Those of you keeping track know that the disappearing honeybee saga has become almost a fixation for us here at TreeHugger. You may recall that a team of scientists had pinpointed IAPV (Israeli Acute Paralysis Virus) as the likely culprit for the unprecedented number of disappearances - a virus they believed had originated in Australia.
A new genetic analysis has revealed that the virus has, in fact, been present in the U.S. since at least 2001. Yanping Chen and Jay Evans, both of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Bee Research Laboratory, studied samples from commercial beekeepers collected between 2001 and 2004 in Maryland - in addition to several collected from California, Pennsylvania and Israel. The virus showed up in samples dating as far back as 2002.Noting a slight variation in a highly conserved RNA region among bees from the West and East Coast, Evans concluded the virus had most likely been here even longer. He believes IAPV may still play a role in the disease; the Australian variety might simply be more virulent than the U.S. ones.
Other scientists still aren't convinced IAPV played a role in the honeybees' mass disappearances. No solid evidence has yet conclusively linked colony collapse disorder (CCD) to the virus, they stress. "Until you have introduced the virus and caused disease, you're just postulating. The conclusive data are not in," said Bruce Webb, an entomologist at the University of Kentucky.
Via ::ScienceNOW: Disappearing Bee Mystery Deepens (news website)
Image courtesy of susanad813 via flickr