"Honeybees are among the most studied insects of the world... We would expect that if this was a long term parasite of the honeybees, we would have noticed" Hafernik said, exemplifying the relative novelty of this pathogen. What's even more surprising is that when Honey Bee colonies in the bay area of California were sampled, roughly 77% of them came up positive for this new fly parasite. New studies have done multiplicative pathogen accounts and come to the conclusion that it is not one simple thing that causes CCD in a hive, however multiple aspects or stresses that are causing the collapse of honey bee colonies globally. It is perhaps possible that with the infest of mites, parasitic flies and general bacterial pathogens honey bee colonies are just simple unable to cope with the amount of stress; And as a result are failing catastrophically. Hafernik's lucky find has helped propel the ball forward on understanding CCD, however we still know very little about this phenomena and until we can fully understand this ecological disaster we will have no hope of preventing it.
If we are unable to solve this colony collapse that honey bees are currently experiencing we will not only lose a convenient and cost effective way pollinate our food crops, bees also play a major role in the general health of our ecosystems. Since it's colonization by western Europeans, North America has lost over 99% of it's natural prairie lands due to habitat destruction and re-purpose, habitat fragmentation, and pollution. Ecologists are currently underway to restore and protect these unique, diverse, and critically endangered habitats; And in their efforts they've stumbled into one of the answers to these declining ecosystems. It seems that fragmented and isolated prairies have severe pollinator deficiency. These grasslands as a result have fewer seed and pollen yields resulting in a less stable and resilient biota as well as a significantly less diverse region.
Because most native plant species do not require a specific pollinator in order to propagate efforts are currently underway to provide these dying ecosystems with efficient pollinators such as Honey bees and Mason bees, which are some of the best pollinators on the planet. The problem now is that bees are in just as much danger as these prairies are and it's becoming more and more difficult to maintain consistent bee colonies for restoration projects. In order to secure our habitats and our own food bio security we must first save the real workers that make it all happen; Bees.
"Pollinators are canaries in the coalmine, and their disappearance is a referendum on the state of our environment -- a reminder of the brilliant and frightening interdependence of our ecosystem." --Dennis vanEnglesdorp
Dennis VanEngelsdorp said it best; Bees are clearly an essential aspect of our environment and are so integrating into our way of life that to lose them to CCD would yield a grim future where we're all impacted. Bees provide us with an invaluable ecosystem service and to fund their restoration now will save us billions of dollars in the future. Perhaps it's time to work for the bees as they have worked for us. Perhaps it's time to give back and help out the humble bee that brought you your coffee this morning. Because lets face it, you wouldn't have read this far if you hadn't had your morning brew.
Link to Dennis vanEnglesdorp's TED page. Read his bio and watch his video, it's fascinating.
The story of the San Francisco professor and his parasitic fly.
The role of bees in prairie restoration
General information about CCD from the USDA