Why Are Bees Dying? A Professor in Switzerland Is Searching for Answers

Beekeepers in the United States and in Switzerland have been more and more concerned about a growing phenomenon called Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). Growers in both countries are struggling to find enough bees to pollinate their crops.

Dr. Peter Neumann, head of the recently created Institute of Bee Health at the University of Bern in Switzerland, focuses his research on finding explanations for those extensive colony losses. Peter Neumann also heads COLOSS (Prevention of honeybee COlony LOSSes), a global research network consisting of over 300 members from more than 60 countries. As a result of this worldwide research effort, a connection between the use of a class of neuroactive insecticides chemically related to nicotine and the alarming death of honeybees is starting to emerge. According to a research report coauthored by Neumann, additional factors contributing to colony losses include the decline in flowering plants, an increase in air pollution, and a globalized trade system that spreads bee-specific pathogens and pests (for example, varroa destructor mite).

A new film by Swiss filmmaker Markus Imhof embarks on a journey to meet people whose lives depend on bees. More Than Honey portrays a Swiss beekeeper living on an Alp, the gigantic almond plantations in California, a bee brain researcher in Berlin, a pollen trader in China, and the killer bees in the Arizona desert.

Read the interview with Markus Imhof
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