According to recent research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences researchers have discovered another possible cause of CCD. This time it’s not mites but microorganisms from the small hive beetle, which has been introduced into the US and Europe from Africa.
"Beetles are scavengers and their job is to clean up. In the case of the small hive beetle, it uses a fungus to digest left-over pollen, from which it gets its nutrients. This fungus causes fermentation, in effect causing a change in the chemistry in the hives. Since bees are very sensitive to such variations, they eventually abandon the hives"- Dr Baldwyn Torto.
What is curious is that the beetle and the fungus it carries has no effect on African bee hives. African bees have some unknown mechanism for dealing with this.
"Knowing what allows African honeybees to survive attacks under the tough tropical conditions, and introducing these components into European honeybees, might be a step towards resolving the CCD," says Dr Torto.
Scientists may be able to identify a marker for these traits and develop a breeding program to incorporate this mechanism into our bees. If the mechanism is very specific, direct molecular genetic modification may be the solution. It might very well turn out that instead of being the cause, biotechnology will be the solution to CCD.
SOURCE: (PNAS, 4th May 2007)