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The most popular theory behind the cause of

Examining Colony CCD is the overuse of pesticides (especially

Collapse Disorder and its pesticides that include imidacloprid).
Pesticides pose the greatest risk to
Implications on our World pollinators because it is the most direct risk;
however, there are other suggestions for
The Bee is usually seen as a vicious pest, why the bees are declining. These include
pesky bother, and source of injury. industrial agriculture, disease, parasites,
However, the bee is vital to our survival as a climate-change, management stress, poor
human species. So vital, in fact, that we can genetic biodiversity, and chemical use.iii
contribute one out of every three bites of
food we eat to the workings of a pollinating Humans are at Risk, Too:
honeybee.i They are crucial for supporting
our ecosystem and our economy. Bees are necessary in our world because
they are the most prevalent and
Unfortunately, within the last decade, in economically important group of pollinators
some instances the bee population has in most geographical regions. Bees pollinate
declined upwards to 70 percent.ii This is due more efficiently than birds, bats, and other
to Colony Collapse Disorder, a disease that insects.v Since bee colonies are comprised of
originates from an unknown cause. In order many workers up to 80,000 bees per
to save our bees, we ask policy makers to colony bees are able to pollinate a
limit budget cuts to the EPA and push for considerably large amount of land within a
strict federal legislation that regulates the short amount of time. Similarly, the role of
treatment of the pollinators in our wild pollinators (including both bee species
ecosystem. and other insects) are gaining relevance
The Cause:
Without insect pollination, up to 75% of our
A phenomenon known as Colony Collapse crops would decrease in productivity. Yet,
Disorder (CCD) is currently destroying despite the fact that some plant species have
thousands of North American honeybee adapted the ability to self-pollinate, on
hives, generating the destruction of 30 to 90 average, still 80% of plant production
percent of beekeeping colonies since 2006.iii requires the help of pollinators.vi
CCD destroys the colonies by causing the
adult worker bees to abandon their hive, not For example, a range of fruit and vegetable
only leaving behind a significant amount of crops are 90 percent sometimes even more
food, but also leaving behind their queen. iv reliant on insects for pollination. Foods
such as almonds, apples, avocados,
One of the main problems surrounding this blueberries, broccoli, carrots, onions,
disorder is the fact that researches are legumes, and others would decrease their
uncertain of what exactly causes CCD. yield to less than 10 percent if the bee were
Although there are many theories, the to become extinct. vi On top of that, the rising
science community has yet to determine a world population is attributing to an
sole cause. increasing demand for honeybee pollination
services, and is outpacing the availability of
the colonies.v
If, eventually, bees do become extinct, some manpower, and would be far costlier than
plants, such as potatoes, corn, and carrots letting the bees do the jobs themselves.
would be able to survive, but with a
significantly lower production rate. Its More than Just Fruits and Veggies:
Nevertheless, our nutrient-rich foods such as
berries and apples would be extensively The decline in bees cause retributions that
harder to harvest. v Without our bees, more far surpass that of just dwindling supplies of
than one third of our food staples we rely on fruits and vegetables. Bees also pollinate our
would no longer be available. vii animals food, particularly food for our
cows and pigs. Since a majority of cattles
diet comes from grazing on wild grasses
filled with clover and alfalfa (two plants that
require pollination)ix, our cows would be
forced to search for new food sources or
face starvation. This would not only lessen
the number of cattle available for
consumption, but also the availably of dairy
products such as milk and cheese.

Although one resolution to this problem

could be providing corn and grain to our
cows ourselves, in the autumn and winter
seasons, grain is already particularly
scarce.ix This would force farmers to search
for new food sources, creating additional
costs and labor for them.

