Honeybees are largely in winter dormancy now, huddled around their queen, but Washington is finally abuzz with talk of helping apiaries hit with a mysterious plague called colony collapse disorder. Included in the long-debated farm bill now moving toward the president's desk for signature is nearly $20 million to study and fix the disease, for which there is no main cause. What's more, there's an additional $4 million study program that's attracting major names in the virus world and even Army scientists who probed the 2001 anthrax scare. Then there's this proposal from Colorado bee man Tom Theobald, who, like many beekeepers, thinks pesticides are the cause. He wants to force pesticide makers to create a fund to pay for damage caused by pesticide use, an initiative the industry wants to sting.
By Paul Bedard