Disappearing Honey Bees
Losing the Foods We Love to Eat
With its rich texture and lovely golden hue, honey is a natural sweetener prized for its wonderful flavor and unique composition, making it a deliciously healthy antioxidant and useful antimicrobial agent.
Sadly, a phenomenon known as Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) is threatening the honeybee colonies that not only produce this much-loved sweetener, but also pollinate a wide range of healthy, and vitally important crops. According to a recent article by Phil Long and Lesley Clark posted on miamiherald.com, pollination is an estimated $18 billion segment of the agricultural industry nationwide. A panel of bee experts recently met in Washington D.C. to discuss the potentially catastrophic decline in bee populations, as a result of CCD.
CCD continues to be a little-understood phenomenon, and is a term that was originally applied in 2006 to describe and refer to the disappearance of North America's Western honeybee colonies. While there was a dramatic reduction in the number of wild honeybees in the United States from 1971 to 2006, the rate of attrition seemed to reach new proportions in late 2006, early 2007. At least 24 states have reported at least one case of CCD.
CCD is typically characterized by the simultaneous occurrence of a number of conditions, including the complete, and mysterious, disappearance of adult bees from the colony. There could be a number of factors contributing to Colony Collapse Disorder, from pesticides to climate change to viruses, but an exact cause has not yet been pinpointed.
When honeybees are the predominate pollinator of a crop, CCD is of particular significance. Bees are responsible for pollinating about a third of the crops grown in the Unites States, helping to produce many of the healthy and delicious foods we love to eat, including almonds, apples, blackberries, cantaloupes, cherries, cranberries, cucumbers, pears, peaches, soybeans, strawberries and watermelons.
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