Negative Synergy

“Scientists continue to hunt for the cause of Colony Collapse Disorder or CCD”. That statement presumes that there is a single cause and not a cascade of causes.  It reflects the way we humans think – we naturally want to find the one answer, the simplest answer . If you were to mashup quotations from William of Occam (see Occams Razor) and Voltaire, you might get something like this: “If the simplest answer did not exist, it would be necessary to invent it”. Continue reading Negative Synergy

Zombies, Citizen Science, & Motivation

Zombie bee with phorid fly larvae

A really dead zombie honey bee after phorid fly larvae emerge

As if there were not enough pests that kills bees already,  we can now add parasitic phorid fly to our list of worries.  This fly, recently reported in PLoS, lays its eggs in the honey bee and this turns the honey bee into a zombie.  Rather, the infected honey bee exhibits zombie-like behavior. According to a fascinating, new website, ZombeeWatch.org, “Honey bees infected by the Zombie Fly leave their hives at night and are attracted to nearby lights where they become stranded and eventually die.” Kinda like zombies. Continue reading Zombies, Citizen Science, & Motivation

2011 Beekeeping Mea Culpas

One of the bloggers I admire most is Linda Tilman of  Linda’s Bees – not so much because she is a Master Bee Keeper – which she is – but because she is self-confident enough to share her own failures as well as her successes on her blog pages. That is what makes her . . . → Read More: 2011 Beekeeping Mea Culpas

Visualizing the Extinction of Honey Bees

The only blog I visit daily and admire enormously is The Big Picture by Barry Ritholtz. Granted, if all you know about investing is that the Social Security Administration has your retirement covered, then this blog may be a little over your head.  But if you have any money at all and hope to hold on to it, you should be interested in what Barry has to say. Continue reading Visualizing the Extinction of Honey Bees

Iridovirus and Microsporidian Linked to Honey Bee Colony Decline

Schematic diagram adapted from N.G. Wrigley 1969 (J. Gen. Virol. 5:123-134)

Schematic diagram adapted from N.G. Wrigley 1969 (J. Gen. Virol. 5:123-134)

A paper appeared this week in the peer-review research publishing site Public Library of Science or PLoS that could be the best, first explanation of the cause of Colony Collapse Disorder or CCD. It’s title is Iridovirus and Microsporidian Linked to Honey Bee Colony Decline. Congratulations to Jerry J. Bromenshenk of the University of Montana and his diverse research team. This paper is good news on several counts:

  • It is an important paper and it is published on a site that gives you and I and researchers around the world immediate access for free. PLoS – like beehacker.com – is a Creative Commons site. That means that you can read or share the content without paying $35 for access and without the risk of a swarm of angry lawyers threatening suits.
  • The paper describes a unique collaboration between crusty beekeepers and super secretive Army biological warfare researchers. Just goes to show what people can accomplish when they work together. Maybe they will start a trend and our rabid Liberals and Conservatives will learn to work together.
  • The paper shines a light on a unique DNA (not RNA) virus: an insect iridescent virus or IIV. Click here to learn more about these viruses. The virus itself can assume the shape of an icosohedron. Continue reading Iridovirus and Microsporidian Linked to Honey Bee Colony Decline

Biological Control of Small Hive Beetle

I corralled about a million nematodes under each of my three hives this morning. Perhaps I should start at the beginning. Continue reading Biological Control of Small Hive Beetle