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Bee Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD)
Research and Commentary
Five Tables

by Jim West

Introduction

Goal:  This is to understand CCD, described by Wikipedia as, "Phenomena involving the massive die-off of a beehive or bee colony."  The mainstream media avoids the organic view, where variables are minimal, and bees have not been impacted.  Thus the organic view is included.

Method:  Circa May 1, 2007, I researched mainstream and organic views.  I interviewed local and distant beekeepers, both organic and conventional. I interviewed a representative of FTS (Food Technology Service, irradiation specialists). I became a member of the OrganicBeekeepers forum, researched that forum, researched the web, and became involved through email and forum discussions.

Conclusion:  CCD is the result of a high total burden of stressors.  a) Long-term, background stressors, e.g., conventional beekeeping, large cell, with its use of pesticides, antibiotics, mite controls, in addition to air and water pollution.  b) Short term high intensity stressors, e.g., new pesticide policies, new newly deployed pesticides such as nicotinoid pesticides.

Resolution:  Organic beekeepers* are not experiencing CCD, though their bees also encounter pesticides and genetically engineered crops. These beekeepers know why: Oversize wax cells (artificial) lead to oversize brood and adult bees which are unable to protect themselves from mites and pathogens. Bee scale has already been optimized by evolutionary processes during the last eon. Processed commercial sugars used as food, and chemical treatments, further bee weakness. These technical invasions leads to hive poisoning and mite and pathogen infestation. Bees are normally able to groom mites from each other and from their hives.  Therefore the treatment for CCD is no treatments.  When hives are stressed, let the weak hives struggle and direct resources to the strong hives (see Lusby).  Use organic beekeeping methods, e.g., no chemicals, mite controls, pesticides, antibiotics, and very importantly, use natural size cells (in the wax combs) to keep bee brood and adults at a natural size.  When taking honey, replace with honey or (though less desirable than honey) whole natural nutrients.  Healthier, stronger, natural bees then control parasites as usual, by grooming.  Natural bees also are more resistant to other stressors.  Bees have been evolving to their optimal size for at approximately 120 million years.

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Table One
Interviewees

Information Source

Role

Summary of My Interviews

Sharon Labchuk Green party leader, Canada, member of OrganicBeekeepers forum.  Insightful and helpful. Sharon clearly blames the stressful methodology of non-organic beekeeping in our discussions, and her article, where she writes:  "I’m on an organic beekeeping email list of about 1,000 people, mostly Americans, and no one in the organic beekeeping world, including commercial beekeepers, is reporting colony collapse on this list. The problem with commercial operations is pesticides used in hives to fumigate for varroa mites and antibiotics are fed to the bees to prevent disease. Hives are hauled long distances by truck, often several times during the growing season, to provide pollination services to industrial agriculture crops, which further stressors the colonies and exposes them to agricultural pesticides and GMOs."
OrganicBeekeepers Forum Forum of over 1,000 organic beekeepers. I joined this forum and researched their discussions, and involved myself in those discussions. Sharon recommended this forum.  Great source of information by searching their messages.  CCD is apparently something none of them are suffering.  They're busy discussing the bee colony setups, maintenance, and harvesting honey.
Dee A. Lusby Very experienced beekeeper, and leader of OrganicBeekeepers forum, converted from conventional to organic methods several years ago. A vast source of information, as are several of her forum members.  She strongly promotes the organic method, and believes bees are ancient, experienced, and will survive best, will adapt best, even in the context of pesticided fields, if apiarists avoid chemical-pharmaceutical interventions, for mites, etc.  Somewhat similar to Sharon Labchuk's views. 
Kelley Organic beekeeper, knowledgeable, though only more recently involved in actual beekeeping.  A member of OrganicBeekeepers forum Kelley studied organic beekeeping thoroughly, and owns a hive for one year.  No current problems with mites or CCD.

