The case of the vanishing honeybees

“Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) is a phenomenon in which worker bees from a beehive orEuropean honey bee colony abruptly disappear. While such disappearances have occurred throughout the history of apiculture, and were known by various names (disappearing diseasespring dwindleMay diseaseautumn collapse, and fall dwindle disease),[1] the syndrome was renamed colony collapse disorder in late 2006[2] in conjunction with a drastic rise in the number of disappearances of Western honeybee colonies in North America.[3]European beekeepers observed similar phenomena in Belgium, France, the Netherlands, Greece, Italy, Portugal, and Spain,[4] and initial reports have also come in from Switzerland and Germany, albeit to a lesser degree[5] while the Northern Ireland Assembly received reports of a decline greater than 50%.[6]

Colony collapse is significant economically because many agricultural crops worldwide arepollinated by European honey bees. According to the Agriculture and Consumer Protection Department of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the worth of global crops with honeybee’s pollination was estimated to be close to $200 billion in 2005.[7] Shortages of bees in the US have increased the cost to farmers renting them for pollination services by up to 20%.[8]

The mechanisms of CCD and the reasons for its increasing prevalence remain unclear, but many possible causes have been proposed:pesticides (in particular, those of the neonicotinoid class); infections with Varroa and Acarapis mites; malnutrition; various pathogens;genetic factors; immunodeficiencies; loss of habitat; changing beekeeping practices; or a combination of factors.


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