What Happened to the Beepocalypse? | Freethink Wrong


– In 2006, something mysterious started happening to the honeybees. They were disappearing from their hives, just flying away and not coming back. Beekeepers across the
country reported losing anywhere from 30 to 90% of their beehives. These losses were unprecedented, fast, and no one knew what was causing it. The strange phenomenon was
dubbed colony collapse disorder, and it soon got widespread
coverage on major news outlets. – Bee colonies have been dying off. – Honeybees now in danger of disappearing. – A massive, mysterious
reduction in the bee population. – What agriculture and scientists continue to fear … – Is a phenomenon called … – Colony Collapse Disorder. – Some of the biggest
commercial beekeepers, their industry may be on
the brink of extinction. – And this
was cause for concern because, for such a small insect, honeybees have a huge
impact on our food supply. As honeybee colonies collapsed, so too could our agriculture system. Talk about a major buzzkill. But despite years of
panicked media coverage, and the warnings of an
imminent beepocalypse, today the number of honeybee colonies are the highest they’ve been in 20 years. So, what happened? How did we get the beepocalypse so wrong? After picking up to stories that bees were mysteriously vanishing, the media was quick to declare disaster. They imagined what life
would be like without bees, and warned that a beepocalypse was coming. And in 2013, National Public Radio declared we were hitting
a crisis point for crops. A share of the blame
was given to everything from genetically modified
crops, and pesticides, to even cellphones and wifi messing with bees’ sense of direction. Major companies like
Cheerios and Haagen-Dazs launched save the bee campaigns, and even the Obama administration developed a national strategy to promote honeybees
and other pollinators. – Oh no, it’s a bee. That’s okay, guys. Bees are good. – So, why was
there so much concern about bees in the first place? Well, because honeybees pollinate
1/3 of the foods we eat. Over a hundred different kinds of fruits, nuts, and vegetables rely on bees and other pollinators to make them grow. Every year, millions of bees are loaded onto semis and trucks around the country, from the blueberry fields of Maine to the almond groves of California to pollinate an estimated
$15 billion worth of crops. Hey, they don’t call it
“busy as a bee” for nothing. But, as bees travel around the country, they often come into contact with things that can make them sick, things like viruses,
pesticides and parasites, like the varroa mite, a nasty bloodsucker that can devastate bee colonies. It’s believed that these stressors, and perhaps some others,
combined, are the likely cause behind Colony Collapse Disorder, or CCD. And as bee losses continued, it looked like we’d be forced to see what life would be like without them. But while the government
worked on a national strategy for pollination, and the
media was crying disaster, beekeepers quietly found a
way to address the problem. Honeybees are essentially
livestock animals, but unlike cattle they can
replenish their numbers very quickly. Compared to the two to four calves a cow might have in their lifetime, queen bees can lay 1,500
eggs in a single day. And commercial queen breeders can rear large numbers of bees quickly to meet increased demand. Rebuilding hives is
nothing new for beekeepers. Often, they’ll split a hive into two and buy a new queen bee for about $20. The new hive can be ready to
pollinate after a few weeks. Beekeepers can also simply buy bees to replenish their hives. A package of 12,000 bees costs about $100. Beekeepers can recoup these extra costs from the pollination
fees they charge farmers. And it seems to be working. Despite losses from CCD,
beekeepers have grown honeybee colonies to their
highest number in 20 years. So, while CCD continues
to perplex scientists, there doesn’t seem to
be any imminent danger that the honeybees will go extinct. The good new is reports of CCD have been declining in recent
years, and that’s great, because honeybees are vitally important to the diversity of our food supply, and that’s something we should appreciate, even when they’re not in the headlines. But it seems clear that all the media buzz over Colony Collapse Disorder, and the warnings of an
imminent beepocalypse and a world without bees
turned out to be totally wrong.

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