Bumblebee CCD in US?

Recently we witnessed positive news with respect to the Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) of honeybees. In December British scientists announced in Parasites & Vectors they had discovered a method to combat a parasitic mite that kills honeybee colonies, varroa destructor, by altering parts of the mite’s DNA. One thousand of these mites can kill a colony of 50,000 bees. This threat would be no more, after certain genes in the mite population are switched off.

We have however learned to be a bit skeptical when it comes to proclaimed causes and cures for bee CCD. The CCD story seems to continue anyway. This time it’s not honeybees, but bumblebees – American bumblebees. Certain species have declined sharply over the last decades a big survey, published in PNAS three days ago, shows.

Nosema bombi, a single-celled parasite, originally from Europe, was found to have infected the dwindling populations of 4 types of bumblebees that saw their ranges shrink by between 23% and 87%. The parasite was brought to the US by bumblebee breeders.

Bumblebees, just like honeybees, play a vital role in nature’s pollination process. When certain species fall out or become too rare, plant life may suffer as well.

© Rolf Schuttenhelm | www.bitsofscience.org

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