Colony Collapse Disorder, or C.C.D. is a phenomenon first recorded in 2006, and can be defined the collapse of honey bee colonies. But what are possible causes, what are the consequences, and what are some possible solutions?
C.C.D. is characterized by having a hive were most of the worker bees have disappeared without a trace, there are no signs of any bodies of worker bees in or near the hive. The queen and brood, which are juvenile bees, remain in the hive. Although the worker bees are gone, the hive can be found with a surplus store of honey and pollen, but without the worker bees this supply will eventually diminish and the rest of the bee colony will die.
There are several possible causes of C.C.D. Some of these include pesticides, loss of habitat through urbanization and climate change, which can both lead to diminished food sources for bees. Pesticides that are used to get rid of other pests can also have adverse effects on honey bees. With the urbanization of rural areas, the amount of plants that feed the local bees could have decreased with development. In terms of climate change, it can change the timing of growing seasons for plants so some of the food sources for bees aren't available for them when they come out of hibernation.. Another cause that has led to C.C.D. is a small pest, the varroa mite. The varroa mite attaches itself to honey bees and uses them as a host, feeding of the blood of adult bees and the brood as well as reproducing. The feeding off of the bees by the varroa mites cause adult bees to become weaker and can even cause deformities in the brood as they enter adulthood as well as spread disease.
Consequences of C.C.D. are not only bad for bees, but bad for us. It is more than loosing sources of honey. Honey bees pollinate the crops that we in turn use. It diminishes food sources for humans and animals. It also causes plants to die off due to lack of pollination.
What can we do to help prevent C.C.D.? Be conscious of pesticide use, especially neonicotinoids which are some of the most harmful to bees. Another thing that we can do is plant flowers that are good food sources for bees, some of these include sunflowers, cosmos, lavender, mint, rosemary, and many more. Bee keepers can also look out for early stages of varroa mite infestations to try and stop it before more damages is done. If varroa mites are detected early enough bee keepers can use apistan strips to kill mites.
With working to save the bees we in turn save ourselves and the earth.