Kelley wrote:

I saw mites for the first time in Fall. I was able to count about 12 bees with mites at any one time and saw some dead on the bottom of the hive. I also saw a bee cleaning herself and trying to get a mite off her back. Dee and Michael advised me not to treat, that these bees would die naturally due to age and things would be ok, so I did nothing. The hive is going very strongly now, I can see quite a few drones and I cannot see any mites or evidence of mites (bad wings, etc) at this point.

[My bees reside in the] Eastern foothills of the Rocky Mountains, just outside of Denver. My local mentor who uses TBHs and no treatments, has never seen mites.

I don't know any other beekeepers locally that do not treat at all and use little, if any, smoke. The leader of our local beekeepers association practices regular conventional commercial beekeeping and lost many hives due to CCD. It seems that a number of other backyard beekeepers locally have also mysteriously lost hives.

My best guess about CCD is that it is a cumulative issue of treatments, swarm suppression, queen breeding etc over time weakening the immune system of bees. A thousand little cuts so to speak.

Michael Bush Organic beekeeper, and very knowledgeable member of OrganicBeekeepers forum Michael is a very experienced organic beekeeper.  His  material on organic mite control is very interesting; describes regressing bees to natural size via use of small and natural cell wax combs, or the use of TBH (top bar hives) which simply allow bees to build cells and combs as they like.  He does want to speculate on the cause of CCD.

There is however a relation to CCD and and mite control.  A major stressor of bees is mite control chemicals used by conventional beekeepers.  Michael and all organic beekeepers realize that chemicals are unnecessary if bees are natural size.

Erik Osterland Organic beekeeper, and very knowledgeable member of OrganicBeekeepers forum [Eric:]  In France the beekeepers got a nicotinoid pesticide (Gaucho) forbidden to use treating sunflower seeds after a connection was made between such treatment and heavy bee losses.

In Sweden when asking around which varroa treatments are used and putting that info together with losses of bees, especially during late fall and winter, the most heavy losses are among those using organic acids like Oxalic and Formic.

Bees kept on small cell size and bees with wider genetic background cope with viruses and mites better.

I know for example of an 1800 colony beekeeper in Kansas with GMO soybeans around with no CCD. He's on 5.1 [millimeter cell size, closer to natural size than conventional sizes] and is not using pesticides or acids [for mite or other parasite control]. There are no other beekeepers bees around his bees.

An odd observation maybe: With other [non-organic] beekeepers around... [the organic] apiaries closest to such [non-organic] beekeepers bees will experience more problems than those apiaries farthest away from other bees. Even if those other bees have lower mite populations through use of pesticides.  Maybe up to a mile away such apiaries may cause problems for you, especially if your bees are outnumbered.

[I see the last "odd" observation as sensible, if one sees disease as a communal, sympathetic (not necessarily friendly) behavior, as protective/expurgative responses to stress, or as message responses regarding stress.]

David Hackenberg, Hackenberg Apiaries, 
Pennsylvania and Florida
David is apparently the first beekeeper to find CCD in 2007 in the US.  He is interviewed in the NY Times article below.  He "agreed" to irradiation treatment of his hives.

He has 35 years experience as an apiarist, conventional methods.  Though not organic, his information (my interview) to me was invaluable. 

NY Times apparently did not follow up with David, after mentioning that he has his hives irradiated.

On the phone to me, David Hackenberg was saying "pesticide causation for CCD", yet The NY Times inverted his experience with a comment by a Dr. Cox-Foster, "This supports the idea that there is a pathogen there... It would be hard to explain the irradiation getting rid of a chemical."

On the contrary -- it is easy to explain the effects of irradiation, as binding reactive pesticides to materials into the hives, waxes, debris, pollen, and promoting vaporization of poisonous chemicals.  David wrote to me that that was his intent.

David's reused irradiated hives seemed to do better than his non-irradiated hives.  He told me that irradiated hives were not handled differently than other hives.  He hopes that irradiation neutralized pesticides and killed pathogens (fungi, microbes) and parasites (mites and beetles) in his hives.  

Uses "natural" formic acid to control mites.  Ships bee hives interstate for pollination of pumpkins, apples, and other produce.  

