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Bees, Blues, Biology: History Demystifies Honey Bees’ Disappearance

The enigmatic disappearance of bees in the last three years has less to do with any one injurious factor than does hundreds of years of poor beekeeping.

The decline of bees’ buzzing has created a buzz of its own.

Scientists, farmers, and fans of honey are alarmed and puzzled by the sudden exodus of enormous numbers of bee colonies. At first the it was named “Fall-Dwindle Disease”, but when the seemingly seasonal phenomenon failed to correct itself, scientists began calling it “Colony Collapse Disorder.”

Seed Magazine recently published a comprehensive article on the epic relationship humans and bees have shared throughout our honey-loving history.

According to Kloc, the enigmatic disappearance of bees in the last three years has less to do with any one injurious factor than it does with hundreds of years of poor beekeeping. Kloc himself best sums up the complex web of apiarian abuse:

Europeans spent centuries selecting for the poorest honey-producing bees; American beekeepers took these hives and began shipping them around the country, often multiple times a year, in order to propagate the growth of a farming industry that, as it grew, only put further stress on the bees that sustained it; farmers worldwide doused their crops with pesticides that weakened the bees’ immune systems; and the bees were weakened even more by the very pollen diets the monoculture crops provided.

Read More:

  • Questions and Answers: Colony Collapse Disorder (

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Megan Meyer

Megan Meyer was in the company of foodies for most of her formative years. She spent all of her teens working at her town's natural food co-op in South Dakota, and later when she moved to Minneapolis, worked as a produce maven for the nation's longest running collectively-managed food co-op. In 2006, she had the distinct pleasure (and pain) of participating the vendanges, or grape harvest, in the Beaujolais terroire of France, where she developed her compulsion to snip off grape clusters wherever they may hang. In the spring of 2008, Megan interned on NPR's Science Desk in Washington, D.C., where she aided in the coverage of science, health and food policy stories. She joined Indiana Public Media in June, 2009.

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