No single cause for mass die off of honey bees: OIE
Paris, April 28 2010; Agence France-Presse

The World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) has carried out a 
global review of colony collapse disorder

	The huge die-off of bees worldwide, a major threat to crops 
depending on the honey-making insects for pollination, is not due to 
any one single factor, the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) 
said on Wednesday.
Parasites, viral and bacterial infections, pesticides, and poor 
nutrition resulting from the impact of human activities on the 
environment have all played a role in the decline, the OIE said.
	At normal times, bee communities naturally lose around five 
per cent of their numbers.
	But with the syndrome known as colony collapse disorder 
(CDD), a third, half -- sometimes even 90 per cent -- of the insects 
can be wiped out.
	In the United States, government figures released last month 
showed a 29 per cent drop in beehives in 2009, coming on the heels of 
declines of 36 and 32 per cent in 2008 and 2007.
	The mysterious decimation of bee populations in the United 
States, Europe, Japan and elsewhere in recent years threatens 
agricultural production worth tens of billions.
	"Honey and royal jelly are examples of precious food that we 
owe to bees but foremost we owe them abundant harvesting of fruits 
and vegetables since they contribute to pollinate the flowers which 
will produce the harvest," said Bernard Vallat, the OIE's Director 
	"Bees contribute to global food security, and their 
extinction would represent a terrible biological disaster," he said 
in a statement.
	By some estimates, around a third of the food on our plates 
gets there thanks to Apis mellifera.
	The global review conducted by OIE experts concluded that 
"irresponsible use" of pesticides may damage bee health by increasing 
their susceptibility to different diseases.
	Inadequate "biosecurity" -- especially protecting against 
invasive species - and climate change also likely play a role, the 
experts said.
	"Resources to establish increased surveillance and 
registration processes, inspection, diagnoses and research capacity 
are missing in many countries and regions of the world," Wolfgang 
Ritter, chair the expert panel said.
	Earlier research has shown that different bee parasites are 
active in different parts of the world.
	Culprits already identified include a blood-sucking mite 
called Varroa  and a single-celled fungal parasite called Nosema 
cerenae  that causes bee dystentery.
	In Europe, a recent intruder -- the Asian hornet, Vespa 
velutina -- lurks near hives and captures honey bees in mid-flight, 
devouring them.
	Another suspect is poor nutrition.  Mega-farms stripped of 
hedgerows and wild flowers, along with spreading suburbs, are thought 
to be depriving bees of a decent diet.
	More recently a new pathogen, Varroa jacobsoni, has attacked 
Apis mellifera  in Oceania, and now presents a new threat to 
beekeeping globally.
	Vallat called for more research and adherence to OIE 
guidelines on biosecurity in trade of bees between countries, a major 
cause of global contamination.

AFP sm

	My main objection to this report is the term 'worldwide', 
when CC has yet to be reported in NZ.