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Colony Collapse Disorder Still a Major Concern in New Zealand

August 06, 2015

Bee Colony Collapse

Population Declines Increase Concerns About CCD

Additional honeybee colony losses and population declines in Waikato and on the Coromandel during the fall and winter months are causing scientists to respond, according to a recent article posted on NZFarmer.co.nz. The symptoms associated with these losses are consistent with a phenomenon known as Colony Collapse Disorder or CCD, which is responsible for the decimation of honeybee colonies in Europe and North America. These reports are raising additional fears around bee colony losses.

Beekeepers on the western portion of the Coromandel have reported unexplained disappearances of thousands of honeybee colonies last spring that resulted in production losses estimated between 40 and 65 percent. The central region of North Island in New Zealand, Raglan region and area of Wairarapa have report similar losses to local honey bee colonies. “That doesn't mean it's the same cause, but the outward expression of it ticks all the boxes of colony collapse disorder," said Dr. Mark Goodwin.

Goodwin (the head of Plant and Food Research’s bee unit), one of New Zealand’s leading scientists on crop pollination and honey bees states the clinical symptoms of the recent losses are consistent with those of Colony Collapse Disorder. Although Colony Collapse Disorder have never been positive identified in the country, the similarities leave little room for error. “The symptoms look very similar, bearing in mind that the cause of these bee losses may be something completely different."

"We are getting reports that colonies are dying already and we're nowhere near spring," Goodwin said. "Reports are coming from the same area of the Coromandel affected by colony collapses last spring and further afield in the Waikato. We had hoped [losses] would be just confined to spring but in the autumn Coromandel people were reporting colonies dying from the same symptoms as last spring." Goodwin was en route to Coromandel last week to check the hives at the center point of the last outbreak.

Goodwin, and the molecular biologist that traveled with him, were looking for hives that have shown high levels of Lotmaria and Nosema Ceranae, two pathogens that were recently discovered that attack the gut of honeybees and lead to their death. Scientists believe that CCD is caused by a combination of factors included these two pathogens, other diseases, environmental factors, and parasite that attack the honeybee colonies. However, they believe these pathogens may not cause immediate death but may weaken the bees and makes them susceptible.

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