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Update for the Hive Mind(ed)
April 16, 2009 9:39 AM   Subscribe

Honeybees are very important players in our web-o-life; 80% of modern crop pollination depends on them. For the last 4 or 5 years, however, they have been dying off in huge numbers from an affliction known as Colony Collapse Disorder. After much fretting and hard work, scientists may have found a cure.
posted by Benny Andajetz (47 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
Thanks for this follow-up. As my apple and pear trees are starting to blossom, I was wondering whether I could expect to get any fruit this fall. Oh, and also whether we are all going to die from the possible screw-up in the food chain...
posted by spacewrench at 9:47 AM on April 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


I hope this pans out. I love bees.
posted by infinitywaltz at 9:47 AM on April 16, 2009 [4 favorites]


Whew, back to worrying about asteroids.

The researchers then treated the infected surviving under-populated colonies with the antibiotic drug, flumagillin and demonstrated complete recovery of all infected colonies.

What a boon for the tiny hypodermic industry!
posted by DU at 9:49 AM on April 16, 2009 [12 favorites]


This is very good news. Hope they come up with a way to restore all the lost hives.
posted by RussHy at 9:49 AM on April 16, 2009


Oh thank god.
posted by 235w103 at 9:51 AM on April 16, 2009


This is great news. Thanks for the update. Still though, every time I see headlines about this I can't help but think that "Colony Collapse Disorder" sounds like a Joy Division song.
posted by dersins at 9:53 AM on April 16, 2009 [4 favorites]


This brings the current tally to: Science 56,119,067,153 Prayer 0
posted by Optimus Chyme at 9:54 AM on April 16, 2009 [48 favorites]


The solution for a disease caused by industrial farming practices is artificial antibiotics? Awesome. Soon enough honeybees will be just as perfect as chickens.
posted by Nelson at 9:55 AM on April 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


What do I wear for bee weather?

So, let me get this straight. Bees start vanishing for some unknown reason and this threatens the entire food chain. It would appear to be the result of a strange parasite and then Scientists work night and day to create a cure and they seem to be on the verge of one?

That's the prologue?

Okay then, just try not to look too surprised when the gigantic telepathic bees enslave you to work in vast Liliacaterias.
posted by The Whelk at 9:56 AM on April 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


Flumagillin? Or fumagillin?
posted by pracowity at 9:59 AM on April 16, 2009


You fool! The giant bees are a red herring! It's the bee parasites that are the true telepathic masters, and they're evolving to subsist on a new creature: man!
posted by infinitywaltz at 9:59 AM on April 16, 2009


The solution for a disease caused by industrial farming practices is artificial antibiotics?

From the article: They found no evidence of any other cause of the disease (such as the Varroa destructor, IAPV or pesticides), other than infection with Nosema ceranae.

Do you know something about how these Noseeums would arise from some unspecified "industrial farming practice" or did you you just jerk your knee?
posted by DU at 10:00 AM on April 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


This cure doesn't work on africanized bees, right? Great, 'cause they're assholes.
posted by preparat at 10:01 AM on April 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Oh, I just jerked my knee. I respectfully bow to the superior knowledge of any apiarists on Metafilter.

(But it wasn't entirely a knee jerk. I remember an article from a week or two ago about the industrial farming practice problem with bees.. Something about having a diet of only one kind of flower, or being overworked, or...)
posted by Nelson at 10:03 AM on April 16, 2009


On a serious note, this is great news, thanks for the post!
posted by preparat at 10:04 AM on April 16, 2009


Do you know something about how these Noseeums would arise from some unspecified "industrial farming practice" or did you you just jerk your knee?

