CCD up-date from UK – 04/13/2007

  • November 27, 2013 at 11:52 pm #1471

    from bridget
    April 12 2007 ——-

    To see this story with its related links on the Guardian Unlimited site, go to

    Threat to agriculture as mystery killer wipes out honeybee hives
    · Keepers say they are losing most of their stocks· Defra denies
    evidence of ‘colony collapse disorder’
    John Vidal, environment editor
    Thursday April 12 2007
    The Guardian

    When John Chapple, one of London’s largest keepers of honeybees, opened his 40
    hives after the winter, he was shocked: 23 were empty, seven contained dead
    bees, and only 10 were unaffected by what seemed to be a mystery plague.

    Beekeepers are used to diseases sweeping through their colonies, and,
    nationally, nearly one in seven colonies dies naturally each winter. But this
    seemed very different to Mr Chapple, who is head of the London Beekeepers
    Association and has 20 years’ experience with the insects and their diseases.

    “The problem was that most of the bees had just disappeared. It was like the
    Marie Celeste. There was no chance they had been stolen,” he said yesterday.
    “The ones that were left did not seem to have been attacked by varroa [the tiny
    parasitical mite that beekeepers have learned to live with since it arrived from
    Asia 15 years ago]. I really do not know what happened”.

    Mr Chapple’s experience has chimed with other beekeepers. “Many colleagues and
    bee clubs tell me that they are experiencing something similar. The Pinner and
    Ruislip beekeepers’ group told me only this morning that they have lost 50% to
    75% of their bees. I don’t know what is happening, but the bees are just going,”
    he said.

    Many British beekeepers fear they are witnessing the start of an alarming
    phenomenon which is sweeping the US and Europe. Colony collapse disorder (CCD)
    is possibly the most serious disease yet faced by bees.

    According to the national bee unit, a branch of the Department for Environment,
    Food and Rural Affairs, its “symptoms appear to be the total collapse of bee
    colonies, with a complete absence of bees or only a few remaining in the hive”.
    The unit says no one has any idea what is causing CCD. Theories in the US, where
    24 states are affected and losses of 50% to 90% of colonies are being reported,
    include environmental stresses, malnutrition, unknown pathogens, the use of
    antibiotics, mites, pesticides and genetically modified crops.

    Because bees pollinate millions of hectares of fruit trees and crops, the
    implications for agriculture are enormous. “Approximately 40% of my 2,000
    colonies are currently dead and this is the greatest winter mortality I have
    ever experienced,” Gene Brandi, a member of the California State Beekeepers
    Association, told the US Congress recently.

    In Spain, thousands of colonies are said to have been lost, and up to 40% of
    Swiss bees are reported to have disappeared or died in the past year. Heavy
    losses have also been reported in Portugal, Italy and Greece.

    Government bee inspectors met yesterday, but Mike Brown, head of the national
    bee unit based in York, reported no signs of CCD in Britain. “There is no
    evidence in the UK right now of colony collapse disorder,” he said in a
    statement. “The majority of inspectors said that they can put the current
    mortalities in honeybee populations around the UK down to varroa or varroasis.”

    “I just don’t know where they get their information,” said Mr Chapple. “They
    took away some of my bees but I have heard nothing. All I know that something is
    very wrong with our bees.”

    Copyright Guardian News and Media Limited

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