Colony Collapse Disease (CCD)
What is CCD?
CCD refers to the disappearance of the majority of the adult worker bees from the hive. The queen and eggs are often left behind as well as a supply of honey. There are no piles of dead bees in or outside of the hive. Also noted is the delay of predators in going after the honey.
When did it start?
In the spring of 2005, many of the migratory beekeepers who work the California almond bloom discovered that their colonies had suffered heavy losses during the winter.
Widespread attention first appeared after the winter of 2006-2007 when beekeepers losses were estimated at 31%. Some beekeepers reported losses of up to 90% of their stock. A study done by the Department of Agriculture in 1979 on the ‘Disappearing Disease of Honey Bees’ noted instances of the disorder in at least 27 states in all geographical regions of the US. It is estimated that there was a 57% decline in bee population between 1985 and 1997.
How Big is the Problem?
Every winter since 2005, beekeepers have reported overall losses of between 30 and 35%.
Why is this important?
Although you might think that all honey bees do is make honey, they are critical to our food supply. The Department of Agriculture estimates that a full 1/3 of our food supply is dependent on the pollination of honey bees. Beekeepers often travel all over the country with their bees for the express purpose of pollinating orchards and fields.
The decline in bee population would have a devastating effect on the food chain and result in a catastrophic loss in our ability to feed ourselves.
Where is this happening?
This is happening throughout the United States and Europe.
What causes it?
CCD is an extremely important issue and the worst part of it is that no one has a definitive answer for what causes it. There are many theories and most experts point to a combination of issues, not one single source of the problem.
• Pesticides – neonicotinoid (Clothianidin); fumigation for mites
• Parasites – Varroa Destructor Mites
• Virus – fungus (virus from the Iflavirus genus / Nosema ceranae, a one-celled parasitic fungus)
• Stress from hauling bees to remote locations for pollination
• Hyper-bred bees (to be larger)
• Genetically Modified Crops
• Cell phone towers disrupting bees navigational systems
Bees infected by the maggots of the Apocephalus borealis fly have become to be known as Zombie Bees. The bees abandon their hive at night, fly around erratically, and then die. Reports of infected bees have been growing around the country. More information on zombie bees.
Organic Bee Keepers
In the search for a cause for CCD, perhaps the most important fact that should be noted is that organic bee keepers have very few reported instances of CCD.
More information on CCD can be found at:
60 Minutes 10/28/2007 What’s Wrong With The Bees?
Buzz About Bees
USDA National Agricultural Library Insects, Bees and Entomology
Evidence That Colony Collapse Disorder Is a Disease
Scientists and Soldiers Solve a Bee Mystery
A spring without bees: how colony collapse disorder has endangered our food …