The Silence of the Bees

The perilous existence of a migratory beekeeper amid a great bee die-off

  • Scanning electron microscope image of a bee loaded with pollen

    Darwin Dale/Photo Researchers Inc.
  • An almond orchard in Modesto, California, where John Miller moves bee hives every winter just before the bloom

    Singeli Agnew
  • Beekeeper John Miller readies his hives for the season

    Hannah Nordhaus
  • Alternating varieties of almond trees, with different bloom times, in Modesto

    Singeli Agnew
  • Varroa mites, tiny ticklike creatures, have infested beehives around the world (scattered on page, approximately 40 times actual size)

  • John Miller’s annual beekeeping route stretches from California to North Dakota. Inset: 24 states have reported colony collapse disorder in at least some beehives

    Diane Sylvain
  • Bees from one of Miller’s hives

    Singeli Agnew
  • Bees fill the air in Gackle, North Dakota, where John Miller takes his bees each year to make honey in fields of clover and alfalfa

    Hannah Nordhaus

By the time John Miller realized just how many of his bees were dying, the almonds were in bloom and there was nothing to be done. It was February 2005, and the hives should have been singing with activity, plump brown honeybees working doggedly to carry pollen from blossom to blossom. Instead they were wandering in drunken circles at the base of the hive doors, wingless, desiccated, sluggish, blasé. Miller is accustomed to death on a large scale. "The insect kingdom enjoys little cell repair," he will often remind you. Even when things are going well, a hive can lose 1,000 bees a day. But the extent of his losses that winter defied even his insect-borne realism. In a matter of weeks, Miller lost almost half of his 13,000 hives — around 300 million bees.

When it happened, Miller was in California's Central Valley, where each February, when the almond trees burst into extravagant pink-and-white bloom, hundreds of beekeepers descend with billions of bees. More than 580,000 acres of almonds flower simultaneously there, and wild pollinators such as bumblebees, beetles, bats and wasps simply cannot transport enough pollen from tree to tree. Instead, almond ranchers depend on traveling beekeepers who, like retirees in Winnebagos, winter in warm places such as California and Florida, and head north to the Dakotas in the summer, where fields of alfalfa and clover produce the most coveted honey.

This annual bee migration isn't just a curiosity; it's the glue that holds much of modern agriculture together. Without the bees' pollination services, California's almond trees — the state's top export crop — would produce 40 pounds of almonds per acre; with the bees, they can generate 2,400 pounds. Honeybees provide the same service for more than 100 other crops, from lettuce to cranberries to oranges to canola, up and down the West Coast.

Miller likes to call the annual pilgrimage of the beekeepers the "native migrant tour," and he likes to call himself the tour's "padrone." He has thinning brown hair and an eternally bemused expression, and he never stands still. He is an observant but rebellious Mormon, and he doesn't look the part of the flannel-and-rubbers-clad beekeeper: His usual uniform includes surf shorts, a baseball cap, running shoes and a race T-shirt. (He has run 25 marathons.) Miller, who is 52, is not the biggest beekeeper in the United States, nor is he the most politically connected — South Dakota's Richard Adee, with his 70,000 hives, wins that distinction.

But Miller does, like the gentle, dark Carniolan bees he tends, have impeccable breeding. His apian pedigree dates back to 1894, when his great-grandfather, a Mormon farmer named Nephi Ephraim Miller, traded a few bushels of oats for seven boxes of bees. Nephi found he had a talent for beekeeping, and in 1907, he traveled from Utah to California to learn more efficient ways to process his swelling supplies of beeswax. While there, he noticed that California bees gathered nectar long after those in Utah had huddled in for winter. It occurred to him that if he shipped his bees somewhere warm in the cold months, he might halve his winter losses and double his honey production. The following winter, the Miller patriarch took to the rails with his apian cargo, following the blossoms from northern Utah to San Bernardino County. Bees have been on the road ever since.

The beekeeping industry tends to progress at a glacial pace — Miller often calls his fellow beekeepers "knuckle-dragging Neanderthals" who "don't play well together and with society in general," stubborn agrarian throwbacks whose business practices run toward the medieval — but there have been a few truly revolutionary advances in the technology and methods of beekeeping. The 1852 Langstroth hive, with its multiple, removable, systematically spaced frames, allowed beekeepers to inspect, move, split and take honey from their hives without destroying the honeycombs or killing thousands of bees in the process. This innovation paved the way for migratory beekeeping, which permitted the harvest of previously inconceivable amounts of honey. Nephi Miller was the first to enlist rail cars for long-distance transport, and in only a few years he produced the first million-pound crop of honey, brought beekeeping into the industrial age and inspired generations of beekeepers to follow suit. He was, in short, the Henry Ford of the apiaries.

Today, some elements of a commercial beekeeper's life remain the same. John Miller's bees ply some of the same fields that hosted his great-grandfather's hives. He sells his honey on a handshake to the same processors his grandfather used and competes with the sons of the same men his father vied against. He spends 300 days a year with his bees and gets stung almost every day, as many as 50 times on a bad day. Just the same, he counts bees among his most reliable companions. "A honeybee only has a 900,000-neuron brain, so if I conduct myself within the framework of the honeybees' limited understanding, they're fine," he said. "I understand bees. I don't understand people very well."

Recently, however, even the simple task of understanding bees has become more difficult. Like much of modern agriculture, beekeeping has changed. Where Nephi used trains and telegraphs to conduct his business, John Miller's tools of the trade are semi-trucks and contracts and spreadsheets and amortization schedules. Where Nephi made his income from honey, most beekeepers now derive all of their profit from pollination fees. Nor could Nephi expect the kind of nationwide, devastating losses that John Miller and his colleagues experienced during the almond bloom of 2005. Thirty years ago, there were nearly 4 million bee colonies in the U.S. Today, fewer than 2.5 million remain, thanks to a reddish-brown parasite so tiny it could stand on the head of a pin, and to a malady so new no one is sure of its origin.


Mar 19, 2007 11:14 AM

Excellent and important feature.

Here's a link to information on our North American Native Bees, alternative pollinators: 

help me help the Bees
Apr 20, 2009 07:19 PM
i have been trying to find a resource/group in orange county, ca., can you help?? Im very passionate about this and know i could make a difference with some direction

Gina Schwalbe
Mar 19, 2007 02:08 PM

Joshua Fisher, a grad student at Berkley, has been working on a short documentary film about this subject for the last 9 months.  The documentary should be complete by June.  Check in at around that time to see how you can view it.


