Where have all the honeybees gone?

By | November 28, 2009

Guest Blog by Liz Kline and Ross Holland

Since 2005 Bee Keepers around the United States have noticed a significant decline in their honey bee hive colony population. It’s a development that has raised great concerns because bees pollinate an estimated 1/3 of the crops that are our source of food. An estimated 40-60 percent of honey bees and hives in the United States died or were severely weakened in 2005, and a majority of the decline is occurring in California. In 2005 California lost 50 percent of their honey bees leading to spotty pollination for fruits, nuts, and other agricultural goods. This phenomenon has caused over $150 million in losses for U.S. beekeepers. Little is actually known about the reasons for the drop in adult honey bees, but there are many theories for the cause of Colony Collapse Disorder including the varroa mite (a parasite that attaches to the back of the bee), an insecticide called imidacloprid, high fructose corn syrup, and wireless cellphone waves. This dramatic decline may have huge affects on the world with 1/3 of the human diet being derived from insect-pollinated plants, and 80 percent of all insect pollination being accomplished by honey bees. Certain steps we can take to slow down or reverse this disorder is to plant plants for your gardens that flower at various times, plant native species, reduce or eliminate pesticides by using green alternatives, and the more drastic approach; find and breed honey bees resistant to disease.

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