Researchers Turn to Military Technology to Address Bee Die-Off

Published December 21, 2007

(Chicago, Illinois – December 21, 2007) As an unknown disease or parasite continues to ravage bee colonies around the country, commercial beekeepers are receptive to the unconventional use of military technology to combat Colony Collapse Disorder.

The following statement is from James M. Taylor, senior fellow for environment policy for The Heartland Institute You may quote from this statement or contact Taylor directly at 941/776-5690, email [email protected], for further comment.

“Scientists attempting to solve Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), which has ravaged honey bee colonies around the globe, are turning to the latest military technology in an attempt to solve the riddle of dying bees. Researchers are in the final stages of procuring an integrated virus detection system that the U.S. Army uses to detect biological and chemical attacks.

“Researchers hope the highly sensitive detection system will determine whether any viruses, which are a prime suspect in CCD, are responsible for CCD. The decision to address CCD through sound science is a welcome break from environmental activist groups’ attempt to use witch-hunt tactics to blame cell phones and beneficial pesticides for CCD.

“CCD has befuddled scientists for more than a year, as the culprits in somewhat similar die-offs in recent decades appear to be only partially responsible, at most, for the current die-off. Parasitic mites have attacked bee colonies for decades, and caused massive bee die-offs in 1995-96 and 2000-01. Scientists have found signs of mite damage in about 75 percent of affected colonies, but have been unable to find signs of any known bee threat in the remaining 25 percent.

“Environmental activists initially pointed the finger at radio waves from cell phones, generating substantial media coverage regarding the alleged cell phone menace. Scientists, however, researched the allegations and definitively ruled out cell phones as a factor in CCD.

“Now, environmental activists are pointing the finger at pesticides, alleging the pesticides that have kept mites in check during recent years could have sufficiently accumulated in bee hives to damage the bees they are designed to protect. However, scientists have not found any evidence to support the theory.

“Targeted pesticide use has been essential in keeping potentially devastating mite assaults in check. Without responsible pesticide use, honey bees would be defenseless against the mites that have ravaged bee colonies in the past.

“Given the environmental activists’ poor record of accurately identifying causes of honey bee die-off, it is essential for the health of honey bees that scientists continue to utilize sound science rather than witch-hunt tactics in finding the cause and solution to Colony Collapse Disorder. Taking away honey bees’ best defense against the mites that have ravaged bee colonies in years past is counterproductive to ongoing honey bee health.”

For more information about The Heartland Institute, please contact Harriette Johnson, media relations manager, at 312/377-4000, email [email protected].