What Causes American Foul Brood (Colony Collapse Disorder)
Globally, there is a sharp decline in beehives due to colony collapse disorder. People are stumped as to what causes this. Below is my theory (on Li.st simply because the Ag departments of universities are more concerned with my education history (none) than actually evaluating the validity of the below theory) on it's cause
- •American foul brood or Colony Collapse Disorder is characterized by a bacterial infection that wipes out the entire large population of a hive but leaving the adult honeybees (nurse bees, foragers, the queen, and the male drones) unscathed. The Bacteria causing this devastation varies from hive to hive.This problem has been around since written records have been kept about beekeeping. However at present we have seen an epidemic. It wasn't very common even up into the 1700s (about 1 out every 80 hives were affected). But when the honeybee's were brought to America in the early 1700s, incidents rose (affecting 1 out of 50 hives). In the 1930s the incidents rose to 1 out of 30. Today we lose 1 out of 10 hives to Colony Collapse Disorder.
- •The immune system of a honeybee is very simple (and necessary to describe if Colony Collapse Disorder is to be understood).Unlike our bodies that rely on a complex multi tiered system of variable viscosity lymph fluids, white blood cells, and temperature fluctuations to eradicate bacterial infection, the honeybee's immune system is predominantly a basket-like tube, resembling Chinese hand cuffs, called the epthylium. This epthylium is make out of a substance (this is important) called "chitin". Chitin is what the shells of cockroaches and other brown insects are made out of.
- •A honeybee's epithelium's job is to filter out bacteria. The larger the spaces in the "basket weave" of the epithelium, the easier for Bacteria to invade the honeybee and multiplyNow remember: 1)The epithelium is made of chitin and 2) The larger the spaces in the formation of this chitin based epithelium the greater chance of infection by bacterial contact
- •Now we have to change the subject for a second. There is a naturally occurring enzyme that breaks down chitin. It is used by various fungi (cordiceps being an example), whose spores burrow into the shells of ants to sprout its fruiting body out of the ant, killing it in the process. This enzyme is called "Chitinase".Chitinase breaks down chitin through simple contact. That is its job.
- •In an effort to avoid synthetic pesticides for fruit and nut trees postulating these insect deterrents were harmful to other forms of life (especially humans and honeybees), natural pesticides were explored. One substance showed real promise. Chitinase.In theory Chitinase is the perfect pesticide. It is harmless to all mammals including humans, it destroys all shelled insects on contact, and presumably was harmless to honeybees in numerous tests on adult fielder bees.
- •Chitinase is regularly sprayed on flowering fruit and nut trees right through the pollination work being carried out by the bees. These bees collect pollen from these blooms contaminated with Chitinase.The Chitinase laced pollen is then brought back to the hive, mixed with honey and fed to the bee larvae (called "brood"). These larvae are yet to develop their epitheliums. Being fed Chitinase through this developing tube made out of chitin leads to a deformed epithelium and consequently a deformed and deficient immune system.
- •Before the modern advent of spraying concentrated Chitinase directly onto crops being pollinated by honeybees, a small amount of Chitinase enzyme would, centuries before, invariably be introduced, albeit rarely, into hives from naturally occurring fungal spores riding the wind currents (this is how most Chitinase producing fungi reproduce).Once European Beekeepers brought their hives over to America, their hives were introduced to a whole new ecosystem of fungal spores. American Foul Brood Disorder was aptly named. Holding steady at a somewhat predictable rate, hives in America only began to increase in collapse rate curiously with the adoption of gas-powered trucks. Now hives were being transported through sometimes 10 fungal zones in a single year! Chitinase producing spores would have a greater chance of entering a hive.
- •In conclusion, I believe that in order to save the honeybees, the immediate cessation of all Chitinase containing material in all pest control solutions is most necessary and vital until further in-depth study of this possible causation of American Foul Brood or Colony Collapse Disorder be verified or debunked.