You May Be Surprised At The Real Cause of Bee Death

Related articles

It has been accepted dogma in certain circles that we a suffering a global catastrophe of bee colony collapse, which, of course is caused by use of insecticides.

The only problem with this is, as we have discussed before, there is no bee colony collapse:

Screen Shot 2015-01-21 at 1.05.16 PM

Yet, unlike scary rumors, bees do die, and this is more pronounced in certain regions. But a new review blames something entirely different viruses that are transmitted from the Varroa mite a parasite that hosts a number of pathogens that infect bees.

Writing in the Journal of Applied Ecology, Dr. Lena Wilfert and colleagues, of the Centre for Ecology and Conservation at the University of Exeter, reviewed several studies on bee death, and concluded that two viruses the Deformed Wing Virus, and the Black Queen cell virus are responsible for the majority of infections in the bees that were studied.

Screen Shot 2015-01-21 at 1.38.29 PM

Even though man-made pesticides are not key factors in bee deaths, the problem is not entirely governed by nature. Poor management of commercial colonies is perhaps the key reason for the spread of these viruses.

Dr. Wilfert says, Our study highlights the importance of preventing the release of diseased commercial pollinators into the wild. The diseases carried by commercial species affect a wide range of wild pollinators but their spread can be avoided by improved monitoring and management practices. Commercial honey bee keepers have a responsibility to protect ecologically and economically important wild pollinator communities from disease."

In a sense, this is a man-made problem, but not one that can be blamed on the use of pesticides, such as neonicotinoids a class of pesticides that has been increasingly seen as being responsible for mass bee die offs.

Whenever anything goes wrong with human health or the environment, people reflexively start pointing fingers at chemicals. Although this may be a convenient, and perhaps comforting explanation, it is usually wrong. Chemophobia is a false cop out, which allows people to place blame someplace, but it does not usually hold up under careful scrutiny. Just because something seems to be intuitively plausible, this does not make it right.