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Bee colonies wiped out by killer parasite

The Local · 15 Apr 2010, 10:40

Published: 15 Apr 2010 10:40 GMT+02:00

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Experts say the winter beehive losses were twice as severe as normal, the report in daily Süddeutsche Zeitung said.

Manfred Hederer, head of the German Professional Beekeepers Federation, said he had lost about 20 percent of his own bee stocks during the winter in the Ammersee region of Bavaria.

“In many hives, nothing was moving – all the bees were dead and the ground was strewn with bodies,'' he said.

Nearly one in four beehives did not survive the winter, according to a survey taken by Ruhr University Bochum.

Some 60,000 bee colonies were lost according to a survey of 3,600 apiarists, with the problem particularly acute in southern Germany. This means the national a death toll was up to 200,000 beehives for the winter, the paper said.

The main cause appears to be parasitic mite called the "Varroa destructor," which feeds on the insects’ blood and carries disease.

The problem could have a major impact for the rural economy in the south, where bees are the most important producers after beef cattle and pigs. They are also vital for pollination – meaning the destruction of bee colonies could have a dramatic effect on the productivity of crops.

“The problem years are becoming more frequent, and are affecting greater areas,” said Peter Rosenkranz, who heads the State Bee Institute at the University of Hohenheim. “It should be added that the colonies that survive are weaker than normal.”

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One possible explanation for the rise in the Varroa parasite could be the early start to spring last year, which gave the parasite more time to establish itself in the warmer months.

On top of this, the common practice of monoculture cropping – the planting of just one kind of crop – means the bees are less able to find nectar upon which to feed.

“The bees are suffering a food shortage,” Hederer said.

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

11:54 April 15, 2010 by William Thirteen
bee afraid, bee very afraid.
21:58 April 15, 2010 by berlinski
Bee-ing readied up for a price hike in honey then, are we?
00:22 April 16, 2010 by wxman
This is pretty strange.
00:37 April 16, 2010 by wmm208
If the bee population dies, humans will die 4 years later. -Albert Einstein
00:47 April 16, 2010 by cklb
Albert Einstein might be right. First year after the bees are gone we wont have any apples, cherrys and plums anymore. Because of the disturbance to the eco system, the other insects, that pollinate e.g. tomatos will be under higher pressure as well (wasps and hornets are hungry, and if they can catch less bees they will make up for it with other insects). So second and third year those crops which need polination by insects will be practically whiped out. Fourth year we will notice that we can't survive by taking artificial vitamins and eating corn, as artificial vitamins are not the same as healthy food... Just a guess, we will (hopefully not) see :)
05:28 April 16, 2010 by OmaBird
It's not only the Varroa mites, it's pesticides and commercially breeding the bees into supersized hybrids that's causing all the colony collapse issues. "Normal" bees that are organically maintained and fed do not suffer the same catastrophic calamities that commercial beehives suffer.

We should all be concerned, because something like three out of every five bites we take of commercially grown food are dependant upon the pollinization of bees.

We will all be in dire straits if bee colonies worldwide die off as they are in the US. Colony Collapse Disorder is serious stuff!
11:48 April 16, 2010 by dbert4
"This is pretty strange."

Or else, another leftist/socialist/Marxist plot to ruin the modern way of life and an excuse to tax. By blaming pesticides and modern farming for a, "natural" occurrence.

Or else a religious right-wing plot to make the heathen and atheist masses acknowledge their god who just doesn't like bees.

Or a America Corporate plot to destroy alternate healthy alternatives for sweeteners and push everyone into a high fructose corn syrup future of US style diabetes and obesity.

I can already guess which of you will choose which option!
17:31 April 16, 2010 by Prufrock2010
I'll go with liberal, left-wing, commie, pinko, Marxist, socialist Obama plot to take over the world. Glenn Beck told me so.
15:18 April 17, 2010 by William Thirteen
while CCD is of grave concern to all of us who enjoy eating to keep alive, it is unclear from the article above that the German bee population is suffering from CCD or only a temporary Varroa catastrophe.

also - Prufrock20210 - you forgot to mention the Progressives - didn't Glenn also reveal that they are the ones pulling all the strings?
01:38 April 18, 2010 by Prufrock2010
@ William Thirteen:

The word "progressive" is not in Glenn Beck's vocabulary. They are Marxist-Communists in his addled brain. Or fascists. He doesn't differentiate.
06:57 April 19, 2010 by Kelly McDonald
I read here in america about total colony collapse and I think the problem is possible three fold of it could be other things as well my three 1) Pesticides/Polluntants 2) Geneticilly modified food, which by and large may be more resistant and also has only 50% of the nutrients as organic fruits, veg., grains etc. and 3) The bringing together of hundreds of colonies from all over the U.S. to pollinate these huge agricultural crops. One other thing I would like to mention is when you go into a grocery store and buy a jar of honey the producer does not have to disclose on the ingredients that 20% percent is corn syrup yes 20% is Corn Syrup. One day Einstein's prediction may in fact be proven. What the world is sewing will come full circle and the world will be the poorer for it.
23:15 April 20, 2010 by wmm208
Perhaps you could blame the decline in the bee population on the "evil speculators", the zionists of America and to a larger degree, Goldman Sachs.
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