Colony collapse disorder

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Wither thou goest, bees? So far, it's a mystery for the ages: in territories across Canada, Europe and more than 25 states in the U.S., around 40% of bees have simply disappeared. There are no dead bodies left behind to tell the tale; they're just gone. "Colony Collapse Disorder" (or "Vanishing Bee Syndrome," as the BBC calls it) is thus far an unexplained phenomenon, though malnutrition, pesticides, pathogens, immunodeficiencies, mites, fungus, genetically modified crops and electromagnetic radiation have all been cited as possible causes. The bees have disappeared before, of course, but never to this scale. So what's the big deal? First, there's the pocketbook factor: the U.S. produces more than $15 billion in crops every year that depend solely on bees for their pollination. More frightening still is the idea that bees are a cornerstone of our cycle of life. An (unverified but infamous) quote from (possibly) Albert Einstein: "If the bee disappears from the surface of the earth, man would have no more than four years to live. No more bees, no more pollination, no more plants, no more animals, no more man." Stay tuned, and we'll let you know when it's time to panic.

May 2, 2007 - 7:30am
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