8 years later: the state of the bees

honeybee swarm close-up
CC BY 2.0 Healthnutlady

About 8 years ago, the first reports of Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), a phenomenon that led to the sharp decline of bee populations around the world, began flooding in. Beekeepers were losing 30-90 percent of their colonies and scientists couldn't figure it out.

Since then, bees have made the headlines (including ours) many times. Scientists have developed many theories to explain CCD and steps have been taken in some countries to reduce factors that may be affecting bees (like pesticides containing neonicotinoids). After all this time, the problem has not been resolved.

The CCD issue comes at an important time in human history. We are facing an impending food crisis in the coming century as the world population grows to more than 9 billion and climate change disrupts agricultural systems. Last week, the United Nations met to address these issues and discuss potential solutions, but without bees to pollinate crops these efforts may be in vain. Pollination from bees contributes to 30 percent of food production in the United States, and more than 100 crops are pollinated by bees globally. Bees will play an important role in overcoming the food crisis.

In a short documentary, the New York Times looks at the development of the bee crisis and where the crisis stands today. The report breaks down the complexity of all the news we've heard over the years and summarizes the plight of beekeepers in the years to come. "Most scientists now believe that no single factor can explain the phenomenon," they report.

The nature of the crisis has also changed. "We haven't seen as much CCD over the past few years, but we're still losing a lot of colonies," scientists told the New York Times.

The problem is complex, so what comes next? Watch the full report:

8 years later: the state of the bees
The New York Times breaks down years of bee news and bee research for us.