Colony Collapse Disorder Causes


In the middle of 2006, honeybees farmers reported the missing of most of the bees in their hives, and no dead bees were found in these hives. Due to the lack of the cause of these cases and their extremity, the phenomenon was called Colony Collapse Disorder. The causes of this phenomenon have not been found though there have been many suggestions on what could be the main causes. Honeybees are very important as in addition to giving us honey, they also pollinate flowers that contribute about 26 billion dollars to the United States economy. This has made scientists do a lot of research on what could be the cause of Colony Collapse Disorder though in vain, as they have not come up with a single conclusion on the cause of the disorder. However, many causes have been suggested which include parasites, pesticides, viruses, climate change, migratory beekeeping among others. Additionally, scientists have argued that a combination of many factors could be the one leading to the disorder.


Colony Collapse Disorder is a term that is used to refer to the great losses of honeybee (VanEngelsdorp, 2009). The symptoms of this disorder include; a sudden loss of the adult bee population of the colony, lack of dead bees in or around the hive, and presence of a queen in the hive among others.

Honeybees are very important as in addition to giving us honey, they also pollinate crops. These crops range from fruits to nuts that contribute about 26 billion dollars to the United States economy (Ellis, 2007). This makes Colony Collapse Disorder a big issue both to the pollinating industry and to industries that produce honey commercially. Farmers in the United States reported for the first time about the death of many bees in the middle of the year 2006 where the losses were estimated to be between 50 -70 percent.

Due to the significance of the honeybee, scientists have done a lot of research on what could be the main cause of Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). However, the causes of CCD have not yet been known and therefore the researchers are doing their research in vain. Many chemicals have been associated with this disorder. However, not even one of them can fully be said to be solely responsible for this.

Background information of the chemicals pertinent to the Colony Collapse Disorder

The three chemicals that are believed to have caused Colony Collapse Disorder include Miticides, antibiotics neonicotinoid pesticides. Antibiotics are chemicals that are used to reduce bacterial infections. Many types of antibiotics are used. They are applied at different frequencies using different methods of application. When one uses different types of antibiotics on plants and then bees get the nectar from these flowers, there is a high possibility of causing death. On the other hand, farmers used different products of miticides and applied them using a different methods. As a result, some of the miticides caused death. Most of the farmers who reported the cases of losing their honeybees said that they had used antibiotics and miticides and that is why these chemicals were initially taken to be the cause of this disorder. However, the lack of uniformity in the chemicals that were used makes it hard to detect which one led to the disorder. Neonicotinoid pesticides, when applied acted on the central nervous system of the insect including honeybees causing the nerves to be excited that eventually paralyzes making the insects die.

Analysis of the key potential causes of Colony Collapse Disorder

According to Ratnieks &Norman, 2010, there is no single cause of CCD, and a combination of many factors has been said to be the cause of this disorder. Some of the potential causes of CCD include viruses, pesticides, urban sprawl, parasites, and other pollutants from the environment among others. I am going to analyze each of these potential causes.


When any insect species disappears, its disappearance is associated with the use of pesticides. As a result, CCD is not an exception. Research done at Washington State University showed that pesticides were found at high levels in the older honeycomb’s wax. Since CCD leads to the death of adult honeybees, it then implied that pesticides could be one of the causes of the disappearance of honey bees. Additionally, the pesticides were found to stress the bees in search of their food and home. However, there is also an argument that since pesticides enter the colony through the pollen which only affects the brood, they cannot be the cause. This is because adult bees feed on honey and therefore for pesticides to affect them they should have entered via the honey.


Some viruses are also believed to cause CCD and Israel acute paralysis is one of them. This virus makes the bee become paralyzed and die outside the hive. This is indicated by research that was done in September 2007, which indicated the presence of the virus in 25 of 30 colonies where cases of CCD were reported.


The parasites are responsible for most of the bacterial infections that occur in bees and cause a decline in the immune of the bee making it susceptible to many diseases. For instance, a pathogen by the name of neonicotinoids does not cause the death of the bee but affects their sense direction such that they cannot return to the hives. This is clear evidence that pathogens cause colony collapse disorder (Hadley, nd).

Urban Sprawl

This reduces the number of fields of clover, wildflowers, and nesting trees. This in turn leads to a reduction of pollen and nectar, which may cause the honeybees to migrate to other areas.

According to Handley (nd), there are other environmental causes of CCD. These include climate change that may lead to warm winters, drought, and floods. All these affect flowering plants where plants may fail to produce flowers reducing nectar and pollen supplies. This results in the death of bees. In addition, this may cause the bees to migrate in search of pollen grains and nectar. Moreover, farmers themselves may bring about the migration where they sell their hives to pollinating agencies if they give them more money than just relying on the sale of honey alone. When bees are being taken to other areas, most of them may die due to harsh weather conditions, and this makes migration a likely cause of CCD. The style of beekeeping that is, how and what bees are fed on affects the health of bees, and if it is too much it may lead to the death of the bee though this is not a main cause of CCD.


This is where honeybees are fed on a limited number of foods that do not contain all the required nutrients. As a result, they do not have sufficient nutrients and hence their immune system is affected leading to their deaths.


Colony Collapse Disorder is a term that refers to the disappearances of adult honeybee workers. As the name suggests, this phenomenon involves a great loss of a big number of honeybees from the hives. These bees die away from the hives and the absence of these dead bees on the hives makes it difficult to study the cause of CCD. Due to the importance of the bees in producing honey and pollinating flowers, the study of the causes of the CCD has been the major concern of biologists and researchers in this field.

Many causes of this disorder have been suggested but not even one of them can fully be taken to be responsible for this. In other cases, a combination of the many factors suggested is said to be the one responsible for this. Some of these factors include viruses, urban sprawl, malnutrition, pesticides, parasites, migratory beekeeping, and other environmental factors. As for me, I think the main cause of Colony Collapse Disorder is the presence of viruses as we cannot be in a position to control this. Additionally, migratory beekeeping and climate changes can also be the cause of these massive deaths of bees. However, according to my pesticides are not a main cause of the CCD since the pesticides enter the colony via the pollen that only affects the brood. In addition, we can control the type of pesticides to use.

Reference List

  1. Ellis, J. (2007).Colony Collapse Disorder in Honey bees.usa: University of Florida.
  2. Hadley, D. (n. d).10 Possible causes of Colony Collapse Disorder.
  3. Ratnieks, F.L.W., & Norman, L.C. (2010). Clarity on Honey. Bee Collapse. Science, 327(152)
  4. VanEngelsdorp D., Evans, J. D., Hagerman, C., Mullin, C., Haubruge E, et al. (2009). Colony Collapse Disorder: A Descriptive Study. PLoS 1 4(8): e6481. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0006481
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