Seven years later, scientists are still looking for answers about Colony Collapse Disorder

October 10, 2014

From: PRI/The Takeaway

Producer T.J. Raphael

Seven years ago, scientists became alarmed when whole honey bee colonies would suddenly die off — and it was happening at an alarming rate. 

At the time, beekeepers began to report that the adult bee populations within a colony would suddenly disappear. In all cases, few adult worker bees were found in or near the colonies. This phenomenon became known as Colony Collapse Disorder.

While worker bees would disappear, the queen and young bees would remain in the hive, which was left with, in many cases, an abundance of honey and pollen reserves. But hives cannot sustain themselves without worker bees. But a new story from the Retro Report reveals that the disorder — and its impact — is much more complicated than meets the eye.

“Bees have this behavior called altruistic suicide,” former Pennsylvania State Apiarist Dennis vanEngelsdorp says. “What happens is a bee somehow knows she is sick and flies away so she doesn’t infect her nest mates. So we think that explains this behavior of collapse — why we’re not finding dead bees and why we see this quick spiral down in population.”

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