Beekeepers across the country report almost a quarter of the estimated 2.4 million commercial colonies have been lost since fall 2006.
Colony failure is not unusual year-to-year. Food shortages, weather, pesticide exposures and infestations by pests wipe out significant numbers of colonies every year. A fungus that caused widespread loss of bee colonies in Europe and Asia may be playing a crucial role in Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), according to University of California San Francisco researchers.
Researchers have not found the exact cause of CCD, and there are many theories. Collapsed colonies reproduce, have food stores, but few adult bees are found in or around the hive. Bees simply disappear.
Backyard beekeepers report an increase in hive production and function. Conserve natural populations by not killing the colony and having swarms collected. Contact your local Extension office for names of local beekeepers.