One of the most troubling ecological disasters in recent years has been the staggering decline in the population of honey bees and bee colonies. Bee hives are a critical part of the planet's ecosystem, as pollination is a central process to agricultural production. Put simply, we cannot grow a lot of plants without bees.
There has been widespread speculation on the cause of this destruction, which is referred to as Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), with guesses ranging from excessive pesticide use to a lack of genetic diversity. But the New York Times reported today on a study, written by the National Honey Bee Health Stakeholder Conference (NHBHSC) Steering Committee and published by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), which concluded that the of the disorder probably has a number of explanations rather than just one.
The report stated that "despite a remarkably intensive level of research effort towards understanding causes of managed honeybee colony losses in the United States, overall losses continue to be high and pose a serious threat to meeting the pollination service demands for several commercial crops."
Some of the factors listed in the report that could be contributing to CCD are:
- A parasitic mite referred to as Varroa destructor that "remains the single most detrimental pest of honey bees".
- Pesticide use, which needs to be further researched to determine which chemicals in particular are contributing
- Viral infections
Because there is no one pesticide that has been identified as a principle cause of CCD, agriculture officials and policy makers have stopped short of limiting use of any particular chemical, but that could change as more studies and research are carried out. LifeIsGreen.com will continue to report on this issue, which has important consequences for the environmentally conscious and anyone pursuing a green lifestyle.