Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2011

Document Type



Environmental Studies

First Advisor

Michael D. Breed

Second Advisor

Diana Oliveras

Third Advisor

Dale Miller


Colony collapse disorder (CCD) was first reported on the east coast of the United States in 2006. Symptoms of CCD include the rapid loss of adult worker honeybees, few or no dead bees found in the hive, presence of immature bees (brood) and a small cluster of bees with a live queen present, as well as pollen and honey stores still in the hive. Honeybees (Apis mellifera) are a keystone species because they provide a number of pollination services for various ecosystems. They are also extremely important organisms within human society, both agriculturally and economically. With a third of human food coming directly and indirectly from honeybee pollination, colony collapse disorder will have significant economic, ecological, and social impacts if further colony losses are not prevented. The fact that a direct cause has not been determined suggests that CCD is a complex problem with a combination of natural and anthropogenic factors. Possible instigators of CCD include: mites, viral and fungal diseases, increased commercial transportation, decreased genetic diversity, pesticides, and a variety of other factors. The interaction among these potential causes may be resulting in immunity loss for honeybees and the increased likelihood of collapse. This thesis will discuss the various factors that have been researched as possible causes for colony loss as well as explore the long-term effects that this decline could have. Through library research of scholarly texts and involvement with active beekeepers in the community, this thesis will recommend solutions that humans can take to save the organism upon which we, ourselves, depend.