Guest Editorial: Endemic or epidemic? Sense & nonsense in bee hygiene

publication date: Aug 6, 2010
Send a summary of this page to someone via email.

Bee World Vol.74 (1) 1993 pp.57-60
Article Title

Guest Editorial: Endemic or epidemic? Sense & nonsense in bee hygiene


Leonard A F Heath


The first animal disease proved to be caused by a micro-organism was an insect disease - muscardine of silkworms. Agostino Bassi showed this to be due to the fungus we now call Metarrhizium anisopliae in 1836 - some years before Robert Koch showed anthrax in humans was due to infection with the bacterium Bacillus anthracis. Bassi also showed that muscardine was contagious and controllable, thus anticipating the ideas of Jakob Henle and Louis Pasteur in the middle of the nineteenth century, when they separately developed aspects of what came to be called 'the germ theory of disease'. Before this period, disease had been thought to be due to Acts of God, phases of the moon, or miasmas from rivers and marshes; indicating a passive acceptance of disease almost unimaginable today. With the work of Robert Koch on a whole range of human diseases however, the turn of the century saw opinion swing around until all diseases were thought to be due to 'germs', and the search was started for magic bullets - chemicals that would kill the pathogens but not their hosts. In addition, the ancient Hebrew idea of isolation (then for 40 days hence 'quarantine') was resurrected and developed to help to control the spread of epidemic disease. Unfortunately, this is where ideas about disease in most of the beekeeping world seem to have remained - based on quarantine and chemotherapy to combat epidemics

Keywordsbee hygiene, disease, quarantine, beekeeping
DownloadFree to Subscribers