Colony Collapse Disorder In Honey Bees

Image of honey bee pollination sunflower

The rapid death of honey bee colonies is known as Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). Pollination is essential for our life as well as the survival of practically all ecosystems on the planet. Insect-pollinated plants account for one-third of our diet, and the honeybee is responsible for 80% of that pollination. CCD affects pollination and honey production and threatens to wipe out the production of crops that rely on bee pollination.

Pollinators contribute almost $24 billion to the US economy (link is external), with honeybees alone accounting for $15 billion. Reduced honeybee and pollinator populations, given this reliance, represent a severe threat to domestic agriculture, ecological health, and the US economy. 1Go To Source -“Colony Collapse Disorder and Pollinator Health”

What Is Colony Collapse Disorder?

Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) has been an issue for honey bees since 2006. It is a syndrome characterized as a dead colony with no adult bees and no dead bee carcasses but a live queen and generally honey and immature bees still present. CCD is not a blanket phrase that applies to all managed honey bee colonies that die for whatever reason. CCD has yet to be linked to any scientific cause. The majority of studies have pointed to a complex of components being involved in the etiology of CCD, and it’s possible that not all CCD instances involve the same factors or the same factors in the same order. 2Go To Source -“ARS Honey Bee Health”

What Is The Cause Of Colony Collapse Disorder?

Picture of hive affected by colony collapse disorderColonies have died in the past due to symptoms that are similar to those of CCD. These historical events may not have had the same cause as modern-day CCD, but they have the same symptoms. CCD’s etiology has yet to be discovered, and any plausible cause remains a possibility. The following list of causes, which is not in any particular order, is not exhaustive and is subject to change as new research becomes available.

  • Varroa Mites: Varroa mites are still the most dangerous killers of honey bees on the planet. CCD is thought to be caused by mites, the viruses they spread, and the chemical treatment they require.
  • Beekeeping: Beekeepers manage their hives differently, but bad management can exacerbate any colony problem.
  • Predators And Disease: While these are unlikely to cause CCD because they do not create symptoms, they may exacerbate the problem.
  • Toxic Chemicals: Toxins can be ingested by bees when foraging, drinking contaminated water, or simply inhaling them.
  • A Distressed Queen Bee: Queens have an impact on bee genetic diversity and lineage. Only a few breeder queens are employed across the country to create queen bees (and thus all U.S. honey bees), resulting in low genetic variation. 3Go To Source -“Colony Collapse Disorder”

Are Cellphones The Cause Of Colony Collapse Disorder?

Cell phones have been ruled out as a possible cause of bee decline by researchers. A study conducted in Europe in 2010 sparked the concept that cell phones may contribute to colony losses. It was hypothesized that the cell towers’ radiation changed the earth’s electromagnetic field, affecting the bee’s ability to homing.

There is no proof that honey bees use the electromagnetic field to navigate. Many apiaries still losing bees are located in rural locations with limited or no cell phone service.

Distribution Of Colony Collapse Disorder

In February 2008, the National Agricultural Statistics Service reported 2.44 million honey-producing hives in the United States, down from 4.5 million in 1980 and 5.9 million in 1947. However, these figures undercount the total number of managed hives because they exclude thousands of hives organized solely for pollination contracts and hives managed by beekeepers with only a few hives.

NASS estimated that total US hives ranged between 2.63 and 2.99 million for operations with more than five colonies during the year and 35–43 thousand for operations with fewer than five colonies. In the same year, operations with more than 5 colonies lost 77.8 thousand CCD-affected hives, while operations with fewer than 5 colonies lost 6 thousand CCD-affected hives.

Why Should People Care About CCD?

Image of beekeeper removing hiveHoney bees outnumber all other types of bees and pollinate insects globally, making them an essential pollinator of food crops. Pollination, primarily by bees and other insects, birds, and bats, is believed to account for one-third of the food humans consume each day.

Pollination is required for many indigenous and imported fruits and vegetables. Avocados, soybeans, asparagus, broccoli, celery, squash, and sunflowers for oil, cucumbers, citrus fruits, peaches, kiwis, cherries, cranberries, and melons are just a few examples. Honey bees play an essential part in pollinating commercial crops such as blueberries and almonds, with over 80% of the US crop reported to be dependent on honey bees. Because honey bees can pollinate clover and alfalfa, both of which are given to cattle, there are consequences for the meat and dairy industries. That’s not to mention the plethora of processed foods made from all of these ingredients.

Honey bees also play a vital part in the pollination of other major crops like cotton and flax. The honey bee also produces several valuable non-food products, including beeswax, used in cleaning and beauty products.

How To Protect Honey Bees From Colony Collapse Disorder?

There’s not much the ordinary person can do to shield honey bees from CCD. The best thing to do is never actively harm honey bees. If an infestation has migrated to your property, contact humane bee removal technicians to relocate the hive. Do not attempt to perform the removal if you’re inexperienced. Improper honey bee relocation can result in the death of thousands of bees.

Do you have a honey bee hive problem that needs to be removed? Contact the Honey Bee Rescuers to relocate the hive correctly. Our pre-screen beekeepers can also repair any damage caused by the bees.



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  3. “Colony Collapse Disorder and Pollinator Health | National Invasive Species Information Center.” Invasivespeciesinfo.Gov, Accessed 28 July 2021.
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