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J Invertebr Pathol. 2010 Nov;105(3):335-40. doi: 10.1016/j.jip.2010.08.004. Epub 2010 Sep 24.

Sudden deaths and colony population decline in Greek honey bee colonies.

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  • 1Institute of Veterinary Research of Athens, National Agricultural Research Foundation, 25 Neapoleos Str., Agia Paraskevi, Greece.


During June and July of 2009, sudden deaths, tremulous movements and population declines of adult honey bees were reported by the beekeepers in the region of Peloponnesus (Mt. Mainalo), Greece. A preliminary study was carried out to investigate these unexplained phenomena in this region. In total, 37 bee samples, two brood frames containing honey bee brood of various ages, eight sugar samples and four sugar patties were collected from the affected colonies. The samples were tested for a range of pests, pathogens and pesticides. Symptomatic adult honey bees tested positive for Varroa destructor, Nosema ceranae, Chronic bee paralysis virus (CBPV), Acute paralysis virus (ABPV), Deformed wing virus (DWV), Sacbrood virus (SBV) and Black queen cell virus (BQCV), but negative for Acarapis woodi. American Foulbrood was absent from the brood samples. Chemical analysis revealed that amitraz, thiametoxan, clothianidin and acetamiprid were all absent from symptomatic adult bees, sugar and sugar patty samples. However, some bee samples, were contaminated with imidacloprid in concentrations between 14 ng/g and 39 ng/g tissue. We present: the infection of Greek honey bees by multiple viruses; the presence of N. ceranae in Greek honey bees and the first record of imidacloprid (neonicotonoid) residues in Greek honey bee tissues. The presence of multiple pathogens and pesticides made it difficult to associate a single specific cause to the depopulation phenomena observed in Greece, although we believe that viruses and N. ceranae synergistically played the most important role. A follow-up in-depth survey across all Greek regions is required to provide context to these preliminary findings.

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