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Many farmers around the United States rely on the honey bee to pollinate their crops. For the past century, the honey bee population has been in decline. In 1940 the number of bee colonies was as high as 5 million, but has since declined to 2 million in 1989. This number has never fully recovered, but has made a small comeback to 2.5 million colonies. There are many factors that could contribute to colony loss, such as parasites, disease, and insecticides. The article discusses if colony collapse disorder (CCD) is a rising issue or an issue that has been around unnoticed for years.
Honeybees pollinate 95 different fruits and vegetables around the United States and are an important tool in agricultural practices. The 60% loss from 1940 to 1989 was blamed mainly due to a parasite called the Varroa mite. It went unnoticed for nearly 50 years, and was finally noticed in 1987. By this time the population had dropped immensely. This doesn’t seem to be a problem only the US is facing. Many other countries around the world, especially in Europe, are facing a similar problem with colonies disappearing.
The current losses are being researched with the use of neonictinoids. Pesticides are not exactly the only thing to blame. The article continues to suggest that the problem of CCD is a multifactor issue. Studies were then started from bees that had remained in the colony after it collapsed. It was found that the adult bees had a large number of pathogens within them. These pathogens are thought to be possibly spread between hives through the wax combs and equipment by beekeepers.
The hypothesis was that these pathogens were a direct cause of CCD. When the group in the article tested the hypothesis, they found mixed results. There have been many different studies done with different universities on the cause of CCD. One has a hypothesis of the bees having a suppressed immune system. The factor of a weak immune system with the lingering possibility of pathogens and a parasitic mite could all be linked to CCD. It was even blamed on modern beekeeping being the issue itself. If this is the case, bees are doomed no matter what the cause, and will continue to disappear.
There is still an unknown answer to why honey bees around the world are disappearing. There are a huge number of speculations, but not just one could be the problem. If things continue at the current rate of decline, the honeybee could disappear together in a short amount of time. As of now, research is still being conducted.
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