One more puzzle piece in the vanishing bee problems has been solved by researchers at Washington State University, They think that the bees weakened by toxins and pesticides, excessive work, contaminated wax in hives and poor nutrition are more susceptible to a pathogen called Nosema cerana, microsporidian, a small, unicellular parasite that causes an immune-deficiency disorder in bees. The dormant stage of nosema is a long-lived spore which is resistant to temperature extremes and dehydration. Nosema makes the bees more vulnerable to infections, parasites and death. N. ceranae can cause a colony to die within 8 days after exposure.
A UCSF researcher who found the SARS virus in 2003 and later won a MacArthur Foundation “genius grant” has tested genetic material taken from a “collapsed colony” in Merced County and found that Nosema c. a once-rare microbe that only affected Asian bees has evolved into a strain lethal to bees in Europe and the United States.
Canada’s beekeepers are not waiting to make the necessary changes to their bee hives, their foraging routes and bee food. An example of the sweeping changes bee masters are making can be seen at, Babe’s Honey .They are putting $250,000 into ridding all traces of chemicals for their apiary to clean up 35,000 wooden hive boxes the company owns. After being sand-blasted, fire-scorched and repainted with canola-based paints they will be ready to let the bees return to clean healthy new hive boxes.
The old honey combs wax residues are being removed, melted down and composted. Even the plastic frames that held the comb in place are being replaced with wood to prevent mold and mildew.
Some breeders are developing stronger queen bees and city folks are setting up their own hives too. More native indigenous species of bees will be used to increase the pollination ratios for some crops.
In the US, a $500,000 federal grant will help restore native bee habitat in California and Oregon.
Scientists have developed a new kind of bait to trap a honeybee parasite, the varroa mites that could weaken or kill bees.
So after a few frantic years and billions of bee deaths later , we have finally gone full circle and decided to take better care of the bees in a more natural environment with fewer pesticides and better health care and nutrition for the bees.
Is there a message in this one for us?
Excerpts courtesy of http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nosema_ceranae
Excerpts courtesy of http://www.hcn.org/blogs/goat/the-latest-buzz
Excerpts courtesy of http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2007/04/26/MNGK7PFOMS1.DTL
Image 1. courtesy of http://iranhoneybee.files.wordpress.com/2009/02/image.jpg
Image 2. courtesy of Nature’s Crusaders files