Sunday, December 4, 2011
Up to 12 million bees found dead in Florida and no one knows why
Authorities have already ruled out disease, including the infamous “Colony Collapse Disorder” (CCD), as the cause of a recent honeybee holocaust that took place in Brevard County, Florida. The UK’s Daily Mail reports that up to 12 million bees from roughly 800 apiaries in the area all dropped dead at roughly the same time around September 26 — and local beekeepers say pesticides are likely to blame. CCD is the term often used to describe the inexplicable mass die-off of honeybees around the world, which typically involves honeybees leaving their hives and, for whatever reason, never finding their way back home. Mass die-offs associated with CCD often occur at seemingly random locations around the world, and typically involve a gradual process of disappearance and eventual colony collapse — and the dead bees are typically nowhere to be found. But the recent Florida event involved hundreds of colonies from 30 different sites in a one-and-a-half mile radius literally dropping dead all at the same time and leaving their carcasses behind, which is why authorities have dismissed CCD as the cause. Based on the appearance of the dead bees, as well as the synchronous timing of their deaths, pesticide sprayings appear to be the culprit in this case. “I’m a pretty tough guy, but it is heart wrenching,” said Charles Smith of Smith Family Honey Company to News 13 in Orlando. His family’s company lost an estimated $150,000 worth of bees in the recent die-off. “Not only is it a monetary loss here, but we work really hard on these bees to keep them in good health.” The Florida die-off coincides with a recent county-wide mosquito eradication effort, during which helicopters flew over various parts of the county and sprayed airborne pesticides. Officials, of course, deny that this taxpayer-funded spraying initiative had anything to do with the bee genocide, though. “The fact that it was so widespread and so rapid, I think you can pretty much rule out disease,” said Bill Kern, an entomologist from the University of Florida (UF) toFlorida Today. “It happened essentially almost in one day. Usually diseases affect adults or the brood, you don’t have something that kills them both.” Many of the beekeepers who lost their hives in the mass killing raised their bees to sell to American farmers, who then used them to pollinate food crops. Because of their massive losses, many of these beekeepers could end up losing their entire beekeeping businesses.