Colony collapse disorder. Sounds horrible, doesn’t it? It’s a plague decimating stocks of honeybees across the world, but primarily, in the U.S. – very bad news for the agriculture sector as bees contribute an astounding 15 billion dollars a year to it.
The industrious honeybee, particularly the European variety, pollinates much of our fruit, flower, vegetable and nut crops. Without bees it probably wouldn’t be long until we ran out of food. Yet we take these busy little creatures for granted – abusing their environment by the use of pesticides and deforestation practices; and overworking them in areas like the almond industry in California where many productive hives are moved from one orchard to another during the season.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture is casting blame at the nectar-laden feet of Australian bees, claiming they are the carriers of the virus causing Colony Collapse Disorder. (The U.S. began importing Australian bees in 2004.) Aussie beekeepers deny these claims. Julian Wolfagen from the Tasmanian Beekeepers Association says:
“We have no symptoms of Colony Collapse Disorder in Australia.”
Bees are being imported and exported more than they ever have been in the past. Forager bees must collect nectar from 2 million flowers to make a mere one pound of honey. That makes doing the housework seem almost luxurious! Surely the stress of travel and demands of increased production expectations must be taking their toll on these delicate creatures. It is hoped that the agriculture industry can come up with methods to reduce the stress on our fine, honey-producing friends; for without them, the world would be a very different place.