New Testing Provides Information on Colony Collapse Disorder

 

A new testing service will allow for better assessment of honey bee health and uncover the large role of diseases in honey bee colony collapse disorder.

Supported by the National Corn Growers Association and the North Dakota Department of Agriculture, the testing service will allow for quicker assessment of diseases, according to Peter Snyder, President and CEO of the National Agricultural Genotyping Center…

“It’s the first time that we’ve got a panel, or a group of 11 different diseases found in bees in North America.  And they’re all in one test.  Prior to this you could test one disease at a time and wait for a long time for an answer, the other exciting news is that we can get responses in 30 days and tell you what’s going wrong in your hive.”

Snyder says bee keepers have been focusing on the health of hives for decades, but within the last 20 years there’s been a problem with colony collapse disorder…

“A lot of people have been looking at the cause of that collapse, and it’s not a simple answer.  Honey bee health is a very, very complex issue, and that state legislatures shouldn’t be looking for easy answers, and unfortunately, that often falls on the backs of farmers, those easy answers.  “Oh it’s the neonicotinoids!’.  It’s not the neonic’s that are killing the honey bees, it’s this very complex interplay of diseases, and parasitic mites, and parasitic fungal pathogens that are causing the collapse disorder.”

He explains how big of a problem diseases in honey bee hives are…

“Oh, huge.  Huge.  That’s what’s causing the colony collapse disorder, the diseases are.  And, as I indicated, it’s a very complex mosaic of problems, that you have mites,, called veroa mites that are bringing diseases into the hive.  And so, the idea ‘can’t we control the mites?’  Not really.  A keracide, and you don’t want that ending up in your honey, and the mites are developing resistance to many of the pesticides that control mites. So, it’s very important that we understand…so these are the diseases, we need to properly identify them, and take remedial action.”

He says proper sanitation can help prevent diseases in bee colonies, but adds that an accurate diagnosis is critical, and the new testing service will help ensure accurate results…

“For example, American foulbrood, European foulbrood look very similar,   and unfortunately, with American foulbrood, all you can do is burn that hive, so, you’re not spreading to other hives.  Prevention is the first step.  But, again proper identification, you can differentiate between American foulbrood and European foulbrood, which really isn’t as virulent, as American foulbrood.  And what helps there is a strong nectar flow, that helps the disease go away.”

He says farmers need to be engaged in bee health because pollinators are critical to success in agriculture…

“I’d like the American farmer to take this message out and meet with their local bee clubs, and let them know that they’re not part of the problem, but part of the solution. It was the American farmer that helped fund this research.  So, they’re part of the solution, and let the bee clubs know that we’re working with them, we don’t want to see collapse, any more than they want to see collapse.  We need their pollinators.”

To learn more about efforts to address long-term health of honey bees and pollinators, visit Honey Bee Health Coalition dot org (http://honeybeehealthcoalition.org/).


A native of the Texas Panhandle, Rhonda was born and raised on a cotton farm where she saw cotton farming evolve from ditch irrigation to center pivot irrigation and harvest trailers to modules. After graduating from Texas Tech University, she got her start in radio with KGNC News Talk 710 in Amarillo, Texas.