I’d come up with a lot of the same information in dribs and drabs, and mixed it with a large dose of skepticism about overwrought news reports. For example, there’s this PDF of a powerpoint slide about “fall dwindle disease” (the old name for colony collapse disorder). It mentions that the phenom struck a beekeeper in the 1930s. (Turns out it’s been around even longer than that.)
So it’s nice to have it all presented in one place, in a friendly & calm piece written by an entomologist who, among other things, advises that “it’s never a good idea to trust what the media are telling you.”
Here’s his sum-up:
[T]he leading hypothesis in many researcher’s minds is that colonies are dying primarily because of stress. Stress means something different to a honey bee colony than to a human, but the basic idea isn’t all that alien: If a colony is infected with a fungus, or has mites, or has pesticides in its honey, or is overheated, or is undernourished, or is losing workers due to spraying, or any other such thing, then the colony is experiencing stress. Stress in turn can cause behavioral changes that exacerbate the problem and lead to worse ones like immune system failure.
What’s interesting is that out on the bee keeping fringes, people are discovering ways to keep their hives healthier. I blogged one other time about Kirk Webster, who has bred bees resistent to Varroa mites, one significant cause of stress to European honey bees.
Here’s another beekeeper who controls mites by using hives with smaller cells. I thought this was cool, as well:
The other change I’ve done in my beekeeping, is to capture feral swarms and start raising queens from these. These are darker bees that seem more acclimatized to my location and have been surviving on their own with no chemicals at all.
Yeah, let nature sort it out!
[tags] colony collapse disorder, honeybees, [/tags]