The US is facing a possible agricultural disaster. Honey bees are vital to fruit crops because they pollinate the flowers of fruits and vegetables. But in 2006, hives were suddenly being abandoned. The bees themselves disappeared without a trace, leaving no clues behind, and no other bees came to take over the hives. The phenomenon is called colony collapse disorder. The mystery repeated itself in 2007, and now almond growers in California are very worried about their 2008 crop, since almond trees rely solely on honey bees for pollination. Other countries are reporting similar colony collapses.
The theories about why honey bees are suddenly disappearing are several: New pesticides, a more virulent virus and even disorientation from wireless networks and cell phones. This last is illustrated by the comic “Mythtickle”:
The cell phone explanation seems to be based on a misunderstanding. I am relieved about that because I just got a wireless connection for my computer and I don’t want to be harming bees! The good news in all this is that if it is a pesticide that is the culprit, it will be easy to reverse the problem. But first investigators have to find the culprit. There is one way: See if bees that operate in organically farmed areas are equally afflicted.