't evolved immunities. The entire process will be evolution in action, with populations unfit to the new infectious agent footprints dying out, hopefully replaced by descendants of the fraction which randomly possess immunities. I hope species essential to human civilization like honeybees aren't destroyed faster than we can cope with losing them.

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