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Research Article

Iridovirus and Microsporidian Linked to Honey Bee Colony Decline

  • Jerry J. Bromenshenk mail,

    beeresearch@aol.com

    Affiliations: Division of Biological Sciences, The University of Montana, Missoula, Montana, United States of America, Bee Alert Technology, Inc., Missoula, Montana, United States of America

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  • Colin B. Henderson,

    Affiliations: College of Technology, The University of Montana, Missoula, Montana, United States of America, Bee Alert Technology, Inc., Missoula, Montana, United States of America

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  • Charles H. Wick,

    Affiliation: US Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Edgewood Area, Maryland, United States of America

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  • Michael F. Stanford,

    Affiliation: US Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Edgewood Area, Maryland, United States of America

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  • Alan W. Zulich,

    Affiliation: US Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Edgewood Area, Maryland, United States of America

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  • Rabih E. Jabbour,

    Affiliation: Science Applications International Corporation, Abingdon, Maryland, United States of America

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  • Samir V. Deshpande,

    Affiliations: Science Technology Corporation, Edgewood, Maryland, United States of America, Department of Computer and Information Sciences, Towson University, Towson, Maryland, United States of America

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  • Patrick E. McCubbin,

    Affiliation: OptiMetrics, Inc., Abingdon, Maryland, United States of America

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  • Robert A. Seccomb,

    Affiliation: Bee Alert Technology, Inc., Missoula, Montana, United States of America

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  • Phillip M. Welch,

    Affiliation: Bee Alert Technology, Inc., Missoula, Montana, United States of America

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  • Trevor Williams,

    Affiliation: Instituto de Ecologia AC, Xalapa, Veracruz, Mexico

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  • David R. Firth,

    Affiliation: Department of Information Systems and Technology, The University of Montana, Missoula, Montana, United States of America

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  • Evan Skowronski,

    Affiliation: US Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Edgewood Area, Maryland, United States of America

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  • Margaret M. Lehmann,

    Affiliation: Department of Veterinary Molecular Biology, Montana State University, Bozeman, Montana, United States of America

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  • Shan L. Bilimoria,

    Affiliations: Department of Biological Sciences, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, Texas, United States of America, Center for Biotechnology and Genomics, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, Texas, United States of America

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  • Joanna Gress,

    Affiliation: Department of Plant Sciences and Plant Pathology, Montana State University, Bozeman, Montana, United States of America

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  • Kevin W. Wanner,

    Affiliation: Department of Plant Sciences and Plant Pathology, Montana State University, Bozeman, Montana, United States of America

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  • Robert A. Cramer Jr

    Affiliation: Department of Veterinary Molecular Biology, Montana State University, Bozeman, Montana, United States of America

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  • Published: October 06, 2010
  • DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0013181

Reader Comments (14)

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Honey Bee Colony Decline

Posted by Bunuweld on 07 Oct 2010 at 22:42 GMT

The data in the study are very impressive. In addition to the IIV and Nosema link, could this be superimposed on a stress factor affecting the bees immune system?. One factor that comes to mind is the current commercial practices of colony seasonal migration. This might be an additional explanation for the the authors' finding of Montana's non-migratory colonies being less affected.

No competing interests declared.

RE: Honey Bee Colony Decline

UMinventor replied to Bunuweld on 08 Oct 2010 at 14:08 GMT

Great question! Could the immune system be declining because the queen is no longer allowed to mate with the strongest drone who can fly to her heights for mating? Might the rectangular beehive, convenient for bee keepers, be an issue? Maybe Round-up and other pesticides weaken?

No competing interests declared.

RE: RE: Honey Bee Colony Decline

GE_Seed_999 replied to UMinventor on 17 Oct 2010 at 01:43 GMT

Please consider my posting as I am totally ignorant of "Bee" science:Any Correlation to Genetic Mod Seed Virial RNAIntro Techniques?

No competing interests declared.

RE: Honey Bee Colony Decline

peterloringborst replied to Bunuweld on 10 Oct 2010 at 23:38 GMT

The primary motivation for moving colonies is to get them to better pasture. For example, in Upstate NY, conditions are hostile to bees for six months out of the year. By the time spring arrives, up to half the hives may be dead and many severely weakened. This is nothing new, the bee literature of 100 years ago is filled with sad stories and advice on over-wintering.

The solution, which was begun in earnest decades ago, is to haul the bees south to better conditions. Trucking bees per se is not harmful. The mixing of colonies from all over the US and elsewhere, however, is a recipe for rapid distribution of any sort of contagious elements, and also, the recombination of various strains of these pathogens.

Viewed from the outside, the spectacle of trucking up to a million bee hives around the USA, making multiple moves, etc. seems perilous, but actually the trips are made quickly and the benefits of better weather, fresh nectar and pollen, etc. usually outweigh the damage done by the interstate hauling.

Peter Loring Borst
Ithaca, NY

No competing interests declared.