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Friday, September 26, 2008

Bees: Has Israel Found A Cure For Colony Collapse Disorder?

(Image Credit: Jon Sullivan)

If there was one insect that was considered vital to the human race, it would have to be bees. While they are often known for their tasty bee spit (also known as honey ), this tiny creature is responsible for pollinating about 25% of our food supply.

Unfortunately it seems as if bee colonies are slowly disappearing, an event scientists are calling Colony Collapse Disorder (or CCD). Although many scientists have different conclusions as to what is causing this phenomenon, a small group of scientists from Beeologics thinks that a virus is to blame.

(Israel 21st Century) At Beeologics, scientists are convinced that IAPV is the primary cause of CCD. "If you look how the disease spreads, it's very reminiscent of flu. Flu also starts in the fall and hits hard in the winter, the same is true of this bee virus," explains Paldi. "It's very contagious like a flu. In our opinion, we have something that's interacting very strongly with the environment to cause CCD. It could be interacting with pesticides, with improper nutrition, general stress - but that's not what's killing the bees. What's killing them is a virus and we believe that virus is IAPV." [...]

Beeologics' solution, Remebee, utilizes a mechanism called RNA interference (RNAi, also known as gene silencing) a mechanism that inhibits or hinders gene expression. "The technology is based on naturally occurring biological agents. Conceptually, we're introducing the factor that prompts the silencing response," Paldi tells ISRAEL21c. "We didn't invent gene silencing. However, as far as we know we are among the first to use it commercially on non-humans."

According to the company, the patent-pending Remebee provides protection from IAPV and other bee viruses. The technology is potentially applicable to all bee viruses, precludes the possibility of virus breaking resistance, is non-toxic and leaves no residues in either honeybees or their honey.

Hopefully Beeologics vaccine is the solution to CCD, as the last thing we need is food prices (especially apples and oranges) to skyrocket due to lack of supply.

While other scientist around the world pursue other paths to find out what is causing CCD (and to eventually cure it), its good to see Israeli scientists helping to cross out one potential cause of CCD off the list--if not curing these bees entirely (note: assuming the virus is the cause in the first place).

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