Lesson Plan: The Plight of the Honeybee

The Plight of the Honeybee

By Amanda Brandt, BA’14

A Creighton University professor is studying the plight of the honeybee — colony collapse disorder (CCD), which is causing large declines in honeybee populations across North America and Europe.

Inspired by her youth spent on a honeybee farm, biology professor Carol Fassbinder-Orth, PhD, is spearheading the research. Although the cause for CCD has not been determined, the disorder occurs when the majority of worker bees disappear from a colony.

“It’s sad,” said Fassbinder-Orth of CCD. “It’s hard to watch. In less than a day, you start to see them get really frantic. They know something’s wrong. They’re trying to leave, they’re bouncing off the walls. Then they start to shake, and then it’s paralysis. And by then, it’s spread through the colony. It’s rather sad to see the progression and then to see its aftermath in colony collapse disorder.”

In her lab, Fassbinder-Orth, who received a 2018 Dr. George F. Haddix President’s Faculty Research Grant to support her project, and her students are observing the dynamics of the hive when a virus that may cause CCD is introduced. The bees are kept close to the hive to see what behaviors they exhibit in the run-up to leaving and dying.

Two undergraduate students, Ryan Sabotin and Sam Hughes, are assisting with the research project.