Mar 20, 2007 11:14 AM

Great bee article. Thanks so much!

Mar 20, 2007 11:17 AM

Terrific article . . . on many levels. Many thanks, Cookson

Mar 20, 2007 03:41 PM

The loss of bees is correlated with the rise in obesity.  A coincidence? I don't think so.  I think obese people everywhere are eating up all the bees. 

Mar 20, 2007 05:38 PM

Kudos to HCN and reporter Hannah Nordhaus for a fascinating look at the bee industry.  This story reflects the diversity of reporting that makes me want to read HCN from cover to cover. Keep up the good work.

Mar 20, 2007 07:02 PM

 After reading this from Ms Victoria
MacPhail and looking at 
 the links and
other googled info including stuff from Bayer, 
 the maker of imidacloprid itself. I really wonder if
this is not the main 
 ause of the problem
with CCD. Could many bee keepers 
 be making
it worse with the chemical treatments for mites 
 being added to this? I have not had any problem as of
 knock on a wooden hive body..
 I hope that others will look at the info
out there and think 
 about it. The bees
"boil down" the nectar into honey, then
 eat it. Any levels of most toxins will be
higher then just 
 testing the nectar alone,
then add to that the pollen...  
do everything organic and natural and have really stayed
 on top of the little mite issues that have
come up. 
 Thanks and TTFN, 
 Richard Waite. 
 Black Cat Honey
& Products  
 62 Parker
Street  Winchester NH 03470 
Victoria MacPhail <>
>Subject: [Pollinator] Is CCD really just starting in 2005/2006?
>Previouswork on imidacloprid?
>Date: Mon, 12 Mar 2007 22:58:05 -0400
>I have been following the latest theme with interest, and had been
>wondering when imidacloprid would be raised.
>When I was an undergraduate student in 2002, I worked with Dr. Jim
>Kemp and Dick Rogers in Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick
>(Eastern Canada) investigating possible reasons (incl. diseases, food
>sources, pesticides, management practices, among others) behind the
>disappearance and overall decrease in honeybee populations in the
>Maritimes.  What had initated their research in the previous year
>(2001) was the concern that imidacloprid, trade name Admire, used in
>furrow in potato fields, persisted in the soil and came up in the
>clover flowers two years later, which then killed off the foraging
>bees.  I believe a similar concern with imidacloprid had been raised
>in France under the trade name Gaucho and used on sunflowers.
>My understanding is that beekeepers in the Maritimes noticed in the
>late 1990s or early 2000s that bees were disappearing/dying and
>colonies crashing unexpectedly, with some beekeepers having limited
>losses and some having almost total losses.  They heard reports from
>France of the similar symptoms, said that that was their problem too,
>accused imidacloprid and the producer (Bayer), who then got Jim and
>Dick involved in the investigation.
>I found an old newspaper article on-line saying essentially the same
>thing: May 25, 2002 - National Post,
> You could probably find
>other sources too.
>The background information I had heard and learned about in 2002, and
>in 2003 when I was only peripherally involved in the project, sounds
>just like what is supposedly only just happening this year in the US.
>Now, I am new to the field and may be way off base, but to me this
>sounds like the same thing, so why are most of these reports saying
>this is a new phenomenon, happening either only this year or maybe
>last year too?  Are these two different problems/scenarios, or is the
>media just having a field day with it this year?
>Anyway, just another thought to mull over.
>Victoria MacPhail
>MSc Candidate
>Dept. of Environmental Biology
>University of Guelph
>Guelph, ON  N1G 2W1
>lab) 519-824-4120 ext. 56243
>fax) 519-837-0442
Mar 21, 2007 02:19 PM

Perhaps the nanotechnology folks could come up with a mechanical bee that would not be susceptable to the diseases and problems of the current bees.

Mar 22, 2007 05:32 PM

I believe the new scourge of the honeybee is, Imidaclopride, which Bayer sells under the name of Gaucho, to farmers to coat seeds to protect them from certain diseases.  It causes bees that come in contact with it to become paralyzed, which leads to death.

Albert Einstein speculated that "If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe, then man would only have four years of life left."  As you know, Einstein was not stupid.  Without bees, most of our crops would fail.  We need to stop the poisoning!
Mar 26, 2007 10:48 AM

If corn syrup is awful for us, why would it be any good for the bees?  Let them have some of their own honey over the winter!

Mar 27, 2007 11:00 AM

Please also see the recent article in the SF chronicle and der Spiegel.

Could genetically modified crops be killing bees?

Saturday, March 10, 2007


There is also a fine article in the latest spiegel (english translation follows):,1518,473166,00.html


And here is a link to hearings on Bees that are underway - we need your support!




Apr 13, 2007 01:52 PM

Well done.  This issue is very interesting and should pique the curiosity of many more people as it develops.  I will continue to research this matter as much as possible and am well on my way with what I've learned from this well-written and comprehensive account.  Thanx. -Mikel

Apr 16, 2007 11:02 AM


I agree with  the posting on 3/23.  Let the bees eat what is natural to them, not some man made substitute.

I also think that the lure of the all mighty dollar is a bit taxing to the colonies, your greed is disrupting the natural science of nature.  All for a buck.


Goat Boy


Apr 16, 2007 11:03 AM

Here comes the next great depression. Sharpen the guillotines.

Apr 16, 2007 11:04 AM

It's amazing to me that GM corn isn't considered the primary culprit - inserting a soil bacterium gene into corn to make it an insecticide would kill the pollenating insects as well, eh? 40% of the corn now grown here is an insecticide/homo sapienicide fabricated by Montasano (also terminator seeds) Don't blame it all on Big Pharma (Bayer), Big Agra had made a HUGE contribution to the colon collapse.

Apr 16, 2007 06:26 PM

Oh my goodness.  This is the stuff that we put on our animals to repel fleas.  All the vets and the companies had this campaign telling us how safe it is!!!!

Apr 17, 2007 02:13 PM

To bee or not to bee, that is the question.  A problem at least as old as Shakespeare.

