Vanishing of the Bees Film The co-operative presents,
as part of
Plan BEE

The Vanishing Bees

Beekeepers and scientists are still unsure what is causing the loss of so many bees, but the fact is that bees are disappearing at alarming rates all over the world. In the UK, around one fifth of honeybee hives were lost in the winter of 2008/09. 


In the USA, approximately one third of hives have been lost over the last two years – around 800,000 colonies in 2007 and 1,000,000 in 2008. If bees continue disappearing at this rate, it is estimated that by 2035 there could be no honeybees left in the USA.

US hive losses have been blamed on Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), a collection of symptoms including large-scale disappearance of bees from the hive, to which a singular cause cannot be attributed.

The UK Government Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) believe that Colony Collapse Disorder is not yet in the UK. However, it is acknowledged that the UK is suffering unusual losses of around a fifth of hives in 2008/09, compared to 'normal' yearly losses of around 5 to 10%.

Losses have also been reported in other countries, including France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Greece, Brazil and Argentina.


What could be causing these losses?

No-one knows for certain what is causing the hive losses; however there are many theories including: 

  • pests (such as varroa mites), viruses, bacteria and fungi 
  • pesticides such as neonicotinoids 
  • importing of non native bees unsuited to climate 
  • lack of nutrition and loss of habitats – related to urban sprawl and farming methods 
  • bad weather, including spells of particularly wet weather or sudden cold spells 
  • poor husbandry – for example in the USA beekeeping is a large industry, with bees trucked vast distances across the country to pollinate different crops.