16 January 2012
A Small Extinction, A Big Problem
Albert Einstein once said, “If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe then man would only have four years of life left. No more bees, no more pollination, no more plants, no more animals, no more man” (“Einstein Once Said…”). After careful thought on this matter, this can be a scary concept to process. Millions of years have passed with the honey bee gracing the earth, and in fact, the honeybee is the only insect that aids in the production of food that is consumed by the human race (“20 Amazing Honey Bee Facts!”). Imagine going to a grocery store and there being no almonds to buy, a scarce supply of apples to choose from, and a very limited amount of blueberries. One could try going to one’s local farmers market, but with the disappearance of honey bees, private farmers and vendors would also take a devastating hit. The culprit of this devastating scenario is known as colony collapse disorder. Colony collapse disorder, also known as CCD, is when healthy worker bees disappear from the hive leaving behind honey and immature bees to care for the queen (Weise 1). Judging for the information at hand, I believe CCD is affecting a majority of the honey bee hives that we rely on for this nation’s crop production. Many Americans know little, if anything, about how serious the situation has become. With honey bee hives vanishing more and more each year, people may begin to ask themselves a multitude of questions such as: How could this mysterious disappearance of honey bees affect the way that I eat? Is the problem so serious to the point that it may be detrimental to the survival of the human race? If so, what are some things causing this? And what are some things I can do to possibly help prevent the extinction of the honey bee? An in-depth look into the underlying causes of this epidemic will tell us more about how we can help and what this means for the future of our society as a whole.
Researchers have named the mysterious disappearance of honey bees Colony Collapse Disorder, or CCD. Tony Stankus states a formal definition to be “a mysterious and devastating syndrome, in which adult bees abandon hives unexpectedly and almost always completely disappear” (Stankus 116). In fact, Benjamin Oldroyd says Colony Collapse Disorder started as a syndrome in which honey bee colonies began to die off in the winter of 2006 on into the spring of 2007 (Oldroyd 1195). After close examination it appeared that the honey bees were abandoning their hives. It was as if they were afraid of something. Under further investigation, the perplexing mystery of CCD was that in each case it appeared as if the honey bees had completely vanished, leaving only a handful of survivors. The common symptom discovered in each case was the number of adult bees was very low. When none of the bodies of the dead bees were found, researchers turned to the possibility of parasites or a disease as being the primary suspect. Interestingly, no signs of any of the two threats were present (1195-1196). Another main threat or potential cause of colony collapse disorder could be the use of pesticides. Sinzinger states that “In recent years, growers have been using seeds treated with a class of pesticides called neonicotinoids, which kill insects by attacking their nervous systems. As a ‘systemic’ poison, these chemicals spread throughout plants, including their flowers and pollen” (Sinzinger 14). He goes on to explain that the Environment Protection agency must do required testing, which concluded that normal use of these pesticides on the bees was not likely to be lethal. Contradicting the conclusion, many scientists speculate these neurotoxins are acting together with other poisons and enhancing their effects all while accumulating in the colonies’ hive (14). With so many threats adding up to one gigantic mystery, scientist and researchers are left scratching their heads to...