Where have the bees gone?
In recent years, across the world, the number of honeybee colonies has decreased considerably. For example, in the UK, the honeybee population decreased between 15 and 30% between 2007 and 2009. In other countries the decrease has been even more dramatic.
This is of great concern to anyone responsible for producing food because honeybees, as well as wild bees, are essential for good pollination of many crop plants. Over the past few years a lot of money has been put into researching why bee numbers have fallen, because of the potentially disastrous effect that loss of bees may have on food production.
Many reasons have been put forward for the decrease, including infection particularly by varroa mite, poor weather in recent summers, and agricultural chemicals such as nicotine-based pesticides. Some scientists suggest climate change may be an underlying cause, but others blame the way we change the land when we use it to grow our food.
Carry out research to find the most likely cause or causes of bee decline. The following questions might help you find some of the answers.
What is Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD)? (1 mark) a phenomenon in which worker bees from a beehive colony abruptly disappear
Is CCD the cause of all bee decline or is it not found in some countries? (2 marks) Most occurances are in European countries, however there are accounts of CCD in America so is possibly worldwide.
What is the varroa mite? (2 marks) Varroa destructor is an external parasitic mite that attacks honey bees giving them the disease varroatosis.
How could the mite lead to CCD? (2 marks) It attaches to the body of the bee and weakens the bee by sucking hemolymph. It can give the bee such viruses as the diformed wing virus.
What is the suggested link between nicotine-based pesticides and CCD? (2 marks) Sucking dew from maize leaves that absorbed neonicotinoids, disoriented bees can't find...
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