Buzz Off

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Priscilla Council Biology 1110 February 23, 2010 Research Assignment Where Have All the Bees Gone? Morgan E. Peck Discover Magazine 2009 Summary Each year since 2006, bees have gradually been disappearing from their hives or dying off. Bees have died off before in the past. This is called colony collapse disorder or CCD. In the past CCD was cause by mites or infections, but now this is caused because of the commercial agricultural farmers. Bees play a key part in pollination. When the crops are pollinated by the bees, they are capable of producing the fruits or vegetables the human population eats. Farmers primarily depend upon the bees to pollinate their crops. The honeybees were the most adaptable bees out…show more content…
Whatever the proximate cause, it increasingly appears that the bees are succumbing to a long-ignored underlying condition — inbreeding. Decades of agricultural and breeding practices meant to maximize pollinating efficiency have limited honeybees' genetic diversity at a time when they need it the most. Addressing CCD may therefore require more than a simple fix. "We need to have a diverse set of genetic raw material so we can find bees resistant to disease," says Steve Sheppard, an entomologist at Washington State University. "Genetic diversity is an important part of the solution."The problem is hardly trivial. A third of the total human diet depends on plants pollinated by insects, predominantly honeybees. In North America honeybees pollinate more than 90 crops with an annual value totaling almost $15 billion. Indeed, that importance lies at the root of what went wrong. In trying to make bees more productive, apiarists have torn the insects from their natural habitats and the routines they mastered over millions of years. As a result, today's honeybees are sickly, enslaved, and mechanized. "We've looked at bees as robots that would keep on trucking no matter what," says Heather Mattila of Wellesley College, who studies honeybee behavior and genetics. "They can't be pushed and pushed."In the beginning, honeybees and their partners, the flowers, drove an
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