In my days as a ‘current events avoider’, I still managed to a fear of the loss of honey bees. As the greatest, most diverse , and most widespread pollinator, we owe this little creature just about everything we eat, grow, or wear. Outside of the value of honey as a crop, beekeeping can provide additional income to those who travel with their hives to aid crop fertilization, making it a lucrative profession both in America and third world countries. But it seems like there’s always a threat to these ventures: mites, fungus, Africanized bees, or even pesticides.
A recent survey of 19% of the commercial bee industry in the U.S. showed losses of 32% over the past year. True, this survey investigated only the largest operators, but a general trend can be induced from the study. Just imagine if 1/3 of the people in your office died over the course of a year, or 1/3 of the businesses in your area were closed. Now imagine that, in addition to rising food prices and the scarcity of certain crops due to their use as biofuel, the loss of 1/3 or more of this year’s crop due to a lack of fertilization.
The most interesting part of the situation, however, is the loss of bees and entire hives to CCD, colony collapse disorder. Basically, the bees of a hive get fed up, or depressed, or disillusioned with the leadership of their hives, and wander off on their own. They die alone, the queen dies by herself, and honey production stops, starving off the next generation. Science has yet to determine a cause, but I have my own theory: we’ve taught them well.