A mysterious ailment called Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) is causing agricultural honeybees around the country to abandon their hives and disappear. Now, University of Montana (UM) honeybee researchers have been enlisted to look into the phenomenon in the hope of uncovering what’s bugging the bees. “Individual beekeepers are really taking a beating,” UM entomologist Jerry Bromenshenk said. “A guy down in Oklahoma lost 80 percent of his 13,000 colonies in the last month. In Florida, there are a whole lot of people facing 40, 60 and 80 percent losses. That’s huge.”
CCD causes adult honeybees to abandon a hive and disappear, leaving the queen and a remnant of younger bees. The malady also results in young bees not being protected by their older siblings – likely because most of the adult bees have left. Where the bees go is a mystery.
Bromenshenk said at least 22 states have been affected by CCD during the latest outbreak. Theories about what causes the malady range from a rouge protozoan to new chemicals or a soil fungus, but no one knows for sure.