National Pesticide Information Center



Bee Colony Collapse Disorder


Honey bees are valuable pollinators of fruits, vegetables and nut trees. Since 2006, beekeepers across the U. S. have been reporting a phenomenon called "Colony Collapse Disorder" (CCD) in which the adult bees simply disappear from the colony hives. There are typically few, if any, dead bees found. The queen and immature bees (brood) are often found in the hives inadequately attended by adult bees.

Although bee colony losses are not uncommon, the magnitude of loss suffered by some beekeepers in recent years may be higher than normal. The cause of CCD is currently unknown. Scientists are researching several possible causes including pesticides, parasites, disease, poor nutrition and limited or contaminated water supplies.

Until the cause of CCD is determined, here are a few tips to help protect bees when using pesticides:

  • Adopt an IPM approach for controlling pests in areas where bees are present.
  • If possible, choose pesticides that will specifically target your pest and not harm bees.
  • Keep in mind that dusts and microencapsulated pesticides may be similar to pollen in size and shape.
  • Do not over-apply pesticides; use only the amount directed on the label.
  • If possible, avoid applying pesticides during mid-day when bees are most likely to be out foraging for nectar.

If you have questions about colony collapse disorder, or any pesticide-related topic, please call NPIC at 1-800-858-7378 (8:00am - 12:00pm PST), or email at npic@ace.orst.edu.

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Last updated April 1, 2015