It looks like the cell phones might be innocent.
LA Times reports:
>>A fungus, a single-celled parasite called Nosema ceranae, that caused widespread loss of bee colonies in Europe and Asia may be playing a crucial role in the mysterious phenomenon known as Colony Collapse Disorder that is wiping out bees across the United States. But the results are "highly preliminary" and are from only a few hives from Le Grand in Merced County, UCSF biochemist Joe DeRisi said. "We don't want to give anybody the impression that this thing has been solved."
Historically, bee losses are not unusual. Weather, pesticide exposures and infestations by pests, such as the Varroa mite, have wiped out significant numbers of colonies in the past, particularly in the 1960s and 1970s.
But the current loss appears unprecedented. Beekeepers in 28 states, Canada and Britain have reported large losses. About a quarter of the estimated 2.4 million commercial colonies across the United States have been lost since fall, said Jerry Hayes of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services in Gainesville.
Besides producing honey, commercial beehives are used to pollinate a third of the country's agricultural crops, including apples, peaches, pears, nectarines, cherries, strawberries and pumpkins. Ninety percent of California's almond crop is dependent on bees, and a loss of commercial hives could be devastating.
"For the most part, they just disappeared," said Florida beekeeper Dave Hackenberg, who was among the first to note the losses. "The boxes were full of honey. That was the mysterious thing. Usually other bees will rob those hives out. But nothing had happened."
If N. ceranae does play a role in Colony Collapse Disorder, there may be some hope for beekeepers. A closely related parasite called Nosema apis, which also affects bees, can be controlled by the antibiotic fumagillin, and there is some evidence that it will work on N. ceranae as well.<<