Vanishing Bees Endanger U.S. Agriculture in Colony Collapse Disorder

Honeybees play a huge role in food production by pollinating plants, but honeybees have been disappearing all over the U.S. Scientists are trying to figure out why, and what’s making the disappearance even more mysterious is that beekeepers aren’t finding dead bees.

And bees have a sophisticated navigation system, so it’s not likely that they just got lost on the way back to the hive.They are apparently either getting lost, or simply abandoning their hives.

So where are they all going? Research has recently indicated that the problem is a combination of mites and other parasites, as well as a virus which is more common in the collapsed colonies. Is the virus a cause of the disappearance, or just a marker of something else going on?

Some scientists believe that a new type of pesticide is weakening the immune system of the bees, making them more vulnerable to other disorders and damaging their nervous systems (which may account of them losing their navigation abilities).

But there aren’t any hard answers yet.

Some researchers are looking into the idea of adapting other bees to be used as pollinators.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture calculated in June that colony collapse disorder might cause as much as $75 billion in losses to the U.S. agriculture industry and economy. The USDA has announced that it’s going to hold a special symposium on the problem, called “Late-Breaking Symposium: Colony Collapse Disorder in Honey Bees: Insight Into Status, Potential Causes, and Preventive Measures.”

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