Bee Colony Collapse Disorder - Where is it Heading?

Here is an update to the brief bee story we did a few weeks ago. I've been keeping an eye on the Colony Collapse Disorder phenomenon that is causing a lot of furrowed brows in the U.S., as this may well become the biggest issue of 2007.

Things are getting dire on the U.S. agricultural front, and there are similar reports beginning to filter through from countries in Europe.


Disappearing by the billions, on a
worker strike we do not know
how to negotiate

The sad mystery surrounding the humble honeybee - which is a vital component in $14bn-worth of US agriculture - is beginning to worry even the highest strata of the political class in Washington.

"Hillary Clinton's got interested in this in the last week or so," said David Hackenberg, the beekeeper leading the drive to publicise their plight.

"And she's not alone," he said. "There's a lot of Congressmen have called...wanting to know what's going on. It's serious. - BBC

There's still no concrete evidence about what is killing the millions and billions of bees around the country, but there are a lot of guesses.

The phenomenon is recent, dating back to autumn, when beekeepers along the east coast of the US started to notice the die-offs. It was given the name of fall dwindle disease, but now it has been renamed to reflect better its dramatic nature, and is known as colony collapse disorder.

It is swift in its effect. Over the course of a week the majority of the bees in an affected colony will flee the hive and disappear, going off to die elsewhere. The few remaining insects are then found to be enormously diseased - they have a "tremendous pathogen load", the scientists say. But why? No one yet knows.

... The disease showed a completely new set of symptoms, "which does not seem to match anything in the literature", said the entomologist.

... the few bees left inside the hive were carrying "a tremendous number of pathogens" - virtually every known bee virus could be detected in the insects, she said, and some bees were carrying five or six viruses at a time, as well as fungal infections. Because of this it was assumed that the bees' immune systems were being suppressed in some way. - The Independent

There are as many theories as there are members of the panel, but Mr Hackenberg strongly suspects that new breeds of nicotine-based pesticides are to blame.

"It may be that the honeybee has become the victim of these insecticides that are meant for other pests," he said. "If we don't figure this out real quick, it's going to wipe out our food supply."

Just a few miles down the sunlit road, it is easy to find farmers prepared to agree with his gloomy assessment.

... Dennis van Engelsdorp, a Pennsylvania-based beekeeper and leading researcher... is adamant that it is too early to pin the blame on insecticides."We have no evidence to think that that theory is more right than any other..." - BBC

Urban sprawl and farming also have taken away fields of clover and wildflowers, as well as nesting trees.

Pesticides and herbicides used in farming and on suburban lawns can weaken or kill bees.

Caron said a new class of pesticides used on plants, called neonicotinoids, don’t kill bees but hamper their sense of direction. That leaves them unable to find their way back to their hives.

... Because these bees aren’t returning to their hives, researchers don’t have a lot of evidence to study.

Those dead bees that have been found nearby have only deepened the mystery.

"They are just dirty with parts and pieces of various diseases," said Jim Tew, a beekeeping expert with the OSU Extension campus in Wooster. "It looks like a general stress collapse."

Similar disappearances have occurred over time. Tew said he remembers a similar phenomenon in the 1960s. Then, it was called "disappearing disease."

"It was exactly the same thing," he said.

But this one, Caron said, apparently causes hives to collapse at a much quicker rate and is more widespread.

Cobey said it could be from too much of everything: bad weather, chemicals, parasites, viruses.

"If you give them one of these things at a time, they seem to deal with it," she said. "But all of these things, it’s too hard.

"I think the bees are just compromised. They’re stressed out." - Columbus Dispatch

Whatever the cause, some farmers are getting desperate, to the point of not bothering to plant their crops.

"The squash crops that we grow have a male and female bloom, and the bee has to visit...to make it pollinate and produce," he said.

"We're going to have a hard time finding rental bees to aid in this pollination and if it's as critical as it looks like it will be, I probably won't even plant anything this spring." - BBC

Huge monocrop farming systems and specialisations, and the spread of suburbia across natural habitat, are removing natural diversity. Bees have been lumped together in the millions, in a factory farm type environment not so unlike that of our chickens and other livestock animals. Many of these bees are transported across several states to perform pollinations in orchards and farms around the country. Today they are in contact with substances they shouldn't have to deal with - pesticides, herbicides, antibiotics, and pollen from genetically modified crops. Researchers are scrambling to find answers, and as the spring season is upon us, time is running out.

Honey bees, which are not native to the U.S. incidentally (they were imported for crop pollination), are tasked with the pollination of approximately one third of all U.S. crops.

... scientists are very worried, not least because, as there is no obvious cause for the disease as yet, there is no way of tackling it. - The Independent

If some of our readers have more light to shed on this topic, please send it through.

 

Update I: European Bees also taking Nosedive - Perhaps GM Crops?
Update II: Colony Collapse Disorder - a Moment for Reflection?

Further Reading:

 

24 comments

If you see any unhelpful comments, please let us know immediately.

cathy (anonymous)

freaky

Written in August 2008

Clifford Bruce from cody wyoming (anonymous)

i am looking into a patent on an idea on a bee box to solve the probem with the bees an the mites im hurrying but its very time consuming and i know it will work i hope it will go through soon

Written in August 2008

clifford bruce (anonymous)

it is a money thing right now and as soon as it pans out we will get this box buit asap

Written in August 2008

Gary (anonymous)

The bees are being killed off intentionally by the companies making the GM crops in order to force the world to buy their seeds. Once the natural order of plant reproduction has been destroyed, the world would have no choice.

