The reasons vary from hive to hive, said James Tew, an Extension specialist with Auburn University in Alabama and a former professor of entomology with Ohio State University.
spoke during the recent Ohio Produce Growers and Marketers Association's
Winter Congress held in Sandusky, Ohio.
Growers and beekeepers have been demanding an answer to the bee die-off dilemma, Tew
The problem is that there is no answer, yet.
The main point Tew wanted to get across was that there is not just one cause for colony collapse disorder (CCD), and the reasons for bee die-offs are different for each hive.
What causes a hive to collapse in California will most likely be completely different from what causes the downfall of a hive in Ohio, he
"If we knew what was killing the bees, we would have stopped it a long time ago," Tew said.
The bee die-off of the past couple of years is the fourth or fifth major issue that Tew
has experienced, but it is the worst, he
It might be that honeybees, not being native to the Americas, are just not suited for long-term life here, he
Are chemicals and pesticides to blame?
The beekeeping industry has a long history of antagonizing, and being antagonized by, the chemical industry - dating back to the 1970s, when massive die-offs were blamed on pesticides.
Pesticides have played a definite role in the collapse of some colonies, he
Work, mites, a shallow gene pool
One of the underlying causes of CCD is that growers and keepers are working the bees too hard, Tew
With high demand for honeybees and a shrinking population, hives are working harder than ever to meet pollination needs, Tew
Fewer breeders than ever are responsible for most queen production, Tew
Most queen bees are now coming from just a few large, corporate-type breeders.
This limits the genetic base for all of the commercial bees across the country.
"The bees we use in California are almost the same as those used in Mississippi," Tew said.
"We have some research that says that, genetically, we have bees that are just not conducive to this type of work and life."
Tew suggests beekeepers try to limit the amount of travel and work for their bees, limit exposure to pesticides as best as possible and keep working with their local Extension and other agencies.
"It's not going to be one thing that is causing the bee die-off," he
"It's some combination of things that is going to be specific to your hives."
For more information, visit Tew's
website, One Tew Bee.