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What is Colony Collapse Disorder?

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Imagine suddenly during one winter over 1/3 of the population in the United States was no more. That’s over 100,000,000 people. Not just died, but disappeared. Without definite cause or circumstance. Simply vanished. And the remaining population appeared too weak and disoriented to help rebuild the sudden collapse of the social structure within our country. Imagine that, and you might have an understanding what it’s like to be a bee today.

What is Colony Collapse Disorder?

 Colony Collapse Disorder-Dead_bee_winterThere is an epidemic facing today’s bees. One without a sure cause and without a sure cure. Beekeepers and apiaries have always faced periods of decline. Oftentimes this is attributed to weather-related issues, overfarming of bees leading to scarce food supply, parasites, disease, or other related phenomena. Usually, the cause is determined and the bees have always bounced back. But more recently a new a frightening occurrence happened in 2006/2007 alone, with the mysterious loss of around 800,000 bee colonies — accounting for tens of billions of bees. And this sort of loss has continued every year since. This pale horseman of the beepocalypse has been dubbed Colony Collapse Disorder or CCD.

CCD has presented itself in ways unlike other diseases or problems we’ve seen in the past. Instead of simply dying off, the bees completely abandon their colonies and disappear. In collapsed colonies, CCD is suspected when a complete absence of adult bees is found in colonies, with no or little buildup of dead bees in the hive or in front of the hive. A colony that has collapsed from CCD is generally characterized by a number of things occurring simultaneously:

  • Presence of capped brood in abandoned colonies: Bees normally will not abandon a hive and swarm until the baby bees have all hatched.
  • Presence of adequate food stores of both honey and bee pollen still remains in the hive.
  • Presence of the queen bee. If the queen is not present, the hive died because it was queenless, which is not considered CCD.

Sometimes there are signs that may arise before the final colony collapse, including:

  • Insufficient workforce to maintain the brood that is present
  • Workforce seems to be made up of only young adult bees
  • The colony members are reluctant to consume provided food, even things like sugar syrup and protein supplement.

Colony Collapse Disorder-Abeilles-mortes-dead-beesThis mystery disorder and disappearance is happening on a grand scale unlike anything ever seen before and is why, around the world, beekeepers, organizations, and entire nations are gathering together to help address and solve this problem.

So what causes Colony Collapse Disorder?

We’ll address this in our next segment on CCD, and why it can be such a mystery to figure out…


 Colony Collapse Disorder-Abella037eue

Flagstaff Free Bee Removal Service

Flagstaff free bee removal service is here!

swarmWe’re here to help anyone in the Flagstaff and Northern Arizona area with our free bee swarm removal service from now until the end of 2015 in order to help save our pollinators and provide a better alternative to simply killing them all.  Pollinators are in great need in our area and we need to help protect and preserve this valuable resource and the services they provide us all!

Whether it’s a bee swarm or established hive we can come out and do our best to remove, rescue and relocate the bees to one of our hives or a host-a-hive location. We have a growing list of those who would love to provide a home to a colony of bees who live on their property.  If you’re interested in our host-a-hive program or donating to help support this cause, please contact us today and let us know!

If you are in need of our Flagstaff Bee Removal Service please click here or give us a call anytime!

Peaks with Flower field 2a

10 fascinating facts about bees…

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  1. Bees can actually get to “know” their owner, and recognize him/her. Especially if kept in proximity to people and not kept in isolation miles away from civilization.

  2. The Queen of a colony will mate only once in her lifetime of maybe several years and lay around 2000 eggs a day every season until she dies. The drone which fertilized the Queen, himself fatherless, the product of an unimpregnated egg, becomes the father of thousands upon thousands of worker bees, and many fully developed Queens. After his one mating, he dies.

  3. The Queen can choose to impregnate an egg or not at will. An impregnated egg can be hatched by the workers, also at will, as either an undeveloped female like themselves or a fully developed Queen to carry on the species.

  4. Bees can in effect “speak” to each other, by means of their antennae, or feelers. The antennae, by their motions, form a language, in which wants, needs, and desires can be communicated.

