analysis of the major cause of the worldwide problem affecting
Honeybees, made in the terms of evolutionary science and the traditional
practices of plant and animal husbandry
An Outline of the Diagnosis
Since the arrival of the varroa mite the official advice has been to
medicate all hives. Since the mite has become endemic, this has
led to systematic medication. The result of this is that bee
strains that cannot deal with the mite - and that is most of them - are
now used to produce new colonies, which, of course, cannot survive at
all without being similarly medicated. Only a proportion manage to
over-winter successfully. This had led to what is known
as 'Colony Collapse Disorder' (CCD).
There are many different theories for CCD, most centered on
particular secondary infections. Most research is currently
centered on the same thing that is actually causing the problem - more
and better medicines. Such efforts are futile. The
use of sick animals to supply the genes for the next generation is in
complete contradiction to the principles of good animal husbandry.
The foundation of the traditional breeding practices that have served
for millennia is the unbreakable principle: the healthiest stock are
used for breeding.
The systematic combination of medication and subsequent
reproduction of sick strains is the major cause of CCD and of the similar
demise of feral bees.
Beekeepers and their regulators are the agents of the crisis
of the Honeybee
It can be seen that modern beekeeping practice is the sole cause of
the crisis affecting both wild and domestic bees. The solution
lies in the hands of beekeepers and their regulators. Not only
should stocks that need to be medicated in order to stay alive not be
used for breeding, they should not either be allowed to send their
sickly genes into the wild, where they undermine the process of natural
selection that would otherwise allow feral bees recover their
The first step in locating the best paths forward is to understand
the several different dimensions of the problem. It is the aim of
this website to disseminate the above diagnosis of both the disease, and
an understanding of the mechanisms preventing most beekeepers knowing
about it. The hope is to point the way toward a permanent solution
that will allow restoration of rude health to the honeybee population
through the recovery of an understanding of what good husbandry entails. This
I have described as 'Evolutionary' beekeeping, as the scientific
understanding of the processes by which species adapt to changes in the
environment - which of course includes the 'disease environment' - is
The website contains only the items supplied by the links to
The main article (Thesis): supplying a detailed
diagnosis of the causes of CCD.
A short supporting essay: The Principle of Breeding: Seed
Selection, outlines the crucial principles that are required for
successful stock-keeping. Ignorance of these once commonly held
principles is perhaps the single most important factor in causing CCD.
Establishing resistance is a short exploration of the difficulties
of establishing resistance in the honeybee population. In it a
contrast is drawn between Norman Carreck's 'top-down' approach of mass
breeding of resistant strains with my own 'bottom-up' strategy,
involving grassroots changes of practice.
The Importance of Genetic Variation is no more than the
brief introduction to a subject of the greatest importance to the
future of the Honeybee. I hope to develop this more in the near
The short article Thinking about Selection, uses the
successful methods of medieval monks to help us think about what is
important in bee husbandry.
A short article The Politics, outlines the main drivers of
regulation that ensure the failed 'medical' approach continues.
These are best read in the order presented, although if you are
unfamiliar with the principles of husbandry and evolutionary theory it
may be better to read the articles on husbandry and selection first.
Further Thoughts holds a growing collection of ideas, mostly
taken from my posts to discussion lists. The newest are, blog-like, at
The Selected Links lead to websites offering information that
will support beekeepers wishing to learn more about the causes of the
Feedback of any kind on these pages will be very welcome.
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currently causing lasting damage to our favourite insect
6th July: The Importance of Genetic Variation page added
5th June: Selected links page updated and improved
2nd June 2009: Further Thinking page added - to be updated as
27th May 2009: Hit counter added.
23rd May 2009: The Politics, Constructive Links and Thinking
about Selection added; An Outline of the Diagnosis (at the
top of this page) added.
19th May 2009: An introduction to the principles of good husbandry
18th May 2009 Main article uploaded
 For a variety of reasons there is resistance in
some quarters in the UK to the description 'CCD'. I use it here to
indicate that 'disorder' which causes high winter losses, which are
universally linked with varroa. It is my position that the precise
causes of losses are not all that important, and so what we call the
losses, or their immediate cause, is irrelevant to understanding the
deeper cause. What _is_ important is that the sciences of breeding
for good health and natural selection supply the means to adapt to _any_
disease; and it is the lack of good breeding, and ignorance of the
importance of selection that is at the root of ill health in bees.