Scientists have been baffled for many years by the disappearance of honeybee colonies around the world. The problem has been dubbed colony collapse disorder (CCD). According to Reuters, recent research has confirmed the Varroa mite as the prime suspect. The deformed wing virus (DWV) is suspected of killing the bees. The Varroa mite transfers the virus to the bees when it feeds on the bees’ blood.
Varroa Mite Causes Explosive Growth in Virus Infection
The mite was not native to Hawaii. Its arrival there allowed scientists to observe changes in the health of the local bees. The article stated that when the Varroa mite invaded the hive, the DWV infection rate of the bees rose from 10 percent to 100 percent. Simultaneously, the amount of the virus in the bees’ bodies increased a million times, and one strain of DWV became dominant. Beekeepers already use miticides to combat the mites. It now appears that the interaction between the Varroa mite and the DWV virus is the key to the CCD problem. The solution seems to be the development of safe and more effective miticides.
Bees Need wide Variety of Blossoms for Good Health
Other critical factors affect bee health; pesticides, fungi and decreased plant diversity. Bees need many varieties of plants, blooming at different times, for a constant food supply. As in humans, food variety provides a balanced diet, which promotes bee health. Commercial agriculture has very large fields devoted to a single crop. Weed-killers reduce the supply of weed blossoms in crop fields. Also, the wide varieties of wildflowers that once grew along fence rows and in woodlots, are not available in sufficient numbers to support a large bee population.
How long has it been since you saw a honeybee feeding on white clover in your yard? The scarcity of white clover may be significant. Yard product companies have convinced us that white clover is a weed and needs to be eradicated.
According to the Los Angeles Times, California has 750,000 acres devoted to almond orchards that produce 80 percent of the world supply; acreage has increased 42 percent in the last 10 years. According to California Country.org, 1.5 million bee colonies are needed to pollinate the almond trees. Two-thirds of these bees must be trucked in on semi-trailers from almost every state in the union. This pollination effort requires the services of more than one-half of the bee population of the country.
The Future of Humanity Can Depend on Saving the Honeybee
Stemming the tide of disappearing bee colonies caused by Colony Collapse Disorder is essential to maintaining the world food supply. According to California Country.org, the American Beekeeping Federation states that honeybees are directly or indirectly responsible for the pollination for one-third of our food supply. The complete disappearance of the honeybee would cause critical shortages and much higher prices for food. Many of your favorite foods would not be available at any price. Corn is self-pollinating but a corn diet could be very boring.
Dan Charles/”Why California Almonds Need North Dakota Flowers (And a Few Billion Bees)/”NPR
Christine Souza/”What’s the Buzz About Pollination”/California Country.org
Ben Hirschler/”Bee-Killing Virus Gets Supercharged by Mites”/Reuters
Marc Lifsher/”Hives for Hire”/LA Times