It started in fall 2006 in Florida when the 50,000 or so bees in a normal beehive disappeared, almost overnight, from hundreds, then later thousands of hives. Usually there's evidence of bee kills from pesticides, starvation or blood-sucking varroa mites. But not with Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). It was a mystery.
"Colony Collapse Disorder" the term for this inexplicable event, the nation's most serious die-off of honeybee colonies has these main symptoms: A hive suddenly will be missing all or nearly all of its adult honeybees, except for a live queen. Look around, and there are no dead bees at the entrances or in the hive. Usually there's still honey in the hive. Common hive pests, such as wax moths, avoid the hive for quite a while instead of descending immediately.
Implications are huge. About one mouthful out of three in your diet directly or indirectly benefits from pollination by honeybees, according to the federal agriculture department. If you like almonds, then you like honeybees - they do the hard work of pollinating almonds (which requires half of the nation's honeybees), more than 100 food crops, and countless flowering plants.
No one knows why the bees are disappearing.
A host of ideas have been put forward and discarded as totally wrong-headed (cell phones); incidental (a new bee disease from Europe); or just contributory (varroa mites, again). Researchers are investigating various potential causes, including chemical residue/contamination in bees, wax and their food stores, and lack of genetic diversity of bees. Maybe the problem is poor nutrition -- due to apiary overcrowding, pollinating crops with poor nutritional value, or scarce nectar and pollen.
For More info:
* What you can do to help bees, plus basic CCD facts: www.ars.usda.gov/News/docs.htm?docid=15572
* Find links to a podcast, congressional testimony, reports and more: www.oardc.ohio-state.edu/agnic/bee/ccd.htm
* One expert's congressional testimony: tinyurl.com/3b4wxs
* Is it all about chemicals? See: www.pccnaturalmarkets.com/sc/0710/sc0710-bees.html
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