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Why Are Bees Dying Off?

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Genetic Engineering page, Millions Against Monsanto page and our Honey Bees Health page.



For several years now, scientists have been struggling to determine why bee colonies across the world are disappearing-a phenomenon dubbed colony collapse disorder (CCD).

As reported by Dan Rather, the US has recently experienced the highest loss of honeybee populations so far, with most of the nation's beekeepers losing anywhere from 50 to 90 percent of their bee population.

Honeybees are perhaps one of the least recognized workers in the agricultural industry. They contribute $15 billion in annual agriculture revenue to the US economy alone, as a full one-third of the American food supply depends on them pollinating crops.

Just about every fruit and vegetable you can imagine is dependent on the pollinating services of bees. Apple orchards, for instance, require one colony of bees per acre in order to be adequately pollinated. So, unless the mysterious disappearance of bees is reversed, major food shortages could result.

California Almond Orchards Threatened by Bee Loss

As discussed in Dan Rather's report, 80 percent of the world's almonds come from California's central valley, an 800,000 acre area of almond orchards that are 100 percent dependent on bees pollinating the trees. Surprisingly, almonds are the number one agricultural product in California.

Once a year, in late winter, 1.5 million bee hives from around the country are delivered to these orchards where the bees' pollination efforts take place over the course of just a few days. It's the largest mass-pollination effort in the world.

This year, however, the unthinkable happened. Many of the 6,000 orchard owners simply could not find enough bees to pollinate their almond trees, at any price... One of the beekeepers featured in Rather's report is John Miller, President of the California state Beekepers Association. His family has tended bees since 1894.

Of the 11,000 hives brought to California by Miller, hundreds of hives turned out to be dead when opened up. According to Miller, "the past 30 years have been tumultuous with 40 percent of the national herd dying or dead."


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