Honeybees Decline Sharply in U.S.
March 8, 2007 -- Across the United States, beekeepers are reporting a loss of 30 percent to more than 70 percent of overall beehives. Experts are calling it “colony collapse disorder,” in which bees have started leaving their hives in droves, never to return. They think the phenomenon is tied to recent stresses on the bees.
An effort to raise more efficient bees that need shorter off-seasons has lowered the insects' immunity to viruses, while bees and their hives have experienced infestations of parasitic mites and a fungal pathogen. In addition, beekeepers say it is getting harder to find areas that can properly support bees during the pollination season. Researchers believe these problems are compromising the health and size of honeybee populations.
Honeybees play a critical role in spreading pollen so plant fertilization can occur. Pollination is necessary for the production of most fruits and vegetables we eat and many crops on which livestock rely. As a result of the bee decline, we could see fewer crops this year.
A recent report from the National Research Council, Status of Pollinators in North America, reported decline of some pollinator populations and recommends increased efforts to monitor their status and more research on the sustainable management of these populations.