Believes the strongest argument for CCD causation is that nicotinoid pesticides killed his bees, when bees store poisoned pollen, and acquire CCD when they access pollen for food source in winter.  He observed that any time bees are deprived and must go to pollen, they get CCD.  Most notably, he saw an association of CCD with "Admire" pesticide and pumpkin fields, where his bees had been shipped for pollination, and were massively killed.

He said, "Bees, which are moving towards CCD appeared nervous, neurologically impaired, not friendly as usual, that is, tumbling and rolling around on each other."

David Berkshire, Berkshire Apiaries, Massachusetts Conventional and organic methods.  Raises bees on rooftops of Manhattan buildings. Fine honey products. Mr. Berkshire believes his recent unprecedented loss of bees was due to mites.  Used "natural" oxalic acid to control mites.
Alan Tremblay, Tremblay Apiaries, Van Etten, NY Conventional/organic methods.  Very helpful.  Fine honey products. Alan uses "natural" oxalic acid to control mites.  Also uses peppermint oil.  Mites are under control.  No CCD.
Wolfgang Bauer & Son, Twin Spruce Apiaries
Climax, NY
Conventional methods (apparently, awaiting further discussion).  Fine honey products. Mr. Bauer believes his recent unprecedented huge loss of bees was due to mites.
Richard Hunter, Food Technology Service (FTS), Florida Representative.  FTS is mentioned in NY Times article below. Says FTS did nothing to David Hackenberg's hives other than irradiate his hives.
    [Note, organic beekeepers advocate against any chemical treatments, including oxalic acid and formic acid, as well as chlorine/fluorine products like Apistan, or any other chemical treatments, pesticides or antibiotics.]

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Table Two
The Cure for CCD:  Don't Do Anything
(derived from Lusby)

Stay With, Or Return To, Natural Organic Apiary Methods
1) CCD is the result of the total poison (and other) burden on a given bee colony.
2) Mites are an old, constant ancient burden, thus not suspect for CCD.  Mites would leave dead bodies in the hive, and CCD is noted for lack of dead bodies. Hives abandoned due to mites would have their honey robbed by neighboring colonies. 
3) Pesticides are a more recent burden, thus probable suspect.

Nicotinoids are a very new burden, concurrent with CCD, therefore, prime suspect for causation.

In 2004, nicotinoid pesticide usage was increased in the US at a substantial level. CCD was seen then, but not labeled such. In 2006, these pesticides were introduced at high levels, with high levels of CCD.

Pesticides are soluble in pollen (containing fatty acids, esters, and proteins) which are eaten by bees in the winter, producing CCD. Any time bees are deprived of honey and nectar, and are forced to go to pollen, they get CCD.  [Source:  David Hackenberg, apiarist]

4) The situation with organic beekeepers. 

"Organic beekeepers", defined:  Their methods are organic, but flowers and nectar source are not necessarily so, due to that near impossibility.

Their experience:  Very few mites, and CCD virtually unknown. Reason, total burden is low, even with added burden of nicotinoids.

5) Organic Methods, and Mites:

1) No chemicals, such as antibiotics, or mite treatments such as oxalic acid, formic acid, or worse, Apistan (fluorine/chlorine), etc.

2) Allow weak hives to die.  Allocate resources to strong hives.

3) Replenish hive honey with real honey, or, less desirable, some organic cane sugar, or other unrefined organic sugar.

4) Regress bees to natural cell size by using brood combs that are less than or equal to 4.9 mm. This ensures that mites have difficulty inserting themselves into comb cells with bee brood.  Currently, conventional beekeepers drive high production by the use of oversize cell wax combs to encourage oversize bee brood growth (like the aggressive production of milk cows, chickens and beef cattle).

5) With less mites, and better health, bees are able to naturally remove remaining mites by their usual method, grooming each other.

