I am an amateur beekeeper. Since discovering the incredible intricacies of their lives and habits, I have been doing a lot of reading and question asking. Particularly, I have been looking at Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD).
Varroa mites are neither new or especially more prevalent lately. In countries that have had them for many years, they have never been a colony threatening problem -- more an annoyance, from all the data I could find.
New Zealand had an outbreak, but seems to have eradicated it now. Even when the mites were found, we did NOT have massive bee deaths.
Now I find that rather strange, if Varroa was the sole cause, there should have been issues.
I read that Bayer is being taken to court in the EU, over selling chemicals that they knew were harmful to bees and bats (!) which are also dying in masses in the US. hmm? Also affected are small vertebrates (mice, voles and whatever other native fauna eat the bugs).
I believe that the GM pollens combined with physically affecting pesticides, allows the Varroa mite to prey more heavily on already weakened bees.
Recently, last autumn, just before the moratorium on GM crops was supposed to come up for discussion, in Victoria, Australia, it was lifted without public assent, and done very quickly by the state government. Suspiciously so, I believe. Western Australia followed suit recently also.
The 258 GM R/R Canola crops were dud :-) The highest yield was, (feel very free to laugh very loud) 1 whole tonne per hectare! [hectare (ha) = 2.47 acres, or 10,000 square meters]
Next best was 0.65 tonnes/ha. Rather a low average indeed.
That aside, the Kool-Aid crew of farmers, who have seen and heard Moe Parr mr Murray and even Percy Schneider, and still (?) think they know better, and that Monsanto and Dow always tell the truth... are pushing to put in ten times the area of the same dud Canola, from 100+ growers in 285 sites, to 1,000 on heaven knows how many places.
The bees I am affiliated with are run on native trees, and occasionally on organic only orange trees. Almonds, clovers and lucerne aren't so good for them; too many pesticides are being used. The keepers who are happy to lose bees to those issues can. We won't.
Now, as we have no Varroa, and until recently had no GMO either, it will be of great interest to see if the bees on the canola areas begin to die off.
I firmly believe they will, and that maybe this fact would be enough to STOP GMO plants being further approved in my country, and hopefully elsewhere in the world too.
I am adding some info on the Bayer story, and the bats die off also.