The Truth About Bees Disappearing
Scientists are paying much closer attention over the past 3 years, as bees disappearing from key crop and orchard sites in twenty-four states and counting are taking a devastating toll on our delicate agricultural balance. As commoners, we tend to eat our nectarines and slice our apples without a second thought to the fact that they wouldn’t exist without bees. Disappearing by the thousands, literally overnight, and with no signs of struggle, illness, or death.
This epic issue has been named CCD, or colony collapse disorder. Reports of mysterious vanishing episodes date back to 1896, but these were much more sparse and less frequent than the epidemic that beekeepers and farmers are facing today. The onslaught of disease caused by the parasitic varroa mite is not thought to be helping. Scientists are now using several healthy control colonies which have never been exposed to this parasite to compare against renewed colony populations that have been devastated by the disease. The goal is to pinpoint any bacterial or parasitic remnants being left behind at the hive site and their possible affects on the new inhabitants.
California is the base of scientific testing at present, as its 1.4 billion dollar per year almond crop depends solely on bee pollination for yearly production. Many states are reporting bees disappearing at alarming rates, up to ninety percent colony reduction almost overnight, but the ecological and financial repercussions of California’s failing almond crops are taking a hold on the agricultural industry. Florida, coming off of a devastating spread of greening disease, has been forced to use mass chemical pesticides on the majority of their crops, making it nearly impossible to use these sites for CCD research.
This eerie finding is reported multiple times on a daily basis, as beekeepers find tens of thousands of their prized bees gone. They leave no trace, and there are no warnings. Most often, the queen and a few smaller drones are left behind, while all pupae and larvae are abandoned completely. Beekeepers introduce new colonies to these abandoned structures, as they can not afford the costly lapse in pollination, and scientists are working hard to determine if there is a new pathogen present which is currently undetectable.
On average, a large agricultural farm will house 10,000 bee colonies, each of which ranges in size from 20,000 bees during the winter months to 60,000 bees during the summer pollination season. It is a carefully calculated balance, time tested and perfected for optimum growth and production of key crops. Farmers suffering even a twenty percent sudden collapse in bee population are susceptible to an estimated forty percent crop loss during subsequent harvest. An awesome phenomenon 3 years in the making, bees disappearing are the cause of much worry, and many potential losses to come.