GREED. We are in a financial crisis now because of greed, the next one will be a food crisis because of greed.

Written in September 2008

austin christianson (anonymous)

this is soooo wrong

Written in October 2008

will (anonymous)

There is a new product called Bee protect from industrial nanotech that may help solve this crisis check link for more info
http://www.nansulate.com/protectbees.htm

Written in November 2008

P Revere (anonymous)

Chemtrails...

Written in February 2009

QBSneak (anonymous)

Chemtrails are a myth like santa and the easter bunny.

Written in March 2009

leslie (anonymous)

chemtrails are not a myth. Even the Council on Foreign Relations, that is headed by our most powerful politicians, had their meeting minutes published in Foreign Affairs magazine where they requested that more aluminum dust be injected into the atmosphere. So you see, it is not a myth. See for yourselves... http://cryptogon.com/?p=7709L

Written in April 2009

leslie (anonymous)

The bees, bats, birds, insects, trees, the soil, all have been proven to die off under the heavy aerosol spraying referred to as chemtrails. See the sites californiaskywatch.com, bariumblues.com, and carnicom.com. All these sites are run by scientists, doctors, and other professionals with impeccable references...

Written in April 2009

Richard Simons (anonymous)

I noticed that at the same time CCD increase was noticed in late 2006 was right around the same that worldwide satellite radio came online (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sirius_Satellite_Radio). perhaps it's just a coincidence, but both are worldwide changes that occurred at the same time.

Written in April 2009

Kris van der Merwe (anonymous)

Colony collapse is caused by artificial hives
Unhygienic hives create a breeding ground for bee illnesses and explain the many illnesses attributed to "colony collapse disorder".

The design of domestic (artificial) bee hives make bees vulnerable to pests (for an illustration see http://vandermerwe.co.nz/?p=8 )

Organic and in-organic dirt land at the bottom of the beehive (the hive entrance). Bees walk in and out over accumulated dirt, providing an ideal opportunity for Varroa, pests and disease to spread.

The hive is an ecosystem that include bees and bee pests. The introduction of the artificial hive has changed this ecosystem, allowing pests to evolve their behavior to gain a competitive advantage. This explains the delay since the introduction of artificial hives and the onset of colony collapse disorder.

Regards
Kris van der Merwe

Written in June 2009

Heiner Philipp, London, Ontario (anonymous)

Hello All,

As an engineer I am not entirely versed in all the pathogens that affect bees. My wife is documenting the health of bees in our area, with a local beekeeper. (Wild and domesticated) He has had several colonies collapse and it has been after spraying of local crops. When one is shot, there is no absolute proof that the bullet killed the individual. He or she may have died of natural causes just prior to the bullet ripping through their still standing, but dead body. I consider this argument as reasonable as those that say that there is no proof that chemicals are killing the bees. Let's stop using them and find out for sure. That would be an interesting expirement to try. (But unlikely to occur...)

Written in July 2009

Australia (anonymous)

I have noticed bee's disappearing in the last two years here inline with HD Television coming online. Research should be done if there's any interferance with the bee's finding there way back to there hive.

Written in July 2009

gomez (anonymous)

None&feature=player_profilepage that killing the bees

Written in October 2009

Lori (anonymous)

Sounds like the proverbial, "canary in the coalmine" for civilization

Written in November 2009

sir freaky the bee keeper and the great (anonymous)

save the bees!!!!

Written in December 2009

David, Melbourne, Australia (anonymous)

After watching a documentary last night I undderstood that the potential for a total wipe out of Bees was possible in the US by 2035. That the potential for a significant disruption to world wide food supply was iminent with a consequence for this to be irreversible for certain foods. I did not know that this problem was identified several years ago and that governments around the world including the media have not given it the publicity it deserves.

Written in December 2009

smm (anonymous)

read a book called 'A Spring Without Bees' by Michael Schackerprotozoa to

Written in January 2010

Vicky (anonymous)

I think cell phones could be responsible for the loss of bees. They emit a small amount of electromagnetic radiation which when multiplied by millions of cell phones could cause irreparable damage to bees, birds and insects. Honey bees are responsible for 1 out 3 bites of food we eat. Here is an article:

http://www.care2.com/news/member/172225705/524915

Written in February 2010

Rod in Ont. (anonymous)

Even more damaging than cell phones, chemtrails or whatever is the govt use of H.A.A.R.P. Google it and you'll see some eye-opening stuff being done that affects the whole world.

Written in March 2010

David (anonymous)

What is the connection between clandestine meth lab pollution and the colony collaps distorder? The vapors from these operations can travel for miles and the residue can be found on the crops. In fact, if I wanted to get real cynical and paranoid, I would even venture to question if clandestine nerve agent production which the meth lab waste would mask, including a DNA poison like Thalluim compounds, might be a possibility. Honey Bees are at the apex of sensitivity for these kinds of things.

Written in July 2010

Lee R.

It's not just in the US that this is a huge problem. It's an issue around the globe. It's particularly a problem in South Africa: http://www.newslook.com/videos/233720-south-africa-s-overworked-bees

Written in October 2010

Arklight (anonymous)

If there are areas where the populations are NOT affected, why not figure out what those areas do NOT evidence, and compare that data with areas where the colonies are dying off by wholesale? My guess is that you'll find an absence of a number of pesticides and'or GM crops in the largely unaffedted areas.If it's true that USDA and FDA do not conduct researsh, but rely upon second or third hand reports, and data supplied by chemical and seed companies, then the farmers and beekeepers have to find a way to fund an independent laboratory, or laboratories, in order to get truthful data and pusue remedies on their own.

Written in June 2011

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