Colony Collapse Disorder

by | Apr 17, 2007

The Independent picked up on a growing environmental disaster story about the sudden and alarming disappearance of bees.

The implications of the spread are alarming. Most of the world’s crops depend on pollination by bees. Albert Einstein once said that if the bees disappeared, “man would have only four years of life left”.

No one knows why it is happening. Theories involving mites, pesticides, global warming and GM crops have been proposed, but all have drawbacks.

German research has long shown that bees’ behaviour changes near power lines.

Now a limited study at Landau University has found that bees refuse to return to their hives when mobile phones are placed nearby.

According to a New York Times story from February, honeybees annually pollinate more than $14 billion worth of seeds and crops in the United States, mostly fruits, vegetables and nuts.

The bee losses are ranging from 30 to 60 percent on the West Coast, with some beekeepers on the East Coast and in Texas reporting losses of more than 70 percent; beekeepers consider a loss of up to 20 percent in the offseason to be normal.

Researchers say the bees are flying off in search of pollen and nectar and simply never returning to their colonies. Presumably they are dying in the fields, perhaps becoming exhausted or simply disoriented and eventually falling victim to the cold.