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What is colony collapse? Colony collapse is the disappearance of worker bees or adult bees in a colony. Researchers have yet to prove why this happens in a clear and definitive way, likely because there’s no “silver bullet” or one right answer. In the event of a single hive dying out, you can often determine the route cause, however, on a more massive scale, there’s just too many reasons why a colony can collapse to the point of death.
Beekeepers should watch out for some signs of colony collapse disorder. The following signs are evident in hives affected by colony collapse disorder:
- No adult bees – During colony collapse, adult bees leave their hives. The only bees left are the queen and few nurse bees. Immature bees are also left behind.
- Queen’s presence – since the queen is responsible for laying the eggs for the entire hive, without a queen, there is no colony. In cases where colony collapse may be the culprit, the queen remains in the hive even as the hive dies out.
- Plenty of food – the bees leave a large amount of food, nectar and honey.
- Few bees- colony collapse leaves the colony vulnerable to extinction since there is not enough bees to maintain it.
Theories as to the cause of this strange behavior include and as we stated, there’s no “one cause that can be pointed out at this time:
- Chemical toxins– beekeepers may use chemicals as way to keep their colonies healthy and productive. These chemicals have harmful effects on the bees. The environment may also host these chemicals be it in water or air.
- Varroa mites-just like every other hero stories, honeybees have their Achille’s heel. The varroa mites kill and feed on the bees. These could cause their disappearance.
- Undiscovered bee diseases– scientists have yet to prove this theory. New disease could be causing colony collapse disorder.
- Poor beekeeping management – farmers with poor beekeeping skills and use unorthodox method cause colony collapse.
To avoid such a situation, beekeepers are advised to use integrated pest management for varroa control, separate healthy colonies from the collapsed ones, and they should practice the best beekeeping management methods.