Colony Collapse Disorder of Honeybees
In this section of Seattle Organic Restaurants I'm going to talk about the Colony Collapse Disorder of the honeybees. It was around 2006 that many scientists, environmentalists and researchers noticed that honey bees were disappearing in an alarming rate. The sudden disappearance of bees also called as “Colony Collapse Disorder” (CCD) has been accelerating in the last few years.
Honey bees do provide a great value for the farmers and they help to pollinate many food crops. Producing honey isn’t the only thing labor bees do; they are also the main pollinators of one third of our food supply such as fruits, vegetables and nuts. Although the research is still going on to find out what’s causing the sudden disappearance of bees and many researchers believe that the following factors are causing CCD:
Malnutrition:Bees are suffering from malnutrition. Wild bees enjoy the diversity of flowers with different nectar and pollen. Reduction in plant diversity as well as reduction in wild flowers (due to constant increase of land usage for agricultural purposes) have resulted in bees being unable to have access to a wide range of flowers and plants. Due to lack of biodiversity many bees are suffering from malnutrition and auto-immune disorder. Because of low immune system, the bees are unable o fight against diseases, viruses and pathogens.
Incease in use of insecticides & HerbicidesExtensive use of insecticides and herbicides in agricultural practices has resulted in bees’ Colony Collapse Disorder. For example neonicotinoids, imidacloprid and nicotine-based insecticides have been known to cause CCD. In a study by Department of Environmental Health at the Harvard School of Public Health a group of bees were exposed to different levels of “imidacloprid” and after 32 weeks the bees exposed to higher levels of imidacloprid showed higher symptoms of CCD.
GMO Crops and High Fructose Corn SyrupMany GMO crops in US are sprayed with neonicotinoids and feeding commercial bees with high fructose corn syrup is another problem resulting in death of bees. Research shows that 94% of bees died due to exposure to imidacloprid and neonicotinoids. Keep in mind that most of HFCS comes from GM corn crops and they all have been treated with imidacloprid and other pesticides that have been related to CCD symptoms. That’s why France has banned the use of imidacloprid on corn and sunflower after the death of more than one third of its bees.
Despite the dangers of imidacloprid and neonicotinoids, the use of these insecticides has been approved by the Environmental Protection Agency.
Colony Stress due to MigrationMost of the money beekeepers make isn’t just to do with selling their honey. They also rent their hives to other farmers and make profit on pollination services. The beehives are stacked in the back of a truck travelling thousands of miles across the country for month for pollination purposes. Being relocated every few month is very stressful for honeybees and could result in spreading diseases, viruses and pathogens. In fact, some of the beekeepers have already lost more than 90% of their colonies due to migration.
Environmental PollutionBeing exposed to pollution and environmental toxins can be a threat to honeybees. Foraging bees can also drink or inhale water runoffs that are contaminated by industrial or household chemicals. Being exposed to these environmental toxins and pollution could lead to CCD symptoms.
Numerous Pathogens and ParasitesHoneybees are affected by parasites and pathogens known as honeybee’s pests. For example beekeepers are truly scared of varroa mites that do transmit viruses including direct damage as parasite. These multiple unknown pathogen and parasites can cause Colony Collapse Disorder. Researchers have discovered that several bee viruses including Sacbroodvirus (SBV), Cloudy Wing Virus (CWV), Black Queen Cell Virus (BQCV) and Israeli Acute Paralysis Virus (IAPV) can cause CCD.These viruses are rapidly changing in US and IAPV virus is found in 19 different states.
Loss of Genetic DiversityThe diversity of plants and flowers are declining as well as the diversity of bees and other insects. Most of queen bees or even honeybees have lost their genetic diversity and the limited genetics have results in lower immune system. Because of low immune system, bees are more effected by disease and pests.
Electromagnetic RadiationDid you know that your cell Our cell phone’s electromagnetic radiation can result in CCD symptoms in honeybees. In a study, the researchers put two cell phones in two beehives and the cell phones were turned on for 30 min only twice a week for 3 month. The study showed that the number of bees (exposed to cell phone radiation) returning to hives reduced drastically and finally after 3 month, most of the bees died. Keep in mind that using cell phones on a regular basis can cause brain tumor in human beings. Swedish researchers also suggest that electromagnetic waves from cell phone can kill the brain cells.
Beekeeping practices could be another reason resulting in CCD. Extensive use of herbicides, pesticides and fungicide (close to beehives) can result in diseases and parasites in honeybees. Modern agricultural practices can put a lot of stress on the honeybees, lowering their immune system and making them more susceptible to diseases.
Global WarmingGlobal warming and climate change may have resulted in bees’ disappearance in the last few years. Rapid changes in the climate have resulted in limited pollen and nectar supplies. But of course as we all know "global warming is just a hoax designed by the Chinese".
What will happen if bees disappear?
87% of plants are pollinated by bees and if we fail to fix our shortcomings and unfriendly agricultural and environmental practices, many plants would will die as a result. Currently, beekeepers are losing up to 50% of their bee hives and many crops (such as Almonds, apples, apricots, avocados, blueberries, cantaloupes, cashews, coffee, cranberries, cucumbers, eggplants, grapes, kiwis, mangoes, okra, peaches, pears, peppers, strawberries, tangerines, walnuts and watermelons) pollinated by bees will disappear if bees die.
While EU countries have implemented a ban on the use of neonicotinoids, USDA and EPA refuse to put a ban on these toxic insecticides. The scientific community and biologists suggest that if honeybees disappear, we will only have four years to live since a chain reaction will start to eradicate certain species due to lack of pollination and that will effect crops and birds and so forth. Fewer bees mean lower availability and potentially higher prices of fruits and vegetables.
A world without bees would be a world without us and humanity would not be able to survive after bees go extinct. We have to change the way we produce food and look for an alternative to factory farms and industrial agriculture. Supporting sustainable agriculture methods are vital in maintaining our ecosystem and sustaining the population of the bees. By growing our own foods or supporting small family farms we could reverse the major decline in population of bees. We must also put pressure on our elected officials and ask them to ban the use of neonicotinoids that are killing millions of bees. Please sign this petition to put pressure on the EPA to take action and immediately suspend the use of neonicotinoids.