Apr 23, 2007 11:21 AM

my local County Agriculture Dept..County of Marin.California say's theyre too busy to come check a large sampling [ close to 100 ] of dead bees i encountered and photographed on my way home from work last night

I was [re] informed that thier demise could be form insecticide...

I was fairly well aware of that POSSIBILITY and was hoping to offer a lead to some evidene that might help determine whats culling the population

oh well.
Apr 24, 2007 03:25 PM

I have a deep appreciation for what the honey bee provides to our fragile ecosystem.  If the governement reactions to this problem of reduced numbers is anything like the reaction we have seen to the issue of global warming, the research needed to solve the problem will not occur until its too late. 

The challenge is to educate our society without appearing to be alarmists.  Secondly, to set aside the funding to give this problem immediate and sufficient attention. Finally, we must strive to prevent this issue from being a political football.  Politicians just dont care about such details, but they will say anything to get a vote.  Thank you. 


Apr 24, 2007 03:37 PM

id like to know more about the subject. im making a speech on the subject and id like to have a personal insite on the matter.

Apr 24, 2007 03:50 PM

I think that all the wireless objects we use in our homes today are really affecting the bee population. If we continue to use these devices.someday the bee population will be very scarce and our crops will not be able to pollinate without them. I also think that the corn syrup we feed them if making a big dent in the bee population. We should find more organic ways to feed the bee so we can begin to halt the destruction of bee populations in the U.S and save our crops. on the subject of the varroa parasite, I believe we can safe ways to kill them off without killing the bees themselves.I hope we come up with a solution to all of this before we lose the forever. "If the bee disapeared of the face of the earth man would only have four years of life left" - Albert Einstein

Oct 07, 2008 01:31 PM
yeah a lot of people are right about one thing that is that this time of years all the bees are being
Apr 25, 2007 05:49 PM

Thank you, HCN, for another poignant article.

As so many individuals (scientists, philosophers, home gardeners) have preached in recent years, DIVERSITY is the natural state of affairs when it comes to life on this planet.  Our attempts in the last hundred or so years to turn earth's rich polycultures into huge MONOCULTURES is resulting in catastrophes such as this one.  As we all can assume, the current food production system of the western world is very near collapse, being far too precarious in design.

If we hope to survive as a species, global industrial agriculture and monocultural farming will have to end (it's going to one way or another).  Each one of us needs to contribute to bringing diversity back to our regions, starting in our own yards.  Get rid of that huge lawn of grass and replant native species, and lots of them!  Purchase as much local produce as you possibly can.  Save seeds.  Swap seeds.  Avoid chemicals.

Or don't.  See what happens.

Susan Heggestad

Mother, Teacher, Artist, Gardener, and World Citizen 

Apr 27, 2007 10:53 AM

I live in los angeles and have been noticing dead honeybees on the paramount lot for at least a year. the endless pavement makes them easy to spot.Once or twice a week I would see dead or disoriented and dying bees when I would go outside the bungalow to smoke. I asked facilities if there had been spaying for pests.Then it was every day I would see them. They walk in circles or try to climb things and fall or they are just dead.I have spent days now googling this phenom and I really do see it being Imidaclopride. not cell phones, not a cabal of old men trying to control human population. A combination of many factors? Occam’s razor would say look for something simpler.Countries that banned it don’t have the CCD. Farmers that don’t use it don’t have CCD in their own hives. Termites treated with it exhibit same symptoms. The list goes on and the facts are all there.People are using Google to diagnose their own diseases and they are often correct. this is a disease of the environment.Chemical companies pay the labs that do the tests on their products. the FDA does not test. the USDA doesn’t either.Oh and the missing bees? They haven’t disappeared, if you look around you will see them. Please, everyone spread the word. This is real and for some reason is reaching critical mass.When you do see the dead and dying, pay them the respect they deserve.

Apr 30, 2007 11:49 AM

What a scarey article! I knew it was bad, but didn't realize how bad the situation was.  It's not been long since I read the Altered Oceans set of articles fromt he LA Times and it's not reassuring to see all that is going wrong.  

Someone is willing to make me some "save the bees" t-shirts.  i was looking for an organization with a simple URL that i could reference on the shirts for people to read up on the problems.  

Anyone know of a Bee help organization with a simple URL that would like people to read up on the problems?


Apr 30, 2007 11:52 AM

I would like to buy some bees but I do not know what to do. I always wanted a bee farm. Email me back

Apr 30, 2007 11:56 AM

Looking at what I have read, I have come to the conclusion, that the mites came from the orient China most likely. The All American approach to this problem like with all of our other problems, we treat it with chemicals which makes the problem even worse Rather than letting nature help the bees build a resistance to the mites. This is just another case of corperate greed overrideing commonsense. One of these days that greed will kill us all.  

Nick Wolf

Seattle Washington

Apr 30, 2007 12:03 PM

i love bees.

 i love their furry little legs,

 their happy little hum.

and when they are gone,

we humans will be done.


Apr 30, 2007 01:12 PM

I do not Know what is causing us to loose our bees but frankly it is quite scary. I have many flowering trees in bloom and years past they were covered with bees.This year not one. I was thinking that we had a late season here in N.J. and that it was too cold for them but the trees are past blooming and its 79 degrees out. Is there anything that we could do to help this problem?

May 02, 2007 01:02 PM

I live in Huntington Beach, CA and last Sunday 4/29 I noticed some honey bees writhing on the ground in my driveway. As my daughter began counting them I saw at least four simply drop straight down out of the sky and, like the others, writhe around for a few minutes and then die.
I collected about ten of them in a jar in case a researcher might want to examine them for disease or something.
All the stories I've seen have said that the honey bees simply disappeared so I was wondering if they ever found any of them to check.
Since I saw about 20 in my driveway it makes me wonder the magnitude around the area.
Please let me know if you know of  anyone that might be interested in these bees.
May 02, 2007 01:17 PM

What about the 2.5 Billion cell phones and GPS devices? Doesn't the electromagnetic radiation interfere with the bees dance to find food and return to the hives.


