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Posted 03 Sept 06

Have Swiss and Spanish Scientists Solved the Bee Losses Problem?

The 'Bee Losses' mystery continues. I have just finished reading a most interesting August 2006, issue of the "Schweizerische Bienen Zeitung". There is a marvellous piece in it by Anton Imdorf, Jean-Daniel Charriere and Peter Gallman of the Bee Research Centre in Bern.

The article covers a wide range of parameters possibly involved in the current problem. Reading the Swiss piece and linking it to Roger Patterson's investigation. It appears that in Roger's case he is actually looking at two or even three distinct problems but considering it as one condition: the queen failures are not of necessity related to colony loss per se and the Swiss article makes it patently obvious that the factors which could be causing the mysterious colony losses do not necessarily stem from queen failure. The Swiss report cautiously understates Nosema ceranae and the viruses "Acute Bee Paralysis Virus" (ABPV) and "Deformed Wing Virus" (DWV) as having a role in the present losses problem.

In the Swiss work a significant number of colonies failing to over winter successfully indicated high levels of ABPV and DWV in their research. Another significant finding, is that ascribed to the Spanish researcher Mariano Higes, that in over 50% of 21 bee samples investigated Nosema ceranae, not Nosema apis was found. A Nosema ceranae infestation results in the colony 'flying itself bald'. Sounds like the Marie Celeste factor! The Swiss scientists postulate that Nosema ceranae could have been with us for quite some time.

Eric McArthur

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