Thursday, August 06, 2009

Bee buzz


SPOKANE, Wash. -- Washington State University researchers on the trail of a mysterious honeybee killer have narrowed the list of contributors to two - a microscopic pathogen and pesticides.

"We are getting closer to understanding the possible causes of colony collapse disorder," WSU professor of entomology Steve Sheppard said of the malady that has decimated bee colonies nationwide since it emerged about three years ago.

CCD leaves colonies bereft of adult bees, yet there are no dead bees to be found near the hives. Often queens remain in the hives along with immature bees called brood. But not even raiders from rival bee colonies will touch the honey and pollen that remain in the defenseless hive.

In the winter of 2007-08, the disorder wiped out about 80 percent of Western Washington bee colonies, said Eric Olson, who keeps the state's largest bee population.

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