May 03, 2007 11:25 AM

I was searching the internet to find out why the bee populations are out of control, only to find this article telling me the opposite of what I'm experiencing. The feral bees seem to have made a come back despite the mites. Here in Southern California I can't swim in my own backyard pool at mid-day because of all the bees looking for water. My children have been stung so many times in the pool that they are now having allergic reactions. In the past few years it's been getting worse every summer. Need hale and hearty bees? Come and get them! (Sorry, I can't find their hives) Be sure to let me know when the next wave of something will wipe them out again - I'll get my swimsuit and sunscreen ready!

May 04, 2007 11:43 AM

I was pretty confused by this article.  Not that it isn't clear and well-framed prose.  What confused me is that the blame for these epidemics is lain at the feet of the California Monoculture, when really it is this gypsy moth lifestyle the bees have adopted.

If you only stopped moving bees around any outbreaks would remain local.  I guess it's the farmer's fault for not demanding that only local bees be used to pollinate their crops.


May 04, 2007 11:45 AM

 In regard to the dwindling bee population, please look at this website and let me know if this has already been considered as a cause.

I have not seen any bees in my area but I have seen these wasps.

Please cut and paste into URL bar if link does not work.

May 04, 2007 03:46 PM


May 07, 2007 11:18 AM

Nice article,

May 07, 2007 11:20 AM

are bees the only insects dying? If not what other cause are there and are they related?

May 08, 2007 02:06 PM

  It sounds like the crash and death of bees is being caused by one main thing(besides mites): Huge Agribusiness.They are the ones who are stressing out the bee systems.

 So,the "cure" for the bees is: Small farming must come back.Besides,if the big agribusiness has no bees systems,to keep them pollinated,they will fail anyhow. Logical, eh??Stress out the bee systems,and you will not have any bees.Serves them right.

  You can compare it to something that happened to humans: The shortage of nurses.The reason was,they were ill treated,run to death,paid badly,and motivated to leave the nursing business.So,they all did. Now,they cannot get enough nurses. There has been a large shortage of nurses,and the big hospitals,and medical systems,and doctors are all to blame for it themselves.

 If big agribusiness abuses the bee systems, so that they all die, BINGO--no more agribusiness. No more bees for them. If bees are being stretched to death,and used for huge amts. that tax them too badly,feed them junk,put bad stuff on the seeds, ect., so they all die, Guess What: The agribusiness has it coming. 

 I suggest this for bee-keepers; do it locally,and settle in states and counties that need you. Sooner or later, the separate states and counties who NEED bee-systems are going to realize that they need to have bee-keepers live among them. --not travel all over the country with their bees, stressing the Hell out of them. Become permanently part of their counties and states.


  Hey,would that not be a lot more comfortable for the bees,and the states,and the bee keepers too? Comments??

May 08, 2007 02:25 PM

Well, the good Lord made everything we need to keep our crops-there are all kinds of natural alternatives to the pesticides, chemicals, etc. that ever-capitalistic companies keep developing and marketing to us. We need to take it back to nature, especially considering that we all have to pay the price for these kinds of experiemental enterprises.

May 09, 2007 12:20 PM

Please visit this website/blog.  This is my unconventional solution for saving the honeybees.

Thank you. 


May 10, 2007 11:30 AM

Lifespan of a bee -
The queen can live from 2-5 years. The drone lives 40-50 days. Drones are male bees. Most of the bees are workers.They are females. They work hard making honey and stinging for defense! They live from 1-4 months. The life cycle of the worker bee: Egg (3 days), Larva (6 days), Pupa (12 days). This is a total of 21 days from egg (baby) to adult worker.
Lifespan of a trout -
Brown trout spawn in the fall, a little later than brook trout, when water temperatures are in the mid-40s to high 40s. Eggs are deposited in a stream gravel depression that the female prepares with swimming actions of her fins and body. Large females produce 4,000 to 12,000 eggs. Several males may accompany the female during spawning. The eggs hatch the following spring, with no parental attention. Brown trout eat aquatic and terrestrial insects, crayfish and other crustaceans, and especially fish. The big ones may also eat small mammals (like mice), salamanders, frogs and turtles. Large browns feed mainly at night, especially during the summer. Their life span in the wild can be 10 to 12 years.
Bees pollinate everything that flowers - not just the pretty flowers we see growing in the fields but the flowers on food crops like strawberries, lettuce, almonds, oranges, lemons and on and on - in other words, everything we spread sludge and/or treated wastewater on.
Is it possible that the mutations we've seen documented in fish (with a lifespan of 10 to 12 years) are happening at a relatively faster rate to bees? A report I read recently suggested that scientists are looking at a virus or plague of sorts that might be killing off the bees. I might suggest that they start looking at possible mutations caused by the endocrine disruptors commonly found in sludge and treated waste water. Maybe the bees just can't reproduce anymore.
May 10, 2007 11:34 AM

is this just another beginning to the end?bee's do so much for us.....we need to protect them....

May 10, 2007 02:09 PM

Here is a link to a Canadian company that came up with an alternative to the hard chemicals used to treat tracheal and varroa mites.

It is a single application formic acid pad called Mite-Away II, worth checking out.


May 21, 2007 12:15 PM

I don't use any pesticides in my yard or my gardens and I rarely see any honey bees, only native bees.  However, yesterday (May 19,2007) I was planting some annuals in my flower bed, when I saw a honey bee buzzing around my pansies.  Since I don't see many and know of their decline, I stopped to watch the bee.  She seemed to be having problems targeting the pollen area of the flower.  She finally landed on the back of a petal and only after crawling all over each petal, for about 5 minutes, she finally found the front and center of the flower.  She then repeated the whole process on the next flower.  It seemed to me that her vision was bad.  I know they don't see clearly, but I've watched them before and they always flew right to the center of the flower quickly, collected pollen or nectar, and on to the next flower in a quick and effecient manner.  This poor thing acted as though she were partially blind and very tired.  It wasn't cold out, nor particularly hot as it was late in the day around 7 pm so I don't think temperature was a factor.  I'm not really up on bee diseases and I thought the mite problem kept them from flying so I don't have clue what was wrong with this bee.  I live in the northern most part of South Carolina and grew up with honey bees living in the walls of my house, but I'm not a keeper, but I am concerned about them and would like to help if possible.  If I see another bee like this, should I catch it for study and if so, to whom should I give it?

May 21, 2007 12:19 PM

We must stop abusing everything on earth!  The simple honeybee is most beneficial and if we abuse them with all manner of things for them to overcome, one day we will not be able to overcome what we have done to ourselves.

