"If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe then man would only have four years of life left. No more bees, no more pollination, no more plants, no more animals, no more man."
— Albert Einstein
Bees have been slowly declining in number since 1972. The drop in bee populations was traditionally called "Fall Dwindle Disease", which is cited here for the aid of future research; even though the word disease is not applicable. In 2006, a far more rapid decline ensued. The problem was renamed to "Colony Collapse Disorder" or occasionally "Honey Bee Depopulation Syndrome". Despite the repeated mentally-challenged naming of this problem, it is nonetheless a very serious problem for all of us. Prior to 2006, the gradual decline was attributed to a number of causes, including pesticide use and Varroa mites.
By early 2007, the decline had reached new proportions. Bees simply disappeared, instead of dying in their hives. Large bee hives became like miniature ghost towns, and there is still no official explanation for the bees' disappearance.
"Beekeepers on the east coast of the United States complain that they have lost more than 70 percent of their stock since late last year, while the west coast has seen a decline of up to 60 percent."
— Spiegel Magazine (2007)
Many health conscious people blame pesticides for the bee disappearance, but it is important to remember that conventional pesticides were used for many decades prior, and pesticides never caused this dramatic effect. On the other hand, there is a new generation of pesticides that are sprayed onto the soil, resulting in toxins being incorporated into every cell of the plant via the roots. The effect of these new "fumigants" on the dwindling bee populations is unknown, but our research indicates that there is likely a much greater threat than these new age pesticides.
In late 2002, so-called Bt corn was approved for commercial use, relying only on studies that had been done by the manufacturer, Monsanto. Bt is an abbreviation for Bacill Thuringiensis, a bacterial toxin that kills the main predator of corn (a type of caterpillar). Through genetic modifications, Monsanto intentionally incorporated this toxin into the genetic structure of its corn. Most people already know about Monsanto's herbicide resistant ("Roundup Ready") varieties, but few people are aware of their intentionally toxic version of genetically engineered corn that is intended to kill all insects that eat it.
The Cause of Colony Collapse Disorder
The bacterial disease, Bacill Thuringiensis, was previously sprayed onto plants before its direct incorporation into the produce by Monsanto. Genetically engineered plants containing Bt were approved for use with the understanding that there would be no harm to non-target insects. (There was no mention of us humans, of course.) So Bt was studied for its effect upon bees, but only a direct correlation was studied. For instance, if bees are exposed to Bt in a controlled setting, and die within the next few days, then a direct correlation would be made. However, this is not how the toxin actually works, so the usual FDA science was used to get the 'right' 'scientific' results that the manufacturer had wanted all along. The so-called 'sub-lethal effects' were not investigated, and you can be certain that they never will be.
"The study concluded that there was no evidence of a 'toxic effect of Bt corn on healthy honeybee populations'. But when, by sheer chance, the bees used in the experiments were infested with a parasite, something eerie happened. According to the Jena study, a 'significantly stronger decline in the number of bees' occurred among the insects that had been fed a highly concentrated Bt poison feed."
— Spiegel Magazine
For decades, there has been evidence of Varroa mites attacking bees in the United States. They are a type of parasite that sucks hemolymph (a fluid from the circulatory system) from bees, leading to diseases and deaths. It has been attributed to causing Fall Dwindle Disease. However, some beekeepers have noticed that their bees can survive in the presence of these mites, particularly for those who did not use antibiotics and gases in their hives. It is only bees with weakened immunities which cannot survive Varroa mites. It is the combination of parasites and Bt pollen that is the fatal one. When bees historically died from parasites, diseases, or pesticides, beekeepers saw piles of dead bees outside of the hives. The dead were carried out by the worker bees.
"Colonies can die so fast from high Varroa infestations that thousands of dead bees will pile in front of the hive."
— Dr. James E. Tew, Associate Professor of Entomology, Beekeeping Consultant
This historical pattern is no longer being seen for recent cases of Colony Collapse Disorder. Bees are simply disappearing without a trace. Scientists are having trouble explaining the cause of this disappearance, and beekeepers are usually horrified when their hives suddenly become empty. In modern cases of Colony Collapse Disorder, the adult bees disappear, leaving behind only young bees to complete the tasks of adults. The queen always remains.
"It is particularly worrisome that the bees' death is accompanied by a set of symptoms which does not seem to match anything in the literature."
— Diana Cox-Foster, CCD Working Group
The bees disappear because they cannot find their way back to the hives. This explains the lack of dead bees in front of the hives, the loss of the adult bees, and the remaining queen. Bacterial toxin Bacill Thuringiensis is known to provoke an immune response in humans and bees. An immune response in a bee prevents proper memory formation, and causes confusion. One of the symptoms of Colony Collapse Disorder is bees' decreased navigational ability. During the summer, the bees have enough available pollen (protein) to be able to tolerate a weakened immune system. However, in the winter months, when pollen is scarce, and the bees have to travel further, then the decreased ability of bees to navigate becomes fatal. Thus, many beekeepers find their colonies dead when they check in the spring.
Fall Dwindle Disease: A preliminary report, published by the Colony Collapse Disorder Working Group mentioned that they had found crystalline compounds in dead bees that they were unable to identify. Bt is designed to form crystals of insecticidal toxins, which creates a hole in insects' gut membranes and linings. The same report also found scar tissues, and attributed them to immune responses. This fits exactly with the pattern of Bt damage. It is how it was designed to kill.
More research on the effect of Bacill Thuringiensis on bee populations is ongoing, but meanwhile, bees are dying at an alarming rate, and genetically engineered crops are still growing in the wild. This is yet another example of serious research being done only after the harm has been found, with none of it being done by the groups who are legally and ethically required to do it. It may now be impossible to completely eliminate Monsanto's genetically engineered, toxin-laced, franken-crops due to cross-pollination, which was almost certainly the intent by all parties involved.
Despite assurances by biotech companies that Bacill Thuringiensis does not have any effect on non-target insects, a variety of independent studies have shown otherwise. One showed that Bt can poison streams, reducing the growth and increasing the mortality of a variety of insects. The study expressed concern over the long-term ecological impact of killing insects on such a widespread scale.
Even organic growers are killing the bees.
In several of our reports, we suggested purchasing organic products to avoid funding evil companies, improve personal health, and prevent unnecessary environmental damage. Unfortunately, we can not do the same in this case. Whilst researching Bacill Thuringiensis, it was discovered that even "organic" growers are using this toxin. Bt is a bacterial toxin, and thus it is "natural". Organic crops are not genetically engineered, but Bt is sprayed on the crops as an "all natural" pesticide. This is particularly disturbing, because very few people who purchase organic products would find such bacterial poisoning acceptable. As a community, we must stay vigilant, and deal appropriately with such unethical companies.
What you can do
Spread the word, and harass organic companies about their use of this toxin. Only public pressure will convince companies to stop killing the bees. The more that people are aware of this problem, the more pressure will be put on growers regarding this toxin. The bees are responsible for a massive portion of the food that we consume.
Planting flowers or crops that produce pollen will help local bees. It has been proven that bees choose corn only as a last resort.
Start a backyard hive. This may not be possible for most readers, but those who can, should.
- Monsanto buys company researching death of bees:
- Dark History of the Evil Monsanto Corporation