Spoke at length with a beekeeper yesterday afternoon at Top of The Hill about Colony Collapse Disorder.
Brews consumed: Frank Graham Porter, Swim Test Saison
First, he confirmed that whatever it is, it’s not yet appeared in NC. Second, it’s primarily affecting the traveling commercial beekeepers, not the local hobby types. Third, most if not all of the media descriptions of the post-collapse hive are wrong.
The bees are gone, yes, bot not all of them. Typically, a queen and some newbies* remain. It’s almost if (here I veer into my interpretation of the event rather than his opinion) typical swarming behaviour occured as happens when a colony gets too large and a second queen is produced, yet instead of half the colony departing with her and half remaining with the new queen, the whole of the colony left.
Since no one has observed a second queen in these hives prior to the departure, there’s no way to confirm or deny that hypothesis, and it’s kinda far-fetched to begin with, as there are no reports of an unexpectedly high number of swarms this year. The keeper himself leaned towards the idea that a pesticide was affecting the bees’ ability to navigate, disorienting them so that once away from the hive, they were unable to find their way back home.
*I am unsure if he was punning or not. Certainly his presentation of the pun was completely straight-faced.