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Honey bees and other pollinators have been declining in abundance and species diversity around the world. The term Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) was coined in 2006 to describe the mysterious, large-scale sudden disappearances of honey bees in North America and Europe. There is no single cause for these declines, but rather a combination of numerous interacting conditions that include parasites, pathogens, poor nutrition, and exposure to environmental pollution and pesticides. Each of these factors can stress individual bees, and their combination results in weakened colonies that may ultimately fail.

Rather than memorizing the symptoms of all potential maladies, beekeepers should first understand how a healthy colony of honey bees looks and behaves. New beekeepers should begin with healthy bees in brand new equipment. By starting small and watching colonies grow, a new beekeeper can witness bees drawing comb, storing pollen and honey, and can observe all the various growth stages of honey bee from eggs to adults. Becoming familiar with a healthy colony better prepares a beekeeper to later recognize problems in early stages, and to intervene before problems become significant.

Beekeepers are encouraged to take an integrated approach to honey bee health. By understanding and minimizing multiple stressors on bees, beekeepers can improve overall colony health and increase hive productivity.

honeycomb pattern with bees