Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) Update & FAQ

Well, news of CCD has now spread like wild­fire on the Net, espe­cial­ly among blog­gers. An offi­cial work­ing group has been set up to inves­ti­gate prob­a­ble caus­es. You can access their FAQ here.

Some oth­er hypothe­ses being con­sid­ered (not by the work­ing group, but oth­ers) are — overuse of pes­ti­cides, arti­fi­cial insem­i­na­tion of queen bees,  and increased solar radi­a­tion because of the ozone lay­er deple­tion.

Excuse me? As far as I know, CCD has not yet been report­ed in Asian coun­tries (only in North Amer­i­ca and Europe).

Doesn’t the USA ban agri­cul­ture imports from India because of “too many pes­ti­cides”? Arti­fi­cial insem­i­na­tion is not yet wide­spread in India. And isn’t solar radi­a­tion high­er in the trop­ics?

Nah. For­get the fairy tales. The Work­ing Group is con­sid­er­ing only parasite/pathogen, chem­i­cal con­t­a­m­i­na­tion, nutri­tion­al fit­ness, stress-induc­ing pro­teins, and lack of genet­ic diver­si­ty in the lin­eage of bees as pos­si­ble caus­es.

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  • Taiwan’s bee­keep­ers are report­ing the mass dis­ap­pear­ance of mil­lions of hon­ey­bees, Reuters reports.
    Accord­ing to the country’s TVBS tele­vi­sion sta­tion, around 10 mil­lion bees have gone awol in the last two months, with farm­ers in three regions report­ing heavy loss­es. One bee­keep­er on the north­east coast told the Unit­ed Dai­ly News that six mil­lion insects had van­ished “for no rea­son”, while anoth­er in the south said “80 of his 200 bee box­es had been emp­tied”.

    While the exact rea­son for the exo­dus is unknown, experts say “volatile weath­er” may be to blame. The tem­per­a­ture recent­ly swung from 20°C to 30°C over a few days, and this may have done for the bees. Yang Ping-shih, ento­mol­o­gy pro­fes­sor at the Nation­al Tai­wan Uni­ver­si­ty, said: “You can see cli­mate change real­ly clear­ly these days in Tai­wan.”

    The impact of the bees’ absence has yet to be felt, although it could have a seri­ous effect on pol­li­na­tion. Taiwan’s Coun­cil of Agri­cul­ture “may col­lect data to study the caus­es of the van­ish­ing bees and gauge pos­si­ble impacts”, accord­ing to pes­ti­cides sec­tion chief Kao Ching-wen. He said: “We want to see what the rea­son is, and we def­i­nite­ly need some evi­dence. It’s hard to say whether there will be an impact.”

    The Tai­wanese mys­tery is pos­si­bly the lat­est man­i­fes­ta­tion of “Colony Col­lapse Dis­or­der” (CCD), which has recent­ly hit Europe and the US hard. In the US, CCD man­i­fests itself as old­er bees die, “leav­ing behind the queen and young work­ers not yet ready to for­age for pollen and nec­tar and insuf­fi­cient in num­ber to main­tain the colony”.
    Experts have no real idea what caus­es CCD. Alleged caus­es range from harm­ful pes­ti­cides and increased solar radi­a­tion through ozone thin­ning, to falling queen fer­til­i­ty and use of unau­tho­rised bee treat­ments. Ger­man researchers recent­ly sug­gest­ed mobile phone radi­a­tion may inter­fere with bees’ “nav­i­ga­tion sys­tems”, result­ing in an inabil­i­ty to find their way back to the hive. ®