Another bee bites the dust

Due to an unknown cause, a population bottleneck has wiped out one million of the 2.4 million honeybee colonies in the United States this winter. Honeybee colonies have been steadily decreasing around the world for many years now but it was not until this year that scientists noticed a significant drop in colony numbers. Similar collapses in honeybee populations occurred in both 1995 and 2000 due to certain types of mites that feed on these insects. Although many of the honeybee deaths over this winter can be attributed to these mites, about 25 percent show no signs of mites or other pests. This worries scientists because over a third of the country’s agricultural crops are pollinated by honeybees. In the United States alone, up to 12 billion dollars of fruit, vegetable, and seed crops depend on commercial beehives. Ranging from theories dealing with the affects of new pesticides to the affects of cell phone radiation on honeybees, the reason for these diminishing bee colonies is highly debated. “There is still no concrete evidence about what is killing the millions and billions of bees around the country, but there are a lot of guesses,” scientist Craig Mackintosh said. Scientists all over the country are trying to find answers about this very mysterious decrease in bee populations. Until just recently there has been no solid evidence that directs scientists to a common conclusion. New evidence has been released that the declining honeybee population in the United States may have to do with a fungus that has caused similar devastating affects on honeybees in both Europe and Asia. This fungus has been found in many of the affected bee colonies across the country by many different, independent researchers. Although this is true, biochemists warn that these results are highly preliminary and that the mystery has by no means been solved.