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The case of the disappearing bees is endlessly fascination, and the Washington Post has an update on colony collapse disorder (CDD), the malady affecting the nation’s hives. Post reporter Adrian Higgins tells us that the losses have continued. Research has found that bee loss has stabalized at around 30%, but that figure was based on last winter’s data. Reports from some beekeepers peg the losses this winter at 50% or more. 

“I am very concerned about this year based on what we have seen in California and other parts” of the United States, said Jeffery S. Pettis, research leader for the Agricultural Research Service’s honey bee laboratory. There is no single cause of CDD, or at least none that researchers have found. “With the condition, foraging worker bees don’t return to a hive even if a full brood is waiting to hatch,” Higgins wrote. “One theory is that the foragers, knowing they are sick, fly off to die rather than compromise the hive.”

The cause could be pesticides or the strain of travel. (Bees are trucked from one end of the country to another where they are put to work pollinating crops.) Bee keepers used to make their money on honey. Now, however, they make most of their income on pollination fees. 

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