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Honeybee CSI: Why dead bodies can’t be found

Virus could explain one symptom of colony collapse

There’s bad news for diehards still arguing that honeybees are getting abducted by aliens.

Beehives across North America continue to lose their workers for reasons not yet understood, a phenomenon called colony collapse disorder. But new tests suggest how a virus nicknamed IAPV might be to blame for one of the more puzzling aspects of the disorder—the impression that substantial numbers of bees vanish into thin air.
In tests on hives in a greenhouse, bees infected with IAPV (short for Israeli acute paralytic virus) rarely died in the hive. Sick bees expired throughout the greenhouse, including near the greenhouse wall, Diana Cox-Foster of Pennsylvania State University in University Park reported November 18 in Reno, Nev., at the annual meeting of the Entomological Society of America.

Outdoors, the bees could scatter across the landscape where the occasional dead insect wouldn’t be easily noticed before scavengers found it.

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