Friday, October 08, 2010

They Figured Out What Was Killing the Bees

The plight of the honeybee, which saw a 20 to 40 percent "colony collapse" since 2006 in the U.S. alone, has confused scientists for years. Who would want to hurt a sweet, industrious honeybee that only wants to make you delicious honey and maybe insert its stinger, ever so gently, into your skin? Scientists suspected that pesticides or genetically modified food might have caused the troubling phenomenon, best chronicled in Elizabeth Kolbert's 2007 New Yorker article. But there were no real answers until military scientists and entomologists teamed up and made a breakthrough: In every colony collapsed, they found the combined effects of a fungus and a virus, neither of which were deadly on their own. Like any compelling murder mystery, there are still some threads left open. Scientists aren't sure how exactly the virus and fungus interact or what makes the bees fly off alone in seemingly random directions when they're close to dying, a factor that complicates bee autopsies...more

No comments: