Honeybee Colony Collapse Disorder
Colony Collapse Disorder is the phenomenon that occurs when the
majority of worker bees in a colony simply disappear in a relatively
brief time period. They leave behind a queen, plenty of food
and a few nurse bees to care for the remaining immature bees and the
queen but the hive may still not survive. The key symptoms are:
- Sudden loss of a colony’s worker bee population with very
few dead bees found near the colony.
- The queen and brood (young) remained, and the colonies had
relatively abundant honey and pollen reserves.
- But the hive cannot sustain itself without worker bees and
the hive eventually dies.
There are many theories about the causes, but over time, research
has led to the following factors as likely causes:
- An invasive varroa mite (a pest of honey bees).
- New honeybee diseases such as Israeli Acute Paralysis virus
and the gut parasite Nosema.
- Pesticide poisoning of honeybees by exposure to farm
pesticides or even those used for in-hive insect or mite
- Stress caused to bees such as when the hive is transported
to locations across the country for providing pollination
- Changes to the habitat where bees forage, causing fewer
flowers and farther distances
- Other bee immune-suppressing stress caused by a combination
of factors above.
The situation appears to be improving. Reported cases of CCD have
declined substantially over the last five years. The number of
winter hive losses (a primaryindicator) due to CCD has dropped from
roughly 60 percent of total hives lost in 2008 to 31.1 percent in
2013; the most recent data available.
- Find out more about colony collapse disorder from
the USDA Agricultural Research Service
- Survey of bee losses winter of 2014/2015
- Managing pesticide risk to insect pollinators -