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Colony Collapse Disorder

Colony Collapse Disorder

Photo by Douglas Gayeton

Colony Collapse Disorder

Location: Hanson Beeyard, Fort Lupton, Colorado
Featuring: Larry, Craig, Gary, and Brian

Since 2005 many bee colonies around the globe have mysteriously disappeared. Everything from cellphone radiation to contaminated water supplies to solar storms on the sun which disrupt the earth’s magnetic fields have been cited as possible causes for colony collapse disorder (CCD). Even mite infestations are mentioned. Gary remains unconvinced. Instead he credits industrial agriculture (genetically modified crops, pesticides, and crop pollination with low yields). Gary has over 60 beeyards like this one across the north east corner of Colorado. His bees collect alfalfa pollen during the spring and summer. Each February Gary sends over 2500 hives out to California to pollinate almond orchards.

In a good year Gary collects over 5000 pounds of honey from this bee yard. When we arrive at the bee yard before dawn, Brian is waiting with his smoker. Bees have a “flee from fire” instinct. When the beekeeper puffs smoke into the hive, the bees prepare to abandon the hive by first eating as much honey as possible. This feasting stuffs the bees, extending their abdomens so its difficult to sting. Smoke also masks the scent of pheromones released by bees when they sense fear, leaving them calm.

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