[The following is an exact transcript of this podcast.]
A big clue about what’s behind the disappearing honeybees, also known as colony collapse disorder, or CCD: May Berenbaum’s team at the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign found that bees’ ribosomes were torn up.
“The ribosomes make the proteins that allow bees to respond to pesticides, to respond to diseases, to respond to poor nutrition. So the ribosomal fragments that we were finding explain a lot of things, explains among other things the observation that CCD seems to be caused by everything. And in fact it very well might be that once the ribosomes cease functioning properly, then anything can cause bees to go under.”
A possible cause is multiple viral infections. “So the bee apparently has the capacity to deal with one or two of these, but multiple viral infections, basically the whole system breaks down.” The finding, in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, doesn’t pinpoint a cause or cure for CCD. But “we now have an explanation for what went wrong.”