Bees, of course, also contribute directly to

society with products made from their
honey, wax, and resins. Bee wax is used in
America for candle-making, and for
Solutions to the growing bee problem ingredients in ointment, soaps, and
have already been tested in some parts of medications.x Additionally, although honey
our world. is most noted for its use in food and as
sweeteners, its also a valuable beauty and
For example, in China, pear farmers have medicinal commodity throughout the world.
begun to resort to human pollination. In It can heal cuts and scrapes, burns, sore
order to do this, farmers must go to each throats, clear acne, and can even remove
plant and pollinate each blossom dandruff.xi According to 2010 USDAs
individually with brushes and pots of Economic Research Service, America
pollen.viii consumes about 410 million pounds of
honey annually.xii
Although this is one answer to the problem,
the practicality of the issue remains in
question. If this solution was enacted, it
would indubitably require a sheer amount of
An Economic Standpoint: American states, it was technically illegal
for citizens to plant them.
Bees also contribute to society monetarily,
for honeybees are estimated to contribute Luckily, there are other environmental
over $15 billion annually to the U.S. organizations out there to help solve this
economy.xiii Likewise, through honey, problem and educate the public. An
beeswax, and other beehive products, the organization named Greenpeace encourages
bees contribute just under 200 billion U.S. consumers to buy organic food from local
dollars to the global economy each year. xiv farmers and encourages community
members to set up their own beekeeping
Unfortunately, beekeepers in the U.S. have hives in their backyards.
together lost an estimated 10 million
beehives, approximated at a value of $200 First Lady Michelle Obama did exactly this
each. Due to the loss, the rates of renting in 2009, when she planted an organic garden
honeybee hives have increased. In 2003, a at the White House. She added a beehive to
cost for renting a hive for pollination was a help the plants and vegetables grow.xvi
mere $50. In 2009, the costs were as high as

The decline in bees not only negatively

affects our blue-collared workers, but on a
greater scale, impacts our national and
global economy.

Institutions Taking Action:

Currently, the saving the bee initiative has

received a lot of attention and media
coverage. Most recently, Honey Nut
Cheerios started a bring back the bees
campaign where they encouraged citizens
around the world to participate in planting
wildflowers. As part of the campaign, they One organization, called The Bee Cause,
have also released commercials highlighting also promotes awareness for CCD by
the value of our bees, and in select stores, distributing grants to schools. Rosa Park, a
have removed food items that bees have Michigan Elementary School, received a
pollinated from the shelves. So far, Honey $1,500 grant, and is just one example of the
Nut Cheerios has given away over 100 1,000 schools they have placed beehives in
million seeds, and continues to ship seeds across the U.S. According to The Bee Cause,
around the world. xv the goal of their mission is for kids to learn
about honeybees and the science behind
Although for the most part the initiative pollination and hive building. xvii
received positive reviews, Honey Nut
Cheerios did receive some backlash. However, even with the increasing amount
Cheerios failed to account for invasive plant of media coverage CCD is receiving, the
species in their flower mix, so in some problem still remains, and will remain until
policies are passed in order to generate memorandum issued in order to establish a
change. Pollinator Health Task Force, co-chaired by
the USDA and the EPA almost 10 years
Legislation Enacted in the Past: after farms and ecologists first began to
complain about bee deaths and pesticide use.
Since the first mentions of CCD in 2006, Some examples the memorandum proposed
little has been done to successfully stop the include encouraging public research projects
growing problem. The policies that have and public education programs, and
been created to solve CCD over the last few increasing and improving pollinator
years have proven to be ineffective. habitats.xxi

The EPAs Role: However, the plan was deemed ineffective.

