Although the disappearence of billions of bees without any trace of dead bees around hives may sound like a urban legend, the Colony Collapse Disorder is a real and frightening phenomenon that could lead to an overall wipeout of the world’s food supply.
While a dramatic decrease of feral and domestic bees has been observed in the US since 1971, it is only in 2006 that some US beekeepers started to report massive disappearence of up to 90% of their bees colonies. And since then, similar reports are coming from other countries like Germany, France, UK, Italy, Spain, India or Brazil.
The honey bee is a major actor in the food chain, as roughly 90% of vegetal species depend on bees as pollinators, and 30% of the US crops would not exist without pollination. This include all the fruit trees, but also many other crops like cucumbers, squash, melons and all kinds of berries.
Scientists have identified several possible causes, ranging from overuse of pesticides to genetically engineered crops and including climate change, virus, parasites, monoculture or poor beekeeping practices, but none of these causes alone can be identified as the “smoking gun”. It could instead be a combination of multiple factors, which make problem solving much more difficult.
Goverments worldwide need to massively invest money in research, because if nothing is done to prevent bees disappearance, we can say goodbye to a large part of our food supplies and be ready for a large scale starvation.