The decline of the Honeybee in the US

Topics: Beekeeping, Honey bee, Colony collapse disorder Pages: 11 (2572 words) Published: November 17, 2014
The honey bee is a subset of bees in the genus Apis, it is black and yellow in colour and is no longer than an inch in size. They are distinguished by the production and the storage of honey and construction of perennial, colonial hives out of wax. The insect’s habitat is mainly meadows, woods and gardens; the bee usually makes its nest in hollow trees. The habitats are advantageous for the bees due to the growth of flowering plants in that area.

Figure 1
The Honeybee seems to have originated in South and South East Asia. It was later introduced to other regions such as Europe and has colonised there since. A condition called Colony Collapse Disorder or CCD, has dwindled the population of Honeybees in Europe. The continent has 13 million less managed honeybee colonies than would be needed to pollinate all its crops, which is equivalent to 7 billion individual bees. Over the past few years honeybees have experience substantial declines; there had been 27 species of bees in the UK, however 3 of these species are now extinct and many of the 27 are under threat of extinction. Signs of Colony Collapse Disorder

In a collapsed colony there is a complete absence of adult bees, with very little or no build-up of dead bees in and around the hive. A colony cannot sustain without adult worker bees, hence the entire colony will be wiped out and the hive is abandoned. A colony affected by CCD will usually have the presence of capped brood, as well as food stored, both honey and bee pollen. The presence of the Queen is also checked, if the hive was Queen-less, then that was the cause of the collapse not CCD.

Figure 2
According to the USDA, in 2007 the US had approximately 25 Million hives, which has significantly declined in the past 3 decades. The above graph outlines the population decline from 1979 to 2009. There is a steep decline from 1979 to 1999; from 4.2 to 2.7 million; which is a 36% decrease. A further decrease of 0.3 million from 1999 to 2009 is shown by the graph.

Figure 3
The impact of the honeybee on human life is very significant. Many crops and vegetation are dependent on bees, as they are maintained and furthered through pollination from bees. Without the aid of bees, these crops would fail to reproduce. Agricultural crops are extremely dependant on the presence of bees; they pollinate over hundred varieties of fruits and vegetables. If prolonged, the limited growth will in turn mean that there is less food produced. Thus raising the price of food costs, leaving poor people with little food; the decrease in the bee population would also cause a sudden imbalance in food production and cause failure of hundreds of species of nuts, fruits and vegetables. Pathogens

A study was conducted in 2010 by Jerry J Bromenshenk and his team to find the true cause of CCD. The scientists used MSP, Mass spectrometry-based proteomics to identify and quantify thousands of proteins from healthy and collapsing bees. A common pair of pathogens were identified in the bees, Nosema ceranae and invertebrate iridescent virus; these were present in the bee who developed CCD, however they were not present in the healthy group. The group conducted an experiment to prove their thesis. They began by gathering healthy honeybee aging between 1 and 3 days. These bees were obtained from non-CCD colonies with no detectable levels of Nosema. The Nosema ceranae was obtained from local colonies that were known to be infected by it and the Virus from Dr. James Kalmakoff. The first group was a control group and treated with sugar water. The second given Nosema ceranae, the third group were infected by the virus. The last group was given both the Nosema ceranae and the virus. The groups were recorded for a fortnight and cause of death assessed using mass spectrometry. Thirty bees in each group were vaccinated. The honeybees that died after 24 hours of vaccination were not included in the final results. Figure 4

Fig.4 shows the result of the...
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