Generate the Buzz: Bee Decline

Colony Collapse disorder (CCD) is when all the workers in a honeybee hive abandon the hive. while there is no specific cause known for CCD, there are several pressures on honeybees that are believed to come together to make it occur (Watanabe). Pesticides, one of the believed causes of CCD, are a human pressures that can be removed from the equation by current technology. Pest control has evolved from sulfur in Mesopotamia over 4,500 years ago (Miller, GT), to deadly poisons, and finally to specific toxins developed in chemistry labs. Carbamate pesticides, organochlorine insecticides, pyrethroid pesticides, Malathion, Neonicontinoids, and Carbaryl are several pesticides that have been offered for pest control with varying degrees of toxicity and specificity. In the past, these effective methods of killing pests were important for human development of civilizations, however the sterile male/insect technique (SIT), physical techniques, cultural techniques, and biological control are natural methods of pest control that do not put pressures on honeybees and are beginning to be implemented. Biological methods, perhaps the most important of alternatives, is where humans use nematodes, fungi, bacteria, viruses, and genetic manipulation as a method of pest control by supporting natural enemies of the pests in order to subdue them (Gullen). Unfortunately, in the case of both genetic manipulation and pesticides, resistance is a common occurrence where the means of pest control can become obsolete. This can occur through pest individuals learning to avoid the pest control means implemented, by the pests becoming tolerant through the more resistant (more fit) individuals surviving, through physiological changes occurring in pest individual, or through the natural biochemical detoxification of pest individuals by developing enzymes to counteract the pathogens (Gullen). With honeybees pollinating roughly twenty billion dollars worth of food crops in the United States (Hickman) alone, farmers should take into account the consequences of using pesticides that hurt the investment they are trying to protect. No progress can occur without communication between farmers and Beekeepers, as well as important research that explores natural alternatives to pesticides.


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