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What is Colony Collapse Disorder?(CCD)?
CCD, restricted mainly to the USA, is the yet unexplained phenomenon of the mass disappearance of honeybees from a seemingly fine healthy thriving colony of honeybees. One day they are flying, happily collecting honey, next week not a single bee left! This is a really strange thing to happen considering honeybees do not abandon their young, nor their collected stores of honey. Yet when a beekeeper opens their beehive they find, plenty of brood (baby bees about to hatch) and lots of honey! Even more strange is the fact that other bees, wasps, bumblebees do not rob the honey left unattended?
So What is Causing CCD?

There are many theories out there circulating as to what might be causing CCD. Researchers have pointed to:Insecticides, Herbicides, Genetically Modified Crops, Mobile Phone Masts, Mass Movement of Honeybees (Migratory Beekeeping) Lack of floral food diversity......

Many also try and flood the media with disinformation, trying to confuse and misdirect the public of the findings that are the reasonable explanation. Latest reports show overwhelming evidence that what is surely contributing to the CCD factor is Genetically Modifying a crop to contain an insecticide - GMO Splicing, Insecticide and Herbicides.

Blaming the beekeepers was another angle. An attempt to humanise the story, make it easy for the general public to digest. It was an easy solution to point fingers and steer away from the dirty truth that involves billions of dollars, linked heavily to crop production and profits. "It's the beekeepers of course!" Circulating alarming stories that beekeepers take their bees on long journeys across the USA stressing the bees, leaving them in one vast mono culture to feed on, make them work hard, forced labour, all accompanied by sad music to reinforce the idea.

I have never met a professional beekeeper yet that did not have the welfare of his bees at heart. If they were to abuse, neglect or ill treat their one source of income, they would suffer as a result of no honey.

The professional and many amateur beekeepers we have met over the years all have vast knowledge of bees and beekeeping. Their main concern is keeping the bees alive and well and clearly understand what is involved in doing so. So when we read media propaganda pointing the finger at beekeepers, we try to set the record straight. If beekeepers has been abusing their bees, they would have been out of business long before CCD ever appeared. So what else could be causing this disappearance?

Lets concentrate on the two possible answers that are being scrutinised by scientists around the world at this very moment.

1- Genetically Modified Crops
2- Insecticide and Herbicides

Honeybees only exist on 2 things, Honey & Pollen. So if you start interfering with those, you directly interfere with honeybees. GMO science is simple, instead of spraying crops with Insecticides- cheaper to genetically introduce the insecticidal traits into the genome of the plaint itself! Now when your plant grows, the insecticidal genes are in every cell of the plant,including the pollen. Therefore every cell of the GM plant has its own poison within aimed to kill the target insect. Beekeepers believe that it may be possible that though no direct lethal dose to honeybees, it may be a kind of sub-lethal effect, immune suppression acting as a slow killer or affecting their navigational memory to find their way home.

So please say no to GMO!

Neonicotinoid Insecticides

Systemic Insecticides are applied on seeds and it allows the plant to grow containing the insecticide. One type - Neonicotinoid insecticides act on the nervous system in the insect causing paralysis leading to death. Controversy over the use of Neonicotinoids in relation to toxicity to bees is being established.

In 1990 French beekeepers demonstrated after wide spread losses of bees taken to Sunflowers. Reports of bees disappearing, not returning to their hives sparked the government to strictly limit the use of neonicotinoids. In May 2008 Germany banned seeds treated with neonicotinoids due to reports of cross contamination after the coated seed shells used drifted into the environment affecting honey bees. Since this time the following neonicotinoids are banned in various regions of the world:

Guthion, Methyl-Guthion, Banned in the European Union since 2006
Dursban, Lorsban, Banned in the US for home and garden use
Thiodan, Banned in European Union 2007, New Zealand 2009
Poncho, Banned in Germany in 2008 after beekeepers reported waves of honeybee deaths.

Unfortunately there are still very many neonicotinoids being used and posing a possible threat not only to honeybees but other insects as well as the birds, fish and other creatures that depend on insects for food.

The Systemic Insecticides - a Disaster in the Making

A very interesting report damning the use of neonicotinoids is written by Dr Henk Tennekes, born in The Netherlands, graduating from the Agricultural University of Wageningen in 1974. He performed his Ph.D. work at Shell Research Ltd in the UK. He later worked for 5 years at the Cancer Research Centre in Heidelberg, Germany.

The culmination of Dr Tennekes' research was his recent discovery that the way the neonicotinoid insecticides work has much in common with that of chemical carcinogens - cancer-causing agents.

When he realized the dire consequences of environmental pollution with these insecticides, he decided to write a book to warn the general public about an impending catastrophe.

The title of Dr Tennekes 72 page, 2010 book is: The Systemic Insecticides - a Disaster in theMaking. You can read more about him and his book www.disasterinthemaking.com

This is an issue that should concern not just beekeepers but everyone everywhere.

 
Frequently asked questions of the stinging kind...
Question: How many flowers must honeybees tap to make one pound of honey?
Answer: Unbelievable but true, bees must tap 2 Million flowers to make just one pound of honey.
Question: How far does a hive of bees fly to bring you one pound of honey?
Answer: Over 55,000 miles....Yikes, talk about frequent flier miles!
Question: How much honey does the average worker honey bee make in her lifetime?
Answer: 1/12 of a teaspoon
Question: How fast does a honey bee fly?
Answer: 15 miles per hour
Question: How much honey would it take to fuel a bee's flight around the world?
Answer: About 1 ounce ( 2 tablespoons)
Question:  Why were honey bees at one time called "white man's flies"?
Answer: North American natives called honey bees this because they were brought to North America by European colonists.
Question: What is mead?
Answer: Honey wine
Question: How long have bees been producing honey from flowering plants?
Answer: 10-20 million years
Question: How many sides does each honeycomb cell have?
Answer: Six
Question: How many honey bees in the average beehive?
Answer: 60,000
Question: How many queen bees live in a beehive?
Answer: One
Question: How many wings does a honey bee have?
Answer: Four
Question: How many beekeepers are there in the UK?
Answer: Approx 11,000
Question: How many times can a honey bee sting?
Answer: Once
Question: How many flowers does a honey bee visit during one collection trip?
Answer: 50-100
Question: How do honey bees "communicate" with one another?
Answer: "Dancing." Honey bees do a dance which alerts other bees where nectar and pollen is located. The dance explains direction and distance. Bees also communicate with pheromones. A scent that triggers a behavioral response within an animal of the same order.