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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: I would place CCD at the top of the list for problems that need immediate, nation-wide attention. The implications of honey bees disappearing are far reaching and would affect the public fairly rapidly, compared to other environmental concerns. The fact that the symbiotic relationship between bees and flowering plants is collapsing is nothing short of devastating. This relationship has been flourishing for millions of years, and such a sudden collapse is not natural or normal in any way. So much of our world depends upon the pollination of plants. No society could make it through a decade without bees, at least not without morbid consequences. If there is any issue the nation, and world, needs to work together to get to the bottom of, it is this one. As far as the impact on humanity, this makes a 'silent spring' seem like a minor, insignificant issue. The nation was able to put priority on discovering and fixing what was wrong with our national bird in the 1960s. An issue that threatens our food supply should be that much more of a priority. This is potentially a national security issue that dwarfs terrorism. Educating the public will help "get the ball rolling". The idea of bees declining scares people, but it seems no one knows the potential consequences or doesn't want to think about them. Haagen-Dazs is doing a good job raising awareness. They know that if there's a decline in bees they will be deeply impacted. Other food companies should become aware of the potential losses they will face if this trend continues. I feel that if our nation made this a priority we would be able to solve this issue like we have been able to in the past. Humanity has able to accomplish what were once impossible feats, and saving the honey bees could be our chance to prove ourselves again.
    • Mar 15 2012: I totally agree with you; CCD is a problem that needs immediate action. And I really like your idea of spreading awareness through the actions of food companies. These companies will be directly affected by the loss of pollinators and, because they depend on bees for their livelihood, food companies should be investing heavily in research and conservation efforts. It would make sense for them to be legitimately concerned about this issue, as CCD could completely change the food industry. In addition, I think the FDA and the FAO should be helping to raise awareness on both a national and global scale, and public education is the first step in resolving this kind of issue.

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