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A case study about colony collapse disorder

Two thousand years ago, at the height of the Roman Empire, the poet Virgil wrote lovingly about the practice of beekeeping, of cultivating the “aerial honey and ambrosial dews” he called “gifts of heaven” ( Georgics IV: 1-2 ). Bees represent a gift to humanity even greater that Virgil knew. In addition to satisfying the human appetite for honey, the Italian honeybee, Apis melliflora , is the world’s most active pollinator, responsible for over 80 of the world’s most common nongrain crops, including apples, berries, almonds, macadamias, pumpkins, melons, canola, avocadoes, and also coffee beans, broccoli and lettuce. Even the production chain of the enormous meat and cotton industries relies at crucial points on the ministrations of the humble honeybee. We depend on pollinated fruits, nuts and seeds for a third of our caloric intake, and for vital vitamins, minerals and antioxidants in our diet. In total, around 80% of the foods we eat are to some degree the products of bee pollination, representing one third of total agricultural output.

Given the $1 trillion value of pollinated produce, any threat to the health of honey bees represents a serious threat to the human food chain—a classic sustainability issue. With the industrialization of the global agricultural system over the last 50 years—including crop monoculture and mass fertilization—bees have indeed faced a series of threats to their ancient role, the most recent of which, so-called Colony Collapse Disorder, is the most serious yet.

Busy Bee Hive
Busy Bee Hive A forager honeybee comes in for landing at a healthy hive, her legs dusted with pollen. Colony Collapse Disorder has devastated tens of thousands of such hives. Source: Ken Thomas

In his poetic primer on beekeeping, Virgil includes a moving description of a bee colony suffering mysterious decline:

Observe the symptoms when they fall away
And languish with insensible decay.
They change their hue; with haggard eyes they stare . . .
The sick, for air, before the portal gasp,
Their feeble legs within each other clasp,
Or idle in their empty hives remain,
Benumbed with cold, and listless of their gain. (368-78)

Beekeepers worldwide faced an even worse predicament in late 2006: the mysterious disappearance of entire hives of bees. Over the winter, honeybees enter a form of survival hibernation. Their populations suffer inevitable losses, but these are replenished by the Queen’s renewed laying of eggs once winter thaws. In the spring of 2007, however, hundreds of thousands of colonies in the United States did not survive the winter. A full 30% of all honeybee colonies died. Each spring since has witnessed even worse declines. Similar losses afflicted Europe and Asia. Worldwide, millions of colonies and billions of bees have perished since 2006 on account of the new bee plague.

Because the global commercial value of bee pollination is so enormous, well-funded research into colony collapse began immediately. A number of theories, some credible, some not, were quickly advanced. Several studies pointed to new or enhanced viral strains, while others suggested the toxic effect of industrial fertilization. Still others claimed that mobile phone towers were interfering with the bees’ navigations systems. Because the honeybee is a charismatic creature and features so prominently in our cultural lore—we admire their industriousness, fear their stings, call our loved ones “honey,” and talk much of Queen Bees—the story of colony collapse was quickly taken up by the media. A flurry of news stories announced CCD as an epic “disaster” and profound “mystery,” which was true in simple terms, but which cast bee decline as a new and sudden calamity for which some single culprit must be responsible.

Questions & Answers

what is variations in raman spectra for nanomaterials
Jyoti Reply
I only see partial conversation and what's the question here!
Crow Reply
what about nanotechnology for water purification
RAW Reply
please someone correct me if I'm wrong but I think one can use nanoparticles, specially silver nanoparticles for water treatment.
yes that's correct
I think
what is the stm
Brian Reply
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industrial application...? mmm I think on the medical side as drug carrier, but you should go deeper on your research, I may be wrong
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What is meant by 'nano scale'?
What is STMs full form?
scanning tunneling microscope
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Do u think that Graphene and Fullrene fiber can be used to make Air Plane body structure the lightest and strongest. Rafiq
what is differents between GO and RGO?
what is simplest way to understand the applications of nano robots used to detect the cancer affected cell of human body.? How this robot is carried to required site of body cell.? what will be the carrier material and how can be detected that correct delivery of drug is done Rafiq
what is Nano technology ?
Bob Reply
write examples of Nano molecule?
The nanotechnology is as new science, to scale nanometric
nanotechnology is the study, desing, synthesis, manipulation and application of materials and functional systems through control of matter at nanoscale
Is there any normative that regulates the use of silver nanoparticles?
Damian Reply
what king of growth are you checking .?
What fields keep nano created devices from performing or assimulating ? Magnetic fields ? Are do they assimilate ?
Stoney Reply
why we need to study biomolecules, molecular biology in nanotechnology?
Adin Reply
yes I'm doing my masters in nanotechnology, we are being studying all these domains as well..
what school?
biomolecules are e building blocks of every organics and inorganic materials.
anyone know any internet site where one can find nanotechnology papers?
Damian Reply
sciencedirect big data base
Introduction about quantum dots in nanotechnology
Praveena Reply
what does nano mean?
Anassong Reply
nano basically means 10^(-9). nanometer is a unit to measure length.
do you think it's worthwhile in the long term to study the effects and possibilities of nanotechnology on viral treatment?
Damian Reply
absolutely yes
how did you get the value of 2000N.What calculations are needed to arrive at it
Smarajit Reply
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Source:  OpenStax, Sustainability: a comprehensive foundation. OpenStax CNX. Nov 11, 2013 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11325/1.43
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