The End of Colony Collapse Disorder?
There was a somewhat encouraging but confusing opinion piece in the New York Times on Friday about the decline of honeybees.
In the column, biologist Noah Wilson-Rich states that “Scientists I’ve spoken to in both academia and government have strong reason to believe that CCD [Colony Collapse Disorder] is essentially over.” Wilson-RIch claims that there hasn’t been a definitive case of documented CCD in three years.
My first reaction to the column was to wonder if the author was part of some front group put up by the pesticide industry to counter demands for banning neonicotinoid insecticides. But Wilson-Rich seems to be legitimate: he is a professor of biology at Simmons College in Boston. He is the founder of the Best Bees Company, which installs and manages hives for residential, commercial, and agricultural properties. Profits generated by Best Bees is dedicated to bee research. And he is a giver of TED talks, if you like that kind of thing.
And Wilson-Rich is not saying that all is well, far from it. CCD may be over, but bees are still dying. He says that honeybee losses have stabilized at about 30% a year: “The danger to bees is no longer growing.” I found myself a bit confused about what exactly that means.
According to the article, bees are still threatened by diseases, insecticides, and habitat loss. Wilson-Rich advocates moving away from monocultural farming practices and doing more to encourage pollination by native bees. In fact, he cites research indicating that expensive hired honeybees (living in hives trucked from farm to farm) are getting the credit for pollination performed by other species of bee.
Have you seen this article? What did you make of it?