By Courtney Leiva
Albert Einstein once said “If bees disappear from the surface of the earth, man would have no more than four years to live. No more bees, no more population, no more men.” In the past few years numerous of bee colonies throughout America have been threatened by colony collapse disorder, which could greatly jeopardize one third of our food supply.
Colony Collapse Disorder or CCD is a mysterious disease affecting bee populations without any real explanation as to what is causing it. Some suspects include mites, viruses, and chemical exposure. When a hive is infected with CCD, the bees abandon their hive and die. The effects of CCD have been affecting bee colonies throughout the nation, as reports state that more than 35 states across the country have seen this problem.
Humans greatly rely on honey bees as these bees pollinate to crop crops including fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds.
According to the New Jersey Department of Agriculture, New Jersey’s 10,000 bee colonies are valued at $250 per colony, represent a $2.5 million honey industry for the state and contribute to successful production of nearly $200 million worth of fruits and vegetables.
“Personally, I don’t believe I know any bee keepers that have been affected. We all get occasional colony death for one reason or another but it has always been that way. In my view, the beekeepers that are most affected are the ‘big’ guys that, at least in the past, have treated bees roughly,” says Leonard Klinker a representative from the New Jersey Bee Keeper’s Association says in an email.
“One of the things that they are doing now that seems to be helping, is make sure that bees are treated more gently and given extra food supplements to help keep them strong. That helps the bees deal with exotic diseases and parasites that have been accidently brought here by other parts of the globe. The big business of a commercial pollination is extremely stressful for both the bees of and the beekeeper,” Klinker adds.
However, there is work being done to address this problem. Ice cream retailer Haaigen Daz, for instance is donating money to help fund honey bee research. Every time customers buy a carton of bee related flavors such as strawberry, proceeds go to research.
In addition to these efforts, the company also teamed up with University of California at Davis University to create a bee haven. The Bee Haven is a half-acre garden next to the Harry Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility on Bee Biology Road, UC Davis.
The haven was planted in the fall of 2009 and the grand opening celebration took place last September. The haven aims to provide bees with a year round source of food, to raise public awareness about the honey bees, as well as encouraging visitors to create and plant bee-friendly gardens at home.