Colony Collapse

Colony collapse refers to the mysterious phenomenon of worker bees suddenly abandoning a hive. While the exact causes are unknown, they are likely a combination of factors that weaken bee populations. Potential contributors include parasites, habitat loss, agricultural pesticides, and sudden shifts in weather due to global warming. Many of these are human-created and ultimately based on the use of fossil fuels.

A recent study by researchers at the University of Vermont revealed that many of areas of the US with the greatest need for bees have the smallest bee populations. Nearly 40% percent of pollinator-dependent crop areas suffer from bee shortages. Bee losses are also continuing to worsen. Between 2008-2013, bee abundance decreased across nearly 25% of US land area.

In this work, Map of wild bee abundance, yellow areas show low bee abundance. These coincide directly with areas containing the most pollinator-dependent crops. Media include motor oil (yellow, low abundance), engine coolant (blue, high abundance), and plastic honeycomb used by industrial beekeepers.

As we steadily lose key pollinators, we must ask ourselves about the impacts on both the natural and human worlds. What happens when our own unsustainable practices cause not just bee communities, but also human industries to collapse?

The original map was compiled by Insu Koh, Taylor Rickets and colleagues at the University of Vermont. Their research and analysis appeared in the January 2016 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Colony collapse refers to the mysterious phenomenon of worker bees suddenly abandoning a hive. While the exact causes are unknown, they are likely a combination of factors that weaken bee populations. Potential contributors include parasites, habitat loss, agricultural pesticides, and sudden shifts in weather due to global warming. Many of these are human-created and ultimately based on the use of fossil fuels.

A recent study by researchers at the University of Vermont revealed that many of areas of the US with the greatest need for bees have the smallest bee populations. Nearly 40% percent of pollinator-dependent crop areas suffer from bee shortages. Bee losses are also continuing to worsen. Between 2008-2013, bee abundance decreased across nearly 25% of US land area.

In this work, Map of wild bee abundance, yellow areas show low bee abundance. These coincide directly with areas containing the most pollinator-dependent crops. Media include motor oil (yellow, low abundance), engine coolant (blue, high abundance), and plastic honeycomb used by industrial beekeepers.

As we steadily lose key pollinators, we must ask ourselves about the impacts on both the natural and human worlds. What happens when our own unsustainable practices cause not just bee communities, but also human industries to collapse?

The original map was compiled by Insu Koh, Taylor Rickets and colleagues at the University of Vermont. Their research and analysis appeared in the January 2016 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.