Why Are Bees Leaving Us?
For a multitude of reasons, and scientists are still trying to figure it all out. It is complex, as are the bees themselves.
Colony collapse disorder (CCD) is still a mystery but it has generated many explanations about why bees are vanishing. Beekeepers have struggled to keep their bees alive and healthy since the discovery in the mid-1980s of varroa destructor, which are parasite mites. These mites invade Western honeybee colonies where they reproduce, feed on the blood of bees and spread disease, causing the bees to get very sick.
Is Commercial Beekeeping Exhausting for Bees?
Bees are being trucked around in 18-wheelers from one vast agricultural business to another. Sometimes the bees get worn out by having to pollinate 2-4 crops a year, back to back. Less pasture land for bees means more commercially grown crops and more pesticides. Neonicotinoid pesticides are harmful to bees, but what are they going to do? Die of disease or exhaustion? Fly away and disappear?
Exhausted bees do not eat well. They suffer from nutritional stress and that leads to pathogen outbreaks because the bees are in a weakened state of health.
It seems that when a bee knows she is sick, she flies away from the hive so as not to infect her sisters.
Honeybee colonies are still dying off as much as ever, and there is a lot of queen bee loss lately that needs to be investigated. Nobody knows where she is going or why.
What Can We Do for Honeybees?
Take an interest in bees, learn about them, help and appreciate them.
More people are starting to show interest in beekeeping than in a long time, especially in urban beekeeping. People are coming together for the common good of all and overcoming their fear of bees.
If you love bees, not as part of a multi-billion-dollar cash crop but as the magnificent creates they are, please plant some nectar and pollen producing flowers and herbs around your home and stop using heavy pesticides in your garden. We will revisit this theme, but in the meantime this is a small but powerful start…