In sum, billions of bees are dying faster than they can be replaced. Their dead bodies reveal pathogens and disease. While the exact cause is unknown, all fingers point to modern agriculture: we are poisoning bees with our excessive use of toxic agro-chemicals, and severely straining them by transporting and working them year round.
A 2007 National Academy of Sciences report "blamed the decline of pollinators around the world on a combination of habitat loss, pesticides, pollution and diseases spilling out of greenhouses using commercial bumblebees."
Today I had the opportunity to chat with a very reputable scientist in the agricultural world. Turns out, the honey bee situation has not improved in the last year. According to her, at this rate (40% loss in one decade), domestic produce production will die within 10 years...almost.
Turns out, climate change is prompting the migration of the africanized honey bee, also known as the "killer bee." The Center for Invasive Species Research reports:
Immigration of africanized honey bee results in a greater density of highly defensive bee colonies. Africanized honey bee respond to activity near their colonies with increased numbers of stinging bees over much greater distances. This can make them life-threatening, especially to people allergic to stings or with limited capacity to escape (the young, old and handicapped), and to confined livestock or pets. In each country into which they have migrated, they have killed humans and animals. Beekeeping is also disrupted by africanized honey bees, which are more difficult to manage and transport. Maintaining colonies of European bees in areas with africanized honey bees is the best defense, but to do so beekeepers face greater expense, more difficulty finding sites for bees because of public fear, and greater liability concerns.
With regard to using our domestic bees are a defense, my source told me that because of vanishing bee populations, the killer bees will just take over.
Obviously, I prefer highly-aggressive bees to no bees (and thus no domestic produce), but the situation ain't pretty. While the exact cause of honey bee disappearance remains "unproven," the writing is on the wall. Just another price we pay for modern agro business...