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Recent Honey Bee Colony Declines

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Congressional rept.

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This report examines the recent sharp decline in U.S. honey bee colonies, which scientists are now calling the Colony Collapse Disorder CCD. This phenomenon first became apparent among commercial migratory beekeepers along the East Coast during the last few months of 2006, and has since been reported nationwide. Honey bees are the most economically valuable pollinators of agricultural crops worldwide. Many scientists at universities and the U.S. Department of Agriculture USDA frequently assert that bee pollination is involved in about one-third of the U.S. diet, and contributes to the production of a wide range of fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, forage crops, some field crops, and other specialty crops. The monetary value of honey bees as commercial pollinators in the United States is estimated at about 15 billion annually. Honey bee colony losses are not uncommon. However, current losses seem to differ from past situations in that colony losses are occurring mostly because bees are failing to return to the hive which is largely uncharacteristic of bee behavior, bee colony losses have been rapid, colony losses are occurring in large numbers, and the reason why these losses are occurring remains largely unknown. To date, the potential causes of CCD include, but may not be limited to, the following 1 parasites, mites, and disease loads in the bees and brood 2 knownunknown pathogens 3 poor nutrition among adult bees 4 level of stress in adult bees e.g., transportation and confinement of bees, or other environmental or biological stressors 5 chemical residuecontamination in the wax, food stores andor bees 6 lack of genetic diversity and lineage of bees and 7 a combination of several factors. On March 29, 2007, the House Subcommittee on Horticulture and Organic Agriculture is to hold a hearing to review the recent honey bee colony declines reported throughout the United States. Congress could consider options for subsequent action.

Subject Categories:

  • Agronomy, Horticulture and Aquiculture
  • Biology

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