Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Colony Collapse Disorder

Apiarians are starting to ask for government intervention on the rapidly disappearing bee populations in the United States.

US beekeepers have been stung in recent months by the mysterious disappearance of millions of bees threatening honey supplies as well as crops which depend on the insects for pollination.

Bee numbers on parts of the east coast and in Texas have fallen by more than 70 percent, while California has seen colonies drop by 30 to 60 percent.

According to estimates from the US Department of Agriculture, bees are vanishing across a total of 22 states, and for the time being no one really knows why.

"Approximately 40 percent of my 2,000 colonies are currently dead and this is the greatest winter colony mortality I have ever experienced in my 30 years of beekeeping," apiarist Gene Brandi, from the California State Beekeepers Association, told Congress recently.

It is normal for hives to see populations fall by some 20 percent during the winter, but the sharp loss of bees is causing concern, especially as domestic US bee colonies have been steadily decreasing since 1980.

There are some 2.4 million professional hives in the country, according to the Agriculture Department, 25 percent fewer than at the start of the 1980s.

And the number of beekeepers has halved.

Read all the theories buzzing around as to what the experts believe is causing the CCD - Colony Collapse Disorder.

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