When Bees Fly the, Er…Coop

What do I know about colony collapse disorder (CCD)? Not that much, reader Kelly, but then none of the beekeepers I know have a very good handle on it either. Experts are sharply divided over the causes since a single “smoking gun” has yet to be found. The latest thinking is that colony collapse disorder — in which hive populations simply vanish leaving all their honey and unhatched brood behind — is a result of a combination of causes, possibly pesticides, maybe some natural and/or invasive parasites, maybe changes in habitat.

There’s a lot of alarmism about CCD in the press, though I myself am pretty sanguine about it all. The history of bee husbandry is one mass, unexplained die-off after another. It’s important to remember that bees are not domesticated. They’re a non-native species (the Indians called them “the white man’s fly”) that we’ve tried our best to manipulate since we brought them to this Continent some 400 years ago — and well before that. Still they remain wild animals that defy our ultimate control.

CCD may well be a part of their natural life cycle, we honestly don’t know for sure. That’s no reason to be complacent about CCD of course, we need to keep searching for explanations. Still you don’t need to spend a whole lot of time around bees to appreciate what fearsome little survivors they are. They’re like tiny armored vehicles with wings. If it was possible to place a wager on who’d remain on the Earth longer, Apis mellifera or Homo sapiens, my money is on the bees.

4 thoughts on “When Bees Fly the, Er…Coop”

  1. It’s nice to see you mention that the honeybee is not native to the U.S. Not many people know that. They notion that they are responsible for all pollination is obviously too simplistic… lots of insects are pollinators.

    1. Thanks Steve! Yes newspaper articles on CCD usually omit that little fact in all the hysteria. It’s a very complex topic as you very rightly observe.


      – Joe

  2. Huh. . .I didn’t know honey bees aren’t native. . .learn something new every day!

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