We were beekeepers in Florida but lost so many colonies over the past 20 years from colony collapse that we divested ourselves of the business. There are a multitude of causes contributing to the dramatic losses.
We are convinced that technological advances in genetic engineering of plant species as well as use of the seven substances of the chemical family known as neonicotinoids have played a huge role in colony collapse. Beekeepers who transport hives coast to coast for their pollination business are also playing a role in the demise of the honeybee by exposing them to stress and other diseases.
As founder of the Florida company Aerial Services Inc. during the 1970s and ’80s, I was acquainted with pilots who flew the county mosquito “bombers.” I frequently stated my concerns about the insecticide cocktails they were spraying and how I equated my bee losses to those substances. They defensively escorted me to view several hives they maintained in a remote area on the airport property for monitoring bee toxicity, then sprayed the hive entrance and pointed to the fact that no bees died as we watched. I argued that sometimes adverse effects of chemical are not immediate. The neurotoxic factor of their mix, which included diazinon, malathion, kerosene, etc., was detrimental to the bees.
Also the neuro-directional physiology of the bee, which it uses to find its way back to the colony after foraging, seems to be effected. We know that many bees leave the hive each day to forage and that a reduced number return.
No matter what the cause of colony collapse, honeybee losses should be the proverbial “canary in the coal mine” warning humans and animals that their health and well-being are increasingly being put at risk!
Richard K. Roedel
Tampa, Fla. metropolitan area