Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Hive Detectives by Loree Griffin Burns

Millions of honey bees have disappeared. The cause is still unknown, but what is being called Colony Collapse Disorder - CCD - was first reported in 2006. This catastrophe is explored in The Hive Detectives. Excellent background information is given about honey bees, then details of the scientific research into CCD. It's a real-life mystery, which gives this book a great hook.

Loads of excellent photographs, laid out in scrapbook style, add to the appeal. I don't recommend eating your lunch while reading this book, especially the part where bee autopsies are being performed. (But the difference between a healthy bee's internal parts and that of one from a hive diagnosed with CCD is striking!)

Maryann Frazier, who has been identifying chemicals found inside beehives, says, "It was shocking to us to find, on average, five pesticides in each pollen sample. In one sample we found seventeen different pesticides." I wasn't surprised that the chemicals found most frequently, and at the highest levels, were those that beekeepers themselves put in the hive to protect their bees from Varroa mites. Presently, the best guess is that a combination of factors - viral, chemical and dietary - lead to CCD. The mystery continues.

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