Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), a phenomenon where large numbers of honey bees gradually leave their hives, never to return again, has been confounding scientists all over the world since the disorder was first identified and named in 2006. Scientists have thought that the problem could be caused by parasitic mites, various bee diseases, certain kinds of pesticides, pollution, and many other causes, but research has eliminated each of these as being the sole cause of the disorder. Lately research has been focusing on the possibility of a combination of factors as being the cause.
It’s in the midst of all this confusion that a new study was just released in the Journal of Apicultural Research that points to an entirely unexpected culprit—solar storms, or sunspots. Sunspots cause fluctuations in earth’s magnetic fields, and as it turns out, bees use magnetic fields to navigate by. It is difficult for us humans to understand how important magnetic fields are to bees. It would be like if we needed to go somewhere, but our eyes were bound so we couldn’t see, or heavy fog made our sight useless. Bees use the earth’s magnetic fields to help them know where they are, and how to get home. This ability, called magnetoreception, is also used by birds, fish, and other animals. The researchers found that bees subjected to different magnetic fields were less able to find their way home.
Taking this a step further, the researchers were also able to show that periods of increased levels of solar storms were the same periods as when honey bee losses were the greatest. Sunspots may end up as only part of the reason behind honey bee loses, but it may be the key part that has gone unnoticed up until now.
- Posted by admin
- On October 4, 2016
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