If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe then man would only have four years of life left. No more bees, no more pollination, no more plants, no more animals, no more man.
A quote often ascribed to Albert Einstein
It is not known whether the above quote was really made by Albert Einstein but we do know that some mysterious disease has wiped out about a third of the commercial colonies of honeybees since 2006. This phenomenon is known as colony collapse disorder or CCD.
Honeybees are a critical component of the production of crops that make up about ¼ of our diet and, according to the Agriculture Department, pollination by honeybees adds about $15 billion in the value of crops each year. An international study of 115 food crops grown in over 200 countries showed that 75% of the crops were pollinated by animals, especially by bees.
Many possible causes have been studied and most researchers suspect that a host of viruses, parasites and possibly other factors like pesticides are working together to kill the bees.
A recent study suggests that the mass die-offs of honeybees may be linked to a rapidly mutating virus that jumped from tobacco plants to soy plants to bees. The researchers found that the increase in honeybee deaths generally starts in autumn and peaks in winter and may be correlated with increasing infections by a variant of the tobacco ringspot virus.
Bees are a keystone species and vital to the systems that support food production for human beings. Their rapid destruction is a poignant example of the inter-relationship and importance of the many species in our eco-systems.
For more information, we suggest:
Bee Colony Collapses Are More Complex Than We Thought, US News & World Report