You’ve probably heard of Colony Collapse Disorder (‘CCD’), where workers from a bee colony suddenly disappear (SPACE ALIENZ?!?). Given the importance of pollination by bees to agriculture (while birds do it, bees do it,
even educated fleas do it, plants can’t do it without pollinators), this is something to be concerned about. But there appears to be a fundamental myth about CCD–something we all know yet is not true (boldface mine):
It’s quite straightforward: most of the scientists and journalists and beekeepers who have published on CCD in the past 7 years have either stated or implied that CCD is something that had never existed prior to 2006.
And yet, the original paper defining CCD spelled out that it was an existing condition that they were simply coining a new name for, in the hope that the new name would be less misleading. Oh, the irony. Even more baffling is that it’s not like this information was totally lost or hidden – it’s been visible in the Wikipedia article (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colony_collapse_disorder), with a citation, for all this time, so anyone in the world who simply Googled “Colony Collapse Disorder” could find this reference, since the WikiP article is the first link shown.
It gets even better: in both 2007 and 2009 another paper pointed out that there were at least 18 historical episodes of similar large-scale losses of honey bees dating back to 1869, at least several of which had symptoms similar enough that they cannot be ruled out as being the exact same ailment. Yet, how often have you seen any of the scientists and journalists and beekeepers acknowledging that any theories about the cause of CCD need to accommodate the evidence for similar bee crashes that pre-date neonicotinoid pesticides, high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), migratory beekeeping, cell phones, genetically modified crops, or any of the other human-made “causes” that have been run up the proverbial flagpole?
Once again, there are an awful lot of people who are not doing their homework (admittedly, it is a big body of literature, but we’re talking about papers *central* to the issue).
I’ve written this before in the context of U.S. education: if you don’t define the problem correctly, you probably won’t figure out the right solution.
There’s a lot of that going around.