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Honeybee Crisis Continues: How You Can Help Stop Colony Collapse Disorder

Honeybee Crisis Continues: How You Can Help Stop Colony Collapse Disorder

More than a third of U.S. food crops are dependent on pollination by honeybees for a successful harvest. Hundreds of popular natural foods largely rely on bees for reproduction, including almonds, broccoli, cucumbers, squash, strawberries, and watermelons. By helping plants to produce seeds and fruit — and creating a very popular natural sweetener in the process — honeybees contribute an estimated $14 billion a year to the American economy, and are responsible for an abundance of many of the world’s healthiest foods.

Yet, for the past several years, a mysterious disorder has been seriously affecting honeybee populations, destroying both wild and domesticated hives. Despite years of study, scientists have still not reached a consensus on the cause of honeybee Colony Collapse Disorder, which causes worker bees at afflicted bee colonies to become disoriented en masse and abandon their hives, often with untended bee larvae still inside. Left to fend for themselves, the flightless bee larvae eventually starve and die.

Many causes have been proposed for Colony Collapse Disorder — invasive parasites, viruses, pesticide residues, genetically modified crops, and even electromagnetic radiation from mobile phones have all been put forth as possible culprits behind the disorder (but before you toss out that cell phone to save the bees, please note that environmental scientists have largely discounted that last theory).

Though no single cause of CCD has yet been pinpointed, the scientific community agrees on one thing: bees across the United States are under significant stress from a variety of sources, and if nothing is done to help them, our entire agricultural system could be at risk.

Over the past several years, wild honeybee populations have almost disappeared from the American landscape. And according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, just during this past winter, over one-third of domesticated honeybees kept by beekeepers died. Honeybees are dying, not just from the mysterious CCD, but also from known causes like pesticide poisoning and parasite infestations.

And not only honeybees but also many other varieties of bees, wasps and butterflies that pollinate plants are at risk from malnutrition and starvation caused by lack of access to the variety of nutritious native wild plants they once depended on for survival. A decrease in plant biodiversity, caused by agricultural monoculture and the loss of wild habitat, is contributing significantly to the stress insect pollinators face.

What can you do to help protect bees, and the healthy, natural foods they help produce? Check out our Care2 Action page for a list of simple, inexpensive steps you can take to help honeybees in your own backyard!

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Honeybee photo detail courtesy USDA.

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474 comments

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2:35PM PDT on Aug 15, 2012

No bees, no food.

6:36AM PDT on Oct 17, 2011

Petition signed and voted 'yes!'

10:12AM PDT on Sep 6, 2011

Thank U, I love bees!!!

2:05AM PDT on Aug 1, 2011

This is a very sad story. Other animals and plants have to go only because "we" humans do not want to share the world with other life forms, these life forms "we" would not eat (vegetarian food is not a bad idea, or eating with conscience as the so called primitive cultures did and still do, if they still exist. No meat/fish every day). "We" destroy everything around us and "we" forget, that everything is important to survive, too.

As little child i thought that rain is when God and the angels cry - because "we" humans have forgotten that we need this "intelligence", someone who could help... if "we" hadn't turned away for many centuries ago...

"Only when the last tree has been cut down; Only when the last river has been poisoned; Only when the last fish has been caught; Only then will you find that money cannot be eaten." (Native American proverb)

"We have learned to fly the air like birds and swim the sea like fish, but we have not yet learned the simple art of living together as brothers." (Martin Luther King)

3:46AM PDT on May 16, 2011

At one point Aussie bees were thought to be the problem. The Aussie bee was proven to be "pure". Our development as a nation is at a crossroads, our land is relatively uncontaminated, simply because of its youth, population and previous "inaccessability". We are a world power, and we have the power to ensure that our people live in a land where our health and wellbeing reigns over money and power. Monsanto has run rife in the US. Their tentacles are snaking into Australia. Our organic farmers are already losing their livelihood to this monster of genetic manipulation. If our bees are pure, let's do everything to ensure they remain that way. The whole world may depend on our relative isolation. Korea is already using manual labour to pollinate some of their fruit trees. That's so close to home! The whole world needs to address this problem! It is imperative to the whole world! It is imperative to our survival, and our children's survival, and our children's children's survival. Mankind, and yes, usually man, is the only animal who threatens his own survival for mercenary gains. Every other species takes what they need for survival, even those who store their food. Only mankind stores more than he needs and uses it to lord over others. Let's get rid of genetic manipulation for a start. Let's go organic. If GM wheat yields less over a ten year period than (organic) pre GM wheat, and storing does not deteriorate the food value, why go GM? For humanity's sake, let's go organic!

7:31AM PST on Jan 12, 2011

Bees are essential for life as we know it. Without them, many species cannot survive, resulting in ecologic disorder and increasing a domino effect impacting all creatures.

6:12PM PDT on Sep 11, 2010

Before us goes the bee.Do what you can.Be a do bee.

6:17PM PDT on Jul 30, 2010

Same- or higher- number of yellow jackets, significant drop in honeybee numbers.

2:50AM PDT on Jun 16, 2010

Anything to save the bees. we might run away from them when they fly in a swarm but there's nothing like honey to heal us and sweeten our foods. I hope the scientific world can find out soon what's causing the problems for the bees and quickly solve them so we can save the bees.

10:11AM PDT on Jun 13, 2010

What a shame...Not only are they really cute, but their venom is used to alleviate lots of medical conditions, and honey (especially in the comb) is one of the most perfect and delicious foods.

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