TSDW: Vanishing Act

Bees are on nearly every continent, but not for long.

Colony Collapse Disorder, or CCD, is when nearly an entire hive vanishes without a clue as to what happened. This should never be confused with swarming, when half the hive leaves with a new queen to create a separate hive. No one really knows what is causing the devastation and scientists are in a mad dash to find a way to combat it. If they don’t, we could be in danger of losing bees completely. You can’t come back from that.

So, what do scientists and beekeepers think are contributing to the vanishing act? It’s most likely a combination of the following; GMOs, pesticides, RoundUp, and pests like the varroa mite, hive beetle, and wax moth.

CCD doesn’t just affect domestic honey bees, it also happens to native bees. In fact, all pollinators are at risk from one or more of the contributing factors.

Without pollinators, where does that leave us?

There are many people that don’t seem to understand that if we don’t find a way to stop CCD in domestic hives we’ll never stop it in the wild. That’s it. Game over. Go eight ahead and hate domestic honey bees. I won’t tell you to stop.

I remember finding a intact hive in a five gallon bucket as a kid. I thought it was so cool, but I didn’t understand why it was empty. No bees. No brood. No honey. Nothing but pure comb. Now, when I think back on that hive, I feel heartbroken. What if it was CCD? It wasn’t foulbrood. The comb was perfect. It looked like they built it and left. I broke it apart over time. I would have remembered finding wax worm casings. It became brittle over the course of a year. Exposed to Alabama extremes as it was.

It could have been CCD. There used to be an apiary on the back road. There’s about 5 acres between me and the ruined building. There are trashed hives and frames next to it. Comb still on the frames 10 years later. We don’t have wax moths around here. It’s all intact. Aside from melting some in hot weather. No bees. No brood. No honey. Nothing. You can pull the frames to you through the fence. Pure comb that was never used. The bees vanished from area until recently. The local pollinators filled the gap as best they could, but everyone’s gardens’ suffered.

So yes, we do need domestic honey bees. I’ll get my hive somehow. Even if I have to build my own hive and lure in a swarm.

Bees were sacred once. Why did that ever end?

Next post is TSDW: Free No More.

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