Colony Collapse Disorder: an International Honey Bee Crisis

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Chipley- Laurence Cutts is a third generation bee keeper. He was also the states Chief Apiary agent.

"Its officially called apiary" Cutts explained, "but everybody just knows us as bee keepers. If I tell somebody I'm an apiarist, they usually think I work with monkeys. And sometimes I think I do" he laughed.

But Cutts didn't laugh when he told us about Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) - a 'bee crisis' facing the United States.

"The hive just collapses" he said. "It will start building up in the spring then all of the sudden, the bees just disappear. There are no dead bees around the hive. You cant do an autopsy on them to find out what killed them because they're not there."

The epidemic has swarming the globe and farmers everywhere have been feeling the sting.

"Farmers knew bees were beneficial but there was plenty of them around. And, if you needed to rent [a hive] for a specialty crop, they were cheap. So, bee keepers got very little respect from main stream agriculture. Then, when Colony Collapse Disorder hit a few years ago and there was a shortage of pollination, everyone got concerned about the bees."

The national honey bee population decreased in the US by1/3 this year. But despite the national decline, Cutts said Panhandle hives were still a buzz.

"We haven't had CCD here in the panhandle- anywhere."

Cutts believed it was because panhandle farmers used very little systemic chemicals- something experts believed could be contributing to CCD.

"We have some of the best scientist in the world who are working on CCD" Cutts told us "and scientists all over the world. It didn't just happen here in the us."

He says boosting the bee population can be done with a little extra work by busy bee keepers.

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