Tuesday, May 15, 2007
New Theory Explains Colony Collapse Disorder: Beetle Yeast
According to this abstract, a possible or probable cause of CCD is the small hive beetle, an invasive species that evolved as a parasite of African honey bees. This beetle was [accidentally, I hope] introduced into Florida in 1998 and can now be found as far away as Pennsylvania. It invades hives, feeds on pollen and brood, contaminates honey with its feces, and leaves behind a species of yeast that grows on the pollen and produces a honey-bee alarm pheromone that attracts more beetles and eventually causes the bees to abandon the hive. And we thought mice and roaches were annoying. Compared to African honey bees, European honey bees are much less responsive to the alarm pheromone produced by the beetle fungus, and the researchers think that the bees might not respond to an infestation of the beetles until it is too late [and their only option is to go take showers in a motel and then set up a new, clean, spacious ferral hive in someone's attic].