Now, at the beginning of the 2007 pollination season, more than half of [beekeeper James Doan's] 4,300 hives are gone. "I'm just about ready to give up," says Mr. Doan from his honeybee wintering site in Ft. Meade, Fla. "I'm not sure I can survive."Link. I think Fark might have a guess as to where they all are going.
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Scientists call it "colony collapse disorder" (CCD). First reported in Florida last fall, the problem has since spread to 24 states. Commercial beekeepers are reporting losses of between 50 and 90 percent, an unprecedented amount even for an industry accustomed to die-offs.
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[B]eekeepers are seeing hives empty in a matter of weeks, sometimes days. The entire adult bee population vanishes, except for a few juveniles. This makes CCD difficult to study. "You have a crime scene, you know a crime happened here, but you don't really have evidence," says Medhat Nasr, provincial apiculturalist in Alberta, Canada. Eerily, the stored honey in the hive remains untouched. Raiding bees from nearby colonies never materialize, as is common.
Records of suddenly empty hives go back as far as the late 1800s, but never on this scale. Beekeepers dubbed it "autumn collapse," "spring dwindle," or "disappearing disease." But Dennis vanEngelsdorp, the acting Penn State apiarist, calls this manifestation the AIDS of bees. The remaining juvenile bees appear to be rife with disease. To him, "It's clear that there is an immune suppression," he says.
What might suppress a bee's immune system is anyone's guess. But many ascribe to a tipping-point theory: A variety of factors may have accumulated until a single straw finally broke the bee's back.
Indexed by tags nature, animals, insects, bees, mystery, disappearance.