Mystery of the disappearing bees: Solved!

By Richard Schiffman
April 9, 2012

If it were a novel, people would criticize the plot for being too far-fetched – thriving colonies disappear overnight without leaving a trace, the bodies of the victims are never found. Only in this case, it’s not fiction: It’s what’s happening to fully a third of commercial beehives, over a million colonies every year. Seemingly healthy communities fly off never to return. The queen bee and mother of the hive is abandoned to starve and die.

Thousands of scientific sleuths have been on this case for the last 15 years trying to determine why our honey bees are disappearing in such alarming numbers. “This is the biggest general threat to our food supply,” according to Kevin Hackett, the national program leader for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s bee and pollination program.

Until recently, the evidence was inconclusive on the cause of the mysterious “colony collapse disorder” (CCD) that threatens the future of beekeeping worldwide. But three new studies point an accusing finger at a culprit that many have suspected all along, a class of pesticides known as neonicotinoids.

In the U.S. alone, these pesticides, produced primarily by the German chemical giant Bayer and known as “neonics” for short, coat a massive 142 million acres of corn, wheat, soy and cotton seeds. They are also a common ingredient in home gardening products.

Research published last month in the prestigious journal Science shows that neonics are absorbed by the plants’ vascular system and contaminate the pollen and nectar that bees encounter on their rounds. They are a nerve poison that disorient their insect victims and appear to damage the homing ability of bees, which may help to account for their mysterious failure to make it back to the hive.

Another study published in the American Chemical Society’s Environmental Science and Technology journal implicated neonic-containing dust released into the air at planting time with “lethal effects compatible with colony losses phenomena observed by beekeepers.”

Purdue University entomologists observed bees at infected hives exhibiting tremors, uncoordinated movement and convulsions, all signs of acute insecticide poisoning. And yet another study conducted by scientists at the Harvard School of Public Health actually re-created colony collapse disorder in several honeybee hives simply by administering small doses of a popular neonic, imidacloprid.

But scientists believe that exposure to toxic pesticides is only one factor that has led to the decline of honey bees in recent years. The destruction and fragmentation of bee habitats, as a result of land development and the spread of monoculture agriculture, deprives pollinators of their diverse natural food supply. This has already led to the extinction of a number of wild bee species. The planting of genetically modified organism (GMO) crops – some of which now contain toxic insecticides within their genetic structure – may also be responsible for poisoning bees and weakening their immune systems.

Every spring millions of bee colonies are trucked to the Central Valley of California and other agricultural areas to replace the wild pollinators, which have all but disappeared in many parts of the country. These bees are routinely fed high-fructose corn syrup instead of their own nutritious honey. And in an effort to boost productivity, the queens are now artificially inseminated, which has led to a disturbing decline in bee genetic diversity. Bees are also dusted with chemical poisons to control mites and other pathogens that have flourished in the overcrowded commercial colonies.

In 1923, Rudolph Steiner, the German founder of biodynamic agriculture, a precursor of the modern organic movement, predicted that within a hundred years artificial industrial techniques used to breed honey bees would lead to the species’ collapse. His prophecy was right on target!

Honey bees have been likened to the canaries in the coal mine. Their vanishing is nature’s way of telling us that conditions have deteriorated in the world around us. Bees won’t survive for long if we don’t change our commercial breeding practices and remove deadly toxins from their environment. A massive pollinator die-off would imperil world food supplies and devastate ecosystems that depend on them. The loss of these creatures might rival climate change in its impact on life on earth.

Still, this is a disaster that does not need to happen. Germany and France have already banned pesticides that have been implicated in the deaths of bees. There is still time to save the bees by working with nature rather than against it, according to environmentalist and author Bill McKibben:

“Past a certain point, we can’t make nature conform to our industrial model. The collapse of beehives is a warning – and the cleverness of a few beekeepers in figuring out how to work with bees not as masters but as partners offers a clear-eyed kind of hope for many of our ecological dilemmas.”

PHOTO: A bumblebee sits on a rhododendron bloom on a sunny spring day in Dortmund, Germany, March 28, 2012. REUTERS/Ina Fassbender


We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see

O, what mortals these bees fool!

Posted by Oneafter909 | Report as abusive

Bayer is a big enough company that it can take the economic hit of withdrawing neonicotinoid pesticides from the market. However, we can’t risk further use of these pesticides in North America, whether they come from Bayer or elsewhere. They should be banned immediately and completely, and any remaining stocks should be destroyed. We’re better off losing part of our crops to bugs than losing our ability to grow food outright.

