Colony Collapse Disorder
Colony Collapse Disorder is the phenomenon that occurs when the majority of worker bees in a colony disappear and leave behind a queen, plenty of food, and a few nurse bees to care for the remaining immature bees and the queen. Once thought to pose a major long-term threat to bees, reported cases of CCD have declined substantially over the last five years.
The number of hives that do not survive over the winter months – the overall indicator for bee health – has maintained an average of about 28.7 percent from 2006-2007 but dropped to 23.1 percent for the 2014-2015 winter. While winter losses remain somewhat high, the number of those losses attributed to CCD has dropped from roughly 60 percent of total hives lost in 2008 to 31.1 percent in 2013; in initial reports for 2014-2015 losses, CCD is not mentioned.
You need to know some of the most common points about Bees which will be shared by Pritish Kumar Halder.
Discovering a Problem
During the winter of 2006-2007, some beekeepers began to report unusually high losses of 30-90 percent of their hives. As many as 50 percent of all affected colonies demonstrated symptoms inconsistent with any known causes of honey bee death:
- Sudden loss of a colony’s worker bee population with very few dead bees found near the colony.
- The queen and brood (young) remained, and the colonies had relatively abundant honey and pollen reserves.
But hives cannot sustain themselves without worker bees and would eventually die. This combination of events resulting in the loss of a bee colony has been called Colony Collapse Disorder.
Though agricultural records from more than a century ago note occasional bee “disappearances” and “dwindling” colonies in some years, it is uncertain whether the colonies had the same combination of factors associated with CCD. What we do know from the data from beekeepers for 2014/2015EXITEXIT EPA WEBSITE is that, while colony loss from CCD has declined, colony loss is still a concern.
Dead Bees don’t Necessarily Mean CCD
Certain pesticides are harmful to bees. That’s why we require instructions for protecting bees on the labels of pesticides that are known to be particularly harmful to bees. This is one of many reasons why everyone must read and follow pesticide label instructions. When most or all of the bees in a hive are killed by overexposure to a pesticide, we call that a bee kill incident resulting from acute pesticide poisoning. But acute pesticide poisoning of a hive is very different from CCD and is almost always avoidable.
There have been several incidents of acute poisoning of honey bees covered in the popular media in recent years, but sometimes these incidents are mistakenly associated with CCD. A common element of acute pesticide poisoning of bees is, literally, a pile of dead bees outside the hive entrance. With CCD, there are very few if any dead bees near the hive. Piles of dead bees are an indication that the incident is not colony collapse disorder. Indeed, heavily diseased colonies can also exhibit large numbers of dead bees near the hive.
Why It’s Happening
There have been many theories about the cause of CCD, but the researchers who are leading the effort to find out why are now focused on these factors:
- Increased losses due to the invasive varroa mite (a pest of honey bees).
- New or emerging diseases such as the Israeli Acute Paralysis virus and the gut parasite Nosema.
- Pesticide poisoning through exposure to pesticides applied to crops or for in-hive insect or mite control.
- Stress bees experience due to management practices such as transportation to multiple locations across the country for providing pollination services.
- Changes to the habitat where bees forage.
- Inadequate forage/poor nutrition.
- Potential immune-suppressing stress on bees caused by one or a combination of factors identified above.
What is Being Done
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is leading the federal government’s response to CCD. In 2007, USDA established a CCD Steering Committee with representatives from other government agencies and academia. EPA is an active participant in the CCD Steering Committee. The Steering Committee has developed the Colony Collapse Disorder Action Plan (PDF)EXITEXIT EPA WEBSITE (28 pp, 2 MB, About PDF). The plan has four main components:
- Survey/Data Collection to determine the extent of CCD and the current status of honey bee colony production and health.
- Analysis of Bee Samples to determine the prevalence of various pests and pathogens, bee immunity and stress, and exposure to pesticides.
- Hypothesis-Driven Research on four candidate factors including:
- new and reemerging pathogens,
- bee pests,
- environmental and nutritional stresses, and
- Mitigative/Preventive Measures to improve bee health and habitat and to counter mortality factors.
In October 2013, the CCD Steering Committee hosted the national stakeholder conference on honey bee health. The conference brought together a broad group of stakeholders to examine the federal government’s course of action to understand colony collapse disorder and honey bee health. Based on input from the stakeholders at this conference, the CCD steering committee is drafting a revised CCD and honey bee health action plan.
What EPA is Doing
Our role in the federal response to CCD is to keep abreast of and help advance research investigating pesticide effects on pollinators. While our longstanding regulatory requirements for pesticides are designed to protect beneficial insects such as bees, since 2007 we have been taking action to protect pollinators.
Bees are Essential Workers
Pollinators are a vital part of agricultural production. Honeybees pollinate about one-third of American crops, a critical process for a healthy supply chain. It’s estimated that honeybees contribute nearly $20 billion to the value of US agriculture. They’re essential to the production of fruits and vegetables, and declining numbers will not only impact what we all put on our tables every day but the economy at large. As bees flit from plant to plant gathering nectar for their survival, they pollinate crops such as apples, cranberries, melons, and broccoli. Some crops, including blueberries and cherries, are 90 percent dependent on honeybee pollination! For more information about Colony Collapse disorder please visit Pritish Kumar Halder
Threat to Honeybees
Honeybees face multiple threats, both natural and man-made.
Habitat loss has certainly impacted the space they have to roam and create hives. Bees travel for miles and need broad areas with lots of flowers, a source of water, and undisturbed nature in which to build hives. Residential and commercial development has replaced nature in many areas, making it difficult for bees to find a home.
Pesticides & Climate Change
Increased use of chemicals both in farming and residential living has decimated bee populations. Even when the pesticides are not meant for bees, they often kill any insect in their path and winds can carry droplets across large geographic areas, contaminating bee environments and damaging colonies. Scientists believe that climate change is also impacting bees. Climate change is bringing on extreme weather events which can affect the timing of when flowers start to bloom. Fewer flowers available in the early spring mean less food for bees.
Disease and Predators
Finally, disease and predators have accounted for declining bee populations. Pests like the mites hurt bees by invading their hives and sometimes causing Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), which makes bees sick, disoriented, and unable to find their way back home. Predators like bears, mice, and even moths and wasps can destroy hives and their bee population.
Government Efforts to Restore bee Population
The US Department of Agriculture announced $8 million in funding for farmers and ranchers in five states to establish new habitats for honeybee populations. The EPA will limit harmful pesticides and earlier this year, hives were even installed outside the Vice President’s residence, to encourage citizens to establish beehives where they could, or at least to plant bee-friendly flowers and flowering herbs in their gardens and yards.