Honeybees mysteriously disappear across USA
Thu Mar 22, 2007 02:18

Honeybees mysteriously disappear across USA causing national tragedy
20.03.2007 Source:

Honey bees disappear in the USA ( )

A nation-wide honeybee crisis is under way in the United States. Lately bees have begun to rapidly disappear in 24 states across the country. For reasons unknown, bees are flying off in search of nectar and pollen and simply never returning to their colonies. The bee losses are reportedly ranging from 30 to 60 percent on the West Coast. The situation is even worse on the East Coast and Texas where beekeepers have reported losses of more than 70 percent.

Aside from producing honey, bees also pollinate a variety of plants used as food by humans. Each year bees pollinate an estimated $14 billion worth of seeds and crops in the United States, largely fruits, vegetables and nuts. The sudden mysterious losses are making beekeepers increasingly concerned about their livelihoods. Researchers say that they bees may die of natural causes; they may get disoriented or fall victim to mites. According to beekeepers, a loss under 20 percent is considered as normal in the off-season. Some beekeepers call the recent bee crisis a national tragedy, the first major affliction that befell the U.S. bee industry.

“I’ve never seen anything like it,” said David Bradshaw, a beekeeper. “My hives are just getting emptied. There’s nobody home,” Bradshaw added. The bees do not get back to their colonies. The biggest concern is that nobody seems to know why the bees keep disappearing.

Bees are extremely social insects; they never desert their offspring or bee queens. Researchers argue that bees are presumably dying during their search for nectar. A range of theories is also investigated, including a virus, a fungus, and poor bee nutrition. Researchers are looking into a group of pesticides that were banned in European countries to find out whether the chemical preparations (still used in the U.S.) are somehow causing damage to bees’ innate ability to find their way back home. According to yet another theory, the losses may have resulted from a massive attack by mites, which have repeatedly damaged bee colonies in the past.

The bees vanish as pressure has been building on the U.S. bee industry. The costs to maintain hives are continuously rising. The bee business becomes less profitable as a result. According to estimates by the Agriculture Department, the number of hives has dropped by a quarter over the last twenty years, and the number of beekeepers decreased by half. Beekeepers also have to tackle the problem of suburban sprawl as they search for areas where bees can forage for nectar to stay healthy and feel good during the pollination season.

A terrible epidemic breaks out in The Plague, a novel by Albert Camus, shortly after hundreds of dead rats are discovered all over the town. The recent bee mystery, already dubbed a “colony collapse disorder” by U.S. researchers, seems to somewhat resemble the situation described in the novel. We can only hope that the “bee plague” will not take shape of an affliction of global proportions.

Nezavisimaya Gazeta

Translated by Guerman Grachev


Mysterious Disease Killing Honeybees
NewsChannel 9 WSYR, NY - Mar 20, 2007
LaFayette (WSYR-TV) - There is a serious buzz about the dramatic drop in the number of honeybees in the country. Scientists are looking at a mysterious ...

GOOGLE NEWS: Results 1 - 10 of about 412 for Honeybees.

Mysterious Disease Killing Honeybees

Last Update: Mar 21, 2007 12:07 AM

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LaFayette (WSYR-TV) - There is a serious buzz about the dramatic drop in the number of honeybees in the country. Scientists are looking at a mysterious disease killing off tens of thousands of bee colonies and the effect that's having on fruit growers.

Local apple growers rely on the bees to jump start their crop. Now, they’re waiting for the weather to break and the trees to bloom, and they need their work force in place when it happens.

Apple growers are worried about a condition killing thousands of bee colonies because they'll need those bees when the trees flower this spring.

Professor Scott Turner says, "Given the agricultural importance of honeybees this is going to have a pretty significant impact if it’s not brought under control."

Turner says a mite, appropriately named Varroa Destructor, is transmitting a virus to bees.

“They just seem to keel over dead and they don't come back, when that happens the bee colony loses some of its ability to gather food and if you don't have food you don't have energy and you then can't reproduce and then your colony dies."

The National Academy of Sciences has been warning of an impending pollination crisis.

“We're looking at one crucial sector of the agricultural economy that could face a pretty serious bump in the road, but I don't think apples will disappear from the market or honey will disappear from the market and the beekeeping industry will get through this.” Turner says.

Professor Turner says the problem may be traced to the introduction of bees from Australia to the west coast a few years ago.

He says Washington State has been particularly hard hit. The bee ailment has made its way east totaling about 22 states now affected by the disease and bee shortage.


Update Podcast: March 21, 2007 - Honey Bee Disappearances Continue:
Could Pesticides Play A Role? Click for report.

Pesticides, sprayed and genetically engineered - Are they linked to honey bee
disappearances and decline of all pollinators in North America?

"How much of our food production do we want to turn over to other
countries that might be friendly now and not friendly in the future? The federal
government is looking at this and my question is: Are honey bees the canary
in the coal mine? What are honey bees trying to tell us that we humans
should be paying more attention to?" - Jerry Hayes, Chief, Apiary Section,
Florida Dept. of Agriculture, Gainsville, Florida

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