Posted by user8192 | Report as abusive

Perhaps beekeepers in other parts of the world will see an opportunity here. Such as here in Australia where our garden is a real garden to bees as pesticides are not used and GM products are largely off-limits around the nation. International shipments of bees are on the horizon.

Posted by Pro7 | Report as abusive

Its time to declare war on these company’s that are killing us the people and our earth. Anyone want to join me?

Posted by CandaceLopez | Report as abusive

Maybe Bayer or Monsanto can save us with some genetically modified bees? Better idea: Let’s reclaim our food supply and stop the madness. This is like a modern day “Operation Cat Drop,” only we are the cats.

Posted by JCS4 | Report as abusive

If the right thing to do cost corporations more money, they won’t willingly or voluntarily do it.

Posted by paul_radcliff | Report as abusive

America needs to change NOW. Wait and it will be to late to save our food source. Our big government wants only to fund chemicals, oil and pharmaceuticals. This topic should beeeeee of major concern here. Wish I could change it. I need help.

Posted by flowerdamsel | Report as abusive

This is very disturbing. How is it that we are not eating the pesticides in these genetically modified foods and also those pesticides absorbed by these plants? Could this be one of the reasons for the increase in something like AUTISM?

Posted by ConcernedDog | Report as abusive

[...] original post here: Mystery of the disappearing bees: Solved! – Reuters Blogs (blog) [...]

And why is there no quote from a scientist that says, “Yep, this is the answer?” Because it’s not. This article is a catalog of many well known facts, but the conclusion that Colony Collapse Disorder has been explained is not correct. Furthermore, “Solved!” implies that the solution has been found, which is also incorrect. Let’s not sensationalize and overstate, please.

Posted by Beelover | Report as abusive

[...] of absolutely no one, the research seems to show a pesticide is largely responsible. Specifically, neonicotinoids (neonics for [...]

Australia is still relatively clear of Colony Collapse Disorder and the voroa mite, a major scourge of bees. They are going to great lengths to keep bees from other continents out.

Posted by Richschiff | Report as abusive

Thanks for the good article. Interesting and informative.

Posted by lhathaway | Report as abusive

Aside from the very interesting main thrust of the article where he sites a paper in Science regarding the bees the author mentions other issues such as GM foods and other pesticides in the decline of bee populations.

It is not clear whether this is conjecture or information from other papers. It is a pity the author does not make that clear. Perhaps he could publish and addendum to this timely article.

Posted by eleno | Report as abusive

To bee or not to be: Those are the options.

Posted by TobyONottoby | Report as abusive

[...] Bloomberg: Mystery of the Disappearing Bees: Solved!  Evidently the collapse of bee colonies is all due to a particular class of pesticide.  Now let’s do something about it. [...]

As a former hobby beekeeper, I’ve always been fascinated by honey bees and was more than passingly interested as I followed the CCD problem.
Delighted to hear a cause has been ID’d with a reasonable level of confidence although I guess we won’t know for sure for a number of seasons.
I would like to know what currently available residential lawn and garden chemicals contain neonicotinoids and whether this is something I’m buying at my local Home Depot and Lowes, or if it is more typically limited to commercial applications.
thanks for an informative article. SDP

Posted by spletcher | Report as abusive

In answer to Eleno’s comment and query, here is a quote from a beekeeper John McDonald on the effect of genetically modified pollen: “The most commonly transplanted segment of transgenic DNA involves genes from a well-known bacterium, bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), which has been used for decades by farmers and gardeners to control butterflies that damage cole crops such as cabbage and broccoli.

Instead of the bacterial solution being sprayed on the plant, where the target insect eats it, the genes that contain the insecticidal traits are incorporated into the genome of the farm crop. As the transformed plant grows, these Bt genes are replicated along with the plant genes so that each cell contains its own poison pill that kills the target insect.”

Posted by Richschiff | Report as abusive

[...] Mystery of the disappearing bees: Solved! | The Great Debate. Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. Tagged disappearing bees [...]

Capitalism will kill this planet if left unfettered.

Posted by Gillyp | Report as abusive

this is a liberal attack against corn farmers and large agri culture businesses… lets save bees and increase the food costs 30% and see what all these bee lovers doing… if you do not like capitalism move north korea… a government official can tell you how much oat you should eat every breakfast…

Posted by Ocala123456789 | Report as abusive

So how does finding out that pestisides and GM plants are killing off our ability to feed ourselves consitute a liberal attack on corn farmers? That makes no sense at all. If this is indeed the problem, it needs to be corrected before we are OUT of bees!!

Posted by shopgirl | Report as abusive

“To bee or not to be: Those are the options.” I loved this! Would this not apply to ourselves as well? No bee, no food. Funny if not so frightening.

