Colony Collapse Revisited (Sick Bees Part 18A)

By Randy Oliver (Scientific Beekeeping) 

Gone, or Just Taking a Breather?

In my article on almond pollination last month I pointed out that beekeepers in the U.S. started experiencing increased colony mortality in the mid 2000’s.  What made the headlines was an unusual form of sudden colony mortality eventually given the name “Colony Collapse Disorder” (CCD).  But this season CCD has sort of fallen off the radar.  So perhaps it’s time to look back at what we’ve learned.

The question is, has CCD now gone the way of previous cases of “Disappearing Disease”—episodes in which some disease caused bouts of sudden mortality, and then disappeared before anyone could figure out what caused it?  A number of researchers suspected that CCD would do the same, following the typical progression of a pathogen-induced plague.  The surprise was that it stuck around as long as it did.

If CCD is indeed caused by one or more novel virulent pathogens, we’d expect that pathogen’s virulence to be burning out by now.  On the other hand, if CCD is caused by an extraneous environmental factor, such as cell phones, GMO’s, or some pesticide, we would not expect to see a change until that factor was removed from the environment.

Or perhaps, CCD simply requires enough chilling of colonies to kick it into gear...

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