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Dying Bees! - Hao 1 Sijia Hao English 125 Section 099...

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Hao Sijia Hao English 125 – Section 099 Professor Short 27 October 2010 Plight of the Honeybee In the fall of 2006, honeybee keepers across America, from California to Texas to Florida, began to experience similar shocks – colonies of bees once strong and thriving swiftly and mysteriously vanished by the thousands. Keepers in Pennsylvania lost more than seventy percent of their colonies within a few short weeks (Barrionuevo ) . Outside the United States, Europe, South America, and East Asia lost forty percent of their bees, an unprecedented quantity (Jacobsen 64). The deaths only grew worse as winter came since the cold and lack of food further weakens the bees. No one knew the cause of the sudden deaths. The bodies of the bees fell no where near their hives, baffling beekeepers and investigators. Though the queen bee was still alive, hives were entirely devoid of adult bees; moths and beetles that normally rob the honey from their empty combs stayed away from the dead colonies. This phenomenon of dying honeybees was labeled “Colony Collapse Disorder”, or CCD. At first, many keepers instinctively blamed the varroa mite, a small, resilient parasite that has always plagued honey bees and is responsible for a seventeen percent loss of colonies every the winter (Jacobsen 64). However, experienced beekeepers who have dealt with varroa their entire careers do not believe mites to be the cause of CCD due to the erratic, disorganized behavior their bees exhibited before disappearing. Also, mites did not swarm the collapsed colonies like they normally would if they were to blame (Ibid 62). As the months passed and bees continued to inexplicably disappear by the billions, all sorts of hypotheses developed. They 1
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Hao ranged from scientific reasoning – genetically modified crops contain a natural insecticide Bacillus thuringiensis (Ibid 69) – to biblical prophecies about the great famine in the end of the world. Revelation 6:6 states, “the olive and grape harvest will not be damaged”; because olives and grapes are not pollinated by bees, their harvest is unaffected by CCD and the fulfilling of the prophecy signals that the last days are near (Sherman). Other popular theories incriminate cell phone radiation for disrupting the bee’s sense of direction, causing it to get lost returning to its hive (Nelson), and blame powerful UV rays and global warming for upsetting bees’ natural environments. Though the many proposed theories have validity, they fail to explain the magnitude and abruptness of the disappearances that began in the winter of 2006. The true cause of CCD lies in a complex combination of pathogens, pesticides, and environmental stressors. More than a dozen different viruses, known and unknown, were found to plague bees in a study conducted in October of 2007 by Jerry Bromenshenk and Charles Wick – Deformed Wing Virus, Sacbrood virus, and acute bee paralysis virus being a few (PLoS ONE). Discovered through DNA research by Dr. W. Ian Lipkin, a common “Israeli Acute Paralysis Virus [IAPV]
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