The pollination of wildflowers and several key crops for food production rely on native and managed bees. In addition, managed colonies of honeybees (Apis Mellifera) represent an important source of goods and income with a yearly production. However, global declines in bee population pose threats to food security and the maintenance of biodiversity. For honeybees, large monitoring programs indicate unprecedented rates of colony losses, in particular in Europe and North America, but similar observations, although less well documented, are being made in other parts of the world. At the start of 2006, beekeepers began to notice an unusual decrease and disappearance in their honeybee colonies. It seemed as if thousands of honeybees were vanishing into thin air. There were no traces left behind and no dead bees were being found near the colonies. Since then, more than 30% of the honeybee colonies have been disappearing each year, including many worker bees which are vital for the colony survival and prosperity. As more and more worker bees disappear, their colonies become weak and soon, they are no longer able to function. Due to the collapse of the colonies, this phenomenon is properly named the Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). Stressors affecting bees, are multiple in nature and origin, and these can be grouped into four broad classes: physical, chemical, biological and nutritional. Physical stressors are mostly governed by environmental changes (e.g. climate change, habitat fragmentation and destruction). Chemical stressors mostly include compounds of an anthropogenic nature (e.g. farming, urban/industrial/mining activities, beekeeping, gardening, etc.) as well as naturally occurring contaminants (e.g. mycotoxins, plant alkaloids, etc.). Biological stressors include bee pests and exotic diseases. Nutritional stressors may be expressed as a change in the bee's nutritional status (e.g. proteins, lipids, sugars, vitamins and minerals). Both biological and nutritional stressors may be modulated by environmental changes and/or anthropogenic activities (e.g. an increase in bee pests and exotic diseases due to climate change and global trade; nutrition of bees related to resource availability in the landscape and beekeeping management practices). One of the challenges in environmental risk assessment will be to include the combined effects of such stressors in the risk assessment.
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