The Other Global Pandemic

Dead bees from a collapsed hive

As a biology major in college and an enthusiastic young beekeeper during my 4-H days in high school, I have been following for some years another growing global pandemic. Bee colonies are dying, unexplainedly, at an alarming rate around the world.

You may think that this is much ado about nothing in relation to the human global pandemic we are currently facing, but here are some little known facts that, to me at least, are cause for serious concern for the welfare of our global food supply chain.

  • More than 75% of the leading types of global food crops rely to some extent on animal pollination, mostly bees
  • Globally there are more honey bees than other types of bee and pollinating insects, so honeybees are the world’s most important pollinator of food crops.
  • Over the past 10 years, honeybee colonies have been dying out, often as much as 50-75% each year in North American
  • Beekeepers in most European countries have observed a similar phenomenon since 1998, especially in Southern and Western Europe, and Ireland
  • According to the Agriculture and Consumer Protection Department of the United Nations, the total value of global crops pollinated by honey bees was estimated at nearly USD$200 billion in 2005.
  • Farmers have to buy or rent extra colonies each year to pollinate their crops, raising the cost of fruit and produce by 20%.
  • Currently there is a shortage of hives globally.

A Mysterious Cause

Now known as Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), this sudden die off is an abnormal phenomenon that occurs when the majority of bees in a colony suddenly disappear, leaving behind plenty of food. Several possible causes for CCD have been proposed, but no single proposal has gained widespread acceptance among the scientific community.

Suggested causes include;

  • Pesticides
  • infections with various pathogens, especially those transmitted by Varroa and Acarapis mites
  • malnutrition
  • genetic factors such as inbreeding
  •  immunodeficiencies
  • loss of habitat
  • changing beekeeping practices

Many hives are found with mite infections which reduce the stamina of infected bees.

ECOS Magazine - Towards A Sustainable Future

However, the most likely culprit are pesticides, especially those of the neonicotinoid family, which has been used widely around the world as a substitute to DDT.

For those interested, here is short video on this other global pandemic:

We are fighting many changes to the welfare of humankind at the moment, all brought about by our unwitting and often wanton disreguard for the interdependent and interconnected world which we all share. It’s all of our responsibility to turn these crises into learnings. Doing well AND doing good should be our new mantra for the post COVID-19 world.

About johnrchildress

John Childress is a pioneer in the field of strategy execution, culture change, executive leadership and organization effectiveness, author of several books and numerous articles on leadership, an effective public speaker and workshop facilitator for Boards and senior executive teams. In 1978 John co-founded The Senn-Delaney Leadership Consulting Group, the first international consulting firm to focus exclusively on culture change, leadership development and senior team alignment. Between 1978 and 2000 he served as its President and CEO and guided the international expansion of the company. His work with senior leadership teams has included companies in crisis (GPU Nuclear – owner of the Three Mile Island Nuclear Plants following the accident), deregulated industries (natural gas pipelines, telecommunications and the breakup of The Bell Telephone Companies), mergers and acquisitions and classic business turnaround scenarios with global organizations from the Fortune 500 and FTSE 250 ranks. He has designed and conducted consulting engagements in the US, UK, Europe, Middle East, Africa, China and Asia. Currently John is an independent advisor to CEO’s, Boards, management teams and organisations on strategy execution, corporate culture, leadership team effectiveness, business performance and executive development. John was born in the Cascade Mountains of Oregon and eventually moved to Carmel Highlands, California during most of his business career. John is a Phi Beta Kappa scholar with a BA degree (Magna cum Laude) from the University of California, a Masters Degree from Harvard University and was a PhD candidate at the University of Hawaii before deciding on a career as a business entrepreneur in the mid-70s. In 1968-69 he attended the American University of Beirut and it was there that his interest in cultures, leadership and group dynamics began to take shape. John Childress resides in London and the south of France with his family and is an avid flyfisherman, with recent trips to Alaska, the Amazon River, Tierra del Fuego, and Kamchatka in the far east of Russia. He is a trustee for Young Virtuosi, a foundation to support talented young musicians. You can reach John at or
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