In 2006, beekeepers around the world began to notice a trend. Suddenly, bees began abandoning their hives and disappearing. There was no obvious
reason for this to occur, and implications of it were severe.
In America, honeybees are responsible for the pollination of over 90 plants which are considered "commercial crops," including fruit, vegetables,
cotton, nut plants, and more. They pollinate about a third of everything that we eat, and the value of the pollination done by honeybees around the
country is about $15 billion. Humans simply cannot take over pollinating these crops if the bees are in serious trouble. In China, the use of
pesticides did not trigger CCD but it did cause the entire bee population of a specific area in China to die off. The humans took over pollinating
their livelihood, apples and pears. They pollinate every flower by hand, and a report
Biodiversity and the Ecosystem Approach in Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries puts it mildly when they call hand pollination a "laborious and
It's called Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). Around half of all CCD cases display symptoms that are unlike any other known cause of honeybee disorders
or illnesses. The adults in the colony disappear. Many other countries, like France, the UK, and Australia have experienced the same problems with
their honeybee colonies, and CCD has not appeared in any other species. According to an
informative website by beekeepers
, the symptoms include "Sudden colony death (3-6 week
period) with no dead bees around or in the hive."
There are many theories surrounding CCD, and all of them have their merit. The varroa mite, which is a bee parasite, may be responsible. Or a disease
like IAPV. Pesticides are contributing to the many problems that a bee faces, and genetically engineered crops have been blamed. Drought, poor
nutrition, and weather changes may also be part of the problem. And because of the need for honeybees to pollinate crops, they are migrated by trucks
to different areas in order to pollinate whichever crops are in season. An invasive species of mite was considered to suppress bee immunity in 2005
according to an article in Science Daily
. However, bee autopsies of CCD cases
did not show mites to appear in CCD cases. Many people suggest that cell phone signals may interfere with migration and cause CCD, but it would just
be another stress factor like drought that would contribute to the lowering of a bee's immune defenses.
However, the most highly suspected cause of CCD is, according to the Environmental
, "potential immune-suppressing stress on bees caused by one or a combination of factors." Bees who exhibit CCD have
parasites, fungal infections, and viruses. Their immune symptoms collapse and the bees contract all sorts of things. An article on
states that "Investigators have found so many infections in surviving adult
bees that many have diagnosed "immunosupression" from an unknown toxic agent." The article also states that Dennis Van Engelsdorp, a bee
specialist, has said that this "could be the AIDS of the bee industry." The beekeeper website says that "Researchers have found a virus that
appears to be highly associated with CCD at this point in research."
CCD seems to have affected migratory bees that are shipped around the country first, and later spread to more populations. It has been reported in
many colonies in areas where pesticides are not used, or where cell phone signals are limited.
Honeybees exhibit a very interesting trait. When they become ill, they flee the hive to protect the healthy bees in their colony. The implications of
CCD would be that millions of bees are becoming sick and leaving their hives to protect the colony.
A new species of the Nosema virus has been linked to CCD, according to the ARS CCD Action
. Essentially, what is happening is that stress is causing the immune systems of honeybees to diminish. Every factor contributes a little
bit. What happens then is that the viruses in bees begin to flourish, and mutate, and viruses or fungi like Nosema emerge. They continue to mutate
until something happens, a new virus emerges. It may continually weaken the immune systems of bees on their own, HIV of a different sort, for
honeybees and not humans.
There is certainly enough evidence to prove that bees seem to be suffering the results of an immunosuppressant virus, similar to HIV. I highly doubt
that the government is responsible for CCD, and I think that the virus which caused it mutated naturally due to a number of stress factors in
honeybees which allowed more common viruses to flourish so much that they mutated. Even "healthy" honeybees from non-CCD colonies are being
autopsied and tested and found to have hundreds of viruses, but they do not cause any symptoms and have been observed in bees for many years.
Pesticides have been used for years, droughts have occurred before, cell phone have been around since the 1990s, and some colonies that are isolated
are still not affected. Whether this situation can correlate with immunosuppressant viruses in humans is open to opinion and debate. However,
Community Collapse Disorder and the decline of the honeybee population may be another piece of the puzzle.
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