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Table Three
Reinterpreting The Official CCD Description

OFFICIAL DESCRIPTION OF CCD
From, Bee Alert Technology's website
http://beealert.blackfoot.net/~beealert/surveys/index.php

Reinterpretation

1) In collapsed colonies

 

 

The complete absence of adult bees in colonies, with no or little build up of dead bees in the colonies or in front of those colonies. Bees are leaving a poisoned hive, not waiting around to die.  A pathogen or parasite, if causative, would produce dead bee bodies on the floor of the hive (according to several beekeepers I interviewed, David and Alan, notably).
The presence of capped brood in colonies. Infants are abandoned by workers.
The presence of food stores, both honey and bee bread Food store is abandoned by workers because they leaving a poisoned hive.
 i. which is not immediately robbed by other bees No other bee wants to venture into this hive.  Later, after poisoning subsides, they may take the honey.
 ii. when attacked by hive pests such as wax moth and small hive beetle, the attack is noticeably delayed. No invader wants to invade this poisoned hive.  Later, after poisons vaporize, they may invade.
2) In cases where the colony appear to be actively collapsing  
An insufficient workforce to maintain the brood that is present Bees are leaving a poisoned hive. 
The workforce seems to be made up of young adult bees Bees who have been in the hive the longest, accumulated the most poison, will leave first.  Brood and queen are fed royal jelly, and thus are not as poisoned as much as the workers who go to the pollen store during periods when they are deprived of nectar/honey, such as during winter.
The queen is present No bee has the healthy presence of mind to take care of the queen.  The queen stays in the hive, alive, as she is minimally poisoned, being fed on royal jelly, not the more poisoned pollen.

Can we extend this argument to 'pollen allergies' in humans?

The cluster is reluctant to consume provided feed, such as sugar syrup and protein supplement Bees have lost their appetite due to poisoning.

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Table Four
Interpreting Wikipedia's "CCD"

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colony_Collapse_Disorder

Reinterpretation

Colony Collapse Disorder (or CCD) is a poorly understood phenomenon involving the massive die-off of a beehive or bee colony. CCD is alternatively referenced as Vanishing Bee Syndrome (VBS)[1]. Apparently, CCD was originally found only in colonies of the Western honey bee in North America[2], but European beekeepers have recently claimed to be observing a similar phenomenon in Poland, Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain, with initial reports coming in from Switzerland and Germany, albeit to a smaller degree[3]. The cause (or causes) of the syndrome is not yet well understood and even the existence of this disorder remains disputed. Theories include environmental change-related stresses[4], malnutrition, unknown pathogens (i.e., disease[5]), mites, pesticides such as neonicotinoids, emissions from cellular phones or other manmade devices,[6] and genetically modified (GM) crops[7]. Yes, CCD is a multi-factorial epidemic, however, Wikipedia lists long-existing background stressors, not directly applicable to the massive 2007 CCD.  

Exceptional trigger, however, is policy changes re deployment of nicotinoid pesticides in 2007.  These need further research.

From 1971 to 2006 approximately half of the U.S. honey bee colonies have vanished, but this decline includes the cumulative losses from all factors such as urbanization, pesticide use, tracheal and Varroa mites and commercial beekeepers retiring and going out of business, and has been fairly gradual. Late in the year 2006 and in early 2007, however, the rate of attrition was alleged to have reached new proportions, and the term "Colony Collapse Disorder" was proposed to describe this sudden rash of disappearances[2]. Late 2006, early 2007, CCD emerges as a new epidemic disaster.
Limited occurrences resembling CCD have been documented as early as 1896[5][8], and this set of symptoms has in the past several decades been given many different names (disappearing disease, spring dwindle, May disease, autumn collapse, and fall dwindle disease). Most recently, a similar phenomenon in the winter of 2004/2005 occurred, and was attributed to Varroa mites (the "Vampire Mite" scare), though this was never ultimately confirmed. In none of the past appearances of this syndrome has anyone been able to determine its cause(s). Upon recognition that the syndrome does not seem to be seasonally-restricted, and that it may not be a "disease" in the standard sense—that there may not be a specific causative agent—the syndrome was renamed[9]. Similarly, David Hackenberg, said that 2004/2005 was the first sign of "CCD" though not termed CCD then.  That CCD was  accompanied by a rise of use of nicotinoid pesticides.  2007 CCD was by accompanied a much greater use of nicotinoid pesticides.