Mankind is his worse enemy.

May 21, 2007 12:34 PM


I lived in the Ozarks for a dozen years or so.  ther I learned to use the Old Time remedies for a faster and more complete cure for my cows.  You just said, "what's that got to do with anything?"  I had nuisance insects to deal with.  A Seed Tick, what a pest.  There was a fly that was nearly an inch long and when it would bite my cows they would flinch and move for the discomfort.  Not finding the old timers cure reasonable, being clap your hads above the critter and as he leaves you will knock him out for a few seconds with the air pressure between you rhands, and then pick it up, pull out your pocket knifew and cut it's head off.  I was told this was the only way of killing this fly.  For some time it appeared to be true.  Then I happened across an organic spray that I had beun using on my Garden and to wash with and then for some unknown reaosn I thought that if it did well killing the tommato worms maybe it could kill some of the horse flys that were a nuiscane when milking.  I began spraying my two cows with a mixture of 50/50 basic H from the Shaklee corporation, on the back of my cows.  Then it happened one of those big flys came in and landed on the back of the cow I was milking.  Just as she was about to kick the bucket while figgeting, and I was about to cut it's head off, it fell to the ground, feet up and twitching.  It did not get up!  Turned out the fly breathes through it's abdomin and upon taking in the Basic H, a surfactuant, it suffocated and died.  I was thrilled.  I began spraying my cows twice a day at milking times.  I observed also, when grooming them that the ticks they came in with were less and less.  I investigaed this with my spray bottle of Basic H and found that ticks, the little bloodsuckers, breathe through thier hind quarters.  Upon recieving a spray of Baskc H they would back out and fall off the cow.  

I don't have any bees at this time.  I was wondering how bees and basic H would get alon?  It is an organic product and basically a surfactant soap.   If it does not effect the bees would it be harmfull to the mites? They are described as Tick-Like.  It might be worth a try.  Just a wierd suggestion.

May 24, 2007 11:19 AM

\The  answer to this question about the honey bees is this the secret society or the Illuminati are controling the world .  The comp  Monsanto seed com is right now  in the  USA and  India  and all the  world . changing the seeds farm by farm.   In India  monsanto  have  killed  maney farmers  , who will not change to ther  G E  SEEDS.   SAME with the HONEY BEES  . THEY  HAVE  in stalled  A device that when turned on  THE HONEY BEES  can not  navagate to  or from  the hive  .  they sll so  through. chem trails every day in our SKYS over the farms  the daly  spraying of chemicals ,they came up with a BLACK PODER .not from this world .that when it falls on the HONEY BEES the can not navagate to any flowers or back to the HIVE.  WE the people of the world must stop this any way we  we  we we  we  we can . the USA  air force is doing the spraying non stop and we are paying them our taxes ..  WE ALL must ALL buy organic  foods  only  AND KEEP OUR HONEY BEES GOING SOME HOW>>>>   REMBER GOD IS  IN CONTROL NOT THE ILLUMINATI  ,,,WAKE UP PEOPLE   WE  MUST  ACT  NOW  SAVE THE  BEES  AND  OUR  SELVES  AT THE SAME TIME  LIKE JOHN LENNON  SAID  ALL WE ARE SAYING  IS GIVE  PEACE A  CHANCE  STOP THE WAR  ON POOPLE  AND  OUR HONEY BEES NOW  


May 24, 2007 11:23 AM

We are poisoning everything, we take from the earth without giving back, we are cruel to animals who give us everything. See the movie:  "Eating" (, read the book: "Fateful harvest" and the movie:  "An inconvenient truth". We need to change our greedy behavior and see ourselves as part of a link with all life. If we destroy one link, we will destroy ourselves. It seems we run for fast action remedies for every problem we encounter instead of ever looking deeper.

 We are poisoning ourselves, plant life, animal life and still pour billions into military and space programs. Who would call us intelligent looking at us from a distance?  I can't see intelligence anymore anywhere. I don't want to go to doctors anymore nor to vets. I cure my animals and myself on my own. Most often simple methods help. All what science is offering seems to go on the broad and convenient road of self-destruction. Science has lost wisdom. We need to use our own wisdom and use natural cures which are not backfiring for everything again. We need to behave like a part of nature we are - not like some god who is terrorizing life.

If I had bees I would first try something of the Neem tree (Neem leaf powder for example) which is excellent for parasites and it is a natural product. Whenever our animals have a problem, I use Neem seed oil or tamanu oil and I have treated chickens, cats and even turtles with very good results. why not try neem leaf powder for varroa mites?

May 29, 2007 11:16 AM

the EPA identifies both imidacloprid and clothianidin as highly toxic to honeybees. For example: “Clothianidin is highly toxic to honeybees on an acute basis. It has the potential for toxic chronic exposure to honeybees, as well as other non-target pollinators through the translocation of clothianidin resides in nectar and pollen. In honeybees, the affects of this toxic chronic exposure may include lethal and/or sub-lethal effects in the larvae and reproductive effects on the queen”. .

Documented sub-lethal affects of neonicotinoids include physiological affects that impact enzyme activity leading to impairment of olfaction memory.

Behavioral affects are reported on motor activity that impact navigation and orientation and feeding behavior. Additional research has found that imidacloprid impairs the memory and brain metabolism of bees, particularly the area of the brain that is used for making new memories.

Recent research done on imidacloprid looked at crops where imidacloprid was used as a seed treatment. The chemical was present, by systemic uptake, in corn and sunflowers in levels high enough to pose a threat to honeybees.

In 2002, a broad survey for pesticide residues in pollen was conducted across France. Imidacloprid was the most frequently found insecticide and was found in 49 percent of the 81 samples.

In addition, there is concern about the practice of combining certain insecticides and fungicides. A North Carolina University study found that some neonicotinoids in combination with certain fungicides synergized to increase the toxicity of the neonicotinoid to honeybees more than 1,000 fold in lab studies.

May 29, 2007 11:23 AM

I wonder if the cell phones are causing the bugs..last year , were hardley seen in Maryland.

So much flying through the air would not surprise me...would it you?

My Grand parents( gone now) raised Honny Bees..and we were taught never to kill a bee...

I'm so will change so much more than people know...if they all die.

