"The Strange Disappearance of Bees"(2010), shown Sept. 4, was the final documentary in the 2013 summer Green Issues Film Series co-sponsored by the League of Women Voters and the Wabash Lilly Library. The film was shown to a full house on the Wabash Campus in Korb classroom at Fine Arts Center. The audience included community members, Wabash students, high school students, local beekeepers, and members of the scientific community.

The film highlighted the inhospitable environment that has developed for our honeybee pollinator population. In the last 10 years, a mysterious phenomenon called Colony Collapse Disorder has affected the bee population across the world. Commercial bee farmers and agricultural pollinators are currently experiencing a 40-60 percent annual decline in bee population without any concrete answers or hard evidence about why this is happening. The film goes on to explore several theories.

The film cites a host of issues that may be contributors for the declining bee population including parasitic mites, viruses, bacteria, pesticides, insecticides, industrial agricultural practices and changing environmental conditions. Each of these hardships was researched and explored in the film and provided viewers with insight to the complexities of the problems.

The overlapping nature of these negative factors makes the scientific research difficult and creates problems for gathering data. The contributors to "bee stress" are interrelated. For example, pesticides lead to resistant parasites (that find the bee to be a suitable host) and as the bees pollinate from plants treated with pesticides, they bring contaminated pollen back to the hive that is stored as food.

What the film highlights is that the problems may be a result of the combined effect of these negative forces--an effect that creates unfavorable conditions and negatively affect the bee population and the bee's effectiveness. While our poor honeybees are almost single handedly trying to keep the natural world regenerating through their pollinating practices, they are also being subjected to a host of detrimental conditions and practices that is killing them at an alarming rate.

CCD (Colony Collapse Disorder) leaves behind unpopulated hives. Perfectly functioning hives full of brood (eggs and larva), honey, food stores and wax comb are suddenly unpopulated. There are no live bees, no dead bees, and no sign of the queen, workers, or drones. The bees are unaccounted for. This, above all, is the alarming, and chilling point of the film.

In the end, the film cannot pinpoint a specific cause, though it goes into detail about systemic insecticides being used regularly by big Agri-business. The film hints that this may be the biggest negative factor and chides the USDA for not taking action, as has been done in Europe already.

Following the film, the audience engaged in a lively discussion with a number of local beekeepers who reported on their colonies, their experiences with CCD, and other hardships experienced by their bees.