The mysterious case of the vanishing bees in 2006/7 in the USA

Taking stock of explanations

Oct 31, 2014
The mysterious case of the vanishing bees in 2006/7 in the USA

After the 2006/7 disaster, theories abounded, says the New York Times and highlights some of the alleged culprits: from cellphone towers and genetically modified crops, to pathogens and pesticides.

Looking into the neonicotinoids question, two facts are put together and speak for themselves: The European Union was sufficiently impressed by the evidence against neonics that in 2013 it ordered a two-year restriction on the use of some of them. However, France had imposed a ban for certain crops as far back as 1999, and yet its disappearing-bee woes have not ended.

The article goes on to explain that some scientists blame the parasitic Varroa destructor as the probable cause of bee losses, but another theory is put forward:  the possibility that honey bees are simply overworked because, from season to season, colonies are routinely trucked around the country to pollinate crops.

Finally a 2013 joint study report of several federal agencies is referred to. This states that a mix of various factors was likely to be behind the bee colonies’ devastation.

The conclusion: Colonies still die, for a variety of reasons, but there have been fewer instances of the mass collapse that caused so much anguish in 2006 and ’07. Still, beekeepers are worried: “Where annual bee losses were once in the range of 5 percent to 10 percent, they are now more on the order of 30 percent. The fear is that this dying-off is too great for the country’s ever-expanding agricultural needs.”  

Read the complete article here.

Watch the video documentary that complements the article.

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