What's the Buzz: Vanishing Honey Bees

Topics: Beekeeping, Honey bee, Honey Pages: 9 (3109 words) Published: April 10, 2013
What is the Buzz?: Vanishing Honey Bees

Honey bees are perhaps one of the most important insects because without them, many fruits, vegetables, and field crops would not be pollinated. Commercial agriculture, which is large-scale production of crops for sale, intended for widespread distribution to wholesalers or retail outlets, of many specialty crops such as almonds and other tree nuts, berries, fruits and vegetables are truly dependent on the honey bees task of pollination. These are the foods that give the human population’s diet diversity, flavor, and nutrition. Although, within the last decade, the numbers of colonies of bees have dropped severely. According to Kaplan, the total number of managed honey bee colonies has decreased from 5 million in the 1940s to only 2.5 million today. No one has quite figured out why this mysterious occurrence is happening, but there are several theories on what could be causing the honey bees decline. Some scientists hypothesize that certain diseases could be the cause of their troubles, while others believe it could be pesticides, parasites, or even the actions of the human population. One might ask why this is such a big deal. An astounding $15 billion dollars would be lost in crops if honey bees were to not pollinate all the fruits, vegetables, and field crops. One-third of the U.S. food supply depends on bees pollinating and cultivating all the crops. If the causes of the disappearances of honey bees are not correctly confronted and established, bees could potentially become an endangered species in the future, leading to a terrible downfall of not only the United States, but all across the globe.

Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) is a serious problem threatening the health of honey bees and the economic stability of commercial beekeeping and pollination operations throughout the United States. What this pathological condition adheres to be is the various stresses that may be leading to the abrupt disappearance of worker bees from the hive, leaving behind the queen, drone and newly hatched bees, thus causing the colony to stop functioning. It is theorized that commercialized agriculture, which puts a severe amount of stress upon honey bees, could have ultimately led to Colony Collapse Disorder. This is a serious issue in the world, and the majority of society does not realize the severity of this disorder.

Colony Collapse Disorder was first addressed in 2006 in the U.S.A. It has most recently been reported in Japan in the spring of 2009, so it is not caused by the climate that the bees are exposed to, but by how the beekeepers manage them instead. Some scientists believe that Colony Collapse Disorder is caused by changes in the environment, mites and parasites, diseases, malnutrition, and pesticides. The average healthy hive loses on average of one thousand bees in the course of one day. One man reportedly lost half of his thirteen thousand hives, about three hundred million bees, in a matter of weeks.

Beekeepers are people who operate a sufficiently large number of colonies of bees for honey production or crop pollination as a business for profit. The job of a beekeeper is difficult but satisfactory. A beekeeper keeps bees in order to collect their honey and other products of the hive, such as beeswax, propolis, pollen, and royal jelly, to pollinate crops. A location where bees are kept is called an apairy or a "bee yard".

Some may say that commercial beekeepers may be helping the apple orchards, orange groves, and almond fields, but it is possible that they are causing more harm than they are helping. By constantly moving their hives, maybe once every three or four weeks, they are putting an enormous amount stress upon the honeybees. Every time they move a hive, the bees have to forget the layout of the old area, and have to learn the new one. The bees memorize almost seven square miles of territory for pollination purposes.

Serious damage occurs to...
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