Posted by shopgirl | Report as abusive

OCALA, if we do not save the bees the whole planet will be like North Korea, without food , or a select few of the population having what’s left of agriculture, while the rest of us starve to death. To save the bees is to save corn, other types of farming, even agriculture business in the long term. Banning a risky-dangerous product is within the laws of the country, including The Constitution. It is not some communist plot.

Posted by TigLY1 | Report as abusive

[...] Mystery of the disappearing bees: Solved! – by Richard Schiffman, Like this:LikeBe the first to like this post. This entry was written by Bruce, posted on April 9, 2012 at 3:03 pm, filed under Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL. « Quiklinx for the Week of 4/2 (See Quiklinx Page above for previous) [...]

[...] to die suddenly, has been solved. Indeed, a Reuters reporter recently proclaimed exactly that in an editorial published on the wire service’s [...]

I would strongly urge you to watch ‘Seeds Of Deception’ by Jeffrey Smith before you make any further comments on this subject. It’s 1.5 hours long video but I give you my word it will be the best 1.5 hr you have spent in your life. Monsanto is a terrorist organization, plain and simple. It needs to be stopped using any means necessary. The damage Monsanto has caused to US countryside is irreversible and irreparable. As if the damage caused by Frankenstein seeds is not bad enough they now want Frankenstein salmon too. It grows twice as fast as the normal one and if it escapes into wilderness you can kiss your natural salmon goodbye. On top of that, they have another 15 different species of fish waiting to go on steroids.

Posted by AnandaMayi | Report as abusive

Stop wishing and do something about it. For starters, quit thinking there is nothing you can do as that is exactly where your government wants you to be. The only limit you have is the one in your head, you have no idea what a difference you can make. Watch ‘Seeds Of Deception’ by Jeffrey Smith.It will open your eyes to the evil that is in force with government support hell bent on making you ill so that pharma companies can sell you the cure. Refuse to buy products unless they are labelled ‘GMO free’. Read about Codex Alimentarius, they make Nazis look like a bunch of boy scouts. And most importantly… spread the word around.

Posted by AnandaMayi | Report as abusive

Ocala123456789 -

I know that bees are socialist insects, but they’re probably not forming a honeycomb of sleeper cells in a conspiracy against capitalist corn conglomerates, as corn is wind pollinated. Other than corn and cannabis, though, you’d find precious little to eat or make rope with if the heroic worker bees were no longer around to run speed dating services for the entomophilous species.

Posted by TobyONottoby | Report as abusive

One paragraph from the article:
“…Honey bees have been likened to the canaries in the coal mine. Their vanishing is nature’s way of telling us that conditions have deteriorated in the world around us. Bees won’t survive for long if we don’t change our commercial breeding practices and remove deadly toxins from their environment. A massive pollinator die-off would imperil world food supplies and devastate ecosystems that depend on them. The loss of these creatures might rival climate change in its impact on life on earth…”
This issue goes way beyond the bees although as we read even just the bee issue is serious enough.
This is just a symptom of human attitude and behavior, as we behave like children released into a playground, thinking we can do with it whatever we want without any consequences, exploiting, harvesting, modifying all elements as we see it fit.
We continuously forget that we are not above nature, we are a single, albeit the most sophisticated species (thus whatever we do has the strongest influence on the system), and the laws governing nature’s vast system apply to us as well.
And we continuously violate these natural laws within human society too, exploiting each other in our pursuit for more profit and pleasure for ourselves.
It has been happening all through our history, but as our technological abilities developed, our population grew, and at the same time as we evolved into a global, integral system within humanity, and humanity with the environment today we have reached breaking point.
We are totally against all the laws in nature thriving for overall balance, homeostasis, we behave like cancer cells in a totally interconnected, interdependent system.
It is not even theory, or “mad prophecy” any more, countless of respectable, transparent, scientific studies, publications prove that we exist in an interconnected system, and the harm we are causing with our present behavior.
Thus beyond saving the bees we have a much stronger motivation to change our attitude, and start taking into consideration the whole system before any planning or action: securing our own survival.

Posted by ZGHerm | Report as abusive

It might be worth reconsidering the nutritional value of some of the bugs being killed with these pesticides. Some of them might be a sustainable source of food themselves, let alone the honey – which is getting very expensive these days.

Posted by Tiu | Report as abusive

Without the full picture (limited view), its a shot in the dark on what is up with nature. There is some things in mans ablity to controll, but his playing GOD is most destructive.

