What Is Colony Collapse Disorder? 

Beekeeper or Apiarist Working on Beehives Outdoor at Meadow

The term “colony collapse disorder” refers to the loss of the majority of workers in a honey bee colony.

Colony collapse disorder leaves only the queen and a few nurse bees to care for the larvae and pupae left behind in the hive.

Colony collapse disorder is a very serious issue that honey beekeepers and the general public need to know. In the absence of bees as pollinators, the agricultural system around the world is at risk.

There is a difference between colony collapse disorder and colony decline caused by mites, lack of food, or disease. 

There is some mystery surrounding colony collapse disorder since in this case, there are no dead bees found in or near the hive. In colony collapse disorder, most of the worker bees appear to have abandoned the hive.

An event must meet several conditions simultaneously in order to be considered a colony collapse disorder. 

The hive must have capped brood in it, which means there must be living larvae and pupae that have not yet hatched. The nest must also contain food stores and the queen bee must remain in the nest. Lastly, the nest must not contain any dead honey bees. 

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    When Was Colony Collapse Disorder Discovered?

    As early as 1869, colony collapse disorder-like symptoms were documented, and other outbreaks occurred in 1906, 1918, and 1919. [1]

    In 2006, colony collapse disorder was renamed, previously known as autumn collapse, disappearing disease, spring dwindle, and others. As of now, colony collapse disorder is the official name of this phenomenon. 

    Due to the fact that colony collapse disorder is not a seasonal phenomenon, and that it can result from a variety of causes, the phenomenon was renamed.

    It was originally thought that colony collapse disorder was caused by a shortage of food, but it was reported in 1965 that many hives with the disorder in Louisiana had enough honey to feed many bees, which means that food scarcity is not the cause. 

    In 2006 and 2007, this phenomenon caused such a high rate of colony loss that it was named officially, and studied in greater depth. 

    What Causes Colony Collapse Disorder?

    It is not known what causes colony collapse disorder, but many theories have been proposed. 

    The most common theories for colony collapse disorder include mite infestation, pesticide use, antibiotic use, starvation, immunodeficiencies, and pathogens. 

    Since colony collapse disorder has not yet been scientifically linked to a specific cause, little is known about its cause. 

    What Are the Effects of Colony Collapse Disorder?

    Colony collapse disorder is essentially the death of a colony, since it is impossible for the colony to survive without a large number of worker bees present. 

    With the disappearance of the worker bees, the majority of the necessary work for a colony to survive is not completed. In the absence of worker bees, all the bees eventually die off. Both beekeepers and agriculturalists are adversely affected by this situation. 

    It is the worker bees who provide care for the pupae and larvae, forage for food, and search for new nests for the colony during times of swarming. A colony is weakened and unable to sustain itself if worker bees are lacking.

    As honey bees are important pollinators of many agricultural crops, the loss of pollination caused by colony collapse disorder is of great concern. Even though they are not native to the United States, they have nevertheless become an important pollinator for a variety of crops. [2]

    Economic Impacts of Colony Collapse Disorder

    There are more than 15 billion dollars worth of crops in the United States that are dependent on honey bee pollination, as honey bees pollinate at least one third of the country’s agricultural plants.

    Agriculture is severely affected by colony collapse disorder, particularly almonds, fruit crops, and berries. 

    Colony collapse disorder, if left unchecked, could result in widespread agricultural collapse in industries that rely on honey bee pollination. Due to colony collapse disorder, there would be a loss of peaches, almonds, apples, and more.

    Furthermore, farmers who produce these fruits and berries would lose income, thereby losing their ability to participate in the economy. There is a possibility that this could have widespread effects on the US economy and the world economy[3].

    How Many Bees Have Died From Colony Collapse Disorder?

    In 2008, almost 60% of the 28.7% of colonies that were lost during the winter were caused by colony collapse disorder. As of 2013, the number had been halved, and was only about 31%, which is good news for all beekeepers. 

    It is difficult to estimate how many individual bees have been lost as a result of colony collapse disorder. In spite of this, colony collapse disorder has been shown to result in significant losses of bees throughout the winter as well as during other seasons as well. 

    Fortunately, colony collapse disorder is affecting fewer and fewer bees. The reason for the decline in this disorder is unknown, but it is a good thing that fewer bees are being lost as a result.

