Disappearing Honeybees

Wednesday, October 31st 2007, 9:13 pm
By: News On 6

It is what farmers across the world are buzzing about; honeybees are disappearing. News On 6 anchor Jennifer Loren spoke with a local expert about the problem and its consequences, and reports it is a worldwide problem that could affect the food we eat in Oklahoma. Greg Hannaford has a small beekeeping operation in his backyard in midtown Tulsa. His operation doesn't even register as part of the nation's $15 billion a year honeybee industry.

Lately that industry has been buzzing about the mysterious disappearance of more than 50% of its honeybees.

"A healthy hive will just have bees everywhere. But they open them up and they're, for the most part, they're empty," said beekeeper Greg Hannaford.

It's called Colony Collapse Disorder, or CCD. It may sound like something a psychiatrist would prescribe medication for, but scientists don't even know what causes this devastating syndrome, let alone how to treat it.

"They tend to think that it is a combination of factors, kind of a perfect storm for the bees," Hannaford said.

Because CCD generally affects large-scale commercial beekeeping operations scientists believe it could be stress related.

Commercial beekeepers move their hives around the country to pollinate different fruit and vegetable crops. That means they're exposed to various pesticides, which could also be a contributing factor of CCD. And recently, scientists linked a specific virus to the bees that are disappearing.

So what does this mean for the general public?

According to Hannaford, about a third of our fruit and vegetable crops need bee pollination to survive. Some of those crops are used to feed cattle, making the loss of bees a widespread problem with possibly devastating affects.

"Were we to lose our managed bee populations then you would see large price increases in vegetables, meat and dairy as well," said beekeeper Greg Hannaford.

Researchers are working overtime to find a way to stop Colony Collapse Disorder. Among other things they are currently looking into some bees in Israel that are genetically resistant to the virus some scientists believe is behind the honeybees’ disappearance.

Watch the video: Disappearing Honeybees