Posted by ccharles | Report as abusive

I’m always amused and dismayed by comments that reveal the lack of depth of the writer. The issue of bee population collapse is critical. There are likely many factors involved. This appears to be an important one. Bayer should show cause why their product should not be suspended pending further study. If they can make a case to an objective body then fine. If the body chooses to err on the side of caution, so be it.

Posted by Gatortrapper | Report as abusive

Thanks, shopgirl, but Oneafter909 got off the best line -

O, what mortals these bees fool!

Posted by TobyONottoby | Report as abusive

Bee who laughs last laughs hardest.

Posted by TobyONottoby | Report as abusive

[...] Recent results have again raised the specter of it being all about Bayer pesticides. [...]

God knows how many mutations these nerve agents have caused in insect population gene pools

Posted by DominicPaz | Report as abusive

[...] via Mystery of the disappearing bees: Solved! | The Great Debate. [...]

[...] 12/04/09/mystery-of-the-disappearing-bee s-solved/ Share this:PrintFacebookEmailTwitterStumbleUpo nRedditDiggLinkedInLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. By AscendingStarseed • Posted in Earth Changes, Environment and Oceans, Epidemics and Contagious Diseases, Mass Extinctions, Mass Wildlife Kills / Birds Fish Mammals • Tagged bees | environment | food supply | pesticides, biodynamic agriculture, genetically modified organism (GMO) crops, imidacloprid 0 [...]

The disastrous effect of application of Chemical pesticides has already been proven and we have already started using alternate methods for controlling pests. Chemical pesticides not only have destroyed Ecological Balance, killed natural predators and parasites but have also caused resurgence of resistant pests. Therefore it`s the need of the day to substitute Chemical pesticides with alternate but effective use of alternate methods like pheromone traps, sticky traps, light traps, crop rotation,Biological agents such as Beneficial bacteria and fungi like Beauvaria bassiona , Verticellium lecanii, Mettarhizium anisophilae, Pseudomonas fluorescence, and Trichoderma viride to control pests . These methods are however slow but steady and hence we should follow a system of the importation of such biocontrol agent but also thrive to augument their population and conservation .

Posted by gerextreme | Report as abusive

[...] April 2012By Richard Schiffman - blogs.reuters.comIf it were a novel, people would criticize the plot for being too far-fetched – thriving colonies [...]

This shows the utter hypocrisy of the Obama administration and its land grab and increased government control as per Agenda 21, supposedly in the name of environmental protection while, at the same time, his appointees at the FDA, USDA, HHS, and EPA refuse to ban toxic pesticides; refuse to ban toxic fertilizers; refuse to ban toxic lawncare chemicals; refuse to ban fluoride or fracking; and refuse to ban or even label GMO’s, ALL OF WHICH have synergistically caused the decline of THIS most important of endangered species: the honeybee, whose endangerment is directly tied to our own. If only the honeybees had the power, influence, and money of Bayer, Monsanto, and other chemical companies.

Posted by Anonymous | Report as abusive

Iam a beekeeper and have been for a short while (about 5 yesrs). Each year I have lost from 50% to 100% of my hives to CCD. Each hive lost is about $100 US to replenish the bees, and like others have said, the high demand of replacement bees is deteriorating the quality of the bees. Most of the Obama admistration’s argicultural appointees are former high level exectives of Monsanto, and they are obviously going to appose labeling or discontinuing GMO crops and protect big business pestisides that have been proven to cause bee deaths. They have even allowed Monsanto to patent heirloom seed varities that have been around for centuries, and Monsanto had nothing to do with their creation. The bees are TELLING US SOMETHING here, we better start listening.

Posted by BeeKeeper | Report as abusive

[...] now, when bee colonies are disappearing around the world because of exposure to the toxins spread by corporate farming, when frog species [...]

[...] They are also a common ingredient in a wide variety of home gardening products. As detailed in an article published by Reuters, neonics are absorbed by the plants’ vascular system and contaminate the pollen and nectar [...]

[...] They are also a common ingredient in a wide variety of home gardening products. As detailed in an article published by Reuters, neonics are absorbed by the plants' vascular system and contaminate the pollen and nectar that [...]

[...] In the last few months, there's been a steady stream of new publications about honey bees and pesticides.  One news item ran with the headline: Mystery of the Disappearing Bees: Solved!" [...]

[...] stream of new publications about honey bees and pesticides.  One news item ran with the headline: Mystery of the Disappearing Bees: Solved!“ Um. NO.  Not even [...]

[...] if I sell some of the  pieces I make with the bees, I will donate some of the money here. I found this Reuters article and its links helpful for understanding why the bees are [...]

