I recently watched Vanishing of the Bees, which follows several beekeepers whose commercial pollinating businesses were affected by Colony Collapse Disorder. The filmmakers investigate potential causes of the phenomenon, eventually settling on the use of systemic pesticides, which aren’t spread over the tops of plants, but are absorbed by the plant when applied to the seeds, soil or leaves.

While I don’t think it’s possible to blame the cause of CCD on any one thing, the documentary makes a compelling argument to target these types of pesticides. More likely, I think the cause of CCD is a great combination of factors, including monoculture, trucking bees across country to different nectar flows, and a combination of different diseases and mites.

However, regardless of what is to blame, I’m not sure that the answer lies within altering the honey bee genome, as this article suggests. For me, I must consider: If we got into this mess by altering the way plants absorb pesticides, then altering the genetic makeup of bees to fight diseases makes no sense.

What do you think?


October 20, 2011