Although it focused on increasing pollinator
One of the first instances of government habitat, public education, and research, the
intervention for CCD occurred in 2009, strategy was flawed because it
when the Environmental Protection Agency simultaneously encouraged growth in habitat
(EPA), which is a part of the federal while continuing to allow pesticides that
government responsible for protecting the contaminate landscapes.xxii
environment by enforcing regulations,
conducted a study to find out if insecticides It is evident that the policies endorsed by our
contribute to CCD.xviii current officials are not strong enough or
effective enough to enact change. In the
The EPAs study determined that in past, the policies created were approved
particular, Bayers imidacloprid does, in years after they were originally proposed,
fact, affect honeybee health. However, the and once put into action, they did little to
study was faulty, for it only addressed one help.
out of the five known neonicotinoids, but it
failed to mention the four other known Legislation with Positive Consequences:
neonicotinoids that also have potential to
affect honeybee health. xix So far, only a small fraction of states have
attempted to enforce any bee-saving laws,
Following the EPA proposal, a lawsuit filed but the laws that have been introduced in
by environmental groups and beekeepers these states have shown promise.
stated that the assessment of neonicotinoids
was unfair because it failed to evaluate them Nine states (California, Connecticut,
in their most popular form: seed coatings, Kentucky, Massachusetts,
which are sold to farmers, usually Oklahoma, Oregon, Vermont,
possessing a blue coating on them. As the Virginia, Washington) have taken
plant ages, the neonicotinoid coating grows action to fund research to study
with the plant, eliminating the need for issues related to pollinator health,
spraying other pesticides.xx
Five states (California, Connecticut,
Obamas Memorandum: Kentucky, Minnesota, Washington)
have enacted legislation to protect
Other actions taken by policy makers and restore habitat suitable for
include President Barack Obamas pollinators.xxiii
On a federal level, there have recently been Calling for Change:
two bills passed that highlight the problems
associated with CCD: While these last two laws seem promising,
not enough information has been collected
The Saving Americas Pollinators yet to truly determine the effects the bills
Act of 2015 directs the EPA to take have had, leaving many problems still
actions related to pesticides that may untouched.xxiv
affect pollinators. The bill touches on
key tasks such as suspending the However, we do know that the laws enacted
registration of neonicotinoid on state levels have caused positive
pesticides, completing field studies outcomes for our bees.
examining the residue of repeated
applications and their cumulative Thus, it is important that we legislate these
effects on native pollinators, and laws on a national level.
withholding new registrations for
seed, foliar treatment, and soil Furthermore, it is more prevalent now than it
application on bee-attractive plants has ever been to increase funds for
and trees until the EPA has researching CCD. Unfortunately, the new
determined their impacts. xxiv Trump administration is planning to cut
EPA funding by 31 percent. xxvi It is clear
The Highways, Bettering the that there is still a lot of uncertainty
Economy and Environment surrounding Colony Collapse Disorder, and
Pollinator Protection Actxxv is a bill in order to protect our bees from extinction,
introduced in June of 2015 that we must continue to study the disease.
authorizes the cost of improving
habitats and forage for pollinators on Overall, due to the overwhelming evidence
rights-of- way adjacent to certain that the decline in bees is affecting our
highways. world population, and since there is a proven
strong correlation between neonicotinoids
and other pesticides, policy makers should

1. Banning the use of bee-harming

pesticides. Especially pesticides that
include the seven top harmful
chemicals including imidacloprid,
thiamethoxam, clothianidin, fipronil,
chlorpyriphos, cypermethrin and

2. Heightening conservation of natural

and semi-natural habitats. Habitats
surrounding agricultural landscapes
in particular would make a vast
difference. Furthermore, passing
laws that would work to enhance
biodiversity within agricultural

3. Supporting and encouraging

agricultural practices that benefit
pollination services within
agricultural systems. This would
include crop rotation, organic
farming, and ecological focus areas
at farm level.

And perhaps most importantly,

4. Increasing funding for research and


Final remarks:

While many environmental organizations,

educational establishments, and beekeepers
are continuously making advancements
toward the awareness and prevention of
Colony Collapse Disorder, the current
situation in the agricultural industry and
their relationship with governmental
agencies has resulted in the inability to
provide honeybees and their beekeepers
with and sufficient response to the issue at

Without our help, the bee population will

continue to shrink until the entire species
themselves becomes extinct.

And, of course, without the services

honeybees provide for us, the final
consequence would perhaps be the biggest
famine the worlds populations have ever
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