[...] learn of the growing decline of the bee and it’s impact on our food supply. I heard recently that scientists now think it is attributed to a virus. Still much research to be done and hopefully help them [...]

[...] here’s an article I found on Reuters about it – France and Germany have already banned its use and yet we use it on 85% of our crops? [...]

[...] The great Debate is deemed solved by some.    Natural News articles don’t seem to think so.  But others say it could really be cell phones?  Then there’s the destruction of Bee keeper’s bees and it could even be a Zombie Bee invasion. [...]

I heard the b’s are flowing in bradenton florida, joey spivey has em for sale $300 a zip lock

Posted by chipdiesel | Report as abusive

You think they could have used a honey bee pictures for the article?

Posted by Jules99 | Report as abusive

Nope it’s global warming. Whenever you don’t know the answer to anything bad in nature, always say “global warming.” Herp derp.

Posted by AndrewOLeery | Report as abusive

In my small home garden, I noticed an INCREASE of bees. I absolutely loved watching them buzz around and pollinate my plants. This year, my garden grew fabulously. I use no pesticides, nor any sort of weed killers. We grow enough vegetables to share with the bugs, the bees, the small “pests”, and us.

It’s a shame to hear of these colonies disappearing from CCD. My sympathies go out to all the bee keepers who are trying to maintain their hives.

Posted by AmyNBobby | Report as abusive

Granted, GMO food sources have a huge impact on quite a few things, including us, but apparently nobody has considered one of the OTHER MAJOR issues regarding the bee devastation and depopulation, namely, Cellular Phone Transmissions. Many government “Authorities” would have us believe that the exposure we, as humans, are subjected to from these towers and devices are so small that they would claim that the radio wave emissions are harmless. Sorry, but radiation is still radiation. It’s only considered harmless because our bodies are a little better equipped to handle it. Bees, on the other hand, don’t seem to be so equipped. RF (radio frequency) radiation, even in very small quantities, can have an extremely detrimental effect on any kind of organic matter. Not long ago, “RF Bleed” was connected to some brain cancers from cellular phone use, thus the reason that we now have “Hands Free” headsets (bluetooth). While this kind of radiation is fairly common in today’s society, and has been shoved onto the back burner and poo-poo’d by mainstream science as ‘Nothing to be concerned about”, apparently it’s a contributing factor in bee depopulation. For example, when was the last time that you saw or heard about bee hives or nests anywhere near Cellular towers or even high tension electrical transmission towers? The bees generally stay clear of these areas because they can’t handle the frequencies that these things put out. Sure, we humans seem just fine being bathed continuously in 60HZ RF Bleed, but consider how you feel the next time you have a power outage. While your ears will probably still be ringing from the total silence, if you actually try to notice it, you’ll feel much more relaxed and at ease. Once the power comes back on though, it’s all over. Not that I’m condoning any kind of legislation which would curtail where these sites are located, but unless we do something, our food chain, which relies heavily on the bees spreading the pollen around, is going to go the way of the dinosaurs.

Posted by Phoenix2012 | Report as abusive

I’m a beekeeper with many hives throughout my area and I too have seen losses (some to CCD) that cause me to replace hives every year. I’m doing my part, and try to educate my neighbors whenever possible to lower they alery threshhold when my girls fly into their year and pools. I try to go a chemical free as possible in the hive and on my grass, but if I did not treat with the hives something, I’d lose all my hives to one thing or another. I too would love to see a list of items that contain neonicotinoids. I’d hate to think I have this stuff in my shed or garage.

Posted by WellStungApiary | Report as abusive

How many more warning signs shall we need to realize that we are killing ourselves and other creatures along the way.
Nature is our partner and must be treated with respect otherwise we shall be the victims

Posted by GateauOchocolat | Report as abusive

I can see a viable class action lawsuit by the farmers, poisonous GM foods and pesticides being liable for crop failures, and being backed by insurance companies.

Posted by mrjubblies | Report as abusive

How can a report about pesticides not include Monsanto?
I’m sure they are knee deep in it.

Posted by bookman51 | Report as abusive

Solved? – not quite. Solved the mystery, maybe to some extent, although many have known this for some time (that’s why these persticides were banned in Germany and other European countries years ago… But the problem itself is not solved, as these companies now need to be tackled head-on, and they have been fighting tooth and nail to preserve an industry built around these products and the amount of food – poor quality food, but in vast amounts – that they are producing. So making them turn in their footsteps may not be easy, but it must be done. And it will ultimately be in their own interest, because they can not sustain that level of production if it goes counter to ensuring healthy pollination and nutrition in the long run. Our lands are being poisoned not only by the pesticides – be it unsafe or “safe” – but by these deficiencies and vulnerabilities we expose ourselves and other species to as a result of the lack of the natural, rich diversity in crops. This is of HUGE consequence, and we need to ensure that the regulators (govt!) is there to start the long road back to responsible agricultural practices, which were abandoned by the deregulation initiated by Reagan. And I say this not from a point of political bias, but fact – deregulation of this kind will be taken even further down that destructive path by a Romney administration. I think the work we have ahead of us is tough enough without another setback or delay causing further ruin to the chances of renewing the health and vitality of our natural ecosystems.

