While American beekeepers come out of winter with staggering losses attributed to Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), it is still too early for most Canadian beekeepers to determine whether we have been similarly affected.
No instance of CCD has been confirmed in Canada, despite recent reports of “suspicious losses” in Ontario, British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia.
Dr. Peter Kevan, an associate professor of environmental biology at the University of Guelph, told CBC News recently that the cause of CCD remains a mystery. The recent disappearance of honey bees and decline in hive populations “might be caused by parasitic mites, or long cold winters, or long wet springs, or pesticides, or genetically modified crops — or stress.”
Dr. Kevan is co-author of a new Guelph study titled Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) in Canada: Do we have a problem?, that describes the symptoms of CCD as the absence of adults bees in the colony, with no corpses in the hive, although both honey and pollen are present.
A colony in the process of collapse will have just a small workforce, too small to maintain the hive and tend the brood. This workforce is made up of young bees who seem strangely reluctant to feed on the stored honey and pollen that is available to them. One of the strangest symptoms is the lack of robbing behaviour by surviving colonies. Neighbouring bees show little interest in taking the pollen and honey from dead-out hives where the colony has collapsed due to CCD.