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Table Five
Dissection of:  The New York Times, CCD Article (4/24/07)

www.nytimes.com/2007/04/24/science/24bees.html

Comments

Bees Vanish, and Scientists Race for Reasons (April 24, 2007) The NY Times is greatly in conflict of interest with chemical and pharmaceutical industries.

As usual, The NY Times' puts the public on hold, creates a mystery, suggests salvation from chemical or other dangerous technologies.

Obviously the reader's minds are being vacated.  From my experience, I expect the arriving solution will be pathogen causation, requiring salvation in the form of industrial chemicals and processes, possibly irradiation.  This is according to my previous studies of the politics of Swine Flu, polio and West Nile virus epidemics.

I anticipate that industry may use CCD to make a major change in public opinion, which could be:  Irradiation treatments, as necessary in an unavoidably poisoned world, where pathogens and parasites are the natural response to a poisoned world.

By ALEXEI BARRIONUEVO The article, in some form or another, is very likely fed to NY Times by press agents of the chemical industry or related industries that have conflicts of interest with the chemical industry.  The article is almost a form letter, filled-in, standard pap, seen in most other disease epidemic paradigms introduced by NY Times (mystery, no one knows, scientists working feverishly, high-tech salvation on the way).  Yawn.
BELTSVILLE, Md., April 23 — What is happening to the bees?

More than a quarter of the country's 2.4 million bee colonies have been lost — tens of billions of bees, according to an estimate from the Apiary Inspectors of America, a national group that tracks beekeeping. So far, no one can say what is causing the bees to become disoriented and fail to return to their hives.

NY Times cannot substantiate its claim:  "So far, no one can say what is causing..."

NY Times spins bee behavior 180 degrees, with, "fail to return to their hives."  Bees are actually leaving their hives, driven out of the hive.

Organic and conventional beekeepers are actually saying this is largely an internal hive problem, not an external to hive problem, as NY Times describes.  

David Hackenberg's thesis (see interview above) is that the hive is poisoned by poisoned pollen, which is stored in the hive, eaten during the winter -- and that is when the bees leave, when CCD occurs.

As with any great mystery, a number of theories have been posed, and many seem to researchers to be more science fiction than science. People have blamed genetically modified crops, cellular phone towers and high-voltage transmission lines for the disappearances. Or was it a secret plot by Russia or Osama bin Laden to bring down American agriculture? Or, as some blogs have asserted, the rapture of the bees, in which God recalled them to heaven? Researchers have heard it all. "...a great mystery... God recalled them... researchers have heard it all."  Public involvement is painted absurdly, to freeze the reader with arrogance.

NYT lists every possible cause except Hackenberg's pollen dynamic and mite control poisons.

