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September 6, 2007: Summary of AP writer Andrew Bridges' article entitled "Virus May Be Cause of Honeybees' Deaths"
Scientific sleuths have a new suspect for a mysterious affliction that has killed off honeybees by the billions: a virus previously unknown in the United States.
According to new research, the "Israeli acute paralysis virus" is "the latest potential culprit in the widespread deaths of worker bees, a phenomenon known as colony collapse disorder."
Researchers do not discount such possible causes as parasitic mites, pesticides and poor nutrition or the stress of travel when bees are moved around the country to pollinate crops.
Bridges points out that colony collapse disorder "has struck between 50 percent and 90 percent of commercial honeybee hives in the U.S. That has raised fears about the effect on the more than 90 crops that rely on bees to pollinate them."
He says that the earliest reports of colony collapse disorder date to 2004, the year U.S. beekeepers began importing bees from Australia.
Now, Australia is being eyed as a potential source of the virus. That could turn out to be an ironic twist because the Australian imports were meant to bolster U.S. bee populations devastated by another scourge, the varroa mite.
Scientists are presently working on producing "naturally 'transgenic' honeybees that theoretically could be propagated to create stocks of virus-resistant insects."
You can read details in Science Express, the online edition of the journal Science, where correlations are drawn between the presence of the virus in cases of colony collapse and its absence in healthy colonies.
To Autumnby John Keats
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss'd cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For Summer has o'er-brimm'd their clammy cells.
Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reap'd furrow sound asleep,
Drows'd with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook;
Or by a cyder-press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.
Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,--
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
Among the river sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft;
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.
Copyright ©2007 Barbara Knott. All Rights Reserved
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