Posted by hanswebb | Report as abusive

So ass backward that the danger to bees from pesticides must be scientifically proved in order to facilitate a ban. Shouldn’t companies have to prove these chemicals are not dangerous before marketing?

Posted by Joseypye | Report as abusive

If the bees died it would be the boom for Monsanto, they would be the only producers of food. Your choices as consumers would be limited to GMO apples, eggplants, soy, corn, wheat, beets, and alfafa. As GMO foods cause cancer &/or sterility, Bill Gates & his satanic legion will be able to cut the population to the 700 million mark they so desire. Of course, the elites will have their own enclosures with a variety of fruits & vegatables & bees to germinate these plants for them. After all during monstanto board meetings, they only eat organic.

Posted by ladyravenhaire | Report as abusive

Someday our criminal shyster politicians, banksters and corporations are going to offend somebody who can’t be manipulated, negotiated with, dictated to, starved to death, raped, plundered, poisoned, pillaged, or exploited and all this will come to an end. Apparently, as go to the bees so goes humanity.Maybe the bees are the ticket. Go bees!

Posted by theblamee | Report as abusive

Oddly enough, given that this article was posted as an “Opinion”, I’m reminded about the old saying “Everybody has one” AND (from reading the ones expressed above) SOME people should take theirs out and dust them off (maybe even UPDATE them) once in awhile…

An article in the October Scientific American entitled “Ecosystems on the Brink” makes reference to “tipping points” and food-web collapse as an ongoing “working out the CURRENT balance of nature” — and makes the point that AFTER a collapse occurs it is generally too late for remediation. They give examples re interconnected ancillary effects where after a tipping point occurs other feedback elements are triggered which will often prevent any hope of a “simple” recovery (eg: cod are voracious predators; the drastic decrease in the cod population caused a drastic increase in their prey populations — which happen to prey on cod eggs and fry, locking in the decreased cod population).

We MAY be looking at technological replacements for bees, not far down the road. Although it appears Australia MAY survive as a sequestered source for replacement populations, bringing in replacements without correcting the original overall imbalances is going to be a waste of resources. Sometimes seems like we may never learn from experience…

Posted by flared0ne | Report as abusive

BEESFREE (BEES) has the solution to CCD.

Posted by Serg91 | Report as abusive

IF non-selective insecticides (such as the neonics and such others including fipronil & chlorfenapyr) known to be toxic, either acutely or cumulatively to beneficials, are used and registered for such use in any fashion that is NOT target-specific, THEN it will be causing known and predictable environmental damage. Surely this constitutes a crime under certain state or federal laws. Why are there NOT class action suites springing up from groups whose livelihoods or health are compromised by these acts? Where are the lawyers with the social consciences when they are needed?

Posted by vapourised | Report as abusive

Isn’t it ironic that these “neonics” that the “German chemical giant Bayer” developed are banned in GERMANY?? Isn’t it a pretty good HINT that we shouldn’t use them either? Jeeze!

Posted by OneAM | Report as abusive

It’s up to all of us individuals to make our voices heard in the halls of power. We need to utilize our power to change this course. The more and more people stand up to the status quo, the more momentum builds. I think the majority of people know what needs to be done. We just need to do it. The rest will follow.
Call, write, email your congress people, county boards, senators, the white house, epa, chemical companies, etc…
voice your concerns clearly, repeatedly.
Things will change.

Posted by jmenmo | Report as abusive

This makes sense to me…it’s rare that there’s just one cause of a problem in Nature, where innumerable influences are constantly at work. Knowing that these pesticides and GM crops are part of the problem may not help however…in my experience, most corporations take a sort-term, profit centric approach to business, and future consequences be damned. For this to change, it will take consistent public pressure on governments, that’s strong enough to outweigh the donations from big business. The clock is ticking.