    How to Identify Colony Collapse Disorder

    There are several characteristics that can help identify colony collapse disorder, one of which is that the hive must still contain capped brood, which means that larvae and pupae are still living and developing within the hive.

    In addition, the queen must remain in the hive, as well as pollen and honey stores. 

    A colony that appears much smaller than it once did, with no evidence of dead bees in or around the hive, is likely to be suffering from colony collapse disorder.

    The primary characteristic of colony collapse disorder is the absence of many worker bees that used to be part of the colony but are no longer present. 

    A beekeeper who inspects their hive and finds capped honey and brood cells, but no worker bees, may have colony collapse disorder. It should be noted, however, that if there are dead bees on the ground around the hive or inside the hive, colony collapse disorder is not the cause. 

    How to Stop Colony Collapse Disorder

    The most effective way to prevent colony collapse disorder is to never combine colonies that are collapsing with colonies that are strong. In the event that a collapsing colony contains any diseases or parasites, they might be transferred to the healthy colony if the two colonies are combined. 

    Additionally, it is important to inspect and treat mites and wax moths whenever they are present, since these insects and arachnids are believed to contribute to colony collapse disorder. 

    Furthermore, if a beekeeper uses a pesticide near their bees or keeps their bees near the pesticide, the bees should be removed from the area where the pesticide is being applied. One of the suspected causes of colony collapse disorder is pesticides. 

    A farmer outdoors in orchard at sunset, using pesticide chemicals
    An estimated 3.5 quadrillion insects are killed each year on approximately 100 million acres of American farmland treated with lethal insecticides [4]

    A healthy colony of bees requires adequate resources. It is beneficial to plant flowers that provide protein-rich pollen and nectar high in sugar in order to maintain the health of bees, as well as feeding them sugar water when flowers are scarce. 

    In addition, farmers and those who wish to attract pollinators can plant a variety of plants that attract other species of bees, as colony collapse disorder primarily affects honey bees. By planting gardens that attract bumblebees or miner bees, colony collapse disorder can be avoided. 

    What Can Beekeepers Do to Prevent Colony Collapse Disorder?

    To prevent colony collapse disorder, it is important to check beehives frequently for mite infestation and treat them if necessary.

    Checking for Varroa mites regularly and often is especially important since they are one of the proposed causes of colony collapse disorder. 

    Furthermore, it is important to protect bees from the use of pesticides in agriculture. As a result, bees should be kept on land that is not treated with pesticides or is treated with natural, non-chemical pesticides. 

    The use of antibiotics is another suggested cause of colony collapse disorder, and it is important to use only established, well-known antibiotics when treating bee colonies. 

    In general, maintaining a healthy colony of bees free of stress and disease may prevent colony collapse disorder.

    Beekeeping involves providing adequate food and ventilation for the bees, preventing parasites such as mites and wax moths, and replacing old comb foundations every few years to eliminate chemicals from the hive. 

    The cause of colony collapse disorder is still under investigation, and no one cause has yet been identified, however, there are several hypotheses that may lead to methods for preventing it. [5]

    What Is Being Done For Colony Collapse Disorder?

    The United States Department of Agriculture is currently working on colony collapse disorder. Currently, they are conducting surveys and conducting research on colony collapse disorder in order to determine its current status among honey bee colonies. 

    In 2007, the United States Department of Agriculture established the Colony Collapse Disorder Steering Committee, which includes other government agencies and has developed the Colony Collapse Disorder Action Plan.

    The purpose of this plan was to investigate four possible causes of colony collapse disorder. 

    Pathogens, parasites, stress, and pesticides are some of the possible causes of colony collapse disorder being investigated by the United States Department of Agriculture. It is the aim of their research to determine which of these causes may contribute to colony collapse disorder, as well as how these causes can be mitigated.

    At present, little is known about colony collapse disorder, so this research is essential for mitigating the problem and preventing widespread agricultural collapse caused by colony collapse disorder. 

    The government, beekeepers, and agriculturalists are all working to combat colony collapse disorder. It is hoped that these efforts will be successful in the near future.


    [1] Wikipedia [2] EPA [3] ars.usda [4] Wild Animal Initiative  [5] Dummies

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