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In the last three months of 2006, a new phenomenon began to occur in honey bee colonies which scientists called Colony Collapse Disorder.

Losses range from 30-90% of bee colonies.

Beekeepers in the mid-Atlantic and Pacific Northeast regions also reported significant losses of more than 50%.

Losses have been reported in migratory operations wintering in California, Florida, Oklahoma and Texas.

Honey bee colony losses also have been reported in Canada and Europe.

Colony losses are occurring mostly because bees are failing to return to the hive (which is largely uncharacteristic of bee behavior), bee colony losses have been rapid and colony losses are occurring in large numbers.

The 1980s saw two periods of large die-offs due to Varroa and tracheal mites.




Varroa mites are said to have eliminated most feral bee colonies in the mid-1990s.

The pathogen Paenibacillus larvae is the most serious honey bee pathogen and causes American foulbrood (AFB), which is a disease of larval honey bees.

Mite and pathogen infestations have caused beekeepers to use miticides and/or antibiotics.

High levels of bacteria, viruses, and fungi have been found in the guts of the recoverable dead bees.

These high infection levels are compromising the immune system of the honey bees.

Several new pesticides have recently been put on the market, many of which have now been banned in Europe.

One class of insecticide which may be part of the problem are neonicotinoids, which contain the active ingredient imidacloprid, and similar other chemicals, such as clothianidin and thiamethoxam.

Honey bees are affected by such chemicals, which are known to work their way through the plant up into the flowers and leave residues in the nectar and pollen.

It is more than likely that the combination of chemicals miticides, fungicides, antibiotics and pesticides is causing the collapse.

A class of pesticides, nicotine-based neonicotinoids, forged the tipping point.






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