The Decline of Honey Bees

Topics: Beekeeping, Pollination, Colony collapse disorder Pages: 3 (793 words) Published: January 28, 2009
Honeybees were brought to North America from Europe in the 1600s. They produce honey and pollinate crops. In recent years honeybee populations across the continent have declined by as much as 70 percent. Their loss could effect fruits and vegetables such as apples, broccoli, strawberries, nuts, asparagus, blueberries and cucumbers. Honeybees pollinate $14 billion worth of seeds and crops in the US every year. Therefore, if honeybees disappear, they could take most of our insect pollinated plants with them, potentially reducing the human being to little more than a bread and water diet. Biologists are studying the reasons behind the enormous bee die off happening across the country; they call it Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). It occurs when a hive's inhabitants suddenly disappear, leaving only queens, eggs and a few immature workers. The term was first applied to a drastic rise in the number of diasappearances of Western honey bee colonies in North America in late 2006. The cause appears to be related to chemicals, electromagnetic radiation and Varroa mites.

Many believe that our increasing use of chemical pesticides are largely to blame. Even if not directly sprayed on a hive, the bees can soak up all sorts of rotten chemicals. They are fragile and their immune systems have no ability to fight chemicals pesticides. Another leading suspect is genetically modified crops, which may create pollen with compromised nutritional value. The United States grows nearly two-thirds of all genetically engineered crops. Last year about 130 million acres were planted with GMs. Much of the soy, corn, cotton and canola have had a gene inserted into their DNA to produce pesticides. However, the weeds are becoming resistant to the herbicide sprays and frustrated farmers are putting on more and more poisons. Organic bee colonies, where chemicals and genetically modified crops are avoided, are not experiencing the same kind of catastrophic collapses, according to the non-profit...
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