Posted by micklee | Report as abusive

While the direct cause of Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) remains unknown, scientists and researchers continue to investigate possible causes. In fact, honey bees face significant pressure from multiple life-threatening stressors, including:

•Parasites, such as the Varroa mite
•Fungal diseases
•Lack of genetic diversity
•Environmental & Climatic factors
•Beekeeping practices (including stress induced by colony transport)

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) stated in July 2012 that it “is not aware of any data indicating that honey bee declines or the incidence of CCD in the U.S. is correlated with the use of pesticides in general or with the use of neonicotinoids in particular.”

There is also no evidence showing neonicotinoids represent a long-term health hazard to bee colonies. Long-term feeding studies with clothianidin have not demonstrated adverse effects on bee mortality, weight gain, longevity, brood development, honey yield and overwintering survival. The EPA affirmed this in July 2012, stating that “typical concentrations of neonicotinoid pesticides in pollen and nectar are generally significantly below the levels at which [adverse] effects occur.”

Posted by Greenerbeaner | Report as abusive

Wanna help honeybees? Ban neonicotinoids, GMO crops and bad beekeeping practices such as pumping high fructose corn syrup and chemicals into honeybee hives. That should give them a bit more time.

Posted by reginabee | Report as abusive

GreenerBeaner, did you not read the article? The whole point there is that neonicotinoids ARE inculcated as the culprit in CCD. You’re stating that there is no evidence that neonics are a problem needs to recognize that you are in disagreement to the latest and current findings reported here.

Posted by Anonymous | Report as abusive

@CandaceLopez I don’t really think that declaring war on corporations would help at all. We need to come up with solutions that will help the honey bees without causing destruction.
This blog is kind of misleading because of the title. It says that the mystery is solved, but it doesn’t have an exact reason as to why the bees have been disappearing. It does say that the Neonicotinoids play a part in the disappearances, but it also says that they are just a piece of the puzzle. I think that before it posts a title like that, the writer should really have an answer for the people who are reading it. I wish I knew what kinds of products contain neonicotinoids, but the article doesn’t really explain what could have them.
I also have seen a lot of people pointing out scapegoats. Blaming one person or company will not help anything. Everyone should take responsibility and try to help because this is everyone’s world.

Posted by kevbotoconnell | Report as abusive

epa and fda are not honest or transparent, but rather ‘in the pocket’ of the companies responsible for these crimes against mankind and nature. rely on independent studies carried out by the scientific community every day of the week, over reports by these puppet government protective agencies whose sole purpose is to protect the corporations who fund them. get your head out of the sand greenbeaner! :)

Posted by yonofun | Report as abusive

Disappointed by the title of this article – to the casual reader it seems to suggest that the devastation of bees has been corrected, when in fact as the end of the article explains the threat very much remains, and based on previous experience, will require tremendous advocacy and public pressure to be reversed. A corporation like Bayer isn’t going stop selling a pesticide any time soon.

Posted by DellerFeller | Report as abusive

This sentence seems to have been pasted on with no connection to the rest of the article “The collapse of beehives is a warning – and the cleverness of a few beekeepers in figuring out how to work with bees not as masters but as partners offers a clear-eyed kind of hope for many of our ecological dilemmas.”

What exactly are these beekeepers doing with their “partners” the bees that allows the bee’s to survive this pesticide and/or any other causes of hive collapse? There is no mention in this article of any evidence that “partnering” with bee’s provides any such “clear-eyed kind of hope”.

Also, I must say it is very kind of the bee “partners” to ask their human counterparts to take the bee’s hard earned honey and add them to cheerios to make a delightful breakfast cereal. BRAVO to you, bee “partners”!

Posted by BigTimePatriot | Report as abusive

Since the ‘bees’ belong to everyone – and is not a commodity. Bayer may need to just get their act together and take the damn Neon…..oids off the market and anything else like it. Stop messing with Mother Nature – help her; she is Our Mother too!!

Posted by creageous | Report as abusive

Bees are migratory insects. They migrate on their own based on the environmental conditions that they currently inhabit.

YES! Pesticides can and DO have a large impact on the bees’ migratory patterns, however we cannot discount the other side of the coin;

Q: What happens to the bees who survive the pesticides, predator or disease in a new location??

A: The bees will usually enter a tree, bush or sturdy structure in a protected area difficult for predators to reach. Here in the United States, these protected areas are many times on our residential or commercial property.

At this point most companies or property owners ‘believe’ they have no choice but the quick and easy method of ‘extermination!’

Posted by cwcarlberg | Report as abusive

In the 8th paragraph, there is a link ( to what is intended to be a credible source document that links GMO crops to bee deaths in general and colony collapse disorder. However, that article is speculative in nature. In fact, several recent studies shows very low correlation between proximity of hives to GMO crops and likelihood of CCD, for instance see icle/pii/S0167587712002656.