Maria Weaver

May 30, 2007 02:27 PM

Wow what a nice story

May 31, 2007 12:14 PM

Could the use of municipal bio solids as fertilizer be the problem with the bees-human waste contains antibiotics, disease, hospital waste, etc?

Jun 06, 2007 11:19 AM


Jun 06, 2007 11:25 AM

I saw a honeybee today

A rare forgotten sight

It landed on a fallen leaf

I watched it's sorry plight 

Like a fuddled drunk it tried to gather pollen

where there was none, and I saw

It's pollen sacks were bare. 

Stumbling, stupid 

Dying, poisoned, falling on itself,

It tried to fly, but couldn't.

Thanks so much Monsanto! Who wants

flowers, fruit or honey?

We've got Corn syrup laced with Ethylene glycol

Monsanto's gifts from China 


Jun 11, 2007 03:47 PM

Last year I moved from Utah. I was living in the Mountains at 7200. In July the house I was living in started to have bees appear in the 3 bedroom home and most were in the lower home. We spent several weeks swating and opening doors to let them out but they just kept showing up. One day we finally tracked that they were coming into a crack in the stairs outside by the front door. By then I had called a pest control and by the time he got there we found the bees, which he said were honey bees under the stairwell going downstairs. It's a storage area we use. When we found them, there were over 100 plus large dead and some dying honey bees that had gotten in there for no reason. It was the weirdest thing and so many at one time. I found it to be a very strange as I have lived in Utah for 30 years.


Jun 15, 2007 11:52 AM


Ron in Catskill mountains, NY here.

We have a thriving honey bee hive in one of our pine trees. They seem very healthy and our lawns are covered with the bees as they are working the clover.


Jun 21, 2007 03:02 PM

I live in the city

Los Angeles -- and am not a bee keeper, but I am sure the problem is due to pesticides.  You hardly ever see bees in the city.  If you go to a nursery, you see them only by the herb plants -- oregano, mint, sage, basil etc.  But everyone plants roses and petunias and huge lawns, then douses them with roundup.  No wonder bees are dying when no one in the cities knows how to garden or cares about insects.  They just want to kill them all, and they do.  Look at the roundup commercials on TV -- grown men dressed like gunslingers killing plants and insects. 

I would like to encourage everyone to grow herbs which will at least save the feral bees.  I see a few honeybees now on my herb garden, which is just a small patch, but at least it is something, an oasis in an otherwise desert.  Did you know insurance companies encourage homeowners to cut down trees and shrubs that are too close to the house?  My landlady was ordered to remove all the orange trees on the side of her house last years, a great little orchard for honeybees.  The neighbors did the same, saying they "didn't want to be bothered with all the mess of the trees and shrubs".  The neighborhood is beginning to look like the Sahara. 

 Please grow more herbs that bees like.  It is the only way, I believe, to save them.  The cities and countryside have to begin offering them refuge from pesticides somewhere, and only our backyard gardens can do that.

Good luck -- Alexandra Ormsby

Jun 21, 2007 03:03 PM

I live in the city

Los Angeles -- and am not a bee keeper, but I am sure the problem is due to pesticides.  You hardly ever see bees in the city.  If you go to a nursery, you see them only by the herb plants -- oregano, mint, sage, basil etc.  But everyone plants roses and petunias and huge lawns, then douses them with roundup.  No wonder bees are dying when no one in the cities knows how to garden or cares about insects.  They just want to kill them all, and they do.  Look at the roundup commercials on TV -- grown men dressed like gunslingers killing plants and insects. 

I would like to encourage everyone to grow herbs which will at least save the feral bees.  I see a few honeybees now on my herb garden, which is just a small patch, but at least it is something, an oasis in an otherwise desert.  Did you know insurance companies encourage homeowners to cut down trees and shrubs that are too close to the house?  My landlady was ordered to remove all the orange trees on the side of her house last years, a great little orchard for honeybees.  The neighbors did the same, saying they "didn't want to be bothered with all the mess of the trees and shrubs".  The neighborhood is beginning to look like the Sahara. 

 Please grow more herbs that bees like.  It is the only way, I believe, to save them.  The cities and countryside have to begin offering them refuge from pesticides somewhere, and only our backyard gardens can do that.

Good luck -- Alexandra Ormsby

Jun 28, 2007 12:54 PM


Jun 29, 2007 01:55 PM

I have used the Dowda method of sprinkling two cups of powdered sugar on a hive to eliminate varroa mites, and it is quite effective.  You must repeat the process once a week for three or four weeks in order to catch the hatching mites as well.  The sugar causes the mites to fall off, and, since it is a dessicant, kills them.  The best part to this method is the ability to treat for mites without interrupting honey production.  Check out this website for a detailed description:

Jul 05, 2007 11:38 AM

Why aren't Chemtrails being discussed here as the possible culprit for the honey bee die off?????  We are sprayed on a daily basis world wide ...... huge flocks of birds dropping dead out of the sky in the wake of Chemtrails spraying  ...... the human population suffering outbreaks of mystery diseases that stump the medical community .... all in areas that have been heavily sprayed.  It doesn't take an Einstein to connect the dots here.  We are all being systematically poisoned by Chemtrails, including the bees.
Jul 11, 2007 03:40 PM

I think the bee problem is scary and sad. I have seen only about 5 bees this summer and 2 of them were dying.  Why can't Nature be left alone? Why must man fiddle with everything?  Nature is perfect and can take care of itself. We are slowly making the planet sick and in turn walking down the path to our own exticntion.  Nature should be protected and honored.  Nature is the reflection of God.

Jul 24, 2007 11:28 AM

  It seems the practice of loading up billions of bee into tractor trailer trucks and carting them all over the country would surely enhance the spread of any organism that might be infecting the bees of any one region. If the bees were to remain in their local range, and the let the bee keeper travel to his or her hives, wouldn't that enhance, ( or maintain), the natural selective process of building immunities through natural mutations? Just a thought.

Jul 24, 2007 01:05 PM

My yard seems to be filled with bees (honey and others) every day.  Is this strange?

