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Colony Collapse Disorder

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Since ancient times, bees are of great significance to in the human life despite it small size. Bees are essential in pollination and honey production. Due to their significance, human beings have been raring bees throughout the decades. They provide bees with all their basic needs. Bee hives have been of great significance in bee keeping as they are the ones used to rare bees. Bees live in colonies with every group of bees depending on their age and gender having specific job to do. However, unlike initially, bee keepers are currently facing numerous problems with the major problem being colony collapse disorders (CCD). These disorders have proved to be a big threat to the lives and existence of bees, giving bee keepers sleepless nights.

Due to increasing effect of colony collapse disorder and the need to eradicate this disorder, researchers are on ground studying the cause (Bright 116). This is because according to the researchers, treating and eradication of CCD needs establishment and identification of its causes. Even though CCD is a major threat, good news is that several factors causing this disorder have been identified. However, the main challenge is that it is not yet clear on whether they are the actual causes or not because they have been found to cause this disorder not on their own but in combination. This has not only led to the need of further study, but also made it difficult to find the proper remedy for this disorder.

Causes of CCD

Two common infections working together have been found by a major research into a dangerous threat to the honeybee as the cause of disorder. One of the major sources of concerns for farmers of huge variety of crops and beekeepers who rely on bees for pollination since its identification in 2006 is Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) that sees apparently healthy honeybee colonies that go into abrupt, steep decline (Miller et al. 16). A research that alleges to have found the cause of this disorder; combination of two common infections- one fungal, one viral- working jointly to create a condition far highly serious compared to what either will do in isolation have been completed by a group of logistics.

According to Bright (88), causes suggested by the study included the verroa mite, insecticides, Israeli acute paralysis virus and other diseases were eradicated when they were not found to happen in all the CCD colonies. The invertebrate iridescent viruses (IIV) - one group of diseases- were found to be available in 100% of cases, though in some strong colonies as well. A high similarity was obtained between Nosema and IIV in collapsed colonies, although finding Nosema alone was not obtained dependably to predict collapse (Johnson 13). In the insect world, an empty colony can be a hot real estate particularly if it is full of honey. However, other insects like beetles, moths and other bees that would increase typically at the opportunity to become the new tenants of a beehive, shun CCD for at least few days. However, it is not clear whether these chemicals have anything concerned with CCD, though they are absolutely stressors in the home and in the sources of food. Pesticides have not shown solely that they are the cause of CCD.

Main possible solution for CCD

Wiscombe & Blackiston (152) stipulate that following thorough research and evidence collected in regard to causes of colony collapse disorder, pesticides have been proved to be the main cause of this disorder. With the industrial revolution, agriculture was high revolutionized. New agricultural tools and machines used for planting and cultivation were invented. This facilitated and eased plantation farming. People were now able to cultivate huge tracks of lands and plant crops.

However, with development of plantation farming and use of advanced tools and machines, good harvest was attained. Nonetheless, it was not long before crops were attacked by insects and diseases. In order to address this issue, pesticides of different types and different chemical contents were manufactured to help control insect attacks. The use of pesticides is common throughout the world. There are different kinds of pesticides applied at different stages of the crops. It is this increased use of pesticides to control pests from crops that is leading to CCD. Bees are of great importance when it comes to pollination. However, it is difficult for a bee to detect nectars with pesticides and those without. It is through these nectars that bees come into contact with pesticides which they digest into their bodies hence leading to CCD.

Thus, in order to fully eradicate CCD, the United States Department of Agriculture is advocating the use of traditional methods to control pests. We should start to avoid use of pesticides. We should also adopt healthy farming styles including use of composite manure, rotation farming, shifting cultivation, among others. This will help to reduce disease and pest attacks on our crops. Alternatively, we ought to adopt traditional methods of pest control used in other parts of the world. It is high time for us to start exchanging ideas in regard to how we can control pests without necessarily using pesticides.

