Honey Bee Colony Collapse Disorder Linked to Tobacco Plant Virus

by , 01/22/14

green design, eco design, sustainable design, colony collapse disorder, bee deaths, tobacco ringspot virus, Agriculture Department, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences in Beijing, mBioHoney bees photo from Shutterstock

A new report published in the journal mBio shows that the staggering rise in honey bee deaths over the past decade could be partly due to a virus that stems from tobacco plants. Researchers found a relationship between bee deaths and the tobacco ringspot virus. The virus is spread through infected pollen, and it can jump from tobacco plants to soy plants to mites, making for a triple threat to hungry bees.

green design, eco design, sustainable design, colony collapse disorder, bee deaths, tobacco ringspot virus, Agriculture Department, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences in Beijing, mBio

The report was compiled by leading bee researchers from the Agriculture Department at Beltsville, Maryland, American universities and China’s Academy of Agricultural Sciences in Beijing. The researchers banded together to determine the cause of colony collapse disorder, which has afflicted bee populations around the world in the past few years, causing bees to die at twice the rate of previous years.

The researchers found parasites, pesticides and the tobacco ringspot virus to contribute the the decline of bees. The virus is the first to infect bees directly from pollen, and it’s an RNA virus – meaning it mutates faster than other pathogens and can jump from host to host easily. Researchers believe the virus attacks the nervous systems of honeybees until they weaken and eventually die, and it can easily spread to other bees throughout a hive.

The ringspot virus is common amongst tobacco plants in the fall and winter, which coincides with a spike in bee deaths that has occurred in late autumn for the past few years.

Via NY Times

Images ©blathlean and ©theseanster93

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  1. royalestel April 29, 2014 at 9:22 am

    I’d love to find a link on the monk that found the cell tower problem, though I briefly checked the link in Ruthy Chandler’s comment and found it to be an oddball new-age religion site.
    I keep bees myself and I have a few ideas that I think contribute to weak bee hives.
    1) Beekeepers in the US force bees to reuse comb so that the bees will spend more time producing honey than building comb. The reused comb turns black over the years (you can see this in the picture above). I’d guess it harbors more harmful microorganisms than fresh comb.
    2)Some keepers supplement bees with corn syrup during the winter (I believe Inhabitat has another article on this subject). Instead of leaving enough honey for the bees, some folks take all the honey. Bees are obviously designed to live on protein-rich honey, not refined GMO corn syrup.
    3)Some weakness of hives is due to constant intervention to preserve hives when mites, hive beetles, or wax moths invade. The only intervention I favor currently in these cases is moving the hive to a sunnier location if currently in a shady one.
    4)I also think our beehouses are too thin-walled for good wintering of bees, and we often don’t place them in areas protected from winter winds. In the summer, leafed foliage acts as windbreaks.
    I also plan on leaving my bees to themselves every 5th year and not taking any honey, to let the hives gain strength. By keeping my bees in a manner more consistent with their natural habits, I did not lose any hives this winter, while many other beekeepers lost 30%-100%.

  2. Ruthy Chandler February 24, 2014 at 12:34 pm

    Apparently, a monk who had been a bee keeper at an abbey for 40 years claims he had been collecting 100 gallons of honey a week until cell phone towers were constructed on the back of the property. Within weeks all of his bees died until he discovered a small area near the base of a hill where he could not get service. Once he moved his hives to that that particular area, the bees once again began to thrive and reproduce.

    Is it possible that Honey Bee Colony Collapse Disorder is created by the micro-wave frequency omitted by cell-phone towers? Apparently, when a cell-phone is placed within a hive, the queen either dies or moves. Research also demonstrates that bees do not come within a mile or so of cell-phone/WIFI towers.

    If this is the case will people be willing to give up their cell-phones, and will cell-phone providers, making billions each year from their service be willing to prevent the devastation of our food chain? Apparently, there is more to the cell-phone micro-wave frequency than most are willing to realize; http://www.focusonrecovery.net

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