Honey bees have been making the news recently with stories about colony collapse and crop failures due to lack of pollination. The Internet is ripe with resources, stories and groups about bees. Bee products abound even in the big box stores, and locally produced honey is a hot commodity in many areas. Beekeeping is a growing activity for hobby farmers and anyone interested in self-sustainable food production. Cities, including Springfield, are beginning to consider allowing backyard beehives inside the city limits. Did you know there is a colony of honey bees living upstairs at Highclere Castle, the set for the popular show Downton Abbey?
Bees are quiet, gregarious and hardworking little creatures that have a direct impact on the food supply of every human on the planet, yet they often go unnoticed or are misunderstood.
The honey bee (Apis mellifera) is a vital part of the food chain. As pollinators, they are responsible for ensuring continued plant life for many field crops, nearly all fruit trees and vegetables. Without them, the rest of the food chain eventually experiences famine. Their worldwide population has been declining for the last 40 years, known as Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). There are many factors that cause CCD, including pesticides, viruses and mites. Research is ongoing to identify other factors and to find methods of stopping the honey bee decline.
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