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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 15 2012: It seems to me that colony collapse disorder is something that should be a top priority in comparison to other problems we are facing. Bees provide a a vital part of ecosystems, providing the ecosystem service of pollination that allows many other trophic levels to exist. From what I can tell research has not yet been conclusive in understanding why this is taking place. I know some suggestions of causes such as parasites, pesticide use, or malnutrition have been thrown around, but I have not heard about how we may be directly causing this, Colonies are transported for hours at a time. Has this added stress been considered when thinking about why there is a decline in honeybees? Are other populations of bees facing losses, or primarily the bees that are used for mass agriculture pollination?
    • Mar 15 2012: I agree with a lot of the things you bring up Lia. The bees are a fundamental aspect to our food chain and in the species interactions of many communities. I think that we could be a direct cause with all the destructive and harmful things we put into the environment. If if is not directly related to the toxic things we are expelling into the atmosphere every day then there is surely a link to the climate change (which we are directly causing) and the bees decline. Perhaps the bees are facing similar to effects as some species of butterflies. Monarch butterflies migrate every year at a specific time, but since the climate has changed so much recently their migration patters have been throw off. Perhaps those safe effects are happing to the bees, but killing them instead of just changing their biological functions?

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