  5. Although it is commonly believed that a bee will die once it has stung, due to the barbs on it. In fact, if left undisturbed, the bee can work its sting out without causing itself injury. Of course, the pain caused by the sting usually results in the bee being attacked by its victim, not giving it enough time to withdraw undamaged.


  6. A prolific Queen will, during her lifetime, lay one and a half million eggs. If these were to be laid end to end, the resulting line would stretch for nearly two miles. A good Queen is able to lay on average two eggs a minute for weeks on end. The lowest estimate would mean she lays twice her own weight daily.

  7. Propolis is a sticky, resinous substance gathered by bees from pine, horse-chestnut, and other trees, as they carry pollen on their hind legs. Propolis is used by the bees for filling up cracks, keeping out drafts, and making the hive watertight.

  8. While bees are not normally aggressive, if they consider themselves and the colony to be in danger they can, and will, attack with fury. They have even been used as weapons, and there are cases on record of whole regiments being put to flight by having hives hurled at them. Riots have also been subdued by the use of bees in this manner.

  9. The egg from which a Queen is to be reared, like the egg which is to produce a worker, hatches in three days. For six days more it continues in its larval state. It then spins its cocoon, is transformed into a nymph, and on the sixteenth day from the laying of the egg, it emerges as a perfect virgin queen. The vacant cell is never used again, and is usually cut down within a few hours.

  10. Sometimes a colony will find its Queen to be defective. Maybe she is infertile from not mating soon enough, or for a number of reasons only the bees themselves know. If that is the case the colony will “ball” the Queen. That is, they will entirely surround her, interlacing their bodiesArticle Submission, forming nothing less than a living prison. The queen is immobilized and unable to move. She will be kept imprisoned like this for up to twenty-four hours if necessary. Until she dies of suffocation or hunger.

Pollination and Bees

It has often been said that bees are responsible for one out of every three bites of food we eat. Most crops grown for their fruits (including vegetables such as squash, cucumber, tomato and eggplant), nuts, seeds, fiber (such as cotton), and hay (alfalfa grown to feed livestock), require pollination by insects.
Pollinating insects also play a critical role in maintaining natural plant communities and ensuring the production of seeds in most flowering plants. Pollination is the transfer of pollen from the male parts of a flower to the female parts of a flower of the same species, which results in the fertilization of plant ovaries and the production of seeds. The main insect pollinators, by far, are bees, and while European honey bees are the best known and widely managed pollinators, there are also hundreds of other species of bees, mostly solitary ground-nesting species, that contribute some level of pollination services to crops and are very important in natural plant communities.

Why are bees good pollinators?

Bees make excellent pollinators because most of their life is spent collecting pollen, a source of protein that they feed to their developing offspring. When a bee lands on a flower, the hairs all over the bees’ body attract pollen grains through electrostatic forces. Stiff hairs on their legs enable them to groom the pollen into specialized brushes or pockets on their legs or body, and then carry it back to their nest. Individual bees tend to focus on one kind of flower at a time, which means it is more likely that pollen from one flower will be transferred to another flower of the same species by a particular bee. Many plants require this kind of pollen distribution, known as cross-pollination, in order to produce viable seeds. The business of collecting pollen requires a lot of energy, and so many flowers attract and also reward bees with nectar, a mixture of water and sugars produced by plants.

Where and how do bees live?

Most bee species dig nests in soil, while others utilize plants, either by boring holes in pithy plant stems or wood, or by nesting in galleries made by wood-boring beetles in trees or other preexisting cavities. Bumblebees are known to nest in abandoned rodent burrows and feral honey bees are known to nest in tree hollows. Bees use a variety of materials to build their nests. Most bees line their nest cells with a waxy material they produce themselves, but others use pieces of leaves, small pebbles mixed with resin from tree sap, or mud to form the cells in which they lay their egg.

Why do bees need flowers throughout the growing season?

Many bee species are solitary (each female produces offspring in her own nest) with only one generation of bees produced per year. However, other species nest communally (several females share a nest) or have elaborate social structures with the division of labor within the colony (usually with a single queen and many workers). These kinds of bees produce multiple generations per year. This means that bees that produce multiple generations each year need food resources (pollen and nectar) across most of the growing season to produce strong colonies. Providing plants in a landscape with overlapping bloom periods will help these bees survive and prosper.