AUSTRALIA An Australian research team has concluded that colony collapse disorder for bees happens when young bees are needed to support the hive before they are ready.
Colony collapse disorder occurs when worker bees in a hive simply disappear. The United States Department of Agriculture estimates that colony collapse disorder was responsible for a 50 per cent loss of hives in 2012-13.
The four authors, all university professors in Australia, say that when foraging bees die, the next generation of foragers are forced to go look for nectar and pollen before they are mature enough to do so. Because of this, the young bees are not very good at the task yet and many get lost or die from exhaustion. These bees also make fewer trips and have a higher risk of death in their first few trips, say the authors.
The lack of food forces the next generation of forager bees to search for food at an even earlier age, and so on, creating a cycle of ever-younger bees being called into action.
Within a few weeks, there are not enough adults left in the hive to do work. This is why beekeepers sometimes find young bees and a queen in a hive, but no adults.
The study was first published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America in February.
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