Colony Collapse Disorder is a relatively new, but very disconcerting, phenomenon where a colony of worker bees suddenly disappears. Since around 2006 the disorder has been showing up more often around the world, and there was a documentary made about it called “Vanishing of the Bees” which explored the possible reasons why it is happening. Bees and bee colonies are vital to our food supply, as their pollination is a major factor in the health of our agricultural system.
A recent study published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology shows a strong relationship between neonicotinoid insecticides used on corn seeds and the die-off of honeybees. The insecticide is among the most widely used in the world, and its airborne spreading from corn planting and resulting bee ingestion is seen as a contributor to colony collapse disorder.
The most recent data available colony collapse disorder is from 2010, and the USDA reported that bee numbers were down a whopping 34% for the year, about the same as in 2008 and 2009. If we want to continue to eat food, we need bees – so it’s a positive thing that a study has shown a potential reason why the disorder is happening. Hopefully this will help to turn things around before it’s too late.
Honeybee image from BigStock