Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Study Points to Virus in Collapse of Honeybee Colonies

By Juliet Eilperin, Washington Post, September 7.

Scientists yesterday identified a virus as one of the likely causes of the recent wave of honeybee colony collapses across the country.

The study, co-authored by researchers at Pennsylvania State University, Columbia University, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and several other institutions, suggests that the Israeli acute paralysis virus (IAPV) helps trigger the mysterious condition known as colony collapse disorder, which destroyed about 23 percent of U.S. beehives last winter. The paper is being published today in the journal Science.

Beekeepers, scientists and public officials have been searching for the cause of the disorder, which surfaced in 2004 and was formally recognized last year. Unlike other diseases that strike hives, the collapse disorder leaves a colony without most of its worker bees despite the presence of plentiful food, a queen and other adult bees. It has devastated an industry that produces honey and pollinates lucrative crops such as almonds, oranges and apples.

read more (Washington Post)