Bee colony collapse disorder

When the smaller creatures of the planet start suddenly dying or mysteriously disappearing in droves in different locations, it’s an early warning system for humanity.

Smaller animals and insects are particular sensitive to changes in the air they breathe, the food they eat, the water they drink and other environmental disturbances. Furthermore, even if the animals don’t die, toxins that build up in smaller creatures can become concentrated in animals higher up the food chain that consume them; including us.

Apiarists (bee keepers) around the world are becoming increasingly alarmed at the prevalence of a phenomenon called Colony Collapse Disorder. CCD is the sudden mass loss of bees for currently unidentifiable reasons, often devastating entire colonies.

Colony Collapse Disorder has been observed from infrequently over the last hundred years or so, but never at the current rate or distribution. CCD incidents have been reported since 2006 in 26 USA states, Canada, Poland, Spain, Switzerland, Germany, the UK and Australia.

Symptoms of Colony Collapse Disorder include:

– An absence of adult bees in the hive, but few or no dead bees in or around the hive
– The presence of bee pupa (young bees in cocoons).
– The presence of food within the hive that isn’t immediately ransacked by other bees or hive pests.

As for the cause of CCD – nobody is sure as yet; but it’s believed to be a number of factors, possibly including the buildup of toxins and pesticides. If so, it’s yet another indicator that environmental problems are hitting critical mass – the point of saturation whereby sudden collapse of ecosystems will occur.

The loss of these hives isn’t just about the loss of honey. Bees play crucial role in pollinating flowering plants – including food crops for humans. In fact, it’s estimated that 33% of our food supply depends on insect pollination, with much of this being performed by bees.

Learn more about Colony Collapse Disorder

Update April 29: Preliminary findings suggest that bee colony collapse disorder could be in part due to the presence of a parasitical fungus called Nosema ceranae. Bees die within 8 days after exposure to Nosema ceranae and it’s thought that weather conditions play a role in ability to develop and spread in a hive.