This is the VOA Special English Agriculture Report.
collapse disorder first struck honey bees in the United States in late two
thousand six. Over the next two years, beekeepers lost more than one-third of
their honey bees.
in the United States and other countries have been working to explain the
mysterious disappearances of bees. Now, a new study suggests that several
viruses may act together.
Scientists from the University of Illinois and the
United States Department of Agriculture did the study. Their report appeared in
the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
team compared bees from affected colonies with those from healthy colonies. They were looking for differences in gene
expression in the guts of the bees.
scientists found that the affected bees had a number of viruses from a group
called picorna-like viruses. The infections observed in the bees included Israeli
acute paralysis virus and deformed wing virus.
Tiny insects likely play a big
part in spreading the viruses. Varroa mites have been causing serious problems
in bee colonies in the United States since the late nineteen eighties. These mites
carry picorna-like viruses.
viruses appear to harm the bees' ability to use their genetic material to
produce proteins needed to fight infections. Researcher Reed Johnson, now at
the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, says the study suggests that the damaged
proteins are unable to respond effectively when attacked.
University of Illinois Professor May Berenbaum says it
appears that bees could deal with one or two viruses at the same time, but not
three or four.
says the picorna-like viruses "hijack" the ribosome in cells.
Ribosomes are structures in which proteins are made. As a result the ribosome
produces only viral proteins.
The professor says ribosome is central
to the survival of any organism. If it is compromised, then the bees could not defend
themselves against pesticides or fungal infections or bacteria or poor
These have all been identified as
possible causes of the collapse disorder. Spanish researchers, for example,
recently said they suspected a parasitic fungus which has been found among
affected bees in Spain.
Bees add billions of dollars in value to many crops
worldwide. For now, beekeepers have been doing their best to try to protect
that's the VOA Special English Agriculture Report, written by Jerilyn Watson. I'm