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Honeybees Are Disappearing, No One Knows Why

Amateur Beekeepers Encourage Spread of Apiaries
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Hindu women perform a ritual known as Aarti around a Shivling (a symbol of Lord Shiva) on the last day of Jaya Parvati Vrat festival in Ahmedabad, India.

Honeybees Are Disappearing, and No One Knows Why
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Entomologists -- scientists who study insects -- are working with other scientists to learn why bee colonies are dying in the United States. They call the problem “colony collapse disorder.”

VOA recently spoke with amateur beekeepers in Fort Wayne, Indiana who are working to learn about honeybees and how to keep them alive.

Bees are needed to produce one third of our food. That is why Megan Ryan is worried about their survival. Earlier this year, she created an apiary, a place where groups, or hives, of honeybees are kept.

“Our hives are full of what’s called Italian honeybees.”

Italian bees are popular because they are not as aggressive as other kinds of bees. And they reproduce faster than other kinds of honeybees. In just four months, the apiary has grown from 10,000 to 70,000 bees in each hive.

Alex Cornwell is also a beekeeper. He says over the past ten years, both American and European hives have lost more than one fourth of their population.

“It’s unknown what colony collapse disorder is caused by specifically, but it could be a combination of anywhere from pesticides to mites to pathogens.”

Every time they visit the apiary, Ms. Ryan and Mr. Cornwell record information about the bees.

“We would share it with the DNR (Department of Natural Resources), other beekeepers -- any conservation effort, any organization that would like our records we freely share those.”

They also teach people about beekeeping. They want people to begin their own hives.

“You don’t have to be a scientist that has a degree in order to teach people and help people learn about bees and that’s the awesome part about beekeeping -- anybody can do it.”

About 100 people have said they want to learn more about creating their own hives. Ms. Ryan and Mr. Cornwell say they will start a program to teach migrant workers about beekeeping so they can take that knowledge with them wherever they work.

I'm Marsha James.

Erika Celeste reported this story from Fort Wayne, Indiana. Christopher Jones-Cruise adapted it for VOA Learning English. Mario Ritter was the editor.


Words in This Story

colony – n. a group of plants or animals living or growing in one place

amateur – n. a person who does something (such as a sport or hobby) for pleasure and not as a job

hive – n. a nest for bees

pesticide – n. a chemical that is used to kill animals or insects that damage plants or crops

mite – n. a very small creature that often lives on plants, animals and foods

pathogen – n. something (such as a type of bacteria or a virus) that causes disease

degree – n. an official document and title that is given to someone who has successfully completed a series of classes at a college or university

awesome – adj. informal extremely good

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