Imported Bees Not Source of Virus Associated with
Colony Collapse Disorder By
Kim Kaplan November 19, 2007
BELTSVILLE, Md., Nov. 19Scientists from the
U.S. Department of Agriculture's
Agricultural Research Service (ARS) have
found that the Israeli acute paralysis virus (IAPV), a virus recently shown to
be associated with Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) of honey bees, has been in
the United States since at least 2002, according to a note published in the
American Bee Journal.
(Judy) Chen and
Evans, both with the ARS
Research Laboratory here, conducted a detailed genetic screening of several
hundred honey bees that had been collected between 2002 and 2007 from colonies
in Maryland, Pennsylvania, California and Israel.
"Our study shows that, without question, IAPV has been in this country
since at least 2002," said Chen. "This work challenges the idea that IAPV is a
recent introduction from Australia."
Evans added, "Our study in no way rules IAPV out as a factor in CCD.
We have always believed that CCD is a complex issue likely involving multiple
elements. Research by several groups will now focus on understanding
differences in virulence across strains of IAPV and on interactions with other
IAPV showed a high degree of genetic diversity in the U.S., with
distinct lineages in California, Maryland and Pennsylvania. The virus was found
to be substantially different from the well-studied Kashmir Bee Virus.
IAPV, first described in Israel in 2002, came to national and
international attention in September when university and ARS scientists showed
a strong association between the presence of IAPV and CCD.
That first study also found IAPV in honey bees from Australia that had
been imported into the United States, as well as in royal jelly imported from
China. Australian bees began to be imported from Australia into the United
States in 2005. Questions were raised about a connection between those imported
bees and the appearance of IAPV in the United States. Beekeepers have sought
out Australian imports of bees to replenish their hive populations.
ARS has begun several experiments to determine what factors may be
most involved in CCD. Combinations of four areas are being examined: pathogens,
parasites, environmental stresses, and bee management stresses such as poor
CCD became a matter of concern in the winter of 2006-2007 when some
beekeepers began reporting losses of 30 to 90 percent of their hives. While
colony losses are not unexpected during winter weather, the magnitude and
rapidity of loss suffered by some beekeepers was highly unusual.
The defining trait of CCD is a low number of adult honey bees present
with few signs of dead honey bees in the hive. Often there is still honey in
the hive and immature bees (brood) are present, indicating recent brood
Pollination is a critical element in agriculture, since honey bees
pollinate more than 130 crops in the United States and add $15 billion in crop
value annually. There were enough honey bees to provide pollination for U.S.
agriculture this year, but beekeepers could face a serious problem next year
and beyond if CCD becomes more widespread and no treatment is developed.
More information about CCD can be found at