The volume of theories "is totally mind-boggling," said Diana Cox-Foster, an entomologist at Pennsylvania State University. Mysterious, mind-boggling, unusual...
With Jeffrey S. Pettis, an entomologist from the United States Department of Agriculture, Dr. Cox-Foster is leading a team of researchers who are trying to find answers to explain "colony collapse disorder," the name given for the disappearing bee syndrome.  
"Clearly there is an urgency to solve this," Dr. Cox-Foster said. "We are trying to move as quickly as we can." Emergency!  Mystery!  No one knows!  Until dictates arrive requiring high tech solutions due to fear of pathogens.
Dr. Cox-Foster and fellow scientists who are here at a two-day meeting to discuss early findings and future plans with government officials have been focusing on the most likely suspects: a virus, a fungus or a pesticide.  
About 60 researchers from North America sifted the possibilities at the meeting today. Some expressed concern about the speed at which adult bees are disappearing from their hives; some colonies have collapsed in as little as two days.  
Others noted that countries in Europe, as well as Guatemala and parts of Brazil, are also struggling for answers.  
"There are losses around the world that may or not be linked," Dr. Pettis said.  
The investigation is now entering a critical phase. The researchers have collected samples in several states and have begun doing bee autopsies and genetic analysis.  
So far, known enemies of the bee world, like the varroa mite, on their own at least, do not appear to be responsible for the unusually high losses.  
Genetic testing at Columbia University has revealed the presence of multiple micro-organisms in bees from hives or colonies that are in decline, suggesting that something is weakening their immune system. The researchers have found some fungi in the affected bees that are found in humans whose immune systems have been suppressed by the Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome or cancer. A form of bee-AIDS and bee-HIV!  Perhaps AZT will be sent to the rescue (see critique at www.virusmyth.com)
"That is extremely unusual," Dr. Cox-Foster said. Though, NY Time's avoidance of any mention of chemical causation is extremely common, the usual.
Meanwhile, samples were sent to an Agriculture Department laboratory in North Carolina this month to screen for 117 chemicals. Particular suspicion falls on a pesticide that France banned out of concern that it may have been decimating bee colonies. Concern has also mounted among public officials.  
"There are so many of our crops that require pollinators," said Representative Dennis Cardoza, a California Democrat whose district includes that state's central agricultural valley, and who presided last month at a Congressional hearing on the bee issue. "We need an urgent call to arms to try to ascertain what is really going on here with the bees, and bring as much science as we possibly can to bear on the problem." "...need urgent call to arms..."  This translates to, "Hand over your money!"

Emergency characterization will enable decisions to be made without democratic process.  Authorities will be selected from those who arrive at the politically appropriate answer, that appeals to chemical and pharmaceutical interests.

So far, colony collapse disorder has been found in 27 states, according to Bee Alert Technology Inc., a company monitoring the problem. A recent survey of 13 states by the Apiary Inspectors of America showed that 26 percent of beekeepers had lost half of their bee colonies between September and March.  
Honeybees are arguably the insects that are most important to the human food chain. They are the principal pollinators of hundreds of fruits, vegetables, flowers and nuts. The number of bee colonies has been declining since the 1940s, even as the crops that rely on them, such as California almonds, have grown. In October, at about the time that beekeepers were experiencing huge bee losses, a study by the National Academy of Sciences questioned whether American agriculture was relying too heavily on one type of pollinator, the honeybee.  
Bee colonies have been under stress in recent years as more beekeepers have resorted to crisscrossing the country with 18-wheel trucks full of bees in search of pollination work. These bees may suffer from a diet that includes artificial supplements, concoctions akin to energy drinks and power bars. In several states, suburban sprawl has limited the bees' natural forage areas.  
So far, the researchers have discounted the possibility that poor diet alone could be responsible for the widespread losses. They have also set aside for now the possibility that the cause could be bees feeding from a commonly used genetically modified crop, Bt corn, because the symptoms typically associated with toxins, such as blood poisoning, are not showing up in the affected bees. But researchers emphasized today that feeding supplements produced from genetically modified crops, such as high-fructose corn syrup, need to be studied.  
The scientists say that definitive answers for the colony collapses could be months away. But recent advances in biology and genetic sequencing are speeding the search. "speeding the research" ... for finding a pathogen.
Computers can decipher information from DNA and match pieces of genetic code with particular organisms. Luckily, a project to sequence some 11,000 genes of the honeybee was completed late last year at Baylor University, giving scientists a huge head start on identifying any unknown pathogens in the bee tissue. Gene technology to the rescue.  
"Otherwise, we would be looking for the needle in the haystack," Dr. Cox-Foster said. This type of gene techology can only associate observations, not prove, causation.
Large bee losses are not unheard of. They have been reported at several points in the past century. But researchers think they are dealing with something new — or at least with something previously unidentified.  
"There could be a number of factors that are weakening the bees or speeding up things that shorten their lives," said Dr. W. Steve Sheppard, a professor of entomology at Washington State University. "The answer may already be with us."  
Scientists first learned of the bee disappearances in November, when David Hackenberg, a Pennsylvania beekeeper, told Dr. Cox-Foster that more than 50 percent of his bee colonies had collapsed in Florida, where he had taken them for the winter.  
Dr. Cox-Foster, a 20-year veteran of studying bees, soon teamed with Dennis van Engelsdorp, the Pennsylvania apiary inspector, to look into the losses.  
In December, she approached W. Ian Lipkin, director of the Greene Infectious Disease Laboratory at Columbia University, about doing genetic sequencing of tissue from bees in the colonies that experienced losses. The laboratory uses a recently developed technique for reading and amplifying short sequences of DNA that has revolutionized the science. Dr. Lipkin, who typically works on human diseases, agreed to do the analysis, despite not knowing who would ultimately pay for it. His laboratory is known for its work in finding the West Nile disease in the United States. Returning for another spoonful of gene tech hype.

