What is Bee colony collapse?

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Symbiosis and mutation are the two major activities on the basis of which the whole ecosystem functions. The symbiosis process carried out by the bees is known as mutualism in which the living species, the benefactor and the beneficiary get equally rewarded. Generally speaking, bees are dependent upon the flowers for pollen and nectar that provide them with the necessary nutrition for their wellbeing. In nutshell, it is impossible for the bees to survive without flowers. On the other hand, there are many wild and garden varieties of plants that totally depend upon bees for pollination and fertilization. These bees carry pollen attached to their hairy bodies from one flower to another. This eventually leads to fruit and seed production. Just as every species in the ecosystem is part of the foodchain and plays the role of predator at one time and prey the next instance, similarly bees  have been naturally threatened by bears, Argentine ants, moth and different types of parasites. Certain diseases such as American and European foulbrood, viruses, paralysis, and dysentery are known to kill bees. Apart from that, honey bee mites are known to destroy thousands of bee-hives across North and South America, Europe and Asia. All these threats though took their turns in killing some of the bee population it did not result in the complete eradication of the bees from their bee-hives. But lately, certain factors have resulted in enormous deterioration in the number of bees causing Colony collapse disorder.



What is bee colony collapse?

Beekeepers maintain bees and bee-hives to use them for commercial pollination. Some of the bee-keepers in the winter of 2006-2007 observed that they had lost around 30 to 90 percent of bee-hives in one year. More than 50 percent of bees’ colonies demonstrated this trait in which the worker bees of the colony were found dead and the bee-hive was left with only queen bee and the young larvae as occupant. It is simply impossible for the bee-hives to sustain without the worker bees that perform almost all the functions of the hive. Surprisingly the deaths were not because of lack of honey or pollen storage as the hives displayed ample amount of food storage. Several related events were reported related to colony destruction of bees leading to the introduction of the term Colony collapse disorder or CCD.



What are the reasons behind bee colony collapse?

Different theories have been associated  with Colony collapse disorder. But biologists have come to a conclusion that not one but combination of all the factors have resulted in Colony collapse disorder:

  • The invasive mite (honey bee pest), varroa has grown excessively leading to uncontrolled deaths of the bees. Over the years, this pest has become resistant to different medicines and sprays that are used against it.
  • New type of diseases namely Isralie Acuter paralysis virus and the gut parasite Nosema are affecting the bee population
  • Pesticide poisoning have resulted in colon infections in the bees
  • Changes in food supplies due to modification in habitat
  • Bee management stress
  • Low availability of proper nutritional food varieties
  • Immunity stress caused by the entire above factor in combination
  • Droughts and migratory stress have also resulted in Colony collapse disorder



What are the efforts being done to control bee colony collapse?

In order to control the Colony collapse disorder in 2007, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) founded Colony collapse disorder Steering Committee that included representatives from various government agencies and academia. The plan put forth by this Steering Committee comprise of four major components:

  • Collecting data through survey for determining the Colony collapse disorder extent and the existing status of health and growth of honey bee colony
  • Analyzing the bee samples for finding out the effect of pathogens and pests and pesticides on the immunity of the bees
  • Research based on the hypothesis of four factors namely bee pests, pesticides, reemerging and new pathogens, and nutritional and environmental stress
  • Measures to improve the health and habitat of the bees for counteracting the Colony collapse disorder



How can bee colony collapse affect our ecosystem?

In the absence of bees,  spreading the pollen from the flowers in many plant species will cause a problem as they wont bear fruits and thus no future seeds for extensing their species . Due to this eventually the pollination and in turn the fertilization of different varieties of flowers will come down and many of the varieties become extinct. This will indirectly affect the food supply of certain species of animals that rely on specific plants for survival. In this way a chain of herbivores may thin out. Since in an ecosystem all the animals depend on one another, with the depletion in number of herbivores, the carnivores who feed on them will eventually face shortage of food supply and can die due to starvation. This will instantly affect the food economy and the food supply will become scarce and costlier than ever. In totality, without the bees for pollination, humans are bound to face their ownb set of problems in the long run.


More on Bees, click below:

Different Types of Bees

Bee Swarming: Process of Nesting

Killer Bees 

Sweat Bees love your sweat


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