Military and Scientists Find New Suspects in Dying Beehives

This is a classic example of “I need to test something to see if my invention works, and you happen to have a problem that needs something coincidentally similar to my new invention.” The “I” in this story is the US Military. The “you” are the many beekeepers across the country that are experiencing “colony collapse disorder”, or CCD. The number of bee colonies in this country have been declining over several years, and beekeepers have been unable to pinpoint a common cause. Scientists have only been able to gather that some form of fungus is to blame. Until now.

“…the Army and the (University of) Montana team, using a new software system developed by the military for analyzing proteins, uncovered a new DNA-based virus, and established a linkage to the fungus, called N. ceranae.”

Well, that’s good news for the beekeepers. They’re starting to get real answers. But what’s the purpose of this new software?

“Our mission is to have detection capability to protect the people in the field from anything biological,” said Charles H. Wick, a microbiologist at Edgewood. Bees, Wick said, proved to be a perfect opportunity to see what the Army’s analytic software tool could do. “We brought it to bear on this bee question, which is how we field-tested it,” he said.

“The Army software system — an advance itself in the growing field of protein research, or proteomics — is designed to test and identify biological agents in circumstances where commanders might have no idea what sort of threat they face. The system searches out the unique proteins in a sample, then identifies a virus or other microscopic life form based on the proteins it is known to contain. The power of that idea in military or bee defense is immense, researchers say, in that it allows them to use what they already know to find something they did not even know they were looking for.”

I would say this is a win-win situation, but since this is helping potentially save the lives of thousands of servicemen and women and maybe even millions of civilians, we dub this as a situation of “win-win-win-win-win-win-win-win…”.

Here is the full read

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