Goal: Disappearing Bees

The honeybee colonies have been declining in the last few years, also since 2006, and has now become a global phenomenon. The U.S., Europe (Belgium, France, the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, Greece, Italy, Portugal, and Spain), China, Japan, and now Egypt have seen a disappearance in the bee population. Just over last winter (2010-2011), a 30% decrease of honeybees was observed in the US.

Colony Collapse Disorder refers to a bee hive with few remaining or no bees left. The queen bee is still present, with smaller immature bees. Most of the time honey is still found in the hive. Although this has always happened in honeybee history, the name Colony Collapse Disorder was penned due to the drastic population drop of 2006.

A list of fruits, vegetables, and other crop plants that cannot survive without bees include: almonds, apples, apricots, avocadoes, blueberries, boysenberries, cherries, citrus, cranberries, grapes, kiwifruit, loganberries, macadamia nuts, nectarines, olives, peaches, pears, plums, prunes, raspberries, strawberries, asparagus, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, celery, cucumbers, cantaloupe, honeydew, onions, pumpkins, squash, watermelon, alfalfa hay and seed, cotton lint, cotton seed, legume seed, peanuts, soybeans, sugar beets and sunflowers.

A third of agricultural food depends on bees and pollination. These crops and plants, as well as endangered plants, are being threatened. Some fruits, crops, and plants may decrease up to 90% without the pollination of bees. It is suggested there are many contributing factors, and no one single reason is the main cause of decline. A direct source or reason has not been identified.

Loss and contamination of flowering plants is one contribution. Air pollution also affects the bees’ ability to find flowering plants to pollinate. Chemicals from pesticides are being deposited into the pollen, which is the only food source for bees (and is also made into honey). In addition, flowering plants nourish each other with pollen, which is carried by the bee and spread to each flower they pollinate.  Now some farmers and beekeepers are attempting to stop using pesticides to allow the bee colonies to develop immunity and resistance to the chemicals. The pesticides are sprayed onto flowering plants and pesticide poisoning can be identified through the bees’ pollen and wax (buzzaboutbees.net).  Check this out:

EPA Hides Data on Pesticide Link to Bee Die-Off

Parasites and mites are thought to be another factor contributing to the decline in the honeybee. Varroa mites were first found in Kentucky, and has since been invading bee colonies. These mites suck blood from both adult and developing bees, shortening the adults’ life spans and destroying the developing brood. An adult female mite is able to enter the brood and lay eggs, hatching more mites to feed on the developing bees. The emerging brood will come out with missing legs or wings. These mites also impair the drone bees’ ability to mate with the queen bee, thus affecting reproduction. Mites seem to be more attracted to the fluid of drones (male honeybees). The varroa mites are large enough to view with the naked eye; their bodies are about 1 mm in length. They are seen most often on the bee’s thorax or abdomen. Contamination spreads from hive to hive and may be spread from bee to bee. Without treatment, varroa mites will destroy an entire bee colony.
Reference: ca.uky.edu/entomology

Radiation from cell phones has also been detected as a problem for colony collapse disorder. The radiation causes confusion for honeybees and thus they cannot find their way home. Many are lost and die outside. An experiment conducted with cell phone radiation concluded that the queen bee laid fewer eggs, worker bees stopped producing honey, and many did not return to the hive. Also, their behavior changes near power lines.
Reference: telegraph.co.uk

The harm cell phones and radiation have against humans is also astounding and can help support the bee theory. Over a span of 10 years, people who use cell phones are 40% more likely to grow a brain tumor. A study in Sweden showed that radiation from phones kill brain cells. Studies in both India and the U.S. found that heavy use of cell phones in men result in lower sperm counts. Unfortunately, cell phones are too new to formulate absolute proof of cancer.
Reference: independent.co.uk/environment/nature

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