Where Have All the Honeybees Gone?

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Honeybees play an important roll in the production of crops. They support the growth of fruits and vegetables like apples and green beans. Honeybees also help grow other staples like cotton, cashews, and coffee. Without honeybees, all of these important crops and many more like them would be in trouble.

Because of this honeybees are a very important part of our food chain. The Western honeybee helps produce about one third of the food we eat each day.

Sadly, honeybees appear to be in trouble. Beekeepers began documenting the unexplained disappearance of large numbers of honeybees in 2006. Scientists have attempted to explain the mysterious deaths of bees. They have given the problem a name: colony collapse disorder or CCD.

Scientists don’t know for sure what’s causing the honeybees to die off. Research suggests that certain chemicals, parasites, diseases, or some combination of these problems could be causing CCD. Scientists say that the bees may be sick in a way that causes them to become lost. When the bees can’t find their hive, the hive dies off. Without honeybees, farmers would be unable to produce as much food. We may be in danger of a worldwide food shortage if this problem isn’t resolved.

During the winter of 2012 and 2013 around one third of US honeybee colonies were killed or lost. That means one out of every three honeybees died that winter. Under normal conditions the number would be closer to one out of ten.  Speaking to Time Magazine, Jeff Pettis, a government research leader working on the bee problem said: "The take-home message is that we are very close to the edge. It's a roll of the dice now."

Word List

Colony collapse disorder (CCD): what happens when worker bees from a beehive disappear. The reason is not known.

Beehive: a nest for bees 

Colonies: a group of animals living in one place

Parasites: an animal or plant that lives in or on another animal or plant and gets food or protection from it

Disease: an illness that affects a person, animal, or plant

Roll of the dice: to take a chance on something

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