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This subject comes up a lot and I’ve been misquoted a lot. Here is the only thing I’ve actually said on the subject.

After several years of CCD still being out there and a lot of study on microbes in bees and the hive, I have come up with a theory. It is, of course, only a theory and I'm not privy to all the scientists are working on. But it seems to me that they reason they can't find a microbe as the cause or they keep changing their mind as to which microbe is the cause, is because it's not there. And neither are the ones that should be. There are over 8,000 microbes that have been isolated that live in a healthy bee hive and the healthy gut of the bee. Many we know are necessary for the fermentation of the bee bread (pollen, nectar, several bacteria, some yeasts and other fungi). If pollen is not fermented it is not digestible to the bees. Also the bacteria living in the bees’ gut displaces many pathogens. Also keep in mind that this ecology of 8,000 or more microbes live in a balance. Even the pathogens are preventing other pathogens. We know that chalkbrood fungus prevents EFB and stone brood fungus prevents Nosema. There are many such balances in a healthy hive.

So let’s introduce Terramycin in the mix. Beekeepers started using it several decades ago and those microbes have had many years to develop resistance. And while I’m sure Terramycin does disrupt this balance, a new balance was struck.

Now we introduce Tylosin (which is only supposed to be used for TM resistant AFB but is now in wide-spread use and is more powerful more broad spectrum and longer lived) and we move from Fluvalinate and Coumaphos, which are causing no harm to the microbes but cause major problems for the bees and kill off other insects and mites that are part of the ecology, and we start using oxalic and formic acid which does a drastic shift in the pH of the hive and changes what microbes live and what microbes die as well as shocking and killing most microbes off the bat. So now between the Tylosin and the organic acids we have wiped out and restructured the entire ecosystem of microbes and other creatures in the hive. What would you expect as a result? Among other things, I’d expect to find signs of malnutrition because the pollen is now undigestible, in the midst of an abundance of food. I’d expect a serious collapse of the infrastructure of the hive.

So that’s my theory.

Since I wrote this back in 2008, I would like to add that the farmers have in recent years started using a lot of fungicides. There is research to support that the fungicides are killing off the yeast that is involved in the fermentation of pollen which is necessary to make bee bread. This may be a significant factor as well.

Michael Bush

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Copyright 2008 by Michael Bush

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