Bee Colony Collapse Disorder has hit apiarists and the agricultural industry in the USA and Britain incredibly hard; with the British Beekeeping Association (BBKA) reporting bee populations falling by 30 percent last year – and it’s a similar story in North America.
The exact cause is still not known, but it’s now thought that viruses (virii?) carried by the Varroa Destructor mite, an introduced parasite, may be the main culprit. The Varroa Destructor mite is believed to have originated in Asia and increased transport between countries coupled with a generally warming climate has allowed it to enter and thrive in countries throughout the world.
The Varroa Destructor mite latches onto the back of the bee, sucking the bees’ blood and weakening it so that the bee can’t fight off viruses carried by the mite, other diseases or withstand the rigors of its day to day life.
Australia is now the last major beekeeping country free of the Varroa destructor mite – but we’re expecting to see it pop up “any day” according to experts on the topic. Under the right conditions, an initial single mite will destroy an entire colony within 2 – 3 years.
Bees provide so much more than just honey – they play a vital role in pollinating plants, among them more than 90 fruit and vegetable crops. Without bees, our food security is at an incredible risk, not to mention the wider environmental ramifications.
Who would have ever thought that such a common creature such as our honey bees might become a threatened species?
Learn more about bees and our food
Update: According to an article on SFGate, The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is refusing to disclose records about a class of pesticides (Clothianidin) that could be playing a role in Colony Collapse Disorder. The Natural Resources Defense Council wants to see the studies that the EPA required from Bayer Cropscience. The request was made under the Freedom of Information Act; but refused and the group is now suing for the release of the documents.