The case of the disappearing honeybees

'Honeybees are absolutely critical to the health of the environment.' - Kim Flottum

| July/August 2007

  • Bees-48Biology

    Courtesy Kim Flottum/Eastern Apicultural Society/

  • Bees-48Biology

Honey isn’t the whole story on bees.

Honeybees are responsible for about a third of the food we consume. Apples, sunflowers, cherries, melons, squash – you name it, they pollinate it. More than 4,000 natural pollinators, including butterflies and bumblebees, actually live in North America, but habitat loss and modern farming practices have left much of the workload to the busy bee herself, Apis mellifera.

In recent years, the honeybee population has been decimated by pests and diseases. Many beekeepers control these threats with attentive management. But now colony collapse disorder (CCD) has hit. Affected hives are found nearly empty, suddenly depleted of teeming colonies of perhaps 50,000 bees and holding only a few dead or dying occupants.

Examination of the bees remaining in CCD hives finds them devastated by illness and mites, as if their immune systems are impaired. Even typical predators such as wax moths avoid the newly abandoned hives for a week or more, according to a report by the Mid-Atlantic Apicultural Research and Extension Consortium.

CCD has been blamed on genetically modified plants, systemic pesticides, new diseases or pests, and even electromagnetic frequencies. Research continues but so far a cause has not been pinpointed. Migratory beekeepers, who crisscross the nation with colonies for hire, are experiencing the greatest losses.

Kim Flottum, editor of Bee Culture magazine and chairman of the Eastern Apicultural Society, believes stress is a factor.

Mother Earth News Fair Schedule 2019


Next: February 16-17, 2019
Belton, TX

Sit in on dozens of practical workshops from the leading authorities on modern homesteading, animal husbandry, gardening, real food and more!


Live The Good Life with GRIT!

Grit JulAug 2016At GRIT, we have a tradition of respecting the land that sustains rural America. That's why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing to GRIT through our automatic renewal savings plan. By paying now with a credit card, you save an additional $6 and get 6 issues of GRIT for only $16.95 (USA only).

Or, Bill Me Later and send me one year of GRIT for just $22.95!

Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter

Free Product Information Classifieds