Most of us don't really consider how interconnected life is. Take the bee, for example. Most people don't think of bees as a particularly important part of our world. In fact, many of us probably consider the bee to be a nuisance...an insect to be avoided. If anything, we thank the bee for providing the world with honey. Of course, bee keepers and farmers know that bees are far more valuable to our world.
Consider this: it is estimated that appoximately one-third of the U.S. food supply - including a variety of fruits, vegetables and even almonds - depends on pollination from bees. Like ice cream? Did you know that about 40% of Haagen-Dazs' 60 flavors - such as strawberry, toasted pecan and banana split rely on the bee. Without bees, much of the food that we enjoy would very nearly disappear from the our local grocery store.
That being said, you may understand why beekeepers, farmers, scientists became very concerned when entire colonies or hives of bees began disappearing in late 2004. Beekeepers from around the world reported waking up to empty hives. The bees...gone! The phenomenon has come to be know as Colony Collapse Disorder or CCD. Some researchers estimate that CCD accounted for the lost of 30% of the United States' managed bee colonies in 2007 and has wiped out more than half since first appearing in 2004.
So why are the bees disappearing? That, my friends, is the million dollar question. Researchers and agricultural experts are puzzled. Theories range from global warming to new diseases to the varroa mite, which feeds on honeybees.
- survey and data collection;
- analysis of samples;
- hypothesis-driven research; and,
- mitigation and preventative action.
American Beekeepers Federation
National Resource Defense Council (NRDC) Article: Bee's Needs
USDA: Agricultural Research Service Video on CCD