Like in Africa, for instance, we can adopt the use of ash or raring of birds that feed on major insects found in our regions. This can facilitate agricultural production by controlling pests. While these means are essential in controlling pests, they are environmental friendly and cheap and easily accessible. It is therefore, government’s and agricultural institutions’ responsibility to start educating people on the need to do away with the use of pesticides to control pests and try to use other friendly means. Furthermore, the researchers are exploring means to make seed-drilling machines safer for bees. This will also help cut down cases CCD across the world.

According to Thompson (327), the solution is therefore in our hand, we should either do away with current use of pesticides to control pests or start to use other farming styles and practices that are environmental friendly and can help control pests and disease, or continue using modern pesticides and finally, have no bee left. While making a decision, we should remember that bees are significant insects in crop production as they serves as pollinators and thus, need to be well protected.

If you are a beekeeper, you are also supposed to ensure that bees can have easy access to basic needs. You should provide bees with adequate water, nectars/sugar syrup, and shade. This will prevent bees from travelling log distances looking for nectars where they are infected with CCD. You should also ensure that the hives are warm and dry, and that there are no openings that can let inn predators. But of great importance, we should away with organic farming and start using inorganic farming. We should condemn and prohibit any use of pesticides in current farming methods and techniques. This is not only due to the fact that it causes CCD among colonies but also because it they are harmful to the environment some seeps through soils and join water bodies hence contaminating them. 

Benefits and risks of the main possible solution for CCD

Benefits

The adoption of inorganic and ancient farming methods that don’t encourage use of pesticides will be of immense significance to the farmers. For instance, it will lead to production of crops that are healthy for consumption (Schacker & McKibben 199). They also reduce cases of CCD among colonies. Consequently, there will high numbers of bees which will facilitate rapid pollination. For bee keepers, this solution will lead to high amounts of honey harvested. Quality of honey produced will be of immense significance as well.

Risks

With the modern world, lack of using pesticides will have immense negative effects of the harvest. This is because some pests are resistant to ancient methods of controlling pest. Thus, farmers will be harvesting lower harvests than ever before a fact that might lead to famine and starvation if not managed properly. Furthermore, the use of inorganic farming method is tiresome and demanding (Miller et al. 38). For instance, storage and transportation of composite manure is difficult and expensive. Keeping birds that feed on pests will mean additional costs since they will need proper care. Hence, as far as this is a lasting solution, we ought to be very keen when implementing it. We should ensure that we have proper alternatives and that we are all focused on the same objective.  

Additional possible alternative solutions

Proper colony maintenance practices

Even though it seems less harmful, the manner in which we handle and treat colonies matter a lot. According to research, proper colony maintenance practices can help significantly in reducing or eradicating cases of CCD. For instance, feed colonies Fumigillin in the spring and autumn to prevent Nosema (Johnson 17). According to researchers, Nosema apis is not viewed as the cause of CCD but its presence can create stress factors that might promote CCD. It is also vital to medicate against Nosema disease. If the colonies show symptoms of CCD, you should not reuse the equipment. Instead, such equipments should be stored till CCD is understood better.

Varroa control

Research has found that Varroa is also among the causes of CCD. Hence proper control of Varroa will help to reduce cases of CCD. However, consider using an integrated pest management (IPM) approach for Varroa control in honey bee colonies (Jacobsen 153). This approach can reduce the need for chemical use in your hives and also reduces the bees’ exposure to chemicals, thus preventing CCD. It is also crucial to be monitoring Varroa mite populations and take steps to treat your colony when levels of mite become unacceptable. If Varroa are controlled properly using efficient methods, we will have reduced chance of CCD by a high percentage.   

Conclusion

In brief, scientists have observed in recent years a phenomena referred to as colony collapse disorder (CCD), that is characterized by mysterious disappearance of worker bees from hives, resulting to collapse. The new study has illustrated the correlation between CCD and the use of neonicotinoid insecticides while many factors have been proposed ranging from insect viruses to cell-phone radiation, and they may all play a role. Neonicotinoid insecticides are among the most broadly used in the world, mainly because they kill insects by paralyzing nerves but have inferior toxicity for other animals. Honeybees, themselves are significant part of agriculture, since they are accountable for the pollination of numerous crops, an approximated one-third of which is eaten by humans. Thus, we should do all means possible to ensure that we have controlled and eradicated CCD completely.

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