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USDA: Possible Cause Of Colony Collapse Disorder Identified

A new study has been released citing a possible cause of Colony Collapse Disorder, the term given to the recent declines in honey bee colonies.

A honeybee gathering nectar from a yellow flower.

Photo: Andreas. (flickr)

To help prevent the decline in honeybees, avoid using pesticides at mid-day when honey bees will be out gathering nectar.

The USDA may finally have an answer to why some beekeepers have mysteriously lost 30-90 percent of the honey bee population of their hives since October 2006.

A new study has just been released on Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), the term given to the recent declines in honey bee colonies.

USDA Scientist Jay Evans from the Beltsville Bee Lab is suggesting that two pathogens working together (a fungus called Nosema cerena and the RNA virus family Dicistroviridae) are the culprits behind CCD.

Nosema cerena enters the honey bee gut and damages the epithelial cells, making it easy for another pathogen, Dicistroviridae, to invade.

Poor Nutrition A Contributing Factor

Evans mentioned that poor nutrition can also be a contributing factor to CCD.

Bees affected with Nosema cerena can starve to death, because they are unable to eat enough food to deal with the stresses and additional energy required to forage for more food to accommodate new members of the hive in the springtime.

The USDA has some suggestions for people who want to help prevent the decline in honeybees: avoid using pesticides at mid-day when honey bees will be out gathering nectar, and plant good nectar sources such as red clover, foxglove, bee balm, and joe-pye weed.

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Ariel Ivas

Ariel Ivas is a summer intern with Earth Eats and a senior at Indiana University, majoring in English with a concentration in creative writing, with a minor in telecommunications.

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  • ADB

    How about avoid using pesticides PERIOD FULL STOP.

  • rmm

    stop using pesticides? sure, but are you ok with the decline in human population from famine?

  • America Stewart

    correction: foxglove and bee balm, not foxyglove and bee palm.

  • Indiana Public Media

    thanks america, just made the correction. – AS

  • grrr

    yes, stop using pesticides, it's a no brainer, because if the bees go, who do you propose to pollinate our flowers? Everything is connected, that does not include pesticides; there are ways to avoid famine, without using pesticides; duh.

  • Jeannette Cabanis-Brewin

    Newsflash: if we kill off all the pollinators, the human population is going to starve anyway. Every third bite of food you put in your mouth is thanks to a pollinated crop (including meat, since feed such as alfalfa must be pollinated). And, yes, we can feed the human population using a tiny fraction of the pesticides now in use … full cost accounting of pesticide used (counting the environmental and health costs) makes it too expensive to continue..

  • Coconut water juice

    Good job to the USDA who were able to find out the reason for the deaths of bees.
    I just hope that what has been lost in terms of bee population will be restored soon.

    coconut water juice

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