The U.S. Department of Agriculture has reported that more than 42 percent of honeybee colonies died over the past year, and for the first time since the survey started in 2010, losses in the summer have now eclipsed losses seen over the winter months.
While the phenomenon of colony collapse disorder was first noticed nearly a decade ago, recent years have seen a reduction in the severity of the annual die-offs, until this past year, now up from last year’s 34 percent loss.
Assistant professor Dennis van Engelsdorp, of the University of Maryland and head of the annual survey, commented: "We expect the colonies to die during the winter, because that’s a stressful season. What’s totally shocking to me is that the losses in summer, which should be paradise for bees, exceeded the winter losses."
The economic impact of this ongoing problem is already being felt, with many beekeepers being forced out of business. Honeybees are also responsible for pollinating $15 billion worth of crops annually. The White House created a task force in 2014 to investigate the problem of CCD, and to develop potential solutions.
Colony Collapse Disorder is believed by scientists to be caused by the use of pesticides, primarily neonicotinoids, but the pesticide industry has been effective in lobbying for more study, with the result that little is being done to address the problem in any meaningful way.
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“If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe, then man would have only four years of life left. No more bees, no more pollination, no more plants, no more animals, no more man.” –Albert Einstein