The Factors That Lead to Colony Collapse Disorder in Bees

For all that is known about honey bees, there is no trouble worse for beekeepers and hives in the wild than colony collapse disorder. This deadly obstacle to the survival of these insects has many potential causes that are important to be aware of. These are the factors that lead to colony collapse disorder in bees.

Varroa Mites

Varroa mites are among the most destructive parasites to bees. These mites exploit the natural life cycle of honey bees to reproduce and continue feeding on the bee. Along with their damaging behavior, varroa mites also spread harmful viruses, leading to beekeepers resorting to specific chemicals to counter them. The issue is that the same chemicals used to rid the bees of the harmful mites also act as a precursor to colony collapse disorder.


Honey bees are in regular competition with other hives. If a certain area does not have enough nectar to sustain the hive, lack of nutrition becomes a stressor. The causes of such stress result in weakened immune systems that make honey bees more easily prone to infection and disease. Though this is an act of natural selection in some cases, the destruction of local habitats is not and plays an important role in the health of the species.

Poor Genetic Diversity

It is up to the queen to spread her genes among different bees to diversity the colony. However, local beekeepers typically rely on a specific breeder queen. With a limited number in circulation, even when used in tandem with other local hives, the decrease in genetic diversity is inevitable after a certain length of time. Like malnutrition, the lack of diversity among honey bees causes them to handle disease and infection poorly and likely aids in the rapid regression of a hive.

Honey bees are an important part of the ecosystem, and when they thrive, people are sure to as well. There are many causes of honey bee population decline that are of much concern to those who wish to preserve the species. Whether you are a beekeeper or environmentalist, hopefully, understanding some of the factors that lead to colony collapse disorder in bees helps you make the world a better place.