Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Dying Bees

In When Bees Die the demise of bees in the Pacific Northwest is caused by a terrorist introduced virus.  The end result is a life that is difficult to contemplate, at least in the environment the novel portrays.    But in reality bee populations have been declining from various manmade and environmental causes.
Here's an except from a recent article in the Province Newspaper in Vancouver:

Parasitic mites have turbo-charged the spread of a virus responsible for a rise in honeybee deaths around the world, scientists said Thursday.
Bee populations have been falling rapidly in many countries, fuelled by a phenomenon known as colony collapse disorder. Its cause is unclear but the Varroa mite is a prime suspect, since it spreads viruses while feeding on hemolymph or bee's "blood."

Other factors - including fungi, pesticides and decreased plant diversity - are thought to play a role in colony collapse, but Ian Jones of the University of Reading said the latest findings pointed to the virus and mite combination as being the main culprit.
"This data provides clear evidence that, of all the suggested mechanisms of honeybee loss, virus infection brought in by mite infestation is a major player in the decline," he said.
The threat to bee populations extends across much of Europe and North America to Asia, South America and the Middle East, experts say.
A 2011 UN report estimated that bees and other pollinators such as butterflies, beetles or birds do work worth $191 billion a year for the human economy.

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