Posts Tagged: colony collapse disorder
The BBC this week examined colony collapse disorder (CCD), a mysterious phenomonen characterized by bees abandoning their hives. The adult bees buzz off, leaving the brood and stored food behind. They do not return.
Many bee specialists believe it's not just one thing causing CCD--it's a combination of factors or a "perfect storm": parasites, pesticides, malnutrition, stress, diseases and global weather changes.
The blood-sucking varroa mite, a parasite of honey bees, is a contributing factor in the decline of bee health.
When the BBC interviewed Cooperative Exension Apiculturist Eric Mussen of the UC Davis Entomology Department faculty about varroa mites, he said that the European or western honey bee doesn't "do a good job" of removing them. To a human, the varroa mite would be about the size of a softball "running around on you."
The varroa mite, Mussen said, is problematic because of three things:
1. It sucks the so-called bee blood, making the bee nutritionally weaker
2. It interferes with the immune system
3. The varroa can get viruses on its mouthparts so it inoculates bees with viruses as it travels from one bee to another.
Listen to Mussen talk about the varroa mite as he examines it under a microscope. Then imagine a softball-sized bloodsucker on you.
Varroa mite on drone
It's a sad photo.
The antenna of a honey bee pokes out of an abandoned hive. Victim of colony collapse disorder (CCD)? Perhaps.
Everytime I look at the bent antenna, I think of a plea for help. Help me! Help me! Please help me! This bee should have been nectaring flowers or gathering pollen.
This hive once belonged to entomologists Robert and Lynn Kimsey of UC Davis. She's the director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology and chairs the Department of Entomology. He's the sole forensic entomologist in the department.
CCD was one of the topics at the eighth annual international conference of the North American Pollinator Protection Campaign (NAPPC), held Oct. 22-24 in Washington, D.C.
The participants--farmers, scientists, and environmental advocates--agreed that we need to find ways to increase public awareness of pollinators. Pollinator Partnership chair Robert Lang described the loss of pollinators as "a potential health crisis for the planet."
Scores of beekeepers have witnessed a crisis in an individual bee hive.
Like the one below.
(Like to help with the honey bee research at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility at the University of California, Davis? Access this site.)