It might be worth investigating whether industrial farming practices, like moving bees around to to pollinate different areas, weakens their resistance to disease.
posted by No Robots at 10:05 AM on April 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Multi-national agri-chemical corporation to buy-up the worldwide rights to produce flumagillin in 3...2...1...
posted by Thorzdad at 10:05 AM on April 16, 2009


Nice to know that not only was it not caused by pesticides or pollution, but we actually have the technology to reverse the condition.
posted by gallois at 10:06 AM on April 16, 2009


Here's the abstract:
Honeybee colony collapse is a sanitary and ecological worldwide problem. The features of this syndrome are an unexplained disappearance of adult bees, a lack of brood attention, reduced colony strength, and heavy winter mortality without any previous evident pathological disturbances. To date there has not been a consensus about its origins. This report describes the clinical features of two professional bee-keepers affecting by this syndrome. Anamnesis, clinical examination and analyses support that the depopulation in both cases was due to the infection by Nosema ceranae (Microsporidia), an emerging pathogen of Apis mellifera. No other significant pathogens or pesticides (neonicotinoids) were detected and the bees had not been foraging in corn or sunflower crops. The treatment with fumagillin avoided the loss of surviving weak colonies. This is the first case report of honeybee colony collapse due to N. ceranae in professional apiaries in field conditions reported worldwide.
Two colonies were affected by a particular parasite and were successfully treated. Without evidence that the right way to look at CCD is by individual pathogens, calling this a cure for CCD is very misleading and probably counterproductive.
posted by parudox at 10:08 AM on April 16, 2009


You fool! The giant bees are a red herring! It's the bee parasites that are the true telepathic masters, and they're evolving to subsist on a new creature: man!


A flower is your friend.
posted by The Whelk at 10:09 AM on April 16, 2009


It might be worth investigating whether industrial farming practices, like moving bees around to to pollinate different areas, weakens their resistance to disease.

Absolutely. Prevention is definitely better than cure. Also, I don't mean to imply that I'm in love with the "industrial farming" system.
posted by DU at 10:10 AM on April 16, 2009


I constantly see swarms of bees in the garbage cans at the carwash and the Sonic down the street. I can't help wondering whether they're picking up toxic chemicals from our food supply (same way dogs can't tolerate chocolate) and spreading them into the hives.
posted by crapmatic at 10:27 AM on April 16, 2009


Didn't Jerry Seinfeld make a documentary about this?
posted by collywobbles at 10:32 AM on April 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


Will the cure be affordable?
posted by asfuller at 10:32 AM on April 16, 2009


BEADS?
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:41 AM on April 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


BEES.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 10:44 AM on April 16, 2009


It's cool to know I live in a world were Honey Bee Epidemiologist is a promising career path.
posted by afu at 10:45 AM on April 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


"I constantly see swarms of bees in the garbage cans at the carwash and the Sonic down the street. "

Probably wasps rather than honeybees.
posted by Mitheral at 10:48 AM on April 16, 2009


It's cool to know I live in a world were Honey Bee Epidemiologist is a promising career path.

No, it sucks that we live in a world where Honey Bee Epidemiologist is a career path that needs to exist in the first place.
posted by dersins at 10:50 AM on April 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Two colonies were affected by a particular parasite and were successfully treated.

Actually it says two professional beekeepers, which implies many colonies, since they cart them around in semi trucks.
posted by electroboy at 11:00 AM on April 16, 2009


Does this mean we can use cell phones again? I've got to call Bill Maher.
posted by Ogre Lawless at 11:04 AM on April 16, 2009


Soon enough honeybees will be just as perfect as chickens.

What's wrong with chickens?
posted by electroboy at 11:09 AM on April 16, 2009


[A few comments removed. Enough with the name-calling fight-starting bullshit.]
posted by cortex at 11:14 AM on April 16, 2009


I already discovered a cure for honey bee problems.
posted by Saxon Kane at 11:14 AM on April 16, 2009


Is my honey going to have fumagillin in it now? Is this OK? I can see it now: Frankenhoney.
posted by Midnight Skulker at 11:22 AM on April 16, 2009


This older study found that the antifungal/antiparasitic fumagillin ((mis?)spelled flumagillin in the FPP linked article) might only work in the short term:
Western honey bee (Apis mellifera) colonies in Nova Scotia, Canada were sampled in spring and late summer 2007 to evaluate efficacy of fumagillin dicyclohexylammonium (hereafter, fumagillin) against Nosema ceranae. Colonies treated with fumagillin in September 2006 (n = 94) had significantly lower Nosema intensity in spring 2007 than did colonies that received no treatment (n = 51), but by late summer 2007 no difference existed between groups. Molecular sequencing of 15 infected colonies identified N. ceranae in 93.3% of cases, suggesting that fumagillin is successful at temporarily reducing this recent invasive parasite in western honey bees.

