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Home > Natural Resources > Biodiversity Strategies for Natural Resources Sustainability

Causes and Solutions for Honey Bee Colony Collapse Disorder

Honey bees suffer from population reductions due to colony collapse disorder, which has wiped out thousands of beehives in the US and Europe over the past three years. Check out the causes and solutions.

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I've followed the honey bee crisis known as "colony collapse disorder" because of their close connection with our food supply, with nature, and because bees are one of the few "domesticated" insects in our economy.

Science is finally making headway on what is causing the die off of complete hives of bees.

Penn State researchers worked with the National Science Laboratory of the U.S. Department of Agricultural Marketing Service that already tests commodities such as milk and fruits and vegetables.

Honey has not regularly been analyzed, and bee pollen was not a commodity and so was not analyzed at all. The researchers decided to use types of screening the lab uses for milk and apples, which looks at over 170 pesticides. What they found is quite astounding to me... because of what it says about our agricultural practices.

All of the bees tested showed at least 1 pesticide and pollen averaged 6 pesticides with as many as 31 in a sample.

Honeycomb may contain pesticides applied years ago.

Scientists do not know that these chemicals have anything to do with colony collapse disorder, but scientists have concluded that these pesticides are definitely stressors. Penn State's Dr. Maryann Frazier say, "Pesticides alone have not shown they are the cause of CCD. We believe that it is a combination of a variety of factors, possibly including mites, viruses and pesticides."

While beekeepers will have a difficult time controlling pesticide exposure outside the hive, the Penn State researchers tested a method using gamma radiation for reducing the chemical load in beeswax and they found that irradiation broke down about 50% of the acaricides, pesticides that kill mites.

Read all the details at the Environment News Service.

Edited by Carolyn Allen, owner/editor of California Green Solutions
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