Lipkin was also interviewed years earlier by ABC producer Nicholas Regush, when ABC was preparing to publish my environmental study of "West Nile" disease.

Dr. Cox-Foster ultimately sent samples of bee tissue to researchers at Columbia, to the Agriculture Department laboratory in Maryland, and to Gene Robinson, an entomologist at the University of Illinois. Fortuitously, she had frozen bee samples from healthy colonies dating to 2004 to use for comparison.  
After receiving the first bee samples from Dr. Cox-Foster on March 6, Dr. Lipkin's team amplified the genetic material and started sequencing to separate virus, fungus and parasite DNA from bee DNA.  
"This is like C.S.I. for agriculture," Dr. Lipkin said. "It is painstaking, gumshoe detective work." "C.S.I.", TV drama.
Dr. Lipkin sent his first set of results to Dr. Cox-Foster, showing that several unknown micro-organisms were present in the bees from collapsing colonies. Meanwhile, Mr. van Engelsdorp and researchers at the Agriculture Department lab here began an autopsy of bees from collapsing colonies in California, Florida, Georgia and Pennsylvania to search for any known bee pathogens.  
At the University of Illinois, using knowledge gained from the sequencing of the bee genome, Dr. Robinson's team will try to find which genes in the collapsing colonies are particularly active, perhaps indicating stress from exposure to a toxin or pathogen. Most of this NY Times article is about irradiation and gene techNOLOGY

NY Times omitted organic beekeepers who DO NOT EXPERIENCE CCD.  Yet, what more obvious area of investigation is there?

Similarly, during the1916 polio epidemic, NY Times wrote that Orientals and Negroes were "immune" to polio, and concurrently mocked Oriental suggestions that American diets were the cause of polio.  NY Times did not investigate the obvious nutrition-poison vector. 

The national research team also quietly began a parallel study in January, financed in part by the National Honey Board, to further determine if something pathogenic could be causing colonies to collapse.  
Mr. Hackenberg, the beekeeper, agreed to take his empty bee boxes and other equipment to Food Technology Service, a company in Mulberry, Fla., that uses gamma rays to kill bacteria on medical equipment and some fruits. In early results, the irradiated bee boxes seem to have shown a return to health for colonies repopulated with Australian bees.

My phone interview notes:

I called Richard Hunter, of FTS, they treat a lot of hives, for many years.  Hives were brought to FTS uncleaned.  Hunter doesn't know how hives were treated afterwards.  Theorizes that bee homing mechanism disrupted outside of hive, pesticides or pathogen (Hunter).  AFB,  fungus

I then called Mr. Dave  Hackenberg, over 30 years experience with bees.  Ships bees all over for pollination.  Noted that deaths occur during winter, or whenever food is depleted or deprived so they have to go to their pollen.  All hives sent to pumpkin farmers were affected most with CCD -- Admire pesticide.  Actera is used on apples, blueberries.

Dave sees CCD as caused internal to the hive, as do several other beekeepers, due to evidence which is lack of dead bodies, which means not a pathogen or parasite.

After CCD, sorted cones, lost 900 hives out of 2900.  His mite control is formic acid.  A neighbor uses formic acid, and he lost 800 hives out of 1200.  The sorting process was same with both CCD and non-CCD hives.  Apparently, there was no difference in the way hives were treated before and after irradiation.  Only difference that stands out is neonicotinoids.

