You’ve probably seen stories about the collapse of the honey bee colonies in the United States over the past few years. Somewhere between 20 and 40 per cent have disappeared and scientists have been frantically trying to discover why since thriving bee colonies are vital to agriculture.
Experts theorized about causes… pesticides, perhaps? But according to The New York Times, there’s finally been a breakthrough. Military scientists teamed up with entomologists and they’ve identified two causes — a virus and a fungus “tag-team.”
It’s not known exactly how this tag-team combination kills the bees — they’re working on it — but just how the military and academia joined forces to make this discovery is an interesting story:
Liaisons between the military and academia are nothing new, of course. WorldWar II, perhaps the most profound example, ended in an atomic strike on Japan in 1945 largely on the shoulders of scientist-soldiers in the Manhattan Project.
And a group of scientists led by Jerry Bromenshenk of the University of Montana in Missoula has researched bee-related applications for the military in the past — developing, for example, a way to use honeybees in detecting land mines.
But researchers on both sides say that colony collapse may be the first time that the defense machinery of the post-Sept. 11 Homeland Security Department and academia have teamed up to address a problem that both sides say they might never have solved on their own.
Read the whole story here.