Local News

Bee colonies collapsing as workers abandon hives

Posted April 10, 2013

Bees are abandoning hives in increasing numbers, and a recent study suggests a pesticide may be to blame.

— The honeybees are busy in Danny Jaynes' backyard in Willow Spring.

“They're going out to get water, nectar and pollen,” he said. “That's their source of food.”

Jaynes, president of the North Carolina Beekeepers Association, thought he'd have more bees this spring.

He had 12 hives last fall. Now, only two are active after the bees abandoned the other 10.

It's a phenomenon called colony collapse disorder, and it's happening all over North America and Europe. Beekeepers and scientists say it has gotten worse in the past few years.

“The hive just abandons,” Jaynes said. “They'll abandon everything - everything but the queen and a handful of bees.”

honeybees Pesticide could be to blame for collapsing bee colonies

Federal officials say there are a number of factors that lead to colony collapse, and there is no direct link between that and insecticides. But a new Harvard study says there is, especially with one particular pesticide called imidacloprid. The pesticide is part of a class called neonicotinoids, which are commonly used on farms and home gardens.

In the study, 15 of 16 bee hives treated with the pesticide died after six months. Those exposed to the highest levels disappeared first.

“It's highly toxic to honeybees, yet they don't stop the sale,” Jaynes said.

Honeybees are integral to the food chain because they pollinate seeds. Jaynes says the bee losses could lead to food shortages as early as this fall.

He says it's time to look at alternatives to the pesticide that he says is wiping out the nation's honeybees.

"I can contend with mites, I can contend with the viral and bacterial problems," Jaynes said. "We know how to help the bees with that. We have no help with this."


This story is closed for comments.

Oldest First
View all
  • teddyspaghetti Apr 11, 2013

    what do you suppose would happen if one of the bees decided to NOT work anymore?

  • simplelogic Apr 11, 2013

    "All have duties, all work. Even the queen lays 1000 eggs a day."

    Right - and all for the common good of the hive. No capitalists in the bee community. No bees stockpiling royal jelly for the upcoming apocalypse. No bees hoarding honey and then charging exorbitant prices from the rest of the bees.

  • Raleigh Rocks 1 Apr 11, 2013

    lighthead said...Shouldn't you be against the bee hive in the first place given it's socialist/communist operations??

    Sorry, thats not true. There are really no bees that do not work hard for their honey. Honey bees fly around all day collecting nectar, Worker bees stay inside keeping hive cool, and drones, do less work but are responsible for finding and mating with another queen.

    All have duties, all work. Even the queen lays 1000 eggs a day.

  • twoods7 Apr 11, 2013

    Bees to our ecosystem is akin to a canary in a coal mine.

  • Lightfoot3 Apr 11, 2013

    "The workers are leaving because they realize the government will provide for them enough so they dont have to work" - Crumps Br0ther

    Shouldn't you be against the bee hive in the first place given it's socialist/communist operations?

  • Crumps Br0ther Apr 11, 2013

    Well this Monsanto thing was snuck through while you were all watching what the SCOTUS was going to do about same sex marriage. Nice to see you all have your priorities in line

  • swoodley Apr 11, 2013

    "Bt-Corn, supposedly modified to kill only caterpillars, has been linked to the death of some Monarch butterflies, and the widespread use of GM crops and associated pesticides has led to a diminishment of milkweed, a plant that is vital to the Monarch. Apiarists worldwide have blamed the disappearance of honeybees or "colony collapse disorder" on increased pesticide use and the production of plants that are engineered to create their own pesticides. Because Bt-corn makes its own pesticide, it is registered with the Environmental Protection Agency as a pesticide. Let's think about that for a second. A food crop is registered as a pesticide." Source:

  • Crumps Br0ther Apr 11, 2013

    The workers are leaving because they realize the government will provide for them enough so they dont have to work

  • godnessgracious2 Apr 11, 2013

    Good, the sooner mankind goes extinct the sooner we get to be giant intelligent ants.

  • soulcandy Apr 11, 2013

    Wow I am amazed Harvard was allowed to conduct this study much less publish the results given the makeup of the current administration's Dept. of Agriculture is almost all former Monsanto execs. This news is not new, it has been known for years that pesticides, GMO crops and seeds coated with pesticides/herbicides are having a devastating affect on the environment. Monsanto has been able to cover it up because they pretty much own the DOA.

    Millions against monsanto, http://www.organicconsumers.org/monsanto/

    get informed.