Monday, May 19, 2008

One-third of beekeepers experience losses from colony collapse disorder, still a mystery

Surveys of beekeepers indicate that more than 36 percent of their honeybee colonies were lost during the past winter, according to Science Daily. More than one-third of these losses can be attributed to Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), a mysterious plague that threatens the pollination needed for many crops.

The survey, which was conducted by the U.S. Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and the Apirary Inspectors of America (AIA), investigated approximately 19 percent of the nation's 2.44 million colonies. The Department of Agriculture reports that CCD "currently does not have a recognizable underlying cause" and its primary symptom "is simply no or a low number of adult honey bees present but with a live queen and no dead honey bees in the hive. Often there is still honey in the hive, and immature bees (brood) are present. ARS scientists and others are in the process of carrying out research to discover the cause(s) of CCD and develop ways for beekeepers to respond to the problem." (Photo by David Cappaery, Michigan State University)

Science Daily reports that honeybees "add about $15 billion a year to the value of U.S. crops by pollinating fruit, vegetable, tree nut and berry crops. Some beekeepers have already lost one-half to two-thirds of their colonies to CCD." Is this disorder causing problems for farmers in your community? Check with your local extension office.

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