Bee colonies in more than 20 states are collapsing. And honeybees are disappearing because of a mysterious ailment. So far, Louisiana colonies don’t seem to be affected by what is being called “colony collapse disease,” according to LSU AgCenter entomologist Dale Pollet.
Experts across the country attribute the bee malaise to stress related to genetics, Pollet said. It’s most common among bees transported across the country by commercial beekeepers who rent their bees to various growers for pollination. These hives are transported from Florida to California, then to Washington State, Oregon and eventually to the Midwest, following the bees’ food sources.
“Stress on the system can create natural occurrences of decline magnified by changes in diet,” Pollet said. “As an individual you get the physical effects of stress. Bee colonies can react similarly to seemingly minor things in their environment.”
Pollet said colony collapse happens occasionally, going back to the late 1960s, mid 1970s and early 1980s.
“No one knows the reason,” he said. “It may be linked to travel and food sources.”
Louisiana has about 200 commercial and hobby beekeepers, and none has reported anything unusual. Rick Bogren
(This article was published in the summer 2007 issue of Louisiana Agriculture.)