Colony Collapse Disorder
There’s been a lot of talk recently about the collapse of honeybee colonies around the world. What’s worse about the reduction of bees is the mystery surrounding the cause of this inexplicable die-off, which experts now call Colony Collapse Disorder. Scientists are rapidly working to unravel the unknown, with theories ranging from cell phones and genetically modified foods to pesticide use and increased parasites.
Why Are Bees So Important?
Why all the fuss about a pesky insect that often seems out to sting? As it turns out bees are essential for agriculture success. Bees are the primary pollinators of many species of flowering plants. In other words, they carry sperm, in the form of pollen, from one flower to the female reproductive organs of another flower. Both parties benefit; the flowering plant benefits because it can now produce seeds and reproduce while the bee benefits by collecting pollen and nectar to feed itself and others in the hive.
It is estimated that bees pollinate three-quarters of all agricultural crops in the United States providing a multi-billion dollar financial impact on our economy. The financial impact of bees worldwide is enormous. The U.S. Department of Agriculture is calling the dramatic declines in honeybees an impending pollination crisis as both domestic and wild bees are disappearing at alarming rates.
What Can We Do?
Unfortunately, without a clear explanation for this colony collapse, it’s hard for individuals to know how to help. But experts claim that there are small actions we can take to promote honeybee habitat. First, you can support organic agriculture that doesn’t use pesticides. Second, enhance bee habitat in your yard by planting flowers in your yard. Encourage your friends, neighbors and city officials to do the same. You can also participate in the Pollinator Partnership to become a part of the global movement to educate others about honeybees.