In the last ten years beekeepers in the U.S., and many other countries, have faced severe problems and challenges. The causes of these difficulties are complex, not easily explained, and still not totally understood. Mainstream media, with their need to attract an audience with short articles, and sound bites, often fail to get the story quite right. Below you will find links to several non-science media pieces that I think that will be informative for beekeepers, and those just interested in honey bees, and more accurate than many others that I have read. However, the writers still have a hard time getting the story completely right. For example, in one of these articles you will see a quote from a bee scientist that the symptoms of the recent unexplained colony loss that came to be called Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), have not been observed for several years. I have also attached a link to a National Public Radio interview, in which interviewer, who presumably had read the before mentioned quote, speaks of CCD as an ongoing observation. Most popular media depict honey bees as being on the verge of extinction, while national surveys indicate that the total number of managed colonies in the U.S. have actually been increasing in recent years. Part of the problem that the writers face, as mentioned before, is that the facts are complex, and not easily explained in a few words. However, it seems that the ultimate goal of popular media is to offer a picture of coming disaster, which while making a good story, is not an accurate understanding of what is really going on. While getting all of the facts into the story may not be easy, it is necessary to give an accurate one.
In addition to the link to a better than average, and informative, recent (June, 2015) article in New York Magazine, you may also connect to, and hear, the before mentioned NPR interview. Also included is a link to the 2007 Philadelphia Enquirer story describing the first description of CCD, and a New York Magazine article about the White House’s initiative on Honey Bees, and the official announcement of that program.
Follow these links, but keep in mind, that the facts are complicated. As I often say, newspapers, and newsstand magazines, are not the place to learn science, nor beekeeping.
NPR telecast with New York magazine writer David Wallace-Wells 6/30/15, The secret work life of bees http://radio.wosu.org/post/secret-work-life-bees
New York Magazine 6/17/15, It Turns Out Bees Are, Quite Literally, Worrying Themselves to Death, http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2015/06/bees-are-literally-worrying-themselves-to-death.html
Philadelphia Enquirer 02/05/07, one of the first articles about CCD, Mystery killer silencing honeybees If the die-off continues, it would be disastrous for U.S. crop yields, http://articles.philly.com/2007-02-05/news/25239569_1_hives-honeybees-maryann-frazier
New York Magazine article concerning White House initiative on honey bees, White House still thinks ‘Bees are Good’, http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2015/05/white-house-still-thinks-bees-are-good.html
President Obama’s initiative on honey bees, National Strategy to Promote the Health of Honey Bees and Other Pollinators, https://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/microsites/ostp/Pollinator%20Health%20Strategy%202015.pdf