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Molly O'Connor

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Where would you place Colony Collapse Disorder in relation to the many other problems facing our society?

Honeybees are responsible for pollinating one out of every three bites of food we consume. They pollinate more than 90% of the fruits and vegetables we eat, resulting in a net input of 36 billion dollars annually to the global economy. In the winter of 2006, a strange phenomenon occurred within honeybee populations in the United States. Without any warning, millions of honeybees disappeared from their hives. No bee carcasses were found, and it was observed that only worker bees were disappearing. Worker bees are responsible for collecting pollen, nectar, raising brood, and other essential hive functions. This loss of worker honeybees resulted in unstable honeybee hives, and led to the most serious die-off of honeybee colonies across the country recorded to date. Scientists have dubbed this occurrence Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), which is still occurring to this day. It is likely that multiple stresses are causing the collapse of honeybee colonies globally. It is widely believed that honeybees are the “canary in the coal mine” for our environment, and that the disappearance of the honeybee is a sign that our global ecosystem is in peril.

Where would you place Colony Collapse Disorder in relation to the many other problems facing our society? What tools, approaches, and collaborations are required to “get the ball rolling” and lay the groundwork for solving this issue?

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    Mar 14 2012: Back in 2006 when it hit worldwide i immediately jumped on the "It's the Wi-Fi" which in my country was starting to take it's place in gadgets.i thought that overlapping spheres of signals disrupted the bees sense of placement position.I won a dvd in the local net magazine for best hysteria speculation.

    I'm going to read all these links as i haven't seen a swarm in years.I guess if we lose them we'll be too busy hand pollinating all day to worry about war.
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      Mar 14 2012: Ken, that is a possibility, although I cannot find any peer reviewed research on the topic.

      What is scary is that in the past, bees have disappeared before, but not at this caliber. It could possibly be caused by new factors that are introduced or have changed over time (such as pesticides,cellular signal, or cilmate change, etc). So, that is why it is good to keep our minds open because the world has been changing, but as we can see the honeybee cannot adapt as quickly to this change. That is why for the last 6 years Colony Collapse Disorder has been a threat to honeybee populations. Let us hope we don't need to start had pollinating our crops.
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        Mar 15 2012: Hi molly,i came across this

        http://www.americanscientist.org/issues/pub/the-other-honey

        Our reliance on just the honey bees could be the problem,we might have to diversify.
        • Mar 15 2012: good article Ken. Speaking of other pollinators, has everyone forgotten about our native pollinator, the bumblebee? I think one thread mentioned it below. Honeybees are an invasive species from Europe that are good at pollinating large monoculture crops, while bumblebees are better at pollinating diverse tracts of land, like meadows and gardens. As many have said, the real problem here is our current way of doing things, i.e. current large-scale agriculture, for SO many reasons, not least of which is that the current way we are going about pollinating is unsustainable. If we change the way we do things, either the honeybees themselves could come back, or, we can give other pollinators the chance to pick up the slack. We always want to "fix" the problem by fixing the bees - maybe we need to fix ourselves! They have been around a whole lot longer than we have!!!
    • Mar 15 2012: This is a somewhat unlikely explanation.

      Quite a bit is known about how bees navigate and communicate (all of which is fascinating!). Much of this work was done by Karl von Frisch and co.:
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karl_von_Frisch,
      which was work for which they won the Nobel Prize.

      It's believed that bees navigate using one of two cues: either the position of the sun in the sky, or the polarization of the sky (http://www.polarization.com/sky/sky.html). Polarization of light is something that us humans can't pick up, but some insects have evolved to be able to detect it. By combining these two navigation tools they can orient themselves even on a cloudy day.

      Since neither of these techniques is sensitive to microwave radiation (what cell phones use) it doesn't seem that tons of cell phone towers are a likely explanation.

      To ramble a little more away from CCD...what do bees do with all this navigational equipment? Well, for one they use it to get to and from the colony. But they also pass on this information to other bees! When a bee comes back to the colony it does this dance, I think the technical term is "waggle dance," in which the "steps" encode a message about where food is. They relay information both about how far away the food is and what angle relative to the sun other bees need to travel at to reach the food.
      Pretty clever for such a small insect!
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        Mar 15 2012: Oh, yeah i knew that,but at the time all i could think of was how every living creature, except for a few, carry magnetite? particles? that help in general orientation,i think we have it in our ears or cells i can't remember.it was almost a superstitious reaction i had though i do remember that i had an argument with a friend over sunspot activity,it was rubbish.

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