Virus Causes Buzz in Bee Caper

Breakthrough may help explain billions of apian deaths
By Zach Samalin,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 6, 2007 8:48 PM CDT

(Newser) – The mysterious deaths of billions of honeybees now has a new leading suspect, scientists say: a newcomer to the US called Israeli acute paralysis virus. And as most stricken colonies test positive for the disease, the lead seems promising, the AP reports. The deaths have hit between 50% and 90% of all commercial American hives, potentially affecting some 90 crops pollinated by bees.

"It's certainly more than a smoking gun," one entomologist says. But most don't seem to think the virus is acting alone: Other possible culprits include pesticides, nutrition, parasites, and travel. Fingers are pointing at Australia as the disease's potential source–America started importing bees from Down Under in 2004, when the disease first broke out.