As a trusted source of reliable information, I don’t think Reuters blogs should add links that improve the search engine rankings of less than reliable sources.

Posted by gtaniwaki | Report as abusive

what if bees cannot resist stinging stupid people? bees dissappear because more and more stupid people are getting stung. millions of colonies dissappear.

Posted by owigotstung | Report as abusive

No pesticides in Australia, and no colony collapse in Australia. The article indicates these pesticides are banned in “Bayer”‘s home country, Germany and also in France. Hmmm. Instead of a multi million dollar study why not just have our busy congressmen ban the importation and use of these chemicals for say three to five years and see if the Colony Collapse disorder stops. Gee, I wonder if those companies are using those chemicals on their “Organic” labeled crops. Since congress changed the definition of Organic for those companies I suppose no ban on importation. Looks like we need to change our legislators out.

Posted by 1953Stark | Report as abusive

If you believe that the EPA isn’t controlled, or at least influenced, by corporations like Bayer that make huge campaign contributions, you’re sadly mistaken and most likely Republican.

Posted by Hortdoc | Report as abusive

I live in Canyon Country California, for at least 10 years I would see 1 or 2 bees on my Bottle Brush and Nightblooming Jasmin.But this year for what ever reason there are bees every where. There acually becomming enoying.But I’m really glad there back.Though you all might like to know.

Posted by mellem | Report as abusive

Wow Why are worry about the Next Iphone or Android the more we invent the more we destroy hope my child gets to see the bees on her life time.

Posted by JuanluisHuerta | Report as abusive

I agree with Juanluishuetra i dont want to be on a strict diet of only corn and wheat for the rest of my life if we will even have life after bees! Just like Einstien said when honeybees go we go! please savedembeez

Posted by SAVEDEMBEEZ | Report as abusive

I”ve read Albert Einstein’s bio and he said so many years ago, five years without bees the world will end. I am so disturbed by the info I”ve been learning about the decline in bee population and the disgusting reasons why. Please folks keep writing or talking about this devasting situation with your politicians, friends, co-workers, etc. Wear a bumble bee pin to get the conversation going. Boycott buying all Bayer products and keep the word out there. Bee proactive till we see some results.

Posted by beealive | Report as abusive

For people like Ocala123456789 they should have a button to click like “dislike” or “stupid” or “uninformed”!
Without bees in the world, the world will be barren of plant life. We need bees to survive folks!!! Couple that with Monsanto creating seeds which will not reproduce year to year we are not only looking at a bee collapse but that of humans!
We have always felt secure/ smug that starvation happens elswhere but if something is not done, it will bee brought to our front doors! Sceam out loud to anyone who will listen, “I am mad as hell and I won’t take it anymore!!!”
Contact your senators & representative – enundate/deluge them with emails and faxes. If they don’t hear you, vote them out of office!
Before you vote a new one in, email & fax them that you are going to vote for them only one term unless they are a part of the solution to non-GMO seeds, the use of chem-trails, roundup & agent orange in seeds to repel insect and the creation of seeds which will not reproduce. All of which are for a good part responsible for the bee colony colapse and w/o bees all plant life will cease to exist. Folks we will live in a barren world and we will cease to exist!

Posted by Ladyfish | Report as abusive

Neonicotinoids are new enough to correlate with Colony Collapse in bee’s. Further, their massive distribution via big box stores and pretreatment of plants – the very method which makes them effective (retention in plant tissues) and in that of agricultural crops further correlates. It’s not just bee’s there is collapse of pollinators in general, for instance the monarch Butterflies. Add to this people used to ‘live’ with the fact their lawn would have some dandelions, now people seeking completely sterile lawns of green have eliminated clover and dandelion so efficently our vast tracks of grass are useless to pollinators. Plant some red clover everyone, its beautiful and the pollinators will thank you for it (plus its cheap and nitrogenates your soil).

Posted by Thefaceofthesun | Report as abusive

[…] colonies pretty much disappear in a phenomenon known as Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). After a 15-year investigation, this has been traced to a class of pesticides known as neonicotinoids, a nerve poison that […]

[…] They are also a common ingredient in a wide variety of home gardening products. As I detail in an article which was published by Reuters last month, neonics are absorbed by the plants’ vascular system and contaminate the pollen and nectar […]

A friend of mine recommended me to your blog. This is just the kind of information I was looking for. I wish I have come across your blog much sooner.Looking forward to reading further tips and advice.

[…] Neonicotinoids is a pesticide mainly produced by Bayer and a April 2012 article from links Bayer and Neonics to killing bees as stated in this article […]

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