Friday, May 18, 2007

Many thanks to the Pet Connection site for raising this matter:
The phenomenon of 'Colony Collapse Disorder' (see also and ) is a phenomenon initially involving North American honey bees but now also reported in Europe and South America. The original name was 'Vanishing Bee Syndrome', and a steady decline through the last few decades accelerated late last year. The cause has been disputed, and anything from pathogens, environmental stress(weather), GM crops (containing BTH genes), pesticides and even cell phone emissions(cough,cough) have been proposed. The interesting thing is that only some commercial beekeepers have been affected. Feral bees and organic bee keepers are unaffected. To say the least the cause is controversial. Some of the toxic chemicals that have been implicated include some fertilizers.
In today's edition of the Pittsburgh Tribune Review author Karen Roebuck reports that the Department of Agriculture's Bee Research Laboratory and the FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine are engaged in investigating the possibility that some commercial bee-feeds made from such things as brewers yeast and soy flour might be contaminated by melamine. Various commercial diets are being fed to groups of bees to access the results and commercial bee feeds are being assayed for melamine. About 1/3rd of US agricultural production is dependent on bees for pollination.
In Molly's opinion this is a "long shot", but its definitely worth looking into. Studies of the effect of melamine on honey bee reproduction should also be done as simple toxicity studies may not give the whole picture.

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