History and Evolution
Ants, Honey Bees and Wasps essentially share a common ancestry. Around 100-125 million years back the bees were wasps that turned vegetarians.
Some of the species of adult wasps feed on nectar yet they are predators that feed on insects to the younger bees for protein. Protein is found in abundance in pollen, fats, starch, and vitamins, therefore, honeybees tend to feed the younger bees’ pollen along with nectar.
Due to the evolution of the bees where they converted to an all protein diet of pollen completely transformed the way the flowers got pollinated. As a result, the bees grew feathery hair and body parts specialized to enable them to carry pollen collected from flowers and the flowers responded by enticing and attracting the bees.
Honeybees – as of Today
As of today, there are roughly 30,000 bees species in the world. As per studies, the native bees are better pollinators and we should do everything we can in order to support these native bees.
Our relationship with honeybees dates back to ancient times when they were domesticated in Asia, Northern Africa and Europe. North Americans received their bees from pilgrims from Europe. A beehive can have 100,000 bees. That is a huge amount of bees to fed with pollen and nectar.
The pollen-gathering bees make the pollen wet with the saliva so that the pollen gets stuck to the baskets on their hind legs.
Bumblebees play a vital role to shake the hidden pollen from tomato, potato, cranberry flowers and eggplant by making a specific vibration commonly called Buzz Pollination – the honeybees are unable to pollinate in this manner.
Less land means ‘less food’ for bees
With the change in the world wild and forest land was used for agriculture and later used for urbanization – reducing the diet for honeybees. The natural diet of honey bees are bee bread and honey. Bee bread is fermented pollen. Due to this bees vanishing the beekeepers fed sugar solutions and high fructose corn syrup to honey bees.
Colony Collapse Disorder
In the year 2006 USA reported huge bees losses. They weren’t dying – they were just getting lost with the worker bees vanishing with the queen honeybee and brood left behind. This was something that was extremely unnatural. This huge problem spread to Europe as well. The research was conducted and it was discovered that the collapsed hives had a virus – Israeli Acute Paralysis Virus (IAPV) the name since it was discovered in Israel. It was speculated that this virus entered through the illegal import of Australian honeybees in the USA. However, DNA tests showed that American bees had IAPV even before the Australian bees were imported.
Many speculations were made to determine the reasons for the decline of bees.
Reasons for CCD – Colony Collapse Disorder
The main reasons for the Colony Collapse Disorder are:
- Overuse of insecticide since 1895.
- Immune suppression due to management practices
- Decline in Nutritious Diet
- A huge amount of parasites.
The colonies of honey bees infested with Varroa mites were treated with miticides that overload the P450s. The honeybees have a few P450’S and cannot deal with this compound if it is sprayed twice or more. It is pollen that stimulates the production of P450’s, however, the bees don’t have enough pollen in their diet anymore. Due to this, the honeybees started feeding on non-flowers sugary waste such as sugary chemicals and dyes.
The honeybees started producing contaminated honey that was sometimes blue or red due to dyes found in sugar solution prepared in industries.
Due to poor nutrition honeybees had improper immunity to chemicals and diseases to which they were alarmingly exposed. In addition to this the bees were also subjected to stress and fatigue of traveling long distance.
The above are several reasons for the bees vanishing – yet we cannot pin point to any one factor that could be responsible for the CCD.