The wikipedia article on the compund has more links.
posted by exogenous at 11:22 AM on April 16, 2009


Is my honey going to have fumagillin in it now?

yes, if the keeper is not following directions.

Lets look at the critter:

The dormant stage of nosema is a long-lived spore which is resistant to temperature extremes and dehydration.
(spores don't do well with Ozone - and some work has been done on ozone treatment for hive EQ. As I lack a gamma radiation source, I am left with ozone)

Pictures of N. Apis

Getting rid of old comb in the hive will help control infection vectors. Downside for the keeper is the bees will have to make new comb at a cost to honey production. Considering honey is about $2 a lbs and a hive setup is $150 and bees for that hive are $80 and in warmer places like Kentucky a hive puts out 50 lbs - you want to try and hold onto wax for as long as possible. The bees will store honey in plastic extruded comb...I've just not had queens lay in the plastic.
posted by rough ashlar at 11:41 AM on April 16, 2009 [4 favorites]


It might be worth investigating whether industrial farming practices, like moving bees around to to pollinate different areas, weakens their resistance to disease.

IIRC, CCD affects wild bees too...it's not just a 'working bee' problem
posted by sexyrobot at 12:00 PM on April 16, 2009


"I constantly see swarms of bees in the garbage cans at the carwash and the Sonic down the street. "

Probably wasps rather than honeybees.


probably flies that look like wasps rather than wasps (psst...it's a disguise)
posted by sexyrobot at 12:03 PM on April 16, 2009


A lot of people are going for acetic acid too. Ozone is mostly for wax moths and mites, as far as I know.
posted by electroboy at 12:03 PM on April 16, 2009


Now if we could only figure out how to help the bat die-off ...

I, for one, am pleased to hear this news.
posted by aldus_manutius at 12:10 PM on April 16, 2009


The researchers then treated the infected surviving under-populated colonies with the antibiotic drug, flumagillin

Fumagillin is an antifungal, not an antibiotic. Lazy science writers....
posted by Thoughtcrime at 12:53 PM on April 16, 2009


"The Varroa destructor" is the coolest name for a...whatever it is.
posted by vibrotronica at 2:46 PM on April 16, 2009


This brings the current tally to: Science 56,119,067,153 Prayer 0

You think prayer can't be answered by Science?
posted by not that girl at 7:43 PM on April 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


80%? Are they counting wheat, corn, and rice in that cause I would have thought wind pollinated grains counted for more than 20% of crops.
posted by Iron Rat at 8:34 PM on April 16, 2009


80%? Are they counting wheat, corn, and rice in that cause I would have thought wind pollinated grains counted for more than 20% of crops.


Sorry, I worded that poorly. Honeybees account for 80% of insect pollination.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 9:03 PM on April 16, 2009


Anecdotal, I know, but this year, we have had bees out the wazzoo on our honeysuckle and trumpet vines. I'm hoping those flowers stay in bloom until the veggies start to flower and the butterfly garden comes in, so that we get a good strong pollination.

Over the years, we've had a couple of hives removed by local organic honey guys because the hives were close enough to the HOA park that we knew they'd just have the hive poisoned and destroyed. (These are the same idiots that keep trying to get me to cut down my willow trees and all the plants I've put in for duck habitat, because it doesn't fit with their "golf-course yard" mentality. Fortunately, I was here first, and my deed is grandfathered, so pfffffffft to them on that sort of thing. They still have an extraordinary amount of power on other stuff though. It's crazy.) I'm hoping this year, if the bees build a hive, the build it far enough into our property line that the HOA can't force me to get rid of them.
posted by dejah420 at 6:52 PM on April 17, 2009


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