Aug 13, 2007 11:57 AM



Aug 14, 2007 01:32 PM

Since early summer, we have had a growing number of dead and dying bees in our garage and driveway each DAY.  I need to sweep them out constantly.  I don't know where their hive is, but they fly up into our house and die as well. (no fun with two children running around).  Some days there are 10-20 new dead bees in there! I can't imagine that if all of my neighbors have this same problem, what in the world are we going to do next year when there are almost none LEFT?!!  This article really has me very concerned...

I wouldn't be a bit surprised if it's from cellular use.  We live in a suburban area ('no' pesticides here), but there are 3 new cell towers just across the main road in the last two months...

Nicole Van Damme
Winston-Salem, NC
Aug 2007

Aug 16, 2007 12:09 PM

Actually, Einstein never said that in four years man would die if the bee disappeared.  We would still be alive, but we would be without 1/3 of our food source, the agriculture, and livestock industry would be greatly affected (vegitables and alfalfa used to feed livestcok), and our economy would be at a great loss due to the billions of dollars lost in almonds.  A feature length documentary is on the way.  Please visit for more info.  It touches on the above topics as well as many other interesting points.

Aug 24, 2007 06:54 PM




Aug 30, 2007 10:47 AM

I have an idea to help keep the bees that are still here alive till a solution/problem is found.  I have been putting out hummingbird feeders for some time with the 4 to 1 sugar  mixture and until this past week I have never seen a bee even come close to them but this week they are being swarmed by the bees to the point my hummingbirds are having a hard time getting to the feeder they do manage to get a drink every so often.  The bees are devouring the nectar so fast that I have to wait til dark to refill the feeders every nite.  So I have been wondering what would happen if the bee farmers would put a few feeders with the 4 to 1 sugar mix around and near the hives if that wouldn't help keep them alive.  Its obvious to me that they need the water and what purer way to feed them than a little nectar.  I'm not saying this is a solution but maybe a little help til the problem is solved.

Sep 07, 2007 11:24 AM

I am not very interested in bees. However, after reading this article I felt as if I had been missing a very interesting topic for the last 25 years. The article was very informative, not only on bees but also on thier delicate balance with the environment.

Nov 29, 2007 02:18 PM


Man's greed for increasing productivity has a cost, and the laws put forth into nature have a way of balancing the scales.  

 Let the polination cycle go natural every so often (Ill let the experts say at what frequency and duration), and it will find an equilibrium without devestating the bee population and subseqent crop impact.



Dec 06, 2007 11:18 AM

Great article! Thanks a lot, i needed this for resource.

Dec 10, 2007 05:12 PM

so what exactly is happening to these bees. they cannot just evaporate into thin air.

Dec 10, 2007 05:12 PM

so what exactly is happening to these bees. they cannot just evaporate into thin air.

Dec 11, 2007 11:46 AM

I think CCD is the worst thing that has happened to this planet. And as Albert Einstein said, "if we loose bees we will only have 4 years to live." It all comes back to a parasite called, the varroa mite. It's just like a tick, but worse. My class and I are doing a project on CCD. We are going to plant all the plants that attract bees. I really hope to help this very big issue. Don't worry, if we ALL work together we can fix this problem.

Dec 12, 2007 11:59 AM

Hello, my class is doing a biology project on the honeybees and why they are dying and how to save them. I was wondering if you had any other good information on the bees and the problem facing America today. I also wanted to know if you had any interesting websites or articles that would benefit my understanding in the bees and colony collapse dissorder

Jan 04, 2008 11:11 AM

If anyone knows of proposed state legislation or regulatory language addressing harm to honeybees from pesticides (all kinds -- not just Bt and imidacloprid), please call Jody Spear:  207 326-8764 (I don't spend much time on line and won't see anything posted here.

Jan 17, 2008 12:39 PM

What can we do to stop this? Im concerned. If there is anything i can do i want to know!

Feb 04, 2008 11:23 AM

Do bees fly and pollinate on completely sun obscurred days or at night? Do thier faceted eyes provide them with a "focused" navigation method for the foray away and more importantly the return flight to the place of departure? Do our industrialized nations producing bio-diesel and or oil-diesel exhaust stick and become unremovable from those faceted eyes? Do they fly and die trying to return to nowhere with a distorted navigating system? Can the bee decline worldwide be attributed to stop and go billowing exhaust of trucks stuck in traffic gridlock. On a somewhat related observation, will worlwide starvation stop global warming before the tipping point is reached, setting Earth back onto a course of eccological balance?

Feb 04, 2008 11:23 AM

Do bees fly and pollinate on completely sun obscurred days or at night? Do thier faceted eyes provide them with a "focused" navigation method for the foray away and more importantly the return flight to the place of departure? Do our industrialized nations producing bio-diesel and or oil-diesel exhaust stick and become unremovable from those faceted eyes? Do they fly and die trying to return to nowhere with a distorted navigating system? Can the bee decline worldwide be attributed to stop and go billowing exhaust of trucks stuck in traffic gridlock. On a somewhat related observation, will worlwide starvation stop global warming before the tipping point is reached, setting Earth back onto a course of eccological balance?

Feb 11, 2008 11:05 AM

It is not just Imidacloprin in insecticides killing the bees. It is the imidacloprin genome incorporated in some of Monsantos GM seeds which are doing this in a big way too. WAKE UP BEFORE IT"S TOO LATE!!!!

Feb 18, 2008 01:26 PM



great article hopethat there is a follow up for this years crop-we should all be concerned 

Feb 25, 2008 05:41 PM

One day I counted 20 bees lying dead at my school! I saved 2 bees while walking home from school. Most people hate bees. If all the bees die in the world then they'll stop pollenating and us humans will run out of food and die. I really want to help bees live!

Mar 10, 2008 12:58 PM

Enjoyed the article, but also found it discouraging.  I have kept bees for 30 years.  My great-grandmother was a beekeeper in Snowflake, Ariz. and I have carried on the family tradition.  However, I have lost bees at an increasingly high rate over the last few years.  Last year I lost all of my bees.  The only factors I could determine causing the loss were a huge infestation of  predatory yellowjackets and also sudden disappearance of an entire hive. I used Apistan strips and Sucrostan  (sp?)for mites, but it seemed to make no difference.

C. A. B., SLC 

Mar 17, 2008 11:43 AM

This is much more serious of a problem than most of us realize. If something isn't done to correct the bee die-offs, we as humans may only have memories of many fruits, and cost of strawberries, for example, could shoot to over $50 per pint. We think gasoline is expensive!

