HONEYBEES www.gpnc.org/honeybee.htmThe central feature of the bee hive is the honeycomb. This marvel of insect engineering consists of flat vertical panels of six-sided cells made of beeswax. Beeswax is produced from glands on the underside of the abdomens of worker bees when they are between 12 and 15 days old. House bees take the beeswax and form it with their mouths into the honeycomb. The cells within the comb will be used to raise young and to store honey and pollen.The comb is two-sided, with cells on both sides. ….the cells are perfectly uniform in shape. Not only that, but the combs are built a precise distance apart depending on whether they are meant to contain food or young bees. The nursery area of the hive is called the brood comb, and that is where the queen lays her eggs.(and from Wikipedia) Hives consist of a single queen bee, a seasonally variable number of drone bees to fertilize new queens and some 20,000 to 40,000 worker bees. The worker bees raise larvae and collect the nectar that will become honey in the hive. As they leave the flower, bees release Nasonov pheromones. These enable other bees to find their way to the site by smell [10]. Honeybees also release Nasonov pheromones at the entrance to the hive, which enables returning bees to return to the proper hive[10]. It is believed by scientists that one reason for the collapse of colonies in the United States is that the bees are losing their ability to “sense” their direction and return to the hives. Picture is courtesy of Wikipedia.

THE CRISIS

From last night’s Anderson Cooper 360 degrees: (Photo courtesy of Richard Fuller)…researchers say up to one-third of all the honeybees in the United States have vanished. And no one knows why exactly. Scientists are scrambling to explain the sudden, mysterious die-off of honeybee hives — something they’ve named “Colony Collapse Disorder” — before it gets worse. (These)….experts say honeybees are responsible for one-third of all the food we eat; and according to the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, they add $15 billion to the bottom line of the agriculture industry.(Anderson Cooper and his staff)…traveled to Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, to meet the man who first sounded the alarm about the mystery and pressured the government to investigate. In the course of two months, he says he lost some 80 million bees — 2,000 of his hives. And he’s not alone. Beekeepers in more than 25 states and Canadian provinces are reporting major losses, too.

….(at) the USDA Bee Laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, and Penn State University (scientists) are performing bee autopsies and DNA work. (And they)….are looking at a combination of a relatively new insecticide along with an increase in bee viruses. It’s a one-two punch that weakens the bees’ immune systems and leaves them susceptible to pathogens. They expect to announce preliminary findings in the next few weeks.

And while some of the affected hives seem to be improving, experts at the USDA say that is because there is more food available for the bees during the warm spring. They warn it’s still too early to tell whether America’s honeybees can overcome this mysterious disorder.

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