More on the phage in the New York Times. I have to apologize to the beekeepers out there. I think I treated the whole thing a little lightly. Honestly, it’s starting to sound a little creepy.
Usually, when a hive dies off, they do so gradually, in the hive, consuming the last of their stores before they slowly succumb and fall in a pile together. Not so with Colony Collapse Disorder.
Imagine David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson striding towards the hive, a hard rain catching the light from the flashlight wedged between Mulder’s head and shoulder. Scully sweeps the bee yard for clues as Mulder drives the hive tool between the cover and hive body, pries hard and, with a squeal and a wrenching crack, the top comes off.
“Scully, come look at this!”
“Nothing, there’s nothing in here. NOTHING!”
Cue the music and cut to commercial.
According to the Times, “there are no tell-tale bodies either inside colonies or out in front of hives, where bees typically deposit corpses of dead nestmates. What’s more, the afflicted colonies tend to be full of honey, pollen and larvae, as if all of the workers in the nest precipitously decamped on some prearranged signal.”
Gone, without a trace! The Times offers up a host of possibilities: “severe stress brought on by crowding, inadequate nutrition or even the combined effects of prophylactic antibiotics and miticides sprayed by beekeepers to ward off infections…Another, particularly sad, possibility is that accidental exposure to a new pesticide may…interfere with the ability of honeybees to orient and navigate; brain-damaged foraging bees may simply get lost on their way home and starve to death away from the hive.”
Brain-damaged bees, stumbling and collapsing, lost and far from home. Sad. But at least they haven’t been led, pied piper-style, to a netherworld by alien zombie superbees!
Or have they?