U.S. honeybees disappearing from hives, not even leaving a note

Don’t let the pharmaceutical giants get wind of this: U.S. honeybees are suffering from “colony collapse disorder.” Beekeepers in 24 states say their pollinating pals are simply disappearing, with losses of 30 to 60 percent on the West Coast and, in some cases, more than 70 percent on the East Coast and in Texas. “I have never seen anything like it,” says California keeper David Bradshaw. “Box after box after box are just empty. There’s nobody home.” Perplexed scientists are testing theories including stress, toxins, and viruses. It’s not the first time bees have met a mystery fate, “but it’s never been on a scale like this,” says bee specialist Dennis van Engelsdorp. With bees pollinating more than $14 billion of U.S. seeds and crops a year — every third bite we eat, according to industry buzz — those with full hives stand to benefit. “It’s supply and demand,” says a keeper who expects to earn $520,000 for a month in California’s almond orchards. “That’s what drives the whole dang thing.”