Colony Collapse Disorder refers to the complete absence of adult honey bees in a colony, with few or no dead adults remaining behind. Though the adult honey bees are gone, the hive will contain capped brood and food stores.
Honey bees will not usually abandon their developing young, making their disappearance all the more mysterious. Unguarded food stores will not be robbed by other bees or pests, at least for several days.
Similar disappearances have been documented over the last one hundred years, though not in the numbers beekeepers are reporting now. Past incidents of disappearing bees were given other names, including disappearing disease, spring dwindle, May disease, autumn collapse, and fall dwindle disease.
Scientists aren't yet sure what is causing CCD, though a number of theories are being tested.
Source: Pest Alert, Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) in Honey Bees, University of Florida, 4/16/07.
Colony Collapse Disorder
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