The mysterious plight of the honeybee


\"AOn January 8th, 2010 I got a call that rocked my world.  The call was from my pediatrician who told me the food allergy test results were back for my two year old daughter.  She is allergic to eggs, wheat, soy, dairy, peanuts, cod fish and tree nuts and seeds.  Needless to say the challenge of what she could eat would take some research.  In the quest for what to feed her I read local honey is one of the best things***.  The reason is this; if she also has external allergies to what is in the air around us, that she may not have been tested for, local honey is the perfect thing to give her as the bees will most likely come in contact with these allergens and eating their honey may help my daughter build immunity.

This brought to mind a very strange phenomenon called Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD).

As early as 2004 beekeepers began to see a mysterious steep decline in worker bee populations.  The difference with this problem as opposed to, say, the bees getting accidentally poisoned, was that the bees disappeared within weeks or days and the bodies of the bees were not found.

In 2007 the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) put together the CCD Steering Committee.   Their job was to study, assess and advise.  After studying CCD they came up with no definitive conclusion but did have several theories some of which included viruses or parasites, pesticides being used on crops and loss of habitat.

I continued reading and drew my own conclusion.  I think it’s from, not one, but a multitude of factors that lead back to one main issue.  Our environment is changing.  The world population has increased contributing to habitat destruction and climate change.  Industrialized farms are adding a significant amount of pollution into the environment.  They use pesticides and genetically modified crops that may have lower nutritional value.  Unknown parasites and genetic abnormalities are then thrown into the mix.

So what did the EPA finally do to combat the issue? Since little is still known about CCD they concluded they would identify best bee management practices and focus on improving health.  They additionally pushed for labeling to protect honey bees by reducing their exposure.  I wonder though, how many follow these pesticide application labels to a tee? Several countries in Europe, on the other hand, decided to ban neonicotinoid pesticides which effect the central nervous system of insects.

In the end I tried to find out whether the situation is getting better or worse.  According to the USDAUSDA\’s website: \”Losses of managed honey bee colonies nationwide totaled 33.8 percent from all causes from October 2009 to April 2010\”.

\”The 28 percent of beekeeping operations that reported some of their colonies perished without dead bees present—a sign of Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD)—lost 44 percent of their colonies. This compares to 26 percent of beekeepers reporting such dead colonies in the 2008-2009 winter and 32 percent in the 2007-2008 winter. Beekeepers that did not report their colonies having CCD lost 25 percent of their colonies.\”

Additionally, just while on the way home today, NPR reported that the most recent findings point to a combination of a virus and fungus but that this still isn\’t the the only issue.

Hopefully this mysterious disorder will be solved or the bees will simply adapt, but in the mean time, all we can do is live sustainably and minimize the use of pesticides.

If you are interested in finding out more about the mystery of CCD you can visit the below website which is a compilation of articles, research, blogs and the like.

*** Check with your pediatrician before giving your child raw honey as they may have recommendations of how long you should wait.

You can find recipes using your local honey at my website, Florida Coastal Cooking.