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Häagen-Dazs battles honeybee Colony Collapse Disorder

Funds research into apiarian apocalypse

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Ice cream manufacturer Häagen-Dazs is stumping up a $250,000 research grant to university researchers in California and Pennsylvania to probe the cause of "Colony Collapse Disorder" (CCD) - the unexplained sudden disappearance of millions of honeybees which has affected hives around the world since 2006.

As we reported last year, the symptoms of CCD are normally evident between late summer and early spring. In the US, colonies were hit as older bees died, "leaving behind the queen and young workers not yet ready to forage for pollen and nectar and insufficient in number to maintain the colony".

Quite what causes this is uncertain. Scientists have suggested a range of possible factors, from "harmful pesticides and increased solar radiation through ozone thinning, to falling queen fertility and use of unauthorised bee treatments", while US researchers last April fingered the single-celled fungus Nosema ceranae as a possible culprit.

Whatever the cause, the implications are serious, since honeybees are essential to the pollination of food crops. Katti Pien of Häagen-Dazs said "almost 40 per cent of the brand's flavours were dependent on bee pollination and could be threatened by CCD".

The Financial Times adds that bees "pollinate ingredients in about a third of the food consumed in the US".

Pien concluded: "Ice cream is a small part of it. The bigger issue is the food supply for the whole country." ®

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