During the winter period of the year 2006-2007, a number of beekeepers began to account for unusually high losses of bees in their hives. half of all the affected colonies established symptoms conflicting with any previously known causes of bee death: unexpected disappearance of a colony’s worker bee numbers with a limited number of dead bees found in and around the colony.
The mother queen and the brood were left; the colonies had fairly plentiful honey and pollen stocks. However, the queen and brood cannot maintain themselves without the worker bees and they would die at the end. This permutation of events resulted in the loss of thousands of bee colonies that are now called the Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). No concrete reason has ever been given to explain as to what really caused the CCD, various factors have been put forward to try and explain the causes(Benjamin & McCallum 2009).
One being malnutrition, bees living in the wild had the option of feeding on different types of plants. Bees kept by farmers fed on a few plants nectar or a single crop and at the end suffered nutritional deficiencies which affected their immune. The disappearance of any insect can be associated with pesticides use and in the case of the CCD it could not be ruled out. Beekeepers were mainly concerned about a probable link between the disappearance of bee and pesticides containing nicotine. Imidacloprid was one such insecticide, known to make insects display symptoms similar to CCD. The insecticide, in other terms, exposed the bees to plague, and in that increasing the possibility of the bees dying early.
A pesticide known as imidacloprid had some effects on bees, visible damage. Because all the affected colonies had large quantities of parasites and pathogens compared to the other colonies and the researchers speculated in particular if it might have weakened the immune system of the insects. To find out the truth, the researchers gave 20 different hives food rich in protein which is usually given to developing larvae that were laced with imidacloprid. In ten of the cases, the dosage was five parts per billion (ppb); in the remaining ten it was 20 ppb. Earlier experiments showed that the dosage was not harmful to bees. Another ten were fed on food laced with nothing at all. The young bees appeared a few days later. A doctor Pettis took them and gave them some fungal parasite for twelve days before killing them to find out the extent of the infestation. All the groups that came into contact with the imidacloprid contained an estimate of about 700,000 parasite spores in every bee(Rotner& Woodhull2010).
Bees that were from the controlled colonies contained far much fewer spores in their bodies about 200,000. Whether this was the reason behind the collapse of the colonies that are still to be determined although it is still a theory, and is a topic to keep the beekeepers occupied. Another cause was the genetically modified crops. Pollen from genetically modified crops especially from corn distorted to produce a toxin. It was found out that not all bees that were foraging for nectar in areas with the genetically modified plants were affected; however, there was still a link between the CCD and the pesticide.
Bee migration was another reason given for the disappearance of bees. Most of the commercial beekeepers rented hives to farmers, hives were driven over long distances at the back of tractors which affected the bees’ orientation to the hives, and being moved every now and then stressed the bees. Shortage of hereditary Biodiversity was another cause linked to the CCD. Almost all of the queen bees in the whole of the United States, and consequently all of the honey bees come from one the many breeder queens. The narrow options may have reduced the quality of bees used for breeding, and were more prone to diseases and pests (Benjamin & McCallum 2009).
Beekeeping methods used by the farmers could have affected the bees, what the bees were fed on, application of chemicals, and all other practices done to the bees could have led to the CCD. Although some of the practices have been used for a very long time they could have contributed majorly to the CCD. Some of the parasites and like the foulbrood and also tracheal mites could not have caused the CCD on their own, but some deduced they make the bee more prone to it. Beekeepers are afraid of varroa mites, as they pass on viruses and the chemicals used to control the mites affects the health of the bees. Bees affected were found to have traces of a pathogen. And the common thing that the collapsed colonies had in common was, they all had huge loads of parasites and also pathogens.
The disease was another reason that led to CCD. One category of diseases that were found to be present in all the cases was a virus called the invertebrate iridescent. A major connection was discovered between Nosema and the falling colonies, but the presence of Nosema really forecasted a collapse. Exposure of bees to the toxins in the environment was another cause, and some think chemicals were responsible for the CCD. Water can be used to manage insects and chemicals. Bees looking for nectar might have come into contact with chemical either from the homes or the industries(Rotner & Woodhull 2010).
An extensively reported cause is the use of cell phones, which was widely disputed by some scientists who looked into the relationship between the bees and electromagnetic fields and found no evidence of the electromagnetic field interfering with the bees in any way. Change in climate was another reason given for the CCD. Unpredictable weather patterns which led to floods and droughts which in turn affected the flowering of plants with some plants not flowering at all or flowering early than the bees could fly, thus leading to a shortage of pollen and nectar. Many beekeepers blamed the change in climate for the CCD.
A pesticide called imidacloprid had a bad effect on honeybees. One thing in common with the collapsed colonies was the higher concentration of parasites and pathogens than in the other colonies, the researchers wondered if the insect weakening immune system was due to the pesticide. Whether this is actually the reason for colonies collapsing remains to be determined. But it is a plausible hypothesis and is likely to get beekeepers buzzing with interest. Some pesticides can be harmful to bees. That is the reason why labels should be put on pesticide containers known to be harmful to bees and the more reason why everyone should read the instructions.
Benjamin, A., & McCallum, B. (2009). A world without bees. New York: Pegasus Books:
Rotner, S., Rotner, S., Woodhull, A. L., & Woodhull, A. L. (2010). The buzz on bees: why are they disappearing? New York: Holiday House.
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