More Science See Inside Solving the Mystery of the Vanishing Bees The mysterious ailment called colony collapse disorder has wiped out large numbers of the bees that pollinate a third of our crops. The causes turn out to be surprisingly complex, but solutions are emerging By Diana Cox-Foster and Dennis vanEngelsdorp CHARLES KREBS Dave Hackenberg makes a living moving honeybees. Up and down the East Coast and often coast to coast, Hackenberg trucks his beehives from field to field to pollinate crops as diverse as Florida melons, Pennsylvania apples, Maine blueberries and California almonds. As he has done for the past 42 years, in the fall of 2006 Hackenberg migrated with his family and his bees from their central Pennsylvania summer home to their winter locale in central Florida. The insects had just finished their pollination duties on blooming Pennsylvanian pumpkin fields and were now to catch the last of the Floridian Spanish needle nectar flow. When Hackenberg checked on his pollinators, the colonies were "boiling over" with bees, as he put it. But when he came back a month later, he was horrified. Many of the remaining colonies had lost large numbers of workers, and only the young workers and the queen remained and seemed healthy. More than half of the 3,000 hives were completely devoid of bees. But no dead bees were in sight. "It was like a ghost town," Hackenberg said when he called us seeking an explanation for the mysterious disappearance. This is only a preview. Get the rest of this article now! Select an option below: Buy Digital Issue Customer Sign In *You must have purchased this issue or have a qualifying subscription to access this content It has been identified that the institution you are trying to access this article from has institutional site license access to Scientific American on nature.com. Click here to access this article in its entirety through site license access. ADVERTISEMENT Scientific American is a trademark of Scientific American, Inc., used with permission © 2015 Scientific American, a Division of Nature America, Inc. All Rights Reserved.