Anonymous  03/15/08

Mar 21, 2008 03:11 PM





I think this is really sad !!!!  Haagen daz said that 40% of their 60 flavors are made by bees.

May 06, 2008 11:22 AM

I really like it was wonderful for a a 4th grader this might be suprising that a 4th gradet would be insterseted in colony colapse .

May 12, 2008 12:20 PM

What you can do...

1) Buy only Organically produced goods - This sends a message to pesticide producers that consumers are serious about eliminating pesticides from the food chain.

2) Get involved in the political process; Insist on pesticide food labeling "This food is made with Pesticides X"  - We need lebeling that shows everything that goes into foods we consume, thus giving us a choice, including labeling for Genetically Modified Organisms, especially ones with pest control genetics included. (We are test subjects if we unknowingly consume these products)  

3) Become a beekeeper.  If you have a yard and not allergic to stings, you are a candidate. It is very easy!

4) Tell others about bees, and how they need our help.

5) Enact "Bee Protection Laws", which would prevent the destruction or haphazard removal of bee colonies, including feral bee protection and conservation laws.  Bees are not pest, and should not be treated as such.

6)  Dispell fears about Africanized bees.  They are not killers like the media hype suggests.

7) Get involved and talk to people about B's.  Learn more about them, and you'll bee amazed.

May 19, 2008 11:27 AM

Does anyone know if the mite affects other bee populations like bumblebees or the African Honey Bee? 

Jun 02, 2008 01:09 PM

I think that some should help the bees I might be alergic to be but I'm not afeared of them;I wish that i could save them and stop people from killing them for nothing if the re to do there job 

Jun 23, 2008 11:41 AM

i see a few people quoting Albert Einstein, but everyone needs to know that Even details like the alleged Einstein quote are dubious. No one has yet found proof that Einstein said anything about bees dying off the earliest documented appearance of the "quote" is 1994 and, yes, Albert was dead at the time.

Jun 23, 2008 01:17 PM

The bee is a tiny organism with a very fast metabolism, factors like pollution have a magnified effect on them.  The steady rise in CO2 levels has been affecting coral larvas in the ocean (another tiny creature).  Like the canary in the coal mine the honeybees may be weakened by this poison in the atmosphere and dying.  Of course many factors could be contributing, but the CO2 is one that may not have been considered.  Ann DeLong

Jun 26, 2008 03:13 PM

Dear Sirs,

I live in Ohio and as a youngster we were always dodging the bees in our backyards while playing. My observation 40 years later is that in the pursuit of green lush lawns we have killed off the clover which covered 50% of our yards. Bring back the clover, and the bees will return.


Keep it simple,

Craig A. Lobosky

Jun 30, 2008 11:29 AM

Wonderful article!!

The enlightened sage Maharishi Mahesh Yogi predicted over 10 years ago that genetically modified crops could cause a collapse in the ecosystem. Almost all the corn and soy is now genetically modified, and probably many other crops that I'm not aware of.  Between genetic engineering and poisonous chemicals, it's no surprise that new diseases are being created that are killing our precious bees.

Oct 14, 2008 11:47 AM
Wonderful article. The things that are happening to bees is terrifying. there must be some way we can help.
Nov 01, 2008 01:28 AM
I eat my beans with HONEY,
I've done it all my life.
It makes my beans taste funny,
But it keeps em on my knife.
Loss of Bees
Jan 29, 2009 05:14 PM
I think it's pretty obvious that "stresses" are causing the loss of bees. However, many people are looking so hard into pesticides and pests themselves that they are missing the more obvious stresses. Our culture struggles to control every aspect of nature due to impatience, greed, and who knows what else? When migratory beekeepers are dragging their hives all around the country to make a buck (or provide a service), I think it would be fair to say, that puts a major strain on a colony. Also, antibiotics (just look at the meaning of that word) are prescribed 2 times per year, when it is not necessary.
The fact that we are messing with nature as much as we are, to me, is a red flag! I am not a "tree-hugger", but I think a little common sense should be used. I had hives for several years (last year and previous) without the problems. Sure they had mites and small hive beetles in small quantities, but I dealt with them using as natural of means as I knew how. I refuse to use antibiotics unless the bees are DYING. I also try to use a little patience to allow the bees to do what they are ready to do. They will make the honey, and the best thing I can do is get out of the way and let them do what they do. Yes, I check them regularly, etc., but I try not to alter too much what they would do in the wild. Imagine trying to do your job and your manager keeps coming over and pushing "cures" for your problems and hy you are not reaching your potential. i think you would be a little stressed and probably leave the "hive", too.
Let's try to be a little more patient and let them at least try to take care of themselves.
bee hive
lulu kaznak
lulu kaznak
Feb 11, 2009 09:08 PM
the bees are live and well in yuma, az. I have a 30 foot long bus that has been parked for over 20 years and last week i discovered a bee hive that the bees must have been working on for at least 20 of them. this is the largest bee hive i've ever seen. it is covering the bottom of bus starting from the ground up.
May 31, 2009 01:17 AM
Turmeric is a delicious spice or herb which is used to make curry, but has also been found to be very helpful for all kinds of health problems in humans (see: I believe that Nature provides a cure for every malady. Maybe dusting the hives with Turmeric would help rid them of the mites.
I'm sure CCD is a complicated problem. Cellphone towers, scalar technology spraying whatever it is into the atmosphere, and genetically-modified seeds from Monsanto, for example, also come to my mind immediately.
In fact, doctors have called for an immediate moratorium on Genetically-Modified Organism (GMO) technology due to the permanent adverse effects on human health, "including infertility, immune dysregulation, accelerated aging, dysregulation of genes associated with cholesterol synthesis, insulin regulation, cell signalling, and protein formation, and changes in the liver, kidney, spleen and gastrointestinal system.’
(from: http://www.globalresearch.c[…]hp?context=va&aid=13701)
If GMOs affect humans badly, they might be affecting bees badly, too.
One thing we can do is plant fragrant, bee-friendly gardens, if we are lucky enough to have a garden.[…]/Bee_Plants.htm
Jul 29, 2009 04:30 PM
Terrific article! I enjoyed it immensely. I am doing a research report on bees right now and this article has been a great help (: