As an amateur beekeeper who has managed to somehow kill off five different bee colonies in the last five years without ever getting the chance to harvest honey, I try to keep an eye on what’s cooking in the global apiary. Things aren’t looking so hot for bees, and this is bad for our food production.
We rely on honeybees to pollinate some of our most important crops such as squash, blueberries, almonds and spaghetti.
A recent study has identified a new potential culprit in the mass die-offs we’ve been experiencing across the nation:
Scientists had struggled to find the trigger for so-called Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) that has wiped out an estimated 10 million beehives, worth $2 billion, over the past six years. Suspects have included pesticides, disease-bearing parasites and poor nutrition. But in a first-of-its-kind study published today in the journal PLOS ONE, scientists at the University of Maryland and the US Department of Agriculture have identified a witch’s brew of pesticides and fungicides contaminating pollen that bees collect to feed their hives. The findings break new ground on why large numbers of bees are dying though they do not identify the specific cause of CCD, where an entire beehive dies at once.
When researchers collected pollen from hives on the east coast pollinating cranberry, watermelon and other crops and fed it to healthy bees, those bees showed a significant decline in their ability to resist infection (keep reading)
The more we mess around, the more of a mess we seem to make.