Scientists in Spain isolated a parasitic fungus as the cause of “colony collapse disorder” in some honeybee hives, and were able to treat the affected colonies successfully with anti-fungals. That’s good news for the human race, since we depend on bees to pollinate a wide variety of food crops.
It’s too early to say “case closed” on the honeybee die-offs. In all likelihood more than one factor has contributed to colony collapse disorder. Devilstower laid out seven possibilities in this diary.
Several European countries have banned the use of neonicotinoid pesticides in order to protect honeybees. Beyond Pesticides and Pesticide Action Network North America sent an open letter to President Barack Obama earlier this year calling for more regulation of pesticides, putting a high priority on protecting bees and other pollinators.
To my knowledge, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack has not taken any steps in this direction–that is, I have been unable to find any reports on new USDA plans to fund research regarding pesticides and pollinators. The Bush USDA refused to halt or even thoroughly study the use of neonicotinoid pesticides.
I did find out that the “USDA will be providing two types of parasite-resistant honey bees developed by USDA scientists” to pollinate plants in the organic White House garden.
On a related note, the “people’s garden” that Vilsack ordered to be planted by the USDA headquarters is shaping up nicely. Well done, Mr. Secretary!