Colony Collapse Disorder has been affecting bees throughout the world for several years. According to the EPA, this phenomenon “occurs when the majority of worker bees in a colony disappear and leave behind a queen.” There typically is plenty of food left at the hive, which makes the situation all the more perplexing. Only a few nurse bees are left to care for the remaining immature bees and the queen, as well.
This problem first appeared after the winter of 2006-2007. Beekeepers started noticing and reporting an unusually high number of bee loss in their hives. As many as 50% of all affected colonies demonstrated symptoms inconsistent with any known causes of honey bee death, leading to the conclusion that it must be a result of the Colony Collapse Disorder.
What is causing this drastic decline in the bee population? No one can say for sure, although according to NRDC, there are three major theories.
The main thought process behind this theory is that global warming is causing the flowers and plants to bloom either earlier or later than usual. When the bees come out to pollinate, the flowers that they are looking for may already be in bloom, or they are nowhere near being close to ready for pollination.
The second theory of the cause of Colony Collapse Disorder is the use of pesticides on large farm lands. Pesticides meant to eliminate pests from farmland can still harm and kill bees, even though that is not the intention.
The third and final theory presented by NRDC is that bees might be losing their habitats. Several factors may be involved in this loss of available space for bees to make their home. They include development of existing land, abandoned farmland and growing gardens that do not require pollination.
Bees are a wonderful part of Mother Nature and add numerous benefits to those surrounding them. According to the BBC, much of the food we eat would not be available if it were not for the bee population. They play a major role in pollinating huge amounts of fruits and vegetables that we consume on a daily basis.
There’s no question that bees are an amazing contributor to the environment. Without their unique ability to pollinate, many varieties of plants, flowers and crops would not be able to reproduce and eventually die out. According to Perfect Bee, there actually is such a need for bees’ pollination that over time, dozens of species of bees have been developed to service one specific type of plant. These specialized bee species then begin to coexist in unison with the lifespan of the particular plant that they serve.
And then there’s honey. Honey has enormous uses in many facets of our lives, all provided by bees. Consuming honey has a long list of health benefits, but the most amazing part is there is zero human interference in honey production. This also means that there are no added chemicals whatsoever. Honey is also used to make many health and beauty products as a result of its nourishing, healing and cleansing properties.
There are countless other ways that bees benefit our environment and everyday lives. They boost the economy by helping the agricultural industry. They help farmers all over the world by spreading their pollen and assisting plants with reproduction. It would be a tragic loss for the entire globe if the population was lost.
The good news is there are plenty of things that the average gardener can do to help the bees. The first thing is make sure your garden always contains plants that bloom, exclusively. This gives bees a chance to exercise their pollination power and gives them purpose.
The second thing is to refrain from using pest killers to divert bees from the home. Although swarms of bees around your home can appear frightening and dangerous, they typically have no reason to attack. Carpenter bees, specifically, only attack unpainted or untreated wood. You can simply place a plank of untreated pine outside if you want to divert the bees away from your home.
Colony Collapse Disorder is a serious problem the bee population is facing right now. Bees benefit the rest of the world in many ways, so it is important for us to learn about this issue, as well as do everything we can to try and protect the bees in the future.
Greg Long is the marketing and communications coordinator at GloryBee, a honey and natural ingredient company, in Eugene, OR. He has nearly completed his three-year journey to becoming a Master Beekeeper. You can visit their website at GloryBee.com.