During last three years, the major change has been neonicotinoids, last year more than ever, now asking growers not to use neonicotinoids.

Alternative views needs consideration:

1) Irradiation could neutralize pesticides by causing them to react (bind) with compounds they are already dissolved within. Obviously if irradiation can destroy microbes, it can catalyze or force a potential reaction that pesticides are already poised to complete in organic matter.

Parallel A: Cooked foods are safer than raw foods when containing equal pesticides.

Parallel B: UV light causing two-part glues to set.

Three more omissions by NY Times:

2) Were the bee boxes (hives) washed before irradiation? Hive poisons could be washed away.  Hackenberg says same process as for any other hive.

3)  Irradiation could cause hive treatment chemicals to vaporize at an accelerated rate.  Could cause pathogens (caused by toxins) to diminish.

4) NY Times followed up the topic of irradiation with FTS and Dr. Cox-Foster, not with David Hackenberg the apiarist, who received the irradiated hives.

"This supports the idea that there is a pathogen there," Dr. Cox-Foster said. "It would be hard to explain the irradiation getting rid of a chemical." Cox-Foster's fails to consider these two points, rephrasing from above:  

1) Irradiation would (at least partially) neutralize (bind) pesticides in wax, honey, nectar, and pollen, just as UV light is used to bind chemical components.  It has been long known that cooking can partially neutralize pesticides in food by causing compounds to bind.  Pesticides are potentially reactive, designed to react biologically.  Irradiation would push that reaction in wax, honey, nectar, pollen, wood, etc.

2) CCD is due to total burden on a bee colony.  A collapsing colony would be full of pathogens, though primary cause would be poisons.  Irradiation would reduce mites or pathogens in a chemically infested hive, lowering total burden, without addressing causation.

Still, some environmental substances remain suspicious.  
Chris Mullin, a Pennsylvania State University professor and insect toxicologist, recently sent a set of samples to a federal laboratory in Raleigh, N.C., that will screen for 117 chemicals. Of greatest interest are the "systemic" chemicals that are able to pass through a plant's circulatory system and move to the new leaves or the flowers, where they would come in contact with bees. Is the E.I.S. overseeing any of this?  (E.I.S. is "Epidemic Intelligence Service", otherwise known as the "Medical CIA", according to a source in virologist Peter Duesberg's book "Inventing the AIDS Virus")
One such group of compounds is called neonicotinoids, commonly used pesticides that are used to treat corn and other seeds against pests. NY Times becomes myopic, looking at only one item within the pesticide category.
One of the neonicotinoids, imidacloprid, is commonly used in Europe and the United States to treat seeds, to protect residential foundations against termites and to help keep golf courses and home lawns green. NY Times becomes even more myopic, looking too closely at only one item within the neonicotinoids category of pesticides.
In the late 1990s, French beekeepers reported large losses of their bees and complained about the use of imidacloprid, sold under the brand name Gaucho. The chemical, while not killing the bees outright, was causing them to be disoriented and stay away from their hives, leading them to die of exposure to the cold, French researchers later found. The beekeepers labeled the syndrome "mad bee disease." NY Times becomes much more myopic, looking much too closely at only one item within the imidacloprid category, within the neonicotinoids category of pesticides.
The French government banned the pesticide in 1999 for use on sunflowers, and later for corn, despite protests by the German chemical giant Bayer, which has said its internal research showed the pesticide was not toxic to bees.  
Subsequent studies by independent French researchers have disagreed with Bayer. Alison Chalmers, an eco-toxicologist for Bayer CropScience, said at the meeting today that bee colonies had not recovered in France as beekeepers had expected. "These chemicals are not being used anymore," she said of imidacloprid, "so they certainly were not the only cause." The subcategory, of subcategory, of subcategory of pesticides -- isn't the only cause, and thus we have a mystery.
Among the pesticides being tested in the American bee investigation, the neonicotinoids group "is the number-one suspect," Dr. Mullin said. He hoped results of the toxicology screening will be ready within a month. Wait for technology profiteers and avoid the organic view.

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