Colony Collapse Disorder. (8/11/2011)
We’ve been inundated with questions from our customers about this very serious subject, and appreciate the fact that so many of you are concerned about what you are hearing in the press about colony collapse disorder. Honeybee health is critical to farmers and fruit growers who depend on honey bees to pollinate crops.
We communicate constantly with beekeepers around the USA and in other parts of the world too. There isn’t a consistent pattern to this phenomenon. Some beekeepers report annual drop-offs in hive activity that are consistent with previous years, where others report no hive drop-off whatsoever. Then there are some, perhaps 25%, that report a total hive loss. We haven’t seen a regional pattern forming as yet, though we’ve seen data from 25 States reporting some instances of significant loss.
So we’re still collecting data, but regardless of our limited data, this is clearly an extremely serious matter, one which is already impacting supplies of royal jelly, bee pollen, propolis and honey, and of course the more serious matter of crop pollination.
Every third bite of the food that we eat depends on bees for pollination, so clearly this is of consequence to every single one of us. Some experts are declaring that between 60 and 70% of bee colonies in the USA have been depleted.
For the past 20 years or so the main issue for beekeepers has been parasitic mites. These mites can and do transmit viruses to bees and cause significant colony losses each year.
More recently pesticide losses have become a major problem, said to be responsible in a large part for the catastrophic losses currently being seen.
The pesticides are not just killing the bees – a new class of pesticides used on plants, called neonicotinoids, don’t kill bees but hamper their sense of direction, leaving them unable to find their way back to the hive.?Incidentally, you may have seen a review of this issue some weeks ago on 60 minutes.
Particularly noteworthy was their claim that a specific pesticide was banned in Europe around 2001/2002 – why? – because it was killing the bees! – almost six years of experience in Europe and the US is just becoming concerned about the issue!
We’ll update you as soon as we have more information.