I have no idea how 'authentic' this is, but it might raise some questions about the routine use of antibiotics by many beekeepers (probably nearly all commercial beekeepers) as a prophylactic treatment for nosema.
To see this story with its related links on the Guardian Unlimited site, go to http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2007/sep/12/spain
Spanish scientists accuse Asian parasite of beehive genocide
Giles Tremlett in Madrid
Wednesday September 12 2007
Scientists in Spain believe they have found the killer parasite that is responsible for wiping out bee colonies from California to Cannes.
The assassin, they believe, is Nosema ceranae, an Asian parasite which has worked its way into hives across Europe and America, wreaking terrible damage on the bees' internal organs.
It is a close cousin of Nosema apis, which has lived in relative harmony with bees in Europe and elsewhere for centuries. However, the new variety of Nosema is hardier than the old one, and so continues to thrive under harsh weather conditions. "It does not care whether it rains or whether it is more or less hot," said researcher Mariano Higes. It also spreads easily and rapidly.
The scientists at the Regional Apiculture Centre in Marchamalo, near the central Spanish city of Guadalajara, said the discovery opened the way to discovering ways of controlling and eradicating the pest.
Mr Higes said that a wave of what is known as colony collapse disorder, which has wiped out hives across two continents, may also be due to other factors, but that Nosema was a key cause. "We think that Nosema ceranae could do it alone," he said.
The results of the Spanish research, carried out on samples from Germany, Spain, Switzerland and France, are due to be published in the next edition of the journal Invertebrate Microbiology.
The team has also been studying samples sent from the US, where colony collapse disorder has hit 35 states and affected up to 875,000 out of 2.4 million hives. The disorder, which has also wiped out bees in Canada, Brazil, India and Europe, kills up to 90% of bees in each hive.
A significant collapse in the worldwide bee population could threaten food supplies as bees pollinate 90 crops around the world.
Scientists in the US have previously suggested that Nosema ceranae might be to blame, but the Spanish researchers insist that their work provides harder evidence. In particular, Mr Higes said he believed that theories blaming pesticides were being exaggerated.
Wilder theories in the US have blamed everything from an al-Qaida plot to mobile phones.
In Britain, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), has insisted that recent bee losses are not a sign of colony collapse disorder but the work of the varroa mite, which eats bees and their larvae.
Copyright Guardian Newspapers Limited 2007